This week’s TV guide: I’m a Celebrity, Guaranteed Irish, Bloody Sunday 1920, Good Lord Bird
Here are 24 of the best shows to watch this week
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth in the fourth series of The Crown, streaming from Sunday on Netflix
Escape to the Chateau
Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm
Cameras return to Dick and Angel Strawbridge’s 19th-century chateau in the French countryside. Quelle surprise: they too have been affected by the global pandemic. With no guests, weddings or events at the chateau this year, the Strawbridges have used the time to tackle their seemingly never-ending to-do list, which includes transforming an outbuilding into a workshop. Before they can begin, they need to clear out decades of debris – which leads to an intriguing discovery. Meanwhile, the newest member of the k family, Petale the Kerry blue puppy, is growing fast.
Small Axe: Mangrove
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Steve McQueen is the very capable director behind this anthology series of five TV movies, set within Britain’s West Indian community and directly addressing the institutionalised discrimination and abuse that dogged the Windrush generation. The title comes from the Jamaican proverb “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe”. John Boyega from Star Wars features in the cast, and no surprise to hear that the first two films are already Cannes selections. Mangrove follows the true story of Frank Critchlow (Shaun Parkes), whose titular Notting Hill restaurant, frequented by intellectuals, artists and activists, becomes a target of relentless police raids in 1970. Frustrated at the constant harassment and discrimination, Critchlow and his friends take first to the streets and then to the courts to fight for justice.
Sé mo Laoch – Paddy Keenan
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
A new series casts an eye on some of the heroes of Irish trad. This programme looks at the life and career of Paddy Keenan, founding member of the iconic Bothy Band and a leading exponent of the “travelling style” of uilleann piping. Keenan reveals what it was like growing up with a foot in both the travelling and settled communities and what it is that made him the man and musician he is today. Keenan’s charm, mystique and raw power areshown in full flow in what might be described as his musical spiritual home, De Barra’s folk club in Clonakilty. With contributions from former Bothy Band colleague Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, RTÉ’s Peter Browne, Dublin flute player Eamonn De Barra, Belfast pipers John McSherry and Francis McIlduff, and Sligo songsmith Seamie O’Dowd.
I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Sunday-Friday, Virgin One/ITV, 9pm
Covid-19 means that a trip to the Australian jungle was out of the question this year, but I’m a Celebrity has found a way to go ahead – and just in time to lighten the mood as many viewers deal with being cooped up with people who are getting on their nerves. So the somewhat famous faces are camping out at Gwrych Castle in north Wales, which should be considerably colder than Oz. But despite the change in venue, the campmates (Olympian Mo Farah; broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire; soap stars Shane Richie, Beverley Callard and Jessica Plummer; presenter Vernon Kay; former Strictly pro AJ Pritchard; DJ Jordan North; Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold; and author Giovanna Fletcher) will still be facing trials and challenges, and Ant and Dec are still on presenting duties.
Ronnie’s: Ronnie Scott & His World-Famous Jazz Club
Sunday, BBC4, 9pm
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club was eponymously named after the late tenor saxophonist who founded the club with business partner Pete King. The club’s doors first opened in October 1959 and was inspired by the vibrant postwar jazz venues in New York, including the Three Deuces. Since then, the club in London’s Soho has consistently played host to many of the world’s great jazz legends, including Chet Baker, Count Basie, Miles Davies, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Rich and Nina Simone. They and many others all feature in this documentary about a British national institution.
Monday, TG4, 7.30pm
The Guaranteed Irish symbol has been part of our lives for so long we hardly notice it anymore, but this new series sets out to remind us just what it means in terms of quality products – and why it’s become even more relevant in a year when Irish businesses need all the home support they can get. Over six episodes, former Nationwide presenter Mary Kennedy will showcase such homegrown success stories as Kilsaran, Viatel, Intact Software, Revive Active, Hope Beer and Tippo, all of them proud to wear the Guaranteed Irish licenced mark. Not any aul cowboy can wear this badge of business honour – it’s only awarded to businesses that support sustainable jobs, give back to the local community and make the effort to source local produce and materials. “There are incredible businesses in this country working very hard through these difficult uncertain times,” says Kennedy. “What shone through for me while chatting to each of our guests was their sheer passion and resilience. I think the viewer will find the series informative and entertaining and discover a real warmth to the business leaders we shine a light on.”
Bloody Sunday, 1920
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
To mark the centenary of Bloody Sunday, this documentary revisits one of the darkest days in modern Irish history: November 21st, 1920, when 16 British intelligence agents were assassinated by the IRA under Michael Collins and, in retaliation, RIC policemen opened fire on the crowd at a Dublin-Tipperary match in Croke Park, killing 14. The full story of Bloody Sunday remained hidden for almost a century, and those who died at Croke Park were all but forgotten, but this film (based Michael Foley’s book The Bloody Field) promises to tell the story from many different perspectives, and put the terrible events of the day into a wider context of cultural history.
