TV Guide: 21 of the best shows to watch this week
Inside Ireland’s Covid Battle, Huey Morgan’s Latin Music Adventure, The Great, Dark
Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, beginning Wednesday on Sky Atlantic
Glastonbury Tea Time Legends
Sunday, BBC2, 6.20pm
So many music icons have taken to the Somerset stage over the years, there’s little wonder it has become one of THE highlights of Glastonbury. Who could forget Shirley Bassey in her headline-grabbing diamante wellies back in 2007, or last year’s phenomenal turn by pop princess Kylie Minogue? Certainly not Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley. Here they introduce some of the best performances from the Sunday evening legends slot. Other artists featured include Neil Diamond, Brian Wilson, Lionel Richie and Al Green.
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
In this new series, award-winning wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson fulfils a boyhood dream to visit Cuba and explore its unique wildlife and culture. It all began when he found a book of Cuban stamps in his grandad’s Dublin attic. The communist state has been isolated for the past 60 years, and Stafford-Johnson discovers that the wildlife of the country has changed little as well, as the government has a strong conservation policy. He finds a largely unspoilt paradise under the Caribbean sun, with 3,700km of coastline, vast mountain ranges, swamps and primeval forests.
Along the way, Stafford-Johnson encounters some wonderful wild animals, including the smallest bird in the world, the bee hummingbird, jumping crocodiles and bat-eating boas. He also explores the big Irish connection with Cuba, which goes all the way back to Che Guevara’s Irish grandmother. But there’s also a warning: as Cuba opens up more to the world and comes out of its time-capsule, its rich wildlife may become a thing of the past.
Pelé, Argentina and the Dictators
Sunday, BBC1, 11.45pm
A look at political overtones in international football, particularly in South America, where Pelé made his name as one of the greatest players of all time. Aside from examining the political context of Brazil’s wins in 1970, there’s also a look at the 1978 World Cup, which proved hugely controversial. The contest was hosted by Argentina, a country under military dictatorship. At one point Argentina had to score four goals to get to the final. The Argentinian president’s visit to the Peruvian dressing room just before the game left many wondering what was said or offered, especially as the acclaimed Peruvian team played so badly, eventually losing 6-0 to the host country. Pelé, Gary Lineker, Osvaldo Ardiles and Mario Kempes lend their thoughts to the film.
The British Soap Awards Celebrate 21 Years
Sunday, ITV, 9pm; Monday, Virgin One, 9pm
What a year it’s been in soapland with you-know-what interrupting production. Suddenly shows that turn out several episodes a week were rationing their output. For the past 21 years, the British Soap Awards has celebrated ongoing serials, and now Phillip Schofield reflects on the most memorable winners. There’s a look at the icons who scooped the Outstanding Achievement Award, issue-led storylines that swept the board, spectacular scenes, and the big laughs along the way. He also profiles some of the double acts, such as Corrie’s Roy and Hayley Cropper, EastEnders’ Kat and Alfie Moon, and those villains we loved to hate, including Weatherfield’s “Norman Bates with a briefcase” Richard Hillman, and Albert Square’s murderous bride Janine Butcher.
RTÉ Investigates: Inside Ireland’s Covid Battle
Monday/Tuesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
This two-part documentary brings us into the intensive care unit at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, where staff are fighting a daily battle to keep their patients alive. Part one, Life & Death, gets up close and personal with the heartbreak as families are unable to see their loved ones before they die, and see the reality of how cruelly Covid-19 rips through the very fabric of life. Part two, Survival & Recovery, looks at those who have battled through to the other side, and are now facing the huge uphill task of rebuilding their health and their lives.
Italy’s Frontline: A Doctor’s Diary
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
What was it like for front-line health workers in northern Italy at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic? Like something out of Dante’s Inferno. This documentary brings us inside a hospital in Cremona, one of the hardest-hit, where Dr Francesca Mangiatordi is battling to save patients struck down with the disease, and watching as her colleagues succumb one by one to Covid-19. With the health system overwhelmed, a shortage of equipment, and hospital staff falling ill with the virus, Mangiatordi is soon having to make the agonising decision which patients she should try to save, and which she should leave to die. Narrated by Florence Pugh.
