TV tonight: Our highlights for Sunday 3rd January

The Serpent
(Image credit: BBC/© Mammoth Screen/iStock)

The Serpent is one of the gems on tonight...

The second episode of BBC thriller The Serpent is on, plus Bradley Walsh is back with a new series of Beat the Chasers - complete with a fancy new studio. Here's what else you shouldn’t miss on TV tonight. 

  • Our hand-selected recommendations for what's on TV tonight include three TV shows, a film 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

The Serpent, 9pm, BBC1 

The Serpent TV Tonight

Learn more about how Marie-Andrée Leclerc’s obsession with Charles Sobhraj began in the second instalment of The Serpent (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen) (Image credit: BBC/© Mammoth Screen)

There’s a twisted love story at the heart of this dark series and we get a glimpse of how Marie-Andrée Leclerc’s obsession with Charles Sobhraj began in tonight’s episode. The young Canadian had been on holiday with her fiancé in India when she fell under the spell of a handsome stranger who claimed to have been a war photographer, and within months she was an accomplice to murder. It’s a tale of loneliness and insecurity, which Jenna Coleman does well to portray in a handful of scenes, but sympathy for Marie-Andrée evaporates as she slips deeper into her own delusion and becomes Sobhraj’s puppet. ★★★★ RF

Beat the Chasers, 9pm, ITV 

Beat the Chasers TV Tonight

The Chase host Bradley Walsh returns for spin-off Beat the Chasers (Picture: ITV/Kieron McCarron) (Image credit: Kieron McCarron)

Bradley Walsh is back with The Chase’s popular spin-off as new contestants take on the Chasers for the chance to win a huge prize. The more Chasers they face, the more money at stake. But The Beast, The Sinnerman, The Governess, The Vixen and The Dark Destroyer have upped their game – they’ve even had buzzer practice in lockdown! Look out for a futuristic new set, complete with a gladiator-style entrance tunnel that the contestants must walk through. Continues all week. ★★★★ HD

The Great, 9pm, C4

It’s not often we praise a show for leaving accuracy at the door, but this ten-part satirical take on the story of Catherine the Great (from Tony McNamara, co-writer of The Favourite) favours comedy over history and is all the better for it. Elle Fanning plays Catherine, naive bride of petulant man-child Peter III (Nicholas Hoult, on scene-stealing form), who discovers the Emperor sees her as merely a means to an heir. Then right-hand woman Marial (Phoebe Fox) helps Catherine realise she can seize power for herself… ★★★★★ SP

Best box set to watch on TV tonight

The Cry, BBC iPlayer, series one

The Cry TV Tonight

Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie star in The Cry. (Picture: Synchronicity Films Ltd/Lachlan Moore/Matt Burlem) (Image credit: Synchronicity Films Ltd/Lachlan Moore/Matt Burlem)

This four-part BBC thriller, starring Victoria favourite Jenna Coleman, is a drama not to be missed. When Joanna and Alistair travel to Australia with their baby son, Noah, they are bracing themselves to fight for custody of Alistair's daughter. But soon their lives start to unravel when they face an unthinkable tragedy. However, not everything is as it seems, and soon Joanna is about to discover that the truth is far worse than she could have ever imagined.

Best film to watch on TV tonight

Dirty Dancing, C5, 2.25pm

TV tonight Dirty Dancing

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing is a classic not to be missed (Picture: Lions Gate Films)

What better way to spend a winter afternoon than watching this surprise smash hit of 1987. The classic romantic drama stars Jennifer Grey as a holidaying teen who enjoys mildly scandalous fling with a dance instructor, played by the legendary Patrick Swayze. ★★★

Live sport

  • Burnley v Fulham,  12pm, Sky Sports
  • Newcastle v Leicester, 2.15pm, Sky Sports
  • Chelsea v Manchester City, 4.30pm Sky Sports

If you watch just one thing on TV tonight… 

Don't miss the second instalment of The Serpent - it's the BBC drama everyone is talking about.

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

Happy viewing!

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.