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

Ireland’s Fittest Family finale, Unforgotten, Finné, Dating No Filter, Big Sky, Billie Eilish

James Nesbitt in the Northern-set Bloodlands, premiering Sunday on BBC1

James Nesbitt in the Northern-set Bloodlands, premiering Sunday on BBC1

 

Bloodlands
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
This is probably the easiest quiz question ever: which actor stars as a battle-hardened cop on the hunt for a serial killer in the BBC’s gritty new crime drama set in Belfast? It is of course the first name that popped into your head: James Nesbitt. The star of Cold Feet takes on the role of DCI Tom Brannick, whose investigation into a kidnapping leads him to reopen a long-cold case that’s very personal to him. When a car is fished out of Strangford Lough, Brannick discovers a link to a semi-mythical killer from the past known only as Goliath. Brannick knows the case only too well – his own wife was one of Goliath’s victims. Now, with help from partner DS Niamh McGovern (Charlene McKenna), Brannick goes on the hunt for Goliath, a quest that takes him to some of the most scenic and most run-down parts of Belfast, and to the darkest corners of the city’s recent history. The starry supporting cast includes Lorcan Cranitch, Ian McIlhinney, Lisa Dwan, Chris Walley and Susan Lynch.

The series, written by Chris Brandon and coproduced by Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio, “will show Northern Ireland in a different light for people, on both sides of the water,” says Nesbitt.

Ireland’s Fittest Family
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
It’s the final push on the familial fitness challenge, and the field has been whittled down to just four families: the Allens from Tipperary, the Mileys from Westmeath, and the Mahoneys and the Cullens, both from Wexford. But who will be the last clan standing? The four families will have to face their greatest obstacle yet: The Mountain. Under the guidance of mentors Davy Fitzgerald, Donnacha O’Callaghan and Derval O’Rourke, they’ll be put through their gruelling paces over two “epic” days via a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges, including Mountain Madness, where they’ll have to move barrels up the side of the mountain; the Speed Wall, involving getting up 60-degree incline fast; and Mountain Escape, where they’ll have to lug a log to the top of a hill. At the end of it all, only one family will walk (or hobble) away with the €15,000 prize and the title of Ireland’s Fittest Family. (Sorry, I don’t get off the sofa for anything less than 20 grand.)

Sruth
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

Méabh Smyth on Sruth
Méabh Smyth on Sruth

Narrated by legendary singer Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, Sruth unearths eight exceptionally talented young musicians from Ireland and Scotland, creating a platform to showcase their skills, while giving them the opportunity to collaborate with legendary figures such as Duncan Chisholm and Ríoghnach Connolly. Meabh Smyth from Armagh and Innes White from Dingwall will be featured in this program.

Go Gasta
Sunday, TG4, 8.30pm
Two teams of six from two different parishes where local rivalry exists on the football pitch go head to head to see who is the strongest and fastest team. In this episode we are in Co Galway, where Kinvara take on Clarinbridge.

Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins
Sunday, BBC2, 8pm
Some species in the animal kingdom seem to have a greater mental capacity than others, but what has driven them to evolve such intelligence? In each episode of this six-part series, Chris Packham explores a different skill, honing in on some of the most cunning creatures, communicators, builders, social networkers, con artists and travellers. He starts with the crow family, who are famed for their intelligence. Packham sets a common raven a puzzle but, as smart as this bird is, he has a cousin, the New Caledonian crow, which is set to take his mastermind crown. Plus, Samadi Galpayage shows how a bee can add up in a similar way to how humans count on their fingers.

