TV guide: 21 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight
Tommie Gorman on cancer; The Big DIY Challenge; docs on Britney Spears and Ian Wright
Protestors from the #FreeBritney movement outside a Los Angeles courthouse last August. The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship airs Wednesday on BBC2. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty
Sunday, BBC1, 7pm
Fiona Bruce presents a special episode reflecting on the aftermath of the second World War. The team have certainly found a fitting setting: Coventry Cathedral, devastated by bombs in 1940 but rebuilt to become a symbol of hope and reconciliation. The programme hears from a woman who witnessed the city’s blitz first-hand, while the items brought in for valuation include a ballgown and a set of handmade playing cards that offer a glimpse into the final days of the war in the Far East. There’s also a fragile teacup that survived the bombing of Dresden.
Cork Folk Festival
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
Despite the pandemic, the best of Irish music still managed to gather last autumn to celebrate one of Irelands best-loved music Festivals. Doireann Ní Ghlacáin hosts a weekly hour of music and song from legendary artists and showcase some of stars of the future, filimed at iconic venues such as the Cork Opera House, Kino, Cork City Gaol and St Luke’s. This episode features Dublin’s The Bonny Men, Fiona Kelleher with Jim Murray, young Piper Cian Smith, and concertina and fiddle couple Edel Fox and Neill Byrne.
BBC Young Musician 2020
Sunday, BBC4, 8pm
On Friday, we saw the 2020 search reaches its penultimate stage as the category winners competed for three places in this grand final, recorded in April at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. The judging panel, chaired by Angela Dixon, comprises composer, clarinettist and BBC Young Musician 2016 winner Mark Simpson; composer Errollyn Wallen; principal conductor with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Ryan Bancroft; and experimental composer and turntable artist Shiva Feshareki. Anna Lapwood, Josie d’Arby, saxophonist Jess Gillam and oboist, conductor and BBC Young Musician 1980 Nicholas Daniel introduce theperformances.
The Wonderful World of Cake
Monday, RTÉ2, 8.05pm
This is a six-part celebration of tea-time treats, from old-fashioned birthday indulgences to ostentatious celebration cakes to edible guilty pleasures. The first episode takes a glimpse inside McVities, learning the secret of how the Jaffa Cake is made. The hi-tech McVities Factory in Manchester employs 600 people, working 24/7 to produce 4,000 Jaffas every minute. Meanwhile chef and food historian Dr Neil Buttery takes the ultimate Jaffa challenge: break the world record for the largest Jaffa ever baked at more than 1.5 metres. Buttery needs to construct the cake from 20 individual sponges and eight wobbling Jaffa jellies, before smothering them in melted chocolate. For his capable assistants he enlists the help of an army of primary school kids – a recipe for success, surely?
Beat the Chef
Monday, Channel 4, 5.30pm
Presenter and restaurateur Andi Oliver is back with the culinary contest, as skilful amateur cooks compete in two fast-paced cook-offs to win up to £10,000. They will be go head-to-head with one of our four professional chefs: award-winning Mark Sargeant, Roux Scholar Frederick Forster, executive chef Sophie Michell, and Michelin-starred Hrishikesh Desai. In the kitchen today is Chris Topham, a former fighter pilot who hopes that his beef stroganoff can hit the heights. Taking him on in culinary combat is Mark, out to prove he’s the top gun when it comes to cooking. Will Chris rise to the challenge of Mark’s whole plaice with bourguignon sauce?
Monday, TG4, 8pm
Welcome repeat of a two-part documentary from February 2019. Horseracing is the only one major professional sport where women and men go head to head for the same prizes. This bilingual documentary provides unique access to the key women making their living at the top of National Hunt racing: trainer Jessica Harrington and her daughters Kate and Emma, and jockeys Rachael Blackmore, Katie Walsh, Lisa O’Neill and Katie O’Farrell.
Ireland, Cancer and Me
Tuesday, RTÉ, 10.15pm
RTÉ’s recently retired Northern correspondent, Tommie Gorman, has one parting shot for viewers: this very personal documentary on what it’s been like living with cancer. Gorman was diagnosed in 1994, when he was the station’s Europe correspondent based in Brussels, and he made use of an entitlement under EU law to obtain groundbreaking treatment in Sweden. He made a documentary about his journey (Europe, Cancer and Me) and this programme serves as a follow-up progress report, and a way to track the changes in cancer treatment over the past 20 years that have helped keep Gorman and many others alive. “It fills in the gaps in what has happened to me since that documentary 20 years ago,” says Gorman. “Maybe I can sign off my RTÉ life with a programme that might bring hope.“ We wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.
