13 of the best TV shows to watch this week
Brendan Courtney looks at ageing and A Woman’s Place puts women politicians in the picture
Brendan Courtney and his mother Nuala in We Need to Talk about Mam. Photograph: RTE
We Need to Talk about Mam
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
It happens to us all, and finally the moment has come for Brendan Courtney, when he must face the stark reality of getting old. Not for himself – the presenter and fashion designer looks as youthful and dapper as ever – but for his mother, Nuala, who is in her 70s. The recently widowed Nuala is still in shock after the death of her husband Frank, and unable to make plans for a future without her partner of 50 years. So it’s up to Brendan and his siblings to help their mother get her life back together. The programme addresses the age-old question of how much responsibility we need to take for our ageing parents, along with the wider question of whether Irish society is equipped to cope with a rapidly ageing population. Courtney may not be ready for the pipe and slippers yet, but has he made provision for his retirement, or is his pension pot looking a bit bare?
Tastes Like Home
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Catherine Fulvio’s series makes a welcome return as the chef gets the ball rolling in Cabinteely, south Dublin. Here she meets mum Liz, who teaches her how to make fish molee curry so that Fulvio can prepare it for her son in New Zealand.
Celebrity Antiques Road Trip
Monday, BBC2, 7pm
The programme in which famous faces compete in the cross-country bargain-hunting challenge returns for a new series – and it’s off to a glamorous start. TV presenters Denise Van Outen and Kelly Brook (who both did time on The Big Breakfast and competed on Strictly Come Dancing) set out on a trip around southeast England in classic cars. Along the way they receive expert guidance from Charles Hanson and Tim Medhurst as they visit antique shops and emporiums to find items to sell at auction.
Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
As the prime minster tries to deliver a Brexit that works for the country as whole, this programme reveals what the British people think of the likely deal on offer. Channel 4 commissioned the largest independent survey of attitudes across the whole of the UK conducted since the referendum, asking 20,000 people drawn from every UK constituency for their views, and put the results to politicians and those who stand to gain, or lose, most from the outcome – all before a live studio audience. Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosts.
WW1: The Last Tommies
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
In the run up Armistice Day on Sunday, Nov 11th, there is plenty of programmes this week, and The Last Tommies new series features poignant archive interviews with some of the last surviving soldiers, who were in their 90s and 100s during filming. The first episode focuses on the first years of the conflict, when many young men enthusiastically volunteered only to discover that trench warfare was far from the glorious adventure they had imagined. Also woth catching is Captain Jack and the Furious Few (Wednesday, BBC4, 10pm), which tells the true story of Jack McCleery, an Ulster-Scots teenager who, during the first World War, was posted to HMS Furious to join an elite squadron of test pilots. Their mission: land a wheeled plane on the deck of a moving vessel, helping to develop the technology that would turn the ship into the world’s first dedicated aircraft carrier. WWI: The Final Hours (Thursday, BBC2, 9pm) looks at how history was made on a train carriage in a forest near Paris when an Englishman, a Frenchman and a German met in secret to deliver a peace deal for Europe. While they succeeded in ending a brutal war, the armistice negotiations would have long-lasting repercussions.
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Welcome to another battle of the bricks, as the second series of Lego Masters kicks off, pitting Lego enthusiasts against each other as they try to come up with the most elaborate and imaginative creations. Yes, this is just one big ad for Lego, and a reminder to Santa to stock up on the latest sets, but the fun here is in watching kids (and kidults) racing against the clock and testing their Lego-building skills to breaking point as they compete to be crowned this year’s Lego Master.
I’ll Get This
Tuesday, BBC2, 10pm
What do Rylan Clark-Neal, Ed Gamble, Carol Vorderman, Ellie Taylor and Anton Du Beke have in common? Very little, except they are all appearing in the first episode of this odd mix of reality and game show. The idea is to throw together five celebrities who are not close pals and get them to go out to dinner. As they get to know each other over a sumptuous meal, they put their bank card in the middle of the table and can only retrieve it by winning one of a series of fun and revealing games. The person whose card is left over at the end must pay for their own food – and everyone else’s.
A Woman’s Place
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 11.10pm
How do you address the thorny topic of women’s representation in politics and public life? This documentary has come up with an interesting way: commission a portrait of all 53 women in the Houses of the Oireachtas by the acclaimed Belfast- based artist Noel Murphy, then get Eamonn Mallie to chat to the women about what can be done to increase the number of women in political life. The interviews were conducted while the painting was in progress, and the finished canvas was unveiled on International Women’s Day in March – which coincided with the centenary of the election of Countess Constance Markievicz, the first woman to hold a cabinet position. “Women in politics should not be in any way confined to a canvas or a TV documentary,” says former minister Frances Fitzgerald. “We need a critical mass of women in Irish politics.”
Killer by the Lake
Wednesday, C4, 10.35pm
As is often the case with foreign dramas on Channel 4 these days, the opening episode is being broadcast, with the rest of the run available immediately afterwards on All 4. Those who were transfixed by last year’s French thriller Vanished by the Lake certainly won’t want to miss this follow-up. The story picks up three years later as Lise (Barbara Schulz) and Clovis (Lannick Gautry) are living happily with their nine-month-old son Tom on the shores of Lake Annecy. But their peace and tranquillity are shattered by the discovery of two bodies. Lise is assigned to the case as lead detective, and establishes that a crazed serial killer is on the loose. Finding the murderer takes its toll on her, but she has other things to worry about, including her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and Clovis, who is becoming increasingly distant.
Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
On November 14th, Prince Charles will turn 70. Over the course of 12 months, film-maker John Bridcut has had exclusive access to the royal, observing him at work and behind the scenes, both at home and abroad. He’s also spoken to some of those who know him best, including his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and his sons, Princes William and Harry. This portrait shows that Britain’s longest-serving heir has spent more than 50 years in public life, often championing causes that once seemed obscure but are now considered mainstream, and that he still feels he has a lot more to do.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Sir Ian McKellen talks about his 50-year career and in particular his recent role in an explosive revival of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy King Lear at Duke of York’s Theatre in London, and his one-man stage show, Ian McKellen with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You at Park Theatre. Joining him on the sofa are Carey Mulligan, who is promoting 1960s-set US drama Wildlife, which is based on the 1990 novel by Richard Ford; and Taron Egerton, who is following in the footsteps of Errol Flynn, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner to play the title role in the new Robin Hood movie. Finally, crooner Michael Bublé performs I Only Have Eyes for You from his new album, Love.
Additional reporting: PA