15 of the best TV shows to watch this week

Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone star in new drama The First, Home Rescue returns and Dark Heart sees Tom Riley as a cop with a dark past

Ariana Grande (left) with Miley Cyrus performing at the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack, at Emirates Old Trafford on June 4th, 2017. Photograph: Dave Hogan/PA Wire

Ariana Grande (left) with Miley Cyrus performing at the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack, at Emirates Old Trafford on June 4th, 2017. Photograph: Dave Hogan/PA Wire

 

Daphne: A Pen Too Sharp
Monday, RTÉ One, 11.05pm

A woman places flowers at the scene of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed in a car bomb attack in Bidnija, Malta on October 26th, 2017. Photograph: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
A woman places flowers at the scene of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed in a car bomb attack in Bidnija, Malta on October 26th, 2017. Photograph: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

This French-made documentary, first broadcast in France in April, exames events surrounding the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bombing close her home in October 2017. Caruana Galizia’s career focused on investigative reporting into government corruption and money laundering, and all of her findings were published on her personal blog , which attracted more than 400,000 views per day.

Selling Children: Storyville
Monday, BBC4, 10pm
Child slavery was an issue seemingly far removed from Pankaj Johar’s daily life in India. Despite seeing children in the marketplace, factories and street corners, the middle-class film-maker rarely considered the circumstances which led millions of kids to be forced into labour. This changed when the 14-year-old daughter of his family’s maid took her own life after being trafficked into sexual slavery. In this film, Pankaj tries to understand how, in the world’s largest democracy, it is possible for vulnerable children to be bought and sold so easily.

Home Rescue
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Róisín Murphy in Home Rescue
Róisín Murphy in Home Rescue

Architect and designer Róisín Murphy has rescued many a family from the hell of clutter in the series Desperate Houses. Now she’s back, along with builder Peter Finn and his crew, to help more families in debris distress, and get their houses back into some semblance of order. It’s not as easy as it looks: Murphy has to persuade family members to part with possessions and let go of things that no longer serve a useful purpose. Murphy and Finn must work to a threeday time limit and an €8,000 budget to transform cluttered rooms into tidy, efficient and comfy living spaces – and transform homeowners’ clogged-up mindsets.

The Abbey: A Riot of Their Own
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
In July 2016, Scotsmen Graham McLaren and Neil Murray took over as joint directors of the Abbey Theatre, promising to oversee a new dawn for the National Theatre, which first opened its box office in 1904. This documentary follows the directors’ first year at the helm as they seek to reinvent the Abbey and ensure it preserves our theatrical heritage while staying plugged in to the public discourse. The programme goes behind the scenes as McLaren directs his first production for the Abbey, Jimmy’s Hall, and Murray works to keep funding coming in and ensuring that Abbey productions thrive internationally. Both face a collossal task that would humble most directors: staging Dermot Bolger’s sprawling adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The Fires That Foretold Grenfell
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
The haunting story of five fires that came before the Grenfell disaster, told through the eyes of those directly involved and filmed over the course of 12 months. The film collates the memories of survivors, the bereaved, firefighters, safety experts and the politicians linked to five intensely fierce fire disasters, showing the warnings that existed and may have predicted a Grenfell-type inferno happening in Britain. The programme focuses on three factors – the application of flammable material and cladding to buildings, the “stay put” advice given by fire services, and the absence of sprinklers – and how they contributed to each of the previous blazes, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Blasta
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm

Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire (right) in Blasta
Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire (right) in Blasta

TG4 is teams up with the National Folklore Collection for this series, in which food historian Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire embarks on a journey around Ireland exploring the island’s unique food heritage using the fascinating recipes, utensils and cookbooks in the hands of ordinary people. After initially crowd-sourcing recipes via a unique online platform, each episode will see three recipe owners share their family recipe with the public. The series begins in Cork, at a masterclass in stuffing sheep’s hearts, and a trip to the Butter Museum.

