TV Guide: 20 of the best shows to watch this week
Hector Ó hEochagáin in lockdown! Plus super gardening in the age of coronvirus, how to live with a happy dog, and two new starry dramas streaming on Amazon
Franceso Turrisi and Rihannon Giddens perform on Other Voices: Courage, Thursday on RTE2
The Best of RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Sunday-Friday, BBC1, 5.50pm today
Never let it be said that the BBC isn’t resourceful. Like Eurovision, the Chelsea Flower Show isn’t going ahead this year, but the Beeb is still finding a way to cover it. Over the next week, presenters including Sophie Raworth, Joe Swift, Nicki Chapman and Monty Don will be bringing us a mix of new footage and highlights from the past decade. It begins tonight as Mary Berry champions one of the greatest rose growers in the Great Pavilion while Arit Anderson looks at fashions in houseplants.
Shortscreen: Ancient Lights
Monday, RTÉ2, 11.50pm
Cashell Horgan’s 11-minute fantasy short is based on a short story by Algernon Blackwood, one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. The film, which screened at the 2018 Shanghai Film Festival, is billed as a “light comedy terror” with the feel of early Hammer feel. In it, a surveyor clerk (Declan Rooney) comes under attack from supernatural forces for trespassing an ancient wood. The film was short in Wicklow and supported with completion funding from Limerick Arts Office.
Work on the Wild Side
Monday-Friday, Channel 4, 4pm
South Africa’s national parks and game reserves are home to a diverse range of animals, some of them critically endangered. This new weekday series follows the highs and lows of the vets and volunteers who have given up their day jobs and moved to South Africa to rescue, rehabilitate and release some of the world’s most iconic species. In today’s first episode we meet Will and Rachael, who volunteer at the world’s largest sanctuary for orphaned rhinos, and Cornish vet Emily as she attempts a life-threatening giraffe relocation. Plus, three warthogs run Emma ragged and, on the Western Cape, marine biologist Alison finds a new way of dealing with plastic pollution.
The Changin’ Times of Ike White – Arena
Monday, BBC4, 10pm
Changin’ Times (1976)was an extraordinary album recorded in extraordinary circumstances. The artist, Ike White, was a musical prodigy who was in prison since the age of 19, serving life for murder. Produced by the legendary Jerry Goldstein, the mythical album gained industry adulation from the likes of Stevie Wonder and became White’s ticket to freedom. But, on the cusp of stardom, Ike slipped out of the limelight, changed his name and disappeared. With never-before-seen archive, the film charts a virtuoso musician’d journey out from prison to life as a free man, eventually leading to his reinvention as a performer for hire called David Maestro.
Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having a Laugh
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
A group of middle-aged former football stars are coaxed back into shape for another shot at the title. When it was first dreamed up, Harry’s Heroes: The Full English was perhaps envisaged as a hybrid of Soccer Aid, The Full Monty and Rocky. What it was was more like Celebrity Fit Club, as the ex-athletes struggled with the rigorous diet-and-exercise plan ahead of a series comeback matches. Spread over three nights this week, this new show follows Harry Redknapp’s team of football veterans as they reunite for a rematch in Germany. The tour kicks off in France, with John Barnes booking the team into a self-catering hotel in the quiet medieval town of Provins. Last year, the lads lost nearly 8 stone between them – but all that hard work appears to have gone to waste.
Tuesday, Sky Witness, 9pm
It’s series three of the drama about emergency first responders, and the publicity pic is deliciously teasing: panicking people on a pier run from an advancing tsunami while a ferris wheel full of punters is swallowed up by the colossal wave. Is the series planning to jump the shark in style? We sincerely hope so. 9-1-1 again stars Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Jennifer Love Hewitt, but there’s nothing in the initial bumf about the cast having to deal with a killer tsunami. The opening episode features an out-of-control boy racer and a kidnapping - perhaps they’re holding back the tsunami for a future episode. Either way, can’t wait for the coming deluge.
