TV guide: 23 of the best shows to watch this week

The Curious Works of Roger Doyle, I Am Victoria, Fleadhfest ’21, Cruel Summer

Irish documentary The 8th, Wednesday on RTÉ2

Irish documentary The 8th, Wednesday on RTÉ2

 

Blind Ambition
Sunday, BBC2, 10.30pm
Do you need good eyesight to make great art? And how do artists react when their vision deteriorates? Those are the main questions in this one-off programme in which two visually impaired creative people explore how others cope with losing their sight. TV director-producer Jamie O’Leary, who is facing eye surgery that could potentially lead to sight loss, hooks up with blind Glaswegian stand-up comedian Jamie MacDonald to bring light and shade to facing blindness. They embark on a “blind leading the nearly blind” road trip, meeting professional photographer Ian Treherne; a young rapper from Reading called Stoner; and Chris Fisher, the UK’s only completely blind professional woodturner.

Come Dine with Me
Monday-Fri, Channel 4, 5pm
Since its launch in 2005, Come Dine with Me has provided no end of awkward dinner interactions, cooking disasters and bizarre early evening entertainment. Here five contestants from in and around Basingstoke have a go at hosting dinner parties. First up is marketing manager and maths enthusiast Nicole, who hopes to wow her guests with a culinary nod to her roots and is throwing in a disco for good measure. Her foodie journey takes us from Lebanon back to the UK via the Caribbean. But will it impress her guests?

Jerk
Monday, BBC1, 11.05pm

Tim Renkow in Jerk
Tim Renkow in Jerk

The comedy returns for a second series. Having narrowly escaped deportation to the US, Tim (Tim Renkow) is back in the UK and enrolled on a post-graduate course in London. Tim bumps into uber liberal activist student Bobbiey, who is desperate to be Tim’s friend and add another “minority” member to her gang. However, Tim can’t resist exploiting her, claiming that he identifies as able-bodied. Naturally, this backfires when Tim is subjected to a full day proving just what he’s “capable of”. Then, following a car accident, Tim is referred for personal training but gets more than he bargained for.

The Curious Works of Roger Doyle
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 11pm

Roger Doyle in action
Roger Doyle in action

It’s been 40 years since Doyle’s Oizzo No album was a fixture on my rickety old turntable. I was both confused and fascinated by this strange collection of bleeps, bumps, grinds, scrapes and looped snatches of conversation. What I didn’t realise was that this was a blueprint for a a generation of hauntologists, sampling found sounds and ghostly noises. Film-maker Brian Lally was also one of many “beguiled, intrigued and perplexed” by Doyle’s works, and this documentary, shot over 10 years, attempts to partially decode Doyle’s sonic vision, and get inside the head of one of Ireland’s most pioneering – and underrated – sound alchemists.

The film, originally released in cinemas in 2019 and presented here in a shorter version, follows Doyle as he prepares to stage an ambitious electronic opera, appropriately called Heresy. We watch the process of rehearsing and refining the production, and witness the “spectacular” opening night. Along the way we’ll take a trip through the long and fertile career of the man dubbed “the Godfather of Irish electronica”. Prepare to be puzzled and amazed.

Write Around the World with Richard E Grant
Tuesday, BBC4, 9pm
My kids know him as nasty ol’ Allegiant general Enric Pryde in Star Wars; my generation knows him as the drunken Withnail. In this new series, viewers will get to know Richard E Grant’s bookish side, as he travels the world with a passport in one hand and a bestselling novel in the other. In the first of three parts, Grant is in southern Italy following the footsteps of the great authors who found inspiration in Italy’s rich culture, history and landscape. He starts his journey in Naples, a place that influenced Charles Dickens, then climbs Vesuvius, a towering character in Richard Harris’s novel Pompeii, then down the Amalfi coast, where American crime writer Patricia Highsmith found the inspiration for deadly dilettante Tom Ripley. Presumably, Grant won’t complain that he went on holiday by accident, but he may certainly find some of the finest wines known to humanity.

The Equaliser
Tuesday, Sky Witness & NowTV, 9pm

Queen Latifah in The Equalizer
Queen Latifah in The Equalizer

Here’s a reboot of the 1980s TV series which starred Edward Woodward as the avenger who helps people in trouble while staying under the official law enforcement radar. The producers needed someone serious to step into the Woodward role, and that job has gone to none other than actor and hip-hop star Queen Latifah. She plays ex-CIA operative Robyn McCall; outwardly she seems your average single mom raising a teenage daughter. But those who need her help know McCall as a bad-ass angel of retribution with a particular set of skills, who will stop at nothing to hunt down the bad guys. In the first episode, Robyn meets a teenage girl who has been framed for murder and is on the run from the real killers.

The Boy Who Can’t Stop Dancing
Tuesday, Channel 4, 11.05pm

Tom Oakley competing on the BBC’s Greatest Dancer
Tom Oakley competing on the BBC’s Greatest Dancer

Tom Oakley grabbed Britain’s attention last year when he took part in the BBC’s Greatest Dancer competition. Not only was he a talented performer, he was also an inspirational figure to many young people who, like him, have cystic fibrosis, which impacts on his ability to breathe and digest food. Years of training have improved the teenager’s health, and a new drug could prove to be life-changing. But what Tom really dreams of is landing a coveted spot at the world-famous Rambert dance school. Here, cameras follow his progress as he undergoes its demanding auditions process; he also discusses the impact that leaving behind his friends and family would have if he proved to be successful.

