TV guide: 18 of the best shows on TV this weekend
Colin Farrell on The Late Late and a family-friendly version of Watership Down
He's right behind you: Karl Spain in Drogheda-filmed panto The Greatest Show That Never Was
The Late Late Show
Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Although Colin Farrell is primarily as an international movie star, the Castleknock lad also works closely with the charity DEBRA Ireland, which provides support to patients and families living with the debilitating skin condition Epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Farrell and EB patient Emma Fogarty will discuss what it is like to live with the condition and how their friendship has blossomed through their work with the charity. Also joining Ryan Tubridy for the chat are Morning Ireland's Bryan Dobson, who will take a look at some of the iconic images of 2018. In addition, some of the country's leading food and drink experts will give last minute Christmas tips for cooking and entertaining; Derek O'Connor, who will talk about grief and dealing with the death of his wife Maeve in the run-up to Christmas 2016; show biz legend Brendan Grace; and music from the Palestrina Choir, and John Gibbons featuring Nina Nesbitt.
Friday, BBC1, 8.30pm
Veteran quizmaster John Humphrys puts four famous faces in the spotlight in the first of a new series of the quiz. Laying their reputations on the line in the first programme are BBC media editor Amol Rajan, Saturday Live presenter the Rev Richard Coles, RuPaul’s Drag Race runner-up Courtney Act, and Mark Lane from Gardeners’ World. Together they mulling questions on cricketer Shane Warne, the operas of Wagner, the Spice Girls and Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. The second round sees them tackling general knowledge questions.
Not Going Out Live Christmas Special
Friday, BBC1, 9pm
Lee Mack and Sally Bretton star in a holiday edition of their sitcom, and whatever about scripted disasters, this live show has the potential for serious meta-catastrophe. It’s Christmas (of course) and Lee and Lucy have been railroaded into organising a festive variety show to raise funds for their kids’ school. But with only one performer – an animal impersonator – confirmed, will the Ding Dong Merrily on Live Christmas Spectacular come crashing to earth? A live show about a live show going wrong; what could possibly go wrong?
Fleetwood Mac: A Musical History
Friday, BBC4, 8pm
Telling the history of Fleetwood Mac in just an hour is something of a challenge, not least because the group evolved so much from its first incarnation as a 1960s blues-rock-influenced band led by guitarist and songwriter Peter Green to the softer 1970s sound of the all-conquering Rumours. Edith Bowman narrates a brief history of the group while celebrity fans KT Tunstall, Travis frontman Fran Healy, Toyah Willcox, Sian Pattenden and Emma Dabiri pay tribute and share their favourite tracks.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Norton welcomes four of the stars of Mary Poppins Returns: Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Big Soap Quiz: Coronation Street v Emmerdale
Friday, Virgin One/UTV, 9pm
It’s been a big year in Weatherfield and the Dales, but have the actors being paying attention? Stephen Mulhern finds out as he hosts this titanic clash. Headed by team captains Jack P Shepherd (David Platt) and Mark Charnock (Marlon Dingle), tensions run high as the casts of Coronation Street and Emmerdale battle it out to find out who knows their soap best. Corrie’s Sally Ann Matthews, Victoria Ekanoye (aka Jenny and Angie) and Emmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw and Sandra Marvin (Bob and Jessie) make up the sides.
Ó Chraobh go Craobh
Friday, TG4, 7.50pm
A musical journey to Connemara, with sean-nós singer Ailbhe Nic Dhonncha from An Rinn and Traveller singer Tomás McCarthy.
Saturday/Sunday, BBC1, 7pm/7.20pm
The classic novel by Richard Adam gets another screen adaptation – and this could be the one to rule them all. State-of-the-art animation, an all-star voice cast, and an “innovative interpretation” of the original source material – the Beeb are obviously hoping we’ll all have bunnies on the brain this Christmas. You know the story: bunny brothers Hazel and Fiver must lead their band of rabbits to safety after their warren is destroyed. But rabbits have a very complex social system, and it’s upended by their sudden uprooting, leading them into dangers from both predators their fellow rabbits. The impressive cast includes the voices of James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Olivia Colman, Ben Kingsley, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Arterton, Peter Capaldi, McKenzie Crook, Taron Egerton and Rosamund Pike.
Blind Date at Christmas
Saturday, Channel 5, 7pm
Paul O’Grady kicks off a new series by welcoming a contestant who shouldn’t need any advice on how the show works – they previously appeared on the original series 26 years ago, when it was hosted by O’Grady’s friend Cilla Black. The presenter also meets a wedding singer who has to choose between three unseen strangers who have played a supporting role in many other women’s big days as a make-up artist, a weight-loss coach and a serial bridesmaid. And two couples from the last series reveal how their dates went.
