TV guide: 15 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Love Island – the finale, Gossip Girl, The Walking Dead, Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kathryn Thomas in No Place Like Home, Sunday on RTE One

Kathryn Thomas in No Place Like Home, Sunday on RTE One

 

No Place Like Home
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
It’s the second summer of staycation, and we’re well used to making the most of what’s on offer for holidaying at home. We’re even getting used to having to pay the price of a luxury Caribbean holiday just to stay a couple of rainy nights in a so-so hotel in nondescript town. In this second series of the staycation show, Kathryn Thomas sets out in her camper van on an epic drive from Malin Head to Mizen Head, stopping off at various locations along the west coast, and discovering a few hidden holiday gems along the way.

Thomas is accompanied by her daughter Ellie on the first leg, which will take them through the rugged landscapes and scenic beaches of Donegal. They’ll meet postman Micheál Gallagher, whose ability to predict the weather borders on the uncanny, and animal conservationist Killian MacLoughlin, known as the Bear Man of Buncrana, who has brought bears, wolves and wild boar back to the Irish countryside via his Wild Ireland Sanctuary on the Inishowen peninsula. Kathryn and Ellie will also stay in a yurt on Lough Mardal and cross the Fairy Bridges of Bundoran. This episode also features a short diversion to Kilkenny in the company of singer Tolu Makay and poet FeliSpeaks.

When Ruby Wax Met
Sunday, BBC Two, 9pm
It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when we didn’t have 24/7 access to celebrities’ lives, and weren’t privy to their innermost fears and foibles. We relied on their PR people to give us carefully controlled glimpses into their private lives, and relied on the tabloids to dish whatever dirt and scandal they could dig up. In those hazy days of celebrity culture, Ruby Wax broke through the force field of fame and got up close and personal with the stars via her bold and fearless TV interviews. A quarter-century later, Wax revisits these interviews and examines them through different eyes. No longer the shock-comedy TV host of old, Wax now has an MA in cognitive therapy from Oxford, so she can re-evaluate these encounters with a more analytic mind.

The first part of this three-part series, How to Get Ahead in Interviewing, opens with a doozy: an interview with brash entrepreneur Donald Trump and his new girlfriend Melania Knauss. Will we see the early warning signs of the Trumpian threat to democracy? Maybe, but we’ll definitely see that Trump’s narcissism and disdain for facts was already in place. During the series, Wax also meets the man at the centre of the biggest trial of the late 20th century: OJ Simpson, and that’s guaranteed to be uncomfortably close to the bone.

Love Island
Monday, Virgin One/ITV2, 9pm
Episode 49 is also the live finale of Love Island 2021. It’s been an incredible summer of drama, moving mad, scrambled heads and love. Tonight, Laura Whitmore hosts the finalists and viewers choose which of them deserves to get their hands on that £50,000 prize and be crowned winners of the seventh series.

Mastermind
Monday, BBC Two, 7.30pm
The curtain goes up on the latest series of this long-running, brain-busting quiz and it’s time to welcome a new presenter after John Humphries recently stepped down. Clive Myrie, an award-winning journalist and News at Ten presenter, becomes the show’s fifth host in its 49-year history. While there have been the inevitable questions about when a woman will fill the hallowed question master’s seat, Myrie’s started so we ought to let him finish. As for his specialist subject? The history of British jazz.

Where Would You Like the Bullet?
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 11.30pm
Kildare writer and artist Aidan Higgins has long languished in the shadow of Ireland’s great literary names, and the makers of this documentary on his life and work are hoping to spark a revival of interest in this almost-forgotten figure, who died in 2015. Back in the 1960s, Higgins won the James Tait Black Prize for fiction for his novel Langrishe, Go Down, and the book was made into a TV movie starring Judi Dench and Jeremy Irons. He also wrote autobiographical works such as Donkey’s Years, Dog Days and The Whole Hog, based on his sojourns in Spain, South Africa, Berlin and Rhodesia, and was a founder-member of Aosdána. This film will tell the story of Higgins’s life, taking as its cue the writer’s own mantra: “The memories of things, are they better than the things themselves?”

Britannia
Tuesday, Sky Atlantic & NowTV, 9pm
It’s billed as a historical drama,  but as the first two series amply demonstrates, Britannia is more a mad, campy, psychedelic trip through ancient British mythology, and any resemblance to real historical events is purely for reference purposes. Once again we’re plunged back into the maelstrom of Britain in the first century AD, with the ruling Druids still resisting the Roman invaders, and Cait finally accepting her destiny as the Chosen One to unite the tribes in rebellion against the Roman empire. Production on the third series was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but finally we can pick up the feverish action and intrigue as the battle for the soul of ancient Britain rages on.

Love Your Cottage Garden Special
Tuesday, ITV, 8pm
Alan Titchmarsh shares the secrets behind this pretty garden style and shows off his own version: an eye-popping mixed border at his own plot. Meanwhile, in Redditch David Domoney, Katie Rushworth, Frances Tophill and Danny Clarke turn a plant-free backyard into a flower-filled, traditional cottage garden with all the trimmings for long-serving district nurse Pat Hastings. In Stoke, the team comes up with a more modern but equally stunning take for dedicated young paediatric A&E nurse Grace Finney.

Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Here’s another chance to catch Emer Reynolds’s cinematic celebration of the life of Thin Lizzy leader Phil Lynott, who died 35 years ago aged 36, leaving behind a legacy of great music and poetic lyricism, not to mention a blueprint of how to be effortlessly cool. This documentary uses rarely seen footage and exclusive interviews with friends, family and rockstar contemporaries to build up a portrait of Lynott’s life and music. We’ll get a glimpse into his childhood and adolescence in Dublin and a peek behind the scenes as he scaled the heights of stardom. While many rock docs focus on the excesses of the rockstar lifestyle, Reynolds chooses not to dwell on the Lynott’s descent into drink and drugs, instead highlighting his life-affirming body of wor, from the reflective Shades of a Blue Orphanage to the all-out rock swagger of Jailbreak.

Gossip Girl
Wednesday, BBC One, 10.35pm
For many viewers, the original Gossip Girl still feels quite modern: it ran from 2007-2012. This new version takes us back to New York’s Upper East Side to meet another batch of teenagers attending a swanky private school. The original blogger’s website may have gone dark, but someone is still keeping tabs on their social scene.

Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me
Friday, BBC One, 7pm
To be a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing takes hard work and talent as well as an impressive level of physical fitness and the ability to put a smile no matter how wrong a routine may be going. So it may come as a surprise to learn that behind the scenes, regular Amy Dowden has been dealing with a chronic illness. In this documentary, the Welsh dancer, who joined the show in 2017, opens up about her battle with Crohn’s disease, which involves parts of the digestive system become inflamed, resulting in abdominal pains. As well as talking about the impact of the condition on her own life and career, Dowden meets other people with Crohn’s to hear about their experiences.

Fantastic Foxes: Their Secret World
Friday, Channel 5, 7pm
The red fox is the most widespread animal in the world, inhabiting every continent except Antarctica. It certainly has proved itself highly adaptable and resilient in Britain, where it’s loved, feared and even hated, yet frequently misunderstood. Steve Backshall is on a mission to shed new light on these secretive creatures, as he looks at some of the challenges foxes face in modern society, from cubs entangled in football nets to an adult trapped in barbed wire. He also learns more about a fox rivalry that’s broken out on a north London allotment.

ON DEMAND

The Walking Dead
From Monday, Disney+
In 2010, we were introduced to a post-apocalyptic world where zombies ran rampant and cop Rick Grimes, on waking from a coma, struggled to cope. From that tiny acorn sprang this 11-series mighty oak, but now the curtain is set to come down forever. Will humankind survive? Did Rick really die? If not, will Michonne find him? Will there be a happy ending? We’ll have to wait and see, but in this two-part opener, Daryl leads a team to scavenge the military base, and Maggie tells her story, prompting a mission through a subway tunnel only Negan can lead. Meanwhile, Eugene and his group are assessed by the Commonwealth’s paramilitary police, and Yumiko seeks answers about her brother.

McCartney 3,2,1
From Wednesday, Disney+
If you’re a fan of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, then this streaming platform is the place to be. It’s home to this six-part documentary series in which the legendary musician breaks down his career with producer Rick Rubin. The result is an intimate conversation about the writing, influences and relationships informing the songs that have served as the soundtracks of so many people’s lives. Over the series, the duo explore Beatles classics including Come Together, All My Loving, With a Little Help from My Friends and In My Life. If that doesn’t get you dusting off The White Album, Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back documentary is set to air in three two-hour chunks on November 25th, 26th and 27th.

See
From Friday, Apple TV+
Clear your diaries as the second season of this gripping drama lands. Set in a brutal and primitive future, hundreds of years after humankind has lost the ability to see, we catch up with Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) as he struggles to reunite his family while protecting them, as the threat of war looms between the Kingdom of Paya and the Trivantian Republic. Despite Voss’s best efforts, his wife and sighted children are pulled to the forefront of the conflict, where they come to the attention of his estranged brother, Edo Voss (Dave Bautista), a powerful and cunning Trivantian general whose long-simmering hatred for his brother imperils them all even further. Alfre Woodard also stars.

Kevin Can F**k Himself
From Friday, Amazon Prime
You’ve seen it in every sitcom: a useless guy gets away with all sorts of bad behaviour, simply because he makes the studio audience laugh. His long-suffering wife is initially exasperated by hubby’s manchild antics, but by the final credits she’s won over again by his winning smile and well-written wisecracks. But here’s one sitcom that veers so far off the laugh track, you’ll think you’ve wandered into a Kafka play directed by Ken Loach. Annie Murphy (the daughter in Schitt’s Creek) stars as Allison, the classic sitcom wife, who stoically puts up with all the casual misogyny, drinking and frat-boy humour from Kevin and his slacker best friend Neil, but soon decides it’s time to can the laughter and do something about this not-so-comedic situation.

The series is shot like a multi-camera comedy, but pretty soon it cuts to single-camera realism as Allison nears the end of her tether and begins to realise the joke is on her. Driven to the brink of madness, she decides there’s only one way out of this comedy from Hell: kill Kevin. The show has already launched in the US and, judging by the fan acclaim, it looks like Kevin is toast.

Contributing: PA

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