TV Guide: 24 of the best shows to watch this week

Letters from Lockdown, David Brophy’s Unsung Heroes, Meitheal na mBan, Alex Rider

Note to great-grandson: Margaret Lynch in Letters from Lockdown, Monday night on RTE One

Note to great-grandson: Margaret Lynch in Letters from Lockdown, Monday night on RTE One

 

Two Sisters, One Body
Sunday, Channel 4, 9.15pm
Like many other teenagers, Carmen and Lupita Andrade love playing the piano, doing handstands, hanging out with friends and dressing up together. However, they are two very special young ladies — two in a million, you could say. Born in 2002 in Mexico, the omphalopagus twins were given three days to live. But while most conjoined twins are either stillborn or die within the first few hours of being born, the sisters have survived against the odds. Carmen and Lupita moved to the US when they were babies with their parents and received expert medical care. Fast forward 19 years, and This documentary follows the twins, still conjoined and living in small-town Connecticut. They are growing up fast, but the fiercely intelligent and funny young women dare not plan too far ahead. After all, they are Mexicans in Trump’s America – and their visas are in danger of being withdrawn.

Philharmonia
Sunday, Channel 4, 11.15pm

Marie-Sophie Ferdane in Philharmonia
Marie-Sophie Ferdane in Philharmonia

In this French psychological thriller, star violinist-turned-conductor Helene Barizet (Marie-Sophie Ferdane) has come home to Paris to take over the musical direction of the Philharmonia, a national orchestra in turmoil. She is a controversial choice, offered the job after the sudden death of the previous conductor, and she has formidable adversaries, including Agathe (Charlie Bruneau), a musician and her husband’s secret mistress. In addition, her mother has serious mental-health issues and Helene fears that she will end up like her. One of her first moves at the Philharmonia is to offer the role of concertmaster to the youngest musician, Selena (Lina el Arabi), an act which upsets the old concertmaster and the rest of the orchestra.

Tesco: Panic in the Aisles
Sunday, Channel 5, 7.15pm
When the coronavirus pandemic first began to take hold in March, Britain went into a panic-buying frenzy. Fiona Phillips reports on how supermarket chain Tesco coped with increased demand at its stores and how consumers’ shopping habits changed. As the British public filled their cupboards with more than £2 billion worth of extra groceries, Tesco doubled its share of the growing online market. However, with its supermarket shelves stripped bare and thousands of staff self-isolating or being off sick, company bosses faced an enormous logistical challenge.

Letters from Lockdown
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Letters from lockdown: Domino Whisker
Letters from lockdown: Domino Whisker

It’s been tough on everyone living in lockdown, but for some it’s been unimaginably tough, and this documentary features four people for whom the Covid crisi has brought pain, sadness and a huge sense of loss. Each of them writes a letter to a loved one they are separated from. You might want to steel yourself for an emotional ride, as these letters spell out the prosaic reality of living through a pandemic that prevents them from holding their loved ones close to them.

Dubliner Billy Jenkins (87) writes to his beloved wife Aggie, who is in a nursing home diagnosed with dementia. Artist Domino Whisker writes to her dad and fellow artist Charlie, whose works are owned by stars such as Bono and Stephen Soderbergh, and who has won a Grammy for his video work with Bob Dylan. Charlie was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, and Domino cared for him until he had to move into a nursing home.

Ornagh Lee, a fitness coach, writes to her friend Dee about the challenge of dealing with the pandemic while battling with mental-health issues. And Margaret Lynch, who turned 100 in April, and has six children, 19 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren, writes to her newest great-grandson Daniel, who was born the day after her birthday. She can’t hold him yet, but she can tell him all about her long life and all the great events she’s lived through, including this moment in history.

Normal People
Monday, BBC1, 9.05pm; Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
The concluding double bill begins as Marianne returns to Carricklea for the summer and, after a night out together, she and Connell start to discuss their friendship and inevitably their attraction. But when they end up in bed, Marianne makes a request of Connell that upsets him. Later, Marianne is provoked by Alan, who ends up hitting her in the face. She calls Connell, who immediately drives over to pick her up, threatens Alan and promises her that he’ll never let anyone hurt her again. Adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Páidí Ó Sé – Rí an Pharóiste
Monday, TG4, 7.15pm

Páidí Ó Sé
Páidí Ó Sé

This creative documentary tells the story of Páidí Ó Sé (1955-2012) – football hero, rogue and a man considered by many the uncrowned king of his native parish of Ventry, Co Kerry. This film is a portrait of Ó Sé life from the perspective of his own local rural Gaeltacht community, told by one of his neighbours as she embarks on a personal voyage of discovery to come to grips with her hero while exploring the importance in receiving recognition from our own people.

