TV guide: 21 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

The Responder, The Talk, The Gilded Age, The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk, Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion, Nationwide: Féile Bríde

Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester in Trigger Point. The drama from Line of Duty producer Jed Mercurio begins Sunday on ITV

Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester in Trigger Point. The drama from Line of Duty producer Jed Mercurio begins Sunday on ITV

 

Trigger Point
Sunday, ITV, 9pm
This gripping six-part drama, which reunites producer Jed Mercurio with his Line of Duty star Vicky McClure, turns the spotlight on the work of the Metropolitan Police bomb disposal squad. McClure and Adrian Lester play experienced bomb disposal operatives, known as “expos”, who are called out to a London housing estate to investigate a potential bomb factory. There is no sign of the bomb maker, but his keys are missing, leading to a race against time to find him and his vehicle. While the two officers successfully defuse an improvised explosive device, its complexity suggests they are dealing with sophisticated terrorists.

The Caribbean with Andi and Miquita
Sunday, BBC Two, 9pm
Regular viewers of Celebrity Gogglebox will already have seen Andi and Miquita Oliver in action. The mother-and-daughter duo have become along with their rather handsome dog Scout – mainstays of the show during the past few years. In this eye-opening travelogue, the pair explore their heritage in Antigua, Barbuda and Barbados. It’s not the first time they’ve hit the road together; they participated in Eight Go Rallying: The Road to Saigon a few years back. But this time it’s personal, and all the more entertaining for it.

Carlos Acosta: This Cultural Life
Sunday, BBC Four, 7.30pm

Carlos Acosta with Valentina Pastorino at Dublin’sTemple Bar Gallery in April 2018. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Carlos Acosta with Valentina Pastorino at Dublin’sTemple Bar Gallery in April 2018. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

In this absorbing profile of the Cuban ballet star, Acosta talks to John Wilson about some of his life’s key moments, including the influence of his father, his early love of breakdancing in the streets of Havana, and the devastating global effects of communism’s collapse. Acosta also recalls how he felt after winning the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition at the age of 16, then going on to become the Royal Ballet’s first black principal dancer.

The Responder
Monday, BBC One, 9pm

Martin Freeman in The Responder
Martin Freeman in The Responder

Martin Freeman stars in his darkest role to date (closer to Fargo than Bilbo) in this drama about a cop on the edge. He plays Chris Carson, a responder patrolling the mean streets of Liverpool, encountering drugs, violence and squalor first-hand. The job is getting to him and he’s heading for a nervous breakdown. At home, Chris’s marriage is in tatters, but he refuses to accept any help even though it’s clear he’s hitting a wall. A chance for redemption comes when he helps a young heroin addict named whose life is in danger after she steals a bag of cocaine. It’s not long before Chris’s attempt to be a good samaritan goes awry, and soon he’s got even bigger problems to weigh on him.

The Talk
Monday, RTÉ2, 10.25pm

Angel Arutura, interviewed in The Talk
Angel Arutura, interviewed in The Talk

Young people talk frankly about their lives in this three-part series, also available on the RTÉ Player, and it’s not all fashion, TikTok and dating. In this first episode, teenagers discuss their experience of racism in Ireland, and the picture that emerges is of a State that still hasn’t fully embraced diversity in the community. Brothers Darragh and Conor Buckley, sons of the late campaigner Christine Buckley, talk about being regularly called the n-word in school, while friends Angel Arutura and Maria Diouf talk about the difficulties of trying to fit in at their schools in Northern Ireland. They endure casual racism, from their skin colour being labelled “dirty” to being told they’re “very pretty for a dark-skinned girl”. And two best friends, rapper Maimouna Salif and singer-songwriter Tomike J, discuss how racism impacts on dating and relationships.

The Bay
Monday, Virgin Media One, 9pm
The detective drama set in Lancashire is back for a third series (it’s already begun on ITV), but eagle-eyed viewers will notice the absence of Morven Christie in the role of DS Lisa Armstrong. Marsha Thomason takes over the lead role, playing family liaison officer DS Jenn Townsend, whose first day on the job sees her thrown in the deep end when a body washes up on Morecambe Bay. Jenn must tread carefully dealing with the victim’s family, and she also has to handle her own blended family delicately as they try to settle in this new town. Thomason has had TV success in the US in such shows as Magnum PI, but this will be her first starring role in her home country.