How to Keep Your Dog Happy at Home
Tuesday, ITV, 8.30pm
While our pets relish being “man’s best friend”, it’s important to remember that dogs were originally bred for specific purposes such as hunting and herding. As a result, dogs thrive on a clear sense of purpose and an outlet for their work ethic. In tonight’s episode, we look at how owners can tap into those instincts to keep their dog happy so they can help them out in the process. Labradors were once bred to help Canadian fishermen and now make fantastic assistance dogs and, while many of us are home schooling, maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of Bodie, the Jack Russell’s book, who helps children with their reading. There is also footage of Summer, the Golden Retriever, who discovered her maternal urges extend to rescue kittens, and Kyan, whose purpose is a little particular — howling along to a 1990s club hit.
Old, Alone and Stuck at Home
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
As England eases its lockdown, this documentary tells the stories of the elderly and vulnerable people self-isolating during the coronavirus crisis, for whom lockdown may continue for many more months. Their stories convey the immense challenge of being especially vulnerable in the midst of a pandemic. Suzanne, who has terminal cancer, has come up with a novel approach to seeing her friends, while Desmond has been forced to move in with his daughter and granddaughter to avoid the virus, which has already taken the lives of at least four of his friends.
Absolutely India: Mancs in Mumbai
Wednesday, ITV, 8pm
Manchester-born brothers Ryan, Adam and Scott Thomas embark on an epic journey to trace their family roots in India, joined by their dad Dougie, whose father was born in Mumbai. However, the trio have never visited the country they descended from. In the fourth episode, the three brothers track down another branch of their growing family tree before being put through their paces in a brutal yoga session. Later, they travel to a place renowned for its spiritual enlightenment, but a therapeutic conversation takes a decidedly different turn as the brothers finally get to have their say and talk to Dougie about how they felt when he left the family home when they were children.
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8pm
Since lockdown, our gardens have become our entire world, so we need them to be a hospitable place to spend time. Around this time of year, we’d be planning to go to the Bloom festival to get some garden design ideas, but this year’s event has been cancelled. Never mind – we can still find some garden inspiration in this new series of Super Garden, which sees five “budding” designers competing for a chance to showcase their work in Bloom 2021. First up is Dermot Melia, who has taken on the task of turning mother-of-two Nicola Clancy’s scrappy back garden into a place where her 10-year-old twins Tristan and Reuben can play, and mammy can relax in her own special space.
Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm
The current restrictions have affected some of us more than others. Stay-at-home types probably haven’t noticed much of a change, but globetrotters are seriously feeling the pinch as their wanderlust is dampened by forced lockdown. Hector Ó hEochagáin would definitely be in the latter camp, having travelled far and wide to bring us some entertaining telly, but he’s had to cool his walking boots and stay at home during lockdown. But Hector was never going to last long pottering around the house, so he’s decided to turn his garden shed into a studio and host a madcap show from his Shomera. There will be guests from the worlds of music, sport and culture, plus plenty of celebs, but at the core will be Hector, holding forth in his hut, and keeping our chins up through this enforced downtime.
Other Voices: Courage
Thursday, RTÉ2, 11.30pm
Renowned folk musician Rhiannon Giddens and her musical partner, multi-instrumentalist Franceso Turrisi, stun with songs from their acclaimed 2019 album There Is No Other, recorded in Whelan’s in Dublin.
Stacey Dooley: Lockdown Heroes
Thursday, BBC1, 7.30pm
We’re used to seeing this reporter jetting off across the globe to investigate hard-hitting news stories. But Dooley can’t do that right now. So she’s decided to use her time constructively by virtually meeting people who have been devoting their time in lockdown to helping others. Among those featured are a Wigan teacher-turned-scrubs-maker who spends 14 hours a day managing a team of 70 seamstresses; a junior doctor based in Croydon; a Glasgow chap who hands out meals to the homeless; and a charity worker helping Greeks who are facing a different but equally challenging crisis.
