TV guide: 22 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Masterchef, Songs of the Open Road, Not Going Out, Eyes of Tammy Faye, Pachinko

Dynasties II
Sunday, BBC One, 8pm
The captivating nature series returns with more fresh insights into the lives of some of the planet's most charismatic animals. We begin in the remote highlands of Patagonia, where a solitary mother puma named Rupestre battles to raise four cubs. The family faces extreme elemental forces, from driving white-out blizzards to 100mph winds. To feed her cubs, Rupestre must grapple with giants (guanaco), which are nearly three times her size. And hunting is not her only problem – more than 30 rival puma also stalk these hills, among them a fearsome male whose desire to mate with Rupestre puts her cubs in mortal danger, and a rival female determined to lay her own claim on Rupestre's territory. In this dramatic story of feuding families and battles for survival, can Rupestre keep all four of her cubs alive?

Room to Improve: Constructive Criticism
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

We think of starchitects as lofty types who are way above criticism, and woe betide anyone who dares question their vision. But Dermot Bannon isn’t afraid of a little constructive criticism, and so, for the final episode of this series, he’s invited three people to cast a critical eye over his past work. Luckily, his three guests – previous client Majella O’Donnell, self-confessed superfan Nuala Carey, and Irish Times journalist Patrick Freyne, who would really like to build a portal into Bannon’s head a la Being John Malkovich – are generally well-disposed toward him. (True, Bannon did have a barney with O’Donnell’s usually softly spoken husband, a well-known singer from Donegal, over their renovation.) The trio grill Bannon about how he comes up with his designs, what motivates him, and just what was he thinking when he tried to remove some of Daniel O’Donnell’s beloved bathrooms.

Ukraine: Voices from the Frontline
Sunday, ITV, 10.20pm
Probably more than any war, the conflict in Ukraine is being lived through social media channels, as people around the world watch first-hand the intimate, touching and tragic details of life under 21st-century bombardment. As Vladimir Putin's war continues to rage, the world has borne witness to the Ukrainian people's suffering through incredible testimony and eye-witness footage. This documentary brings together those images and voices – and their stories on the ground – as the historic events unfold.


Sunday, BBC Four, from 10pm
Following the success of CripTales, Soon Gone and Snatches, BBC Arts present a selection of monologues on the theme of poverty. It begins with Lisa McGee's Northern Ireland-set tale, performed by Saoirse-Monica Jackson, in which an evening out takes a dark turn. That's followed by No Grasses, No Nonces, in which Michael Socha performs Byron Vincent's monologue about a man reflecting on how it felt to be a vulnerable teenager. Then, Emma Fryer performs Kerry Hudson's monologue Hannah, and Gary Beadle stars in Gabriel Gbadamosi's Regeneration.

Then Barbara Met Alan
Monday, BBC Two, 9pm

Ruth Madeley and Arthur Hughes star in this drama based on the true story of how one young couple forced an entire country to face up to its treatment of people with disabilities. When comedian and activist Barbara Lisicki met singer-songwriter and activist Alan Holdsworth in the early 1990s, the pair bonded over a shared frustration at the prejudicial and patronising way people like themselves were treated in Britain. They were also angry that disabled people didn’t have the same rights in law as everybody else. The pair decided to do something about it, and their first target was Telethon, the annual national charity fest, which tugged at the public’s heartstrings and presented disabled people as helpless, pitiful creatures. The couple toured the country, picketing anywhere that denied access to disabled people, finally setting their sights on Westminster. Their relentless campaign culminated in the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, but victory came at huge personal cost. The film, featuring a cast of disabled actors, tells the story of a historic battle for disability rights.

Monday, TG4, 9.30pm

In his recent 3-star review of this Irish-langague drama, IT film critic Donald Clarke worte: “A man (Peter Coonan) searches for his missing wife and baby on a remote Irish island. Ticking along in Scandi-style, this mystery forms itself into something like a pilot for a television show you wouldn’t watch. Or would you? Brid Brennan is wonderful as a retired copper who takes over the case. Like so many of the best fictional detectives, she has an unthreatening, unhurried manner that causes the guilty to let their guards down. Sadly, Brennan doesn’t get the plot she deserves. Too much of the film is taken up with folk talking to one another in uninspiring two-shots.”

The Bidding Room
Monday, BBC One, 8.30pm

The charming actor Nigel Havers is back with a new series of his antiques and collectibles show, welcoming three more sellers into the bidding room. As ever, the items range from the fantastic to the far-out, with the five dealers all competing to snag a signed Live Aid T-shirt from 1985, an anatomical model of a spider, and a Victorian commode cunningly disguised as a side-table. We hear from the owners about how they came to be in possession of such intriguing items. But will the dealers’ offers meet their expectations?