The Money Maker
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
We all know that times are tough for many businesses. But despite the current bleak economic climate, there is hope, and this new four-part reality series aims to show that shrewd decisions can help businesses navigate the UK’s post-pandemic economy. We follow Eric Collins, chief executive of Impact X Capital Partners, a venture capital firm supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Over the next few weeks, he offers his expertise as well as his own capital investment to four small struggling British businesses. In tonight’s first edition, The Money Maker is in Manchester checking out repair and restoration company Prymo. Lively boss Jasen says he’s never been busier, but with the most important pitches of his career coming up, Collins believes changes are necessary.
The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Britney Spears was one of the biggest stars of the 2000s, a hit-making machine constantly in the headlines due to both her career and her private life. She was barely out of her teens back then, a period re-examined in the US documentary Framing Britney Spears earlier this year. Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar covers similar ground in this programme while investigating the singer’s controversial conservator arrangement, which means she hasn’t controlled many of the decisions concerning her finances or career since 2008. He begins by journeying to her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, before also visiting Los Angeles. Along the way Azhar meets some of Spears’ most dedicated fans, including those fighting to have the order removed, and learns more about the person behind the headlines.
Wednesday, Sky One, 9pm
We remember Jane Horrocks as the ditzy Bubble in Absolutely Fabulous, and as the singing prodigy in Little Voice, and in this new comedy series she plays one half of an unlikely paramedic partnership in the south London ambulance service. Wendy is middle-aged, divorced and new to the area, and when she is paired up with a much younger partner, Maleek (Samson Kayo), it looks like a prescription for disaster. Maleek is a bit of a loner, and he’s not too happy at having to share his ambulance with the over-sharing Wendy. But he’ll just have to put up with his older colleague and help her navigate the mean streets south London.
Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
Johnny Vegas has kept himself busy during lockdown. He took part in the first series of Taskmaster and, after being inspired to return to his first love of pottery, more recently appeared on Grayson’s Art Club. Now he’s launching a new show of his own, a four-parter in which he dives headlong into the world of glamping. Once upon a time the word meant a posh camping trip, with luxurious tents available to participants. These days it’s developed into something even fancier, with a growing number of enthusiasts turning old vehicles into incredible places to stay. Vegas has jumped on the bandwagon and persuaded his long-suffering assistant Bev to come along for the ride. He’s about to renovate a vintage bus from Malta, one of five vehicles for a proposed site in Yorkshire.
The Big DIY Challenge
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Since March 2020, we’ve spent more time at home than in the entire previous 20 years, and naturally our minds turned to those little DIY tasks that needed doing around the house. You know what they say: the devil finds woodwork for idle hands. In this second series of The Big DIY Challenge, homeowners around the country are invited to showcase their home improvement projects, with a 10-grand prize for whoever is crowned Ireland’s best DIY-er. Presenter PJ Gallagher will meet the handymen and women hoping to nail the big prize, but don’t expect bog-standard decking or shelving. Among the projects showcased are a tubular skate park in Galway, a baby-friendly speedboat, and a western-themed cat hotel.
Ian Wright: Home Truths
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
When Ian Wright took part in Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in February 2020, listeners learned a lot about the former footballer and pundit. We discovered how a teacher at Turnham Primary School, Mr Pigden, changed Ian’s life, before he left school at 14 and became a plasterer, and spent 18 days in prison in 1982. However, most moving of all was Wright describing witnessing abuse as a child and how he grew up terrified of his stepfather. The outpouring of support he received after the broadcast had a huge impact on him and was the catalyst for this film. Wright talks to social workers to find out how they are supporting and protecting children living in at-risk households during Covid-19 as well as meeting with adults and young people who have been affected by growing up with domestic abuse.
Thursday, More4, 9pm
Previously shown on Sky Witness, this Canadian drama series follows Dr Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan), a recently widowed Toronto coroner, who investigates suspicious, unnatural or sudden deaths in the city. In the opening episode, Jenny immediately begins to ruffle feathers in her new job. She is called to investigate when two teen lovers are found dead after a suspected suicide pact at a juvenile detention centre. Meanwhile, Jenny’s own life has been upended by the untimely death of her husband, and it’s clear she is struggling to raise a teenage son on her own.
