19 of the best new shows to watch on TV this week
Brendan O’Carroll checks the facts, Blue Peter hits 60 and The Geansaí returns to RTÉ
Brendan O’Carroll, host of For Facts Sake
For Facts Sake
Monday, BBC1, 11.10pm
Working with family and friends can put a strain on those relationships, but try telling that to Brendan O’Carroll. The man also known as Agnes Brown loves nothing better than surrounding himself with familiar faces, and his latest project features some of his Mrs Brown’s Boys costars, including his son Danny and Danny’s pal Paddy Houlihan, aka Buster Brady and Dermot Brown. Here they are team captains in a new comedy panel show about ordinary people and their extraordinary facts. Members of the studio audience are invited to participate alongside a celebrity guest. The first episode features Kirsty Gallacher, while another Mrs Brown’s boy, Pat “Pepsi” Shields, appears as William Shakespeare.
Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years of the Booker Prize
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
Who wouldn’t want to be shortlisted for the Man Booker, the literary world’s most prestigious prize? (I’m still gutted that my book, Collected TV Highlights 2014-2018, was passed over for consideration. I felt it had a real unifying theme.) This documentary looks back on half a century of this most coveted award, charting the controversies and conflicts along the way. The programme features contributions from past Booker winners, including Peter Carey, Penelope Lively and John Banville. Yeah, sure, they’re great writers, but could any of them do the TV highlights?
Family Cooking Showdown
Monday, BBC2, 7pm
When the BBC lost the rights to broadcast The Great British Bake Off, it went looking for a show that could fill its space. So far it’s still searching, because the first run of The Big Family Cooking Showdown, despite featuring Nadiya Hussain, Zoe Ball, Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager, didn’t have the desired recipe for success. Nevertheless it’s back for another run, and things have been shaken up. For a start, the aforementioned quartet are gone, to be replaced by 2017 Celebrity MasterChef champ Angellica Bell and award-winning chef Tommy Banks; they will act as presenters as well as judges. The competition gets under way tonight as two families go head to head in a series of challenges.
Autumnwatch New England
Monday, BBC2, 8pm
Every year the leaves of six billion trees across New England turn into a riot of yellows, reds and golds, and Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke have travelled to New Hampshire to beam this phenomenon back to the UK. They also introduce viewers to wildlife, including moose, black bears, bobcats and beavers, as well as the more familiar red foxes, red and grey squirrels and deer. There is also a film of Chris and Michaela joining tourists on a whistle-stop tour of the classic New England sights.
Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle
Monday, BBC1, 11.40pm
The comedian, actor, writer and director returns to look back over more memorable moments from his career, featuring clips from his TV shows, highlights from his numerous chat show appearances and his music videos. This edition includes musings on the wonders of garlic bread, the scene in which Max and Paddy flattened a cow after their mobile home runs into it, and talent night down at the Phoenix Club for Brian Potter. And there is a special appearance by children’s animated favourite Peppa Pig.
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
Time to don the geansaí once again and get stuck in with Ireland’s local sporting communities, getting first-hand experience of the blood, sweat and tears that people put into their sporting endeavours. In the first of this new series, Garry Mac Donnacha steps into the ring with Ireland’s elite young boxers as they train hard for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and also meets the young hopefuls working hard in their local boxing clubs to get to the next level.
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
Typical – you go out on a date with your girlfriend, then end up getting arrested, recruited into a top counter-terrorism unit, and tasked with helping to take down a notorious terrorist who is planning a major attack in London. I suppose a ride is out of the question, then? This new six-part thriller series stars Nabhaan Rizwan as Raza, a young Pakistani from East London who becomes a reluctant informant for two coppers whose target is Ahmed El Adoua, a prolific terrorist suspected of being behind some major attacks. Can Raza infiltrate El Adoua’s organisation and prevent another atrocity. Needless to say, the stakes get higher as Raza gets closer to his target.
Blue Peter: Big 60th Birthday
Tuesday, CBBC, 5pm
The longest-running children’s television show in the world celebrates its birthday with a one-hour live specia. Former presenters join the current team for makes, games and a look back at some classic moments, while viewers will find out what’s going inside the Diamond Time Capsule. There’s also a guest appearance from Ed Sheeran and music from Blue Peter royalty Sophie Ellis-Bextor, daughter of former host Janet Ellis.
Without Limits: Australia
Wednesday, BBC1, 8pm
To mark the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, this two-part observational documentary sees a team of injured British and Australian veterans embark on an extraordinary 1,000-mile expedition across the Kimberley, the northernmost of Western Australia’s nine regions. The Kimberley is three times larger than England but with a population of less than 40,000, and the team’s route follows an old stock route of mostly unpaved road. The 660km track will take the adventurers from Derby on the west coast to Kununurra (or Wyndham), through a spectacular landscape of intensely coloured ranges, dramatic gorges and lush rock pools and waterfalls.
