19 of the best new shows on TV this week
Hats off to Brendan Grace, the return of Amy Huberman and The Late Late in London
Brendan Grace, Funny Man
Brendan Grace, Funny Man
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
As Brendan Grace celebrates 50 years in the entertainment business, this documentary looks back over the brilliant career of Ireland’s favourite funny man. Born into poverty in the Liberties, Grace began his career as a ballad singer with The Gingermen but quickly gravitated towards comedy and built an act with his beloved character Bottler and celebrated routines such as Father of the Bride. This documentary follows Grace on the road in Ireland, spends time with him at home and travels with him to the US as he visits family and friends. The profile features interviews with Grace’s family as well as the likes of Brendan O’Carroll, Jason Byrne, Pat Shortt, Paul McGrath, Michael Flatley, David Soul, Shay Healy, Sil Fox, Adèle King (Twink) and Finbar Furey.
Monday, Virgin One, 9pm
New series. In this six-part psychological thriller in rural Ireland, Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar stars as Jim, whose wife has died following a fall in the garden. But one of Jim’s daughters begins asking awkward questions about the fatal accident.
Fashion’s Dirty Secrets: Stacey Dooley Investigates
Monday, BBC1, 10.45pm
In an age when high street/online stores can make a fortune selling cheap clothing to cash-strapped customers, it seems like a win-win situation for everyone. Of course, when Stacey Dooley’s name is attached to any project other than Strictly these days, you know there’s a dark side to the issue. She’ll travel the world to see how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry are polluting waterways. And there’s a jaw-dropping moment when she takes a look at what was the Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. At one time it was one of the largest bodies of fresh water, but now it has been reduced almost entirely to dust.
Made in Chelsea
Monday, E4, 9pm
New series. If the final of The Circle on Channel 4 has left you wondering where you’re going to get your next reality fix, then fear not as the posh version of TOWIE is back for a 16th run. In episode one, following a shock split with Digby in Hvar, Liv is desperate to avoid her wounded ex. However, as she returns to Chelsea, she is faced with Digby’s relentless social media posts of nights out with their mutual friends and a confrontation proves inevitable. Elsewhere, a furious Habbs has split with Sam following news of his behaviour on a night out.
A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
The al-Assad family has ruled Syria since 1971. This three-part documentary exploring the dynasty’s background begins by focusing on the current president and first lady, Bashar and Asma, charting their rise to power and asking how a couple who were once seen as a modernising force ended up running a regime that now stands accused of war crimes. Their love story has its roots in London, where Bashar was training to be an eye doctor, and British-born Asma was embarking on a career in investment banking. However, the death of Bashar’s older brother, who had been groomed for the job of president by his father Hafez, would see them taking on very different roles.
Imagine: Hockney, the Queen and the Royal Peculiar
Tuesday, BBC1, 11.10pm
To mark Queen Elizabeth II’s status as the world’s longest-reigning monarch (65 years and counting), Westminster Abbey commissioned a new towering glass window and has gone with a somewhat surprising choice to create it – David Hockney. He may be generally acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest living artists, but he’s also turned down a knighthood and declined an invitation to paint the Queen’s portrait. Here, he reveals why he decided to accept this job, as Imagine follows the project from its beginnings to the installation.
Donal’s Meals in Minutes
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
New series. It’s the middle of the week, you just got home from work, and you have five minutes to get dinner ready before hockey practice. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO? Tune in to the second series of Donal Skehan’s fast-cookery series, and learn how to whip up a delicious dinner using just a few staples from your cupboard. Skehan now lives in California with his wife Sofie, and they’ve just had a baby, so he really appreciates the need to get the food on the table double-quick. And his fans appreciate his advice – the fresh-faced kitchen star has 228,000 Instagram followers and more than 700,000 YouTube fans.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9pm
New series. Autumn’s kicking in – the leaves are falling, the air is cooling, and Amy Huberman is back on the telly, giving us all that warm, cosy, curl-up-by-the fire feeling (or is it just me?). Huberman is striking out once again in her new six-part comedy-drama, only this time it’s the troll-filled world of a social-media influencer. Amy plays Joy, a young career woman just getting on with it after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. Then she lands a gig filling in for a popular vlogger and is suddenly thrust into social media stardom. Will Joy find joy or will this show fall flat on its Facebook? Huberman has written the series, which co-stars Aisling Bea, Laura Whitmore and Jennifer Rainsford. Who knows, this could become the new Cybersex and the City.
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
New series. Desiree Akhavan’s comedy drama looks at the perils of dating both men and women and the taboos surrounding being attracted to both sexes. Akhavan stars as Leila, an American living in London who discovers she may not be gay, but might be bisexual. How will she explain to her gay friends? And how is she to deal with relationships when the pool of potential partners has now pretty much doubled? The series co-stars Maxine Peake, Brian Gleeson and Eva Birthistle.
Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 10.05pm
New series. O’Connor and his panel of celebrity guests are back to take the midweek temperature of Irish life, politics and arts. At the time of writing, we still don’t know who is going to be on the panel for the opening show, but you can bet they’ll be opinionated, articulate and highly entertaining.
Am I a Murderer?
Wednesday, UTV, 9pm
In 1976, residents of New Mills in Derbyshire were stunned by the mysterious disappearance of a farmer. Although police launched a missing persons investigation, Fred Handford was never found, and detectives concluded that he had committed suicide. However, Janet Holt, Handford’s business partner at Ballbeard Farm, was plagued by nightmares after his disappearance, and with the help of a psychotherapist she began to remember what happened on the day he disappeared. Holt was convinced she had committed a murder. With contributions from her, Handford’s daughter, psychologists and police officers, this documentary explores whether these recollection could possibly be true.
Women on the Verge
Thursday, RTÉ Two, 10.30pm
New series. You wait for one Dublin-set comedy about women’s lives and two come along at the same time. Women on the Verge centres around three thirtysomething friends, Laura, Katie and Alison, who are still living in their 20s and finding it hard to make that great leap into maturity and responsibility. While their other friends settle down to start families, these girls party on regardless, but more often than not it’s a case of can’t cope, won’t cope. The show features an impressive cast led by Kerry Condon, Nina Sosanya and Eileen Walsh, and is created by Sharon Horgan (the woman behind the superb Motherland and Catastrophe) and Lorna Martin, adapted from Martin’s acclaimed comic memoir Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Gordon, Gino and Fred: Road Trip
Thursday, UTV, 9pm
The first episode of this three-parter begins with Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix exploring Gino’s homeland of Italy. His best friend’s vow renewal ceremony is taking place in just four days’ time, and with 50 guests to please, the trio travel round the country in a camper van, taking in the wonders of Naples, sampling amazing food, and ensuring that the wedding renewal goes off without a hitch. All seems to be going smoothly, until a power cut plunges the kitchen into darkness. Have the trio finally bitten off more than they can chew?
Body Clock: What Makes Us Tick?
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
Everyone has an internal biological clock that governs their daily rhythms, including diet, general health and exercise patterns. But is it possible to manage the body clock better? To find out, former commando Aldo Kane is locked in an abandoned nuclear bunker for 10 days with no way of telling the time. He is monitored around the clock by evolutionary biologist Ella al-Shamahi and a team of scientists as he carries out a barrage of tests to uncover exactly what makes the body clock tick. At the same time, two couples test the latest thinking on how to improve their lives, with general advice on sleeping better and managing their time.
Don’t Hate the Playaz
Thursday, UTV2, 9pm
This comedy show about hip-hop will leave some reaching for the zapper. But if Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang and Wiley are your thing, then Jordan Stephens has the perfect show. Two teams will battle it out in front of a live audience that decide who wins and loses each round. Lady Leshurr and The Circle’s Maya Jama are the captains, while Darren Harriott will also be a regular alongside new guests on each team each week. Plus, there are contributions from reporter Amelia Dimoldenberg, and DJ Shortee Blitz will be on set to drop the tracks.
The Late Late Show
Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Ryan Tubridy will be faced with his biggest ever studio audience as he broadcasts live from Westminster in central London. The show is a celebration of the ties that still bind between Ireland and Britain, even as Brexit looms.
Would I Lie to You?
Friday, BBC1, 9.30pm
WILTY is back for a 12th run, with host Rob Brydon and captains Lee Mack and David Mitchell are present and correct. And fans are in for a treat as comedy legend Bob Mortimer graces the studio with his presence. For the first of the new series, Rob, Lee, David and Bob are joined by footballer-turned-property expert Dion Dublin, comedian/writer Lucy Porter, and actor Debbie McGee.
The Last Leg
Friday, Channel 4, 10pm
New series. Is it okay for an irate hotelier to hit a Spanish waiter, thrash a car with a branch and send up religions? Well, John Cleese has done it all in his time, in Fawlty Towers, the Monty Python projects and countless other films and TV shows. Cleese joins Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker for the first of the new run. As ever, the regulars will poke fun at the world news, and no doubt assess what the most controversial US president in living memory has been up to, as well as wondering what state the UK will be in after Brexit.
Beats, Bass and Bars: The Story of Grime
Friday, BBC4, 10pm
The latest compelling doc from BBC4 examines grime (that’s a form of dance music influenced by UK garage, in case you’re wondering). Rapper Rodney P looks at its rise from east London’s council estates to its status as one of the most important British musical movements since punk. Its success stems from the original styles and contributions of previous generations of artists. Our host discovers that grime can only really be understood when seen as part of a broader social narrative and ever-evolving musical culture that goes back to the 1980s.