TV guide: 18 of the best shows to watch this week
RTÉ first to broadcast troubling Troubles documentary, plus Brendan Grace’s parting gift, some tough Survivors, Donegal’s Bus Ghlaschú and the return of (gulp) Alan Sugar
Brendan Grace: The documentary he set out to make, before discovering his cancer, is dedicated to people with dementia
Brendan Grace: Thanks for the Memories
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Before he died earlier this year, comedian Brendan Grace embarked on an ambitious project: to stage a big variety show featuring the Forget-Me-Nots Choir, made up of people suffering from dementia along with their friends and family. The choir had long been a passion of Grace’s, and he rerecorded a version of his hit The Dutchman with the choir last year. This three-part series documents the process of putting on the show, but soon morphs into a poignant look at Grace’s final months as he succumbed to cancer. But, as they say in showbiz, the show must go on, and Brendan kept the cameras rolling right to the last minute, and his showbiz friends kept the dream alive by staging the show posthumously. The result is a fitting farewell to one of Ireland’s favourite entertainers.
Monday, ITV2, 10pm
It’s not easy surviving in ancient Rome. You’ve got to deal with the decadent lifestyle and navigage the cut-throat politics – and there’s always the danger of getting thrown to the lions in the name of entertainment. Luckily our titular underachievers have made it to a fifth season of the comedy series without getting stabbed in the Forum, but perils still lie ahead, not least Amanda Holden, who plays a perma-horny aristo out to turn Jason into her sex slave.
What Britain Buys and Sells in a Day
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
New series. As the UK’s trading relationships face their biggest change in decades, Ed Balls, Ade Adepitan and Cherry Healey explore the science and systems that enable Britain to import and export goods around the world on an unprecedented scale. Balls is at the London Gateway port to reveal all the tricks of the fruit and vegetable trade, Adepitan visits Peru to see how Britain’s obsession with healthy eating has created a booming economy for avocado growers, and Healey meets one farmer keeping the Middle East supplied with apples.
Monday, Channel 5, 10pm
This Australian drama opens with well-behaved teenagers Nassim and Amandip beginning a burgeoning romance. When a teacher (Sam Reid) discovers a naked image of Amandip on Nassim’s confiscated phone, he attempts to protect his students’ privacy but soon finds the decision has been taken out of his hands. As the scandal unfolds, issues of misogyny, privacy, sexuality and exploitation are forced into the open, changing the lives of four teenagers, their families and their teachers.
Imagine: EastSide Story
Monday, BBC1, 11.35pm
This edition of the arts strand features young people from two local estates in London’s Waltham Forest who take part in an arts intervention programme designed to change the course of their lives for good. Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, EastEnders star Tameka Empson, 22-year-old Leytonstone-born actor, writer and director Harris Dickinson, and Mercury Prize-winning composer Talvin Singh are among the mentors helping the cast write and perform a musical based on their lives. BBC arts guru Alan Yentob guides us through the proceedings, part of London’s first Borough of Culture celebrations.
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 11.15pm
How do you pick up your life again after suffering severe trauma? Answer: with great courage, inner strength and incredible, indomitable spirit, if the people showcased in this new series are anything to go by. Clinical psychologist Paul D’Alton meets four people who have shown superhuman resilience as they rebuild their lives following a catastrophic event. In the first episode, D’Alton meets Geraldine Lavelle, who suffered a spinal injury in a road accident, leaving her with limited movement. With sheer determination and a lot of hard work, Lavelle got her life and independence back, and in the process became an inspiration to others.
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9.15pm (repeated Wed, 11.05pm)
Some of the UK’s finest chefs have to try and work out the secret techniques and recipes behind the public’s best-loved snacks. That’s the hook for this new series hosted by Fred Sirieix, with KitKat the focus in the opener. Double Michelin-star chef Daniel Clifford, from Cambridge’s Midsummer House, takes on chef patron Vivek Singh, from Westminster’s Cinnamon Club, to craft the perfect replica. Having completed their masterpieces, there’s a cook-off at the KitKat factory, where the chefs are judged by the assembly line workers and bosses behind the real thing. Comedian Jayde Adams also goes behind the scenes in the factory to reveal the process behind the chocolate-covered biscuit bar.
No Stone Unturned
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
In the summer of 1994, as the country watched Ireland beat Italy in the World Cup, armed men entered a small pub in the Co Down village of Loughinisland and shot dead six poeple as they watched the match. The families of the victims have never had justice – nor closure – for the atrocity, as no one has ever been convicted. RTÉ is now the first public broadcaster in the world to air Alex Gibney’s 2017 documentary. Twenty-five years after the massacre, Gibney brings some disturbing new evidence around events of that terrible day. Following the making of No Stone Unturned, Belfast journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested over the alleged theft of police documents, and material was seized in early morning raids on the journalists’ homes and the offices of the film-makers. The case brought worldwide attention to the film’s revelations, and the charges were eventually dropped. In her mixed three-star review for The Irish Times, Tara Brady wrote that “Coded diagrams referring to suspects in the case are often more confusing than illuminating. The fact that [2016’s] Ombudsman’s report agrees with Gibney – confirming collusion with security forces – lessens the documentary’s impact. But it does name the key suspect for the first time.” (Full review here)
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
When this UK series premiered in 2005, some thought it would be a pale imitation of the Donald Trump-fronted game show. How wrong they were, as this has become one of the BBC’s biggest hits. Series 15 kicks off with 16 more candidates hoping they get the chance to be Alan Sugar’s trainee. And they are thrown in at the deep end for the first challenge – jetting off to the Cape Town, they have to set up and run their own safari and vineyard tours. However, it’s not long before there are major problems as one team’s brash approach to ticket sales causes commotion, and another side’s premium prices prove problematic.
