TV Preview: Homeland returns not a moment too soon

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For fans of the first series, the return of Homeland (Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm) really can’t come quickly enough.

In the interim, Homeland justifiably picked up a string of Emmy awards for its brilliant cat and mouse drama between a CIA agent with bipolar disorder, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), and is he or isn’t he a traitor Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US Army veteran whose long ordeal as a POW in Afghanistan has turned him into a national hero and opened up a path to the corridors of power in Washington. Series one switched between periods of utter brilliance and occasional flatlining, but the overall question - is Brody a national threat? - remained right to the end. The new series starts with Israel bombing Iran, itself an increasing threat in the real world, and Danes is stuck at home trying to deal with her mental health issues. But not for long, we suspect.

Lots on the BBC to mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first single release, but probably nothing better than Arena on Saturday night at 9.45pm on BBC2. It’s a documentary following the making of the Magical Mystery Tour, a dreamy tale of a bunch of eccentrics on a coach trip during the 1967 Summer of Love. One in every three people in the country watched it when it went out on Boxing Day that year and this is the story of how it all came together. At 10.45pm, the film will be broadcast once again so you can sit back and enjoy songs like I Am the Walrus.

Some good stuff earlier on Saturday evening. As Doctor Who takes leave of us, Merlin returns for a fifth series taking us right up until Christmas (BBC1, 7.45pm) while over on Channel 4, there’s a really interesting film, Jaws: The Great White Myth charting the effects of the classic 1975 film Jaws on demonising sharks, leading to their near disappearance from the east coast of the US (7pm).

One of the funniest series of the past year was Fresh Meat which returns for a second series on Channel 4 on Tuesday (10pm). Jack Whitehall is the star of the comedy drama which charts the ups and downs of a bunch of university housemates. It’s very funny at times and manages, somehow, to appeal to current day students and those of us for whom uni is but a dim, distant memory.

Finally, football purists will be tuning in to Sky Sports 1 on Sunday. No, not for Fulham-Southampton, but for El Clasico, the first clash this season between the giants of Spanish football, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Live coverage from the Nou Camp from 6.30pm.