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

The Green Planet, Smother, Crimes and Confessions, Rules of the Game

Dancing with the Stars
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
The dancefloor was sadly empty last year due to Covid, but this year the tumbleweed is being swept aside as a new bunch of celebs get ready to strut their stuff in the hugely popular contest. The dancing dozen competing for the glitterball prize include include broadcasters Gráinne Seoige and Aengus Mac Grianna, comedian Neil Delamere, cyclist Nicolas Roche, singer-songwriter Erica Cody, paralympic swimmer Ellen Keane, model Missy Keating, author Cathy Kelly, retired jockey Nina Carberry, and Alsan guitarist Billy McGuinness. They'll be paired up with a crack team of professional dancers, but who will turn out to be the dark horse in the line-up? This year's judges are taking no prisoners, and the celebs will have just tonight's episode to strut their stuff before the elimination process begins in week two. Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne are back as presenters, with returning judges Lorraine Barry and Brian Redmond joined by dancer and choreographer Arthur Gourounlian.

The Green Planet
Sunday, BBC One, 7pm

Here’s another chance to marvel at one of the world’s most amazing natural phenomena: Sir David Attenborough, still making stunning TV series at the age of 95, and as passionate as ever about conserving the natural world, as evinced by his Cop26 address to world leaders in November. For this five-part series, Attenborough focuses on the plant kingdom and how those seemingly benign green, stalky yokes can be as aggressive as any wild animal when it comes to survival. The series will use cutting-edge technology to uncover the secret lives of plants and reveal how they work together and with the animal world to propagate and thrive. Sir David will travel around the world to discover trees that look after each other like family, plants that hunt animals, and one plant with the world’s deadliest defences.

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm


The well-received drama series returns for season two, and there are new challenges in store for Val Ahern (Dervla Kirwan) as her dead husband Denis continues to cast a long, toxic shadow over her and her family’s lives. Series two begins with a new arrival in the Co Clare community: Denis’s estranged son Finn, who was abandoned and left to grow up in foster care in the UK. His arrival coincides with an orchestrated campaign against Val’s family, with her daughters Jenny (Niamh Walsh), Grace (Seána Kerslake) and Anna (Gemma Lee Devereux) in the firing line. Val will have to use all her wiles and wits to find out who is trying to take down the family. The Guardian’s four-star review likened the series to a whodunit written by Maeve Binchy.

Sunday, ITV, 8pm
We had to make do with just two new episodes of Vera last year (fans were obviously grateful for what they could get, given how challenging filming conditions have been). The good news is that Brenda Blethyn's detective is back on the case, beginning with a daring robbery at a port. The investigation takes an interesting turn when it emerges that the heist was an inside job. However, the "insider" wasn't just motivated by the cash: his son had been kidnapped to ensure that everyone stuck to the plan. Unfortunately, that plan is about to go wrong. Kenny Doughty is also back as DS Aiden Healy. And look out for Emmerdale veterans Charlie Hardwick and Bill Ward among the supporting cast.

The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It?
Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
On February 4th, 1997, Louise Woodward (19), a British au pair working in the US, called 991 to say that she was trying to revive eight-month-old Matthew Eapen but he was unresponsive. Within days Woodward was arrested and charged with his murder; the subsequent trial gripped America and Britain. This three-part documentary re-examines the case, asking whether Woodward really did shake baby Matthew to death, or if she was the victim of bogus science. It begins by looking at the prosecutor's case.

Crimes and Confessions
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
For more than 40 years, the existence of a Garda Heavy Gang has been denied. This ground-breaking true-crime series looks at three of the most notorious miscarriages of justice cases from the 1970s and 1980 and draws links between them. Featuring dramatic first-hand accounts from those who were there during this most turbulent time in Irish history, this show shines a light on the key witnesses involved and re-examines some of the most successful – and controversial – cases amid ongoing rumours of a Garda Heavy Gang.

Episode one establishes a context for policing in Ireland during the 1970s, focusing on the story of Una Lynskey (19), who went missing on a country lane near her home in Ratoath, Co Meath in October 1971. Martin Conmey and Martin Kerrigan signed what they claimed were forced confessions; their friend Dick Donnelly was also charged with the killing. The Court of Criminal Appeal subsequently declared a miscarriage of justice in Conmey’s case. Donnelly’s manslaughter conviction was overturned on appeal, and Kerrigan never faced trial – Una’s brothers Sean and James and cousin John Gaughan killed him. They were ultimately found guilty of his manslaughter. Una’s killer has never been found.

Junior Bake Off
Monday, Channel 4, 5pm
Thousands applied to take part, but only 16 of Britain's most talented young bakers got a place in the tent – and only one of them can take the title. If that all sounds a bit tense for youngsters, never fear: Harry Hill is on hand to make sure the mood stays light. In the opening episode, superstar pastry chef Ravneet Gill and surprise guest judge Paul Hollywood test the aspiring bakers on their cake skills. First up is a Technical challenge, which might be the most stressful sponge the kids have faced. Then, for the Showstopper, the judges will be hoping to learn a little more about the contestants' lives as well as their abilities as they ask them to create cakes depicting their proudest moments.

