As bumbling brainiac and Bafta host Stephen Fry was taking a leave of absence from Twitter with a resounding and expletive-ridden tweet stating that the platform had become "a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous", some of us welcomed the return to the small screen of his former comedy partner, Hugh Laurie. Thankfully, though, Laurie's reappearance wasn't as the misanthropic doctor of misery in House, the award-winning medical drama that transformed the ex-Cambridge Footlights president into one of the highest paid actors on television.
Despite appearances, the acerbic Dr Gregory House was actually one of the good guys, but in new eight-part miniseries The Night Manager (which premiered on Monday on AMC, and continues tomorrow, at 10pm), Laurie gets to sink his teeth into an unambiguously villainous role: the "worst man in the world", international arms dealer Richard Roper.
Directed by Academy Award-winner Susanne Bier and adapted from John le Carre's 1993 espionage novel of the same name, The Night Manager follows ex-soldier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston; The Avengers) as he works the graveyard shift as a hotel manager in Cairo at the height of the Arab spring. When a well-connected guest is murdered, Pine is thrust into an undercover mission by anti-corruption agent Angela Burr (a heavily pregnant Olivia Colman; Broadchurch). To bring Roper down, Pine must break into the crooked businessman's tight-knit inner circle, but to gain his quarry's trust, he himself must become a criminal.
After last week's intense, well-paced premiere, the action switches from Egypt to Switzerland, where the protagonists' paths cross again. With Colman (second from right) putting in another solid performance (is she ever anything other than fantastic?), the scenes shared by Hiddleston (second from left) and Laurie (far left) rarely bristle with tension as both actors appear far too nice to play the truly nasty. When Laurie emphatically states, "If you step out of line, we'll make you howl for your mother", he sounds about as menacing as his turn as Prince Ludwig the Indestwuctible, in Blackadder II. But you never know with these Brits, all it could take is one spilt cup of tea and all hell could break loose. Let's keep our fingers jolly well crossed.
With the recent sudden cold snap came the news (followed by ridicule) that dozens of foolhardy frost chasers had been stranded on Hong Kong's highest peak, Tai Mo Shan, after "treacherous" weather had made the ground too slippery to walk on. While this freak change in climate managed to foil many of Hong Kong's most intrepid adventurers, polar explorer Eric Larsen and extreme mountaineer Ryan Waters are made of sterner stuff.
The pair will battle slightly more challenging conditions as they make a gruelling 800km journey over the frozen Arctic Ocean, in two-hour documentary Melting: Last Race to the Pole (tonight on Discovery Channel, at 9pm). The adventurers are aiming to be the fastest people to reach the North Pole unsupported and unaided (a feat fewer than 50 others have managed) in an attempt to raise awareness of global warming. Contending with unforgiving weather, rationed food, hungry polar bears and hazardous ice, the expedition will prove to be a test of strength and willpower.
"Take the hardest thing that you could possibly imagine - do that for 40 days. Then make it twice as hard and keep going," is how Larsen describes it.
With the Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, we could be witnessing the very last journey of its kind. Now surely that's something worth tweeting about, Mr Fry.