Comedians: Home Alone
Monday, BBC2, 10.30pm
Like most of us, the nation’s top comedians have been cooped up at home over the past few weeks and months. However, those featured here haven’t let their time go to waste and have stayed busy doing what they do best: working on their schtick. Tonight, Bob Mortimer’s loud, obnoxious yuppy Train Guy comes to life in an animation, while Michael Spicer adopts his fictional adviser persona and takes on home secretary Priti Patel in the viral sensation Room Next Door. Married comedians Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke perform a sensational lip sync battle, while Derek and After Life star Kerry Godliman, Hertfordshire comedian Rhys James and a few remarkable cats also put in appearances.

Hitched at Home: Our Lockdown Wedding
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Across the UK, more than 60,000 couples have seen their wedding plans dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic. As lockdown keeps loved ones apart, Fred Sirieix from First Dates gives London couple Patrick and Louise a surprise chance to get hitched in an audacious virtual celebration, with their whole wedding party watching on. With only two weeks to pull it off, Fred works around the clock to make their day as perfect as possible, dipping into his book of contacts from the worlds of celebrity and hospitality.

Isolation Stories
Tuesday, Virgin One, 9pm
A welcome rebroadcast of this ITV drama from last month. Aacclaimed writer Jeff Pope (Philomena) commissioned fellow scribes to devise 15-minute tales based on real events. A heavily pregnant Sheridan Smith stars as Mel, who is preparing to give birth alone. Robert Glenister and his son Tom play Ron and Russell, whose relationship becomes strained during lockdown. In Mike and Rochelle, Darren Boyd and Angela Griffin take on the roles of a hypochondriac and his psychiatrist. Finally, Eddie Marsan and his sons Blue and Brodie appear alongside David Threlfall in the story of a determined granddad.

David Brophy’s Unsung Heroes
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

David Brophy conducting an Unsung Heroes concert at the National Opera House Wexford
David Brophy conducting an Unsung Heroes concert at the National Opera House Wexford

Ireland’s world-renowned concert orchestra conductor and choirmaster is back with a new vision. Following on from The High Hopes Choir and The Choir of Ages (which documented the formation of choirs made up of members of the homeless community and of an intergenerational choir, respectively), David Brophy has formed a new choir, based in Co Wexford and made up of family carers – of which there are some 355,000 in Ireland.

The singers’ journey, filmed over the course of six months, will see them go from a group of novices to a polished, confident and capable choir. They will meet celebrity guests such as Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald and Christy Dignam, and take on the ambitious task of composing an original song with the help of singer songwriter John Spillane, which will be premiered at a star-studded finale at the National Opera House in Wexford.

This two-part series will also look at the lives of some of the members as they care for loved ones. Participants include mother of three Jane Johnstone, who cares for her sons Evan and Daniel, who both have autism; married couple Phil and Betty Power, who care for their eldest son Jason, who has cerebral palsy; Hannah Power, who cares for her husband Patrick, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; and Matthew and Martina McCartin, who share in the care for father and husband Eddie, who was diagnosed first with Parkinson’s and then dementia.

Highland Road Rescue – Our Lives
Wedesday, BBC1, 7.30pm
An intimate insight into the difficulties faced by a tight-knit family business in the Scottish Highlands. Jamie and his sister Jean run the roadside recovery company their parents began in 1973, rescuing stranded motorists from some of the wildest landscapes and challenging roads in Britain. During the busiest month of the winter, they strive day and night to rescue everything from sports cars to 42-ton trucks. It’s tough work, but they take great pride in seeing people safely on their way.

Bradley Walsh: Happy 60th Birthday
Wednesday, Virgin One/ITV, 9pm

Bradley Walsh (left) with Ben Bailey Smith and Paterson Joseph in Law & Order UK
Bradley Walsh (left) with Ben Bailey Smith and Paterson Joseph in Law & Order UK

It’s hard to imagine many celebrities being given the honour of an hour-long show marking their 60th birthday. Perhaps we’ll be forced to eat our words when the likes of, say, Graham Norton or Jonathan Ross reach the milestone. Jason Manford is the presenter looking back at Bradley Walsh’s life and career, from his early showbiz days as a stand-up comedian to his appearances as a game show host and acting roles in such hit series as Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and, most recently, Doctor Who. There’s also an amusing look at Walsh’s outtakes, fashion choices and hairstyles down the years.

