TV guide: 18 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Love Island, Hemingway, Bad Influencer, America: The Motion Picture, Fear Street

Irish runner Thomas Barr in Horizon Tokyo, Monday on RTÉ One

Irish runner Thomas Barr in Horizon Tokyo, Monday on RTÉ One

 

Legends of Glastonbury
Sunday, BBC2, 7.30pm
Lauren Laverne introduces some of the most memorable performances from the legendary artists who have played at the festival over the years. They include singer-songwriter Paul Simon, pop princess Kylie Minogue, Nutty Boys Madness, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 1960s icons Crosby, Stills & Nash, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, the grand dame of punk Patti Smith, blues guitar legend BB King, Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders, the double denim kings Status Quo, punk icons Blondie, pop and reggae superstar Eddy Grant, Dame Shirley Bassey, The Who, and Sir Paul McCartney.

Horizon Tokyo
Monday, RTÉ One, 10.35pm
It’s been a long, tortuous journey for Irish athletes as they try to qualify for the Olympic Games, and the journey is not over yet. The Tokyo Games were postponed by a year due to the pandemic, but Japan has been struggling with rising cases over the past couple of months, adding more layers of anxiety for those planning to take part. In this three-part documentary, we meet nine Irish athletes as they prepare for Tokyo 2020 in 2021. Their names are already well-known in this country (they include runners Ciara Mageean and Thomas Barr, boxer Kellie Harrington and swimmer Shane Ryan), but they’re hoping their exploits in Japan will bring their names to wider world attention. This series will bring us into their lives over three years as they train hard for the contest, deal with the outbreak of the pandemic, and overcome their own issues to be the best they can be.

Countdown
Monday-Friday, Channel 4, 2.10pm

Anne Robinson (centre) in Countdown
Anne Robinson (centre) in Countdown

The Weakest Link’s former “Queen of Mean” – Anne Robinson – becomes the first female presenter in the history of Channel 4’s longest-running series, after taking over from Nick Hewer. When it was revealed she had secured the gig to join regulars (numbers whizz Rachel Riley and Dictionary Corner incumbent Susie Dent), Robinson said she wanted to rename the show Three Clever Girls Do Countdown. Although the host has changed, the format is staying exactly the same: contestants race against the clock to pit their wits against vowels, consonants and numbers. Comedian Rory Bremner is this week’s guest.

Love Island
Monday-Friday, Virgin One/ITV2, 9pm
It’s been a long wait – the hit reality show hasn’t been on since February 2020, but Love Island is finally back, and it is likely to be more addictive than ever. Since it began in 2015, the show has produced reality stars such as Kem Cetinay, Dani Dyer, Molly-Mae Hague and Olivia Buckland. It sees a group of singletons live in a villa for eight weeks over the summer. In order to stay on the show and not be dumped, they must couple up, so get set for shock recouplings, unexpected splits and dramatic exits. New mum Laura Whitmore is again on hosting duties, while her husband Ian Stirling is back with his hilarious voiceovers.

GAA Cúl Camps
Monday, TG4, 7.30pm

Ryan McHugh in GAA Cúl Camps
Ryan McHugh in GAA Cúl Camps

GAA Cúl Camps is a six-part series exploring a virtual Cúl camp at home. This episode will feature Donegal star Ryan McHugh along with Cork Camogie captain Linda Collins. We will meet the Ó hUllacháin and Mhic Aoidh family as they practice their skills at home. Tadhg de Búrca will be showcasing some hurling skills and we will also meet Dublin ladies football captain Sinéad Aherne.