How Healthy Is Your Gut?
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
According to recent research, gut problems cost British businesses some £3 billion a year, with constipation alone creating a £150 million NHS bill. Makers of laxatives are presumably banking it, but Sabrina Grant wants to know if there’s a way to get everyone up and moving again by making changes to their lives. Six human guinea pigs – all of whom suffer from some kind of gut-related issue – are on hand to try out the most popular remedies around, from diets to colonic hydrotherapy and a 10-night intense detox at an Ayurvedic retreat. Grant also investigates why having good gut health is crucial to other areas of our lives, including our moods, energy, sleep, health and overall wellbeing.

The 8th
Wednesday, RTÉ2, 9.35pm
On May 25th, 2018, the Irish electorate voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, bringing to an end a constitutional ban on abortion and paving the way for Ireland to catch up with the rest of the world in respecting women’s reproductive autonomy. But the repeal of the Eighth did not happen overnight; overturning one of the world’s most restrictive laws against abortion was the culmination of years of campaigning and bitter, divisive debate. This documentary explores the political and cultural history of the abortion debate, following academic, feminist and LGBTQ activist Ailbhe Smyth as she tirelessly campaigns for repeal as the co-director of Together for Yes referendum campaign.

Tabú: Ag Seasamh an Fhóid
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

John Kehoe and James Connolly stack turf to dry on a bog outside Portarlington in October 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson ..
John Kehoe and James Connolly stack turf to dry on a bog outside Portarlington in October 2015. Photograph: Alan Betson ..

As the peat harvesting industry comes to an end, what will be the effects on people and the communities built on it? This documentary is about conflict and a changing Ireland. Is there any room for people or community in a sustainable Ireland? Will the death of the bogs be death of the midlands?

George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations
Wednesday, 4, 9pm
The architect is in West Yorkshire, where Rachel has bought a former police station for an absolute steal. It needs a lot of work – among one of the “features” is a very dated 1980s reception area, which you imagine will be one of the first things to be removed. Rachel, who runs her own fashion business, is a rookie renovator, but she’s got good backing: her boyfriend Mike is a builder. They hope to turn the property into a stunning home, although changing a barred cell into a luxury bathroom is just one challenge.

I Am Victoria
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Suranne Jones in I Am Victoria
Suranne Jones in I Am Victoria

In 2019, writer-director Dominic Savage’s female-led anthology I Am became C4’s most successful new 10pm drama in six years. The series is back for three more episodes and has attracted some big names to take the lead roles. Oscar-nominee Lesley Manville will star in I Am Maria, while Letitia Wright of Black Panther and Small Axe fame takes the title role in I Am Danielle. But the trilogy begins with I Am Victoria, starring Bafta-winning Suranne Jones alongside Ashley Walters. Like the other episodes, it was developed by Savage and the cast, and features improvised dialogue, which in this case is used to explore the anxieties of a seemingly successful woman who needs help but doesn’t know where to find it.

Undercover Big Boss
Thursday, ITV, 9pm
The series Undercover Boss first appeared on Channel 4 in 2009 and ran for five years. It was such a success that countries all over the world launched their own versions. If you missed the various different iterations, it sees chief executives and company bosses learning what’s really happening on the shop floor as they pose as low-level employees at their own businesses. Only this time, due to the pandemic, the stakes are arguably higher than ever. First up is Alfie Best, owner of Wyldecrest Parks, the largest caravan and park home operator in Europe. Unlike many business owners, he’s recently experienced something of a boom as more people choose to holiday in the UK. Here he’s on a mission to find out if his staff are making the most of the opportunity.

Buffering
Thursday, ITV2, 10pm

Iain Stirling and costars in Buffering
Iain Stirling and costars in Buffering

Love Island narrator Iain Stirling has got himself his own sitcom. Buffering follows children’s TV presenter Iain, who is in a “complicated relationship” with producer Olivia (Elena Saurel). His housemates are Rosie (Jessie Cave), Greg (Paul G Raymond), Ashley (Rosa Robson) and Thalia (Janine Harouni). Over six episodes the characters face the daily challenges of millennial living, beginning as Iain launches himself into the dating scene. Meanwhile, Greg naively enlists Thalia to help him to sext Ashley, and Rosie plays scrabble with her dead boss.

My Cornwall with Fern Britton
Thursday, Channel 5, 8pm
Fern Britton was born in London but Cornwall has always had a special place in her heart. She first fell in love with the county as a child during a holiday to Looe, so where better to start this two-part documentary exploring just what makes the region so special? Of course, there will be trips to the beach, but Fern is also hoping to look beyond the bucket and spades to find out more about how Cornwall became such a unique place, with its own language, culture, traditions and ancient myths.

