12 TV picks: sports and leisure

We’ve taken inspiration from Trivial Pursuit for these TV picks. No, not Arts & Literature - we’ll save that for another time - but Sports & Leisure.

It’s the perfect theme with which to connect these 12 TV series. They range from niche interests to global passions, from drama to documentary and from factual to reality, from hobbies you can pursue at home to adventures transporting viewers rather further afield.

As ever with our TV picks, they are all available to watch now.

Deep Heat - ITV2

Greetings, grapple fans, to ITV’s new sitcom set in the sweaty world of British wrestling.

A classic story of the underdogs attempting to come out on top, Deep Heat follows what happens to a family wrestling business when the star sibling (Richard Fleeshman) strikes out on his own and it’s left to his wannabe wrestler sister (Jahannah James) to pick up the pieces.

Written and created by comedy duo Max & Ivan (with co-writer Andrew Ellard) and executive produced by Louise Delamere and Stephen Mangan, Deep Heat is a 'high-energy and joyous comic celebration of wrestling, glamour and tight spandex’.

What they say: ‘The cartoon world of pro-wrestling makes a great setting for a chaotic, knockabout sitcom.’ Radio Times

Scouting for Toys - Yesterday

Collecting toys can be a serious business - and a very valuable one as well, it turns out.

Scouting for Toys goes behind the scenes at the world’s most renowned toy auctioneers, Vectis, where every collectible imaginable goes under the hammer, from Star Wars to Matchbox, model railways to vintage dolls.

The Yesterday series is a fascinating glimpse into the world of toy auctions and the passion of the enthusiasts and their extraordinary collections.

What they say: ‘Will send kids of the 1970s and ‘80s scrambling into their lofts … For many viewers, it will feel like a dream job.’ Radio Times

The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge - More4

Size matters in Channel 4’s new competition series in which the miniature making skills of 10 amateur crafters are put to the ultimate test.

Sandi Toksvig takes charge of the show in which contestants are challenged to renovate an entire mansion inspired by real-world designs. Except the luxury homestead they are creating is a doll’s house.

Their creations, which must not only look the part but be fully functioning as well, are judged each week by interior design guru Laura Jackson and micro sculptor world record holder, Willard Wigan.

What they say: ‘Miniature making challenge [is] small but mighty.’ Radio Times

Anyone Can Sing - Sky Arts

Anyone Can Sing is a talent show with a difference. First, it’s a show about opera which requires no previous knowledge of opera to enjoy. And second, it doesn’t have a winner. Or rather, everyone’s a winner.

The new Sky Arts series takes four self-confessed terrible singers and gives them the confidence - and the technique - to perform in front of a packed house at the English National Opera’s London Coliseum.

It makes for a moving, funny and inspirational watch, whether you just sing in the shower, like to belt out a tune at the karaoke, or have never held a note in your life. A singing show about mindfulness and defining who you want to be, it’s a supremely catchy treat.

What they say: ‘By turns hilarious and heartwarming.’ Daily Mail

Joanna Lumley’s Great Cities of the World - ITV

There can be few better travel companions than Joanna Lumley, who takes viewers on a trip to three of Europe’s most iconic cities in this three-part travelogue for ITV.

Dame Joanna vows to find the ‘real essence’ of Paris, Rome and Berlin, getting under the skin of these three great cities by steering well clear of the well trodden tourist track.

And it turns out to be an absolute delight, as viewers get to know more about these cities, their people and their past, their icons and their eccentricities … and about Joanna Lumley herself.

What they say: ‘All done with the panache and elegance you’d expect when you combine Joanna Lumley with the world’s most chic city … Magnifique.’ Saga

The Simpler Life - Channel 4

Lockdown helped fuel a boom in people’s appetite for growing their own food, whether you’ve got a garden, an allotment, or a handful of pots on a balcony.

But how much of a return to nature could we really stomach? Channel 4’s factual entertainment series The Simpler Life seeks to find out by asking its 24 participants to live off-grid for six months on a 40-acre Devonshire farm.

