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

You Don’t Know Me, Neven’s Christmas, Colmcille – An Naomh Dána, Junk Couture, Vienna Blood, The Unforgivable

Olivia Colman in Landscapers. The pitch-black comedy begins Tuesday on Sky Atlantic

Olivia Colman in Landscapers. The pitch-black comedy begins Tuesday on Sky Atlantic

 

Doctor Who: Flux
Sunday, BBC One, 6.20pm
As the series comes to a close, things are looking grim. For once it seems the
monsters have won and the forces of darkness are in control. So, who can we call on now to save the universe? If you are hoping that this isn’t the end for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, you’re in luck. It’s been confirmed she will appear in three more specials, including one due over the Christmas period, before handing over control of the Tardis. But whether that festive episode will tie up some loose ends from the story of Flux remains to be seen.

You Don’t Know Me
Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

Samuel Adewunmi in You Don’t Know Me
Samuel Adewunmi in You Don’t Know Me

A black man is in the dock, accused of murdering a young boy. The evidence against him is overwhelming, and his conviction seems a foregone conclusion. But the defendant, Hero (Samuel Adewunmi), is clear about one thing: he didn’t do it, and he knows only chance of acquittal is to get the jury to believe him. So he fires his barrister and asks to tell the court his own story, which goes back two years to a woman he met on a bus and became romantically involved with, but who then mysteriously went missing. This four-part thriller is based on the novel by barrister Imran Mahmood and adapted by Tom Edge, the man behind the recent BBC series set on a nuclear sub, Vigil.

Food Unwrapped’s Christmas Cracker
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
It’s that time of year as the team unwrap fascinating facts behind some favourite festive foods. Matt Tebbutt is in Portugal wondering how long an unfinished bottle of port stays drinkable for. Will it last from one Christmas to the next? Jimmy Doherty finds out why red cabbage is so Christmas. Briony May Williams travels to Germany to uncover the secret to a perfect stollen before testing an ingenious invention that might help with any national shortage of pigs in blankets. Finally, Kate Quilton tries out inventive glazes to add some wham-bam to your seasonal ham.

Forensics: The Real CSI
Monday, BBC Two, 9pm
The occasional series in which multiple cameras follow serious crime investigations in real time returns. Once again, it will underline the crucial role cutting-edge forensic science plays in bringing criminals to justice. We meet the experts, from crime scene coordinators to blood pattern analysts and footwear specialists, whose job it is to piece together what happened and find out who is responsible. This edition follows West Midlands Police as they look for forensics to identify the killer of two men found dead in a car.

Two Doors Down
Monday, BBC Two, 11.45pm

Doon Mackichan and Arabella Weir in the previous season of Two Doors Down
Doon Mackichan and Arabella Weir in the previous season of Two Doors Down

The award-winning comedy set in the fictional suburban Glaswegian street of Latimer Crescent returns for a fifth series. Once again, Beth (Arabella Weir) has her patience tested by her overbearing neighbours as she cooks a curry to celebrate Ian (Jamie Quinn) and Gordon’s (Kieran Hodgson) anniversary. However, when her son arrives it is his black eye that catches her and husband Eric’s (Alex Norton) attention. The night starts to spiral downwards when the snooty Cathy and Colin (Doon Mackichan and Jonathan Watson) invite themselves over and Christine (the brilliant Elaine C Smith) turns up with an upset stomach, demanding to know if the kitchen is clean.

The Richard Dimbleby Lecture
Monday, BBC One, 11.15pm

Prof Sarah Gilbert. Photograph: Getty
Sarah Gilbert, vaccinologist and Saïd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford. Photograph: Getty

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine inventors, is set to deliver the 44th edition of the annual lecture named in honour of the late broadcaster. Oxford professor Gilbert has been making and testing vaccines for more than a decade, mainly using antigens from malaria and influenza, and initiated the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine project in early 2020 when Covid first emerged in China. “Whilst my natural home is working with my lab team on vaccine research and development, it’s an absolute honour to be asked to deliver this year’s Dimbleby Lecture,” she said.