Bake Off: The Professionals
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Liam Charles and Tom Allen welcome the four remaining teams in this heat to face the challenges of chocolate week. The first round features a mystery assignment that will test the competitors’ instincts and teamwork; the second challenge is to construct a towering showpiece inspired by a famous skyline, incorporating geometric chocolate tarts and moving parts. Judges Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden are on hand to assess their efforts and decide who will go through to the next phase of the contest.
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
John Torode and Gregg Wallace return with a new helping of cooking trials for familiar faces. X Factor veteran Myles Stephenson; The Apprentice contestant Thomas Skinner; stand-up comedian Judi Love; football legend John Barnes; and actress Shyko Amos (Death in Paradise) are first up. After an individual challenge to devise and cook one dish to demonstrate their potential, the five celebs are split into two groups to take on the challenge of cooking for the first time in a restaurant kitchen for paying customers. John, Myles and Judi head to Allegra to serve up modern British dishes, while Thomas and Shyko are sent to Yeni, which showcases Turkish cuisine. Then, in the final test, it’s back to the MasterChef kitchen to prepare a dish of their own design in one hour.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
Wednesday, Sky Atlantic/Now TV, 9pm
We fondly recall the Penny Dreadful series from the early 2010s, a dark, Gothic drama featuring a cast of iconic literary characters including Dracula, Van Helsing, Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, Dr Jeckyll and the Marquis de Sade. Here’s a spin-off, with the action moved from 19th-century England to 1930s Los Angeles, and the source material is Mexican-American folklore rather than British Gothic horror, So maybe we’ll see an appearance from the eerie ghost woman known as La Llorona. Can’t say I’m particularly feverish with anticipation about this one. But who knows – perhaps we may get some creeping terrors stalking the barrios.
Summer at Seven
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm
So, what’s life like in Ireland in the summer of 2020? How are we managing this whole coming-out-of-lockdown thing? Here’s Sinead Kennedy and Kevin McGahern to take the weekly temperature of the nation over four weeks in July, with lighthearted segments about daily life in Ireland during a pandemic. Think of it as a Covid Nationwide. Okay, it’s not exactly Republic of Telly, but McGahern plans to look at things with a comedy eye, including getting your hair done, going on a staycation, and going to the pub.
The Supervet: Puppy Special
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
For the past six years, Prof Noel Fitzpatrick’s work saving the lives of hundreds of animals has warmed the hearts of countless viewers. But what happened next? This new series revisits some of the most dramatic and inspiring cases. Episode one turns the awwwwww factor up to 11 as we look at some of the most irresistible patients of all: puppies. In 2015, foster carer Kelly brought four-month-old West Highland terrier Rodney to Fitzpatrick’s with a heart-breaking problem: he’d been born without back feet. The vet suggested prosthetics with an extraordinary procedure he innovated, where bionic implants are inserted into the bone and prosthetic feet attached.
Fíorscéal: After the Wave
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm
The 2004 Stephen’s Day tsunami was the most devastating natural disaster in modern times, killing 228,000 people across 13 countries in just a few hours. After the Wave tells the untold story of the epic forensic operation in Thailand to identify and return home the bodies of some 5,000 victims, both locals and holidaymakers from around the world. Led by a crack Australian team, the best forensic specialists from around the world were in a race against time to give back every victim their identity.
Other Voices – Courage
Thursday, RTÉ2, 11.30pm
Colm Mac Con Iomaire, celebrated fiddle player and founding member of both Kíla and The Frames, plays an array of heart-wrenching tunes from his solo records, joined by pianist Catherine Fitzgerald and vocalist Síobhra Quinlan, recorded in The National Gallery of Ireland.
Billion Pound Cruises: All at Sea
Thursday, ITV, 9pm
Luxury cruising is a €132 billion industry, but because of Covid-19, within six weeks, hundreds of ships around the world were brought to a standstill. This documentary explores the role of cruise ships in the wake of the virus. With insights from passengers living through the unfolding crisis, along with experts, the film examines events across six weeks that led to dream cruise holidays turning into floating horror stories. Among the contributors are David and Sally Abel, who were enjoying their luxurious cruise around the South China Sea when disaster struck on the Diamond Princess. Using personal footage, the programme provides a unique perspective of events unfolding as the Abels contracted the virus.
