TV Guide: 21 of the best shows to watch this week
Marty & Bernard on the road, Riverdance at 25, Jools in lockdown and Mark Ruffalo x 2
Ellie Kemper and Daniel Radcliff in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend, streaming from Friday on Netflix
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Sunday-Friday, ITV, 7pm
Jeremy Clarkson returns with another series of the big-prize quiz, broadcast over six consecutive evenings this week. Six contestants are ready and waiting for the fastest finger first question, hoping to win a chance to answer the 15 questions that could change their lives. If they get stuck, they always have the lifelines Ask the Audience, 50-50, Ask the Host and Phone a Friend available to them – and if they’re lucky, like Charlotte Church in last month’s celebrity show, one of their friends might just happen to be a Chaser.
The Beatles Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years
Sunday, TG4, 11pm
After their now-legendary North American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, The Beatles transfixed the US and the tremors were felt worldwide, transforming music and pop culture forever. The Beatles’ charisma and extraordinary musicianship also made them one of the greatest live bands of all time. This documentary explores the history of The Beatles through the lens of the group’s concert performances, from their early days playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg to their unprecedented world tours in packed stadiums from New York to Melbourne to Tokyo.
The Fantastical Factory of Curious Craft
Sunday, Channel 4, 8pm
Keith Lemon and Anna Richardson host this crafting series in which innovative creatives use their artistic talent to produce spectacular makes. In this first episode, artist Jayne, shop manager Samuel, 3D design graduate Annie and tattoo artist Ann create crafts of epic proportions. In the first task, they make mythical creature puppets in a bid to impress Lemon and be picked to go through to create a one-off craft for celebrity client Eamonn Holmes.
Walking with Elephants
Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm
Crossing continents on foot is nothing new for Levison Wood. The explorer famously completed the first expedition to walk the 6,650km length of the Nile from Rwanda to Egypt. Now he is embarking on a new kind of adventure. Led by elephants, rather than a compass or a map, this three-part series promises to be Lev’s wildest journey yet as he treks alongside these magnificent animals on their annual migration across Botswana. In tonight’s opener, Wood enlists the help of a San bushmana, meet three orphaned elephants and encounter a pride of lions – at very close quarters.
Dana – The Original Derry Girl
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Can it be 50 years since Dana won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland? I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing there like Judy Garland in Oz, and singing sweetly about butterflies and daffodils, she was the picture of feminine innocence – not like that other hussy from up the road who was also in the news, Bernadette Devlin. Here’s a nice, nostalgic trip down memory lane to when Derry’s 18-year-old Rosemary Brown became Ireland’s first Eurovision winner. The archive documentary follows Dana’s career from that first flush of success to the pressures of sudden fame, when she tried to keep up with the demands of pop stardom in the 1970s; her move to Alabama to perform religious music; her move into politics; and her bid to transition from Ireland’s sweetheart to Ireland’s president. And, to finish on a high note, the woman now known as Dana Rosemary Scallon joins up with local choirs in Derry’s Guildhall for a rousing rendition of All Kinds of Everything. We won’t get another crack at Eurovision this year, thanks to coronavirus, but look on the bright side: the Icelandic entry would have won it anyway.
Hospital Special: Fighting Covid-19
Monday-Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
The award-winning series returns to give viewers a remarkable insight into how staff and patients alike at the Royal Free London Hospital, a world leader in the treatment of infectious diseases, have dealt with the challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak. Filmed from the first day of the lockdown, the opening episode sees doctors being redeployed and the ICU doubling its capacity. Among the patients arriving at A&E is Peter (88), who is struggling for breath. He’s quickly put on oxygen, but a consultant remains worried about his condition. Meanwhile, in the maternity ward, staff prepare to perform their first C-section on a covid-positive mum-to-be, whose oxygen-saturation levels are dangerously low.
