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TV tonight: our highlights for Sunday 13th December

TV tonight Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing
(Image credit: BBC/Owl Power)

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing is just one of the gems on today...

Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse take a Christmas fishing trip, ITV remember Des O'Connor: The Ultimate Entertainer, and the subtle knife causes more danger for will and Lyra in His Dark Materials. Here’s what you shouldn’t be missing on TV tonight. 

  • Our hand-selected recommendations for what's on TV tonight include three TV shows, a film, live sport and the latest trending need-to-binge-on-now box set 
  • For more information about what’s on TV tonight see our TV Guide 

What's on TV tonight 

Our expert TV journalists have picked the best things on TV tonight... 

Best TV shows on TV tonight

Des O'Connor: The Ultimate Entertainer, 9pm, ITV

Paying tribute to the much-loved showbiz legend who passed away last month at the age of 88, this celebration looks back at an incredible career spanning almost 70 years. Song-and-dance man Des, who started out as a Butlin’s redcoat, was a mainstay on primetime TV for decades, enjoyed success as a recording artist, and was the subject of affectionate mockery from Morecambe and Wise! Jonathan Ross, Melanie Sykes and Sir Cliff Richard are among those sharing their memories. 

★★★ JH

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing, 8.10pm, BBC2

TV tonight Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing

Paul and Bob test the water in Middlesbrough

On a festive fishing trip to his childhood home of Middlesbrough, Bob Mortimer embraces his inner elf and tries to get Paul Whitehouse to do the same, despite his Grinch-like attitude to the season. Bob is hoping that an ‘office’ party for two with Christmas dinner and a secret Santa will bestow some yuletide magic. The pair also catch up with Middlesbrough-born singer-songwriter Chris Rea before he drives home for Christmas and finally, Bob has one more seasonal surprise for Paul. 

★★★★ JL

His Dark Materials, 8.10pm, BBC1

TV tonight His Dark Materials

Lyra and an injured Will battle on

We’re starting to think that possessing the subtle knife might be way more trouble than it’s worth! As its new bearer, poor Will has been trying to guard the weapon and is also struggling with his hand injury. While witch Serafina battles to protect Will and Lyra, Lee and Jopari are heading to Cittàgazze to find the knife and keep Lyra safe. The evil Magisterium, who are on their tail, do not have the youngsters’ best interests at heart, and neither does Lord Boreal, as he arrives in Cittàgazze with Mrs Coulter, on his own hunt for the knife… 

★★★★ CC

Best box set to watch on TV tonight

Black Books, seasons one to three, All 4/Netflix/BritBox/Amazon Prime Video

TV tonight Black Books

Bill Bailey stars with Dylan Moran and Tamsin Greig

Strictly Come Dancing’s Bill Bailey is among the fine cast of this hugely enjoyable dark comedy co-created by Dylan Moran, who also stars as bad-tempered bookshop owner Bernard Black. Bill plays his cheerful, long-suffering assistant.

Best film to watch on TV tonight

The Godfather, 10.10pm (not Northern Ireland), BBC2

TV tonight The Godfather

Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone

Getting a rare terrestrial showing here, nothing is left to chance in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1971 masterpiece about a New York crime family – not the casting, the look or the script – with everything deliberately placed. Coppola’s real skill, though, is that he can tell a story better than anybody: after the first few minutes we know almost every major character and their place. The Godfather – which won Best Picture Oscar – is a perfect film in the sense that you feel that everything Coppola wanted to do, he did – and in the most exquisite, intelligent way. 

Live sport

  • Rugby Union: European Champions Cup: Lyon v Gloucester 12.30pm (k-o 1pm), BT Sport 2
  • Rugby Union: European Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors 3pm (k-o 3.15pm), BT Sport 2
  • Motor racing: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 1.05pm, Sky Sports F1/NOW TV (highlights 5.30pm, C4)

If you watch just one thing on TV tonight… 

Don't miss Mortimer & Whitehouse's Gone Christmas Fishing on TV tonight – heart-warming fun

Not found anything you want to watch on TV tonight? Check out our TV Guide.   

Happy viewing!