TV guide: 14 of the best shows to watch this week
George Clooney and Hugh Laurie in a new version of anti-war classic Catch-22, the ultimate DIY challenge on RTÉ, plus the return of supervet Noel Fitzpatrick
George Clooney in Catch-22, beginning Thursday on Channel 4
Under the Clock
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
This documentary explores the social history of Ireland through the tales of ordinary people whose relationships began under the Clerys clock on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. In his review last autumn, Donald Clarke wrote that Under the Clock “goes among various Dubliners whose lives were changed by encounters outside Clerys department store. The film parts company from the clock early on and makes only fleeting returns. This is a bit of a shame. It would be nice to get more on the atmosphere of O’Connell Street in earlier decades. But the film’s impressively unsentimental portrait of the wider nation offers many surprises.”
The Family Brain Games
Monday-Thursday, BBC Two, 8pm
Dara O Briain hosts this new quiz show, which has been designed to put the cleverest clans through their paces via series of tricky challenges. Neuroscientists Hannah Critchlow is also on hand to offer expert analysis of the action.
Shortscreen: Five Stone of Lead
Monday, TG4, 11.55pm
On horse-mad Rossbeigh Strand in south Kerry, an charismatic and diminutive 12-year-old jockey called Dylan steps up to the challenge of racing against his older, stronger peers at the Glenbeigh Races, one of the biggest competitive meets on the grassroots horse racing calendar. Jonny Madderson’s six-minute drama, shot in Kerry and Donegal, is one of an independent series of true-life short films from around the world called Postcards.
The Big DIY Challenge
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
How are your home improvement skills? Can you knock up a few shelves or put down some decking in a jiffy? Are you handy with a hammer and deft with a drill? Here’s a chance for Ireland’s handymen and women to demonstrate their talents with tools and compete for the crown of Ireland’s Best DIYer. These “hammer-chewers” will try to prove they can perform DIY tasks to the top professional level under the all-seeing eyes of Jennifer Byrne, lecturer in construction at TU Dublin, and Michal Dachowski, resident power-tool warrior at Woodie’s. Each contestant will take on a DIY project, anything from renovating a room to building a big outdoor yoke, and prizes will be awarded for best small job, best indoor/outdoor job, best upcycle and most entertaining DIY fail – plus the grand prize of €10,000 for best overall DIYer. The series is hosted by PJ Gallagher, who admits he’s not much of a handyman himself, but is looking forward to learning some new tricks. “A friend of mine is building a hen house in the shape of the GPO,” he says. “I’d love to see something cool like that win.”
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Third term begins at the Yorkshire school where white and Asian pupils study together in perfect disharmony. The culture-clash comedy-drama is back for its third series, as the students prepare for their final year at school and start to think about their futures. There’s a new deputy head teacher and a disillusioned new director of behaviour. The school is now part of a multi-academy trust, making things even more unmanageable and widening the scope for mishaps and misunderstandings.
Years and Years
Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm
As Viv Rook’s regime tightens its grip, the entire Lyons family is forced to take action. Spurred on by both Muriel and Daniel, Rosie faces up to the troops surrounding her home, and takes radical action with Lincoln’s help. But when Bethany reveals the shocking truth about her father, Edith and Celeste form a secret alliance to stop him. Stephen’s in too deep as the mysterious Erstwhile Policy turns deadly, forcing Edith and her girlfriend Fran to embark on a reckless, dangerous mission for Viktor’s sake. Last in the series.
Tuesday, Virgin One, 9pm
In 1964, ITV began an every-seven-year series inspired by the Jesuit motto, “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”. Whether its makers expected it to still be going strong in the 21st century remains to be seen, but it has turned out to be one of TV’s most enduring success stories. Now it’s back to catch up with people we first met 55 years ago. We’ve watched them grow up every seven years as they completed school, got jobs, married and had children. Now they’re reaching retirement age. Among those featured in 63 Up (which began on UTV two weeks ago) is Tony, who gave up a career as a jockey and became a cabbie; and Sue, who was first on the show with her friends Jackie and Lynn, and has since shared her experiences of being a single mum.
