TV guide: 24 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Are You Scared Yet, Human?, Breeders, Tracks and Trails, Bob Dylan Night, Cruella

The Great British Cake-Off
Sunday, Channel 5, 6.30pm
During a survey to celebrate National Cake Day last year, 30 per cent of Brits confessed that they eat cake as a regular snack in-between meals. So with programmes like the Great British Bake Off seemingly making cake more popular than ever before, what is the nation's favourite? Here, celebrities including JLS singer JB Gill, Blue star Duncan James, broadcaster and author Grace Dent, former Emmerdale actress Natalie Anderson, and ex-Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya help count down the nation's top 20 cakes. Plus, we discover the mysteries of lifelike cake illusions and the secret messages hidden in Royal cakes, as well as taking a look behind the scenes at an exceedingly big cake factory.

Your Home Made Perfect
Monday, BBC2, 8pm
The home makeover show that uses virtual reality to allow owners to see what their revamped properties could look like is returning for its third series. Laura Jane Clark is back, but this time her designs will be competing with those of fellow architect Julian McIntosh. The opening episode introduces them to Shelley and Steven from Bromley. The couple have a three-bedroom semi-detached property, but it's badly in need of some TLC if it's to meet their requirements. Angela Scanlon hosts.

Cook Clever, Waste Less with Prue & Rupy
Monday, Channel 4, 8.30pm
Prue Leith's profile was never exactly low, but it's been boosted since she took over from Mary Berry as one of the judges of The Great British Bake Off. Now she's got her own series, in which she and fellow cook Dr Rupy Aujla attempt to transform the food and shopping habits of four families. Each clan is initially dubbed a "Food Waster", ie folk who seem to create as much waste as they do meals with nutritional value. With the war on plastic more prevalent than ever, Prue and Rupy want to show the participants how a few quick and simple changes to their lifestyle can make a big difference to the planet. An added incentive to make those alterations is that they should also save money.

The Year Britain Stopped
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Britain is tentatively open up again, so perhaps now is the right time to look back at the lockdown – unless, of course, it's something you'd simply rather forget. Ordinary folk discuss what happened to them, including a single mother whose son went missing, while scientists and frontline workers describe their experiences. But perhaps most interesting of all are the words of a nurse who treated Boris Johnson during his spell in intensive care; we also get a look at the news reports that would have been used had he died.


City on a Hill
Tuesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm

Fans of the 1990s parlour game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon will rejoice at the return of the great man himself, in the second season of this Boston-set drama about a corrupt FBI agent trying to game the criminal justice system to make himself look good and rescue his ailing career. Bacon plays veteran agent Jackie Rohr, who despite his questionable ethics is revered by the younger generation of bureau agents. In a bid to break the violent drug gangs’ grip on the city, assistant DA Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) has formed a wary alliance with Rohr. But when a prosecutor is left for dead after a drug overdose, Ward suspects Rohr’s involvement, and soon the gang rivalry is overshadowed by all-out war between attorneys’ offices.

The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship
Tuesday, RTÉ2, 9.40pm
Not much on TV tonight...I know, let's have another gawp at that poor bird in a gilded cage, Britney Spears. This documentary was shown by the BBC earlier this month, trying and failing to untangle the conservatorship the pop star has been under since her very public breakdown in 2008. Journalist Mobeen Azhar visits Britney's hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, meets the devoted fans behind the #FreeBritney movement, and visits a museum where Britney's childhood bedroom has been lovingly recreated, teddys and all. In the end we get little insight into Spears's life, but plenty of insight into the growing industry for pointless pop documentaries.

Before We Die
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm

The Swedish noir series gets a British remake, dwith Lesley Sharp leading a strong cast in this cop thriller about a mum who is forced to make some tough decisions to keep her son from going down a dark path. Hannah Laing (Sharp) is a senior detective in Bristol whose team is tasked with tackling criminal drug gangs from eastern Europe. Her son Christian (Patrick Gibson) has taken up with the Mimica family from Croatia, whose tight-knit bonds seem in such contrast to his own dysfunctional relationship with his mum. The family run a successful restaurant, but behind the scenes they’re planning to expand their criminal empire. Christian is taken under the wing of the family’s ruthless eldest son Davor, and the scene is set for a serious family reckoning.

Are You Scared Yet, Human?
Wednesday, BBC1, 7.30pm
The topic of this special edition of Panorama probably sounds like something from a science-fiction novel or film. The programme's makers have been investigating the use of artificial intelligence by the Chinese police force. They think it can help them determine the guilt or innocence of the incarcerated, and regard it as the inaugural step in the country becoming the world's first AI superpower by 2030. Some observers worry this could spark a new arms race with the US, and claim that regulation is badly needed before matters get out of hand.

