TV guide: 23 of the best shows to watch this week
Christmas cooking with Rory O’Connell, plus Maura Higgins on I’ll Get This and Garech Browne’s Luggala
A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley, Friday on BBC2
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
What happens when a 12-year-old boy is accused of murder? In a chilling echo of recent events close to home, this factual drama looks at one boy’s experience in the legal system as he goes on trial for a capital offence. Ray and his 23-year-old brother Nathan are arrested for stabbing their mother’s partner to death. Under English law, Ray is considered a “responsible child” and must be tried as an adult for murder. Billy Barratt plays the titular preteen in a drama based on a true story that promises to be both powerful and challenging. Costarring Michelle Fairley, Stephen Campbell Moore and Tom Burke
A Berry Royal Christmas
Monday, BBC1, 8.30pm
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge invite Mary Berry to accompany them on four special visits to charities they support, meeting staff who work throughout the festive season. Berry also prepare a feast for a Christmas party hosted by the William and Kate for the volunteers and gets help preparing the dishes from special guests, including former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain – and the royal couple themselves. Berry also cooks some of her favourite Christmas recipes for viewers to try out at home.
Sticks and Stones
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, Virgin One, 9pm
The workplace can be a real battlefield – you need all your wits about you to avoid having your wages slashed, your hours cut or your dreams of getting a promotion mashed into a pulp. Sticks and Stones explores how bullying takes hold in the workplace and destroys lives and careers. Ken Nwosu plays a hotshot exec Thomas Benson, whose team is trying to woo a big client. But when Benson’s nerves get the better of him and he blows the pitch, he is marked out as the weakest link, and feels his colleagues have teamed up to vibe him out of the job.
The Supervet at Christmas
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
The festive season may be upon us, but the vets at Noel Fitzpatrick’s clinic don’t have time to hang up stockings and eat turkey. Here cameras chart their efforts to bring a little festive cheer to the owners of poorly animals, including Gabanna, an 11-year-old Shih Tzu whose damaged discs are putting pressure on her spinal cord and nerves. Meanwhile, the leg of French bulldog puppy Lexi has been broken, and although it can be fixed, it may never develop properly. But the most heartrending story involves a German shepherd rescue puppy who has already lost one back leg. Now, as he struggles to walk, his family face an emotional and ethical dilemma.
The Undateables at Christmas
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Expect mistletoe and mirth as we catch up with some of the familiar faces from the series. Some of them are still looking for love; others are preparing for the most wonderful time of the year with somebody special by their side. Daniel (32) is celebrating his first anniversary as an engaged person with his fiance Lily. You may remember autistic Daniel’s standing as a rock star, and here he discusses his recent gigs, as well as his plans to surprise Lily. Plus: Christine plans to take charity worker Ray, who has a learning disability, to watch his beloved Leeds United, while Fran and Richard continue their search for true love.
The Brexit Storm Continues: Laura Kuenssberg’s Inside Story
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
Documentary on the tumultuous events of Boris Johnson’s government. The programme follows his appointment as leader of the Conservative party, his attempt to secure a new Brexit deal with the European Union, the attempted proroguing of parliament, an act subsequently declared unlawful, and the eventual calling of a general election. Featuring contributions from MPs on all sides, who reveal the pressure they have come under from an increasingly divided and frustrated electorate.
Charles I: Killing a King
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, BBC4, 9pm
Charles I was convicted of treason and beheaded on January 30th, 1649. This three-part documentary looks at the reasons for one of the most significant and controversial events in English history, with some viewing the execution as the martyrdom of an innocent man and others a vital step towards democracy. The first episode follows the events of Christmas 1648, when the king was visited at Windsor by the Earl of Denbigh, seeking to broker terms between the imprisoned monarch and an increasingly hardline parliament. When his visit was rejected, new legislation was drawn up to try the king for treason.