Fleadhfest ’21
Friday-Sunday, TG4. 9.30pm

Matt Cranitch, Donal Murphy & Tommy O’Sullivan of Fleadhfest ‘21
Matt Cranitch, Donal Murphy & Tommy O’Sullivan of Fleadhfest ‘21

Hang on to your caipins – Fleadhfest ’21 kicks off in Sligo tomorrow, the first-ever virtual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, and TG4 will be along for the ride with a weekend extravaganza of song, music and dance from home and abroad, presented by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin and Dáithí Ó Sé .There’s a diverse mix of talent on show over the three nights, including Máirtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden & Seamie O’Dowd, West Ocean String Quartet with Iarla Ó Lionáird & Una Monaghan, Sliabh Notes and Joanie Madden. Whether it’s live, online or on the telly, there’s one thing for sure: the craic will be mighty.

Epic Wales: Valleys, Mountains & Coasts
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
No sooner has Michael Ball finished his tour of Wonderful Wales on Channel 5, then another Friday night series comes along exploring the country. This time the focus is on the people who live and work in and around Wales’s three national parks: from the heights of Snowdonia to the mountains and moorlands of the Brecon Beacons and the rugged coast of Pembrokeshire. Some have been there for generations and others are new arrivals, but they all have a deep attachment to their part of Wales. Among the people featured in the first episode is sheep and cattle farmer Rhodri Jones.

Gardeners’ World
Friday, BBC2, 8pm
Although many of us have enjoyed the warm weather in July, we’re now into August – and autumn isn’t too far away. Before the leaves turn brown, Monty Don is keeping on top of seasonal maintenance at Longmeadow. Meanwhile, Adam Frost travels to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent to view a new area of the garden which was inspired by a visit to the Greek island of Delos. And in West Sussex, there are tips on growing the perfect dahlia from a grower with over 50 years of experience.

Being Freddie Mercury: Under Pressure
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
As the frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury was clearly a natural showman who appeared to relish the limelight. Since his death in 1991, his legend has continued to grow, as he was also the subject of the hit biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. But just how well do we really know the man who was born Farrokh Bulsara? With the help of a psychiatrist and some of those who knew the singer best, this documentary sets out to explore the gap between Mercury’s public image and the complex, private man that few ever saw.

ON DEMAND

Cooking with Paris
From Wednesday, Netflix
This might just be the ultimate reality programme and, like some of the recipes it showcases, won’t be to everyone’s taste. As the title suggests, Paris Hilton, who has tried her hand at modelling, acting and singing, now gets busy in the kitchen. She’s not a trained chef and nor is she trying to be. With the help of her celebrity friends, Hilton navigates new ingredients, new recipes and an array of exotic (and sometimes complex) kitchen appliances. Inspired by her viral YouTube video, Paris will take viewers from the grocery store to the finished table spread – and she might actually learn her way around the kitchen along the way.

Cruel Summer
From Friday, Amazon Prime

Olivia Holt and Chiara Aurelia in Cruel Summer
Olivia Holt and Chiara Aurelia in Cruel Summer

The title is from a 1980s song, but this psychological thriller series is set in the 1990s, and spans three summers when social media was your phone or pager, and tweeting was something your pet canary did. Teenager Kate has mysteriously gone missing and, as she was both beautiful and popular, we wonder if some jealous rival out there might be involved in her disappearance. Enter Jeanette, awkward and frumpy, who has a sudden transformation and takes over Kate’s position as the town’s most po pular girl, and naturally we wonder if she might have something to do with it. Everyone else wonders that as well, and Jeannette soon finds herself becoming America’s Most Hated. All will no doubt unfold over the series’ 10 episodes, executive produced by Jessica Biel and Michelle Purple, and we are equally in doubt that many questions will be left unresolved at the end, just to make room for a possible second series.

Mr Corman
From Friday, Apple TV+

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mr Corman
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mr Corman

Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-directs, co-produces and stars in this darkly funny, oddly beautiful and deeply heartfelt comedy drama. The 10 episodes follow Josh Corman, an artist at heart but not by trade. His dream of a career in music didn’t pan out, so instead he’s teaching at a school in the San Fernando Valley. On top of that, his ex-fiance (Juno Temple) has moved out and his high school buddy has moved in. Aware that he still has a lot to be thankful for, Josh nevertheless struggles with feelings of anxiety, loneliness and self-doubt. The show speaks for the current generation of thirtysomethings: rich with good intentions, poor with student loans, and working to become grown-ups before they’re pensioners. Debra Winger co-stars.

The Devil’s Throat
From Friday, All 4
In a sleepy town with a bloody history, a criminal profiler and an ambitious local detective investigate a series of mysterious crimes in the Walter Presents strand’s first-ever Bulgarian series (original title: (D)evil’s Throat: Djavolskoto Garlo). At the height of Bulgaria’s refugee crisis, the body of a retired border guard is found by the side of a lake. On the case are a local police officer and a national security agent, who learn that the victim had been helping people across the border. The local prosecutor is keen to pin the murder on a refugee – until another body is found and a horrific secret is unearthed.

Contributing: PA

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