Seven of the best TV shows to watch this week
RTÉ goes Back to the Joy, Bob Geldof goes back to Live Aid, Ryan Tubridy goes country
Back to the Joy
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
In 1996, filmmaker Donald Taylor Black was given unprecedented access to Mountjoy Prison to make his groundbreaking documentary The Joy. Now, 21 years later, he returns in Back to the Joy to see how life inside has changed for the inmates and staff of the prison. The original series, broadcast in 1997, garnered an average viewership of around 800,000, a figure telly producers these days can only dream of. We’re so used to seeing inside various institutions that this series is unlikely to have the same impact as the original, but it might still be worth a look-in.
If you’re planning a reunion with a group of your closest friends, do yourself a favour – pick a nice hotel near the city, close to phones, broadband, hospitals, other people etc. Don’t for God’s sake choose a remote chalet in the French Alps, cut off from all contact with civilisation, littered with all sorts of hazards, and with death lurking in every shadow. The Chalet is a French-made series about a group of friends meeting up for a summer getaway, who soon find themselves trapped in deadly battle for survival as dark secrets come to the surface.
Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation
Tuesday-Thursday, BBC One, 9pm
It was Britain’s most notorious racially motivated murder, and it shook the country to its core. Teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered by six white youths at a bus stop 25 years ago, and this three-part documentary, Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation, looks back at the struggle of Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, to take on a broken system and get justice for their son. The documentary unpicks the web of police corruption, institutional racism and perversion of justice that marked this watershed moment in British social history.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Ireland’s finest chefs are challenged to come up with mouthwatering dishes that won’t make their customers keel over with a coronary is this new eight-part series. Pamela Flood is your compere, and the chefs – including Gary O’Hanlon, Paul Flynn and Derry Clarke – must face a foodie panel comprising dietitian Aveen Bannon, food critic Ross Golden-Bannon and chef Adam Byatt of Trinity Restaurant in London, who is a dab hand at cooking up healthy haute cuisine.
No, not another sci-fi series from Netflix. The Alienist is a period piece, set in New York in 1896, about a hunt for a serial killer. The starry cast includes Daniel Bruhl as the titular alienist (a fancy name for a criminal psychologist), with Luke Evans as a newspaper illustrator and Dakota Fanning as an ambitious young secretary who wants to be New York’s first female police detective. Someone is murdering young male prostitutes, and police commissioner and future president Theodore Roosevelt hires Dr Laszlo Kreizler (Bruhl) to employ the pioneering techniques of psychology and forensics to catch the perpetrator.
Live Aid, Urban Myths: Backstage at Live Aid
Thursday, Sky Arts, 9pm
Imagine having a backstage pass at all the goings-on behind the scenes at pop music’s most iconic event? Well, thanks to the magic of television drama and poetic licence, we can now be a fly on the wall at the massive charity concert, looking down at all the be-mulleted heads as they pulled together to keep this juggernaut going for one momentous day back in 1985. Based on the rumours and apocryphal tales that grew up around Live Aid, Urban Myths, the second in the Urban Myths series, takes us deep into the green room at Wembley, where Bob Geldof, Midge Ure, Sade, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt are staging their own battle of the big egos.
Late Late Show Country Special
Friday, RTÉ1, 9.35pm
This year’s Late Late Show Country Special with “the best and brightest of the Irish country music scene” will feature Gloria, Daniel O’Donnell, Nathan Carter, Three Amigos, Lisa McHugh, Michael English, Philomena Begley, Derek Ryan and “a few more surprises on the night”. Fans hoping to be part of the audience have until Monday to get their applications in, at www.rte.ie/latelate.