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Wednesday’s best TV: Bliss; Generation Gifted; Damned

It’s complicated … Stephen Mangan in Bliss, Sky1.
It’s complicated … Stephen Mangan in Bliss, Sky1. Photograph: Justin Downing/Sky UK Ltd

Generation Gifted
9pm, BBC Two

Promising new series exploring social mobility by following six exceptional, underprivileged youngsters through the British education system. Tonight: the girls. What is immediately apparent is that the biggest problem is often one of expectation: the trio understand failure all too clearly, but struggle to imagine success. It is heartbreaking and enraging in places – try watching Ann Marie pondering university fees (“I’ll be paying that off for the rest of my life”) without feeling sad and furious. But it is full of charm and fragile optimism, too. Phil Harrison

Earth’s Natural Wonders
9pm, BBC One

Season two of an awestruck series that is not about the wonders so much as the people who, precariously, live among them. Narrowly beating some Himalayan yak herders for most beautiful yet terrifying activity are the Inuit women foraging in an undersea cave. It could flood at any moment. Jack Seale

£1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street
9pm, Channel 4

Some neighbours give you flowers when you move in. Mel and Rob found a bullet on their doorstep instead. They are among those taking advantage of a Liverpool council scheme that offers derelict houses for a quid provided owners pay to renovate. Will they succeed with their ultimate fix-up? Ali Catterall

Taken
9pm, 5USA

How did the Liam Neeson character in the movie Taken get to be the way he is? That’s the question answered in this vaguely suspenseful TV series prequel. We begin on a train, where alert former Green Beret Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) senses something is amiss while travelling with his sister. Things don’t end well for anyone. John Robinson

Damned
10pm, Channel 4

A second series for Jo Brand and Morwenna Banks’s lauded social services comedy. The main plotline concerns a sex worker whose children have been reported to the authorities and there is also a topical strand about football sex abuse. As before, the grim subject matter is offset by some excellent gags. Hannah J Davies

Bliss
10pm, Sky1

A new dramedy from David Cross, starring Stephen Mangan as travel writer Andrew, who divides his time between two families. This opener charts an excruciating dinner engagement, where Andrew worries about being discovered. Your enjoyment may rest on how much you sympathise with Andrew’s anguish at his own situation. Jonathan Wright

Film choice

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants
Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants. Photograph: Sportsphoto/Allstar/20th Century Fox

Water for Elephants (Francis Lawrence, 2011) 1.25am, Channel 4

There is an old-fashioned charm about this Depression-era romantic drama, adapted from Sara Gruen’s bestseller. Robert Pattinson plays Jacob, who, on the death of his parents, finds work as a vet at the circus, where Christoph Waltz is the embittered owner and Reese Witherspoon his show-riding wife. Paul Howlett

Live sport

Winter Olympics 2018 The day begins with curling and Nordic combined skiing. 6am, BBC Two

Tennis: The ABN AMRO world tennis tournament From Ahoy Rotterdam. 10am, Sky Sports Main Event

Champions League football: Porto v Liverpool A last-16, first leg match from Estádio do Dragão. 7pm, BT Sport 2

This article titled "Wednesday’s best TV: Bliss; Generation Gifted; Damned" was written by Phil Harrison, Jack Seale, Ali Catterall, John Robinson, Hannah J Davies, Jonathan Wright and Paul Howlett, for The Guardian on Wednesday 14 February 2018 06.20am

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