Jamie: Keep Cooking Family Favourites
Monday, Channel 4, 8.30pm

Jamie Oliver in Jamie: Keep Cooking Family Favourites
Jamie Oliver in Jamie: Keep Cooking Family Favourites

For anyone who feels they’ve exhausted their cooking repertoire over the past year, Jamie Oliver is back with a new series. He’s taking familiar ingredients and finding new ways to use them, and he’ll also offer us a glimpse into life in the Oliver household. The chef begins by reinventing the roast chicken by combining it with the flavours of another family favourite: margherita pizza. He cooks it over a juicy bed of ripe tomatoes, sprinkling it with basil, and serving with giant mozzarella-stuffed gnocchi for a summery dish. There’s also a recipe for turning the Oliver clan’s takeaway favourite prawn toast into a toastie that’s perfect for sharing, served with sweet chilli sauce and a quick cucumber pickle.

Unforgotten
Monday, ITV, 9pm

Sanjeev Bhaskar and Nicola Walker in Unforgotten
Sanjeev Bhaskar and Nicola Walker in Unforgotten

Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar return for a fourth series of the acclaimed crime drama, which begins when a dismembered body is found in a North London scrapyard. Thanks to a distinctive tattoo, the team, led by Sunny (Bhaskar), identify the victim as Matthew Walsh, who went missing 30 years earlier. They also discover that the body had been frozen and was transported to the scrapyard in a freezer purchased by the recently deceased Robert Fogerty, who has a drink-driving conviction from March 30th, 1990 – the night Matthew disappeared. There were also four other passengers in the car, and so we are introduced to a quartet of people who could be connected to the case. Meanwhile, Cassie (Walker) is forced to put her retirement plans on hold as her father’s early dementia appears to be getting worse.

Into the Storm: Surfing to Survive – Storyville
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
Shot and directed by Adam Brown over five years, this award-winning documentary charts the journey of troubled Peruvian teenager Jhonny Guerrero. It follows him from the age of 14 in a crime-ridden barrio as he battles demons and the lures and dangers of the ghetto to achieve the impossible: becoming a professional surfer and raising his family out of poverty. Eventually he earns a spot at former World Champion Sofia Mulanovich’s surfing school, but he is haunted by the guilt of leaving his old life behind.

Us
Tuesday, RTE Two, 10.15pm

Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves in Us
Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves in Us

So, you’ve got the family holiday booked, all the stuff is packed and ready, when the wife drops a bombshell: she wants to end the marriage. Sheesh, couldn’t she have said something before all the money was shelled out on flights and hotels? This comedy-drama series, which first aired on BBC1 last September, is based on the novel by David Nichols. Tom Hollander plays soon-to-be-dumped husband Douglas, with Saskia Reeves as his soon-to-leave wife Connie. When Douglas agrees to go ahead with their family trip to Europe, he hatches a plan: win back his wife and fix his troubled relationship with their son Albie. Sounds like there won’t be much time left for sightseeing.

Million Pound Pawn
Tuesday, ITV, 8pm
As we deal with an economic crisis, more people could be considering pawning a valuable item. This new series explores the world of pawnbroking from both the perspective of those in the business and the public looking to part with their prized possessions. In the first episode, pawnbroker Ray meets a business owner who wants a big-money return on his exclusive Lamborghini; but can Ray meet the client’s expectations and make a profit? In Sheffield, pawnbroker Dan meets divorcee Fran, who is looking to sell a watch she inherited. If it’s genuine, it could raise a life-changing amount, but the market in fakes is booming, and Dan needs expert advice to ensure it’s the real deal. Meanwhile, a former ’80s pop star meets Kathy, one of just a few female pawnbrokers in the industry, to raise some cash.

Blitz Spirit with Lucy Worsley
Tuesday, BBC1, 8.30pm
Britain likes to pride itself on its “Blitz spirit” – to use another second World War-era phrase, our ability to “keep calm and carry on” in a crisis. In this documentary, historian Lucy Worsley finds out what it was really like to experience that terrifying period of history, using accounts from six people who lived, worked and volunteered during the Blitz, which lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. During those eight months, German planes dropped 32,000 tonnes of bombs on British cities, killing 44,652. Drawing on archive footage and biographies and oral history collections, Mass Observation records and private unpublished diaries, Lucy explores the suffering ordinary people endured as well as their remarkable resilience in the face of such horrors.