They are joined in the idyllic countryside by an Amish family to show them the ropes and help them find happiness from a more humble existence. Or is modern life not so rubbish after all?

What they say: ‘The pandemic has supposedly had us reconsidering our priorities … but a slower pace isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.’ iNews

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty - Sky Atlantic

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to revel in this glorious new 10-part drama telling the story of how the Los Angeles Lakers became one of the greatest and most influential American sports teams in history,

Executive produced by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Don’t Look Up, Succession), Winning Time boasts a glorious ensemble cast including John C Reilly as flamboyant businessman Jerry Buss and Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson.

It’s winningly told in McKay’s trademark exuberant style and full of fabulous 1970s and ‘80s period detail. A feelgood nostalgic treat.

What they say: ‘This depiction of American sport in all its excessive razzmatazz was an absolute ball … a slam-dunk.’ iNews

Henry Cole’s Great British Treasure Hunt - ITV4

There’s been a boom in the popularity of metal detecting in the last few years with more than 20,000 ‘detectors’ scouring the UK for hidden treasure.

Great British Treasure Hunt sees presenter Henry Cole lead five enthusiastic teams of metal detectorists around five of the UK’s finest historical sites in search of valuable artefacts from the past.

Cole, previously seen on shows such as World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides and Shed and Buried, then runs the rule over their finds with the help of expert judges. This is one discovery definitely worth making.

What they say: ‘Antiques Road Trip meets the Detectorists.’ Radio Times

Travel Man - Channel 4

Channel 4’s Travel Man is back for a tenth series of the show which is the next best thing to going away for a mini break yourself.

And this time it’s Joe Lycett taking over the reins from Richard Ayoade as he goes on holiday with his new best celebrity friends to have as much fun as they can in 48 hours away.

Fortunately it’s (almost) as enjoyable for us as it is for them as Joe and assorted pals (James Acaster, Aisling Bea, Katherine Parkinson and Mo Gilligan) see the sights, get their hands dirty and basically have a very good time.

What they say: ‘Gloriously enticing … fun to watch.’ Radio Times

The Secrets of the Transport Museum - Yesterday

Just about to finish its second 10-part run on Yesterday, this documentary series goes behind the scenes at Brooklands Museum in Surrey, home to some of the world’s most important pieces of motorsport and aviation history.

It’s not just about the extraordinary artefacts the museum has in its collection but the incredible enthusiasm and knowledge of the volunteers and staff who work there.

Sanjeev Bhaskar is our guide for the show which brings the sometimes forgotten history of transport roaring back to life.

What they say: ‘The [museum’s] daily trials and tribulations are laid bare with some smiles along the route … Magical.’ Classic Car Curation

Happy Campers: The Caravan Park - Channel 5

The last two years have seen a boom in the number of people staying in the UK for their summer holidays for reasons we don’t need to go into here.

Channel 5’s observational documentary series Happy Campers follows the fortunes of two holiday camps in Exeter and Cornwall where the Great British Holiday proves as unpredictable as, well, the weather.

The cameras go behind the scenes to see the work done by entertainment teams, managers and maintenance crews to give guests, both caravanning enthusiasts and first timers, their dream holiday. Wish you were there?

What they say: ‘Shines a light on the west country's beloved traditional holiday parks … Anything could happen.’ Bristol Post

Super Greed: The Fight for Football - Sky Documentaries

Sky’s new original documentary turns back the clock to arguably the most dramatic 48 hours in the history of football.

Plans for Europe’s richest clubs to create a breakaway super league shocked the sport only to almost immediately collapse in ruins, with the after effects still reverberating today.

One year on, this 90-minute film tells the story of the supremely ill-conceived and ill-fated project through the eyes of the opponents who helped bring it down. One of those occasions when football - and the fans - really were the winner.

What they say: ‘Picks apart the mess with resolute care … A fine documentary.’ Daily Telegraph

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