TV guide: 19 of the best shows to watch this week
The return of Operation Transformation, Catastrophe and Silent Witness, plus a Brexit drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch
Rio Ayoub in Hygge
Brexit: The Uncivil War
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Remember The Guarantee, the drama that attempted to depict events around the bank guarantee of 2008 that presaged Ireland’s big financial crash? Worthy, but it didn’t quite have you on the edge of your seat. Brexit: The Uncivil War tries to dramatise the moment that Britain voted to leave the EU, centring not on the Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages, but on the lesser-known strategists behind the Remain and Leave campaigns. Sounds riveting. On the up side, the two men battling for the soul of Britain are played by Rory Kinnear and Benedict Cumberbatch – and the latter even managed to make Julian Assange seem interesting in The Fifth Estate.
One Day: Keeping Ireland Beautiful
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
This three-part documentary begins with an insight into the work of those operating inside Ireland’s beauty and fitness business. Among those featured are buyer Lilliana Caruto, trainer Anthony Doyle and therapist Kerry Hanaphy.
The Babes in the Wood Murders: The Prosecutors
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
In October 1986, nine-year-old friends Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were found dead in Wild Park on the outskirts of Brighton, having been strangled and sexually assaulted. This documentary follows police and scientists using cutting-edge methods as they attempt to uncover enough new evidence for the CPS to pursue a fresh prosecution against Russell Bishop – who was acquitted of the murders in 1987 – and charts the journeys of the families of Karen and Nicola as they try to find justice for the girls.
Spencer, Vogue & a Little Baby
Monday, E4, 9pm
Spencer Matthews, of Made in Chelsea fame, and his wife, model and presenter Vogue Williams, get their own spin-off series as they embrace first-time parenthood. In the opening episode, baby Theodore has yet to arrive, but the couple are busy preparing as they go on a shopping spree and take part in an antenatal exercise class. They even find time to welcome Spencer’s old Chelsea pal Hugo Taylor, but the atmosphere is a lot less relaxed when Vogue goes into labour.
Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm
Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney return with the fourth and final series of their superb comedy, all about sexual and social politics, and with a large dollop of disaster. You know the story: Sharon, an Irish woman working in London, meets Rob, a randomer from the US, and the pair have a weekend of wild, wanton, no-strings sex. But when Sharon discovers she is pregnant, the pair awkwardly attempt to build up a relationship while also tackling the tricky terrain of parenthood. Horgan told RTÉ that she broke down in tears when shooting the final scenese. “When we did our read-through, we got to the last scene of the sixth episode and really, really embarrassingly, I kind of lost my s**t a little bit. I just couldn’t read it.” Believe me, Sharon, we’ll be shedding tears too.
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
Emilia Fox returns for her 14th series as Dr Nikki Alexander. The impetuous forensics expert is straight into the thick of the action tonight after her trip to the States. The unit are called in to investigate an attack against a trans man, and when two further crimes are reported, one leaving a potential witness, it becomes clear that Alexander & co are dealing with an outbreak of violence targeting the trans community. With the unit under increasing financial scrutiny and frustration growing between the team and the acting DCI, can they pull it together to find the killer?
Máirín de Burca: A Loner’s Instinct
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 11.20pm
A profile of the 80-year-old feminist and activist, from her childhood in Chicago and her involvement in Sinn Féin to her founding of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement. De Burca has been jailed (for her anti-Vietnam War activities) and fined (for her attacks on Richard Nixon’s car during a visit to Ireland in 1970). In 1971 the Movement organised the Contraceptive Train to Northern Ireland so that women could buy contraceptives and openly bring them back to Ireland. She was also involved in a legal case that led to the Juries Act 1976.
Tuesday, TG4, 9.30pm
A new hunt for Ireland’s best country talent launches, with hosts Aoife Ní Thuairisg and Seamus Ó Scanláin guiding viewers and judges John Creedon, Caitríona Ní Shuilibháin and Jó Ní Chéide through the action at the Quays in Galway city.
My Million Pound Menu
Tuesday, BBC2, 8pm
Fred Sirieix oversees a battle for investment between three restaurant ideas. The pitchers hope their take on fast and fresh flavours, delivered in a Nando’s or Wagamama’s-style restaurant, will secure them the chance for big-money backing to open on the high street. First they must pitch to four of the industry’s top investors for the opportunity to open for business in Manchester. The three new ideas battling for a life-changing investment are a Filipino food van seeking £350,000, a duck stall after £250,000, and a high street Indian food stall asking for £707,000.