Couples Therapy
Monday, BBC Two, 11.15pm
It takes courage for couples to admit they are having problems and seek help. It's arguably even braver for them to agree to air those differences on TV. This series goes inside the sessions of Dr Orna Guralnik to find out more about how the counselling process works by following the progress of four couples who hope the expert can get to the bottom of their issues. In the opening episode, Annie and Mau revisit a traumatic birthday, while Sarah and Lauren are facing a dilemma that may be familiar to some viewers: one of them wants to start a family but the other isn't sure if they are ready. Meanwhile, DeSean opens up about why he is fed up with Elaine, and Evelyn and Alan face a difficult decision.

Rules of the Game
Tuesday/Wednesday, BBC One, 9pm

If you’re getting fed up working from home and longing for the collegiate atmosphere of the office, here’s a four-part thriller that might give you pause. This is one workplace you don’t want to return to, where dead bodies turn up, toxic management techniques are exposed, and there’s no teabags left in the canteen (that last one may not actually be true). Maxine Peake stars as the tough-nut chief operating officer of Fly, a family-run business, who is forced to confront the company’s murky past. Rakhee Thakrar plays Maya, the company’s new director of HR, who makes it her business to uncover the terrible truth about Fly.

Glór Tíre
Tuesday, TG4, 9.20pm
The new season of Glór Tíre begins in a new venue with a new show and lots of great music. Johnny Brady takes to a stage and introduces his two contestants for this year's series. Judges Jó and Caitriona are back and joined by a special guest judge each week. In a new twist, the judges must choose between the two contestants, keeping one safe and leaving the other to face your votes in the first live elimination programme. Presented by Aoife Ní Thuairisg.

The Secret Life of Our Pets
Tuesday, ITV, 8pm
When it comes to pet-related programmes, it seems viewers cannot get enough of them. Paul O'Grady's For the Love of Dogs and Neil Fitzpatrick's The Supervet are both huge ratings-winners. Before Christmas, we were also treated to The Pet Show, hosted by Dermot O'Leary and Joanna Page. Now ITV follows that up with a new series that provides insights into what our furry/feathered/scaled friends get up when our backs are turned. The four-part programme mixes science and the latest camera technology to capture extraordinary feats of communication and athleticism, as well as displays of animal supersenses, revealing how our own lives could be enriched if only we could tap into them.

An Cósta Thiar
Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm

Ireland’s west coast is recognised as one of the most remarkable coastal routes in the world. In this series, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin travels down the coast to gain an insight into the culture, challenges and benefits of life by the Atlantic. She bids farewell to her swim group, Uisce Beatha, in Gaoth Dobhair, heading to na Rosa to learn about the historical importance of the sea. While fishing, Ní Bhreisleáin investigates the constant battle between sustaining communities and conserving our seas, and finally discovers a gem – Owey Island.

Iontais na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Naturalist Eoin Warner explores the marine animals that inhabit the coastlines of Ireland and Wales and are perfectly adapted to this rapidly changing and dramatic environment. This episode follows Atlantic grey seals through the year, from courtship, to pregnancy and birth. Will a curious snowy-white seal pup make it safely through to adulthood? We also follow a pair of guillemots bringing up their single youngster on a narrow rock shelf. The parents must protect their chick from aerial attacks by predatory gulls, until the chick makes the heart-stopping first leap off the cliff edge.

The Bay
Wednesday, ITV, 9pm

It came as a blow when Morven Christie decided to quit her role as DS Lisa Armstrong in this crime drama. But the producers have found somebody else to take her place: Marsha Thomason, who as been working mostly in the US in recent years, but returns to her native northwest to take on the role of Morecambe’s new family liaison officer, DS Jenn Townsend. On her first day at work, a body is found in the Bay, and Townsend finds it difficult to prove her worth to her new colleagues – the grieving family aren’t willing to let her into their world. Making matters even trickier is the fact that her own loved ones are struggling to settle down in their new town.

Croí an Chlub
Thursday, TG4, 8pm
Croí an Chlub tells the stories of four very different GAA clubs as they compete, battle for honours, and strive to survive in 2021. This week, Cumann Mícheál Breathnach manager Cárthach Bán Breathnach returns home for the first time in a while. Naomh Abán begin training for last year's U21 final. Young footballers from Clondalkin are delighted to return to the pitch. And the intercounty game returns with Róisín Nic Ruairí from Naomh Muire in thick of it for the Donegal Ladies team.

Laochra Gael
Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm

Laochra Gael returns for a 21st series with the extraordinary story of Antrim hurler, Terence “Sambo” McNaughton. As a boy, Sambo suffered abuse and exclusion because of his speech impediment. He found release on the playing field, but the life of a hurler was perilous in the North in the 1980s. Because of his fame as a player, McNaughton was targeted for assassination by the UDA. In spite of all of this, he became the heartbeat of the team that pulled off the biggest shock in the history of Gaelic Games, a team that will be remembered forever.