Neven’s Christmas at Kylemore Abbey
Tuesday, RTÉ One 8.30pm

Neven Maguiare with John O’Toole in Neven’s Christmas at Kylemore Abbey
Neven Maguiare with John O’Toole in Neven’s Christmas at Kylemore Abbey

Imagine the perfect Christmas: staying at luxurious Kylemore Abbey in Connemara while Neven Maguire rustles up some festive fare. It’s all part of what’s becoming a Maguire family tradition: choosing a different idyllic Irish location each year to host his Christmas cooking special. “We chose Kylemore Abbey simply because it is so beautiful,” says Neven. Can’t argue with that. Among the culinary delights in store are wild mushroom and chestnut soup, and grilled salmon salad with avocado and tomato salad. Maguire also meets the hotel’s head chef, John O’Toole, who shows us the best way of spicing beef and glazing ham, samples the treats made by the Chocolate Factory, and enjoys some seasonal music from the Cantairi Chonamara choir in the Gothic church.

Landscapers
Tuesday, Sky Atlantic & NowTV, 9pm
Fresh from crushing it as queen Elizabeth in The Crown, Olivia Colman pairs up with another great British actor – David Thewlis – for this four-part drama about the toxic power of the imagination. They play “mild-mannered” couple Susan and Christopher Edwards, who live a quiet, suburban life, just the two of them...and Susan’s parents, who they murdered 15 years ago and buried in the back garden. When their dark secret begins to unravel, the couple retreat into the fantasy world of westerns and Hollywood heroes they have built up over the years to escape the horrific reality of their crime.

Colmcille – An Naomh Dána
Tuesday, TG4, 9.30opm

Colmcille – An Naomh Dána
Colmcille – An Naomh Dána

This feature docudrama goes from Donegal to Dundee, Iona to Egypt, and Washington to the Welsh valleys in a quest for the truths within the myths surrounding Donegal’s finest son, troublemaker, copyright infringer, warrior and exile, yet one of Ireland’s most revered saints: Colmcille. He was at the centre of a bloody battle and founded a monastery that became a beacon of civilization in the Dark Ages. He’s even said to have taken on the Loch Ness Monster. But who was Colmcille, the Irish abbot, known in Scotland as St Columba? This exciting documentary, broadcast on the 1,500th anniversary of his birth, explores the man, the myth and his legacy today.

Athbheatha: Colmcille ildánach 2021
Tuesday, TG4, 7.30pm
As part of its multifaceted commemoration of the 1,500th anniversary of Colmcille’s birth, the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) has commissioned seven new artworks. The commissions are in the visual arts, music and literature and have been commissioned by the RIA with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Ag Ceiliúradh Colmcille talks to the artists involved in each commissioned piece and finds out the inspiration and artistry behind these unique works of art. Among those featured are caligrapher Timothy O Neill; glass artist Róisín de Buitléar; poets Biddy Jenkinson, Sandy Nic Dhòmhnaill Jones and Simon Ó Faoláin; writer Proinsias Mac a’ Bhaird; and musicians Zoe Conway, Julie Fowlis, Éamonn Doorley and John McIntyre.

Time
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Stephen Graham in Time
Stephen Graham in Time

Take two of the finest actors around and one of the best writers of TV drama, put them in prison, and you’re bound to see the sparks fly. Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in this three-parter written by Jimmy McGovern, which redefines the term “gritty”. Bean plays convict sentenced to four years for accidentally killing a man. But he’s no hardened lag – he’s a teacher with a family, is remorseful of his crime, and willing to do the time to atone for it. Graham plays a prison officer who is no hardened screw, but someone who cares deeply about the wellbeing of his charges. Can both men survive a brutal and unforgiving prison system? The series aired on BBC earlier this year but is definitely worth a second look to see the stars and writer at their best.

