17 of the most entertaining shows to watch on TV this weekend
Phil Lynott and Old Town, plus Take That, Kylie, Villagers, Nathan Carter, a profile of the GAA’s legendary Jayo and Dominic West in the BBC's new non-singing Les Miz
Phil Lynott does Dublin in Old Town (1982).
That Was 2018
Friday, Virgin One, 9pm
What a year it has been. Storm Eleanor to begin with, then Storm Emma, followed by a summer heatwave. Donald Trump continues to dominate the headlines and Brexit is a crisis that never ends. Women have very much been in the spotlight. We had an abortion referendum, a controversial rape case in Belfast and a cancer scandal. The Irish rugby team had an unforgettable year and the soccer team a 12 months that everyone would prefer to forget. That Was 2018 will look back on all the big stories of the year, with a soundtrack of the biggest hits.
Take That: We’ve Come a Long Way
Friday, BBC1, 7pm
Hard to believe Take That have been around for 30 years – it seems like only yesterday when they bounced on Top of the Pops without even needing to shave beforehand. This 30th anniversary special will see the band reunite with Robbie Williams as they reflect on their career as the most successful boyband in UK chart history, with lots of unseen footage and input from their fans, who discuss how the band changed their lives. There’ll be a sneak preview of their anniversary album, and a guest appearance from Bee Gee Barry Gibb.
Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
A few weeks ago, Billy Connolly turned up over on UTV in Billy Connolly’s Ultimate World Tour, in which he looked back at the epic trips he’s made for the broadcaster over the past 25 years while exploring his new home state of Florida. This two-part programme is rather more personal: it is an in-depth look at Connolly’s rise to fame, from his years in Glasgow’s shipyards to his international superstardom, via a spell as a folk musician and the beginnings of his career in the 1970s when there simply wasn’t anybody else like him around. Connolly himself is the primary contributor, but a selection of his famous admirers, including Eddie Izzard, Ross Noble, Micky Flanagan, Sharleen Spiteri and Val McDermid, also offer their observations. The second part will be shown next week.
Chester Beatty: The Honorary Irishman
Friday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
In 1957, New York-born philanthropist A Chester Beatty (1875-1968) became the first honorary Irishman – and he was the first private citizen to receive a State funeral. The legacy of the businessman and mining engineer known as “King of Copper”, renowned for his namesake Chester Beatty Library, is examined in this documentary.
Nathan Carter 3 Arena Live Show
Friday, RTÉ One, 11.35pm
The Irish singer performs a set packed full of his most popular songs, including Good Morning Beautiful, Two Doors Down and Wontcha Come Down, while special guests join him on stage.
Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2018
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Every year we hear of celebrities behaving badly or at least getting up to mischief. Louis Walsh, Jeremy Vine, Michelle Visage, Jermaine Pennant, Dan Osborne, India Willoughby and Courtney Act are among the, er, celerities commenting on Madonna’s off-colour “tribute” to Aretha Franklin at the VMAs, Ant McPartlin’s drink-driving incident, Kanye West’s outbursts, and various Celebrity Big Brother moments.
Top of the Pops New Year Special
Saturday, BBC1, 5.10pm
Fearne Cotton and Clara Amfo present a compilation of the biggest hits of the past 12 months, including tracks by some of this year’s most popular and best-selling artists. George Ezra makes a welcome return to the TOTP studio to perform Paradise, while Christine & the Queens plays Girlfriend. Jonas Blue is joined by Jack & Jack for the summer anthem Rise, and Anne-Marie performs Friends, from her debut album Speak Your Mind. There are also appearances by Mabel, Tom Grennan, Years & Years, Lewis Capaldi, B Young, Tom Odell and Clean Bandit. Plus, the last No 1 of 2018 will be performed.
The Secret World of Emily Brontë
Saturday, Channel 4, 6.05pm
It’s 40 years since Kate Bush took an 1847 novel and transformed it into one of the most unique songs of the 1970s. Of course for many, Wuthering Heights had been an inspiration for many long before that song became synonymous with gloriously bonkers pop. Like Kate Bush, model and actress Lily Cole is a big fan of Emily Brontë’s work, and in this documentary she explores the author’s world and that ground-breaking novel.