I Know This Much Is True
Monday, Sky Atlantic/Now TV, 9pm
I know the title will immediately have you humming a 1980s hit by Spandau Ballet, but this six-part drama based on the novel by Wally Lamb is set in the 1990s and, judging from the relentlessly downbeat plot, will probably be soundtracked by sadcore indie songs rather than cheesy pop hits. All human misery is here: from schizophrenia to PTSD to HIV to self-harm to sexual abuse, so don’t expect much in the way of light relief. Mark Ruffalo stars in a dual role as identical twins Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic given to erratic and dangerous episodes, and Dominick, who is trying in vain to help Thomas manage his condition. Non-spoiler alert: things go downhill from there. On the positive side, there’s a strong female cast in attendance, including Melissa Leo, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Juliette Lewis, Imogen Poots and Irish actor Aisling Franciosi. You might need heavy doses of Friends after this.
A Place in the Sun
Monday, Channel 4, 3pm
The return of the show in which property expert Danni Menzies offers advice to those aiming to buy a home abroad, beginning with Cath and her daughter Kate looking for a tranquil holiday home along the Costa Almería in southern Spain. Cath wants enough space for her family to be able to visit, but she also wants somewhere to escape the rat race and find inspiration for her writing. Menzies has five boltholes lined up for her £170,000 budget, but will any be the oasis of calm that she has her heart set on?
Monday, More4, 10pm
The return of the series charting how the Axis powers built some of the deadliest pieces of military hardware in history. This edition, Japan’s Warrior Code, examines the 1944 Battle of Saipan, in which US marines stormed the beaches of the Japanese island, with a goal of gaining a crucial air base from which they could launch long-range B-29 bombers. However, as they poured from their landing crafts to establish a beachhead, they faced fierce resistance and fighting became especially brutal. This programme looks at the Japanese mindset, a metaphysical megastructure that made its infantry so formidable.
Life Drawing Live
Tuesday, BBC Four, 8pm
The human form is a challenging subject, but as life drawing isn’t taught that often in art schools these days, there aren’t many opportunities for artists to hone their skills. But Josie d’Arby is back with another lesson in the art of drawing a real person, as she hosts a live broadcast of a class. Viewers can draw along with the students in a socially distanced studio, with the models presenting a variety of poses inspired by classical works of art. Experts Lachlan Goudie, Diana Ali and Nicky Philipps are on hand to share their passion and knowledge.
Marty and Bernard – On the Road Again
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
It’s the bromance to end all bromances. When sports commentator Marty Morrissey and comedian Bernard O’Shea’s eyes met across the ballroom floor in Dancing with the Stars, their beautiful partners were dumped and the pair waltzed off together into the sunset. Or something like that. Anyway, the new best friends teamed up to use their onscreen chemistry in the cause of good. In their first series, the pair set off for New York to discover what it means to be a modern man. In this new three-parter, they’re staying closer to home on a mission to “do things” for communities across the country. Each week they’ll meet up with different community groups to help them raise funds for their projects. In the first episode, they set out to help a group of GAA mammies in Ballybough, coming up with a mad fundraising challenge for the ladies.
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
We haven’t been allowed to go off on trips to Irish beauty spots, but at least we can explore the Burren from the comfort of our livingrooms via this new series. Social distancing isn’t much of a problem in the wide-open spaces of the west of Ireland, but getting closer and closer to the flora and fauna of this area of natural beauty is definitely worth it. Along the way, we’ll (safely) meet people who have visited here and couldn’t drag themselves away, including Sinéad Ní Gharbhaith. who runs The Cheese Press in Ennistymon, botanist and instrument-maker Eugene Lambe, farmers Annie Nolan and Pat Nagle, and fisherman Rainer Krause.
Born to Riverdance – Our Lives
Wednesday, BBC1, 7.30pm
Earlier this year Riverdance celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special gala performance at Dublin’s 3Arena. Many of the show’s stars weren’t even born when Riverdance was created but, as this documentary discovers, being a part of what is being billed as one of the biggest nights in Irish dance in living memory is a dream come true for them. And for the two dancers who will step into the male and female lead roles, it could be life changing. Amy-Mae Dolan from Co Tyrone is one of three female leads in contention for the coveted starring role on the gala night, and cameras follows her intense mental and physical preparations.
