THE best has been saved to last. End of the Empire is showing on World at 1.20am, when no-one except the jet-lagged will be able to watch it. That is a shame because it has none of the hallmarks of traditional Hong Kong English language late-night fare; it is interesting, it is entertaining and it was made on a budget that ran into double figures. End of the Empire will be a bitter pill to swallow for the British, particularly those among them - among us, for I have to declare an interest - who believe Gandhi was wrong and that the people of Hong Kong love Inspector Morse. This London Weekend Television series - it continues next week - charts the retreat of the pink bits on the world map. They were everywhere like a bad rash, but have now been reduced to a few unsightly blobs, this territory among them. Episode one is called The Beginning of the End and begins with Winston Churchill taking a voyage on the Royal Navy's newest battleship, The Prince Of Wales, to ask for Roosevelt's help in kicking butt in Germany. Roosevelt agreed and asked Churchill to sign a statement - he did so reluctantly - that hammered the first nail in the Empire's coffin. It said the superpowers wanted to see ''sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them''. Soon afterwards The Prince of Wales sailed straight into the Big Book of Symbolic Gestures when it was sunk by the Japanese near Singapore. Singapore has its own role to play in the drama. It was built as ''a gigantic bluff'', according to the programme. The aim was to deceive the Japanese into thinking that Britain could still dominate the eastern seas. The Japanese, of course, are not as stupid as many an imperialist would like to believe. They invaded, British troops waved the white flag, and the Empire began to look shaky. IF you like your viewing at more convenient times all you have is Gillette World Sport Special (World, 7.05pm) and NBA Inside Stuff (World, 7.30pm). Both are about sport and both contain little of interest and nothing that is newer than a few weeks old. IN America 49th Parallel (World, 9.30pm) was called The Invaders. It stars Laurence Olivier, Glynis Johns and Niall MacGinnis and is not half bad as war movies go. It won an Oscar for Best Story (written by Emeric Pressburger). The Wizard (Pearl, 9.30pm), a road movie for kids, is being screened under one of Pearl's irritating generic titles, The Young Ones. Fred Savage takes traumatised brother Luke Edwards on an adventure across the American Southwest, pursued by various grown-ups. JOHN Dykes is co-hosting Pearl Movie Watch (Pearl, 7.20pm) while Oliver Tan relaxes with his Thomas the Tank Engine books on some tropical beach. The films under scrutiny include this evening's The Wizard (see above) and Saturday's movie classic Jailhouse Rock, which stars the very late and ultimately overweight Elvis Presley. Fiona Carver goes behind the scenes in Hollywood with reports on Steven Spielberg's mum, a lady called Lila Greene who provides personal services - of a legitimate sort - for Tinseltown's stars, and an organisation called Motion Picture Moms, which was formed 50 years ago to unite women who were new to the bright lights. THE American drama series The Untouchables (Pearl, 12.50am) has been tucked away after midnight on Pearl since Deng Xiaoping was a little boy. It is filmed in Chicago, the Windy City, and documents the prohibition-era struggle between Treasury agent Eliot Ness (Tom Amandes) and gangster Al Capone (William Forsythe). Chicago is the star of the series. Executive producer Christopher Crowe - who directed Whispers in the Dark and wrote the screenplay for The Last of the Mohicans - says The Untouchables could not have been filmed anywhere else. ''All we have to do in some neighbourhoods is take down a few parking signs and it looks just as it did 70 years ago.''