16 – yes, 16 – new TV shows to watch this week
RTÉ checks in with the John Paul generation and BBC promises another must-watch drama
Michaela Cole in Black Earth Rising (BBC Two)
Black Earth Rising
Monday, BBC Two, 9pm
Michaela Cole stars as legal investigator Kate Ashby in this eight-part international thriller that looks at the West’s delicate relationship with modern Africa. Kate was rescued from the Rwandan genocide as a child and adopted by human rights lawyer Eve Ashby (Harriet Walter). But mother and daughter clash when Eve takes on the job as prosecutor in the trial of a militia leader accused of crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nothing like divided loyalties to drive on a dramatic storyline, eh? John Goodman costars as Kate’s boss, a respected international lawyer.
The John Pauls
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
What was the most popular baby name in Ireland in 1979? It wasn’t JR, but JP. In the year of the first papal visit to Ireland, one in 10 babies was named John Paul in honour of Pope John Paul II. And one girl was named Karol in honour of the pope’s birth name. This programme catches up with some of these John Pauls nearly 40 years later, and finds out how Ireland has changed since they were chisellers. A dozen JPs share their personal experiences of growing up in a country that has been going through a long, often painful transformation. Wonder will they be interviewing a load of Franks in 40 years’ time?
Travel Man: 48 Hours in Zurich
Monday, C4, 8.30pm
New series. Richard Ayoade returns with the offbeat tourism show, joined in the first edition by comedian Lee Mack for a short break in Switzerland’s largest city. Their two-day visit to Zurich features trips to a football museum and the Cabaret Voltaire, which was the birthplace of the Dada art movement. They also go on the steepest funicular railway in the world, pay homage to the Swiss army knife and go for a pedalo ride on Lake Zurich.
Monday, UTV, 9pm
It looks like most of the budget for this Hong Kong-set thriller went on the adverts, some of which have popped up in British cinemas. John Simm plays a professor whose life is turned upside down when he discovers his wife (Megan Harris) has been killed in a car-crash in Hong Kong. Now he must overcome his fears and cross oceans to identify the body of the woman he loved. With an excellent cast including Emilia Fox and Tim McInnerny, this could be the most addictive new UTV thriller since Unforgotten.
Neven’s Spanish Food Trails
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
This new seven-part series is Neven Maguire’s most ambitious TV venture to date, as he brings viewers to a part of the world that he loves and admires. Here Neven visits Bilbao, San Sebastian and Bermeo in the Basque Country; and Haro in La Rioja. Every part of the region has its own speciality: fish in Bermeo, where Neven sees mackerel being landed and visits a tuna canning plant; pinchos in San Sebastian (which has more Michelin star restaurants per square kilometre than any other place on earth), wine in Haro, cider in Altzaga and cheese in Segura. Tonight the trail begins in Malaga.
Country Music Awards
Tuesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Live coverage from the Millennium Forum in Derry of the Irish Post Country Music Awards, in assocation with TG4 and the Irish Music Rights Assocation. More than 10 music acts will perform on the night with extended performances of multiple songs from some of the biggest names. The star-studded line-up includes Derek Ryan, Susan McCann, Olivia Douglas, Philomena Begley, Declan Nerney, Johnny Brady, Lisa McHugh, Cliona Hagan and Donna Taggart. The show is hosted by singer Malachi Cush and presenter Aioife Ní Thuairisg.
Princess Margaret: The Rebel Royal
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
On a rain-lashed August evening in 1930, at Glamis Castle in Scotland, the Duke and Duchess of York were expecting their second child. Margaret Rose Windsor’slife would be the talk of millions in the decades to come. This two-part documentary profiles the life and loves of a woman who reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed Britain during the 20th century. Episode one begins in 1930 with her birth on that tempestuous night and examines her early years.
Tales of Tudor Travel: The Explorer’s Handbook
Tuesday, BBC4, 10pm
We know what you’re thinking: “Where can I find a documentary about Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, the travel guide compiled from first-hand records of Tudor seafarers in the 16th century?” Well, look no further, because this show has everything you need to know. And even if you aren’t thinking that, it’s still a fascinating look at the prototype for today’s travel guides, a tome offering advice, warnings, descriptions of remarkable people and a list of vocabulary to converse with foreigners. Little wonder it became so popular with English seafarers.
Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Your family is the richest in the world, but when you’re kidnapped by the Italian Mafia, they won’t pay the ransom. How f***ed-up is that? This starry 10-part drama focuses on the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson), heir to the Getty oil fortune. The mafia reckon this is a done deal, but grandad Getty (Donald Sutherland) is an ornery cuss and refuses to pay, while the boy’s dad, J Paul Getty Jr, is too whacked out on drugs to engage with the situation. It’s left to his penniless mom, Gail Getty (Hilary Swank), to try to persuade the kidnappers to free her son. Danny Boyle directed the first few episodes.
Vogue: Is Monogamy Dead?
Wednesday, RTÉ Two, 9.30pm
Could you stick with the same partner for your whole life, or do you reckon every relationship has its sell-by date? That’s the question Vogue Williams wrestles with in the first of her new three-part documentary series. With social media opening up a whole world of FOMO and temptation, is the concept of monogamy as outdated as old Nokia phones? In an age where you can simply swipe for sexual encounters, is there any point staying faithful to one person? Williams meets a variety of people in a range of relationships to get their views on this touchy topic.
Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure
Wednesday, UTV, 9pm
Lumley is off on her travels again, and first stop is Venice, where she discovers how the Silk Road helped the region’s merchants and the city state itself grow rich and powerful. She witnesses evidence of Marco Polo’s silk road booty, and sees how silk cemented Venice’s reputation as a centre of luxury and wealth. Later she’s off to the Balkan country of Albania, then Turkey, starting in Istanbul, a pivotal Silk Road city on the crossroads of Europe and Asia. There’s time for a look round Cappadocia, where the amazing rock formations create a unique landscape that became a sanctuary for the early Christian communities.
Thursday, RTÉ 2, 9.30pm
Call the midwife – here’s a four-part documentary taking you inside the world’s longest-operating maternity hospital, and looking at the magical and messy business of bringing new life into the world. Two dozen babies are born in the Rotunda every day, and each birth has its own unique story. In the first episode, we meet grandmother Kay, who is helping her daughter Nicola through the birth of baby Lar, and expectant couple Aine and Arno, who have been told their child has a life-threatening condition. The series follows the ups and downs, tears and laughter, and joy and trauma of childbirth in modern Ireland.
Thursday, C4, 9pm
Paul Abbott’s acclaimed drama returns for a third run. Joanna Scanlan is back as DI Viv Deering, and she and the Friday Street team face their ugliest enemy yet when they clash with the far-right. Fans of sublime sitcom Mum should look out for Lisa McGrillis as a political underdog locked in a contentious mayoral election battle with the incumbent liberal. (Ace Bhatti). Deering and her team are drawn into their rivalry when a mayoral hustings between the pair becomes a flashpoint for violence as an assassin (Darren Connolly) enters the political arena.
Serial Killer with Piers Morgan
Thursday, UTV, 9pm
Nearly 30 years ago, Alex Henriquez was convicted for murdering two girls, aged 10 and 14, and a 21-year-old woman in the Bronx. He is serving 75 years but continues to maintain his innocence, and has never spoken publicly about his crimes. Piers Morgan explores how a national outcry which followed the death of 10-year-old Jessica Guzman in 1990 prompted the New York Police Department to assemble a task force. They investigated the string of murders that haunted the Bronx for two years. Henriquez was a local businessman, and no one suspected he would be the prime suspect.
Big Brother: Live Launch
Friday, Virgin Two, 9pm
Plenty of folks are wondering: has this long-running reality show finally gone off the boil? That remains to be seen, but just days after wrapping up the celebrity version, Emma Willis introduces the latest wave of ordinary folk about to enter the Orwellian pre-fab. Of course, there’s a good chance that some of these nobodies going in will emerge as household names by the time the latest series is over.
Front Row Late
Friday, BBC2, 11.05pm
BBC Two’s nocturnal arts slot has gone through many incarnations over the years, from the sublime Late Review in the 1990s, when the likes of Mark Lawson and Tom Paulin used to assess films, books and plays, to this offering. Previous series have featured reports on the Turner Prize, Michael Fassbender and Blade Runner 2049. Following her stint as host earlier in the year, Mary Beard is back with the topical cultural debate programme. There will be more interviews, news features and performances from the world of the arts. – Additional reporting: PA