Lockdown Culture with Mary Beard
Thursday, BBC2, 7pm
The classical scholar continues to offer insights into the world of culture during the lockdown. Each episode sees her speak to experts on a variety of subjects. This time she turns her attention to music. She wants to know why, at times of great stress, people have a tendency to find comfort in song. She cites the number of celebrities willing to take part in fundraising concerts (such as Lady Gaga’s recent Together at Home event), singalongs across balconies and quarantine choirs as examples. Beard also ponders whether we’re seeing the start of a change in the way we care and share with others, or if we will return to being rather more insular once the lockdown ends.
Charlie Brooker’s Anti-Viral Wipe
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
In 2016, Brooker won a Bafta for his Wipe programme, then seemingly put the format in a box and forgot about it. But, four years on and not a moment too soon, he’s back with an all-new one-off episode. As you’ve probably gathered from the title, Brooker will be taking a typically satirical and acerbic look at life in lockdown, as well as reviewing what we’ve been doing to keep ourselves occupied. He’s set to be joined by guest collaborators, including the gloriously dim Philomena Clunk (played perfectly by the divinely deadpan Diane Morgan), who has some unique opinions of her own to share.
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
From her garden at Glebe Cottage in Devon, Carol Klein goes back to the basics of propagating plants by demonstrating how to take cuttings. There is also an interview with Advolly Richmond, whose love of garden history is reflected in her own garden, and she shares her passion for a flower with a surprising past. Joe Swift has a large plant in his London garden that is due for some timely remedial work, and the team travels to Brighton to visit a garden packed with exotic plants grown in raised beds and containers.
Later – with Jools Holland
Friday, BBC2, 10pm
The long-running music show returns but, as with so many series at the moment, it’s not quite as we know it. Obviously, Jools can’t gather musicians in the TV studio in front of an audience for a live jam session. Instead, he is opening up his own studio in South London to the cameras. There he will be joined by a special guest each week, starting with French musician Christine & the Queens, who’ll be chatting from her base in Paris. They’ll talk about her musical journey and influences, and dig out some classic clips from the extensive Later archives. The series will also feature special performances recorded especially for the show, starting with Laura Marling, who sings a track from her seventh album Song for Our Daughter.
Portillo’s Empire Journey
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Michael Portillo is heading out on another jaunt, this time exploring how Britain was able to build its empire and leave behind a controversial legacy that is still being felt today. His fact-finding mission begins in India, where the British East India Company raised a private army to create the empire. Portillo visits the ruins of the grand residence of Clive of India, who became the undisputed ruler of Bengal, making millions for shareholders in Britain – and amassing a vast personal fortune into the bargain.
Big Zuu’s Big Eats
Friday, Dave, 10pm
London-based grime artist and DJ Big Zuu takes his passion for cooking on the road, preparing mouth-watering, made-to-order dishes for comedians on tour. Zuu and his boys Tubsey and Hyder travel all over the UK visiting the bright lights of London, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Manchester, Bath and the Isle of Man. Guest comedians making an appearance include Rosie Jones, Desiree Burch, Ed Gamble, Jamali Maddix, Josh Widdicombe, London Hughes, Lou Sanders and Phil Wang. In tonight’s programme, Big Zuu heads to Croydon to meet up with Jimmy Carr and cook his ultimate meal ready for when he steps off stage.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend
From Tuesday, Netflix
Is interactive TV the future? In this special edition of the much-loved sitcom is going down the same route, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is about to tie the knot with her diminutive but attractive British prince (Daniel Radcliffe) when she discovers that cult leader the Reverend (the wonderful Jon Hamm) has another secret bunker full of women. Determined to free them, Kimmy races to the rescue...and it’s up to you, dear viewer, to make sure she does so AND gets to the church on time.
From Friday, Netflix
Ibiza in its rave heyday was one hedonistic holiday destination – and tales of going large in the Balearics are legion. This new drama series looks at the long hangover left by the chemical generation. The body of a legendary Manchester DJ is discovered 20 years after he mysteriously disappeared on the island. His sister sets out to find out what happened, and is soon drawn into the dissolute party life on the island where the dancing never stops. The series stars Laura Haddock ( Guardians of the Galaxy), Daniel Mays (Line of Duty) and controversy-raising Laurence Fox (Lewis). Expect lots of dialogue in Spanish, because this series doesn’t forget where it is – unlike some of the party animals who flock there every summer.