Secrets of the Mega Landfill
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
When it comes to finding room for rubbish, the world is running out of space. And nowhere is this more true than in the US, where thousands of landfill sites are reaching capacity. Tis documentary looks at Orange County, California, home to the ninth largest site in the country – part of an elite group that receive a million tons of waste every year. Every day, as many as 750 trucks queue up to deposit thousands of tons of rubbish, from plastic bags and mattresses to more unusual items.
Huey Morgan’s Latin Music Adventure
Friday, BBC4, 9.30pm
Fans of Fun Lovin’ Criminals will know that band leader Huey Morgan has a gra for all things Latin American. In this new series he takes a trip to some of the big hubs of Latino sound in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil. He starts off at a samba school in Rio as the students prepare for the annual carnival, but learns that the newly elected right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro is out to rain on the parade. He also meets legendary musician Gilberto Gil, who spearheaded the radical Tropicalia musical movement 50 years ago, in defiance of the authoritarian government of the day. Then it’s off to Salvador to try out the famous Bahian electric guitar, invented in the 1940s, before a visit to São Paulo to meet up with some of the city’s punks, metalheads and rappers who are rebelling against the mini-Trump.
The Pembrokeshire Coast: A Wild Year
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
In the far southwest corner of Wales is Pembrokeshire’s dynamic coast, where life is defined by the power of the Atlantic. The seasons are marked by the arrival of puffins, which court by tapping their multicoloured bills. Farmers grow the earliest potatoes on these coasts, while sheep are used to maintain the clifftop pastures for the rare choughs that use their long red beaks to probe for grubs. As autumn arrives, grey seals produce their white-coated pups just before gales bring the force of the ocean bearing down on these shores. Using a range of time-lapse techniques, this three-part series narrated by Toby Jones is a fascinating insight into an extraordinary region.
Streaming now, StarzPlay
Last year, Helen Mirren played the title role in Catherine the Great, Sky Atlantic’s series about the formidable 18th-century empress of Russia. Now Elle Fanning is tackling the role, albeit from a very different angle. Where Catherine the Great was oh-so serious, The Great is tongue in cheek, preferring to take a satirical – and fictionalised – look at the early part of her reign. If you’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, you’ll have an idea of the approach taken by this 10-part series. Nicholas Hoult costars as Catherine’s deranged husband; much of the plot focuses on efforts to assassinate him. If you miss the show on Starz, not to worry: Channel 4 is set to broadcast it later in the summer.
Streaming now, Netflix
Netflix’s first original German series returns for a third and last run. The wild sci-fi drama focuses on the impact of a child’s disappearance on three generations of four connected families with something to hide. the first two seasons were met with critical acclaim, so big things are expected this time around – and fans will be hoping that the loose ends are tied up neatly before the end credits roll on the final episode. It all begins as hero Jonas confronts his fate in a new version of Winden. Everyone else, meanwhile, remain in another world, desperately trying to break the loop that now bends time as well as space.
From Friday, Amazon Prime
Welcome back Hanna, the teen killing machine on the run from a sinister government agency, and on a mission to find out who she really is. Esmé Creed-Miles takes over from Saoirse Ronan, who played Hanna in the 2011 movie. At the end of season one, Hanna discovered that she is not unique: somewhere out there are more young people like her trained in a million ways of killing by the mysterious Ultrax programme. Can Hanna get to the truth behind the programme before it reaches its “lethal phase”? Hopefully she’ll off loads of baddies in cruelly creative ways before she gets the answers.
JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales
From Friday, All 4
This new animated series takes classic fairy tales as its inspiration and turns them on their heads. The result is an outrageous, creepy and yet hilarious show that offers a spooky twist on the likes of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel. Among the impressive vocal cast are Linda Blair, Sheryl Lee, Robert Englund, Warwick Davis and Peter Weller.