Garech Browne: Last Days at Luggala
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
An all-star cast joins in this tribute to the Guinness heir and owner of the iconic Luggala Estate in Co Wicklow, who died suddenly in 2018. With Browne’s death, Ireland lost a great patron of the arts, and a very colourful character who played a huge part in the modern revival of Irish traditional music. Browne had a privileged but unconventional childhood, surrounded by his mother Oonagh’s motley circle of friends, which included artists, intellectuals and academics. He ran away from an English public school and immersed himself in Irish life, wearing Aran sweaters and learning to play the pipes. He was instrumental in the formation of The Chieftains and set up Claddagh Records, building up a rich archive of Irish music. His brother Tara Browne was a well-known figure in Swinging ’60s London; after Tara’s death in a car crash, he was immortalised in the Beatles song A Day in the Life. Among the guests at Luggala over the years were The Rolling Stones, U2, John Boorman, Seamus Heaney and Brendan Behan. Sadly, the State did not purchase Luggala when it had the chance, and it was bought by a reclusive Italian count. But Browne has left us many stories from the world of music, art and society.
Wednesday, TG4, 5.35pm
In this documentary, Waterford native Leo De Moinbhíol provides a unique insight into a huge revolutionary project now taking place in Kurdistan in northern Syria. Irish and other international volunteers have joined the Rojava revolution against Islamic State to fight for the rights of oppressed Kurds. In this captivating documentary, we meet these volunteers and discovers what inspires them to help others despite the dangers.
Food Unwrapped: Cracking Christmas Guide
Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton, Matt Tebbutt and Helen Lawal present tips on how to feed family and friend better, cheaper and faster at Christmas. They test three novel turkey-cooking methods against the clock – including deep-frying a whole bird – and share time-saving tips for preparing parsnips. They explore whether champagne is worth its hefty price tag, investigate whether digestif drinks really do help after a big meal, and explore the psychology of why people can’t stop dipping into the chocolate box.
The Apprentice: Why I Fired Them
Wednesday, BBC One, 8pm
Ahead of tonight’s final, Alan Sugar reflects on the candidates who fell before the last hurdle and the challenges that proved to be their downfall. This year’s wannabe apprentices have tackled tasks ranging from securing sales on a South African safari to rebranding the country of Finland and creating their own brand of perfume. They have provided silver service on a luxury steam train, made a turtle talk and created ice lollies in the shape of male genitalia. Recalling the best and worst decisions made by the aspiring entrepreneurs, Lord Sugar reveals why he pointed his index finger and uttered the dreaded words, “You’re fired!”
My Grandparents’ War: Carey Mulligan
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
In the final episode, actor Carey Mulligan discovers what happened to her grandfather who travelled thousands of miles to fight the Japanese in the final months of the second World War. Denzil Booth lost his closest friends on board Britain’s biggest warship when it was the first to be attacked by a Japanese kamikaze. Later in the programme, Mulligan goes to Japan to understand the culture of the kamikaze from the other side, and learns of the horrors her grandfather faced when he arrived in Tokyo.
How to Cook Well at Christmas with Rory O’Connell
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm
So, here we are: the time has come to start planning your seasonal menus. You want to cook up the best food for your guests, but you don’t want to give them the same old same old. Telly chef Rory O’Connell is on hand with a new series showing you how to cook well at Christmas, and he’s got a couple of variations on the traditional fare. How about a nice, warming broth of red onion, bacon and kale with grilled bread croutons, perfect for staving off the winter chill? Or here’s an idea for using up leftover bird: a turkey and romanesco pilaf with chili and coriander. And you know that panettone you always get from Auntie Mary but never know what to do with? Rory will show you how to whip up a delicious grilled panettone and chocolate pudding. Right, now you know what you’re getting when you come round to my gaffe.
The Big Soap Quiz: Coronation Street v Emmerdale
Thursday, Virgin One, 9pm
From Sinead’s tear-jerking death in Coronation Street to the fallout from Nate and Moira’s affair on Emmerdale, it’s been another dramatic year on ITV’s big soaps. But have the actors been paying attention, or do they just learn their own lines, turn up and then forget all about it? Here teams from Weatherfield and the Dales go head to head to see who knows their serial best. Jack P Shepherd and Mark Charnock (aka David Platt and Marlon Dingle) are back as team captains. The rest of the Corrie contingent is made up of Sue “Audrey” Nicholls, Alan “Tyrone” Halsall and Alexandra “Emma” Mardell, while Emmerdale is represented by Mandy, Victoria and Jimmy aka Lisa Riley, Isabel Hodgins and Nick Miles.
Don’t Tell the Bride: Christmas in the Snow
Thursday, E4, 9pm
The reality series in which grooms-to-be organise every aspect of their wedding ceremony, with no input from the bride, returns with a festive special. Laid-back Liam is planning to wow fiancee Georgia with a spectacular winter-themed white wedding. However, almost 2000 miles away in Portugal, the bride-to-be is dreaming of a big day that incorporates sun, sand and sangria. Will Liam’s grand yuletide plan get the couple and their guests in the Christmas spirit, or will Georgia be tempted to freeze him out?
