TV guide: 15 of the best shows to watch this week
A new Love Island washes up, gay animals explained (possibly), the Ireland-Overlord connection, spooked Victorians and landmark contraception case on Scannal
May and Seamus McGee on their wedding day, profiled on Scannal: The McGee Case, Tuesday on RTÉ One
Monday, UTV2, 9pm
Many viewers’ favourite guilty pleasure returns, with this year’s line-up of toned singletons about to embark upon a scintillating summer of dates, drama, romance and relationships. Host Caroline Flack once again welcomes them to their plush paradise surroundings, a luxury Mallorcan villa, while Iain Stirling returns with his inimitable narration. As the game of love gets underway, the islanders must couple up in order to secure their place in the villa, with those who stay single at risk of being dumped from the island. But with loyalties tested and true feelings challenged, temptation is rife.
Golden Mondello – From Grass to Glory
Monday, RTÉ One, 7pm
Celebrating 50 years of Irish motor racing, this documentary looks back at the history of the iconic Co Kildare racetrack and the drivers who burned rubber on it over the years. The programme is also a tribute to Martin Birrane, the Ballina-born UK property developer and amateur racer who bought Mondello in its early days and took on the task of turning it into an international-level circuit that could stand up alongside some of the world’s top racetracks. Among the big name drivers who have raced on Mondello are Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart, along with a host of local heroes, including John Watson, Derek Daly, Kenny Acheson, David Kennedy, Tommy Byrne, Michael Roe and Eddie Jordan, who began his career at Mondello as a lowly bank clerk before going on to become Formula One team boss.
The Truth About Chlorinated Chicken: Dispatches
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
As President Donald Trump touches down in the UK, a post-Brexit trade deal is top of the agenda. And one of the most controversial issues is whether the nation will have to accept chemically washed American chicken as part of a deal. It’s been banned in the EU for more than 20 years because of concerns that it masks poor hygiene practices in other parts of the supply chain. Dispatches goes undercover in a major US poultry processing plant to investigate, while reporter Kate Quilton meets whistleblowers and insiders who claim that the Trump administration’s close relationship with the industry may mean that the worst is yet to come.
7 Up & Me
Monday, UTV, 9pm
In 1964, Granada Television launched a series that aimed to follow the lives of a group of seven-year-olds from various social backgrounds. The makers must have known the project was ground-breaking and hugely ambitious, but they probably didn’t realise that viewers would follow those children’s live for more than half a century. Ahead of the latest instalment, 63 Up, which begins on Tuesday, celebrity fans explain why the show means so much them, and contrast it with their own experiences growing up.
Tuesday, UTV, 9pm
In 1964, ITV began an ever-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 the broadcaster’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 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.
Scannal: The McGee Case
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
In 1973, following a landmark case in the Supreme Court, 27-year-old May McGee overturned Ireland’s ban on contraception. May and her husband, Seamus were living at the time in north Co Dublin. Over a period of two years May gave birth to four children, including twins. Her pregnancies were difficult and her G advised her that a further pregnancy could prove life-threatening. He fitted May with a diaphragm and gave her a prescription for spermicide. Since the 1930s it had been illegal to import, sell, distribute or advertise contraceptives in Ireland. When May ordered spermicide from the UK, the package was intercepted by Irish Customs. She was warned by Customs of the possible consequences of breaking the law, which included a substantial fine or even a jail term. In an overwhelmingly conservative society, the McGees decided to test the constitutionality of the State’s ban on contraception.
Great British Gardens: Season By Season with Carol Klein
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
The host of this new series has long been one of Blighty’s best loved green-fingered experts, partly thanks to 14 years on the evergreen Gardeners’ World. Now Carol Klein visits spectacular plots across the UK and meets the people who look after them, beginning with Great Dixter in Northiam village in the Sussex High Weald. Head gardener Fergus Garrett talks about how he endeavours to use the grounds as a living laboratory of horticultural experimentation, and encourage biodiversity of plant and animal species.
Victorian Sensations: Seeing and Believing
Wednesday, BBC4, 9pm
Psychotherapist Philippa Perry explores how the late Victorian passion for science co-existed with a deeply held belief in the paranormal, with the boundary between fact and fantasy often blurred. Using a collection of restored Victorian films from the BFI National Archive, Philippa shows how innovations made use of contemporary ideas of ghosts and the afterlife and how this “new media” anticipated today’s networked world. She travels to the Bristol Channel to see how Marconi’s early experiments with wireless telegraphy encouraged speculation that telepathy would be the next scientific breakthrough.
