30 shows to watch on TV this week
More Mrs Brown, the return of Luther and the Inbetweeners, and Graham Norton
The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited
Mrs Brown’s Boys: Mammy’s Motel
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.45pm/Tuesday, BBC1 10pm
The second of Brendan O’Carroll’s seasonal specials finds Agnes Browne with two unexpected guests for the New Year: Winnie and Sharon. Their house is flooded after a storm, so Agnes lets them stay with her, but soon she’s wishing she hadn’t taken them in. There’s Bono’s 13th birthday party to host as well. And when her neighbour Nellie Scully passes away, Fr Damian asks Agnes to deliver the eulogy at her funeral. But Agnes never liked Nelly – what’s she going to say?
Keith Barry’s Magical New Year Party
Monday, RTÉ One, 10.25pm
If you didn’t get enough magic over the Christmas, Keith Barry is ready to dazzle with some mind-blowing tricks – plus lots of special guests – in this special New Year’s Eve celebration. Among those appearing (and maybe even disappearing) are Barry Keoghan, Eamon Dunphy, Roz Purcell, Joanne O’Riordan and Erin McGregor, with musical guests Kodaline, The Stunning and The Academic. Keith himself may not be around to ring in the New Year as he is going to attempt one of the most daring and deadly stunts of escapology ever seen on TV.
NYE Countdown Concert
Monday, RTÉ One, 11.45pm
Multi-platinum-selling singer Gavin James heads the musical line-up for RTÉ’s annual hootenanny, coming live from Dublin’s Custom House Quay. The Irishman born Gavin Wigglesworth has had a stellar year, culminating in the release of his second album, Only Ticket Home. Tonight’s show should feature plenty of songs from the new album, and we’re sure Gavin will pull some musical rabbits out of the hat too.
A Day in the Life of Earth
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
It might seem like our planet takes millions of years to change, but that is actally not the case. This film reveals how much Earth can alter in a mere 24 hours. Watch and marvel as the world moves, breathes, shrinks and grows. With the help of boffins, explorers and everyday folks, along with cutting-edge data and CGI, we get a chance to see the true personality of the Earth. And it’s filled with amazing facts. Here’s just one: Before you go to sleep, a cloud of dust from the Sahara will have fertilised the Amazon.
Ireland’s Fittest Family – Celebrity Special
Monday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
For the first time, a line-up of celebrities and their families will take part in Ireland’s Fittest Family. Actor Norma Sheahan (Bridget & Eamon), 2FM’s Keith Walsh, singers Sean and Conor Price, and Dancing with the Stars judge Brian Redmond and their families, will battle it out for €10,000 for their chosen charity. Coaches Donncha O’Callaghan, Anna Geary, Derval O’Rourke and Davy Fitzgerald are assigned a celebrity and their family to mentor through the day. With coaches and celebrities reputations at stake, the competition will be fierce and everyone will be giving it everything to win.
Raymond Briggs: Snowmen, Bogeymen & Milkmen
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
In 1978, Raymond Briggs published a book that would go on to become a Christmas classic. The Snowman was created using a simple pot of coloured pencils and is now a worldwide favourite. To mark the 40th anniversary of its publication, this documentary takes a look back at Briggs’s career, which has managed to make the ordinary extraordinary; his other books include the nuclear drama When the Wind Blows, the extraordinary tale of Fungus the Bogeyman, the moving story of his own parents’ romance Ethel & Ernest, and another festive favourite, Father Christmas.
Pope Francis in Ireland: Behind the Scenes
Monday, RTÉ One, 7pm
Here is a unique take on the pontiff’s August visit to Ireland from the inside out. It is not a religious programme but an observational look at how this ambitious event was realised. This documentary captures both the sense of anticipation and trepidation as the day of the big visit nears.
The Graham Norton New Year’s Eve Show
Monday, BBC1, 10.40pm
The comedian and broadcaster is joined by a star-studded line-up: Olivia Colman and co-star Nicholas Hoult discuss their new film The Favourite; Keira Knightley chats about biographical movie Colette, based on the life of the French novelist; and Australian actor Guy Pearce talks about new historical drama Mary Queen of Scots. With music from Rita Ora, who performs a medley of hits from her latest album Phoenix.
Jools’ Annual Hootenanny
Monday, BBC2, 11.15pm
Jools Holland presents the 26th edition of his annual New Year’s Eve party, with Canadian singer Michael Bublé performing classic songs in a big band style from his latest album Love – including his take on Elvis Presley’s Such a Night. Also appearing are Jess Glynne, Nile Rodgers and Chic, George Ezra, Marc Almond, Rudimental, Yola, The Record Company, Junior Giscombe, Hot 8 Brass Band and Ruby Turner, while the Pipes & Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards will be on hand at midnight to play in the new year.
