Seven TV shows to watch this week

Lovely girls and dashing doctors are among this week’s television highlights

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale really took a strange turn. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale really took a strange turn. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Rose of Tralee International Festival 2017

Monday and Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8pm

Make yourself a big pot of tea, open a tin of USA Assorted, make sure you’ve turned the irony off, and settle in for a two-night marathon of glamorous gúnas and patronising patter, as The Rose of Tralee International Festival 2017 kicks its kitten heels into action once more.

The 58th lovely girls contest will be broadcast live from the festival dome in – where else? – Tralee, Co Kerry, and hosted by the high king of daytime TV, Dáithí Ó Sé, who will once again perform the mighty feat of interviewing all 32 roses while assiduously avoiding touchy subjects such as same-sex marriage, abortion or the gender pay gap.

At the end of it all, one lucky hopeful will be crowned Rose of Tralee 2017, and she’ll get to spend the next year travelling to exotic locations as a representative of the festival – as long as no one finds out about the three kids she has with her transgender partner.

The Mist

From Friday, Netflix

The forecast is foggy for Friday, but don’t bother turning on your fog lights – it won’t do you any good. The Mist is a new horror/drama series based on the novel by Stephen King. In the aftermath of a severe storm, a mysterious mist descends on the small town of Bridgeville, Maine. The residents soon discover there are some very nasty things lurking in the pea-soup, and anyone who goes out into the mist quickly comes to a sticky, gory end.

The townspeople must find a way to battle these terrifying creatures, but they also must confront the darker side of human nature. The 2007 film directed by Frank Darabont was a tight, claustrophobic thriller, but the makers of the TV series have expanded the locations and opened up a few psychological rabbit-holes to keep the nightmare going over 10 episodes. Should keep us distracted until Stranger Things 2 arrives.

The State

Sunday-Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm

Britain is facing a tide of radicalised young people who are leaving the country to fight for Islamic State in Syria. But not all of these would-be jihadists realise what they’re getting into. The State is a fictional drama following four young British people as they join Islamic State in Raqqa, and are faced with the reality of life under this brutal regime. It’s clearly aimed at discouraging young people from joining Isis – but will the message get through?

Quacks

Tuesday, BBC Two, 10pm

Andrew Scott has bagged a few interesting roles lately, but here’s one for the books: the Irish actor makes a guest appearance as none other than Charles Dickens in the second episode of Quacks, the medical comedy series set in Victorian times. When Caroline (Lydia Leonard) is invited to dinner with the great author, William (Matthew Baynton) professes himself a big fan, and escorts her to the dinner party. We’re not long into the starters when it becomes apparent that William hasn’t read a word of Dickens. Meanwhile, Robert (Rory Kinnear) must find a way to get rid of a rather annoying volunteer by the name of Florence Nightingale.

Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?

Sunday, BBC Two, 9pm

Reality TV shows are renowned for putting contestants through some very gruelling tests of endurance. You may have been crushed by Simon Cowell, cut down by Gordon Ramsay or crumbled by Paul Hollywood, but that’s nothing compared to what Chris Hadfield puts his 12 contestants through on Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? The former commander of the International Space Station is looking for someone with the right stuff, and he’ll have to narrow down his team of 12 space cadets to just one star pupil. To stay in the running, the contestants will have to push themselves to the limits of their ability. The winner gets a chance at being recruited for training by a space agency – with a reference from Hadfield himself to help them on their mission.

The Crystal Maze

Friday, Channel 4, 8pm

When Channel 4 announced the return of iconic 1990s gameshow The Crystal Maze, many doubted if they could replicate the glory of the original series presented by Richard O’Brien. Nevertheless, more than 30,000 people applied to take part in this brain-melting test of mettle and moxie. They’ve had to wait while four celebrity specials were aired during the summer, but now the celebs have gone and it’s time for the ordinary citizens to take over for The Crystal Maze. New presenter Richard Ayoade has proved himself well up to the task of herding the contestants through the maze, playing the role like a turbo-charged version of his geeky character in The IT Crowd.

Lego Masters

Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm

So, you think you could be a master builder, like Emmet in The Lego Movie? Think again. Lego Masters pits the finest brickmasters in the UK and Ireland against each other in a blockbusting battle to build the most awesome Lego creation. The pressure is enormous – if you had to go up against some of these super-skilled builders, you’d be bricking it too.