TV guide: 20 of the best shows to watch this week
Six Irish women who led their way, plus Saoirse Ronan’s favourite takeaway, the nude in art (classy), the return of Inside No 9 and recalling the body in Michael Barrymore’s pool
Jimmy Doherty, Saoirse Ronan and Jamie Oliver, Friday on Channel 4
The British Academy Film Awards 2020
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
When the Bafta nominations were announced last month, they were hit by criticism about the lack of diversity, particularly in the acting categories. Will there be any more controversies after tonight’s award ceremony? The Bafta bosses will no doubt be hoping not, but at least they’ve got a host used to keeping the mood light and the ceremony under control – Graham Norton. The gritty comic-book origin story Joker leads the field with 11 nominations, while Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood are just behind with 10 each. The big British hope is Sam Mendes’ first World War drama 1917, with nine nominations.
Art on the BBC – The Story of the Nude
Sunday, BBC4, 9pm
A new four-part series, which explores the BBC archives to discover how TV has influenced our attitudes towards art, begins with historian Kate Bryan looking at our understanding of the nude. Bryan discovers that while beauty and sexuality are never far away, artists have always used the nude as a vehicle to defy conventions. As she introduces programmes presented by Mary Beard, Sister Wendy, John Berger and Kenneth Clarke, Bryan shows how attitudes have changed through the decades, explores our very different attitudes to the male and female form, and examines how forces from Christianity to feminism have influenced our thinking about the nude.
Sir David Jason at 80: A Lovely Jubbly Celebration
Sunday, BBC1, 5.10pm
If he’d never made another series, David Jason’s iconic performance as Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses would be enough to ensure his status as a British national treasure. But the actor has plenty more hits on his CV, including Open All Hours and its sequel, A Touch of Frost and The Darling Buds of May. He was also the original voice of Dangermouse, and has picked up seven National Television Awards, four Baftas and a knighthood. This programme celebrates Jason’s 80th birthday and takes a look back over his career, which began in the 1960s, when he made his TV debut on Crossroads.
Herstory: Mary Heath
Monday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
We all know about Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo, but here’s the story of a Limerick woman who had a few firsts of her own: first person to fly from Cape Town to London, first woman to hold a commercial pilot’s licence, and the first woman to parachute from a plane (she landed in the middle of a football field during a match, the hussy). Lady Mary Heath (1896-1939) was also remarkable for other achievements: she was an Olympic silver medallist, and the first woman to qualify as a mechanic in the US. Her story opens this series celebrating six notable women from Irish history who were pioneers in their own field. Hard to believe there was a time when a woman flying a plane – or jumping out of one – was considered unusual. Next you’ll be telling me that women used to get paid less than their male counterparts at the national broadcaster.
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
If you were looking for the most chaotic place in the world in 2003, the Iraqi capital would have been a serious contender. Following the US-lead invasion and the fall of Saddam, the rule of law soon broke down, and anyone venturing out of the Green Zone was taking their life into their hands. Baghdad Central is based on the novel by Elliott Colla and centres around an Iraqi ex-cop, Muhsin al-Khafaji (Waleed Zuaiter), who is searching for his missing elder daughter and trying to keep his sick younger daughter safe in this lawless society. To save his family, Khafaji must take some dangerous risks and put his trust in some unlikely allies. Bbut can Khafaji himself be trusted?
Australia on Fire: Climate Emergency
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
The dramatic, terrifying story of the battle to save Australia from the bushfires ravaging the country, including first-hand accounts from firefighters on the front line. Reporter Kylie Morris examines the long-term impact of the fires on the diverse animal population and ecology, with drone footage revealing the extent of the devastation. the programme also features testimony from those who only just escaped their burning homes with their lives, as well as hearing from some of those who have returned to burnt-out properties.
Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
The classicist examines the nude in western art and its troubling power to provoke ideas about gender, sex and moral transgression. Beard starts with a statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles and Titian’s Venus of Urbino, asking how a woman like her should respond to the artworks, and considers the challenge of depicting the female nude for a woman artist by looking at the work of 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi. In a life-drawing class, Beard joins a hen party as they attempt to sketch a naked man.
Shortscreen: A Break in the Clouds
Monday, RTÉ2, 11.30pm
In Tristan Heanue’s 15-minute short from 2018, a young couple (Heanue and Gemma-Leah Devereux) struggle to adjust to life following the birth of their first child. The film was edited by John Desay with Ifta-winning sound designer Nikki Moss on board along with Michael Fleming as composer. Heanue is an actor and writer from Connemara who won the award for Best Short Film and Best First Time Director at the 2015 Sky Road Film Festival for his film Today.
Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators
Monday, BBC1, 2.15pm
Lu Shakespeare (Jo Joyner) and Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton) return for a third series of comical mysteries and dodgy dealings. In today’s opener, the Stratford-upon-Avon sleuths are hired to help close down an old bingo hall, but Frank is surprised to find one of his old nemeses at work. What is he really up to?
Inside No 9
Tuesday, BBC2, 11.45pm
Fans of The League of Gentlemen, are presumably familiar with this darkly humorous anthology series created by two of the aforementioned gentlemen, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. Over four seasons the stories have been a mix of cruel comedy and poignant drama, and any episode can suddenly take a nasty turn (and usually does). The one thing that links them all is that the number nine features in some way. This fifth series has a starry guest list including Maxine Peake, Jenna Coleman and David Morrissey. The latter stars in the first episode, The Referee Is a W***er, set in a football club dressing room before, during and after a crunch match between United and Rovers. The game is in the capable hands of the four match officials – but it soon becomes apparent that they’re not all on the same scoresheet. Is it all about to kick off, and will someone be going home in an ambulance (or a hearse)? Probably.