Cardinal: Until the Night
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
The outstanding Canadian crime drama is getting a promotion. It has previosly aired on BBC4 but is moving to BBC2 for the fourth and last series. Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse return as melancholic police detective John Cardinal and his trusty sidekick Lise Delorme. As Cardinal is now a widower, they’re free to act on their obvious feelings for each other, although as she’s about to receive a tempting job offer, any romance may prove short-lived. She’s sticking around long enough, however, to help him investigate the murder of a politician’s husband, who was abducted and left to die from exposure.

Ambulance
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
The Bafta-award winning series is back with new episodes although it will look slightly dated: it was filmed in the spring of 2019, which feels like a very long time ago. Cameras follow the staff of the North West Ambulance Service as they care for the city of Liverpool and Merseyside. The shift starts with a call about a stabbing – the 36th such incident the staff have dealt with in the past seven days. Paramedic Rob is immediately dispatched, but as it is not known whether the attacker is still in the vicinity, he will have to wait for the all-clear before he and his colleagues can treat the victim. Meanwhile, St Patrick’s Day celebrations are starting early.

Fíorscéal: I Am the Revolution
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm

Selay Ghaffer, one of three activists profiled in I Am the Revolution
Selay Ghaffer, one of three activists profiled in I Am the Revolution

Three determined women in the Middle East lead the fight for gender equality and freedom in this empowering portrait of agents of change. Politician Selay must travel through Afghanistan with armed security to protect her while educating other women about their rights. Yanar pushes for parliamentary reform in Iraq while running shelters for abused women. And Rojda is a commander of the Syrian Democratic Army, leading 60,000 troops to defeat Islamic State, including freeing their hold on Raqqa and rescuing its people.

Love/Hate
Friday, RTÉ One, 10.50pm

Ruth Negga and Robert Sheehan in Love/Hate
Ruth Negga and Robert Sheehan in Love/Hate

With Normal People concluding, RTÉ is no doubt mindful that viewers face some serious withdrawal symptoms when Connell and Marianne’s on/off saga comes to an end. But what could come close to Montrose’s most acclaimed series in years? Nothing for it but to go back to the mother of them all: the classic gritty crime series Love/Hate (2010-2014).This is the side of Dublin you didn’t see in Normal People – the action takes place in the hollowed-out shells of abandoned buildings rather than the hallowed halls of Trinity. It will be great to reacquaint ourselves with the stars of the series, including Tom Vaughn-Lawlor as Nidge, Peter Coonan as Fran, Robert Sheehan as Darren, Ruth Negga as Rosie and Aidan Gillen as John Boy.

Episode one brings us back to the beginning: Darren has been laying low in Spain, but decides to risk returning to celebrate his brother Robbie getting out of jail. But no sooner has Robbie tasted freedom than he’s eating lead, gunned down in drive-by shooting. Darren has to put off his plans to return to sunny Spain and seek revenge for his brother’s killing. Since we all have to put off our plans for sunny Spain this summer, there’s nothing to do but settle back and enjoy this slice of gangland nostalgia.

Tom Jones at 80
Friday, BBC4, 9pm

Tom Jones in May 2005, six months before he received a knighthood. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA
Tom Jones in May 2005, six months before he received a knighthood. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

To mark the Welsh singer’s birthday, this archive-based celebration looks back at his remarkable 60-plus-year career. Drawing on his greatest songs, from Delilah and It’s Not Unusual to The Green, Green Grass of Home and Kiss, it also includes rarely seen footage and interviews. The programme is followed by Tom Jones’ 1950s: The Decade That Made Me (10pm), in which the entertainer returns to his roots in Pontypridd to recall his formative years. Finally, Tom Jones: A Little Later (11pm) features the Welshman’s finest performances from the archives of Later with Jools Holland.

The Other One
Friday, BBC1, 9pm

Siobhan Finneran, Lauren Socha, Ellie White and Rebecca Front in The Other One
Siobhan Finneran, Lauren Socha, Ellie White and Rebecca Front in The Other One

So, your dad kicks the bucket, and you discover that he’s got a secret second family, with another daughter who’s got the exact same name as you. Do you go mad and take hostages at McDonald’s? Of course not – you reach out and try to make friends with this Doppelgänger family and work together to unravel the mess left by your dead deadbeat dad. Only problem is, family No 1 is rather posh, while family No 2 is, well, a bit common. No doubt this class chasm will provide lots of comedic opportunities for this new series about four women bonded by bigamy. Ellie White and Lauren Socha star as the half-sisters with nothing in common except their name, with Rebecca Front and Siobhan Finneran as the widows who have to deal with their new reality. This series started out as a pilot back in 2017, and has finally been brought to a full series.

