TV guide: 17 of the best shows to watch this week
First Dates Ireland does Valentine’s Day, Monty Don explores Japanese gardens, and the skinny on thin people
Alica Keys hosts the Grammy Awards on Monday.
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
John Torode and Gregg Wallace return for a new series of the cookery competition. A fresh batch of contestants are put through gruelling culinary challenges to test not just their skills, but also their knowledge of food and ability to cope in a professional kitchen. The first seven hopefuls need to pull out all the stops to prove that they have the potential to rise above the rest and become MasterChef 2019 Champion. Here they get to work using ingredients including brown shrimp, mussels, mackerel, beef mince, and pork tenderloin.
The Making of Me
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
Filmed over the course of three years, this fascinating series follows nine people as they transition, looking at how they and their families adjust to their new identities and charting the often-startling physical changes. The first episode introduces us to Simon, who has been married to Julie for 35 years, and has decided to live full-time as Jackie. Can the couple’s relationship survive? Meanwhile, 26-year-old transman Cairo considers a return to modelling, and Vicky travels toLA for help in altering the masculine voice that hampers her efforts to pass as a woman.
The Secret Lives of Slim People
Monday, Channel 4, 8.30pm
Sabrina Grant examines the lives of people who do not stick to a fitness regimen or seem to worry about what they eat, but do not have a problem with their weight and stay trim without trying. With the help of private detectives and secret cameras, the programme examines their every move and meal. The first edition features teaching assistant and mum-of-three Hayley from Eastbourne, an unashamed chocoholic with a busy lifestyle; and Rinia from Surrey, who wonders why she manages to stay in shape in spite of her diet of takeaways.
A Very British History: Romany Gypsies
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
This four-part documentary explores key moments in the 20th century for minority communities across the UK. In the first edition, Damian Le Bas looks at how, in the 1960s, many Gypsies were forced to abandon their nomadic way of life for a more settled existence. The writer draws on his own Romany family background to show how Gypsies faced becoming outlaws, with regular stopping places for their caravans drying up, and tighter planning laws putting further pressure on finding somewhere to live. Breakthrough legislation in 1968 finally compelled councils to provide permanent sites for Gypsy people. This gave hope to many, but at the cost of losing their freedom.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards
Monday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm
A 15-time Grammy winner herself, Alicia Keys makes her dubut as the as master of ceremonies for the music industry’s biggest night, held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. “A dynamic artist with the rare combination of groundbreaking talent and passion for her craft, Alicia Keys is the perfect choice as host for our show,” burbles Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of the Recording Academy. “Throughout her exciting career, I have watched her become a powerful force within the music industry and beyond. As an artist who speaks to the power of music, we are thrilled to have her on board for what’s sure to be an unforgettable Grammy Awards.”
The Great British Sewing Bee
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
After sister show The Great British Bake Off moved to Channel 4, some viewers may have feared that this sewing contest was done for at the BB. But The Great British Sewing Bee is returning for a new series and although there’s no Claudia Winkleman this time around, the producers have found a great replacement presenter in the form of comedian Joe Lycett. In the opening episode, he meets 10 of Britain’s best amateur stitchers, who are vying to impress judges Patrick Grant and Esmee Young in the first challenges, which include making a wiggle dress, transforming second-hand denim and creating a made-to-measure catsuit for a real-life model.
Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm
We’re into the fifth season of this crime series set on the Scottish archipelago and based on the bestselling crime novels of Anne Cleeves. Douglas Henshaw stars as detective Jimmy Perez, who returns to his native Shetlands only to find that murder will come even to this remote, rugged landscape. Series five opens as nearly all crime dramas do: with a grim discovery. A jogger finds a severed hand on a beach, and it’s not long before the rest of the victim’s body parts are recovered. Alison O’Donnell costars as Detective Sergeant Alison “Tosh” Macintosh.
Inside the Real Saudi Arabia: Why I Had to Leave
Tuesday, BBC1, 10.45pm
Saudi Arabia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman. Despite this, Saudi-born British fashion stylist Basma Khalifa has been persuaded to travel back to the country she hasn’t been to since her parents moved to Northern Ireland when she was three. She’s never felt at home in the UK, so maybe she can start a new chapter of her life in Saudi Arabia, which has become more open under the new Crown Prince. However, days after arriving, news breaks of the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Khalifa’s experiment takes on a darker turn.