The Black American Fight for Freedom
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm

On July 2nd, 1964, US president Lyndon B Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act, which has been described as “one of the most significant legislative achievements in American history”. It was designed to outlaw discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex and national origin, with sexual orientation and gender identity added at a later date. But how effective is it? Not as much as some would hope, certainly in terms of race and colour – if it was, there would be no need for the Black Lives Matter movement. This documentary looks back at the Act, including key cases and supreme court rulings, and asks why American society hasn’t become more equal. Those at the forefront of the fight for equality are also on hand to offer their views.

Thursday, Sky 1/NowTV, 10pm

Sounds like a good title for a horror movie, but in this case the monsters are those seemingly angelic little cherubs who call you mum and dad. Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard return for a second series as harried parents bringing up those dreaded creatures known as “kids”. These offspring have a special power: they can turn parents Paul and Ally into murderous, psychotic zombies with just one well-timed remark or food spillage. In the second series, the “kids”, Luke and Ava, seem to have evolved into deadlier versions of themselves (one of them into a mythical monster known as a “teenager”) and to accurately depict this transformation, they’re played by a new pair of actors, Alex Eastwood and Eve Prenelle. Paul and Ally also have to deal with the challenge of Luke’s increasing anxiety and Ava’s growing independence, while also dealing with their own parents’ increasing dependence on their grown-up children. If that all looks a bit too scary, be reassured that none of us will ever face such perils in real life.

Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm

Fr Brian Ó Fearraigh from Machaire Rabhartaigh in northwest Donegal is this week’s guest. Ó Fearraighhas been the parish priest in Gaoth Dobhair for nearly 20 years, as well as the school chaplain in Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair. He has a keen interest in youth development and education and is a volunteer member of the Bun Beag Coast Guard.

What Are We Feeding Our Kids?
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
Over the past few decades, Britons' shopping trolleys have been taken over by ultra-processed food that now accounts for 64 per cent of calories consumed by children. Yes, industrialised bread, prepackaged meals, breakfast cereals and sausages are all cheap and convenient, but how do they affect children's bodies, both in the short and long term? Here, Dr Chris van Tulleken undergoes a self-experiment by eating a diet of largely ultra-processed food for one month – and the results surprise even the scientists he is working with. Concerned that the effects on children, whose brains and bodies are more vulnerable than his, Dr Chris asks whether ultra-processed food could be a major reason why more and more kids are living with obesity.

The Road to Partition
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
One hundred years ago, Northern Ireland officially came into existence as the partition of the island took legal effect. To mark the centenary, this two-part history series looks back at the earliest days of the Irish Border and how its controversial 310-mile route was decided. The opening episode begins after the first World War and looks at how, on June 22nd, 1921, King George V and Queen Mary arrived in Belfast for the official opening of the first Northern Ireland parliament.

Chronic Pain: How to Live With It
Thursday, Channel 5, 10pm
Some 28 million people in Britain suffer from chronic pain conditions that can greatly affect quality of life. This documentary follows three who face this reality on a daily basis as they undergo new treatments. In Hereford, we meet Gareth (44), who has suffered with migraines since his teens.. Following a motorbike accident that resulted in nerve damage, he now has complex painful episodes. Meanwhile, in Southampton, ex-serviceman Mark has led an active life. But with a recent diagnosis of osteoarthritis, he fears his world is about to turn upside down. Finally, Andie lives in Dartford and has been diagnosed with fybromyalgia. With global research into the possibilities of cannabis-related medicines growing, Andie begins a new journey.

Tracks and Trails
Friday, RTÉ One 7.30pm

The outdoorsy show returns for its ninth series after a two-year break, and once again celebrities take on the challenge of getting out and hiking their way around one of Ireland’s many trails and waymarked walks. The first episode takes us to the Mournes and the Causeway coast in Northern Ireland in the company of country singer Cliona Hagan. Having moved home to Co Tyrone during lockdown, and while recording her new album, Hagan discovered the many scenic walking trails right on her doorstep, and also discovered that walking is a wonderful way to clear your mind and unlock your creativity.

Bob Dylan Night
Friday, BBC4, 7.05pm

On May 24th, Bob Dylan turns 80. One of the most influential songwriters of the past century, Dylan has picked up a lot of accolades over the course of his long career, including a Nobel Prize (which he famously wasn’t in any great hurry to pick up), but BBC4 is offering him an extra honour in the form of an evening dedicated to him. It begins with Sings Dylan 2, which brings together clips of other artists, ranging from Joan Baez to Adele, performing his songs. It’s followed at 9pm by Don’t Look Back, the acclaimed documentary following Dylan’s 1965 tour of Britain. There’s a glimpse of the singer in the 1980s in Getting to Dylan: The Interview, which captures him during the filming of Hearts of Fire, and Bob Dylan – Trouble No More.