Fíorscéal: On the Wild Side
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm
What drives people to hunt animals to the point of extinction? How does hunting affect our relationship with nature and impact fragile ecosystems? And how do hunting lobbies influence lawmakers and the media? Through the personal story of one ex-hunter, this documentary unites the global anti-hunting movement while providing an overview of hunting throughout history. Featuring interviews with international activists, politicians and organisations, On the Wild Side sheds light on the psychology of hunting and the methods of the saboteurs. Is it possible to end hunting forever?
Galway 2020 – The Handover
Friday, TG4, 7.30pm
A flavour of some of the incredible events that Galway 2020 has delivered over the past year, despite the challenges, despite the pandemic, Galway continued to deliver. This is a symbolic handover to the 2022 European Capitals of Culture: Kaunas; Lithuania; Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg; and Novi Sad, Serbia.
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
Adam Frost invites viewers to his garden, where he shares tips on lawn repair, plants a seasonal container and shows off his unusual vegetables. Meanwhile, Advolly Richmond also has lawns on the mind as she brings her history on the subject up to date by exploring how ever-more sophisticated machinery is being used to get the perfect specimen. Frances Tophill is in Devon to meet an enthusiast who grows a variety of vegetables that return year after year. And in Essex there’s a back garden with more than 100 different types of clematis.
Star Wars – The Bad Batch
From Tuesday, Disney+
Ho! Ho! I see what Disney+ has done there: chosen May 4th aka Star Wars Day as the date to drop its latest Star Wars outing. May the Fourth! I haven’t laughed so much since Princess Leia’s home planet got blown up by the Death Star. The Bad Batch is the latest in a veritable meteor shower of new Star Wars spin-offs set to land over the next year or so. Coming up are live-action series centred around such characters as Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano and Lando Calrissian (meesa can’t wait to see the Chronicles of Jar Jar Binks – make it happen, Lucasfilm). The Bad Batch, an animated series following on from The Clone Wars, concerns the adventures of Clone Force 99, a troop of mutant clones, as they try to find their place in the galaxy in the aftermath of the Clone Wars. The clone troopers are all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker (that’ll save on costs) and the series opens with a whizz-bang 70-minute episode, just to get the kids well bedded in.
The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness
From Wednesday, Netflix
In December 1975, David Berkowitz began a killing spree in New York City, where he murdered six people and wounded 10 others; he was finally caught in August 1977 and sentenced to life imprisonment; he remains in jail. In the years since, his story has inspired various books, TV shows and movies, including Netflix’s own Mindhunter. Now he’s the subject of the streaming giant’s latest true crime documentary series. Here, film-maker Joshua Zeman and author Maury Terry investigate whether Berkowitz acted alone or if he was, as the killer himself claimed during the 1990s, part of a Satanic cult that was behind numerous deaths. The series is illustrated by archive footage as well as expert testimony.
From Friday, Netflix
Definitely not to be mistaken with the Oscar-winning movie about Aileen Wournos or Ryan Murphy’s forthcoming with Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer – this movie is based on the acclaimed 1999 novel by Walter Dean Myers. It’s a poignant drama in which Kelvin Harrison Jr plays Steve Harmon, a gifted 17-year-old Harlem native whose life is about to be turned upside down. Described as likable and smart, student Steve is suddenly arrested and charged with murder, which means that rather than embarking on the film career he dreams about, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and John David Washington are among the impressive supporting cast. Wright also produces alongside John Legend and Nas.
From Friday, Netflix
In a time of Covid, as the human race struggles to pass the time during interminable lockdowns, what the world really needs right now is – that’s right – more superhero series in which mutants with awesome powers fly around saving us puny humans from annihilation. It just gives us that little boost of courage as we face another perilous trip to the supermarket. Jupiter’s Legacy, based on the graphic novels by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, centres on a group of young superheroes being groomed by their parents to take over the family business of saving the world from evil foes. But as the young heirs soon find out, their folks are a hard act to follow, and it’ll take superhuman effort to live up to their legendary status, not to mention their rigid ideas about how a superhero should behave in proper company. And with all those rival superheroes overrunning tellyland; no wonder there’s a world shortage of capes.