Five of the best TV to watch this weekend

The X Factor returns, comedy from the Edinburgh festivals and a look at the aftermath of the IRA bombing of Warrington in 1993

At the epicentre of culture: Nish Kumar reports from the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe

At the epicentre of culture: Nish Kumar reports from the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe

 

Edinburgh Nights with Nish Kumar
Friday, BBC2, 11.05pm
Since its launch in 1947, the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe has grown to become the largest arts gathering in the world: some 4,000 shows in around 300 venues selling almost three millions tickets. Some of the best-known names in entertainment got their big break at the festivals, including Mike Myers, Steve Coogan, Miranda Hart, Emma Thompson, Graham Norton, Hugh Laurie, Billy Connolly and JK Rowling. In this three-part series, comedian, actor and presenter Nish Kumar meets some of the comedy industry’s biggest names and hopeful first-timers as they try out new material.

The X Factor
Saturday & Sunday, Virgin Media One (formerly TV3), 8pm

Does X still mark the spot: 2018 X Factor judges Ayda Field, Robbie Williams, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell
Does X still mark the spot? 2018 X Factor judges Ayda Field, Robbie Williams, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell

The (British) nation’s most talked-about entertainment show (it says here) is back for another go at finding a singer with that very elusive 24th letter of the alphabet. Alas, Louis Walsh is no longer on the judging panel, so that’s one less reason to tune in, but Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda will join Simon Cowell in the star chamber, along with one of the lads from One Direction (sadly, not Niall or Harry). The contestants better be really entertaining to make up for this uninspired judging line-up.

The Plague
Saturday, BBC4, 9pm

Pablo Molinero in The Plague/La Peste (2018)
Serious in Seville: Pablo Molinero in The Plague

This Spanish drama (La Peste) begins with a double bill. During an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Seville in 1597, Mateo Núñez (Pablo Molinero), a former soldier, returns, honouring his word to find and extract a dead friend’s son from the city. Previously, Mateo had been forced to flee after being sentenced to death by the Inquisition for printing forbidden books. Before he can complete his task, Mateo is arrested and promised a pardon by the Grand Inquisitor in exchange for solving a series of gruesome crimes.

Mother’s Day
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm; also Monday, BBC2, 9pm

Vicky McClure in Mother's Day
She gave peace a chance: Vicky McClure as Susan McHugh in Mother's Day

In March 1993, the IRA planted two bombs in a busy shopping area in Warrington, in Cheshire. Three-year-old Jonathan Ball was with his babysitter, on his way to buy a Mother’s Day card, when the bombs exploded. He died at the scene. A second child, 12-year-old Tim Parry, died a few days later from his wounds. Dozens were badly injured. The bombing was a huge miscalculation by the Provisionals, sparking outrage in both the UK and Ireland, and this powerful drama focuses on two women from either side of the Irish Sea whose lives were changed by the bombing. Wendy Parry, the mother of Tim, is played by Anna Maxwell Martin, and Vicky McClure plays Susan McHugh, the Dublin mother of two who was so outraged by the atrocity that she organised one of the biggest peace rallies in Irish history.

Vanity Fair
Sunday, UTV, 9pm

Olivia Cooke and Tom Bateman in Vanity Fair
Rising through the ranks: Olivia Cooke and Tom Bateman in Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray’s sprawling 1848 novel has been adapted many times before, but there’s something about the story that keeps drawing viewers in – and a lot of it has to do with the “heroine”: Becky Sharp, a woman who is determined to do whatever it takes to escape from poverty and scale the social ladder.Her journey takes her to the court of King George IV and the Battle of Waterloo, and this new seven-part adaption will be suitably epic, with a cast that includes Suranne Jones, Martin Clunes and Michael Palin (as Thackery himself). In the opening episode all eyes will be on rising star Olivia Cooke in the plum role of Becky, a lowly teaching assistant who spots a chance to hook a rich husband when she meets her friend Amelia’s (Claudia Jessie) brother Jos (David Fynn). - Additional reporting: PA

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