TV guide: 24 of the best shows to watch this week
Let the Rest of the World Go By, Pembrokeshire Murders, All Walks of Life, Servant
Suicide? Perhaps. Jiah Khan (1988-2013) profiled in Death in Bollywood, Monday-Wednesday on BBC2
The Great Pottery Throw Down
Sunday, Channel 4, 7.45pm
It’s almost a case of “all change” over in Stoke-on-Trent when the fourth series of this gently satisfying craft-based competition gets under way. Host Melanie Sykes has been replaced by Siobhan McSweeney, best known for playing the formidable Sr Michael in hit sitcom Derry Girls, and judge Sue Pryke place is being taken by resident kiln expert Richard Miller. However, one man remains steady and true: potter and ceramics designer Keith Brymer Jones, who bursts into tears whenever a competitor turns out something he finds particularly impressive. Expect copious weeping to occur as the competitors create a cheese set and port chalices.
Happy Birthday Mr Bean
Sunday, ITV, 8pm
Believe it or not, it’s 30 years since Rowan Atkinson’s much-loved character first strolled onto our screens – or should that be stumbled, fell and tripped into our hearts? Created by Atkinson and his former comedy partner Richard Curtis, the character is now beloved the world over, despite only appearing in 14 episodes (a 15th features highlights from the sitcom) over the course of five years. Two of them can be seen this evening, along with Mr Bean’s 1997 feature film. But then this documentary takes over, revealing how the hapless hero has become an internet phenomenon with an ever-growing following of more than 110 million fans. Classic clips also feature alongside interviews with key people in the character’s development.
The Chieftains at Montreux
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
The Chieftains stand alongside the likes of U2 and Van Morrison as icons of Irish music. This memorable 1997 concert from the Montreux Jazz Festival draws to a close with Did You Ever Go A-Courtin’ Uncle Joe, on which everyone gets a chance to solo, including Derek Bell on honky-tonk piano. Rapturous applause greets the assembled company and an encore inevitably results. The Chieftains and their guests and friends delivered wonderful entertainment on that Montreux stage.
Pulling with My Parents
Monday, RTÉ 2 9.35pm
You have to be pretty desperate to recruit your parents to help you find a partner, but the contestants in this hit series have tried everything from Tinder to Grindr to Bumble to Scruff, so you can say they’re in the last-chance saloon. Time to try some old-school matchmaking by letting Mum and Dad scroll through your feed to see if they can find a love connection you may have missed. Series two brings us a new squad of singletons who just can’t seem to score and have handed over their phones over to their parents in the hope they’ll work a mating miracle. First up is tattoo fanatic Rob from Limerick, who’s hoping his mum can “ink” him up with the love of his life. He’s followed by Katie from Balbriggan, who always seems to go for the bad eggs. Can her dad and sister scramble up a few decent guys for her to date?
Let the Rest of the World Go By
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Two years ago, the story of Matt Murphy and Michael O’Sullivan captured the imagination of the Irish public, and was hotly discussed on Joe Duffy and Claire Byrne. Murphy, a single man in his 80s suffering from ill-health, was being cared for by his best friend, O’Sullivan, and wanted to leave his worldly goods to his trusted companion. So, to get around inheritance laws, the two decided to marry for tax reasons. This documentary tells their story, and documents Murphy’s life growing up on a 2,000-acre estate in Cashel, Co Tipperary, the son of a single mother who worked as a housekeeper on the estate. The programme follows his career as a butler, and then in the P&T (now An Post), his long friendship with O’Sullivan, and the circumstances which brought them together in the later stages of Murphy’s life. Murphy died earlier this year aged 84, and this documentary tells the story of a man who did what he had to do for the sake of love and companionship.
Junior Bake Off
Monday, Channel 4, 5pm
Harry Hill is back with more culinary adventures of a childlike kind. While Junior Bake Off might not be as popular as its grown-up counterpart, it’s still tasty viewing. The comedian introduces us to the first eight of the 16 young competitors venturing into the tent this year as they tackle a Technical involving a familiar bake with a twist before creating a fantasy cake inspired by their wildest dreams. Liam Charles returns as a judge, with pastry chef Ravneet Gill replacing Prue Leith.
Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema
Monday, BBC4, 9pm
What makes audiences flock to films? What gets bums on seats and popcorn in laps? In this latest three-part series of Secrets of Cinema, uber film buff Mark Kermode unspools the tricks of the film-maker’s trade and reveals the techniques they use to keep us coming back for more of the same. In the first episode, Kermode delves into the world of British comedy films, revealing how they tap into national preoccupations and satisfy an innate desire to see the underdog win out and upper-class twits get their comeuppance.