Hemingway
Tuesday, BBC4, 9pm

War correspondent Ernest Hemingway with American combat troops prior to D-Day in June 1944. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images
War correspondent Ernest Hemingway with American combat troops prior to D-Day in June 1944. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

He was one of the most iconic figures in literature, acknowledged as one of America’s finest writers, but also a controversial and divisive figure who was criticised for misogyny in his portrayal of women. Still, Ernest Hemingway’s bare-bones writing style proved a huge influence on modern fiction writing. This six-part documentary delves deep into his life as a writer and examines the myths that have built up about him. What emerges is a portrait of a deeply troubled soul who died by suicide in 1961. The series features Meryl Streep, Jeff Daniels, Keri Russell and Patricia Clarkson reading excerpts from Papa’s works, and interviews with an array of writers and scholars, including his son Patrick.

Bronte’s Britain with Gyles Brandreth
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
Authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë were shaped by the Yorkshire moors, where they spent most of their lives. In turn, the writers have also helped to shape the region themselves – Haworth was once an industrial town but now it’s best known as the home of the famous sisters and has become a magnet for tourists. Gyles Brandreth visits Haworth Parsonage, which has been turned into a Brontë museum, to learn more about the siblings’ lives. He also finds the locations that reportedly inspired their novels, including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Extraordinary Twins
Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
Rather ironically, this new documentary is being broadcast in two parts. It focuses on conjoined twins, which make up one out of every 200,000 live births, following their progress as well as the impact the condition has on the rest of their family. Callie and Carter are from Idaho, are fused from the chest down and have only two legs between them; now their parents Nick and Chelsea have just a few months to make the biggest decision of their lives: whether or not to put their daughters through a dangerous operation to separate them. Also discussing their experiences are the carers of six-year-olds Erika and Eva, who underwent the procedure, and Krista and Tatiana, who remain together.

Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con
Wednesday, BBC1, 11.35pm

Belle Gibson in 2015
Belle Gibson in 2015

Many will be left scratching their heads when the name Belle Gibson is mentioned, but those who love social media will know her indeed. Whichever camp you fall into, after watching this shocking documentary, chances are you will never forget Gibson. The Australian was one of Instagram’s first super-influencers, and by the age of 23 had launched a hugely successful food-related app and accompanying book. Gibson claimed in interviews to have suffered from various forms of cancer, cured via unconventional treatments. Her bubble burst spectacularly when it was revealed that she had never had the disease. Here, followers and opponents discuss Gibson’s rise to fame while shining a light on the woman behind the public image.

An Bearna a Líonadh
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm

An Bearna a Líonadh
An Bearna a Líonadh

Off the Bench is an inspiring story of coming together at a time of crisis. It reveals how medical device experts and academics in NUI Galway and beyond worked together with medics at University Hospital Galway to produce life-saving medical devices during Ireland’s first Covid-19 surge. We see how a ventilator was split to treat two patients instead of one and how other innovations were developed to protect frontline healthcare workers from being exposed to coronavirus when treating Covid patients.

Our Town
Thursday, RTÉ 2, 9.30pm
If you’re not already immersed in this docuseries about the lives of nine young people in the Wicklow seaside town of Bray, you can catch up with episode one on the RTÉ Player. In the second of this three-part series, we meet dreadlocked teen Aed, who is dreading going to mainstream school, so his mother sets up an alternative school for children like Aed who feel that regular school is not a good fit for them. We also meet Corry and Luke, who grew up in a troubled estate, and who have left school early but are determined not to become another statistic. We also reconnect with aspiring Olympic boxer Regan, who is about to make a very big decision about his future, and rappers CJ and Sammy, whose musical plans have been disrupted by racism issues.

Big Dog Britain
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
During the lockdowns it was reported that many more people decided to get a pet,. But even amid the pet boom it seems there was a decline in the sale of the very biggest breeds. This documentary looks at why Great Danes lag behind French bulldogs in the popularity stakes, and also meets some of the owners who do think that, when it comes to four-legged friends, bigger is definitely better. Among the families featured are the Bones and their Newfoundlands and the Mathers clan and their Irish wolfhounds, as well as owners of Great Danes, English Mastiffs and St Bernards. They’ll reveal some of the challenges involved in owning a big dog, but also remind us why we shouldn’t let these larger mutts be overshadowed by petite pooches.