Lockdown Chaos: How the Government Lost Control
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
In July, British prime minister Boris Johnson said he was hoping for a “significant return to normality from November at the earliest – possibly in time for Christmas”. Now most of the UK is again under lockdown, and although it could be lifted in early December, strict restrictions could potentially go on for longer than that. So, what happened? And why in the country in this position? Reporter Antony Barnett investigates whether Westminster has lost control and reveals new evidence about some of the companies making millions from the pandemic.
The Night Notre-Dame Burned: Storyville
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
This two-hour documentary from acclaimed filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet tells the story of the devastating fire on April 15th, 2019 that nearly destroyed the world-famous medieval cathedral and the people who battled to save it. The film offers first-hand accounts from those who were at Notre-Dame on the night of the fire. We hear from some of the 600 firefighters who worked to save the structure and contents of one of the most important religious and cultural institutions in France. Followed by a second documentary, Rebuilding Notre Dame: Inside the Great Cathedral Rescue.
The Great Plague: Outbreak
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
Three and a half centuries before coronavirus, another pandemic swept through Britain. The Great Plague of 1665 killed 100,000 in London alone, 25 per cent of the city’s population, and a further 100,000 in the rest of the country. Medic Xand van Tulleken, archaeologist Raksha Dave and journalist John Sergeant trace its tragic and rapid spread, week by week. In episode one, the trio trace the epidemic back to its source in the parish of St Giles in the Fields, now at the heart of London’s theatreland. Raksha heads to the labs at Porton Down where she sees the deadly bacteria responsible for the Great Plague, yersinia pestis. She also travels to Marseille to investigate astonishing new research that overturns the long-held belief that rats and their fleas were responsible for spreading it.
Beyond the Menu Reset
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
When chef Mark Moriarty presented his series in September 2019, no one could have predicted how things would change irrevocably for the restaurant business – and the world at large – over the next 12 months. By March Covid-19 had forced the restaurateurs showcased in the series to close their doors and reset their businesses. In this two-parter, Moriarty revisits the restaurateurs to see how they’ve managed to keep their foodie dreams alive through these challenging and difficult times. First stop is Aimsir restaurant in Kildare, run by chef Jordan Bailey, which won two Michelin stars before the pandemic struck. Moriarty also meets his old mentor Ciaran Sweeney to see how he’s getting on with his new venture, and catches up with Grainne O’Keeffe from Clanbrassil House to find out if Covid has changed her outlook.
The Good Lord Bird
Wednesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Here’s a role made for Ethan Hawke: American abolitionist John Brown, a complex character who divides opinion even to this day. This seven-episode series, based on the novel by James McBride, tells the story of Brown’s crusade to liberate slaves in antebellum America, and Hawke is sure to find plenty of depth to this role. Brown believed violence was the only way to end slavery, so he embarked on an armed campaign that culminated in the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859 – often seen as the event that lit the touchpaper for the American civil war. Brown was deeply religious and believed he was sent by God to free people from slavery. The story is told from the perspective of a teenage slave (Joshua Cala) who accompanies his divinely inspired new boss as he raises holy hell and does his damndest to spark a slave uprising.
Grá Faoi Ghlas
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm
Grá Faoi Ghlas is a new dating show for established couples who are going through the highs and lows of lockdown in these strange times. Couples suffering/enduring/loving lockdown together must answer a series of progressively awkward questions that they’d rather not deal with in normal circumstances. As the pressure is increased with more and more revealing questions, can they continue to stay calm and answer honestly – or as honestly as they dare? In the first episode we meet Dáire Ó Faogáin and Maria Schaler, and Ciarán Mac Reamonn and Vikki Ní Bhréin.
Saol Faoi Ghlas
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Following unique characters and stories, Saol Faoi Ghlas captures an unprecedented time in Ireland’s history as it explores the challenges of living under lockdown. It features a mixture of self-shot and documentary footage from characters in every province, providing a snapshot into a time. Despite the personal hardship suffered by those featured, the documentary is ultimately a story of hope that reminds us of our resilience and strength as individuals and as communities.
The Works Presents
Thursday, RTÉ One, 11.10pm
With Covid-19 shutting down all live cultural events, how is Ireland’s arts community coping in the absence of public performance? John Kelly’s first guest in a series of The Works Presents is Cavan-born singer-songwriter Lisa O’Neill, who has established herself as an insightful, fiercely independent artist over four acclaimed albums. O’Neill talks about the reality of making music in a pandemic, what motivates her to keep writing and performing, and what inspires her to reach for greater creative heights.
Thursday, TG4, 8pm
This five-part documentary follows pandemic life on the Dingle Peninsula from May to October 2020. The series was filmed from mid-May, when the hugely popular tourist destination was at its quietest in years, to the reopening of pubs and restaurants in June, right through the manic weeks in July and August when Dingle was buzzing, and then to the recent changes in early October. The lives of the owners and managers of pubs, cafes, schools and hairdressers are explored, as are the musicians and singers, so important to the fabric of this west Kerry Gaeltacht, all living through the uncertainty and stress. Narrated by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the first episode features builder Muiris Firtéar on his first day back at work in May, renovating the famous Foxy John’s pub on Main Street, Dingle. Meweanwhile, musician Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and her husband, humanist celebrant Billy Mag Fhloinn, grapple with the technology required to produce and share music videos and the reality of all their sources of income being lost indefinitely.
