TV guide: 16 of the best shows to watch this week
Series 2 of Killing Eve, plus Kate Beckinsale in The Widow and Game of Thones and Avengers stars on Graham Norton
Sandra Oh in series 2, episode 1 of Killing Eve, Wednesday on RTE2
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
This documentary follows a group of determined drama students as they stage their first professional production and set out to start their own touring theatre company. It will take extra courage and hard work to put on this show, not least because these students all have Down syndrome. Showstoppers, co-directed by one of the students, Aimee Richardson, brings us inside this close-knit, talented group of performers as they endeavour to bring their show together and demonstrate that they are defined by their ability, not their disability.
Monday, UTV, 9pm
Kate Beckinsale stars in this drama as Georgia Wells, whose life is turned upside down when she learns of her husband’s death in a plane crash in the Congolese jungle. Three years later, her new life is upended by another piece of shocking news: her husband may not be dead after all. So Georgia embarks on a perilous journey into the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to uncover the truth about her husband’s disappearance. It’s made by Harry and Jack Williams, the creators of Missing and Baptiste, and costars Alex Kingston, Charles Dance and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
A murdered child, a grieving mother, a suspected killer and a court case in which the very idea of justice is on trial . . . this four-part Scottish thriller will soon have you wondering: who’s the real victim here? Fifteen years after her son was murdered, Anna Dean (Kelly Macdonald) believes she has identified the killer and posts his details online. Meanwhile, family man Craig Myers (James Harkness) is viciously attacked, and discovers he is being publicly accused of child murder. The story is told from the perspectives of both Dean and Myers as they face-off in court. John Hannah stars as the detective trying to find out if Dean behind the attack on Myers, and has Myers been mistakenly identified as the murderer?
A House Through Time
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
David Olusoga returns to chart more British history as lived through by the successive inhabitants of a house, this time a Georgian property in Newcastle upon Tyne. Tracing the house’s early years, Olusoga discovers the original deeds, which reveal that the house was built by a local developer and completed around 1824. Its first long-term resident was a local lawyer and family man who worked his way up the ranks of society and was elected to the post of town coroner.
Life After Lock-Up
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
Observational three-part documentary traces a year in the lives of ex-offenders as they are released from prison and attempt to reintegrate back into society. In this first episode, Chris leaves HMP Leeds after serving more than 32 years for murder and convicted shoplifter Gemma returns to sleeping rough on the streets of Swindon. Azhar tries to win back the respect of his family after serving time for burglary. Young offender Rhys is met at the prison gates by his long-suffering mother. And, in Cornwall, the local council offers Jason a hotel in which to spend his first night of freedom.
Don’t Forget the Driver
Tuesday, BBC2, 10pm
Toby Jones co-writes and stars in this comedy set in the seaside town of Bognor Regis and centring around ordinary people trying to eke out beauty and meaning from their soul-crushingly ordinary lives. Jones is coach driver Peter Green, who is trying to keep his fragmented family together while simultaneously shepherding tourists around without losing any of them. In episode one, Peter is taking a coachload of pensioners across the channel to visit the war graves at Dunkirk, but soon finds himself in a battle zone. Jones is great at portraying the quiet desperation of smalltown life (watch the excellent Detectorists), so we’ll be booking ourselves on this trip.
Operation Live: Father to Son Kidney Transplant
Tuesday, Channel 5, 10pm
Nicky Campbell presents full coverage of a kidney transplant – featuring a patient in end-stage kidney failure receiving a replacement organ from his father – live from inside an operating theatre at the Royal London Hospital. The surgeons guide viewers through the procedure in real time, their narration supplemented by expert commentary to explain the different stages of the life-changing operation.
Looking for Rembrandt
Tuesday, BBC4, 9pm
Toby Jones again, this time providing the voice of the Dutch artist. It begins with Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Ri’s meteoric rise in Amsterdam as he is courted by the city’s wealthy elite. But his ambition and his meticulous attention to detail result in him taking too long to complete important commissions. He also gains a reputation as a spendthrift as he amasses an extraordinary collection of art and exotic curios using his newfound wealth. Along with his good fortune, Rembrandt also endures personal tragedies, including the deaths of three children in infancy and that of his wife Saskia van Uylenburgh.