Tuesday, Virgin Media One, 9pm
Oxford, 1969. As the sixth series (already premiered Sunday on UTV) opens, something disturbing has happened: DS Endeavour Morse has grown the monster of all moustaches. Life may never be the same again. In fact, change is happening all over the place, not least because of the merger of Oxford City Police with Thames Valley Constabulary. Morse and Thursday are still finding their feet in this heady new world. The former is back in uniform, having been forced to take up a post in an isolated countryside spot; the latter is at the forbidding Castle Gate Station, where he’s set to lock horns with former adversary DCI Ronnie Box. But Morse is about to be reunited with his mentor after discovering the body of a missing schoolgirl on his patch.
The Real Marigold on Tour
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
The success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel may have led some pensioners, who had never previously thought about moving abroad, to consider retiring to India. This new series, which takes veteran celebrities and sends them off on global adventures, will viewers wondering if they should spend their golden years in Argentina, Vietnam, Mexico or, as in this first episode, Russia. Marigold veterans Miriam Margolyes, Bobby George and Sheila Ferguson are heading to St Petersburg with new recruit Stanley Johnson, whose pro-Russian stance doesn’t endear him to the ladies – although he does bond with Bobby over vodka. A military-themed fitness programme called “Ready for Labour and Defence” only increases Miriam’s wariness about the country, but can a night in a Russian sanatorium win her over?
Wednesday, RTÉ2, 9pm
Based partially on the 1975 Robert Redford thriller Three Days of the Condor, this series follows a CIA analyst who stumbles onto a plan that threatens the lives of millions. Joe Turner (Max Irons) has always been conflicted about his work for the agency. But when something he’s discovered gets his entire office killed, leaving Joe as the only survivor and forcing him to go on the run, the theoretical reservations he’s harbored turn into all-too-real moral dilemmas. William Hurt, Mira Sorvino and Brendan Fraser costar.
Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
This new series follows the residents of Hartlepool as they became guinea pigs for the roll-out of Universal Credit, and the shocking events that followed. Far away from the Westminster bubble, the stark realities of the tougher new system’s impact on people’s lives come sharply into focus. The programme follows unemployed Nathan and Abbey as they take their dog out to hunt for rabbits and squirrels to cook, and partially-blind Dave, who has had his benefit payments reduced, meaning he has just £5 to live off for the entire month.
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10.45pm
The latest Euro drama from Walter Presents is a Danish/Swedish thriller about a potential terror attack. In the opening episode, the Swedish security police discover the warhead from a surface-to-air missile in a HGV. As the truck begins its journey in Denmark, officers from both countries form an anti-terrorist unit whose job it is to find out why the missile has been brought into Scandinavia and assess the likelihoodof ab attack. Meanwhile, a brilliant Danish software engineer agrees to an interview with a Swedish journalist, but their conversation takes an unexpected turn. The whole series will be available to view on All4.
First Dates Ireland
Thursday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm
It’s Valentine’s Day, and the pressure is on to couple up and not get left holding up the wall while everyone else is getting jiggy wit’ it. Luckily, First Dates Ireland is here to save the day as another bunch of hopeful singletons are brought together at the dinner table, all of them with an appetite for love. There’s beauty blogger Diane and her date Eoin, who it turns out she already had a chance encounter with on the Luas; surfer dude Shayar and Canadian waitress Shaw, both of whom are in search of a superhero; and Craig and Craig, who will soon find out if they have anything more than a first name in common. Let the love games begin.
Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm
Dáithí Ó Sé talks to broadcaster, TV writer and journalist Catherine Foley, who spent more than 25 years working for The Irish Times and is the author of an acclaimed memoir, Beyond the Breakwater: Memories of Home.
Monty Don’s Japanese Gardens
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
Traditional Japanese gardens combine aesthetics with ethics, and beauty with philosophy in a celebration of the natural world. In this two-part exploration of both traditional and modern, Monty Don looks at some of the most beautiful gardens from all over Japan. He begins his journey in spring, amid the cherry blossoms, where he visits one of the “three great gardens of Japan” and the earliest surviving boating garden of the Heian period. He also looks at the rolling green moss of a Buddhist garden and learns the secrets of creating a Zen landscape.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer discuss their new film On the Basis of Sex, which is based on the early life and cases of US supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Stephen Merchant talks about Fighting with My Family, a fact-based comedy-drama set in the world of wrestling, in which he costars and directs. Plus, comedian Rob Beckett puts in a good word for his BBC1 talent show All Together Now, while Calvin Harris and Rag’n’Bone Man perform their current single Giant.