TV tonight: our highlights for Tuesday 18th May

TV tonight Hospital
(Image credit: BBC/Label 1/Ryan McNamara)

Hospital is just one of the gems on today...

Meet another inspirational surgeon in Hospital, Josh confronts Hanssen over his secret, and David Olusoga gives us A Short History of Living Longer. 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

Holby City, 7.50pm, BBC1

TV tonight Holby City

Josh is confused by Hanssen’s behaviour

There’s been a major incident and Holby City hospital is overrun with patients from Henrik Hanssen’s old school, where he was abused by Sahira’s now deceased father, Reyhan. As Hanssen operates on a boy who was also abused by Reyhan, he’s racked with guilt that he didn’t speak up sooner about the abuse, and leaves Josh to finish the surgery. How will Hanssen react when Josh confronts him over his ‘secret’? And will he be brave enough to finally seek help for his mental scars? Holby is really pushing the boundaries in its pre-watershed time slot at the moment, and it’s keeping us hooked. More please! 

★★ VW

Hospital, 9pm, BBC2

Tonight’s episode focuses on the gynaecological oncology department and its remarkable lead surgeon Smruta Shanbhag. With operating theatres still closed and a devastating shortage of intensive-care beds and staff, Smruta and her team are battling to catch up with patients who need life-saving surgery. One is Natasha, 48, who has advanced ovarian cancer. Her prognosis isn’t great but her bravery and determination are matched by Smruta’s own courage to keep fighting for her patient. An emotional, inspiring film about two amazing women. 

★★★★ JL

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, 10.05pm, BBC4

TV tonight Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Historian David Olusoga presents

David Olusoga and Steven Johnson join forces to explore the forgotten heroes of global health, beginning with the history of vaccines. They tell the remarkable story of how the small pox vaccine was developed using knowledge from a slave, who was brought to America in 1706, which still forms the basis of how vaccines work today. They also explain how COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly and why it must be a global effort. A fascinating and thought-provoking series. 

★★★ JL

Best box set to watch on TV tonight

The Nest, one season, BBC iPlayer/BritBox

TV tonight The Nest

Martin Compston, Sophie Rundle and Mirren Mack star

Line of Duty's Martin Compston (using his natural Scottish accent) and Sophie Rundle play a wealthy couple unable to conceive, who ask an 18-year-old stranger to carry a baby for them. But can they trust her? A twisty, smartly scripted Glasgow-set thriller.

Best film to watch on TV tonight

American Woman, 9pm, Film4

TV tonight American Woman

Sienna Miller plays a woman left to care for her daughter’s baby

Sienna Miller is nothing short of extraordinary in the role of a put-upon working-class Pennsylvania woman whose teenage daughter goes missing. This is no crime thriller, though, but a domestic drama about Miller’s sassy struggler, left caring for her daughter’s baby and hooking up with unsuitable men (including Aaron Paul) just to provide a stable home environment. Christina Hendricks also shines as her sister, both actors giving an utterly convincing portrayal of siblings. The script may occasionally fall back onto tropes, but the cast, and director Jake Scott (son of Ridley), deliver a hard-earned, committed slice-of-life experience. 

Live sport

  • Premier League Football: Manchester Utd v Fulham 5pm (k-o 6pm), Sky Sports Main Event/NOW TV
  •  Premier League Football: Southampton v Leeds United 5pm (k-o 6pm), Sky Sports Premier League/Sky Sports Mix/NOW
  •  Premier League Football: Chelsea v Leicester City 8pm (k-o 8.15pm), Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League /NOW

Soaps on TV tonight

If you watch just one thing on TV tonight… 

Don't miss Hospital on TV tonight – more brave patients and surgeons

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

Happy viewing!