The Pembrokeshire Murders
Monday-Wednesday, ITV, 9pm; beginning Thursday, Virgin One, 9pm
A three-part miniseries from the makers of Line of Duty, set in Wales and based on the true story of a cold-blooded serial killer (cold blood is sort of a requirement for the job, really). Luke Evans (aka Bard the Dragonslayer in the Hobbit trilogy) stars as Steve Wilkins of the Dyfed Powys police force, who has just been promoted to detective inspector. But a shadow looms over the force – no, not a dragon, but two unsolved murders from the 1980s. DI Wilkins reopens the cold cases and applies pioneering forensic science to examine microscopic DNA and fibres, and comes up with a prime suspect (a local man who was convicted of burglaries and robberies around the same time). The series is based on a true story, and on an accompanying programme the original participants discuss their roles in the investigation: The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Gameshow Killer (Thursday ITV, 9pm).
Monday, TG4, 9.30pm
The first concert programme of Glór Tíre 2021 features country music favourite Robert Mizzell. He also introduces to the stage his contestant for this year’s series, Kelan Browne. The rest of the run will feature concert performances from Cliona Hagan, Michael English, Louise Morrissey, Mike Denver and The Sheerin Family. Presented by Aoife Ní Thuairisg and Séamus Ó Scanláin.
Death in Bollywood
Monday-Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
In 2013, New York-born, British-raised rising Bollywood star Jiah Khan was found dead in her bedroom at her family home in Mumbai; she was 25. What appeared to be a six-page suicide note was later found by her sister, but her mother Rabia refused to believe her daughter could have taken her own life. This fascinating if disturbing three-part documentary examines the case in detail, revealing how British forensics expert Jason Payne-James came to the conclusion that someone else may have been present at Khan’s death.
The Style Counsellors
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
The Style Counsellors return to help six deserving women find their fashion mojo. After this strangest of years we could all do with a bit of reinvention, a little escapism, a little care – and that’s what presenters Eileen Smith (@EileenStyleQueen) and Suzanne Jackson (Sosueme.ie) are on hand to offer. Tonight we meet Veronica, a 40-something sheepfarmer in Co Mayo who also runs a holiday home business and is a busy mother to two teenagers. Between the farm, family and business there is little time for fashion. And because of her height (5ft1), Veronica says a lot of her clothes swamp her. She also worries about how she currently dresses: “I just don’t really know what my style is … am I dressing like someone who thinks she’s 20.”
Are Women the Fitter Sex?
Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm
It’s clear that there are many diseases where men are affected far worse than women. And tonight, Dr Ronx Ikharia investigates why more male patients die from the coronavirus than female. Meeting experts, Ronx discovers this medical gender bias is not restricted to today’s pandemic, but is true across many viruses and diseases, including SARS, cancer and HIV. Women, it appears, are the stronger sex. But alongside this natural advantage, a dangerous gender data gap also exists, undermining how women are treated within the healthcare system, leading to misdiagnoses and deaths. Delving into personal experience and challenging their own biases, Ikharia asks what must be done to mend our divided healthcare.
Funny Nation with Elis James
Tuesday, BBC2, 11.30pm
The comic, who is originally from Haverfordwest, grew up in Carmarthen and later lived in Cardiff, explores the history of Welsh comedy and meets some of the nation’s biggest stand-up comedians, writers and performers. In this first episode, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones and Rhod Gilbert discuss the role of stereotypes in comic portrayals of the Welsh and how this has changed over time. James also meets some of the new generation of performers who are breaking through and hears about their attitudes towards Welsh cliches in comedy.
Scéalta Grá na hÉireann
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm
Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan: In Ireland’s greatest and most tragic love story, Collins and Kiernan kept their love alive through the 300 letters they exchanged between 1919 and 1922. These correspondence offer a stunning insight into a tragic love story that took place during a period of great violence, upheaval and change for the nation from the War of Independence, through the Treaty Negotiations and the Civil War.
Finné: Andrew Rynne
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Dr Andrew Rynne recalls his career as Ireland’s first vasectomy doctor and as a pioneering contraceptive rights campaigner in the 1970s and ’80s. In the 1980s he was prosecuted for illegally selling contraceptive and in the early 1990s, while performing a vasectomy, an ex-patient burst into the surgery and shot him in the leg. The doctor managed to get away fairly unscathed and years later met with his would-be assassin.
The Truth About Getting Fit at Home
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
Journalist and blogger Mehreen Baig, who used to hit the gym four times a week, uses the latest science to make sure she’s getting maximum return for her effort at home. She uncovers exciting new research testing the theory that just one minute of strength training per week on each main muscle group might reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Baig also puts dumb-bells to the test against resistance bands, and tests whether using wearable fitness tech actually helps you stick to your exercise plan. Finally, she investigates whether popular supplements like “pre-trainers” and protein shakes really work.
