Alan Dee’s guide to the pick of TV

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Saturday 10/12/11

Merlin (BBC One, 8.15pm)

Arthur’s wicked sister Morgana finds a powerfully ally in southern warlord Helios, and together they plot to take over Camelot. However, Arthur and his people are so preoccupied with a visit from the beautiful Princess Mithian, it is left to the returning Gwen to raise the alarm - and her appearance soon reopens old wounds.

Sunday

The X Factor (ITV, 7.30pm)

As The X Factor approaches that all-important finale, viewers need to forget the months of headline-worthy gossip and focus entirely on the talent laid out before them.

So tonight sees the moment millions of us have been waiting for. After 20 weeks of auditions, boot camps, controversies, hissy fits, tears, laughter and little dances from host Dermot O’Leary, ITV1’s juggernaut talent search shudders to a halt with the grand final.

Monday 12/12/11

The Real Thumbelina (ITV1, 9pm)

Starting a new school is a nerve-wracking business, not just for children, but for the anxious parents waiting to see if their son or daughter fits in.

But for four-year-old Amelie Gelhill and her family it’s an especially worrying time. She was born with Russell-Silver syndrome, a genetic disorder that limits her growth.

And while her parents Anne and John are keen for their daughter to lead an ordinary life, they do worry about how she’ll she cope, especially as her tiny frame isn’t the only effect of the condition.

Tuesday

This Is England ‘88 (Channel 4, 10pm)

The action picks up where the devastating events of This is England ‘86 left off.

It’s a Christmas Carol-style tale in which Lol and Woody are still haunted by the events of 18 months before, when their former friend Combo took the blame for murdering Lol’s abusive father. Despite once being a dedicated couple, Lol and Woody are struggling to deal with the emotional fallout.

They’re not the only ones in turmoil; poor Shaun is learning the hard way that love isn’t always a many-splendoured thing - it can hurt too.

Wednesday 14/12/11

The Royal Variety Performance 2011 (ITV1, 7.30pm)

The famous faces taking part, including Tony Bennett, Tim Minchin, Nicole Sherzinger, Barry Manilow, Jason Manford and Pixie Lott, while Peter Kay acted as presenter.

Thursday

Frank Skinner’s Opinionated (BBC Two, 10pm)

Each week the eponymous funnyman is joined by two fellow comedians and, most importantly, a studio audience to unpick the week’s most talked-about news stories. This week Reginald D Hunter and Sarah Millican who join Frank in the Glasgow studio.

Friday

The British Comedy Awards 2011 (Channel 4, 9pm)

Jonathan Ross will once again be in the company of the funniest names in tellyland, and doling out the awards that recognise them.

Ross says: “The thing for me is that I’m kind of a bit of a fake in the room because I’m not a comedian. I’m always just excited to be invited because I love British comedy and I love being part of the event. I’m just stood there thinking, ‘I shouldn’t really be here’. I’m just relieved that it’s gone well.”

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