TV guide: 20 of the best shows to watch this week
Brexit explained in ‘How Europe Stole My Mum’, plus Trump eyes up the NHS, Bake Off final, RTÉ’s Mystic spookshow, Julie Andrews on Graham Norton, and the hit Team returns
This world...or the next: Fodhla Coogan in Into the Mystic, Thursday on RTÉ One
Who Are You Calling Fat?
Monday-Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
Part one of two. Nine people who live with obesity move in together to explore what it means to be larger-bodied, exploring whether they should love their bodies and embrace their size, or strive to get healthy and lose weight In the first edition, they meet and settle into a house in the Oxfordshire countryside and begin to share their personal stories. But when Del starts to tell them about the bariatric surgery that he feels has saved his life, Victoria accuses him of having stomach amputation surgery and the battle lines are drawn.
Trump’s Plan for the NHS: Dispatches
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
This strand examines what might be coming post-Brexit Britain’s way in any trade deal with Donald Trump’s America. Reporter Antony Barnett also discovers the price Britons might end up paying for their vital medicines. President Trump caused outrage during his UK visit by suggesting the National Health Service would be part of a trade deal. Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated repeatedly that the NHS is “off the table”. What’s the truth? In Washington, Barnett discovers Trump, his political allies and US drug companies have the NHS in their sights.
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm (repeated Tues, 11.20pm)
This new series investigates Britain’s border security as Britons attempt to smuggle themselves back into Blighty from Europe – without their passports. From lorries and boats to ferries and car boots, each of the contributors attempt routes that have been used by those seeking to enter the country covertly, by people traffickers and drug dealers. Among those taking part are retired couple David and Carolynne; the latter plans to hide in their motorhome on a ferry crossing. Meanwhile, Asher will try to cross the channel in the kind of boat used by people smugglers.
The Great British Bake Off: The Final
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Given the mind-bending complexity of a recent challenge in which bakers had to grill many layers of sweet ingredients to create a Sarawak layer cake, who knows how difficult this week’s tasks will be? Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith will put the final few through their paces while Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding sprinkle liberal doses of irreverence over the proceedings. The Signature is a chocolate cake; a souffle is the Technical. And for the Showstopper, hopefuls must create a stunning visual illusion using only cake, sweet bread and biscuits. After 10 weeks, only one of the original baker’s dozen can be crowned the winner.
Tuesday-Friday, BBC2, 8pm
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Iolo Williams present a new a week of programmes showcasing wildlife live from the Dell of Abernathy in the Cairngorms. The first episode features a guest appearance by astronaut Tim Peake, who explains how the seasonal cycle was influenced by a giant collision in space billions of years ago, and a Yorkshire GP who has befriended a colony of North Sea seals. Plus, the results of citizen science project Gardenwatch, in which members of the public were asked to survey the animals in their gardens.
Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
In this new series, Fogle travels to the coastal forests of southern Sweden to meet single mother Annalisa (24), who as a teenager left everything in her native Italy behind and is now developing a forest hideaway on the fringes of society for her and her toddler. Fogle helps her chop wood and make her home baby-proof, while Annalisa goes busking to earn a small living. They also go dumpster-diving in search of rubbish that can be put to good use to counter the amount of waste thrown away.
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Mark Bonnar has proved himself to be one of the most compelling actors of his generation, from Line of Duty to Unforgotten to Catastrophe. He now stars in this new drama, which centres on two brothers, high-flying lawyer Max (Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives), a record shop owner, who accidentally run down an old man on their way home from a wedding. Uninsured and drunk, Jake is persuaded by Max to cover up their lethal deed. They hope the death will be passed off as natural causes, but that’s scuppered when neighbours and relatives suspect the man’s death wasn’t as innocent as it seems.
Children in Need: Got It Covered
Wednesday, BBC1, 7.30pm
Ten stars come together to record an album for Children in Need. Cameras follow Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Shaun Dooley, Luke Evans, Suranne Jones, Adrian Lester, Himesh Patel, David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker over 12 weeks in the summer of 2019 as they rehearse songs for their album, Got It Covered. Each actor must choose a song that has special meaning for them and must make their cover version their own. The participants also visit some charity projects that Children in Need supports in order to help raise funds and awareness.
Not Going Out Halloween Special
Wednesday, BBC1, 11.05pm
Remember that episode a while ago when Lee and Lucy woke up one day, a load of years had gone by between series and the couple suddenly had some kids? Well yes, it was a little bizarre, but a clever way of injecting new life into this long-running sitcom. Obviously as it’s Halloween, any weirdness in this episode is purely intentional. When Lee and Lucy (Lee Mack and Sally Bretton) take the children out Trick or Treating, he accidentally drops his phone in the porch of a spooky Victorian house, and makes the mistake of going back to retrieve it. Lee soon discovers the abode is full of secrets that would be far better left undisturbed.
The World According to Vladimir Putin
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
The surreal world of Russian television is put under the microscope on how it covers everything from Skripal poisoning to President Putin’s prowess at ice hockey, via Teresa May’s cleavage and Europe’s allegedly unhealthy homosexual tendencies. It suggests that TV presents a paranoid picture, in which Putin is the man who can Make Russia Great Again.