The Cult of Conspiracy: QAnon
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
It’s one of the most prominent conspiracy theories of modern times, centring on claims made by an anonymous individual (or individuals) known as Q that there is a powerful cabal operating a global child-sex trafficking ring. But how did QAnon take such a hold? The documentary looks at some of the people who have subscribed to the theories, from frontline digital soldiers to more high-profile names, to find out why we’re drawn to conspiracies and what leads some individuals to take them to extremes. Although QAnon is often framed as a US problem, the film finds that conspiracy theories are also gaining traction in the UK, and asks what will happen to the movement now that Q has disappeared.

The Sinking of the Costa Concordia: Collision at Sea
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm

Carabinieri police divers inspect the inside of the Costa Concordia cruise ship at Giglio Island, Italy, in 2012. Photograph: EPA
Carabinieri police divers inspect the inside of the Costa Concordia cruise ship at Giglio Island, Italy, in 2012. Photograph: EPA

In January 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground, capsized and sank in shallow waters after striking a rock off the coast of Tuscany. There were more than 4,000 people on board at the time, and while a dramatic rescue mission did save thousands of lives, 32 people died. Now a two-part documentary revisits the tragedy to find out just why the luxury vessel sank and if more could have been done to prevent the accident. The programmes also raise questions about whether such a disaster could happen again.

Sagairt na Síochána
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
One hundred years after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Sagairt na Síochána reveals the remarkable roles played by Irish Redemptorist priests in brokering the most important peace deals between Irish republicans and British governments in the 20th century. In 1921, Archbishop Patrick Clune from Co Clare was a secret intermediary between British prime minister David Lloyd George and Sinn Féin leaders including Michael Collins. In 1986, Fr Alec Reid initiated the Hume-Adams talks, which led to the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Dolly: The Sheep that Changed the World
Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm|
One newspaper described it as a “birth in a barn that shook the world”, as TV news crews rushed to rural Scotland and US president Bill Clinton demanded to be kept abreast of events. When Dolly the Sheep was born on July 5th, 1996, her arrival caused great excitement by defying the laws of natur – and opened a Pandora’s box of ethical questions. This Horizon documentary combines privileged access and never-before-seen archive to tell the story of how a tiny band of boffins on a farm near Edinburgh cracked the holy grail of modern science. We hear from the scientists originally trying to develop better methods for producing genetically modified livestock, who, despite being acutely aware of the public’s suspicion into their work, eventually created the clone.

Oscar Micheaux – The Superhero of Black Filmmaking
Wednesday, Sky Arts, 9.45pm

Oscar Micheaux directing a film in the 1940s. Photograph: Kino Lorber
Oscar Micheaux directing a film in the 1940s. Photograph: Kino Lorber

Considered a true pioneer of the film industry, Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) was the most successful African-American director of the first half of the 20th century, writing, directing and producing more than 40 films, and penning six novels. This documentary puts the director’s career in context alongside a restoration of his work. Historians such as Jacqueline Stewart and Patrick McGilligan outline Micheaux’s journey from Kentucky to Iowa and around the US, while contemporary filmmakers, including Amma Asante, Kevin Willmott and the late John Singleton analyse Micheaux’s ability to explore black life in America.

Junk Couture Grand Final
Thursday, RTÉ2, 7pm
How do you stay in fashion without destroying the planet? Every year, students from around the country work hard to turn everyday household rubbish into unique fashion pieces that are to die for, and the best of them will be competing for the sustainable fashion crown at the Junk Couture Grand Final. The idea is simple: think of ways to recycle discarded items in to wow clothing – maybe turn an old lampshade into a chic hat, or put together a sizzling dress made from chestnuts. This is the second year RTE is airing the grand finale, and even with Covid restrictions we’re promised a spectacular show.

The student designers will be parading their creations in front of judges Michelle Visage from RuPauls Drag Race; X Factor’s Louis Walsh, and fashion designer Steohen Mc Loughlin. And there’s a new judge on the bench: model, author and entrepreneur Roz Purcell, who comments: “These young designers have really shown us all just how important establishing more sustainable habits when it comes to our fashion choices and way of life.” That’s it – I’m going to do my bit and wear my used teabag trousers to the show.