The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick
Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Prof Noel Fitzpatrick returns for a 14th series, and there’s no shortage of moving cases, including Barney, a four-year-old pug and beagle cross who has been hit by a bus. An ankle has been crushed and there is extensive damage to his leg. Barney’s wound poses a serious infection risk, and he has lost 40 per cent of the bone in the damaged leg, so Noel creates an innovative two-tier treatment involving an external ankle frame for support. He also deals with 10-month-old Labrador cross Gylly, who has developed lameness and an unusual bone deformity. Fitzpatrick is the world’s only surgeon to offer a total shoulder replacement, which could give Gylly a fully working shoulder joint.
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
It worked for MASH, which successfully translated from a hit movie to a classic comedy series. But will it work for Catch-22? The 1970 original, starring Alan Arkin, was a dark, uneasy study of the insanity of war, but the makers of this six-episode series are going back to the source novel by Joseph Heller. The show features star turns from producer George Clooney, Kyle Chandler and Hugh Laurie. Christopher Abbott stars as Yossarian, the US air force bombardier stationed in Italy during the second World War, who is desperate to get out of active combat before he is killed. But his scheme to be discharged is thwarted by the sinister rule known as Catch-22, which basically says you have to be mad to work here, but if you want to leave, then you must be sane.
George Clarke’s Old House, New Home
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
George Clarke helps more people unlock the potential of old houses. He begins by assisting NHS theatre nurse Hannah, whose Edwardian worker’s cottage is so small she has had to give the only decent bedroom to her two lively children while she sleeps in the front room. Can Clarke provide the luxurious master bedroom she needs? He also helps a couple renovate their detached home, which would not be so bad if not for the previous owners’ love of glass chandeliers, Roman columns and marble-effect tiles.
Philip Green & the Trouble with Topshop
Thursday, Channel 5, 10pm
Topshop first began to make its mark on the British high street in the 1960s, and for decades it was a formidable force. When the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Madonna came to London, it was the one store they wanted to visit. Like all shops, it’s had its fair share of ups and downs. Profits are not what they were, as young shoppers increasingly go online. Owner Philip Green has also found himself making headlines over disputed allegations of sexual impropriety. Speaking to designers, employees, fashion critics, industry rivals and young shoppers, Fiona Phillips traces the rise and fall of one of Britain’s most iconic stores.
A Question of Sport
Friday, BBC One, 8pm
It’s a sobering thought for sports fans that this enduring quiz celebrates its 50th anniversary in January. You can expect plenty of celebrations closer the time, but for now Sue Barker presenters another helping of teasers. Taking part are golfer Matt Wallace, Great Britain sprinter Imani-Lara Lansiquot, European gold medal-winning gymnast Ellie Downie, and England cricketer Sam Billings. Team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell naturally hope their sides have bragging rights just before the closing titles roll.
Celebrity Crystal Maze
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
For the first of a new run, host Richard Ayoade welcomes reality stars Gemma Collins and James “Arg” Argent, presenter Carol Vorderman, comedian Ellie Taylor, and TV presenter Rick Edwards. They face a host of skill, physical, mental and mystery challenges in order to win coveted crystals to exchange for time in the Crystal Dome. The teams explore Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic and for the first time, new region the Eastern Zone.
Friday, BBC One, 9pm
Series nine of the popular sitcom is also the last, so make the most of this six-parter as Jack, Victor and the rest of the Craiglang gang return. Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill’s saga continues to celebrate growing old disgracefully, as once more the pensioners rail against everything modern life has to throw at them. In episode one, Isa is mugged and Winston comes to her rescue. Unaware that his selfless deed is being filmed, he is soon transformed into an internet sensation. Although the viral star downplays the attention, Methadone Mick emphasises the advantages of internet fame, and Winston soon embraces his new-found celebrity status.