TV guide: 20 of the best shows to watch this week
Neven Maguire celebrates Christmas in Waterford, plus Michael D with Other Voices in Berlin, marking four decades of the Sunday Game, and saving a grand when buying online
President Michael D Higgins and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with the artists on stage at the Other Voices Berlin Special, Tuesday on RTE2
Seven Worlds, One Planet
Sunday, BBC1, 6.20pm
David Attenborough looks at life in North America, which is defined by extreme weather and seasonal change – from tornados that roar across the prairies, to Arctic air sweeping through the humid, southern swamps. In winter, lynx prowl the snowy Yukon for snowshoe hares, while Florida manatees seek hot springs to escape the freeze, while in summer fireflies light up the forests at night. Plus, footage of roadrunners cruising the spectacular deserts of Arizona, and polar bears leaping from rocks to hunt beluga whales.
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
One Sunday evening, police in Cheshire receive a call from Mark Moran, chief executive of the Blue Apple Veterans Association, a charity. Its founder, former soldier Mark Smith, has not been seen for almost 24 hours following an argument with his wife Denise. Smith has left his desk unusually tidy, leaving behind both his phone and wallet. Moran reports that Smith suffers from PTSD and has been behaving increasingly erratically for weeks. A major search operation swings into action to work out where Smith might be. In this film, narrated by Indira Varma, Sgt Helen Hayes scrutinises events in the build-up to Mark going missing. Is there more to his disappearance than meets the eye?
Shortscreen: Angels Guard Thee
Monday, RTÉ2, 11.40pm
In this 2018 short, written and directed by Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, two ex-paramilitaries (played by John Quinn and Brian Fortune) meet for the first time in 30 years. They attempt to heal old wounds, but the past won’t let the present lie. The locally produced 17-minute drama, shot in Granard, Co Longford, has been prized at several film festivals.
Save the Hedgehogs for Help the Animals
Monday, Channel 5, 8pm
Britain’s prickly pals are declining at a rapid rate, and with just a million hedgehogs thought to be left in the UK, rock legend Dr Brian May and naturalist and presenter Steve Backshall are back at the Amazing Grace Rescue Centre to turn the spotlight on the uplifting and positive things that can be done to help them survive. Backshall reveals the risks and hazards these adorable creatures face. Actor John Challis, aka Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, advises on hedgehog dos and don’ts, May gets his hands dirty laying hedgehog tunnels in the woods, and we meet incredibly rare albino hogs Ms Twinkle and Jericho.
Neven’s Waterford Christmas
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
Worried about what to cook this Christmas? Relax – Neven Maguire’s got your seasonal menu sorted out. In this new two-part series, the chef heads to Co Waterford, voted best foodie destination by the Restaurant Association of Ireland, to cook up the kind of cracking Christmas treats that will keep your Santa tummy in the festive spirit. Maguire’s foodie odyssey begins in Faithlegg Hotel, where he knocks up glazed ham, turkey breast marinated in buttermilk and chorizo butter, and spiced beef croquettes with celeriac remoulade as easily as you or I would boil an egg. He’ll also meet with some of the county’s leading artisan food producers and local chefs for their tip-top tips on Christmas dinner. Tell you what: why don’t we all just head down to Waterford for the Christmas; sounds like there’s a whole lotta good eatin’ going on.
Other Voices Berlin Special
Tuesday, RTÉ2, 10.35pm
Last July, President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina went on a State visit to Germany with the aim of building closer links between the two countries – and reminding the Brexiteers that Ireland leaving the EU was never going to be a runner. Among the President’s entourage were some of Ireland’s finest musicians, including Lisa Hannigan, Dermot Kennedy and Aoife Ní Bhriain. They performed an official concert during the visit, curated by Other Voices and attended by Michael D and Sabina and the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. On stage, Hannigan joined forces with Stargaze, a collective of classically trained European musicians cofounded by Berlin-based conductor Andrej de Ridder, while Dermot Kennedy demonstrated the pop-soul style that helped him topple The Beatles from the No 1 slot with his debut album, Without Fear.
How to Save £1000 Online
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
With money too tight to mention, we all love a bargain. And in the cutthroat world of business, there’s little wonder savvy buyers are on the lookout for everything from airline tickets to clothes. In this offering, Sabrina Grant and Helen Skelton reveal how to slash £1,000 (about €1,169) from the online spend without compromising on what to buy. A simple change to the way we purchase plane tickets online, for example, could cut the cost of a holiday by hundreds of quid. The duo examine how to transform wardrobes and wallets at a fraction of the price, and offer advice in haggling online. Such hacks can pay big cash dividends once you know the tricks, and can be even more lucrative than trying to score a discount in-store.
The Yorkshire Vet’s Donkey Day Out for Help the Animals
Tuesday, Channel 5, 8pm
Peter Wright takes donkey-loving farmers and long-time friends and clients Steve and Jean Green on a special trip. The Greens pay their first trip to London, where they take a boat on the Thames, enjoy a traditional East End meal of jellied eels and pay a visit to Abbey Road. They then move on to the Chelsea Flower Show, where Pete is to open a special donkey-themed garden, and visit an urban farm in the shadow of Canary Wharf. Finally, they move on to Sidmouth, home of the Donkey Sanctuary’s international headquarters.
Takaya: Lone Wolf
Tuesday, BBC4, 9pm
When a male lone wolf is spotted prowling a small, uninhabited archipelago just off the coast of Victoria, Canada, local resident, environmentalist and conservation photographer Cheryl Alexander go in for a closer look. Thanks to her extraordinary commitment and connection with the wolf, Alexander unearths a compelling seven-year tale of an animal that pushes the boundaries of both his world and ours. This Canadian film recounts the inspirational story of one animal’s resilience, adaptation and survival as he takes on the odds, and reveals that humans can coexist with apex predators that are often perceived as a lethal threat.