What’s the Matter with Tony Slattery?
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
There was a time when you could barely turn on the TV without seeing Tony Slattery smiling back at you. He was a regular on improvised comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and starred in such TV shows as Gems, This Is David Harper, That’s Love and Just a Gigolo; his films from the same period include Peter’s Friends, The Crying Game and Carry on Columbus. And then, amid rumours of a nervous breakdown, he pretty much disappeared for the best part of a decade. Last year Slattery toured the UK with a highly personal show that confronted his past and battle with mental health issues. Now he wants to nail down exactly what is wrong: he was diagnosed with depression, but both the performer and his long-term partner Mark are convinced there’s more to it than that.
Friday, BBC2, 8.30pm
With lockdown affecting new filming, Monty Don is at Longmeadow to take an indulgent, horticultural romp through the Gardeners’ World archives. From delphiniums to clematis, irises, orchids and dahlias expert growers share their passion along with hints and tips. Plus: Carol Klein visits a garden in Shropshire where she discovers picture perfect plant combinations; Adam Frost travels to the Cotswolds and finds out what happens when plants are brought together with imagination and daring; and Nick Bailey offers a guide to the world of Britain’s favourite flower – the rose.
The Big Flower Fight
From Monday, Netflix
Flowers – lovely, aren’t they? Such beautiful things to look at and, in the age of the lockdown, something many find comforting as they gaze outside their windows. However, if this new challenge show is anything to go by, flowers can also be at the heart of a botanical battle. Jim Moir and Natasia Demetriou host the programme that is to flowers what The Great British Bake Off is to, erm, flour. Ten teams of expert florists and garden designers must create the biggest, boldest garden sculptures imaginable; floral expert Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht then delivers her verdict. A team will be eliminated each week, with a winner chosen from the final three left in the competition.
Agents of SHIELD
From Monday, Amazon Prime
All good things must come to an end, and it’s with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the demise of Agents of SHIELD; the forthcoming seventh season will be its last. If you need a reminder of the story so far, or haven’t seen the show but fancy a binge-watch, then lucky you because the first six series are being made available to stream. Clark Gregg heads the cast as Agent Phil Coulson, who originally popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before taking centre stage in this TV spin-off. During the programme’s run we see him form a small team, mostly comprised of super-powered individuals, whose assignments include helping him investigate the sinister Hydra organisation and saving the human race. Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge costar.
Meitheal na mBan
Wednesday, YouTube channel, 9.30pm
Meitheal na mBan is an inspirational and empowering series of online concerts followed by a linear one-off broadcast led by Ireland’s top female musicians and artists as they perform directly from their own homes, in a much-needed fundraiser to support the victims of domestic violence. This concept has a strong, ever-present underlying theme: that even when we cannot see you, we know you are there, and we are with you.
Little Fires Everywhere
From Friday, Amazon Prime
Reese Witherspoon is back to dominate our small screens in this new drama series based on the bestselling novel by Celeste Ng. Not to be confused with Big Little Lies, her hit show with Nicole Kidman, this stars Witherspoon and Kerry Washington as moms from very different socioeconomic backgrounds. Will there be a clash of worlds and worldviews? You betcha. “The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster,” says the bumf. We’re intrigued.
From Friday, Amazon Prime
We know Janelle Monáe best as a pop/r&b artist, but here she shows her acting chops in the second season of the series, which revolves around a shadowy wellness company and its creepy leader. Monáe’s character wakes up in a rowboat on a lake, with no recollection of how she got there. Her quest for answers brings her into the orbit of the Geist Company, who are behind the Homecoming Initiative, ostensibly to help traumatised soldiers reintegrate into society. Julia Roberts and Sissy Spacek were among the stars of the first series, so the bar’s set pretty high. In series two, Chris Cooper joins the cast as the company’s eccentric founder and Joan Cusack as an eccentric military figure.