Wednesday, Dave, 10pm
If you’ve missed the previous runs of this fantasy comedy, former Inbetweener James Buckley plays Brian, an ordinary bloke who is suddenly transported to Munty, a dead-end town in a parallel world – although at least it has a pub. The second series ended with a failed attempt to send Brian hom. As we return to Munty, we find him stuck performing in a travelling circus overseen by the sadistic Feffenhoffer (guest star Steve Coogan). Can soothsayer Barbara and armchair revolutionary Steg set him free?
The Parachute Murder Plot
Wednesday, UTV, 9pm
The case of a British army sergeant who attempted to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute was one of the most disturbing of recent years. Emile Cilliers sabotaged the equipment that he knew his wife, Victoria, a highly experienced instructor, was going to use, but she survived the 4,000ft fall in Wiltshire on Easter Sunday 2015. Cilliers, who was plagued with debt, had hoped to cash in on his wife’s life insurance payout to start a new life with his lover. However, he was jailed for life. In this documentary, Fiona Bruce looks back at the case, analysing previously unseen police tapes and speaking to some of those directly involved.
How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
First of a two-part documentary in which Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford set out to cure their respective sleeping disorders: lack of sleep and snoring. They start out by road-testing a few expensive beds to find out if paying more is worth it, before Ruth joins forces with a woman whose snoring sends her husband to the spare room every night. Together they try out a few aids designed to prevent their night-time noise. Meanwhile, Eamonn and fellow insomniac Sam work out a sleep programme that focuses on establishing a set routine.
The Big Bang Theory
Thursday, E4, 8pm
It may have all started with a big bang, but now fans are coming up with their theories about how the hugely successful US sitcom will end as it’s been announced that this 12th season will be the last. It may seem like Sheldon has already got his happy ending after marrying Amy at the end of the last run, but in this opening episode, their honeymoon is about to go awry in New York. Meanwhile, Penny and Leonard discover they have a disturbing amount in common with Amy’s parents, and Raj gets caught up in a social media war after insulting astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Child of Mine
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
The UK has one of the highest rates of stillbirth in the developed world, yet these hidden bereavements are rarely talked about, often leaving parents isolated and alone. Vicki and Bruce allow a documentary crew to follow the birth of Ruby, their stillborn daughter, and their journey of loss and recovery over several months. Narrated by Amanda Holden, whose son Theo was stillborn in 2011, Child of Mine was filmed over two years and follows three couples’ very different experiences of losing a child before birth. It reveals the devastating impact on these and other parents.
Avalanche: Making a Deadly Snowstorm
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
Avalanches kill hundreds of people every year, and climate change seems to be making the lethal occurrences even less predictable. Last March a team of scientists gathered in a remote valley in the Canadian Rockies with the intention of triggering a massive avalanche. This documentary shows how the experts, including presenter Prof Danielle George, prepared a series of cutting-edge tests in the hopes of understanding more about why and how they happen. The climax to the programme shows what happens when the explosions are detonated and over 1,000 tonnes of snow rush down the mountainside.
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
The return of the Bafta-winning documentary, this time following the work of the North West Ambulance Service. The staff and crews face a busy weekend dealing with 11,000 calls as 80,000 fans descend on Manchester for the annual Parklife festival. As the handlers try to prioritise the influx of calls, Andrea and Glynn are diverted from a one-year-old having a seizure to a road traffic accident on a dual carriageway. Meanwhile, Debbie and Shaun try to persuade a homeless man that he needs to go to hospital.
Thursday, E4, 9pm
You’re an ordinary couple settling into a dull but happy married life, when suddenly a major pop star lands on your doorstep looking for a crash pad. He’s trying to get away from the paparazzi, and the last place they’ll look is in your boring old suburb. Sound anything like real life? Actually, this comedy series is loosely based on the time Harry Styles holed up in a friend’s attic at the height of One Direction’s success. Damon Wayans Jr plays Jake, an accountant whose life couldn’t be any more different to that of his popstar client, Cooper James. He and his wife Claire (Amber Stevens West) enjoy a quiet, contented life, but that’s about to be upturned when Cooper has a very public break-up with his girlfriend, and needs a place to hide out.
Friday, Virgin Media 2, 9pm
Lisa Cannon is back with a new series of the cinema show, bringing you behind the velvet rope as the stars of Hollywood promote their latest blockbusters. This week, Lisa meets Jamie Lee Curtis, who is reprising her iconic role in the original Halloween horror classic 40 years later. She also meets Irish actors Sarah Greene and Moe Dunford, stars of Rosie, the new drama written and directed by Roddy Doyle.
Synth and Beyond with Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert
Friday, BBC4, 8pm
In theory, musicians Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert should clean up on an episode of All Star Mr and Mrs — they’ve been married for 24 years and have been in New Order together for even longer than that. However, it seems they are still capable of surprising each other with their musical tastes, and here they look back on their influences, which range from Captain Beefheart to disco. It seems eclectic tastes might run in the family, as Gillian reveals that her dad was a fan of punk, while Stephen shares the unlikely story of the time he was mistaken for Stevie Wonder.
Additional reporting: PA