Finné
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

Peter Mulryan, profiled on Finné
Peter Mulryan, profiled on Finné

Peter Mulryan was born in the Regional Hospital, Galway in 1944. Years later, when he was due to marry, he became curious about his birth mother. This curiosity led him on a journey from the home in Tuam to the Magdalene laundries in Galway, where he found his mother to be hopelessly institutionalised, but managed to form a relationship with her prior to her death. It wasn’t until he met local historian Catherine Corless in Tuam that he discovered that he may have a sister.

Beidh Aonach Amárach
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm
Edel and Brendan McCawley are pedigree Angus farmers from Co Leitrim who compete every year at the agricultural shows. The documentary goes on a trip down memory lane with John and Eileen Gallagher, a couple from Donegal who have been dancing with each other for more than 40 years. There is a huge gap in show organiser Niamh Seoighe’s summer calendar this year, but she is keeping busy on the farm and in the local distillery.

Murder in a Small Town
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
In 2003, Luke Mitchell was accused of brutally murdering 14-year-old schoolgirl Jodi Jones. He maintains his innocence to this day and now, after 17 years, two former detectives who now work as private investigators work together to re-examine the police and prosecution’s case against Mitchell. In this new two-parter, they uncover information that could possibly cast doubt on the verdict, including new evidence which emerged from a witness who was living in the area at the time, and details of another male’s DNA found at the scene.

Dating No Filter
Thursday, Sky One/Now TV, 10pm

Daisy Mae Jones and Susan Wokoma in Dating No Filter
Daisy Mae Jones and Susan Wokoma in Dating No Filter

Just what you need on a first date: some comedian standing at your shoulder making wisecracks about your cack-handed attempts at charm and seduction. In yet another twist on the traditional dating show, our romancing couples are joined by a greek chorus of top comedians, who give a flirt-by-flirt commentary on how the singletons are faring on their date. Expect cruel honesty and unfiltered opinions from a panel that includes Daisy May Cooper, Joel Dommett, Josh Widdicombe, Susan Wokoma, Tom Allen, Suzi Ruffell and Rosie Jones. Presumably the daters can’t actually hear what is being said about them as they desperately try to come across as smooth and suave – not easy when some of the date nights involve axe-throwing, pole-dancing and goat-tending.

Grayson’s Art Club
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm

Grayson Perry in Grayson's Art Club
Grayson Perry in Grayson's Art Club

Who wants to join Grayson Perry’s art club? Everybody it seems. When the British artist and his wife, psychotherapist Philippa Perry, invited viewers into their studio in 2020, lots of people jumped at the chance to get a good peek inside the inner sanctum of one of the most interesting and intriquing artists working today. Who else can add ceramics, cross-dressing and incisive cultural criticism to their palette? This second series of Grayson’s Art Club sees the Perrys once again opening their studio doors; among the celebrity guests will be Boy George, Derren Brown, Johnny Vegas, Sue Perkins, Nigella Lawson and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The idea is that the celebs (and the viewers) are invited to create artworks on various themes dreamed up by Grayson and gain some insights into the creative process that leads to great art. There will also be virtual visits to other artists’ studios, including Yinka Illori, Rose Wylie and David Bailey. If you’re not at least inspired to a greater appreciation of art, then you must be completely artless altogether.

Gogglebox
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
Back for a new (17th) series, Britain’s favourite armchair critics cast their wry eyes over the week’s small-screen events. Over the years, this format has actually wound up spawning almost as many celebs as it has commented on, and it must be strange for some of the longer-serving contributors to see, and pass judgment on, the likes of ex-Goggleboxer Scarlett Moffatt. Strange, and presumably slightly frustrating. Still, there’s plenty of time for the current crop to make an impression as they set about dissecting another week’s viewing.