Friday Night Dinner: 10 Years and a Lovely Bit of Squirrel
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm

In February 2011, the sitcom Friday Night Dinner started with relatively little fanfare on Channel 4. It went on to become one of the channel’s biggest and most enduring comedy hits, racking up six series, 37 episodes and numerous award nominations. So, it wasn’t a surprise when in January, Channel 4 announced it would be marking the comedy’s 10th anniversary with a documentary and a night of the show’s most popular episodes. Then, in April, fans heard the sad news that Paul Ritter, who played dad Martin, had died at the age of 54. As a result, this documentary, which is dedicated to Ritter, will be more bittersweet than initially intended, as the cast and celebrity fans talk about the show and offer their opinions on why it touched so many viewers.

The Masked Dancer
Saturday-Friday, Virgin One/ITV, 7pm
The TV guessing game is back – but this time they're dancing. Host Joel Dommett is joined by panellists Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan and Oti Mabuse. The competition will see 12 celebrities dancing in outrageous costumes and keeping their true identities hidden for as long as possible. In tonight's episode the first six masked dancers take to the stage: Zip vs Knickerbocker Glory, Beetroot vs Llama, and Viper vs Scarecrow. At the end of the show the first celebrity's identity is revealed. Expect cryptic clues, epic routines and amazing reveals.


The Talk
From Tuesday, RTÉ Player

In The Talk, four young Irish people sit down with a friend or loved one to have a conversation about social issues that are affecting them. In the first episode, four pairs of young black Irish people discuss their personal experiences of racism in Ireland. The pairings are Brothers Darragh and Conor Buckley, the sons of the late campaigner Christine Buckley; Northern Irish friends Angel Arutura (activist and writer) and Maria Diouf (Podcast host), who met during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020; best friends rapper-songwriter Mai Salif (stage name Celaviedmai) and singer-songwriter Tomike J; and broadcaster-journalist Ola Majekodunmi and social pyschologist Mamobo Ogoro. Each duo are given questions to ask each other, including the infamous “Where are you really from?”, which results in some surprising and thought-provoking responses. They also discuss their experiences of racism in school, the football pitch and the pub, and how racism can affect other aspects of their life, including dating, social media and work.

From Friday, Disney+ Star

Activist Erin Brokovich was immortalised in the 2000 movie starring Julia Roberts, but the story of the single mom who took on a giant energy corporation doesn’t end there. This new drama series is loosely based on the life of Brokovich, with Erin herself as executive producer. Katey Sagal stars as Annie “Rebel” Bello, a legal advocate with no law degree who fights passionately for the causes she believes in, despite not having loads of letters after her name. ABC has cancelled the show after just one season, but look out for new series in which Brokovich saves the world from a sinister tech corporation, and another where she unites the Rebel Alliance to fight against Darth Vader.

From Friday, Amazon Prime Video
Would you risk death to escape from your dead-end town? For the teens living in the remote rural town of Carp, Texas, there's only one way to get out: by taking part in Panic, a series of challenges with a cash prize for the one who successfully stays the course. But this year the rules have been changed; the prize money is even higher and the challenges more dangerous, as the players are forced to confront their darkest, deepest fears in a contest that makes Ireland's Fittest Family look like a game of rounders. No one knows who's behind this mysterious annual contest, but needless to say the grown-ups of the town are not too happy about it, especially as the local cemetery is filling up with the bodies of teens who didn't make it through previous contests. Who's really controlling the game, and who is trying to rig it? It's based on the bestselling YA novel by Lauren Oliver, and features a fine cast of undoubted future stars.

The Kominsky Method
From Friday, Netflix
The comedy-drama is back for a third series, though sadly without Alan Arkin. Thankfully, Michael Douglas has enough charisma to hold the whole thing together on his own as star-turned-acting coach Sandy. What's more, he's reunited with his Romance in the Stone co-star Kathleen Turner, who joins the cast as Sandy's ex-wife Roz. Their already tempestuous relationship gets even worse when Roz arrives in LA to spend time with their daughter. Expect issues such as money, death, love, murder and dreams to take centre stage throughout the all-too-short six episodes.

From Friday, Disney+

Cruella de Vil first appeared on screens in Disney’s 1961 animated version of Dodie Smith’s novel The Hundreds and One Dalmatians, and has been terrifying children – and dogs – ever since. Back then she was voiced by Betty Lou Gerson; Glenn Close played her in the more recent live-action version of the book and its sequel. But now it’s Emma Stone who tackles the role in what promises to be an entertaining prequel. This time we see a younger Cruella in 1970s London during the punk era. She’s an up-and-coming designer whose friendship with a fashion legend is about to lead to trouble. Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Kayvan Novak and Emily Beecham co-star.

The Pleasure Principle
From Friday, All4

Fans of The Bridge and The Tunnel will find much to admire about this 10-part co-production from Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Written by the same team behind hit thriller The Border, it follows the work of detectives in Odessa, Warsaw and Prague who must come together to solve the murders of three young women. The victims are found within days of each other, all displaying the same signs of violence, and it’s clear there’s a connection. Unfortunately, the detectives assigned to the case all have personal issues to deal with and working together doesn’t look as if it’s going to be easy. Nevertheless, the investigation soon leads them to shady businessmen, lawyers, corrupt politicians and professional killers.

Contributing: PA