TV guide: 23 of the best shows to watch this week
Trump: The Downfall, Quiz, Resident Alien, How to Be Good with Money, Penguin Bloom
Katie and Harvey Price, profiled in Katie Price: Harvey and Me, Monday on BBC1
The Trump Show: The Downfall
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Following on from last October’s acclaimed documentary series, this extra final instalment examines Donald Trump’s turbulent last months as president of the United States. We follow him as he attempts to win, and subsequently overturn the results of, the 2020 election, culminating in scenes of violent “insurrection” against the US Congress. Friends, advisers and close observers tell the story of Trump’s last days, from packed rallies – held against health advice as Covid besieges America – to riots on Capitol Hill. The film provides a blow-by-blow account of the final weeks of his administration and a psychological study of the diversive and controversial leader’s final days in power.
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
First shown last April on ITV, this hit three-part factual drama tells the story of how a British army major managed to cheat his way to the top prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Charles Ingram was an unlikely winner: not much cop at general knowledge, using up his lifelines very quickly, and prone to jumping around between possible answers before settling on his final one. The programme makers became suspicious, and when they looked back at footage of the show, they noticed that one audience member, Tecwen Whittock, coughed whenever Ingram uttered the correct answer. Ingram, his wife Diana (who was also in the audience) and Whittock were convicted of conspiring to win the prize by deception, their dream of becoming millionaires left on the cutting-room floor.
The producers of Quiz have phoned a few very famous friends, with Stephen Frears directing and Michael Sheen starring as Millionaire host Chris “Final Answer” Tarrant. Matthew Mcfadyen from Succession stars as Ingram, Sian Clifford from Fleabag as Diana Ingram, and Aisling Bea as ITV entertainment commissioner Claudia Rosencrantz.
Sunday, BBC2, 11.30pm
Lance Armstrong was an exulted hero to millions...before he become a hated cheater to millions more. This two-part documentary chronicles one of the most inspirational – and then infamous – athletes of all time. Using interviews and conversations with Armstrong himself, the two films tell the story of his rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist, his battle with testicular cancer, his recovery and emergence as a global star with seven consecutive Tour de France titles, and then his fall after he was exposed in a doping scandal.
Incredible Journeys with Simon Reeve
Sunday, BBC2, 8pm
Broadcaster and writer Simon Reeve has visited more than 100 countries on six continents, experiencing epic landscapes and uncovering moving and dramatic human stories. Now he revealsg behind-the-scenes moments and exploring some of the huge changes he’s witnessed while travelling around the world. In this first episode, Reeve focuses on some of the incredible characters he’s met, from the Burmese human-rights campaigner who took him on a dangerous undercover mission in 2010, to the homeless woman he met near Hollywood.
Monday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
It’s the second standalone special in this unusual drama series, in which teenager Rue Bennett (Zendaya) navigates the perilous terrain of adolescence and addiction. The action goes from anxiety-filled days to euphoric nights as the drugs take hold and the party vibes take over. Following her break-up with Jules (Hunter Schafer) in the first special, this new episode focuses on Jules as she reflects on the year gone by and what the future may hold. Teenagers thinking ahead? Sounds like we’ll have to suspend disbelief.
Monday, Virgin One, 9pm
Already running on ITV, the second series of The Bay stars Morven Christie as DS Lisa Armstrong, who’d been suspended from the force. She’s now back on the job but relegated to tackling menial tasks. However, she gets a chance to prove her worth following a shocking murder. Stephen Tompkinson, Sharon Small, Sunetra Sarker, James Cosmo and Joe Absolom costar.
Monday-Friday, BBC2, 6.30pm
On some quiz shows, it feels like the contestants are positively encouraged to talk viewers through their thought processes before offering an answer. However, if you prefer your game shows to just get on with it, then this new series may be for you, as the players don’t just have to be right – they also have to be quick. Comedian Zoe Lyons hosts as six plucky contestants compete across six rounds testing their general knowledge, quick thinking and speedy reactions. A spotlight will also be patrolling the studio, adding to the pressure, as they need to stay out of the light. The only way to escape it is to correctly answer a question or complete a physical task in time to pass it on to someone else.
Katie Price: Harvey and Me
Monday, BBC1, 11.15pm
It may seem like Katie Price has spent the past 20 years living in the full glare of the media, but there’s one aspect of her life that the model-turned-reality star has largely kept private and that’s the challenges involved in bringing up her son Harvey. He was born with Septo-optic dysplasia, a rare disorder that affects brain function, hormones and vision, and has a long list of medical and behavioural conditions. Now, as Harvey turns 18, his mother gives viewers an insight into some of the big decisions she faces about her son’s future, especially now that the people and places that have cared for him as a child are about to change. She gets advice from the parents of other disabled young adults and learns why the stakes are so high.
