Head Over Heels in Rats (C4, 7.30pm); Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs (BBC4, 9pm); The Million Pound Drop (C4, 10pm); Ice Road Truckers (Five, 8pm); Hustle (BBC1, 9pm).

FOR many people, the word rat conjures up the words disease or vermin and images that inspire horror, disgust and fear. However, some people feel rather differently about these furry rodents as Head Over Heels In Rats demonstrates.

Kate and Kevin Rattray – honestly, that’s their name – are one such couple. They are rat enthusiasts who belong to the Yorkshire Rat Club.

Their brood began with two rats five years ago and has now grown to 27. Having never had the maternal instinct for children, Kate and Kevin describe themselves as “a weird couple, with no kids – but lots of rats”.

Of course, being a parent to so many furry creatures can be an emotional rollercoaster. Jenny Popplewell’s First Cut film explores the Rattrays’ unique household and their unconventional love affair with these much-maligned creatures.

From losing a beloved member of the family to throwing birthday parties and the joy of gaining a new baby rat, this is an unusual portrait of an unconventional duo.

FOR a man who spent part of his life in Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, pictured, hasn’t done too badly for himself. With a string of hit singles and albums under his belt, as well as stunning soundtracks to Local Hero and The Princess Bride among others, he has r i g h t l y earned the l a b e l “music legend”.

As part of an evening devoted to the 61-year-old musician who grew up on Tyneside, the documentary Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs examines his career.

It features an interview in which he talks about the influence of his life and background on the songs he has written.

The programme also traces his working life, from his beginnings playing in pubs in Leeds in the Seventies, to his success with Dire Straits and writing of the Brothers in Arms album, as well as his world tour as a solo artist.

If this leaves y o u h u n - g r y f o r more, stay tuned because it is followed by a studio concert that was first shown on Later with Jools Holland in May 1996.

LIKE The Biggest Loser, Davina McCall’s other show of the moment, The Million Pound Drop also involves losing pounds – only in this case, as few as possible.

Last year, it proved to be one of the brightest new additions to the schedules, and there are eight new episodes on Fridays and Saturdays, over four consecutive weekends, with contestants once more playing for £1m live on C4.

The second series saw 1.1 million people play along live and there are currently more than 10,000 followers on the official Twitter site with 165,000 Facebook fans.

Viewers also saw some TV magic occur during a Christmas episode when one couple, Anita and Rajan, won £50,000 before Rajan proposed to Anita live on-air.

It wasn’t long before celebrities got involved with the fun for their chosen charities.

So far, we’ve seen Jimmy Carr and Johnny Vaughan, Emma Bunton and Jade Jones, and Janet and Sophie Ellis Bexter test their brain power in the big money game show.

They weren’t bad, but only George and Larry Lamb have managed to beat The Million Pound Drop Live THIS week in Ice Road Truckers, the team really earns its money as truckers traverse the Dalton Highway, a 500-mile road connecting the Alaskan city of Fairbanks with the Arctic oilfields of Prudhoe Bay.

At the start of the second day of the trucking season, a low-visibility snow-storm, occurs 50 miles south of Prudhoe.

Greg Boadwine, a 27-year-old father, overturned his truckload of pipelines during his inaugural season last year. Luckily, the freight company has given him a second chance and another year behind the wheel.

However, he’s still bottom of the pecking order and has a relatively small load of lumber weighing 2,500lbs.

It may be just as well because as he enters the whiteout, the chances of a disastrous head-on collision are increased.

Meanwhile, glamorous Lisa Kelly is having a hard time with a “leftover load”, an assortment of smaller deliveries loaded onto one truck, and also has personal problems with other truckers.

THE latest in a long line of famous faces to join the gang – albeit temporarily – in Hustle is Denis Lawson. He plays Benny, a friend of the latterday Robin Hoods.

However, at the beginning of the story, they believe he’s dead – in fact, Ash is on his way to Benny’s funeral when he bumps into him.

Benny reveals he’s lost his love of the game, but to escape a mounting debt to dodgy credit lender Danush Larijani has been forced to fake his own death.

Ash and co realise they may be able to bring Danush down a peg or two and get Benny off the hook by launching an audacious scheme involving cigarettes.

Before you know it, the con is on – but will their latest elaborate game of smoke and mirrors backfire?

Robert Glenister, Robert Vaughn, Adrian Lester, Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams head the regular cast