Alan Dee’s guide to the pick of next week’s TV

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SATURDAY

Comedy World Cup 
(Channel 4, 8.15pm)

The first round of the knock-out tournament continues as two more teams battle it out to progress.

Tonight, talk show host Alan Carr joins forces with comedienne and actress Sara Pascoe, fresh from a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe, and former Whose Line Is It Anyway? chairman Clive Anderson to make up one of the teams.

They will be trading low blows and witty one-liners with Cockney comic Micky Flanagan, stellar Scottish stand-up Kevin Bridges and Liverpudlian comedy veteran Stan Boardman. David Tennant hosts, for some reason.

SUNDAY

Andrew Marr’s History of the World (BBC One, 9pm)

A major new eight-part series, two years in the making, sees Andrew Marr cast an eye over 70,000 years of explosive events, changes, conflicts and triumphs that have shaped our history.

He begins searching for the earliest signs of human life in Africa, tracing how our nomadic ancestors spread out around the world and settled down to become farmers and townspeople.

MONDAY

Nigellissima 
(BBC Two, 8.30pm)

The slimline domestic goddess returns to the small screen with a guide to Italian cuisine. First up on the menu is Sicilian pasta with tomatoes, garlic and almonds.

According to her, it’s all about ease and accessibility, but also passion and taste, and nothing at all to do with phoning up for a pizza because there’s nothing in the fridge.

TUESDAY

The Paradise (BBC One, 9pm)

Based on a novel by sombre French author Emile Zola, but transported to the north of 19th-century England, this is all about an ambitious country girl who arrives in a booming city and finds all sorts of excitement working in The Paradise, England’s first department store.

A top-drawer cast includes Sarah Lancashire, Emun Elliott and Elaine Cassidy but Joanna Vanderham will be getting all the attention as star of the show.

WEDNESDAY

Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial (Channel 4, 10pm)

Hunky GP Dr Christian Jessen and Channel 4 News stalwart Jon Snow invite a range of volunteers into a controlled environment where they will take a dose of the purest form of notorious party drug.

They will be monitored, of course – scientists are on-hand to explore the effects, side-effects and long-term consequences for users. MRI scans and other tests are used to show us in great detail how the human brain is altered by the substance. Volunteers include actor Keith Allen and novelist Lionel Shriver, as well as policemen, soldiers, a former MP and even a member of the clergy.

THURSDAY

Homefront (ITV1, 9pm)

The latest in an impressive line of recent ITV1 dramas focuses on a group of military wives who are struggling to keep the home fires burning while their husbands are serving overseas.

The first episode starts with one hubby being killed in action, and the drama is ramped up with everything you’d expect – guilt, conflict, adultery, and the rest.

FRIDAY

Alan Carr: Chatty Man 
(Channel 4, 10pm)

The titan-toothed funnyman welcomes three of the world’s hottest musical acts, and laces his chat with plenty of innuendo and double entendres.

The presence of One Direction, plugging their new single and second album, will draw in the youngsters and there will also be appearances from Jessie J – she’s got an autobiography out even though she’s just 24, though to be fair she’s had a very busy year – while Alicia Keys adds an international dimension.

Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud will be the one sticking out like a sore thumb.