Celebrity Best Home Cook
Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm
We’ve all been cooking at home during lockdown. But what happens when celebrities are forced to venture down into their sculleries and knock up a bit of a banquet for themselves? Kitchen carnage is what. In this new series, 10 celebrities take up their spatulas for the mother of all food fights as they attempt a series of culinary challenges under the watchful eye of home-cooking queen Mary Berry, Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett, and produce prince Chris Bavin. The celebs include former politician Ed Balls, actors Ruth Madeley and Shobna Gulati, reality TV star Ferne McCann, former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, and the bould comedian and presenter Ed Byrne. Presiding over the whole socially distanced shebang is Claudia Winkleman (you know, the one whose shiny hair you’d give your spleen to have).
Among the tasks faced by the celeb chefs are Chris’s Rustle Up challenge, where you have to create a masterpiece with a surprise ingredient, and the dreaded Eliminator, where the cook must follow one of Hartnett’s recipes to the letter – or face getting Tipp-Exed out of the contest.
Tuesday, ITV, 9pm
Anna Friel is back as the eponymous detective, but is she really Marcella anymore? In this third season of the acclaimed series, Marcella is working undercover in Belfast. She has infiltrated the notorious Maguire crime family, run by ruthless matriarch Katherine (Amanda Burton), and who control the drug and people trafficking trade through the port. Marcella has taken on a new identity, Keira Devlin, and must play the part to the hilt to avoid being exposed. But as she remains in deep cover, and gets closer to the family, it’s hard to tell whether she’s playing a part or actually becoming her alias. The stakes are raised with the discovery of the bodies of 10 trafficked workers at the docks.
Tuesday, E4, 10pm
We’ve watched people watching telly on Gogglebox, but here’s another chance to watch people playing video games as Dead Pixels boots up for a second series. Rejoin the sad but hilarious lives of Meg, Nicky and Usman as they return to the world of Kingdom Scrolls, their favourite fantasy RPG (that’s role-playing game). There’s excitement in store for our gamers – a new instalment of Kingdom Scrolls is being released, promising a whole new level of role-playing fun. But never mind dragons and dark knights: the biggest peril our players face in this new world are the hordes of younger, hipper players who have migrated to this new medieval platform. Should Meg, Usman and Nicky just grow up and get on with living in the real world? Don’t be ridiculous.
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
How much radiation is dangerous? Dr Clare Kambamettu explores radiation exposure in Ireland and debunks some surprising myths. She’ll uncover where the real danger lies and what we can do to protect ourselves. If you thought your greatest risk of radiation exposure in Ireland was from Sellafield or nuclear power stations, you’d be wrong. Radiation is all around us, all the time, from nuclear power plant waste, radon from Ireland’s bedrock, phone masts, cosmic ray’s and 5G signals. But it turns out that the man-made radiation everyone is afraid of is not worth being worried about.
Secret Safari: Into the Wild
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Just when you thought TV had covered every aspect of the natural world it could, here comes a six-part documentary to change your mind. It offers an insight into the lives of the creatures living in Ol Pejeta, Kenya’s breathtaking conservancy, as seen through the eyes of those who know them best: the rangers who have cared for the 13,000 wild animals in the area from the moment they were born. The first episode introduces viewers to a hungry pride of lionesses struggling to survive following the disappearance of their best hunter. Meanwhile, the staff try to protect an endangered rhino’s newborn calf.
China and the Pandemic
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
A year ago we were hearing reports of a virus outbreak in Wuhan, a Chinese city most westerners had never heard of. Now it’s one of the most famous places on the planet. Wuhan, of course, is where the first cases of what’s now known as Covid-19 were discovered. This two-part documentary returns to the city to investigate what the authorities knew at the time and how much of it was made public. It reveals that, over the course of 54 crucial days, local officials announced the virus was under control – a claim that was soon disproved.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Nationwide hears stories from a very bleak time in European history as we remember the Holocaust and hear from a descendent of a survivor. Plus, closer to home we hear of the many Jews who once resided in Cork but whose numbers have dwindled in recent years.
Thursday, Sky One, 9pm
Harry Vanderspeegle is just another ordinary, everyday American guy with a faintly funny surname. Except he’s not. In this comedy based on the Dark Horse comic series, Harry (Alan Tudyk) is a malevolent extraterrestrial on a mission to destroy the human race. When he crash-lands in Colorado, however, he has to pose as an Earthling to avoid detection – and let’s say he’s not very good at getting into character. He passes himself off as a small-town doctor, but his new neighbours find him a tad odd, to say the least. When the local cops recruit him to help solve a murder, Harry finds himself embracing the role of crime-fighting medic with gusto. Perhaps it’s all those dead humans – catnip for alien invaders. Soon, though, he’s starting to question his mission as he becomes more fascinated by human foibles. Sure once you get to know us, you’d never want to annihilate us.