Go Veggie and Vegan with Matt Tebbutt
Thursday, Channel 5, 7pm
Vegetables can be delicious, diverse and great for your health. In this new series, the chef and his friends present easy, tasty and budget-conscious recipes full of fantastic textures and flavours. Tebbutt kicks things off with a vegan spinach and ricotta cannelloni, using oat milk for the bechamel and a flavour-packed easy tomato sauce made in the oven. This vegan twist on comfort food is perfect for freezing and a great option for preparing in advance for a delicious dinner. This show's hero veg is beetroot, and Tebbutt explores versatile ways to use it beyond pickling. Jane Baxter, the show's resident veggie chef expert, is back in the kitchen showcasting a delicious pumpkin, corn and goats cheese gratin dip that's great for sharing.

Martin Clunes: Islands of the Pacific
Thursday, ITV, 9pm
Following his series on the Islands of Britain, Australia and America, Martin Clunes embarks on another epic ocean-wide adventure. He begins his Pacific trip in French Polynesia, flying into its biggest island, Tahiti, for a traditional welcome of a floral garland around his neck. He then visits a vineyard where the owner is developing a new grape suited to Tahiti's unique growing conditions. Clunes travels onto Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the Pacific, with a reputation for having the best sea life anywhere in the world. Accompanied by a guide, he swims in the Rangiroa Lagoon's "aquarium", before heading to Shark City to swim with black tip reef sharks. Finally, Clunes moves to an atoll that is trying to improve the environment, partly thanks to the work of late movie star Marlon Brando.

Ceol Chogadh na Saoirse
Friday, TG4, 8pm
With 17 new original recordings of songs associated with the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, Ceol Chogadh na Saoirse explores the complex relationship the Irish have with these songs – and how the relationship has changed over the past century. By examining the works of notable songwriters such as Peadar Kearney, the first programme shows how the songs were instrumental in igniting the War of Independence and keeping up morale during some of the darkest days, but subsequently shunned by the newly established Free State government.

Dark Woods
Friday, More4, 9pm

The latest offering from the Walter Presents stable is this six-part German TV Award winner (original title: Das Geheimnis des Totenwaldes), based on a true story. The sister of a high-ranking cop Thomas Bethge (Matthias Brandt) disappears from her house in Lower Saxony, near where gruesome double murders have taken place. As a Hamburg police officer, Bethge is not allowed to investigate in Lower Saxony, so he seeks support from his two colleagues (Karoline Schuch and Andreas Lust). Bethge’s quest for justice continues long after his retirement for almost 30 years as he and his team, through painstaking and meticulous research, finally get on the track of a suspected serial killer.


From Thursday, Netflix
Bestselling author Nora Roberts is hugely prolific – she's written more than 200 novels under her own name as well as various pseudonyms. The mystery thriller Brazen Virtue is the inspiration for this feature-length adaptation. Alyssa Milano takes the lead role of Grace, a crime expert and author whose estranged sister begs her to return home to Washington DC. However, before she can explain why, her sibling is murdered and the subsequent investigation reveals she had a lucrative sideline as a webcam performer. Unable to stand by doing nothing, Grace involves herself in the case, endangering her own life in the process.

After Life
From Friday, Netflix
Ricky Gervais returns as widowed bloke Tony in the third and final part of this comedy drama, written and directed by Gervais. Tony, a writer for a local paper in the town of Tambury, is consumed with grief after his beloved wife dies of cancer. He's got nothing to live for, so he's decided to take it out on the whole world. As Tony goes through the various stages of grief, however, he gets past angry and vengeful and starts to suspect that his "superpower" of not giving a f**k might actually be working against him and prolonging his suffering.He realises that the only way to find a reason to live is to try to make other people's lives better. Ricky Gervais being nice? This I'll have to see.

The Tragedy of Macbeth
From Friday, Apple TV+

In his four-star review last month, IT critic Donald Clarke wrote: “There may not be a Big Idea in Joel Coen’s take on Shakespeare’s most dynamic tragedy, but all the artistic choices work. Production designer Stefan Dechant and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel create a claustrophobic environment (monochrome images shut within a 4:3 Academy ratio) that suggests early expressionist cinema and the metaphysical spaces of Giorgio de Chirico. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand add poignancy to the malevolence with older versions of the murderous first couple. The standout player, however, is Kathryn Hunter – grating and unnerving, but beautifully crisp, as all three witches. It is done well. It is done quickly.”

Archive 81
From Friday, Netflix

Found footage horror movies are hardly a rarity these days, and this one is based on a hit podcast of the same name. It stars Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an archivist who lands what appears to be the plum job of restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994. They contain the work of documentary film-maker Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), who was investigating a dangerous cult before meeting a mysterious end. Viewers will see what happened to Melody while also following Dan’s work and increasing obsession with a woman he never met. Before long, both timelines look set to collide as Dan becomes convinced he can save Melody from her grisly fate.

Contributing: PA