Eight of the best TV shows to watch this week
McAleese on today’s Irish families; welcoming the lovely girls, and old world matchmaking
Taking the 'church-step' challenge: Pope Francis overlooking St Peter’s Square. Photograph: EPA/Claudio Peri
The Rose of Tralee 2018
Monday/Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8pm
As you wait in joyful anticipation for the visit of Pope Francis next week, what better way to kill time than to watch the Rose of Tralee competition, which comes live over two days from the Dome in Tralee. Ireland may have changed a lot since the last papal visit in 1979, but the Rose of Tralee hasn’t changed all that much – although condescension levels have been dialed down, and no one says “sure aren’t you a great girl altogether!” anymore. The contest is still a faintly ridiculous relic of old Ireland, but the licence-paying punters seem to like it, and there’s no shortage of young women from around the world willing to flock to Co Kerry and do their party piece for the judges. Dáithí Ó Sé again presents, but when is RTÉ going to really embrace equality and run a male version of the contest? They could call it the Bro’s of Tralee.
Celebs on the Farm
Monday, C5, 10pm
Not content with bringing us the latest run of Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5 is also launching another reality series stacked with famous faces. As the title suggests, it takes eight townie celebs and packs them off to spend 10 days on a farm, where they’ll be expected to muck in (and muck out) under the watchful eye of farmer Chris Jeffrey. The participants are TOWIE star Bobby Norris, country singer Megan McKenna, choreographer Louie Spence, Sandi Bogle from Gogglebox, former Strictly pro Gleb Savchenko, glamour girl Charlotte Dawson, British judo champion Ashley McKenzie and actress Lorraine Chase (who may have an advantage as she used to be in Emmerdale). In the first episode, Charlotte learns why high heels and farms don’t mix. The rest of the series can be seen nightly on 5STAR.
Manhunting with My Mum
Tuesday, C4, 10pm
Presenter AJ Odudu moved from Blackburn to London 10 years ago and forged a career in television and social media. (You may know her from projects such as Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and ITV2’s The Hot Desk.) Having recently turned 30, she is finding it hard to appreciate her success as she has no one to share it with. Her mum Florence moved from Nigeria to Blackburn in the early 1970s as part of an arranged marriage. Drawing on the Nigerian tradition of parents arranging partners for their children, mother and daughter take a road trip around Nigeria in an attempt to land AJ a husband. Their trip takes them to the town of Badagry, where AJ meets (a besotted) Prince Joshua. Other potential suitors include KC, a 34-year-old churchgoer in Lagos who is so true to his Christian faith that he has remained celibate. Will AJ ever find Mr Right?
Mary McAleese’s Modern Family
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Families? I’ll show you families. Former president Mary McAleese has been outspoken about the upcoming Irish visit of Pope Francis, and has refused to be silenced by the Vatican on issues such as same-sex marriage and the ordination of women. LGBTQ families may have been airbrushed from the official documentation of the World Meeting of Families, but McAleese is out to show us what family life in modern Ireland is really like in this documentary, which sees her encountering a diverse range of set-ups, including a couple with 11 children, a mixed-race and mixed-faith family, and a gay couple with their 18-year-old son. It’s clear that Irish families have changed since the last papal visit in 1979, and Irish attitudes to church teaching have changed as well. McAleese meets with clerics and theologians to discuss whether the Catholic Church can roll with these changes, or if it is forever fixed in its blinkered attitudes.
My Asian Family: The Musical
Wednesday, BBC4, 10pm
In 1972, 12 members of the Thakrar family arrived in Britain with virtually nothing, fleeing for their lives from Idi Amin’s Uganda. In the decades that followed, they found jobs, love and new lives, and the family now includes 90 members across three generations. As you may have gathered from the title, this programme tells their story through song and dance, showing how the Thakrars have preserved their Hindu cultural traditions while also adapting to British life. Jyoti, the youngest of the 10 siblings who made the initial move in the 1970s, provides the narration.
Living with the Pope
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.35pm
Could you live with the pope? No, this isn’t a papal episode of Living with Lucy - it’s a special programme asking a diverse group of Irish people if they could live by some of the more radical ideas put forward by Pope Francis. Presenter Mick Peelo presents this “church-step challenge”; among the people he meets are millionaire Richard Mulcahy, who reads the pope’s teachings on wealth and capitalism; dairy farmers the Megan family, who consider the pope’s views on environment and sustainability; and former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, who came out as gay after winning the contest, and who ponders the pope’s thoughts on family and relationships.
Inside Alton Towers
Thursday, C4, 9pm
In June 2015, two carriages collided on one of the most popular rides at Alton Towers, injuring 16 people, five seriously. This documentary goes behind the scenes as the UK’s biggest theme park attempts to win back visitors with the launch of their multimillion-pound new rollercoaster, Wicker Man. The film meets rollercoaster junkies keen to try the new ride and, with exclusive access to the theme park, follows the team as they battle with the challenge of building a wooden structure that appears to burst into flames. Can Alton Towers sell the new ride to the public and a sceptical media?
Pump Up the Bhangra: The Sound of Asian Britain
Friday, BBC4, 10pm
BBC Asian Network DJ Bobby Friction explores the rise of Bhangra music in Britain, exploring how in the 1980s an Indian folk tradition was transformed into a part of the UK club scene, outselling many mainstream acts. It’s a story that takes in cassette tapes and teenagers bunking off school to attend secret gigs, but Friction also looks at how the genre soundtracked battles against discrimination and helped many British Asians to find their voice and identity. In the process, he hears from some of the scene’s most influential names, including Balbir Bhujhangy, Gurcharan Mall, Heera and Apna Sangeet.