Storm Front in Mayo – The Story of the D-Day Forecast
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
June 1944: The Allies are poised to launch the biggest seabound invasion the world has ever seen on the shores of Normandy. The weather forecasts are good for D-Day, and General Eisenhower is ready to give the order to invade, when word comes in from the remote Blacksod weather station in Co Mayo that throws Ike’s meticulous plans into chaos. A young meteorologist, Maureen Sweeney, has taken readings that show a massive storm is on the way, contradicting data from the big US and UK weather stations. Should Eisenhower listen to this tiny voice from the west of Ireland and postpone the invasion, or should he listen to the big guns and go ahead with the plan? He decided to heed Sweeney’s forecast and put the invasion back by a couple of days. With the help of Sweeney’s data, the Allies were able to find a short weather window to allow them to successfully land on the Normandy shores and begin the campaign that would turn the tide against Germany. In this documentary, we meet Sweeney, now 96, and hear how her forecasting skills helped change the course of history.
D-Day 75: The World Remembers
Thursday, BBC2, 6.30pm
It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and signified the beginning of the Allied campaign to liberate western Europe from Nazi occupation. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, and here Sophie Raworth introduces highlights of the commemorations. Proceedings began with a national commemorative event in Portsmouth, which was attended by the Queen, President Donald Trump and numerous heads of government, together with surviving veterans. The focus of attention then moved to Normandy and a special service of remembrance held in Bayeux Cemetery that pays tribute to all those who served and died fighting to liberate France.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Thursday, RTÉ2, 10pm
The Emmy-winning series hit our screens just as Donald Trump took power in the White House and set about turning the clock back on women’s rights and turning America into a Gilead-style dystopia. Now, just a couple of weeks after 25 older men in Alabama brought in a near-total ban on abortion, the third series of The Handmaid’s Tale begins, and its return seems as timely as ever. Series two ended with a cliffhanger, as June/Offred (Elizabeth Moss) stood on the threshold of freedom, but suddenly changed her mind and turned back to Gilead. She’s decided that it’s time to use all her survival skills to start a revolution and take down Gilead – and also find her daughter Hannah. She’s going to face serious dangers, but at least it should be easier than taking down Trump in 2020. Joseph Fiennes returns as Fred Waterford, as well as Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and Bradley Whitford as Commander Lawrence. The story arc has long overtaken Margaret Atwood’s original novel, but the author announced in November that she’s writing a seque, which is due to be published in September.
My Gay Dog and Other Animals
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
Documentary setting out to explore same-sex behaviour in animals, which has been reported in more than 1,500 species and was even observed by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Traditional evolutionary theory cannot explain the purpose of being gay. So what are the animals up to? Scientists give their thoughts, including the difficulty of separating so-called “dominance” behaviour from pure sexual interactions, while a commercial sheep breeder reveals how some rams are exclusively homosexual, and no good to his business.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
The host is joined on the sofa by actor Andrew Scott, who used to be best known for playing Moriarty in Sherlock before he won a new wave of fans as the hunky Priest in comedy Fleabag. He is now appearing in Smithereens, the latest instalment of Black Mirror on Netflix. Also: Paloma Faith discusses her music career as well as her role as the villainous Bet Sykes in upcoming DC Comics series Pennyworth, about the early life of Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred.
Pregnant & Platonic
Friday, BBC2, 7pm
According to this fascinating documentary, co-parenting – where men and women decide to have a baby together despite not being in a romantic relationship – is on the rise. Alex and Miriam, who are both gay and both want a child, were already friends when they decided to start trying, but they admit the arrangement is complicated by the fact that he lives in Birmingham and she is London. Meanwhile, Desiree met Jamie through a co-parenting website and they’re both thrilled that she’s pregnant. However, it’s not all plain sailing as Jamie’s mother shares some important family medical history and the parents-to-be turn to a mediator for help with their parenting agreement.
Sarah Millican: Control Enthusiast
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
She may not be quite as ubiquitous on TV as she once was, but Sarah Millican is still packing them in at her stand-up shows. Here, the comedian performs her latest routine, including topics such as road rage, IBS, her favourite word and how she lets her husband know “tonight’s the night”. There are also stories about “Rescue Men”, passing wind in hospital pants, what can happen at a bra fitting and how Millican feels about her belly.