St David’s Day at the BBC
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
To celebrate St David’s Day on March 1st, this trip through the BBC’s music archives features tracks from top Welsh artists of the past few decades. It includes performances from Blackwood band Manic Street Preachers, Cardiff’s Catatonia and Super Furry Animals, Brynmawr singer-songwriter Marina & the Diamonds, and Newport indie rock group Feeder. Plus, there are classics from Pontypridd-born crooning legend Sir Tom Jones, as well as Tiger Bay’s finest Dame Shirley Bassey, Ely entertainer Shakin’ Stevens and husky-voiced Skewen singer Bonnie Tyler.

ON DEMAND

Big Sky
From Tuesday, Star

Kylie Bunbury in Big Sky
Kylie Bunbury in Big Sky

Disney+ launches its new, more grown-up channel, simply called Star, so when the kids grow out of The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, they can move on to some more mature material (not too mature, mind; the Mouse is still watching). Star will stream such classic TV series as Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family, along with originals such as Big Sky, based on the crime novels of CJ Box. Set in the wide open spaces of Montana, this is the story of private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt (Kylie Bunbury and Ryan Phillippe), who are investigating the kidnapping of two sisters on a remote highway. Soon it becomes apparent that there is a killer on the road, and the pair must join forces with Cody’s estranged wife, herself an ex-cop (Katheryn Winnick), to catch their suspect before he takes another victim.

Love, Victor
From Tuesday, Star
A spin-off from the YA movie Love, Simon, this high school drama finds teenager Victor (Michael Cimino) starting at a new school and beginning a journey of discovering his own sexuality. He’s got to navigate a new town, a new set of friends and enemies and a whole new social landscape as he learns to come out and be himself. I’d imagine US ultra-conservatives (there are a lot of them about) would see this as Disney gone to the Devil, but normal folk will commend the Mouse House for engaging with sexual diversity.

Pelé
From Tuesday, Netflix
A documentary about Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka throughout the world as, simply, Pelé. For many, he’s the greatest footballer who ever lived, a legend in his own lifetime who is the only player to have won the World Cup three times – with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He’s also his country’s leading goalscorer, having hit the back of the net 77 times in 92 matches. Here, archive footage, alongside interviews with the likes of Zagallo, Jairzinho and Rivellino, paint a vivid portrait of Pelé (80), both as a man and a sports star, paying particular attention to a 12-year spell in which he went from a burgeoning talent to a national hero just as Brazil was going through a turbulent time in its history.

Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry
From Friday, Apple TV+
She’s still only 19, but Billie Eilish has already had three top 10 singles in the UK and US and a best-selling debut album; she’s also the youngest person to ever win all four main Grammy categories (Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year) at the same ceremony. And then there’s that Bond theme for the still-unreleased No Time to Die to consider. Many artists would love to achieve that in an entire career, never mind within a few months. But how has Eilish managed to conquer the pop world so quickly? This documentary reveals all; it’s a true coming-of-age story that charts the singer-songwriter’s rise to prominence from the age of 17, following her journey to stardom.

Crazy About Her
From Friday, Netflix

Álvaro Cervantes and Susanna Abaitua in Crazy About Her
Álvaro Cervantes and Susanna Abaitua in Crazy About Her

Post-Valentine’s Day, streaming giant Netflix is still feeling the love by launching this offbeat Spanish romance (original title: Loco por Ella). At its heart is Adri (Álvaro Cervantes) who thinks all his Christmases have come at once when he meets the cryptic and enigmatic Carla (Susanna Abaitua). They spend one wild and magical night together before she disappears from his life. Adri discovers that Carla is a resident at a mental institution, and the only way he will be able to see her again is if he too becomes a patient. The lovesick chap soon discovers that convincing people he needs treatment is easy, but persuading them he’s well enough to leave is far from straightforward. Hopefully love will conquer all...

Contributing: PA

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