TV guide: 20 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Oprah, Meghan & Harry, John Creedon, Peig Sayers ... The superstars are out this week

Nicolette Robinson and Leslie Odom Jr in Love in the Time of Corona, streaming from Friday on Netflix

Nicolette Robinson and Leslie Odom Jr in Love in the Time of Corona, streaming from Friday on Netflix

 

Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
You’re driving around Ireland, enjoying the scenery and the open spaces, when you come across a place called Bastardstown in Co Wexford. You ask a local garda how the town got its name. “What is the purpose of your journey today?” he replies, before slapping you with a big fine for breaking the 5km limit. Luckily, John Creedon didn’t fall foul of the law when making the second series of his show exploring the origins of Irish placenames. In the first episode, he meets actor and comedian Ardal O’Hanlon in Co Cork, where they look at how Ballinspittle – home of the moving statues – got its name. He also heads to the semi-mythical region of Sliabh Luachra, somewhere between Cork, Kerry and Limerick, and meets some of the musicians associated with the area, including Timmy O’Connor, Bryan O’Leary and Maura O’Connell. But where did Ireland itself get its name? It’s controversial. Creedon finds out more with help from historian Diarmaid Ferriter and Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole.

Smother
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Dervla Kirwan in Smother
Dervla Kirwan in Smother

It’s a strange thing about crime dramas, but you only really get to know your nearest and dearest after they’ve been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in suspicious circumstances. Here’s another series featuring a grieving widow who learns that her late husband isn’t the person she thought he was. Dervla Kirwan plays Val Ahern, whose husband is found dead the morning after a family party. Needless to say, Val comes up against the usual web of lies and deceit as she tries to get to the truth behind his death. The series is set in a small town in Co Clare – cue lots of scenic shots – and features a strong cast that includes Niamh Walsh, Seána Kerslake, Stuart Graham and Carrie Crowley.

My Tribe – Mo Threibh
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
As a fully fledged member of that anarcho- revolutionary subculture known as dadrockers, I know all about the empowering feeling of having your own tribe. Secret meetings in pubs to debate the best Zep albums; gatherings in dank venues to watch the reformed Stooges...I’ve been there, done that and got the free AC/DC T-shirt. For some reason, the second series of My Tribe – Mo Threibh has decided to give us a wide berth (well, we are a pretty fearsome lot) and instead focus on the rise of Ireland’s hip-hoppers in the 1980s, the indie scene that spawned such sub-subcultures as Cureheads and shoegazers, the dance scene that got the house party started in Sir Henry’s and other iconic venues, and the metal scene which dates all the way back to the 1970s and Ireland’s original metal guru, Phil Lynott. Narrated by Peter Coonan, this second series promises to deliver more insights into how people come together with shared musical obsessions. Maybe next series they’ll tackle us dadrockers – if they dare.

Oprah with Meghan and Harry
Monday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm; ITV, 9pm

The Duchess of Sussex interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Monday night on RTE and ITV
The Duchess of Sussex interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Monday night on RTE and ITV

The Duke and Duchess sit down with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey in what is expected to be the first interview of its kind since the couple left the UK, They are expected to go into detail about that decision and about stepping back from the royal family. CBS, which aired the interview on Sunday, released two preview clips in which Harrt revealed he feared “history repeating itself” in a reference to his mother’s death as he recounted his royal life with Meghan.

The Drowning
Monday, Virgin One, 9pm

Jill Halfpenny in The Drowning
Jill Halfpenny in The Drowning

Jill Halfpenny stars as Jodie, a grieving mother whose son has been missing presumed dead for over nine years.. Following a chance encounter, Jodie believes that she has located her missing son and sets out to prove that he is in fact alive and well and living with another family. This emotive and gripping four-part thriller (which premiered last month on Channel 5) also stars Jonas Armstrong and Rupert Penry-Jones.

The Dirty Truth About Your Rubbish: Dispatches
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
Recycling is all the rage these days. We’re all asked to separate the stuff that could be repurposed from the general waste we throw out every week, but what happens to it once the refuse collectors have taken it away? Environmental journalist Lucy Seigle tries to answer that question in an eye-opening report – and what she comes up with will probably shock many viewers. She’s found evidence to suggest that rather than being reused somehow, millions of tonnes of recycling is merely burned, which in turn causes a rise in carbon emissions.

