TV tonight: can Robert Carlyle save Britain in political thriller Cobra?

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Cobra: Cyberwar

9pm, Sky Max

The political drama starring Robert Carlyle as PM Robert Sutherland returns. Tonight, home secretary Joseph Obasi finds himself with a full in-tray as unexploded wartime munitions threaten Kent and there’s a hit on a Russian oligarch’s helicopter that also takes out a civilian. Cobra’s tone feels slightly confused – does it want to be a trashy thriller or a nuanced look at power and ambition? But Carlyle is a likable lead even if his character seems altogether too measured for the age of populism. Phil Harrison

Inside Culture

7.30pm, BBC Two

Is the way we consume literature changing for good? The impact of podcasts and audiobooks has altered many of our habits – but is there still a place for the printed word and, crucially, for the community hub that is the library? Shahidha Bari explores the issue, talking to author Alex Wheatle and actor Sara Powell. PH

Stand Up to Cancer Live 2021

7.30pm, Channel 4

This year’s star-stuffed SU2C fundraiser is the usual embarrassment of TV treats presented by Davina McCall. Look out for Celebrity Gogglebox, plus sketches from Kim Kardashian West, Mo Gilligan and Steve Coogan, and a live performance from Sigrid. Ellen E Jones

Jackie Collins and pets at her Beverly Hills home in July 1995
Bossing it … Jackie Collins and pets at her Beverly Hills home in July 1995. Photograph: Paul Harris/BBC/Passion Pictures/Getty Image

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story

9pm, BBC Two

This is a slightly melancholy documentary exploring the wildly successful yet utterly opaque writer of dozens of formulaic romantic novels. There’s an enigma surrounding Collins: almost every contributor feels she told stories about everyone other than herself. But it’s possible to argue that she was both a victim of snobbery and a rare example of mainstream feminism. PH

The Cleaner

9.30pm, BBC One

While mopping up a burglar’s shotgunned fingers, Wicky bumps into old flame Maggie (Jo Hartley), who left him on the night of his 30th birthday. Cue resurrected resentments and ruminations on their sexual compatibility in the final episode of this quietly marvellous comedy. Ali Catterall

The Graham Norton Show

10.35pm, BBC One

Another raft of A-list guests, with Billy Connolly, Lenny Henry and Doc Martin’s Dame Eileen Atkins occupying the seasoned storyteller corner. Sci-fi fans can feast on Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker and Timothée Chalamet, star of blockbuster remake Dune. Hannah Verdier

Film choice

The Velvet Underground … Moe Tucker, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed
Velvet revolution … Moe Tucker, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed. Photograph: Nat Finkelstein/AP

The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, 2021), Friday, Apple TV

Featuring new interviews with surviving members John Cale and Moe Tucker and a plethora of archive material (much of it from Andy Warhol’s Factory), Todd Haynes’s documentary about the seminal, late-60s band is arguably the definitive telling of their story. Crucially, it beds their career within the New York avant garde that had initially lured in the young classical violist Cale and doo-wopper Lou Reed. The likes of Cale’s mentor La Monte Young, film-maker Jonas Mekas and Factory regular Mary Woronov set the scene, while Haynes’s split-screen, quickfire treatment is a homage to an era of experimentation in which the band were born, struggled for success and fell apart. Simon Wardell

The Little Things (John Lee Hancock, 2020), Friday, 10.20am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

Denzel Washington once turned down the lead role in Seven, which makes his appearance in this fairly similar crime thriller something of a mea culpa. He plays Joe, a taciturn rural deputy sheriff revisiting his old stomping ground of LA, who gets involved in a serial killer case led by hotshot young detective Jim (Rami Malek), one that resembles the unsolved crime that ruined his career. Washington is the quiet centre here, with the edgy, obsessive Malek and Jared Leto as a chilling, Manson-lookalike suspect providing the dramatic beats. SW

Live sport

Championship Football: West Brom v Birmingham City, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Main Event. A Midlands derby.

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