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Saturday’s best TV: The Venice Biennale: Sink or Swim; Doctor Who

The Venice Biennale: Sink or Swim
7.30pm, BBC2

The Venice Biennale may be the “Olympics of Modern Art” but, as former minister for culture David Lammy says: “It feels like there’s something missing.” That something is diversity: only six African nations are taking part. In this inspiring film, a corrective to an art world dominated by white westerners, Brenda Emmanus meets the diverse, emerging artists preparing to launch the first ever Diaspora Pavilion at the Venetian Palazzo. Ali Catterall

Doctor Who
6.45pm, BBC1

To second-century Scotland, where the massacre of the ninth legion – a real Roman unit, its fate in actuality unknown – is the basis of a creature feature with an undertow about young people for whom soldiering is a pitiless mentor. The Doctor in cruel/kind mickey-taking-Dad mode, and the Tardis translator letting Bill talk to Romans and Caledonians and find them the same, underline the point about war and empty sacrifice, while a luminous alien romps nastily. Sound. Jack Seale

The Autistic Gardener
7pm, Channel 4

Here’s a show that, in gently exploring how the autistic mind works, is often both fascinating and unexpectedly moving. The theme of this series is suburbia, which initially means host Alan Gardner getting to grips with a triangular and desolate plot in Lancashire, on which Pinky and Joe have £10,000 to lavish. Plus Gardner visits the US in search of inspiration, and finds it in wind turbines, jet engines and old-school geometry. Jonathan Wright

Pitch Battle
7.30pm, BBC1

As scheduling surprises go, how about The Sopranos on Saturday evening BBC1? Of course, that’s using the word purely in a choral context, with Mel Giedroyc hosting a new challenge show inviting choirs of all stripes and sizes to perform in a knockout tournament. Choirmaster extraordinaire Gareth Malone and choirgirl-turned-R&B-hitmaker Kelis are available to evaluate the contenders, and sheer weight of numbers should ensure talent-show drama. Mark Gibbings-Jones

Cardinal
9pm, BBC4

Climactic double bill of the snowbound Canadian crime drama, starring one-time Rocketeer Billy Campbell as Det John Cardinal, a raspy, parka-wearing cop who knows a thing or two about sin. Despite his turtleneck-loving partner Delorme (Karine Vanasse) covertly poking into Cardinal’s murky past, the pair are still hot on the trail of two serial thrill-killers. But will they be able to apprehend the perps before another victim gets iced? Graeme Virtue

The Beatles, Hippies & Hells Angels
9pm, Sky Arts

They wanted to do something more interesting with their money than give it to George Harrison’s hated Taxman. And so, in 1967, the Beatles launched Apple Corps, a quixotic multimedia corporation – staffed by hippies and randoms with names such as Magic Alex – that dealt in films, clothes, music and, eventually, acrimonious legal battles. An underexplored byway in the band’s otherwise suffocatingly well-documented history. Phil Harrison

Breakthrough
9pm, National Geographic

This episode of the series on scientific advances is an articulate explanation of the one that we arguably take most for granted: the electricity grids without which much modern life would become suddenly impossible. This everyday marvel is illustrated by following an expedition to connect a remote Himalayan village. The usual caveats about Nat Geo documentaries apply, namely distracting soundtrack, and portentous narration. Andrew Mueller

Film choice

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, (Werner Herzog, 2009), 3.05am, Channel 5

Val Kilmer and Nicolas Cage Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/NU IMAGE FILMS

With Herzog in charge, this was never going to be a bland remake of Abel Ferrara and Harvey Keitel’s cult 1992 thriller. Instead, it’s a haunting reimagining, relocating the action from a grungy New York to Katrina-shocked New Orleans. Nicolas Cage is the lieutenant, pain-racked by a back injury and going crazy on drugs legal and illegal, ever more fixated on tracking down the killers of a Senegalese family, in a performance reminiscent of Herzog’s “best fiend” Klaus Kinski. Paul Howlett

Gandhi, (Richard Attenborough, 1982), 11.30am, Sony Movie Channel
An epic biography charting the life of the Mahatma, from his London studies to confrontation with the apartheid regime of South Africa, and the non-violent rebellion against the British rulers of India. The crowd and massacre scenes are hugely impressive, but at the core is screen debutant Ben Kingsley’s beautifully understated performance. His best actor Oscar was one of eight the film garnered, including best director. Paul Howlett

Iron Man 2, (Jon Favreau, 2010), 8pm, Channel 4
Uniquely among Marvel and DC comic-book adaptations, Iron Man is more exciting when he’s in his civvies. The titanic battles between the metal-clad hero and his Russian foe Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke) are all very well, but Robert Downey Jr is inspired as the eccentric billionaire Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, who confounds the Pentagon top brass. Paul Howlett

Reservoir Dogs, (Quentin Tarantino, 1992), 10pm, ITV4
The heist is botched and the gang regroup in a warehouse, a traitor among them. Macho rage bounces off the walls: Tim Roth lying in a slick of blood, Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi at each other’s throats and Michael Madsen dancing a comic-gothic torture scene to Stuck in the Middle With You. The complex flashback-structure was apparently borrowed from Kubrick’s The Killing, but Tarantino’s potent debut is a true original that’s been cloned many times. Paul Howlett

Live sport

Motor Racing: The Le Mans 24 Hour Race The famous French endurance race gets under way. 1.45pm, Eurosport 1

Fifa Confederations Cup Football: Russia v New Zealand The opening match of the summer tournament from Saint Petersburg, Russia. 3.30pm, ITV

International Rugby: Argentina v England The Pumas attempt to square the Test series in Santa Fe. 8pm, BBC2

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