Harry Hill’s Lonely Island
Monday, BBC2, 10.40pm
Last year the big-collared funnyman brightened up lockdown by making a memorable appearance on Grayson’s Art Club and fronting his own World of TV series, in which he poked fun at various programmes and genres. Now he’s back in a quartet of short and silent black & white comedy shows. Hill has written and directed each of them; he also pops up in leading roles. They are all set in a different historical period, from prehistoric times to the Napoleonic era, and we can’t wait to see what his surreal and highly amusing brain has devised for us.

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Sometimes a baking show gets the mix just right, and this latest Great Celebrity Bake Off might just be the cherry to top them all. The line-up of stars donning the aprons for this charity special is so impressive, Strictly and I’m a Celebrity are probably simmering with envy. Star Wars star Daisy Ridley swaps the lightsabre for a spatula (which in the wrong hands can be lethal, as Bake Off judges know only too well) and leads a non-clone army that includes actor James McAvoy, comedian John Bishop, documentary maker Stacey Dooley, writer and comedian David Baddiel, singer Alexandra Burke, actor Reece Shearsmith, rapper Dizzee Rascal, pop star Anne Marie, and comedian and actor Katherine Ryan. Add in members of Little Mix (Jade Thirlwall) and Girls Aloud (Nadine Coyle), an Olympic champ (Kelly Holmes), an internet celeb (KSI) and 1980s TV goddess Anneka Rice, and you’ve got the ingredients for a seriously starry bake-a-thon.

The Painter and the Thief
Tuesday, Sky Arts, 9pm

Barbora Kysilkova and Karl Bertil-Nordland in the documentary The Painter and the Thief
Barbora Kysilkova and Karl Bertil-Nordland in the documentary The Painter and the Thief

This Norwegian documentary begins with a brazen daylight robbery, as two men are caught by security cameras, breaking into a gallery and stealing two paintings by Barbora Kysilkova. One of the men, Karl Bertil-Nordland, is caught and tried. At the hearing, Kysilkova works up the courage to ask him if she can paint him. As he sits in her apartment, they talk about their lives and Bertil claims to not remember a thing about that day. Over the years, we get to see how the relationship between the artist and her muse developed. In her three-star Irish Times review last year, Tara Brady observed: “One can’t help but puzzle over some of the ‘big scenes’ – perhaps there’s more than one artistic swindle at the heart of this intriguing doc.”

Peig
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

Sinéad Ní Uallacháin in Peig
Sinéad Ní Uallacháin in Peig

She was a simple woman in a shawl who lived a hard life on the Blasket Islands and knew her way round a sack of potatoes. But to students up and down the country, she was the wicked witch of the west, cackling at us from within the dank school walls as we ploughed through her dense, dull and desolate memoir. Peig’s name still sends a shudder as we recall being force-fed her autobiography at Irish class. But TG4 is on a mission to rehabilitate Peig and turn her from a hate figure to a lovable lady of language and lyric. Sinéad Ní Uallacháin goes on an odyssey to uncover the real Peig Sayers, and discovers she was a woman of wit who held visitors in thrall with her theatrical style of storytelling. Ní Uallacháin listens to archive tapes of Sayers in full seanchaí mode, and learns she was a born entertainer, always up for the craic. In the absence of telly or cinema, she was the Blaskets’ answer to Netflix. I’m betting on Dame Judi Dench to play Peig in the inevitable series.

Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn
Wednesday, BBC1, 11.45pm
In 2018, Zara McDermott emerged from the Love Island villa to the news that nude photos she had shared with an ex-lover were circulating worldwide. She is not alone: a recent study suggested that nearly 10 percent of people in the UK have experienced this invasive and deeply personal humiliation, and nearly all the victims are women. Now McDermott is setting to find out more as she asks what motivates people to share these very personal images, learns about the impact on victims, and ponders whether people can ever feel safe sharing intimate photos.

The Dog House
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
After a hit debut series, cameras are back at Wood Green, the Animals Charity in Cambridgeshire that takes in hundreds of discarded, disowned or neglected dogs every year. In the first episode of the new run, an 8-stone Newfoundland makes a favourable first impression on the Coxon family, but staff are worried that his habit of showering everyone with a spray of slobber may take some of the gloss off. And nine-week-old French bulldog Kevin competes with a nervous terrier to win the hearts of loved-up couple Ryan and Katie. Meanwhile, a recently widowed grandmother is looking for another “beating heart” to help fill a home that is feeling very empty.