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
From the individuals who came to define our concept of what a great leader is or were instrumental in the struggle for equality and civil rights, to those whose inventions transformed the way we live or whose work came to enrich and influence the lives of billions, this eight-part series tells the story of a century of seismic change through the lives of the iconic figures who made it. At the end of each programme, the public can vote for the greatest individual in a given category who, along with the finalists from the other sections, will then be put through to the live final and the winning “icon” crowned after a public vote.
Neven’s Irish Food Trails
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Neven Maguire begins his first programme dedicated to the fruits of the sea in Co Mayo. His first stop is the stunning Clew Bay, where he tastes the local mussels before moving on to Ireland’s only fjord.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Kathryn Thomas hosts the 12th run of the show, this time joined by medical expert Dr Sumi Dunne. Thomas will also introduce the year’s five leaders, who we will get to know very well over the coming weeks.
Wednesday, UTV, 9pm
After picking up plaudits for the one-off BBC drama Care in December, Sheridan Smith starts the new year with this six-part series. She stars as Sam, a struggling single mother who tries to escape from the realities of her life through gambling, which is only adding to her financial problems. When her estranged husband threatens to take custody of their two daughters, Sam tries to get her life back on track, but that’s not easy when she’s a cleaner on minimum wage and a zero-hours contract. However, she’s thrown a potential lifeline when she discovers some potentially lucrative (and illegal) stock market information at the office where she works. Can she outsmart the system and make a packet, or does her addictive personality mean she’s swapping one form of gambling for another?
First Dates Ireland
Thursday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
Love is once again bursting at the seams of Ireland’s most romantic restaurant. On hand, as always, with encouraging words are maitre’d Mateo, master-mixologist Ethan, bubbly waiters Pete and Alice and the restaurant’s newest recruit, waitress Libby. On tonight’s opener, for the first time a mother and daughter will be coming into the restaurant together to date potential partners. Amy and Delia are a force of nature and kick off by ordering shots at the bar. Will their suitors be able to keep up with this fun-loving duo?
Death in Paradise
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
This Caribbean-set crime procedural has a tried-and-tested formula. Each episode begins with a pre-credits sequence showing the events leading up to a murder on Saint Marie, while also introducing us to the latest batch of guest characters. Eventually, the British detective (in this case, DI Jack Mooney played by Ardal O’Hanlon) unravels the mystery in a dramatic denouement that revisits the murder in flashback, and afterwards, the team will all toast a job well done. The eighth series begins tonight as four passengers board the bus to Honore, only for one of them to be killed by a knife to the chest. Yet everyone else claims to have remained in their seats and seen nothing.
How to Be Good with Money
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
In the opening episode, financial planner Eoin McGee helps project co-ordinator Mary Anne Stokes and risk analyst Mustafa Cezaroglulari from Celbridge, Co Kildare, who are expecting their second child.
Beidh Aonach Amárach
Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm
This six-part documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at country shows across Ireland. It beings at the Finn Valley in Co Donegal, where a Fintown farmer hope his Swaledales sheep are worthy of a prize.
Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm
Ola Majekodunmi, who presents a programme on Raidió na Life, talks about growing up in Dublin after coming to Ireland from Nigeria with her parents when she was seven months old.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
The host is joined by James McAvoy and Sarah Paulson, who are both appearing in the new superhero thriller Glass. Plus, iconic Withnail & I actor Richard E Grant discusses his comedy-drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Steve Coogan and John C Reilly reflect on playing legendary double act Laurel and Hardy in Stan and Ollie. Westlife perform their latest single, while another bunch of intrepid audience members steps up to recount an anecdote on the dreaded red chair.
Friday, BBC2, 10pm
Now in its 16th year, QI shows no signs of growing old yet and is still as wonderfully silly yet informative as ever. It’s even survived a change of host: Stephen Fry occasionally seemed rather jaded towards the end of his tenure, but Sandi Toksvig has given the show renewed energy. Following a short break, the programme is back with the remaining episodes of the “P” series as Jimmy Carr, Lee Mack, Alice Levine and, of course, Alan Davies, consider Pain and Punishment.
Additional reporting: PA