Lockdown 1.0 – Following the Science?
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
There are suggestions that shutting down the developed world to suppress the virus actually did more harm than good. This one-off investigation looks at the run-up to the first British lockdown in spring, when the government took drastic steps to protect the health of the population. “Follow the science” has got to be one of the most often quoted imperatives of 2020, but just how closely Boris Johnson and his ministers followed this dictum through the early months of the pandemic is up for debate. Here, leading scientists speak out about what really happened and whether Westminster’s decisions were based on medical advice, or if they were just political and economic judgments.
Kitten Rescue with Jo Brand
Thursday, Channel 5, 7pm
The comedian and cat lover returns for the second series of the cute and cuddly show, although as the opening episode proves, it has a little bite as well. Brand throws herself into working alongside the nurses at the RSPCA Harmsworth centre, one of Britain’s busiest animal hospitals, during which she meets Marta, a feline who miraculously survived falling four floors from a balcony. She also becomes surrogate mum to three kittens and hears about a dramatic rescue attempt involving 20 firefighters who desperately try to save the life of Ezri, a cat stuck in a storm drain for 10 hours.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.45pm
Hugh Grant has undergone something of a career renaissance over the past few years, with Paddington 2 and A Very English Scandal reminding us that there’s more to him than romcoms. But it’s also reminded viewers that he’s a very entertaining interviewee, and tonight he joins Norton to discuss his role in The Undoing. Fellow guests include Nigella Lawson, who has a new book and series to talk about; Hollywood stars Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, who are plugging new Disney animation Soul; and six times Oscar-nominated Amy Adams, who can been seen in Ron Howard’s new film Hillbilly Elegy.
Jazz 625: The British Jazz Explosion
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
When some people think of jazz on TV, they picture John Thomson on The Fast Show with his catchphrase “nice”. But in the mid-1960s viewers were more likely to think of Jazz 625, which featured some of the legends of the era, including Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Cleo Laine and Art Blakey. Now it’s coming back for a special edition, featuring some of the biggest names on the current UK jazz scene, among them Sons of Kemet, Nubya Garcia, Kokoroko, Poppy Ajudha, Matthew Halsall, Moses Boyd and Exodus and Ezra Collective. Plus clips from the archive.
From Sunday, Netflix
We’ve been polishing the silver, dusting down the furniture and getting the best crockery out in anticipation of their return, and finally we can welcome Britain’s royals back into our humble livingrooms for the fourth series of this fab saga. There’s excitement around this instalment as it covers the early 1980s, when the Windsors welcomed a new family member who would change the monarchy forever: Diana, Princess of Wales. Newcomer Emma Corrin plays Prince Charles’ young bride, and this role is sure to propel her to superstardom. The mighty Olivia Colman returns as Queen Elizabeth and, in a weird casting move straight from The X-Files, Margaret Thatcher is played by Gillian Anderson. As series four begins, the queen is looking to give her subjects a good old royal wedding to distract them from the economic doldrums, just as Iron Lady Maggie is putting the jackboot into the unions and taking Britain to war with the “Argies” over the Falkland Islands.
We Are the Champions
From Tuesday, Netflix
Looking for some ideas for games to pass the time during lockdown? How about a cheese-rolling contest, or a chili eating contest, a little fantasy hairstyling, or maybe some dog dancing and frog jumping challenges. Just watch out you don’t end up in A&E. This new series looks at some of the world’s quirkies competitions and the people who participate in them with a passion worthy of the Olympics. You need nerves of steel, a body of iron and a stomach of titanium to make it through some of these challenges, so maybe just watching other people endure the pain is preferable.
Holiday Home Makeover with Mr Christmas
From Friday, Netflix
When it comes to Christmas trees and festive decoration, more most certainly means more for Benjamin Bradley. He’s Mr Christmas, an interior designer who simply adores the season – so much so he can’t wait to decorate the four homes featured in the series. He arrives at each property armed with enough lights, garlands and tinsel to cover the North Pole and along with his army of elves (well, assistants) tries to let in some holiday cheer. The homeowners have personal reasons for wanting to make this Christmas one to remember; one wants it to be extra-special because it’s the last time they’ll be together as a family, while another hopes to find a way to blend the parents’ different religions. This bright and breezy show may even cheer up the most Scrooge-like among us.
From Friday, Amazon Prime
Many people have been spending more time than ever with their pets lately; others have felt compelled to adopt an animal to keep them company. They will no doubt lap up this new series hosted by Lindsey Vonn, an American Olympic gold medal-winning skier, and her dog Lucy. Its aim is to showcase the unbreakable bond between humans and their canine companions by sending 12 couples – one entrant with two legs, the other with four – on an epic globe-trotting adventure. Along the way their trust in each other will be put to the test in a variety of challenges, with the winner bagging $750,000, $250,000 of which will be donated to the animal charity of their choice.