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TV tonight: our highlights for Friday 18th December

TV tonight Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis
(Image credit: BBC / Clare Jones)

Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis is just one of the gems on today...

It's the last visit to the Waterhole, George Clarke visits some Amazing Spaces on a Winter World Tour, and Neil Brand concludes his look at The Sound of TV. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss 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 
  • Keep up to date with the latest soap spoiler storylines on TV tonight with our daily soap synopsis 
  • 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

George Clarke's Amazing Spaces: Winter World Tour, 8pm, C4

TV tonight George Clarke's Amazing Spaces: Winter World Tour

Will Hardie and George Clarke

Architect George Clarke takes a look back at the series’ best wintry builds in this festive compilation show. Along with his travel buddy and craftsman Will Hardie, George journeys through Finland, Norway, the Alps and Canada, visiting impressive modern homes, secret snowy hideaways and, inevitably, ice hotels. Wrapped up and ready to get hands-on, the pair also attempt to build an igloo, race toboggans, feed reindeer, and have a hairy encounter with a bear! 

★★★★ RM

Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis, 8pm, BBC2

TV tonight Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis

Zebras at the waterhole

The rainy season arrives at the man-made waterhole in Tanzania and the heavens have opened. As lush grass grows around the oasis it becomes a paradise for herbivores and their young – elephants, zebra, giraffes and impala. Chris Packham (pictured top with Ella Al-Shamahi) investigates what happened to the hyenas that dominated the area in dry season but are now nowhere to be seen, and explores the impact the waterhole has had on the local human population. Finally, he explains the importance of all the wildlife that visited, from the biggest elephant to the smallest insect. 

★★★★ JL

The Sound of TV with Neil Brand, 9pm, BBC4

In the final part of this series, Neil Brand shows how music scores have played a part in the success of big-budget movie-style TV serials, from Brideshead Revisited to Game of Thrones, and how carefully chosen songs are vital to series like The Singing Detective and The Sopranos. He also looks at how music has been used in documentaries, beginning with 1973’s The World at War and continuing in natural world series such as Blue Planet. A fascinating watch, which will make you want to see (and hear) these classic shows again. 

★★★★ JP

Best box set to watch 

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

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Netflix

TV tonight Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Viola Davis as Ma Rainey

Viola Davis plays real-life blues singer Ma Rainey in this powerful biopic, which also stars Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman in his final role before his death from cancer at the age of 43 last August. Adapted from August Wilson’s 1984 play of the same name, the drama follows fiery Ma in 1920s Chicago as she’s recording an album with a band of black musicians, including trumpeter Levee (Boseman), who dreams of going solo. But as Ma clashes with her white manager and producer, temperatures and egos soar in the recording session, forcing truths to come tumbling out that will ultimately change their lives forever… 

Live sport

  • League One Football: Hull v Portsmouth 5pm (k-o 5.30pm), Sky Sports Football/NOW TV
  • League One Football: Preston North End v Bristol City 7.45pm (k-o 8pm), Sky Sports Football/NOW TV

Soaps on TV tonight

  • EastEnders, 8.35pm
  • Emmerdale, 7pm
  • Coronation Street, 7.30pm

If you watch just one thing on TV tonight… 

Don't miss Waterhole on TV tonight – stunning wildlife

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

Happy viewing!