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm
The story of the Glasgow Bus, a lifeline between Donegal and the Scottish city to which successive generations from the Forgotten County have flocked over the past two centuries. Glasgow Bus operates through the port of Larne four times a week in high season and twice a week in the low. From transporting coffins to IRA hijackings, there isn’t much that the Letterkenny-based operator, Bus Feda Teoranta, hasn’t experienced during 50 years of running this service. Contributors to this four-part documentary include bus owners and drivers, as well as some of the famous and colorful characters who have used this bus over the years, including Ireland and Glasgow Celtic legendary goalkeeper (and Donegal native) Packie Bonner and Lorraine McIntosh of Deacon Blue.
Wednesday, RTÉ2, 9pm
This promising American medical drama stars Ryan Eggold as the brilliant and charming Dr Max Goodwin, who is about to take over the running of an ailing hospital. Goodwin has no hesitation to break the rules in order to heal the system at America’s oldest public hospital. The staff have heard it all before, but Goodwin will stop at nothing to breathe new life into the understaffed, underfunded and underappreciated New Amsterdam. Inspired by New York City’s Bellevue hospital.
The Science of Sleep: How to Sleep Better
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
If you are plagued by insomnia or sleeping problems, it seems you’re not alone. In the first of two programmes, Gaby Roslin and Amir Khan aim to put things right by applying the latest science to some of Britain’s worst sleepers. Naturally with a show like this, that involves a sleep deprivation experiment. There is also hope on the horizon for an extreme snorer, and a man who suffers from night terrors.
Eugenics: Science’s Greatest Scandal
Thursday, BBC4, 9pm
In this one-off film, disability rights activist Adam Pearson and journalist Angela Saini reveal that eugenics, the controversial idea that was a driving force behind the Nazi death camps, originated in the upper echelons of the British scientific community. The presenters discover how alarming eugenic beliefs permeated the British establishment and intelligentsia. They also see how eugenics influenced the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, which resulted in thousands of disabled people being locked up for decades.
The Met: Policing London
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
As a third series of the documentary saga begins, detectives from the Met’s Sapphire team deal with the case of a distressed young woman who is raped by a stranger on her way home. Naturally detectives need to find the attacker as soon as possible, and uncover some vital CCTV evidence near the crime scene. When the Sapphire team view the footage, detectives are stunned by what they uncover and bring a man in for questioning. The suspect denies rape, so the team have 24 hours to get enough evidence to prove he is lying. Knife crime is also tackled in this edition –little wonder, as the capital’s four major hospital trauma centres have treated more than 400 stabbing victims in the first seven months of 2019.
Thursday, RTÉ One, 11.15pm
It doesn’t have any songs, but this RTÉ repeat of the BBC’s 2018 adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel does boast an impressive cast and a script by Andrew Davies, who wrote the 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice as well as the recent War & Peace. Set against a backdrop of civil unrest in France, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean (Dominic West), a former convict who is struggling to leave his past behind him – especially as police officer Javert (David Oyelowo) refuses to believe he is a reformed character. Lily Collins co-stars as the tragic Fantine, rising star Ellie Bamber is Cosette, and Olivia Colman is Madame Thenardier.
Rich House, Poor House
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
The return of the life-swap series sees self-confessed workaholic and diet entrepreneur Terri-Ann Nunn and her family exchange homes, budgets and lives with accident-repair driver Mick Ross, his wife Anne and their children. The Nunns live in a luxury six-bedroom home, complete with hot tub and gym, in west Doncaster, whereas the Rosses rent a three-bedroom council house in the east of the town. How will Terri-Ann cope with putting her business to the side – and how will she manage without her mobile for a week?
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Oscar winning Bridget Jones star Renée Zellweger describes playing iconic singer and actor Judy Garland in the film Judy (above). Lenny Henry, Louis Theroux and Andrew Ridgeley also guest.
Inside the Cockpit: The Concorde Crash
Friday, Channel 5, 9.15pm
In the summer of 2000, an Air France Concorde took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport heading for JFK International Airport in New York. It crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 109 passengers and crew members on board, as well as at least four people on the ground. In 24 years of commercial flight, Concorde had an unblemished record and was considered one of the safest passenger planes in history, so little wonder the world reeled in shock. Almost 20 years after that fateful day, this film re-examines the causes of the incident, as revealed by British and French air crash investigators. Just what was it that led to the deaths of so many people?