Madness Rocks Big Ben Live
Monday, BBC1, 11.35pm
Madness counts down to 2019 at Central Hall in Westminster, performing some of their best-loved hits from a career spanning nearly 40 years, taking a break at midnight as millions welcome the new year. With 15 UK top 10 singles under their collective belts, there’s no shortage of Madness classics for the Nutty Boys to choose from. Plus, there’s a strong chance their only UK No 1, House of Fun, will make an appearance before the celebrations are over.
Life After the Rising
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
Life After the Rising is a social history that explores ordinary lives in extraordinary times. One hundred years ago, most Irish citizens were not preoccupied with the struggle for independence. The programme will give a flavour of their everyday realities. From an untapped treasure trove of source material, it will excavate and curate a unique cluster of personal stories. Presented by the acclaimed social historian and archivist Catriona Crowe, the documentary will feature a mixture of engaging interviews with historical experts, archive footage and personal stories from the time.
Tuesday, BBC1, 7pm
As Britain rings in the New Year, an ancient evil is stirring which threatens to destroy everything. That’s right, a no-deal Brexit is on the way, and not even the timelord can turn back the clock that’s ticking towards smarmageddon . . . Whovians were distraught when Christmas Day arrived with no Dr Who crimbo special – but the Beeb made the radical decision to move the sci-fi party to New Year’s Day. Jodie Whittaker stars as the Doctor, ably assisted by Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill.
Tuesday-Friday, BBC1, 9pm
It’s not a good start to the new year for DCI John Luther. A spate of gruesome murders has left Luther and his team chasing through a maze of false leads and dead ends. In his hunt for the killer, Luther faces the depths of human depravity, until even his own demons seem tame in comparison. As the murders become more audacious, the stakes for everyone rise to fever levels. Idris Elba stars in this four-parter that should leave nails well bitten down for the New Year.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Tuesday, UTV, 9pm
Question: which quiz is now in its 21st year? A) Mastermind B) Pointless C) Impossible or D) This returning show. Chances are you don’t need to phone a friend. Over the next six nights, Jeremy Clarkson welcomes more contestants to the studio, all keen to answer 15 questions in the hope of winning £1,000,000. Will one lucky contestant start 2019 as a millionaire?
The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Hard to believe it’s a decade since Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison and James Buckley were transformed from jobbing actors to household names thanks to The Inbetweeners. The raunchy sitcom about teenagers on the verge of adulthood boasted laugh-out-loud funny dialogue, and went on to spawn two of the most successful British films of the past few years. Here the quartet look back at some of the best episodes and moments in an evening devoted to the long suffering mates. There are star interviews, games and the first ever Inbetweeners Awards, plus many more surprises.
Amazon: Earth’s Great Rivers
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
For millions of people and animals, the planet’s rivers are a lifeline, so little wonder this documentary proves to be a jewel in the crown of the Beeb’s new year programming. It follows three of the world’s largest rivers, beginning with the Amazon, uncovering some of the latest discoveries, including the “Blue Lagoon” that is home to a newly discovered species of cichlid. The programme also explores some of the Amazon’s flooded forests, home to an array of unusual animals, and cameras follow giant river otters on a fishing foray on the rocky terraces of the Cristalino river.
Celebrity Home of the Year 2018
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Ever wanted to peek inside the homes of the famous? Here’s a chance to have a nose around a few well-known people’s gaffs, as five celebs open the doors of their cribs for close scrutiny by a panel of design judges – and a nation of curious viewers. Singer Eleanor McEvoy, entrepreneur Ramona Nicholas, artist Robert Ballagh, meteorologist Jean Byrne and writer John Boyne are the VIPs hoping to win the ultimate home accolade, but they’ll have to pass the keen eyes of judges Hugh Wallace, Deirdre Whelan and Peter Crowley.
Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 11.15pm
An exclusive insight into the life and inspirations of one of the most admired and respected musicians in the world. In frank and revealing conversations, Springsteen explores the seminal moments that fuelled his relentless drive to become a musician. He talks openly about his early years growing up in Freehold, New Jersey, his years playing in Asbury Park, the rise of the E Street Band and his eventual ascendancy to the top of rock’s hierarchy.
Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start
Wednesday, BBC2, 8pm
Tom Kerridge challenges eight families to ditch convenience food and cook from scratch at home, as he believes it will make them fitter, happier and healthier. In the opening episode, Kerridge meets the eight volunteer families and introduces them to the plan he wants them to follow for the next 12 weeks. The first step is to simply get the families cooking more, and he presents them with a starter pack of easy recipes and the ingredients for sausage and mash. Later, Tom prepares two dishes to inspire the group: a tomato salad packed with Mediterranean flavours, and a chicken and peanut stirfry.
The Truth About Vegans: Channel 4 Dispatches
Wednesday, C4, 10pm
New year, new diet? This January, many people will consider ditching meat and dairy products as part of their New Year’s resolutions. In this documentary, Dispatches investigates the rising popularity of veganism. It’s better for your health, the environment and animals but why do some activists resort to such extreme tactics to promote it? Reporter Morland Sanders meets farmers who feel increasingly worried about some vegan protests and looks into the ideology behind the diet, speciesism.