Saturday, BBC4, 9pm
You may remember this Scandi noir drama from Sweden (original title: Svartsjön) about a group of young friends and the disturbing chain of events that are set into motion when they visit an abandoned ski resort. It captivated many at the end of 2017, and the good news is this prequel saga should answer a few of the questions raised by series one. In the first episode, a boat arrives on the island of Kallskar, and people alight on the apparently deserted isle, unaware of its dark history. Filip Berg stars, and episode two can be seen straight after.
Reel Stories: Kyle Minogue
Saturday, BBC2, 6.15pm
The Australian pop princess has been a star for more than 30 years. Here she talks about her career with Dermot O’Leary while looking back at some of her most memorable TV appearances.
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
The life and career of Jason Sherlock, the first modern GAA superstar, is explored in his own words. The 1995 All-Ireland winning Dublin forward addresses the racial abuse he experienced throughout his childhood, finding fame in his sporting career and finding peace off the field by exploring the roots of his family tree. Blending seamlessly with evocative match footage and forgotten archive, this is a fresh, intriguing picture of one of Ireland’s greatest sportsmen.
Phil Lynott: Scéalta ón Old Town
Sunday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Back in the early 1982, Phil Lynnott released his solo single Old Town, accompanied by a video of him strutting around Dublin like the rock star he was. The images of Phil on the Ha’Penny Bridge, barrelling up Grafton Street, sitting in the Long Hall and playing trumpet on the bandstand in Herbert Park are as much a part of Dublin iconography as the Molly Malone statue, Stephen’s Green and the Spire. This documentary tells the story around the recording and the making of that iconic video, with contributions from his mother, Philomena, and many of the people involved in the the song and video. The gang’s all here, including Phil’s Thin Lizzy bandmate Eric Bell, his old mate Brush Shiels and former Boomtown Rats manager Fachtna Ó Ceallaigh.
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
It doesn’t have any songs, but the BBC’s new six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 19th-century novel does boast an impressive cast and a script by Andrew Davies, who wrote the beloved 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and as well as the recent War & Peace. Set against a backdrop of civil unrest in France, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean (Dominic West), a former convict who is struggling to leave his past behind him – especially as police officer Javert (David Oyelowo) refuses to believe he is a reformed character. Lily Collins co-stars as the tragic Fantine, rising star Ellie Bamber is Cosette, and Olivia Colman is Madame Thenardier.
Other Voices Ballina: Villagers
Sunday, RTÉ2, 11.40pm
In this hour-long Other Voices special, recorded in the beautiful setting of St. Michael’s Church, Ballina, Villagers treat us to career-spanning set. Villagers is the project of Dublin singer-songwriter Conor O’Brien. In this episode we will hear songs from the No 1, critically acclaimed new record The Art of Pretending to Swim, as well as some rearranged fan favourites. From the sublime Trick of the Light to the poignant That Day, this is a rare opportunity to watch artists playing an intimate gig to a small congregation.
Spy in the Snow
Sunday, BBC1, 7pm
The animatronic “creatures” from Spy in the Wild are back, alongside David Tennant’s narration, to reveal the fascinating behaviours of the animals who call nature’s winter wonderland home. In the snowy mountains of New Zealand, Spy Parrot socialises with a gang of keas, with a SnowballCam revealing how friendship is at the heart of these intelligent and mischievous birds. In Tasmania, Spy Wallaby finds love and discovers along the way an interesting courtship technique among wombats. Then, in the North Pole, BlizzardCam, SnowballCam and SnowCam get within a paw’s swipe of a polar bear play-fight. Finally, on the other side of the planet, PenguinCams slide into action, showing there are no animals quite like emperors when it comes to parental devotion.
Cities: Nature’s New Wild
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
“Life . . . finds a way”, as Jeff Goldblum observed in Jurassic Park, and that’s never more apparent than when it comes to animals adapting to living in cities. Inspired by the final episode of Planet Earth II, this new three-parter features a diverse cast of animals who are adjusting to this new world better than could have been predicted. The series proves that humans aren’t the only smart lifeforms using metropolises to their advantage.
Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics
Sunday, BBC4, 10.05pm
You might think the star of this documentary is the greatest British writer of his generation, but we couldn’t possibly comment. We do know that if you have an acclaimed literary tome in need of adapting for TV or film, House of Cards creator Andrew Davies is your man, as he proved with many dramas over the past 50 years. Through the production process of new mini-series Les Misérables, this film uncovers his trade secrets, and features contributions from Sarah Waters, Dominic West, Helen Fielding and Olivia Colman.