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Animals are the stars; all at MAGNIFICENT 7 TREATS OF THE WEEK and a.

1THINK Springwatch, but on a global scale. So instead of Kate Humble cooing over the hatching of a few swallows, we get Julia Bradbury showing us everything from baby elephants and black bears to meerkats and grey whales.

Presented by Julia and Richard Hammond three nights a week, Planet Earth Live is the most ambitious live wildlife series ever undertaken, following the real-time stories of some of the world's most photogenic animals.

It's a crucial time of year for creatures, as the young of the species struggle to survive.

There is some pre-recorded footage but the thrust of the eight-part series is to have live link-ups from presenters in six different global time zones. Richard is based in southern Kenya, tracking the pride of lions made famous by the Big Cat Diary and also hoping to film an elephant giving birth.

Julia is in the wild Northwoods of Minnesota getting close to black bears as they emerge from their dens with newborn cubs. She's also on the Pacific coast, following the epic migration of grey whales and their calves as they run the gauntlet of killer whales.

We can also expect to see macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka, polar bears in Svalbard, giant otters in Peru and meerkats in South Africa.

Brummie Richard may know all about cars on Top Gear, but he admits his wildlife knowledge is less developed, although he does keep sheep, horses, goats, pigs and donkeys at home.

"I'm not afraid to ask dumb questions," he says. "That's what I'm there for, really, to ask all the questions the viewers want answered." Planet Earth Live, BBC1, Today, Monday, Thursday, 7.50pm 2IT was one of the best new series of last year and earned Matt LeBlanc a Golden Globe.

Now comedy drama Episodes makes a welcome return to our screens, reuniting the former Friends star with ace British actors Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan.

Matt plays an outrageous version of himself, an egocentric actor cast in a new sitcom written by English writers Sean (Stephen) and Beverly (Tamsin).

The pair were lured to Hollywood to rewrite their award-winning British series for America, only to have to change everything about it.

Resistant at first to having Matt as the lead character, by the end of the first series Sean had befriended him and Beverly had slept with him.

Their marriage is now on the rocks but they are still working together on the TV show.

Most of Episodes was filmed in Britain, but the cast did spend a week shooting in LA - not that the glamorous world of Hollywood is likely to go to Tamsin's head.

"I'm not young and I'm not beautiful," declares the 45-year-old Birmingham graduate.

"But maybe people are drawn to people who are ordinary. Maybe I'm standing up for the common woman."

Episodes, BBC2, Friday, 10pm 3AFTER weeks of laughing at the auditionees, we've now reached the live semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent.

Starting tonight and concluding with Saturday's grand finale, there really is a lot at stake - not least the whopping pounds 500,000 first prize. And the chance to appear at the Royal Variety Performance, though frankly I'd rather have the cash.

The semi-finals will feature 45 acts over five heats, with two going forward at the end of every night's show. Viewers will decide the places, though the judges - Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon - will still have a say in who reaches the final.

Will your favourites be among them? We'd be surprised not to see the likes of The Loveable Rogues band, impressionist Marea Smithson, wheelchair dancers Strictly Wheels, doggy dancer Pudsey and pop opera duo Charlotte and Jonathan doing well.

Ant and Dec are on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Britain's Got Talent, ITV1, from Today, 8pm 4WE think that health and safety rules have gone over the top these days, but let's not forget that for 65 years there was a government agency whose only job was to protect us from our own stupidity.

The Central Office of Information, which has just closed, was responsible for producing public information films. Remember Charley the Cat warning us of the dangers of falling into water or talking to strangers? Or Jimmy click e were d road, f dust. y Savile advising us to 'clunk every trip'? Various celebrities drafted into help us cross the from Kevin Keegan to Alvin Starw Nowth we get to relive these moments, hanks to a one-off film presented by Adrian Edmondson.

Britain Beware, ITV1, Monday, 10.15pm 5 THE current series of Piers Morgan's Life Stories has been notable for two revelations.

One was that Bill Roache, aka Corrie's Ken Barlow, has slept with 1,000 women.

And the second was that Dennis Waterman admitted to hitting his wife, Rula Lenska. It's now time to hear his full confession as the New Tricks actor opens up about his tempestuous relationships.

He sparked an outcry for revealing that he hit third wife Rula because she provoked him, saying: "The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue well."

Perhaps it will sound more convincing in context, though I doubt it.

Piers Morgan's Life Stories, ITV1, Friday, 9pm 6YOU may well have noticed these programmes cluttering up your schedules, as hoarding becomes a TV theme.

Channel 4 has had Get Your House In Order. Now it's branching out into The Hoarder Next Door on Thursday, while on BBC1, Jasmine Harman meets Britain's Biggest Hoarders.

The presenter knows all about the problem, as her mum is a compulsive collector. The film she made last year about Vasoulla's condition was fascinating, and now she returns in a bid to clear her mum's house.

We also meet Marion Burgess, who has nowhere to sit or wash thanks to husband Alan's hoarding.

Britain's Biggest Hoarders, BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm 7 MAKE sure you have tissues on hand for this brilliant, uplifting but upsetting documentary series, following the work of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The first film features that most emotive of subjects, children with cancer. The cameras follow three young patients, including brave five-year-old Chiane. She has a brain tumour which is killing her, but a potential treatment could make her feel worse.

Will her parents subject her to the damagingly high doses of chemotherapy involved in the Milan Protocol, in a bid to save her life? Great Ormond Street, BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm


THE EGO HAS LANDED: Matt LeBlanc pokes fun at himself in Episodes. REALITY BITES: Britain's Got Talent. judges, from left to right, Alesha Dixon, David Walliams, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell are gearing up for this year's grand finale while, inset, the animals steal the show in Planet Earth Live .
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 6, 2012
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