First Time Doctors
Wednesday, BBC1, 10.35pm
New documentary following newly qualified physicians in Northern Ireland’s Western Health Trust for the first time. The premiere episode follows Dr Kevin Harkin, who has recently completed his studies in Liverpool.
Britain’s Lost Masterpieces
Wednesday, BBC4, 9pm
The UK’s major galleries house some of the finest collections of art in the world. However, the public know little about the thousands of other artworks in the collections of smaller institutions. Here art experts Emma Dabiri and Bendor Grosvenor visit museums and track down previously unknown paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists. More than 80 per cent of this publicly owned treasure is in storage, and often un-catalogued. Grosvenor will investigate the story behind a piece’s creation, while Dabiri explores the world in which these works were created.
Into the Mystic
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
On a night when the undead walk the Earth with their trick-or-treat bags, Into the Mystic offers a glimpse into a world beyond our ken. The documentary showcases a diverse collection of people who have one thing in common: they’ve seen beyond the thin line that separates this world from the one of spirits and apparitions. We’ll meet farmer Pat Noone, who has faery folk living on his land; Peter Tadd, who says he is reincarnated after being murdered in a Nazi concentration camp; psychic Kate Kelly, whose “gift” of communicating with the other side is both a burden and a blessing; Fodhla Coogan, who describes where the veil is thinnest between this world and the next; and undertaker Peter Massey, who has had some strange and uncanny encounters with the dead and their grieving families. This could get very spooky.
Ear to the Ground
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
In the first episode of series 27, Ella McSweeney looks back at the long drawn-out Brexit process and looks ahead to its impact on farmers both on and far from the Border. Helen Carroll reports from Cahir on the ongoing beef crisis and hears why farmers shut down their €2billion industry this summer. Will anything change or is the beef industry set for a terminal decline? And Darragh McCullough reflects on a great year for hay and joins the Ennis family in North County Dublin as they save fodder for a lot of unusual herbivores in Dublin Zoo.
Hector USA Ó Chósta go Cósta
Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm
Hector Ó hEochagáin crosses over into Sweet Home Alabama. After some bass fishing in Lake Smith, he meets up with the Blind Boys of Alabama for a singsong before heading to Selma to walk on Edmund Pettus Bridge, where he meets some of the people who were there on Bloody Sunday in March 1965. He’ll be at a training session with the Auburn College Football Team before getting some pageant training with the most desired pageant coach in the nation, Bill Alverson. He’s then back on the road, heading further south where he’s part of a blessing of the boats “Irish Style”.
How Europe Stole My Mum
Thursday, Channel 4, 11.05pm
Rising funnyman Kieran Hodgson is the brains behind this new comedy documentary, which also features Harry Enfield, Liza Tarbuck and Tom Palmer, that aims to explain how and why Brexit has split the UK in half. It also examines how Britain came to be in Europe in the first place. It’s an irreverent, personal piece about Brexit, which subverts the conventions of factual shows and illustrates the UK’s political landscape at a vital turning point in history.
The Secret Life of the Zoo
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
Cameras return to Chester Zoo for series eight of the engaging saga. The Asian elephants are still recovering from the deaths of two calves who contracted a herpes virus last year. Keepers and vets make an early diagnosis when two-year-old Indali, the youngest remaining calf, tests positive for the same virus. They begin a treatment that might be her only chance of survival – and could offer hope for the species globally. We also meet the zoo’s Humboldt penguin colony, and there’s a look at ring-tailed lemur Dog, the only male in his matriarchal tribe. But that soon looks set to change.
Ready Meals: The Big Con?
Thursday, Channel 5, 8pm
Millions can’t be bothered to slave over a hot stove when the quick fix of a microwave meal means they could be scoffing dinner in minutes. But is fast food all it’s cracked up to be? In this new series, Paul Connolly and Jean Johansson examine claims made by shops and advertisers, beginning with pre-prepared food. They meet a Birmingham family whose kids can’t get enough of microwave meals. Will they still be fans when Connolly shows them things that may be lurking in their lunch? The team also scrutinises the bacteria that might be hiding inside some of the most popular convenience foods.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
In the 1960s Julie Andrews became an international superstar thanks to Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, and has spent decades in front of (and behind) the camera with credits ranging from 10 to Victor/Victoria and Shrek 2. Now Andrews is taking stock of her life in Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, a follow-up to her critically acclaimed memoir, Home. Also appearing are Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, both starring in streaming comedy-drama series The Morning Show, and Ian McKellen, who is playing a conman in drama thriller The Good Liar.
Friday, More4, 9pm
The return of the European crime thriller (a coproduction involving Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Denmark) about an international team of detectives. Seven people are murdered during a shootout at a Danish B&B, and the only survivor is a young Syrian woman who escapes into the surrounding marshland. The victims include illegal migrants who had gone into hiding there. Inspector Nelly Winther from Denmark, Hamburg investigator Gregor Weiss, and Belgian secret service officer Paula Liekens all spring into action after the killings. Could the B&B’s German owner be responsible for the bloodbath?