Heston’s Marvellous Menu: Back to the Noughties
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
For some people, 2001 probably doesn’t feel that long ago, but when it comes to food trends, it’s a whole other era. So, Giles Coren is setting chef Heston Blumenthal a real challenge when he asks him to recreate a 2001 tasting menu from his world-renowned restaurant, The Fat Duck. Heston won’t have to go it alone though – some of the original staff members will be returning to the kitchen to join the current team. The dining room will also be redecorated in turn-of-the-millennium style. Along the way, the chef will reflect on his own rise to culinary superstardom.
Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm
Daráine Mulvihill is Dáithí Ó Sé’s guest this week. At the age of 16, Mulvihill lost both her legs below the knee and all of her fingers after contracting an aggressive strain of meningitis and septicaemia. After spending a full year recovering in hospital, she learned how to walk again using prosthetic limbs. Her courage through the ordeal earned her a Person of the Year award in 2001 and an appointment to the Council of State by then president Mary McAleese. Mulvihill was among the Channel 4 presenters of the 2012 London Paralympics and presented RTÉ’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
I’ll Get This
Thursday, BBC2, 10pm
This series in which five celebrities go out for Christmas dinner together and between courses play a series of games, with the eventual loser having to pay for the meal, recently returned for a Children in Need special featuring the fearsome panel from Dragons’ Den. This festive edition has a more eclectic line-up. Taking part are Love Island star Maura Higgins, Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, comedian and TV presenter Joel Dommett, MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace, and actor and funnyman Les Dennis.
Celebrity Flirty Dancing for Stand Up to Cancer
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
Twice-divorced Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan longs to find love again and craves romance but is insecure about her age and her looks. Ashley Banjo pairs her with property manager Kevin, who is also divorced, creating a sensual and romantic dance in the picturesque grounds of a manor house. Made in Chelsea star Miles Nazaire, meanwhile, is matched with foodie and fitness vlogger Steph, who is looking for someone to share her fast-paced life with. Ashley choreographs a dance full of passionate moves, risky lifts, and racy eye contact, taking place at the historic Rivoli Ballroom in south London.
Coronation Street at Christmas
Friday, Virgin One, 9pm
A look at the rich seam of Weatherfield’s archive to showcase stories that entertained millions over the festive season for nearly six decades – from weddings and babies to flings and fights, not forgetting those Christmas dinner-disasters and poignant goodbyes. Contributors including Barbara Knox, Chris Gascoyne, Jane Danson, William Roache, Sue Nicholls, Simon Gregson, Jack P Shepherd, Helen Flanagan, Thelma Barlow and Julie Goodyear share their memories of watching numerous, big Christmas storylines. Narrated by Sue Johnston.
A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
Last week, historian Lucy Worsley explored the history of carols for BBC4. This week she’s acting as BBC2’s Ghost of Christmas Past as she takes us on a journey back to the reign of Henry VIII to learn how the Tudors celebrated the festive period. She will discover the traditions have endured to this day, and which have been lost over the centuries. With the help of food historian Annie Gray she’ll tuck into the Tudor equivalents of mince pies and Christmas cakes, try a few historic tipples and preside over a feast fit for a royal. She’ll also get to belt out a festive hit penned by Henry VIII and watch the 16th-century version of a Royal Variety Show. And it wouldn’t be a Lucy Worsley documentary if she didn’t get the chance to raid the dressing-up box.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are on the couch to plug Stars Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Henry Cavill talks about his new Netflix series The Witcher, and Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon promote their Gavin and Stacey Christmas special.
Ball & Boe: A Very Merry Christmas
Friday, UTV, 9.30pm
Last month, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe released their new album Back Together, which featured everything from a Queen medley to their take on Circle of Life from The Lion King. We should probably expect them to add a few festive favourites to their repertoire as they join forces for this Christmas extravaganza. They won’t be doing all the crooning themselves, as they are joined by actor Luke Evans, who recently followed in Boe’s footsteps by performing Bring Him Home on Strictly Come Dancing; singer-songwriter Gregory Porter; and Dame Shirley Bassey, the diva guaranteed to add a touch of glamour to any Christmas party.