Wednesday, RTÉ2, 9.35pm
It’s safe to say that season one of this cat-and-mouse thriller was a huge hit. Sandra Oh stars as MI6 agent Eve Polastri, who is on the trail of a deadly psychopathic assassin, with Jodie Comer as merciless hit-girl Villanelle. The show leadsthis year’s Bafta Awards with 14 nominations, but the Baftas had to bend the rules a bit because only shows that premiered in the UK are eligible, while Killing Eve was first aired – to great acclaim – in the US. RTÉ pulled off a coup by being the first broadcaster to air the series in Europe, and so we’ll all be tuning in to see what happens next in this thrilling, ultra-violent tale of murder and obsession. Season one ended with a showdown between the two women in Villanelle’s Parisian apartment. I won’t spoil it for you, just in case you’re planning a catch-up binge-watch before Wednesday, but as season two opens, the chase is back on. And guess what? This time the stakes are higher.
Titanic Belfast: City of a Thousand Launches
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
The story of how one of the worst disasters at sea was followed by a century of silence in Belfast, before history and opportunity aligned for one final launch – of Titanic Belfast. Featuring fascinating archive footage, survivor accounts and unique interviews with Titanic experts, City of a Thousand Launches includes a moving interview with Dr Robert Ballard, who discoverered the wreck, in the former offices of Harland & Wolff on the centenary of the sinking: April 15th, 2012.
Wednesday, BBC1, 8pm
Gregg Wallace goes behind the scenes with Britain’s biggest food retailers to discover how technology is bringing consumers their food. In the first episode, he examines the way supermarkets are in competition to be first with the lastest foodie fashions.
Inside Tesco: Britain’s Biggest Supermarket
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
A century ago, Londoner Jack Cohen founded what would become one of the UK’s most successful supermarket chains. But how do the folks behind the scenes keep this multimillion-pound operation going? Fiona Phillips sees what makes the brand tick as she talks to former employees, rival executives and retail experts. There’s also a look at Tesco’s ups and downs in recent years, and stories behind headlines regarding the supermarket are addressed.
Lee and Dean
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
After the explosive stag and hen weekends at the end of series one, will things ever be the same again for the one-time best mates? The critically acclaimed, bittersweet comedy about a pair of builders from Stevenage returns to our screens tonight, with the boys, their friends and exes, all trying to rebuild their lives. For newcomers to the show, it follows Lee (Miles Chapman), a proper geezer who is all about the botched job (“we’ll have a go at most things”) and doesn’t miss a chance to charm the ladies. Dean (Mark O’Sullivan), on the other hand, is a sensitive soul who enjoys writing poetry and bark rubbing. The pair live together, work together, and drink together – or at least they did until the end of the last season.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Chris Hemsworth and Paul Rudd chat about new Marvel blockbuster Avengers: End Game, while Oscar-winner Julianne Moore discusses her acclaimed drama Gloria Bell. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington preview the upcoming final season of hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones, while Brits breakthrough-act Tom Walker performs Just You and I.
Rock Island Line: The Song that Made Britain Rock
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
American folk song Rock Island Line first emerged in the late 1920s, and the first recorded performance of the track wasn’t until 1934, by inmates of the Arkansas Cummins State Farm prison. After several covers, Lonnie Donegan’s fast-tempo recording of the song about a train operator who smuggles pig iron through a toll gate, was released in late 1955. Donegan’s work was a major influence on Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and many others, and it is credited with helping to trigger the UK skiffle craze.
The Comeback of Ant McPartlin
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Documentary examining the presenter’s fall from grace in 2018, when while his marriage to Lisa Armstrong was failing, he was charged with drink-driving and admitted to rehab for a second time. Through interviews with experts, the programme offers an insight into how Ant’s world collapsed around him and how it feels to have personal problems played out in front of the nation. It also speculates as to whether Ant will successfully complete his recovery when he rejoins Declan Donnelly for the latest series of Britain’s Got Talent.