Life Drawing Live!
Tuesday, BBC4, 8pm
To coincide with the broadcast of Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude on BBC2 yesterday, this programme brings a group of artists together for a 120-minute art class with live models. Presented by Celebrity Painting Challenge winner Josie d’Arby, it offers a separate clear shot of the life subjects to encourage the audience at home to use a second screen and draw along, thus experiencing a real-life drawing lesson with the six artists in the room. The programme will also feature prerecorded tips from artist Diana Ali (a mentor on Celebrity Painting Challenge) on various aspects of life drawing.
Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
It’s the biggest and most controversial change to Britain’s benefits system in a generation. This new three-part series goes behind the scenes to meet the people affected by Universal Credit, from the politicians and the senior civil servants rolling out the system to the claimants. The first episode visits Peckham Jobcentre in London, which sees more than 1,000 people a week. They include Rachel, who is struggling to cover her rent and utility bills, in part because she is paying back an advance she took out to make ends meet while waiting for her first Universal Credit payment. Meanwhile, living in London is so expensive that even Karen, who works at the Jobcentre and has been a civil servant for 32 years, needs a second job.
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
Rufus Jones first came to attention playing the late Terry Jones in BBC4’s Holy Flying Circus. Last year he showed off another side of his talents with the sitcom Home, in which he created and stars. Set in Dorking, it focuses on Sami (Youssef Kerkour), an illegal immigrant adjusting to a new life in the UK after stowing away in the boot of a middle-class family returning from a holiday in France. The first episode of the new run sees the usually good-natured Sami struggling to remain calm and patient as he awaits a decision by the authorities about his future. Sadly, a day out with the family in the Surrey Hills doesn’t improve his mood either.
Britain’s Most Expensive Home: Building for a Billionaire
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Philanthropist and self-made moneybags John Caudwell aims to create one of the most lavish and expensive homes the UK has ever seen. He bought the Mayfair properties for a whopping £87 million and plans to spend some £65 million turning it into the pad of his dreams, complete with its own underground river containing live fish and a mechanical car stacker that should get around any on-street parking problems. We get to witness the project’s final stages in this documentary, during which Caudwell also discusses his humble beginnings on a Stoke-on-Trent council estate, and how he believes his tough upbringing turned him into the successful businessman he is today.
Barrymore: The Body in the Pool
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
At the beginning of 2001, Michael Barrymore was one of the most popular entertainers in Britain. Then in the early hours of March 31st, the body of Stuart Lubbock was found in his swimming pool. The case received a huge amount of media attention, with the press poring over every detail of the story, but Stuart’s death remains unexplained. This new documentary attempts to piece together the events of that night, with access to never-before-seen material and contributions from some of the people closest to the case, including detectives, eyewitnesses, forensic pathologists and members of the Lubbock family. In the process, it also explores what the surrounding media frenzy tells us about tabloid culture and celebrity.
Secrets of the Museum
Thursday, BBC2, 8pm
As a celebration of art, design and performance, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is home to an eclectic collection of treasures, from Queen Victoria’s coronet to Kylie’s Minogue’s 2007 tour wardrobe. This new series meets the staff involved in the painstaking, highly specialised jobs of conserving, cleaning, acquiring and displaying the museum’s amazing objects. In the first episode, work begins on restoring Pumpie, a 100-year-old toy elephant that has suffered major moth damage, while curator Charlotte is trying to identify the 18th-century aristocrat immortalised on an ornate snuffbox. Meanwhile, Lillia and Lara get to work creating bespoke mannequins for a spectacular Christian Dior exhibition.
Just One Look
Friday, More4, 9pm
Co-created by US crime novelist Harlan Coben, this French drama (original title: Juste un Regard) stars Virginie Ledoyen. Eva lives a happy and peaceful life with her husband Bastien (Thierry Neuvic) and their two children until the day a photograph arrives in the mail that turns her world upside-down. The photo shows Bastien with a woman’s face scratched out, but he denies any recollection of the event. The next night, Bastien leaves with the children to stay in a hotel, but Eva then suddenly loses all contact with them. The first episode airs tonight, with the entire series available on All4.
Frankie Boyle’s Tour of Scotland
Friday, BBC2, 10pm
Is Frankie Boyle going soft? The Glaswegian comic, famed for a pitch-black brand of humour, has rarely been far from controversy since his first appearance on Mock the Week in 2005. However, Boyle (47) seems to have mellowed. He is also feeling reflective, and despite living in Glasgow, he hasn’t done a proper tour of his native Scotland in more than a decade. So, by way of preparation, he’s going back on the road to gig at some colourful smaller venues. Keen to get under the skin of his home country, Boyled make unlikely diversions between gigs, meeting the people he thinks could help him understand where Scotland is really at in 2019. In tonight’s first leg, he travels from Aberdeen to Oban, along the way meeting a hermit, joining a commune and going underneath a mountain.
Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
Saoirse Ronan joins Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty at their Southend Pier cafe, where they will try to recreate the Chinese takeaway the Little Women star used to have in New York, and which she can’t find in the UK.
The Big Narstie Show
Friday, Channel 4, 11.05pm
The grime legend and social media sensation joins co-host Mo the Comedian for a third series of their award-winning late-night anarchic chat/comedy/music show. Joining the duo for tonight’s first episode is Gemma Collins, the TV personality best known for appearing on reality show The Only Way Is Essex; hardman footballer, actor and recent X Factor: Celebrity contestant Vinnie Jones; and Man Like Mobeen star and stand-up comedian Guz Khan.