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Bake Off fans are in for another telly treat as a new bunch of big names fire up their Moulinexes for another celebrity cake challenge to raise lots of dough (groan) for cancer. You might be impressed with this list of celebrities, which includes DJ Annie Mac, actor Ben Miller, singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, TV presenter Laura Whitmore, Olympic athlete Mo Farah, and writer and TV presenter Ruby Wax. Naturally, judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith will be harder to impress, so the celebs will have to put all their baking skills to work to raise those much-needed funds. Presenters Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding are again on hand to lead their respective teams to greater gluten glory. And in a surprise (not anymore) twist, Lucas will swap sides for one episode to learn how hard a taskmaster Fielding can really be.

Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry
Tuesday, BBC Four, 9pm

This documentary employs experts to make the Bayeux Tapestry “speak” and better understand the multitude of characters, boats, horses and monuments in the 70m-long 11th-century embroidery. Archaeologists, historians, biologists, anthropologists and even astrophysicists ask whether the artefact is a reliable chronicler of history. What does the tapestry say about the common history between France and Britain that the countries have shared since 1066, as well as civilisational shifts around Europe?

The Simpler Life
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9.15pm

Given the events of the past two years, it’s easy to think about how much more relaxed we would be without the stresses of modern life, including social media and the 24-hours new cycle. This new series finds out whether going back to basics would really make us happier as it follows 24 ordinary Brits who have agreed to spend six months on a remote farmstead in Devon, living by the principles of the Amish community. In the first episode, the volunteers experience the satisfaction of honest physical toil, but it soon becomes clear that their frugal, technology-free lifestyle has its own challenges.

Act of Union
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

This 2021 British documentary on the conflicting narratives of the Troubles consists of newly filmed revelatory interviews cut alongside archive footage. Contributors are from various backgrounds and of unique lived experiences – former IRA volunteers, loyalist paramilitaries, crown forces, victims/ survivors, investigative journalists, politicians and various activists. Neil Clerkin’s film explores interpretive frameworks, trauma and resolve 100 years on from Ireland’s partition, and comes at a time when talk of reunification grows stronger.

Wednesday, BBC One, 8pm
In theory, the lockdowns of the past couple of years saw more people embracing cooking and trying out new recipes. But does this mean that we're now all much more skilled in the kitchen? We're about to find out as Gregg Wallace and John Torode welcome a new batch of talented amateurs to vye for the MasterChef title. For the first five weeks, nine home cooks will arrive, ready to cook for the judges. This year's first test is the Audition Round, which sees them rustling up the signature dish they hope will show who they are as a cook and highlight their potential. However, John and Gregg won't be in the MasterChef kitchen to watch them make it. Instead, they will sample each dish in the Tasting Room, judging solely on the plate in front of them.

Songs of the Open Road
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

The role Travellers have played in keeping many great songs alive – for everybody – has been crucial in shaping the folk tradition as we know it. This profile of Traveller singer Thomas McCarthy is directed by Pat Collins of Song of Granite and The Dance fame. McCarthy was born in 1965 in Birr, Co Offaly, where he learned his craft of singing from his grandfather, mother, aunts and uncles. He is the inheritor of a largely undocumented song tradition among the Irish and UK’s Traveller communities and has more than 1200 songs in his repertoire. At the age of 10, Thomas moved to London with his siblings and mother and lived in a halting site under the A40 in west London. McCarthy’s mother, Mary, was herself an exceptional singer and had a stall on the Portobello Road market for over 40 years,

During the course of the film McCarthy sings many songs, some known and some far less known even among the traditional music circle, among them Lough Erne’s Shore, McKenna’s Dream, Johnny Carey, Lady Margaret, What Put the Blood and Donal Kenny. We also hear his own song, Moving Us on Again, and his grandfather’s song, The Round Top Wagon. The documentary moves between London, where McCarthy lives, and Ireland. The camera follows him s as he sings in festivals, including the Drimoleague Singing Festival, and meets other singers on his travels.

In 2021, McCarthy initiated a song-collecting project with the Travelling community in conjunction with the Irish Traditional Music Archive, so these wonderful songs can be gathered before they are lost forever.

Love Your Garden
Thursday, ITV, 10.45pm
After last week's Grown Your Own special, Alan Titchmarsh returns with a new series, ready to create some stunning outside spaces for some very deserving people and to show that even the smallest plots can be beautiful. In the first episode, the team travel to Peterlee, Co Durham, to meet 90-year-old community hero Mary Ann Stevenson. They take inspiration from a rose garden Stevenson visited as a little girl to transform her current concrete plot into a fragrant place to relax, complete with an elegant courtyard and water feature.