Canadian Hits at the BBC
Friday, BBC4, 9.30pm
Aerican pop and rock stars have won millions of music-lovers’ hearts on this side of the Atlantic, but their Canadian cousins have an impressive track record as well. We expect the likes of Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Rufus Wainwright to feature on this compilation culled from the Beeb’s archives . The Canadian theme continues afterwards with kd lang: BBC Four Session at 10.30pm, Buble at the BBC at 11.30pm, and In Concert: Gordon Lightfoot at 12.30am.

ON DEMAND

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork
From Wednesday, Netflix
No, you’re not having deja vu, Hot on the heels of Jim Sheridan’s series on Sky (Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie), Netflix is dropping this three-part documentary on the murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Schull 25 years ago. The series is produced by Simon Chinn, who made the acclaimed Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire, and the intent is to “honour Sophie, her family and that rural community in the southwest of Ireland”. There are exclusive contributions from du Plantier’s family and friends, plus a cast of locals past and present, and interviews with journalists, forensic detectives and lawyers who have been close to the case. With two documentary series, not to mention a popular podcast, it looks like our obsession with this famous unsolved murder is not about to wane anytime soon.

America: The Motion Picture
From Wednesday, Netflix

America: The Motion Picture
America: The Motion Picture

Channing Tatum, Simon Pegg and Olivia Munn are among the stellar vocal cast for this wild animated adventure that takes the well-worn story of the American Revolution, screws it up into a ball and throws it over its shoulder. A muscle-bound, chainsaw-wielding George Washington (complete with perfect teeth) assembles an assorted bunch of rapscallions, including beer-loving bro Sam Adams, famed scientist and inveterate inventor Thomas Edison, acclaimed horseman Paul Revere, and a not-so chirpy Geronimo, to take on and defeat Benedict Arnold and King James. It’s history, but not as anyone in the US currently knows it.

Somos.
From Wednesday, Netflix
Inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ginger Thompson’s investigative article How the US Triggered a Massacre in Mexico, the six-part Somos. is set in the Mexican border town of Allend. Here the residents’ lives are scarred by the ongoing drug wars, The series features a blend of non-actors and professionals, and examines events from the townsfolks’ perspective, exploring how things changed forever when, without warning, Allende ended up at the centre of a shocking massacre, prompted by a Drug Enforcement Administration operation that went badly wrong.

Fear Street Part One: 1994
From Friday, Netflix

Fear Street
Fear Street

RL Stine has been described as the Stephen King of children’s literature thanks to his Goosebumps, Rotten School and The Nightmare Room books. Now another of his series has been turned into a trilogy of films. Fear Street introduces viewers to Shadyside, which at first glance appears to be an ordinary town, but eventually reveals itself as a scary and dangerous place to be. A number of brutal murders have taken place in the vicinity over the past three centuries, and in the first part, a group of teenage friends accidentally stumble across the evil force responsible for them. The second part, set in 1978, debuts on July 9th; the third, which takes place in 1666, will be available a week later.

The Blood Pact
From Friday, All4

Georgina Verbaan, Jacob Derwig and Barry Atsma in Blood Pact
Georgina Verbaan, Jacob Derwig and Barry Atsma in Blood Pact

The fascinating Dutch series (original title: Klem) is back for a third run. This time, Hugo (Barry Atsma) is down on his luck and feeling sorry for himself after losing his job, despite once being just a whisker away from becoming the new state secretary of finance. Forced to start at the bottom and work his way up again, he decides to open a tax consultancy, little realising his infamy will only attract real criminals who hope he can help them hide their ill-gotten gains. However, Hugo is eventually approached by someone with a risky deal, but one he cannot resist – and it brings him back into contact with Marius Milner and his wife Kitty van Mook, who are also looking for a fresh start.

Contributing: PA

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