Cornwall and Devon Walks with Julia Bradbury
Wednesday, ITV, 8pm
For 10 years Julia Bradbury has taken viewers on beautiful walks from all over the world, providing inspiration for people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Now with many of us looking for things to safely do outside, the walking enthusiast thinks her new series has come at a perfect time: “Nature and green spaces are more important to us than ever before,” she says. In tonight’s episode, Bradbury walks five miles along the stunning north Cornish coast, from the picturesque Padstow to the surfing hotspot of Trevone Bay. Along the way, she comes across dramatic coastal landscapes featured in Poldark, passes by some of the prettiest secret coves in the country, and gets up close to a herd of fallow feer in the historic Prideaux Estate. To end her epic trek, Bradbury eats a special fish dish cooked on the beach by local chef Jack Stein.
Hadrian’s Wall with Robson Green
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
In the past year many of us have rediscovered our love of walking, be it to reconnect with nature and rediscover the beauty around us – or it was the only way to get out of the house during lockdown. It seems celebrities were no different as, hot on the heels of Julia Bradbury on ITV, Robson Green goes hiking along one of Britain’s most impressive archaeological monuments: Hadrian’s Wall. It’s the longest Roman site in the world, running 73 miles from Wallsend in the east to the isolated Cumbrian village of Bowness in the west. So it will take Robson three episodes to walk it all, especially as he’ll be visiting landmarks and meeting local characters along the way.
All Walks of Life
Friday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Former president and keen rambler Mary McAleese recruits some more walking companions in this second series of All Walks of Life. The premise is simple: McAleese and & co stroll along a scenic and sacred route and discuss life, the universe and everything. This series will see her stepping out with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, model Roz Purcell and Olympic athlete Ciara Mageean. First up is comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty, who walks with McAleese in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down – in the footsteps of St Patrick – and talks about how he managed to find humour amid the Troubles despite the sectarian murder of his own father.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 11.15pm
The host welcomes actress Keeley Hawes, star of new ITV drama Finding Alice, which follows a grieving wife in the aftermath of her husband’s death. Noel Clarke, who is back alongside Ashley Walters in police drama Bulletproof: South Africa, also drops by, as does Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson, who has teamed up with Ant Middleton for a Mexican adventure in Straight Talking. Finally, Sixth Sense movie director M Night Shyamalan talks about Servant, his new psychological horror series for Apple TV (see below).
The Green Room with Ivan Yates
Friday, Virgin One, 9pm
This new show highlights all the news, issues and fun from the world of sport. Each week, Ivan Yates will be joined by Paddy Power, impressionist and TV broadcaster Conor Moore, Virgin Media Sport broadcaster Niamh Kinsella and special guests, as well as comedy and competitions.
From Monday, Amazon Prime
It’s a familiar story: a bunch of old guys face get the axe when a younger, more dynamic team arrives on the job, and they determine to fight back and prove they’ve still got their mojo working. Except that this workplace is the firmament, and the employees are all gods. And that axe is an actual axe. Welcome to the world of American Gods, where deities walk among us disguised as ordinary people, such as ex-con Shadow Moon, who discovers that he is actually the son of Odin, the leader of the Norse gods. In this series based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, the old gods of mythology are about to be swept aside by the new gods of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Should be a battle loaded with symbolism. In series three, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) decides to quit the god business and strike out on his own, but – you guessed it – the firm just keeps pulling him back in.
Outside the Wire
From Friday, Netflix
It may sound like a spin-off from the superlative Baltimore-set crime drama The Wire, but this science fiction epic couldn’t be further from it. Directed by acclaimed Swedish film-maker Mikael Hafstrom, it’s set in the future and stars Damson Idris a drone pilot sent into a dangerous demilitarised zone. He’s assigned to work for an android officer (Anthony Mackie, who also co-produced), whose job it is to locate a doomsday device before enemy agents can get their hands on it. Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly and Pilou Asbaek co-star.
From Friday, Apple TV+
When it comes to thrillers with a spooky edge, few do it better than M Night Shyamalan. The Sixth Sense director ventured onto the small screen in 2019; his Apple TV+ series became one of the streamer’s first major hits. Servant focuses on a couple (Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbel) who, following the death of their baby son, hire nanny Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to take care of the “reborn doll” they are raising in his place. But Leanne couldn’t be further removed from Mary Poppins, and soon, bizarre and terrifying events begin to occur. Rupert Grint also return to the cast, and Shyamalan promises it will be just as disturbing as the first series.