Samhain Live
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Comedian Diona Doherty is in Derry city to present coverage of the biggest Halloween fetsival in Europe. Jerry Fish and local musician JJ Ó Dochartaigh are also on hand to introduce some of Ireland’s top acts, including Le Galaxie, Saint Sister, Declan O’Rourke, Wyvern Lingo and Gavin James. The camera will also take viewers into the carnival-like atmosphere live from the streets, complete with parade and fireworks.

The First
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Natascha McElhone and Sean Penn (centre) in The First
Natascha McElhone and Sean Penn (centre) in The First

Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone star in this worthy-looking drama about a crew of astronauts preparing for a mission to Mars. Sci-fi buffs might be a tad disappointed; the series seems to focus on the family ties and friendships put to the test as the astronauts and technicians work towards their goal of getting the first humans on the red planet. Hopefully, there won’t be too much staring wistfully up at the sky and saying stuff like, “Our future is out there somewhere.”

Ariana Grande at the BBC
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
She’s the pop star millions of fans love to emulate, so little wonder the latest in the Beeb’s occasional series of interviews/gigs features superstar Ariana Grande. Davina McCall will be chatting to the beloved musician about her latest album, Sweetener. Grande is accompanied by her band and a full orchestra. In between songs she also talks about her life and career, and no doubt addresses the atrocity at Manchester Arena in May 2017, which claimed the lives of 23 people and left more than 100 wounded.

Liveline: Call Back
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm
The series returns to follow-up the stoires of some of the most remarkable callers to Joe Duffy’s radio show, including a homeless man who was living in his care during a heatwave, and an 86-year-old woman who became a viral sensation.

Dark Heart
Thursday, Virgin One/UTV, 9pm

Tom Riley in Dark Heart
Tom Riley in Dark Heart

DI Will Wagstaffe (Tom Riley) is a smart young cop with a dark past: both his parents were murdered when he was 16. But instead of turning into Batman, Wagstaffe becomes a dogged and tenacious detective with some unorthodox methods. He and his team are sent to investigate the gruesome murder of a man who was foundchoked and mutilated. Wagstaffe soon learns that the man had been remanded on suspicion of sexually assaulting his two stepdaughters 2½ years ago, but there was insufficient evidence, and so he was freed. Is this a revenge killing? Or is there more to this than meets the eye? Probably the latter.

Diagnosis on Demand? The Computer Will See You Now
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
Dr Hannah Fry explores how artificial intelligence is starting to transform healthcare beyond recognition, asking if machines could ever replace doctors. She goes behind the scenes of British tech company Babylon Health, which has already persuaded 30,000 Londoners to quit their GPs and register instead for a digital service where patients use their phones to discuss their symptoms with an AI chatbot. To prove the accuracy of its online medics, Babylon prepares for a man-versus-machine showdown at triage and diagnosis. Will they prove a match for human GPs?

Lár Stáitse
Friday, TG4, 8pm

Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, host of Lár Stáitse
Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, host of Lár Stáitse

A new generation are preserving Ireland’s languages and traditions, and this live show proves it as features performances from some of the contestants in the under-18s competition from this year’s Oireachtas na Samhna in Killarney. Presented by Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, Lár Stáitse will feature the traditional oral arts as Gaeilge, spotlighting the agallamh beirte (dialogue in verse) from the oral tradition. The Agallamh Beirte final in the 12-15 competition age-group will be broadcast live and the programme will also include winning performances from other junior competitions (storytelling, recitations & lúibíní (traditional rhyming dialogue).

Unreported World
Friday, C4, 7.30pm
Krishnan Guru-Murthy heads to the northern coast of South America to report on the plight of some of the one million children in Venezuela caught up in what is believed to be the world’s biggest migration as they flee poverty, hunger and medical shortages. Together with director-cameraman Nick Blakemore, the veteran journalist joins the youngsters as they make the dangerous crossing into neighbouring Colombia, where even then they then have to fend for themselves, often with no money and nowhere to stay.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Norton welcomes actors Claire Foy (The Girl in the Spider’s Web) and Kurt Russell (The Christmas Chronicles), as well as children’s author David Walliams.

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