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Sci-fi’s old men rule the TV roost

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In the week that foxy fiftysomething Sarah Jane Smith turns up to show Rose how it’s done in Doctor Who, TV’s other young sci-fi whippersnappers are getting their bots kicked by their elders and betters.

Sky One has just called time on Hex, which is like a British Buffy but without the ratings. After two seasons of teen sci-fi hijinks, Hex could boast only 200,000 viewers in its prime Sunday 9pm slot. Not even the great Davina McCall can drive people away that fast.

But over in TV’s geriatric wing, everything’s just chipper. Trekkies can look forward to seeing Kirk and Spock looking young n’ peachy in the 11th Star Trek film – helmed by none other than Lost/Alias ubermeister JJ Abrams.

Kirk’s fellow old-timer Doctor Who is having a splendid time of it, too, with five shiny new Welsh Baftas to decorate the downstairs toilet of the Tradis. Bodes well for the national Baftas, which will be held in London on 7 May.

One newcomer is breaking the trend and doing well, though in order to fit in it’s had to drag its leading man back to 1973. Filming on the second series of Life On Mars has started in Manchester, with John Simm and the brilliant Philip Glenister back out in front. Set the Sky+ for next January.

And finally, Ricky Gervais is getting yet more work. Mere days after serenading Marge Simpson, Gervais has been awarded a full series of interviews with famous US comedians, including Garry (Larry Sanders) Shandling and Christopher (Spinal Tap) Guest. Wonder how many free plasma screens Ricky was sent after The Simpsons aired last week? Wily scamp.

Five to watch this week:

Doctor Who, Saturday 29 April, BBC1, 7.20pm
‘School Reunion’: The Doctor and Rose arrive in London, where our hero runs into old pals Sarah Jane and K9. Coffee salesman Anthony Head also co-stars.

The Young Ones Marathon, Saturday 29 April, Paramount 2, 9pm
Stay up all night with Rick, Vyv, Neil and the other one. Break things, if you must.

Turn Back Your Body Clock, Tuesday 2 May, C4, 8.30pm
New eight-part series in which volunteers are given their 'death age' by Dr Una Coales. Scientifically fascinating, and just a little pervy.

Lost, Tuesday 2 May, C4, 10pm
Tune in to have your brain addled by yet more plot twists that won’t be resolved until long after they stop making Star Trek movies. Season two starts with a double bill on C4, followed on E4 by episode three.

The Happiness Formula, Wednesday 3 May, BBC2, 7pm
Mark Easton goes on a six-part journey to understand the science of happiness. Along the way he looks at the latest research, meets cutting-edge thinkers and collects loads of air miles.

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