How to Be Good with Money
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Eoin McGee works closely with a diverse range of people with very different financial goals in this eight-part series. The current pandemic has created financial uncertainty for many but has also seen savings rise significantly. Now, more than ever, financial advice, planning and knowhow are vital. Through the series McGee meets a small business owner struggling to stay afloat in the pandemic; a couple in the process of downsizing their home as they head for retirement; a young couple who dream of getting married and owning their own home; a couple worried about the financial fallout from a recent health event; a single mum struggling with debt; a couple who want to grow their family and remain financially secure; a family of four who long for their own space; and a couple planning to finance a self-build.
The Hunt for Raoul Moat
Thursday, Channel 5, 11.05pm
Ten years after Raoul Moat’s murderous rampage in Northumberland, this documentary looks at the events surrounding his shooting spree, which unfolded on rolling news channels and was watched by people all over Britain. During the summer of 2010, the former convict, bouncer and tree surgeon shot his former partner and killed her boyfriend, before shooting and blinding policeman David Rathband, and taking his his own life. This film explores how Moat was finally found, as well the consequences for those caught up in the violent and tragic events.
Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America
Friday, BBC4, 10pm
Hip-hop has long crossed over into the mainstream, but it still maintains its power to stir up controversy and debate, as well as push musical boundaries. This new series takes a closer look at some of the most influential and groundbreaking tracks the genre has produced, exploring the stories behind them, the social conditions that led to their composition and the reasons they had such an impact. The opening double bill is followed by the chance to hear more classics in Hip Hop at the BBC.
From Tuesday, Netflix
You can track your growing up via train-based dramas, starting with Thomas the Tank Engine, moving through The Polar Express, to Murder on the Orient Express, all the way to this sci-fi drama about a perpetually moving train containing the last remnants of the human race. The planet has frozen over and the only way to avoid becoming a human ice-cube is to stay on the train and keep circling the Earth non-stop. But of course, hierarchies and political machinations develop along the train’s 1,001 carriages, and power struggles threaten the very survival of the train’s occupants.
In season two, a shaky peace settles over Snowpiercer, and things seem to be chugging along okay, but when news that the malevolent Mr Wilford (Sean Bean) is bearing down on Snowpiercer with his own train, Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) ventures outside on a mission to stop Wilford in his tracks. She’d better bring a scarf – it’s brassers out there.
From Friday, Netflix
Historians, fans of true-life drama and those who love homegrown movies should lap up this period drama. It’s based on John Preston’s novel of the same name, which in turn was inspired by – but reimagines the events surrounding the discovery of Sutton Hoo, the site of two early medieval cemeteries unearthed in Suffolk in 1939. Carey Mulligan stars as Edith Pretty, a wealthy widow with a young son who, following the death of her husband, has become interested in spiritualism. She hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a self-taught local archaeologist, to excavate mounds found on the estate bequeathed to her. He eventually unearths incredible long-lost finds; as the war looms, echoes of Britain’s past begin to resonate in its uncertain future. Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ken Stott and Monica Dolan co-star.
From Friday, Apple TV+
Justin Timberlake heads the cast of this compelling drama directed by Fisher Stevens, an Oscar-winning documentary-maker. Timberlake plays Eddie Palmer, a former college football star with a bright future ahead of him – until a moment of madness puts him in prison for 12 years. On his release, he returns to his roots in Louisiana and moves in with his grandmother; she encourages him to start rebuilding his life – which proves to be far from easy. However, Eddie begins to reconnect with the world about him after becoming the unlikely father figure to a hard-living neighbour’s precocious son. Juno Temple, Alisha Wainwright, Ryder Allen and June Squibb co-star.
From Friday, Netflix
Sam Bloom was a happily married Sydney-based nurse and mother-of-three who had travelled extensively and was a regular runner, swimmer, biker and surfer until her life was changed forever. In 2013, during a family holiday in Thailand, she leaned against a rotten balcony railing, fell through it and landed 6 metres below – on concrete. Sam was lucky to be alive, but suffered devastating injuries that left her paralysed from the waist down. Naomi Watts plays her in this moving biopic that charts how Sam overcame a bout of depression caused by the accident with help from an unlikely source: a wounded baby magpie named Penguin, which had been adopted by her children. The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln co-stars as her husband with Jacki Weaver as her mother.