This week’s TV: Vogue Williams returns, and so does Porridge
Williams meets women who choose to be single mothers. Porridge returns without Ronnie Barker
Vogue Williams's documentary series is part-investigation, but more personal journey. Photograph: Getty Images
Tuesday, RTÉ 2, 10pm
So, you’re feeling broody, but there’s no man in your life right now. Do you put motherhood on hold until someone comes along, or do you take control of the situation and opt to have a baby on your own? In her new series, Vogue Williams meets women who have made the decision to go it alone, and explores the world of sperm donation and fertility treatment. Vogue is a three-part documentary series, each one focusing on a controversial subject. In the first episode, ‘Going It Alone’, Vogue meets single mothers by choice, who have gone the route of using a sperm donor, and she visits the world’s largest sperm bank, where 1,500 Irish children have originated.
She also meets a man who donates sperm the direct way – via sex – and meets a donor-born woman who is campaigning for the rights of people born through anonymous sperm donation to know who has fathered them. In part two, Vogue will tackle the terrors of anxiety, which affects many Irish people – including Vogue herself – and in the final part, she will look at the “sugar dating” phenomenon, where rich older men hook up with young, attractive women in a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The Last Post
Sunday, BBC One, 9pm
It’s the Swinging Sixties, and Britain is living a technicolour dream of fashion, pop culture and sexual freedom. But for young army wives in the sweltering heat of Aden (now Yemen), the glamorous life seems far away, and they feel hemmed in by life in an enclosed military compound in a perilous, foreign territory. It’s not long, though, before simmering passions boil over into downright dangerous liaisons. The Last Post is a sizzling six-part drama written by Bafta winner Peter Moffatt, and based on his childhood memories of life as an army brat. With all the bonking and bombing going on here, it’s clear the young Moffatt saw much more than he was supposed to.
Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Pat Kenny, Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates are up and running with their current-affairs shows on TV3, and now it’s the turn of Brendan O’Connor to join the fray in Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge. Once again, O’Connor huddles up with a panel of opinionated commentators around telly’s tiniest round table, to chew over the big (and small) events of the week. Brendan’s first guests are mammy-endangering TV presenter Baz Ashmawy, and columnists Jennifer O’Connell and Brenda Power.
Neven’s Italian Food Trails
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm
It’s a rule that all telly chefs must make the gruelling trip to Italy, force themselves to sample the local fare, and knock out a TV series about it. Neven Maguire is the latest to endure this awful penance, and the full horror of his ordeal is documented in Neven’s Italian Food Trails. It’s grim viewing, as poor Neven has to trudge from Venice to Sorrento, stopping off at the badlands of Florence, Sorrento, Parma and Tuscany, with only chianti, cappuccino, risotto, parma ham, pasta and prosecco to keep him going. Sometimes it gets so bad he has to cook his own ragu, peach and amaretti cake, chicken wrapped in Parma ham, and chocolate and hazelnut semi-freddo. God love him.
To his credit, Neven keeps up a brave smile throughout – in fact, watching him in a water taxi going up the Grand Canal, taking a microlight flight over Parma, going truffle-hunting in Tuscany or zooming around a race track in a Ferrari, you’d swear he was actually having the time of his life. What a trouper.
Sing: Ultimate A Capella
Friday, Sky 1, 9pm
Forget The Voice – here’s the real test of vocal prowess, as 30 groups go into pitch battle with no other weapon than their own vocal cords. Sing: Ultimate A Capella features no musical instruments – the groups must use just their voice to interpret tunes by David Bowie, Backstreet Boys, Adele, S Club 7 and Run-DMC among others. Cat Deeley is the host of this great British sing-off, and guest stars, including Imelda May and Midge Ure, will demonstrate their vocal prowess. We’ll be rooting of course for the two Irish groups in the competition, and one of them, Ardú, will feature in the first episode.
Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm
It’s the 2010s, and Fletch is banged up in prison in a new series of Porridge (Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm). No, they haven’t resurrected Ronnie Barker to reprise his role in one of Britain’s best-loved comedy series. Kevin Bishop stars as Nigel Fletcher, grandson of Norman Stanley Fletcher, who’s serving a sentence in Wakeley prison for cyber-crime. He uses his talents to help his fellow inmates with appeals, letters home etc, all the while trying to avoid run-ins with his nemesis, prison officer Meekie (Mark Bonnar). One thing remains from the original series – its writers, the legendary Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Still, we’ll miss old Ronnie.