Great Coastal Railway Journeys
Monday, BBC Two, 6.30pm
An epic stretch of Scottish coastline is the first stop for presenter Michael Portillo as he begins a new series of adventures around the British Isles. He begins at Siccar Point on the Firth of Forth, and explains why it is a place of pilgrimage for scientists from across the world, before visiting the Northern Gannets of Bass Rock. Portillo then moves on to explore the delights of Edinburgh, including Arthur’s Seat, and recounts a murder at the Palace of Holyrood House, the queen’s official Scottish residence.

I, Sniper: The Washington Killers
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
You may have never heard the name Lee Malvo, but that will have changed by the time the credits roll on this six-part documentary series exploring one of the most terrifying crimes in recent history. It documents, minute by minute, how a chance meeting between a vulnerable Jamaican teenager and a disaffected army veteran set in motion a murderous road trip and, why a chain of events led them to commit unthinkable acts of violence. It includes testimony from victims, survivors, families and investigators, as well as Malvo, the surviving shooter, in a series of phone calls from his Supermax cell in Virginia, where he held in solitary confinement.

The Gilded Age
Tuesday, Sky Atlantic & NowTV, 9pm

Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski in The Gilded Age
Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski in The Gilded Age

It’s a dream for US fans of Downton Abbey and Bridgerton: their very own period TV drama, with big frocks, carriages and ruthless social climbing, only with American accents. Downton creator Julian Fellowes delivered this late Christmas present to US audiences, and we’re all looking forward to opening it. The series is set in New York during America’s so-called gilded age, when tensions between the old ways and the impending modern world were at their height, and old money battled with new money for supremacy. It’s a chance for US luvvies to don the tiaras and greatcoats and make with the hifalutin chit-chat. Louise Jacobson plays Marian, a poor young lady sent to live with her rich aunts Agnes (Christine Baranski) and Ada (Cynthia Nixon) after the death of her father. She arrives into the middle of a war between one of her aunts and railroad tycoon George Russell (Morgan Spector), with money and connections as the weapons of choice. But will there be a New York equivalent of Lady Whistledown dishing all the dirt?

The Decade the Rich Won
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
This two-part documentary takes viewers back to 2008 to take a deep dive into the aftermath of the financial crisis. Fourteen years ago, the government and the Bank of England took drastic action in a bid to save the UK economy from disaster, bailing out banks and adopting harsher austerity measures than any other country. But did the plans work? In the first episode, key players offer their insights into what happened, revealing that while some struggled, others thrived.

The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk
Wednesday, BBC Two, 10pm

Spencer Jones in The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk
Spencer Jones in The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk

Comedian Spencer Jones returns to his weird and wacky alter-ego, a man who is being constantly interrupted by his own imagination. Fans of The Mighty Boosh will have no problem processing the crazy goings-on in Herbert’s manic mind, in which inanimate objects randomly come to life, and the world can suddenly turn into a 1980s music video. In this new series, we’re promised even more quark, strangeness and charm as Herbert meets a doorstop from Memphis named Mr Twanger, and an archaeologist from 1.6 million years in the future.

Final Account: Storyville
Wednesday, BBC Four, 10pm

Archive footage in Final Account
Archive footage in Final Account

In her recent five-star review of this documentary, IT film critic Tara Brady wrote: “As a teenager, the late Luke Holland discovered that his grandparents had died in the Holocaust. Some decades later, he set out to interview the last living generation of Germans to have participated in the Third Reich. Subjects protest that they were required to keep their mouths shut about the Bernburg Euthanasia Centre, about shooting prisoners into a pit, or even that a lot of people benefitted. A vital companion piece to Claude Lanzmann Shoah, Final Account ends with chilling scenes as a member of the SS recounts his culpability. Evasions and obfuscations come thick and fast.”

Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51
Wednesday, BBC One, 9pm
Cameras follow the Repair Shop presenter and upholstery business owner as he resolves to learn to read well enough to recite a story for his daughter’s 16th birthday. Blades has struggled with the written word all his life and has the reading ability of an 11 year old. Using a system developed for use in prisons by The Shannon Trust, he commits to learn to read with Read Easy, a charity in which volunteers offer one-to-one coaching. Along the way, Blades offers a glimpse at how he gets by in day-to-day life without being able to read, meets pupils at school and other adults who struggle with reading and writing, and explores some of the human stories behind Britain’s worrying literacy statistics.

Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm

Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion
Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion

The former model probably doesn’t strike many people as a hands-on DIY enthusiast, but we’re about to see a whole new side of her courtesy of this three-part series. Price hit the headlines before Christmas after receiving a driving ban, but the only things she’ll be hitting here are items she no longer feels are fit to grace her 19-room mansion – she’s seen smashing chimney pots and knocking down guttering. Price hopes the renovation will not only spruce up the place, but help her banish bad memories of events that have happened there.