The Jonathan Ross Christmas Show
Saturday, UTV, 9pm
The presenter has assembled an impressively starry line-up for this holiday special, including former X Files and The Fall star Gillian Anderson, fellow Hollywood actor Rob Lowe, comedian Tom Allen, actress Sheridan Smith and singer John Legend, who provides the music. Ross also welcomes some newly minted celebrities who have enjoyed a remarkable 2018: reigning Great British Bake Off winner Rahul Mandal and the Kingdom Choir, who were part of the celebrations during the May wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
20 Years of the Black Eyed Peas
Saturday, UTV, 10pm
With 76 million record sales worldwide, will.i.am, apl.de.ap and Taboo are celebrating 20 years at the top. A host of celebrities, friends and family share their insights into The Black Eyed Peas and explain what makes them a unique act. The story picks up from how and when they met in Los Angeles, right through to their breakout album Elephunk. Then, back in the UK, they take to the stage to perform.
Béirín Beag Buí
Sunday, RTÉ2, 6.45am
Béirín Beag Buí (Little Yellow Bear) is a lullaby film for children of 3-6 years. It is made with rod, string and shadow puppets as well as live action, and is produced by Púca Puppets with support from Dingle International Film Festival’s Fisín Award, Vast Valley Ltd and Dublin City Council Arts Office. The film is about difficulties sleeping and about the magical world of dreams between sleep and waking. The story invites children to relax and embark on a journey of imagination and stories which will bring them safely to morning.
Hopscotch & the Christmas Tree
Sunday, RTÉjr, 5.35pm (repeated Christmas Eve on RTÉ2 at 6.30am)
Hopscotch and the Christmas Tree tells the charming story of a happy little horse called Hopscotch and her animal friends as they set out to find the perfect Christmas tree in preparation for a party and the arrival of a very special guest. This gentle story, based on the children’s book by Katy Segrove and Katerina Vykhodtseva, was commissioned by RTÉjr with additional funding from Screen Ireland and the Lithuanian Film Centre. The project is co-produced by Dublin animation studio Ink and Light and Vilnius studio Kino Mind.
The Greatest Show That Never Was
Sunday, RTÉjr, 6.30pm
Comedian Karl Spain brings his twisted Christmas vision to this special panto, filmed live in front of 500 kids at the Tommy Leddy Theatre in Drogheda. Spain plays nasty villain Storm Karl, who’s on his way to Ireland to wreak havoc with the season and turn Christmas into a washout. Paddy Courtney reprises his role as Digger in RTÉjr’s Dig In Diner – he must pull out all the stops to put on a show and thwart the ill wind being brought by Storm Karl. Since this is a weather-themed panto, look out for a guest appearance from Teresa Mannion.
Agatha & the Truth of Murder
Sunday, Channel 5, 9pm
In 1977, a year after her death, Agatha Christie’s autobiography was published and many fans thought it would finally reveal what had happened to her in December 1926, when she famously disappeared for several days before being found in Harrogate. However, she didn’t write about it at all, and what she got up to remains a mystery more baffling than anything detective story she ever devised. In 1979, Vanessa Redgrave starred in a fictional take on the matter, and this drama does the same, albeit with a very different plot. Here, Christie (played by Ruth Bradley), while depressed over her husband’s demands for a divorce and concerns over her writing career, uses her period away to investigate the real-life murder of Florence Nightingale, the goddaughter and namesake of the famous nurse.
Chris & Michaela – Under the Christmas Sky
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan travel the world to visit areas famous for natural light displays in the sky, discovering the traditions of the local people and going in search of winter wildlife. Their journey takes them to the desert of Jordan, where they get a taste of nomadic Bedouin life while scanning the skies for a rare planetary conjunction that could be the origin for the story of the Star of Bethlehem. Going to the opposite climatic extreme, they visit Norway’s frozen wilderness to see the Northern Lights, snow-mobiling with a Sami family and discovering how eagles and reindeer thrive in icy conditions.
Sunday, BBC1, 9.30pm
Writers Tom Davis and James De Frond, who previously worked together on Murder in Successville and Action Team, are behind this new sitcom. Davis stars as Gary King, who is married to his childhood sweetheart Terri (Laura Checkley). The working-class couple now live in competitive suburbia, but Gary’s desire to achieve social acceptance from the neighbours is complicated by his need to impress his old school dad, Big Gary (Simon King). In this pilot episode, Gary plans to throw a barbeque, only to learn that a rival event is taking place on the same day. Meanwhile, Terri tries out “micro-blading”, with disastrous results.
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Sunday, BBC4, 10pm
Most boybands don’t tend to have a particularly long shelf-life, but even by pop’s fickle standards, Bros’s rise and fall was particularly meteoritic. At their height, they were one of the biggest bands in the world – their Push album sold 10 million copies globally and went to number one in more than 20 countries, while they are still the youngest ever group to play Wembley Stadium. This documentary finds out what happened next and follows twins Matt and Luke Goss as they reunite to play The O2 in London.