Cornwall: A Year by the Sea
Thursday, Channel 5, 8pm
Cornwall's popularity as a summer tourist destination is well known, but in this new four-parter we get to see the county as a thriving and hard-working community all year round. Tonight's opener follows farming a father-and-son duo as the busy spring season gets underway with newborn piglets to rear and lambs to be rounded up. Meanwhile, spring at the Lusty Glaze beach is only the calm before the storm.

Not Going Out
Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm

It’s series No 999,999 of the longest-running sitcom ever, and Lee Mack is still as droll as ever as the eponymous Lee, who is still trying to navigate a path through midlife and falling into a few rabbit-holes along the way. The new series begins on an arty tone, as Wendy (Deborah Grant) unveils a painting she’s done of the late Frank, a year after his death. But Lee and Lucy (Sally Bretton) are not too enamoured with the likeness – should they give their honest opinion or keep the unvarnished truth to themselves? Just when you thought things had reached peak awkwardness, more nasty surprises await in Wendy’s paintbox. Will Mack’s magic carry the show through to series No 1,000,000? Of course it can – no exaggeration.

Earth's Great Rivers II
Friday, BBC Two, 9pm
The Danube, the second-longest river in Europe (after the Volga), has been described as the world's most international river due to its tributaries gathering water from 19 countries. Along its journey it takes in alpine forests, raging rapids, ancient kingdoms and diverse cultures, all the while linking people and nature. From the spectacular swarming of mayflies to the spawning of a rare, giant fish, the Danube offers many surprises, before it transforms into a spectacular wetland as it reaches the Black Sea.

Tutankhamun: Waking the Dead
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Prof Bettany Hughes takes an in-depth look at the body of the Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamun. Sure, no end of historians and archaeologists have done the same, but Hughes takes a forensic tack, combining over a century's worth of prior research with the latest in cutting-edge science and technology. Using this new evidence, the programme pieces together the fullest picture yet of Tutankhamun himself – who he was, what his life was like, and the world in which he lived.


The Eyes of Tammy Faye
From Wednesday, Disney+

Jessica Chastain has received rave reviews for her Oscar-nominated potrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker (later Messner) in this biopic. Faye was a Christian broadcasting legend in the US along with her televangelist husband, Jim Bakker. The pair were brought low by scandal when Bakker was unveiled as a fraudster. But Faye surprised many – and achieved redemption in the eyes of many more – by becoming an outspoken LGBT ally and supporting people with Aids during the 1980s. This film is a dramatisation of a 2000 documentary of the same name, and Chastain is indeed superb in the lead. Andrew Garfield also impresses as the slippery Bakker.

From Friday, Netflix
Dearest readers, it is my great pleasure to impart the good news that season two of your favourite period drama is about to grace our screens, and once again we will be privy to all the high society hi-jinks in Regency-era London. Lady Whistledown will return to bring us all the gossip and scandal from the ton, and this time her all-seeing eye is firmly fixed on Lord Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest Bridgerton sibling, who is ready to take a wife, but not ready to settle for just any young debutante. He's not necessarily looking for love, just the most strategic match-up. When the Sharma sisters – Kate and Edwina – arrive on the scene from India, it's game on as Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) works his charms on Edwina. But he comes up against big sister Kate (Simone Ashley), who suspects his real motives. Looks like a busy season ahead, with lots of secrets, lies, forbidden trysts and shocking revelations.

Arsene Wenger: Invincible
From Friday, Amazon Prime

Many millennials came of age in an era when English football was dominated by two men: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and his Arsenal counterpart, Arsene Wenger. Other teams had managers who would come and go, seemingly swapped around on a whim, whereas Ferguson and Wenger appeared to both have a job for life. The former has been the subject of countless documentary films, but this in-depth profile of Wenger’s glory years at the top of the English top flight contains all manner of new and fascinating insights into the man (and yes, the myth and the legend). Wenger himself contributes extensively, as do some of the biggest names in the sport from the years he managed.

From Friday, Apple TV

Asia has been rich pickings for entertainment in recent years, following Oscar-winning South Korean satire Parasite and the dark Netflix smash-hit Squid Game, both coming off the back of a global interest in K-pop music and a long-standing Japanese pop-culture undercurrent. Pachinko is a Korean-Japanese-American production, based on a best-selling novel of the same name by Min Jin Lee, following four generations of a Korean family who emigrate to Japan (Pachinko is a popular gambling game in the latter country). It’s written and exec-produced by Soo Hugh (The Terror, The Killing) and stars the Oscar-winning star of Minari, Youn Yuh-jung.

Contributing: PA