The Stonehenge Enigma: What Lies Beneath?
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
Stonehenge is a major tourist attraction, one that has bewitched and baffled experts for centuries. But its thunder could be stolen by another prehistoric monument situated just a few miles away, which is thought to be 20 times bigger. This fascinating documentary charts the progress of archaeologists as they use cutting-edge technology to uncover a previously unknown subterranean ring. It’s hoped that not only will the site itself prove awe-inspiring, it will also shed new light on the mysteries that still surround Stonehenge and the Neolithic people who created it. Among those involved offering their insights are landscape archaeologist Vince Gaffney and Stonehenge expert Susan Greaney.

Vienna Blood: The Melancholy Countess
Friday, BBC Two, 9pm

Vienna Blood: The Melancholy Countess
Vienna Blood: The Melancholy Countess

It’s season two of the detective series set in Austria in the early 1900s, and it looks like there’s nothing for detective Oskar Rheinhardt to investigate this time. A Hungarian countess has been found dead in the bath in her luxury hotel; she had been suffering from depression, and appears to have died by suicide. But it turns out that she had stopped taking her anti-depression medication at the behest of her psychoanalysis, Dr Max Liebermann, and had been trying out Freud’s revolutionary “talking” cure instead. Reinhardt (Jürgen Maurer) and Lieberman (Matthew Beard) join forces to solve the mystery and clear the doctor’s good name. But when a postmortem reveals that the countess was actually poisoned, and had been seeing a young soldier with a penchant for rich, older women, the investigation takes one of many twists and turns.

Vaccine Wars – The Truth About Pfizer: Dispatches
Friday, Channel 4, 7.30pm
Reporter Antony Barnett investigates Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company whose Covid vaccine has saved thousands of lives during the pandemic, and was chosen by the British government to be given as a booster this autumn and winter over its cheaper Oxford AstraZeneca rival. Pfizer has, unsurprisingly, enjoyed record-breaking profits of late, and Barnett wants to know whether it could be using some of the money to do more to help those in poor countries.

Nick Cave: Idiot Prayer
Friday, BBC Four, 9pm
In April 2020, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds had to postpone the European and American legs of their world tour in support of their album Ghosteen. The gigs were rumoured to have featured a spectacular production incorporating a full gospel choir. Instead, during the summer, Cave sat alone at a piano in the vast, empty expanse of the West Hall in London’s Alexandra Palace, and sang 21 songs from across his extensive back catalogue. This programme features footage from the extraordinary live-streamed concert.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC One, 10.35pm
Hollywood heart-throb Keanu Reeves is the biggest draw this evening, and he’ll be chatting about his return to arguably the most famous role of his career in The Matrix Resurrections. Double Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali then waxes lyrical about his thought-provoking role in futuristic drama Swan Song, while Olivia Colman talks about her new black comedy Landscapers, written by her husband Ed Sinclair. Finally, Jack Whitehall promotes his new film Clifford the Big Red Dog.

ON DEMAND

The Unforgivable
From Friday, Netflix

Sandra Bullock in The Unforgivable
Sandra Bullock in The Unforgivable

German director Nora Fingscheidt’s latest project is a bit of a curiosity piece – it’s based on the 2009 Yorkshire-set ITV drama Unforgiven, originally written by Sally Wainwright and starring Suranne Jones. This time the star is Sandra Bullock, who is also one of the film’s producers. She plays Ruth Slater, who is released from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for a violent crime. She returns to her hometown, keen to pick up the pieces of her former life, but finds that the locals cannot forgive her past transgressions. Everyone seems to be judging Ruth with accusing eyes; Ruth hopes for redemption by reuniting with the younger sister she left behind — although her task is far from easy. Vincent D’Onofrio, Viola Davis, Jon Bernthal and Richard Thomas also star.

Back to the Outback
From Friday, Netflix

Back to the Outback
Back to the Outback

Some big Australian names lend their vocal talents to this computer-animated musical adventure. Listen out for Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Keith Urban and Jacki Weaver as a variety of lovable critters. Among them is a group of Australia’s deadliest animals who, after growing increasingly tired of being stared at by humans, break free from their zoo and head – as the title suggests – back to the Outback. Expect heaps of laughs along the way.

Contributing: PA

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