Survivors: Portraits of the Holocaust
Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, the BBC is broadcasting this documentary charting a project spearheaded by Prince Charles. He has commissioned seven artists to paint seven of the last Holocaust survivors, which will be displayed at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. Not only will viewers witness the creation of these portraits, they will also hear incredible stories from the sitters, all of whom spent part of their childhoods in the camps before settling in the UK. The Prince of Wales says of the project: “As the number of Holocaust survivors sadly, but inevitably, declines, my abiding hope is that this special collection will act as a further guiding light for our society, reminding us not only of history’s darkest days, but of humanity’s interconnectedness.”

Nationwide
Friday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh at Solas Bhríde in Kildare town
Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh at Solas Bhríde in Kildare town

Nationwide takes a trip to Kildare in advance of Féile Bríde. The week-long programme of events, beginning on January 31st, commemorates St Brigid, who has stood the test of time down through the ages and is now the focus nationally for a new bank holiday. Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh meets an interesting mix of people. She starts on the Curragh with Kildare County Council historian Mario Corrigan, who outlines the legacy left by Brigid, a woman who has straddled the line of saint, goddess and mythological character for nearly 1,500 years and will be focus of a countrywide celebration in 2024 to mark that anniversary. Ní Chofaigh also travels to Solas Bhríde, a Christian spirituality centre with a focus on the legacy of kindness, hospitality and good works. Singer-songwriter Luka Bloom performs his song dedicated to Brigid, while Sr Rita describes how the saint’s message of hope, embraced in her earthiness and all-embracing compassion, is so relevant in these pandemic times.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC One, 10.35pm
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar joins Norton for a chat, accompanied by his muse and regular collaborator Penélope Cruz, who will discuss their latest project, Parallel Mothers. X-Men actor James McAvoy also describes working on improvised thriller My Son. Plus, listen out for a live musical performance and anecdotes from the public in the infamous red chair.

ON DEMAND

The Afterparty
From Friday, Apple TV+
If you like your murder mysteries served up with a side-order of pop culture references, then this genre-defying new series from Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) should hit the spot. Centered on a murder at a high school reunion, each episode explores a different character’s account of the fateful evening in question. Amusingly, it’s all showcased through the lens of popular film genres and unique visuals that are tailored to match the storyteller’s perspective. The stellar ensemble cast includes Dave Franco, Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer and Jamie Demetriou.

The Legend of Vox Machina
From Friday, Amazon

The Legend of Vox Machina
The Legend of Vox Machina

Matthew Mercer creates and lends his voice to this 12-part adult animated fantasy, the first series of which made it past the drawing board thanks to crowdfunding. It must be good, because Amazon commissioned a second series before the opening titles of episode one had even rolled. Set in Exandria, the world Mercer created for his 2012 personal Dungeons & Dragons campaign that led to the 2015 web series Critical Role (keeping up, everyone?), the first two episodes will follow the seven-member Vox Machina team at D&D Level 7 on their first “grown-up” mission. It’s a new story set before the events of Critical Role, but the rest of the series will follow the team as they seek vengeance against Lord and Lady Briarwood. Whether you’re a dedicated Vox Machina fan or a newcomer, a wild ride awaits.

In from the Cold
From Friday, Netflix
Margarita Levieva stars in this thriller series from Adam Glass, which combines whiffs of The Manchurian Candidate and X-Men with dollops of The Long Kiss Goodnight. Levieva plays Jenny, an American single mother whose life is turned upside down during a European holiday with her daughter after the CIA forces her to confront her long-buried past as a Russian spy. As if that wasn’t hassle enough, it turns out Jenny was also the product of a highly classified KGB experiment granting her rather special abilities. After a mysterious string of manic and murderous incidents suggests someone with her exact abilities is targeting innocent people, Jenny is forced out of hiding to stop this villain or risk losing the family and new life she has built. Cillian O’Sullivan and Lydia Fleming are also among the cast.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
From Friday, Netflix

Kristen Bell in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
Kristen Bell in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window

The title is more than a mouthful, but this black comedy series (a parody of the likes of The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window) is a definite TV gem. Kristen Bell may be famous for her Frozen animated antics, but she’s also carved out a solid career in front of the camera in the likes of The Good Place, House of Lies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Now she’s heading the cast of this mini-series as the lonely and heartbroken Anna, who sits with a glass of wine, staring out of her window, watching the world pass her by. Every torturous day is the same, until a handsome neighbour moves in across the street, and it seems there could be light at the end of the tunnel – until she suspects she’s witnessed a murder.

Contributing: PA

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