Todd Sampson interview crowns the week's TV

Series return ★★★☆

This under-rated series returns for a third season, bursting with energy. The “twist” this year (there has to be one) is that along with team competing against team, we also have four Australian teams going up against four New Zealand teams. The competitors are the usual mix of the adorable, the intriguing and the immensely irritating, and already we’re seeing national pride giving way to personal allegiance as they make their way through a delirious set of challenges. Animal lovers may be a little concerned at the rough treatment of sheep during one of them, but otherwise this is good, high-octane fun from start to end.

10am, ABC; 8.30pm, ABC News24

Jane Hutcheon’s conversation with Todd Sampson opens with a fascinating account of his reaching the summit of Mt Everest. For a start: who knew? (Although. Also. Not that surprising.) More intriguing is his recollection of the event, which says so much about him. Even more satisfying is that this is once again an impeccably structured interview that will eventually bring us back to those ideas, via some equally intriguing detail from Sampson’s early life. (The research on this series is meticulous.) Among other things, we get another reminder that it tends not to be self-esteem but rather a lack of self-esteem that drives people to succeed. 

Series final ★★★☆
Wednesday, 8.30pm, Ten 

I still don’t buy the whole Thomas thing but elsewhere the trials facing Nina feel very real. From Billie’s decision to move to London with Mick to Leo’s abrupt rejection – not to mention the looming birthday for Zoe/anniversary of Patrick’s death – there’s a really satisfying coherence to this concluding ep. It also has some splendid Offspring moments, including Clegg’s PowerPoint presentation, and the Offspring equivalent of a Grey’s bomb/gun/weaponised virus. Clearly made without the firm prospect of a further season, fans will be delighted with the way everything wraps up. 


New series ★★★
Tuesday, 7.30pm, NatGeo Wild

These “Wild” series are actually pretty tame but it’s a credit to everyone involved here that they’ve managed to make a nature documentary about the Australian desert and the creatures who exist there reasonably interesting. I  learnt something about the way kangaroos reproduce (which also explains why they so readily reach plague proportions), while the detail on some of our lesser-known marsupials is quite fascinating. Also, it looks absolutely glorious.

Saturday, 7.30pm, Max

Coldplay is one of those bands people love to mock but they’re terrific performers and there’s something especially nice about Chris and the gang returning to help celebrate the 50th edition of Foxtel’s concert series, Max Sessions – especially as they launched the series 11 years ago. Over the ensuing decade there’s been an incredible roster of local and international talent, from Moby and Michael Buble to Paul Kelly and Darren Hayes. This hour includes all the Coldplay favourites along with material from the latest album, all ecstatically received by the (relatively) cosy audience of 700.