TV Tonight: our highlights for Sunday, September 25

Lauren Lyle as plucky Scottish DS Karen Pirie.
Lauren Lyle as plucky Scottish DS Karen Pirie. (Image credit: ITV)

On TV tonight, new crime drama Karen Pirie begins on ITV as Frozen Planet II continues on BBC One. It's all about keeping a cool head in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins on C4 as Simon Reeve's South America continues on BBC Two. Colin & Justin's Hotel Hell is on Chanel 5 and Gino Italy: Like Mamma Used to Make is on ITV. Here's what you shouldn't miss on TV tonight.

  • Our hand selected recommendations for what's on TV tonight include six 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

Karen Pirie, 8 pm, ITV

Lauren Lyle stars.

Lauren Lyle stars. (Image credit: ITV)

Tennison. Vera. Cagney & Lacey. All great female TV detectives and now there’s another feisty investigator joining their ranks in the shape of Karen Pirie. Based on the best-selling novel The Distant Echo by crime writer Val McDermid, this gripping three-parter stars Vigil’s Lauren Lyle in the title role as the Scottish detective sergeant, who’s thrust into the spotlight when she’s tasked with reopening a cold case – the death of a barmaid 25 years earlier. Knowing she’s been fast-tracked for promotion because she’s a woman, Karen must prove she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s sassy, smart and super-efficient, so we have a feeling she’s going to do just that! 

★★★★ VW

Frozen Planet II, 8 pm, BBC One

A giant panda searches for food in the frozen landscape.

A giant panda searches for food in the frozen landscape. (Image credit: BBC)

Life on the world’s mountaintops can be perilous, so prepare yourself for some shocking survival tactics from the animals who call them their home. This week’s episode will have you watching from behind a cushion as you witness golden eagles throwing chamois (goat-antelopes) off cliffs. There’s also a young Japanese macaque who’s been cast out of the volcanic springs and must cuddle a fellow outsider to survive. We also learn what climate change will mean to the animals living at high altitude, including giant pandas which could be facing challenging treks to find food in the future. 

★★★★★ NH

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, 9 pm, C4

Ferne excels in the combat task.

Ferne excels in the combat task. (Image credit: C4)

This stage focuses on composure and which of the remaining 12 recruits can keep their cool as the Directing Staff (DS) turn up the pressure? First, the celebs must fight or ‘release hell’, as DS Foxy says, on a man dressed in protective pads. A few find the violence difficult, especially boxer Shannon Courtenay, but reality star Ferne McCann has a great time. ‘She walked away like she had been on a bouncy castle,’ says DS Billy. There’s also weapons training to test the ability to make decisions under fire, and a backwards dive, from height, into water and in the dark, just for good measure. Only 10 go through to next week. 

★★★★ JL

Simon Reeve's South America, 9 pm, BBC Two

Simon in a coca field in VRAEM, Peru.

Simon in a coca field in VRAEM, Peru. (Image credit: BBC)

Simon is usually the master of finding hidden stories and marginalised people, but he begins this leg of his journey in one of the biggest tourist destinations in South America – Peru’s Machu Picchu. But it’s not long before he’s back on more familiar ground, far from the tourist trail in the VRAEM region, also known as cocaine valley. It’s a dangerous place, where extreme poverty traps local farmers into working for the drug trade. He also visits a frightening illegal gold mine, where the streets are paved with nothing but poverty and crime, and he ends this leg in Bolivia with an inspiring young woman fighting for her voice to be heard. 

★★★★ JL

Colin & Justin's Hotel Hell, 9 pm, Channel 5

A winter wonderland – not just yet

A winter wonderland – not just yet. (Image credit: Channel 5)

TV presenters Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan continue work on their ambitious hotel in Canada. Winter has arrived, which will cause further delays to the building work. The pair need to hire a chef and decide on menus, turn the old laundry into two luxury suites and design a gift shop for the reception area – all before the impending storms hit… 

★★★ MC

Gino's Italy: Like Mamma Used to Make, 7.30 pm, ITV

Gino’s rustled up a light snack.

Gino’s rustled up a light snack. (Image credit: ITV)

Chef Gino D’Acampo takes a Ferrari for a spin to visit the ‘breadbasket’ of Italy, the Emilia-Romagna region, on his tour of his homeland. It’s the birthplace of food such as bolognese and balsamic vinegar, which Gino gets to sample. He learns how to make the perfect ragù, picks moretta cherries and then makes tasty burgers which he describes as ‘my favourite part of Italy on a plate’. All the while, Gino celebrates the women responsible for these foodie delights. 

★★★★ NH

Best box set to watch on TV tonight

Crossfire, BBC iPlayer

Double-barrelled Keeley Hawes!

Double-barrelled Keeley Hawes! (Image credit: BBC)

Keeley Hawes takes on dangerous masked gunmen in this intense three-part action thriller, which is so nail-biting that you may need a pillow to hide behind! She stars as mum Jo, who’s on a luxury Canary Islands holiday with her kids, husband Jason and their best friends when shots ring out by the resort’s pool, turning their world upside down. As ex-copper Jo bravely decides to take on the snipers, it transpires that she’s also hiding a terrible secret, which is set to tear the lives of her loved ones apart. The top cast also includes The A Word’s Lee Ingleby, The Bay’s Daniel Ryan and Line of Duty’s Anneika Rose, but don’t expect all their characters to survive… 

Best film to watch on TV tonight

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, 10 pm, BBC Two

Director Joe Talbot’s debut drama is a masterful piece of work. It’s languid, shaggy doggish narrative follows Jimmie Fails, an African-American who’s a third-generation San Franciscan, but finds it increasingly difficult to find his place in a city where money and hipsters have invaded every corner. It’s also the story of his relationship with eccentric budding playwright and artist Jonathan Majors, with whom he shares a tight bond. With a wonderful, eclectic soundtrack and visuals that veer toward cinematic poetry, this semi-arthouse love letter to the Californian city is as captivating as it is singular.

Live Sport

  • Women's Super League, Liverpool vs Everton, 6.30 pm (k-o 6.45 pm), Sky Sports Main Event/NOW

If you watch just one thing on TV tonight…

Don't miss Karen Pirie on TV tonight — a great new crime drama.

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

Happy viewing!

Joanne Lowles
Freelance writer and editor

Joanne Lowles has been writing about TV since 2002. After graduating from Cardiff University with a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism, she worked for All About Soap magazine covering the ups and downs of life on the cobbles, the square and the Dales. 

Next came nearly 10 years at TV Times magazine as a writer and then deputy features editor. Here she spent many happy days interviewing the biggest names in entertainment and visiting the sets of some of our most popular shows including Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Strictly Come Dancing

With a love of nature and wildlife she’s also interviewed the leading experts in this area including David Attenborough, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall. She’s also travelled the world visiting Mongolia, Canada and South Africa to see how the best in the business make the most brilliant natural history documentaries. 

Freelance since 2013, she is now is a digital writer and editor for What to Watch, previews the best on the box for TV Times mag each week and loves being constantly surprised, entertained and informed by the amazing TV that she is lucky enough to watch.