The Family Secret
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
In 2003, Capturing the Friedmans started out as a documentary about children’s birthday party entertainers in New York. However, while making the short film director Andrew Jarecki uncovered dark secrets about the family of popular clown David Friedman. That Oscar-nominated project set the gold standard for one of the most disturbing of all documentary genres. It’s anybody’s guess how well director Anna Hall’s new project compares; given the sensitive subject, information is thin on the ground. We know that it is the story of a family who confront a secret of sexual abuse after 25 years. With access to each member, the film focuses on the victim and the perpetrator, and the meeting that follows.
Sunday Best – 40 Years of the Sunday Game
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9,35pm
Forget Match of the Day; the Sunday Game has been the soundtrack of Irish sporting life for the past 40 years, and this special anniversary programme celebrates the legacy of the world’s greatest GAA highlights show. Like Mass, the Sunday Game is a national institution, and this programme will delve into the archives to dig up past highlights and seminal sporting moments from the show’s past, as well as wheel out past producers, presenters, pundits and players to reminisce. So fire up the James Last theme tune and get ready for a unique trip down Gaelic Games’ memory lane.
My Grandparents’ War: Mark Rylance
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Actor and peace campaigner Mark Rylance finds out what happened to his grandfather Osmond Skinner during the second World War, when he spent almost four years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese. Rylance uncovers how his grandfather bravely joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force with no military training, before being shot and captured on Christmas Day. Throughout the programme, Rylance find his anti-war views tested as he uncovers the real and shocking truth about his grandfather’s wartime experience.
The Yorkshire Vet 12 Days of Christmas for Help the Animals
Wednesday, Channel 5, 8pm
This selection box of all-new animal encounters counts down to the big day via the eyes of two very wise men. Julian Norton kicks off the action when he encounters 12 huskies, one of which has a possible balance problem threatening to affect its sled-pulling potential. Peter Wright then meets 11 braying donkeys in Leeds, helping to teach new adopters everything they need to know about grooming and foot care. The festive line-up also features feisty ferrets and running reindeer and ends, of course, with a poorly partridge . . . and a pear tree.
The Works Presents . . . Bronagh Gallagher
Thursday, RTÉ One, 11.20pm
Bronagh Gallagher was brought up in Derry’s Bogside, and her childhood was one filled with books and music that made a lasting impression and strongly influenced her career. Gallagher’s encyclopedic knowledge of soul music certainly helped secure her role as the strong-willed Bernie in The Commitments (1991), and as a result caught international attention. She has appeared in a diverse range of films, from Pulp Fiction and Star Wars to Albert Nobbs and the recent A Bump Along the Way. She has been equally as successful on stage, including Street of Crocodiles in the Queen’s Theatre and Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic. While acting is what many may know Gallagher best for, she is also a committed and prolific songwriter who is currently working on her fourth album.
Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm
Éamonn Fitzmaurice, former Kerry footballer and manager, is Dáithí Ó Sé’s guest this week. Fitzmaurice won three senior All-Ireland medals with Kerry as a player, and another as manager. He is now principal of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne secondary school in Dingle.
Seoda Bhailiúchán na Scol
Thursday, TG4, 8pm
Actor and farmer Stiofán Seoige visits the National Folklore Collection in UCD to learn about the important role animals played in Irish society. In the school’s collection he finds many items, including material collected by his mother when she attended there. He discusses his findings with farmer and sheepdog trainer Joe Joyce; spends time at the Maam Cross Mart with local farmers to see if any of the traditions in the collection have survived; consults Prof Michael Doherty at a veterinary hospital about natural remedies; and travels to Fairyhouse Racecourse to meet vet Peadar Ó Scanaill.
Fíorscéal: Strange Fish
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm
This documentary about the refugee crisis travels to the small Tunisian fishing village of Zarzis on the Libyan border, where three ex-fishermen who now volunteer for the Red Crescent rescuing people at sea are interviewed. With the recent blocking of ships by the Italian government, the fishermen of Zarzis are worried that the situation is going to grow worse than it has been for the last 15 years, leaving them alone with more dead at sea. This community of fishermen is a silent portrait of the refugee tragedy that has reached crisis proportions in the Mediterranean.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
The host is joined by Hollywood big hitters as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Kevin Hart, who are plugging their Jumanji sequel, The Next Level. Joining them on the sofa is Jodie Whittaker, who will soon be back with a new season of Doctor Who, and Michael Palin, who will discuss his latest travel book, North Korea Journal. Former One Direction member Harry Styles will also be chatting and performing music from his new album, Fine Line.
The Gadget Show Christmas Special
Friday, Channel 5, 7pm
This year the gang are spending Christmas at a magnificent manor house, where they deck the halls with the latest in techy trees, lights and decorations. Georgie Barrat is on cooking duties, aided by a raft of kitchen tech and Jon Bentley as her sous-chef. But will either be of any help with getting Christmas dinner on the table in time? Meanwhile, Ortis Deley and Craig Charles are in charge of putting on a hi-tech party, and have invited plenty of friends and family round – including the UK’s oldest identical twins. Finally, Jon drags the gang along for one of his favourite festive pastimes, a bracing Christmas walk, in order to find the ultimate Christmas tree.
Friday, Channel 4, 7.30pm
Reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy hits the road for the Republic of Mali, a landlocked country in west Africa and the continent’s eighth largest. There he finds a troubled nation as ongoing fighting and the growing threat of Islamist extremism has severely impacted tourism. Only last month, at least 53 soldiers and one civilian died in an attack by Islamic militants. The disturbances are also threatening the upkeep of historic sites and cultural treasures of global significance.