Kíla: Pota Óir
Thursday, RTÉ2, 11.25pm
Kíla: Pota Óir is a portrait of one of Ireland’s most respected cult bands, one that merge folk and world music traditions into a euphoric live experience. The film combines generous swathes of concert footage, candid interviews, and intimate backstage moments to create a lively record of one of Ireland’s most acclaimed live acts.
Food Unwrapped Diet Special
Thursday, C4, 8pm
Many of us start January with good intentions about being healthy, only to fall by the wayside. The team is here with hints and hacks to help us battle the bulge. First up, Kate Quilton is in Australia to learn whether replacing carb and meat classics with veg and fruit-based alternatives is a sensible way to cut calories. Matt Tebutt finds out if giving up booze for a month can roll back the years, and Jimmy Doherty finds out which foods and drinks can help during endurance training. And Dr Helen Lawal follows nine people who have been on three of the nation’s favourite diets for nine months to see how they are faring.
Back in Time for School
Thursday, BBC2, 8pm
Fifteen teenagers and three teachers embark on a time-travelling adventure through 100 years of school history. Led by presenter Sara Cox and social historian Polly Russell, the volunteers fast-forward through seven different eras, taking them to the end of the 20th century. In each period there will be new school dinners to try, new trips to take and new ideas about what school is actually for. They begin in Victorian times, where they discover what it was like for the lucky 4 per cent of children able to attend school at a time when education was still seen as a preserve for the rich.
The Cruise: Shanghai to Sydney
Thursday, UTV, 8.30pm
New documentary series set on board the Majestic Princess, capable of carrying 3,500 guests and a crew of 1,400, including a few familiar faces from past series. The cruise ship, under the leadership of Capt Dino and hotel general manager Jasper, will travel from Australia and New Zealand to Hong Kong and Singapore – with an equator-crossing party along the way.
Island of Dreams
Thursday, BBC2, 10pm
In this comedy pilot, Harry Enfield stars as a benevolent billionaire who welcomes visitors to his tropical island, then sets about making their dreams come true. Sorry, Harry, Fantasy Island has already been done, But wait! There’s a twist to this tale. The island in the show is Necker, the rich benefactor is Richard Branson, and his guests are celebrities such as JK Rowling and Daniel Craig. But little do they know that Branson has a secret agenda involving space travel. Enfield plays Branson to the hilt, with hair, beard, big grin and open shirt, and the show draws on such fare as Fantasy Island, Lost and Thunderbirds Are Go!.
Can’t Stop Dancing
Friday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
If the main show isn’t enough for dancing fans, Friday night on RTÉ One will feature this preview show for Dancing with the Stars hosted by Bláthnaid Treacy. Every week Can’t Stop Dancing will go behind the scenes as Bláthnaid gets the lowdown from the judges, the professional dancers and the stars. It is, we are promised, a “one-stop shop for getting all your Dancing with the Stars gossip”.
Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers
Friday, UTV, 8pm
There appears to be evidence that some of the world’s most iconic rivers are in declining health, prompting biologist, extreme angler and naturalist Jeremy Wade to investigate the disappearance of freshwater giants from the planet’s largest waterways. Here, he heads to the Danube, the second longest river in Europe, in search of two giant beasts: a fish so valuable criminals are hunting it out of existence and a man-sized predator that has become the stuff of dreams.
Big Fat Quiz of Everything
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
Which film was released in Poland as Electronic Murderer? Who is Digger The Crab? And what was Pierce Brosnan banned from doing while he played James Bond? These questions and many others will be answered in this year’s edition of the super-sized quiz that takes in over 100,000 years of human history. Question master Jimmy Carr is joined by Great British Bake Off host Sandi Toksvig, rapper and MC Big Narstie, and comedians Joe Lycett, Katherine Ryan, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. As always, Carr is helped by Jon Snow, Charles Dance and a whole host of celebrity question-setters as he attempts to keep order on the biggest, fattest quiz on the telly.
Graham Norton’s Good Story Guide
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
The host goes behind the scenes of his chat show to reveal the secrets of telling a good story, picking up advice and insight from Rob Brydon and Miriam Margolyes.
Top of the Pops: The Story of 1987
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
TOTP repeats have long been one of BBC Four’s greatest assets. This edition looks at the year Margaret Thatcher secured a third term as prime minister, while the Channel Tunnel began construction and Britain was battered by the great storm. Meanwhile, Stock, Aitken and Waterman, hip-hop, rap and house dominated the 1987 charts. The talking heads generating a few comments of “Don’t they look older,” are Terence Trent D’Arby, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Rick Astley, Kim Appleby, Andy Bell, Carol Decker and Belinda Carlisle.
Additional reporting: PA