A double dose of laughter

THIS week is shaping up nicely for couch potatoes, with another night's television that's worth watching. Can this last? Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp (The Krays) plays the Devil disguised as a chauffeur in Growing Rich (Pearl 9.45pm), an acclaimed new mini-series written by novelist Fay Weldon.

It focuses on three young women, Laura, Carmen and Annie, who are desperate to escape from their mundane lives in rural East Anglia. Says Annie: ''There are only three ways out for a small town girl: you can work your way out; marry your way out; or sellyour soul to the devil.'' Hardly have the words left her lips than Beelzebub leaps in to take a hand in their fates in this darkly humorous tale of love and revenge. Second part is on next week.

BIG Business (World 9.30pm, original running time 97 mins) stars the divine Bette Midler (For the Boys) and the hilarious Lily Tomlin (All of Me), each playing twins, who are mismatched and separated at birth. One set is brought up in the country, the other in the city.

Years later the yokel girls go to New York to fight off a conglomerate that's trying to wipe out their town. Guess who's running the conglomerate? Their identical twins.

The comedy is good but only really ignites during a scene in a ladies room when all four finally come face to face. Midler and Tomlin are brilliantly over the top and the special effects are so good you really can't see the joins.

It's predictable and rather patchy, but you will find yourself sniggering at times.

DON'T miss Blue Wilderness (World 8.30pm) which has some fear-inducing footage of those underwater crowd-pleasers, sharks.

Presenters Valerie and Ron Taylor emphasise that sharks have had a bad press, and statistically are not worth a mention as a cause of human death.

Nevertheless, the shots of a shark attack on a diver, and of Valerie ''testing'' the effectiveness of a mesh suit as protection are quite mesmerising. The test basically involves a shark clamping its teeth round her arm and shaking her like a rag doll - presumably she gets well paid for her job.

The pair also end up swimming with several Great Whites, protected only by an electronic barrier - the first time anyone has filmed these sharks without the use of a cage.

A SPECIAL episode of Eye on Hongkong (Pearl 7.35pm) is devoted to Stonecutters Island, it's past, present and future.

Colonel Richard Illingworth, who is writing a history of the island, speaks about events there during the war: Katie Ledger looks at activity on the island now; and Paul George speaks to David Melville of the World Wide Fund for Nature about the future of the 60-odd species of birds that nest there.

CONTROVERSIAL country star turned pop singer K.D. Lang goes acoustic in the early hours in MTV Unplugged (MTV 1.30am.

Lang's the lass who nearly stopped her career just as it started when she enraged half the cowboy populations of Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa by announcing she was a vegetarian and appearing in a ''meat stinks'' advertising campaign.

All three states have massive livestock industries, and they were so unamused by Lang's protest that local radio stations boycotted her records. Perhaps that's why she turned to pop.