A Question of Sport
Friday, BBC1, 7.30pm
Team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell are joined by four more sporting stars for the quiz hosted by Sue Barker. The panellist are England cricketer Rory Burns, who made his international debut in November 2018; British athlete Emily Diamond, who was part of the bronze medal-winning 4x400m team at Rio 2016; former swimmer Mark Foster, who competed primarily in butterfly and freestyle at 50 metres and won a gold medal at the World Short Course Championships; and former rugby league star Robbie Hunter-Paul, who played for four English clubs during a 19-year career.

Celebrity Gogglebox
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
Channel 4 found a way to make the regular series of Gogglebox work, albeit with several popular participants missing, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see the celebrity spin-off version back on the box. The famous faces involved will be joined by more close relatives than usual; keep an eye out for Zoe Ball and her son Woody Cook, couple Joe Swash and Stacey Solomon, Nicola Adams and her partner Ella, and Harry Redknapp and his wife Sandra. Series regular Denise van Outen and her other half Eddie and Nick Grimshaw and his niece Liv will also appear. They’ll be brightening up our viewing over the coming weeks as they offer their unique takes on what’s on the box.

ON DEMAND:

Meitheal na mBan
Wednesday, TG4 YouTube, 9.30pm

Cliona Hagan, one of the performers on Meitheal na mBan. Photograph: James Connolly
Cliona Hagan, one of the performers on Meitheal na mBan. Photograph: James Connolly

Meitheal na mBan is an inspirational and empowering series of online concerts led by Ireland’s top female musicians and artists as they perform directly from their own homes, in a much-needed fundraiser to support the victims of domestic abuse. For many women, this difficult time has left them and their children in great danger. The threat looms largest where they should be safest – in lockdown in their own homes. Responding generously to this vital need, some of Ireland’s most visible female talent will reach musically across the virtual divide to stand with those who are at their most vulnerable. Among those performing are Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Julie Fowlis, Nell Ní Chróinín, Lisa O’Neill, Bronagh Gallagher, Wyvern Lingo, Cliona Hagan and Cathy Jordan. Donations can be made online to womensaid.ie/donate or by texting the word ACTION to 50300 to donate €4.

Alex Rider
From Thursday, Amazon Prime

Otto Farrant and Vicky McClure in Alex Rider
Otto Farrant and Vicky McClure in Alex Rider

If you don’t know who Alex Rider is, just ask your 12-year-old. Mine has read every book in the hit series about a teenage version of James Bond, so if this preview appears extremely knowledgable and well-researched, you’ll know I had a bit of help. Rather like Harry Potter finding out he’s a wizard, Alex Rider has discovered he’s a spy – secretly trained by his uncle, an MI6 agent, and able to defy death and dodge bullets with all the deftness and skill of a Kilkenny junior hurler. The novels, written by Anthony Horowitz, have sold gazillions of copies worldwide, and this series is based on the second in the franchise, Point Blanc, which has shifted more than 20 million copies alone. The story sees Alex going undercover at an exclusive boarding school in the French Alps in search of clues to the mysterious murder of two billionaires. (Now, who would want to murder a billionaire?) It doesn’t take long for Alex to discover what we’ve already guessed: the pupils at this school are being groomed for something far more nefarious than a career in venture capitalism.

13 Reasons Why
From Friday, Netflix

Dylan Minnette (right) in 23 Reasons Why
Dylan Minnette (right) in 23 Reasons Why

It’s three years since we met Clay Jensen, the sensitive teenager who spent the compelling drama’s first and second seasons investigating the suicide of classmate Hannah Baker and trying to help her parents and friends gain some kind of closure. The third run focused on Clay’s efforts to expose corruption at his high school, as well as the murder of fellow student Bryce Walker, a notorious serial rapist. Now we’re returning to Liberty High for the fourth and final series, just as the pupils are about to graduate ahead of going their separate ways. Plotlines are being kept pretty secret for now, but we’re expecting all loose ends to be tied up. Dylan Minnette stars, and he will be joined by Gary Sinise as Clay’s therapist.

El Presidente
From Friday, Amazon Prime
Remember Fifagate? The 2015 corruption scandal led to the arrests of several high-ranking figures in football’s international governing body, and numerous indictments for wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. The whole thing is a bit too involved to get into here, but let’s say it just wasn’t cricket. This new dramedy series tells the story through the jaundiced eye of Sergio Jadue (Andrés Parra), former president of Chile’s national football association, who became a central figure in the scandal.

Contributing: PA

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