What’s on TV tonight: The Great British Bake Off kicks off its tenth series

PICK OF THE DAY

The Great British Bake Off

8pm, Channel 4 Happy 10th anniversary, GBBO – and who’d have guessed at its longevity, let alone its cultural standing, when the show first aired in a teatime slot in 2010? With Channel 4 now seemingly chasing a more youthful demographic, the average contestant age this year (according to my calculator) is just 31, with 54-year-old HGV driver Phil and project manager Helen, 40, representing the upper range.

Otherwise it’s largely business as usual, starting with the obligatory comedy sketch – a Wizard of Oz lark featuring Noel and Sandi (left, in a Mad Hatter’s tea party scene from the teaser for the programme), and continuing with some inventive birthday cakes.

Saving Lives at Sea

8pm, BBC Two With the season for mucking about on boats reaching its zenith, it is an apt time to bring back this thrilling docuseries in which the RNLI volunteers wear cameras on their helmets as they go to the aid of sailors in distress. Actually, none of those in need of rescue in tonight’s opener could accurately be described as “sailors”, for there’s a capsized canoeist off Jersey (“You could quite easily end up in France,” says one lifeboatman of the dangers hereabouts), a pony stuck in the mud and at risk from drowning on Hoylake beach, and a light aircraft that has crashlanded in the surf
near one of Wales’ busiest beaches at St David’s.

Dominic West’s Noah continues into the fifth season of The Affair without Alison (Photo: Showtime/Sky Atlantic)

The Affair

9pm, Sky Atlantic

For anyone still following this relationship drama instead of giving up after season two (which the makers arguably should have), it’s back for the fifth and final time, without Ruth Wilson’s Alison (dead), but with Anna Paquin joining the cast as Alison and Cole’s now-adult daughter Joanie.

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Sink or Swim for Stand Up to Cancer

9.30pm, Channel 4 David Walliams, who swam the Channel in 2006 in aid of Sport Relief, would probably consider this bunch of wetsuit-enveloped celebrities to be mere lightweights for attempting the crossing as a relay team, but then it’s going to be tougher for some than for others. In tonight’s opening film, in which the celebs (the standard-issue mix of athletes, comedians, TV presenters and reality TV graduates) face their open water fears for the first time as they swim the length of Lake Windermere.

Alex Brooker and Linford Christie have a particularly tough time of it.

What’s on TV tonight: The Great British Bake Off kicks off its tenth seriesThe Sink or Swim gang (L-R: Simon Webb, Sair Khan, Greg Rutherford, Rachel Adedeji, Alex Brooker, Linford Christie, Tessa Anderson, Diane Louise Jordan, Wes Nelson, Georgia Kousoulou, James Argent. Photo: Channel 4)

Franco Building with Jonathan Meades

10pm, BBC Four The ever-quotable, sunglasses-wearing critic takes on the architecture of Franco’s Spain, arguing with trademark perversity that El Caudillo’s greatest legacy isn’t to be found in the grandiosity of official buildings but in the tourist resort of Benidorm – “an unusual combination of sprawl and verticality… its maximalist buildings resist all sophistication”.

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Kathy Burke’s All Woman

10.30pm, Channel 4

The final episode in Burke’s enjoyably straight-talking series turns to sex and relationships.

The actress talks to Caroline Flack, who reveals how she was once tempted to give up her career altogether for the sake of her boyfriend; goes on a chaste date with a gigolo; and discusses the neurochemistry of love with an Oxford academic, who stresses that friendship is equally important.

Another series, please.

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