The Directors: John Carpenter
Thursday, Sky Arts, 9pm

John Carpenter directing then wife Adrienne Barbeau on the set of The Fog (1980)
John Carpenter directing then wife Adrienne Barbeau on the set of The Fog (1980)

John Carpenter first developed an interest in film and music as a young boy, and his student project, The Resurrection of Bronco Billy, won him an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Subject in 1970. The final programme in this documentary series profiles Carpenter, who subsequently went on to make feature films Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York, Escape from LA, Starman, Prince of Darkness, They Live and Ghosts of Mars.

Return to Dunblane with Lorraine Kelly
Thursday, ITV, 9pm
It remains the most lethal mass shooting on British soil. On March 13th, 1996, a gunman shot 16 children and their teacher dead in the gym hall of Dunblane Primary School, before killing himself. Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the massacre in the small town town near Stirling, but a quarter of a century on, the events of that day understandably still remain raw for the survivors and families of the victims. Another person who remembers the fateful day vividly is Lorraine Kelly, who reported on the horror for GMTV. In this moving and personal programme, she speaks to survivors and families and highlights the enduring spirit and resilience of the Dunblane community, who came together to change UK gun ownership laws as a result of the attack.

The Comedy Vaults: BBC2’s Hidden Treasure
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
As part of the channel’s 50th birthday celebrations in 2014, this programme delves into the archives for rarely seen moments from some of the greatest names in comedy. It features clips from unbroadcast pilots including Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop, Stephen Fry’s first appearance as QI host and a sitcom starring the band Madness, as well as footage of Spike Milligan, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Rik Mayall, Billy Connolly, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s first incarnation of Borat, an Albanian called Christo. Tamsin Greig narrates.

Gregg Wallace’s Big Weekend in Venice
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Venice can be notoriously expensive – especially if you’re going to eat lunch at St Mark’s Square or take a ride on a gondola. But is it possible to enjoy the Italian city without breaking the bank? By avoiding the tourist traps, the MasterChef judge sees a new side to the city. Over three days, Gregg explores one of Italy’s most distinct food cultures, eats in cheap neighbourhood trattorias, explores the city’s fascinating and surprising history, and meets the locals who make Venice so special.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.45pm
Norton welcomes Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, who directs and appears in the new comedy Moxie. Also joining the host is Oscar-nominated actor Minnie Driver, who will be promoting her podcast Minnie Questions and speaking about her role as Queen Beatrice in the upcoming James Corden-penned fairytale musical Cinderella. Alias star Jennifer Garner also drops by to discuss the family comedy Yes Day, and singer-songwriter Tom Odell performs his new single Numb.

ON DEMAND

Love in the Time of Corona
From Friday, Disney+/Star
It was only a matter of time before somebody came up with a drama in which the coronavirus plays a major role. First out of the blocks is this four-part series and, as you’ve no doubt guessed from the title, it charts the lives of several people who, despite observing social distancing rules, are keen to find love, sex and a connection with another human during the pandemic. It’s the brainchild of ex-US soap star Joanna Johnson (she spent eight years, on and off, playing twins in The Bold and the Beautiful), who now spends more time as an executive behind the camera than she does in front of it; she also directs every episode and penned the opening instalment. Real-life couples Gil Bellows and Rya Kihlstedt (as well as their daughter Ava Bellows), and Leslie Odom Jr and Nicolette Robinson are among the cast.

Cherry
From Friday, Apple TV+
US army veteran Nico Walker served time in prison for bank robbery. In 2018, his semi-autobiographical novel Cherry was published to great acclaim; it’s also the source material for this compelling drama. Tom Holland plays Cherry, a disenfranchised young man who, after dropping out of college, enlists as an army medic and serves in Iraq. He returns home a hero, but struggles with undiagnosed PTSD, leading him to become a drug addict. To fund his habit, he begins carrying out bank robberies, shattering his relationship with Emily (Ciara Bravo), the love of his life, along the way.

The One
From Friday, Netflix

Poster art for The One, starring Hannah Ware
Poster art for The One, starring Hannah Ware

Your thumbs are sore from swiping on Tinder and you’re not sure if you’re ever going to meet your perfect match. Never fear, new tech is here. In this new limited series, Hannah Ware plays DNA researcher Rebecca, who discovers an easy way to find your soulmate: by simply using a hair sample (it’s all about the hair, really, isn’t it?). Soon she’s heading up a massive matchmaking operation, offering customers the perfect partner without having to waste endless nights in singles’ bars or go through all the social media motions. But of course there’s no happy-ever-after in store, and when people start turning up dead, Rebecca’s DNA-dating empire begins to crumble all around her. Maybe they shoulda gone to Lisdoonvarna instead.

Contributing: PA

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