Paul O'Grady's Favourite Fairy Tales (ITV, 9pm)

THE comedy star and chat show host says his first encounter with the fairy tale world was more nightmarish than magical.

"My first memory of a fairy tale is my dad taking me to the Essoldo (cinema) in Birkenhead to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And we only got as far as the opening credits and the queen walking up the steps and the music to magic mirror on the wall, and I screamed the place down and I had to be taken out," says O'Grady.

Fortunately, his fear gave way to fascination. "I've always found fairy tales intriguing – stories of cursed princesses, evil queens, charming princes, and above all, a happy ending. For years I've been playing those well-known characters on stage in panto, and children love them. So I became fascinated by the origins of the tales.

"It's only when you get older that you wonder where did this come from, how did you invent a magic mirror, seven dwarves in a diamond mine, and why do children today, hundreds of years later, still find them fascinating?"

Now, he's getting a chance to find out as he travels to Germany to enter the world of the Brothers Grimm, who are responsible for many of the stories that we have grown up with. Soon our host is prancing around as the wolf from Red Hiding Hood and the witch in Papunzel.

O'Grady explores the landscapes that inspired the brothers, visiting picture-book castles and chocolate box villages – he even calls in on the building where Rapunzel is said to have been imprisoned and the forest community where real-life Little Riding Hoods lived and the unmarried women wear red bonnets.

But while it may all look charming, he is aware that many of these stories have a dark side. And if you thought the Disney take on these tales could be disturbing, then the original versions could really give you the chills. In the original tale of Cinderella, the ugly sisters had their toes chopped off in an attempt to fit the golden slipper on their feet.

O'Grady looks at how his own favourite tales – Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty – were put together and how they evolved over the centuries.

It's a story that's almost as fascinating as the tales themselves, mixing magic and enchantment with something a little darker. And really, who better to introduce a touch of spice to the fairy tale sugar than the acerbic Pogdogs presenter.

The Supervet at Christmas (C4, 8pm)

THE festive season is a time of joy and celebration for most of us, so the last thing you need is worry and stress over a sick pet. Luckily for the people featured in this Christmas special, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick and The Supervet team are on hand to help poorly animals at their practice in Surrey. Charity worker Kerry brings in Maxi, a three-year-old rescue greyhound with severely damaged front legs. Will Noel be able to fix Maxi so he can be rehomed in time for Christmas? Noel's dog Keira is rushed into the practice with sickness and diarrhoea, while River, a Border terrier puppy, has fractured both back legs. Finally, Noel makes a surprise visit home to Ireland.

Hilda Ogden's Last Ta-ra – A Tribute to Jean Alexander (ITV, 8pm)

SHE may have moved out of Coronation Street in 1987 after a 23-year stint, but Hilda Ogden remains one of British soap's most iconic characters. So it's only fitting that ITV is paying tribute to the actress who played her, Jean Alexander, who died in October. The documentary features contributions from former colleagues William Roache, Michael Le Vell and Sally Dynevor, who also enjoy watching classic moments in a special recreation of Stan and Hilda Ogden's famous living room. Younger members of the Corrie cast also celebrate Hilda's legacy and famous fans, including that man Paul O'Grady again, provide their own memories.

Viv Hardwick