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

Enid Blyton's Malory Towers, Coronavirus: How Clean Is Your House? and a sordid tale of a countess and a billionaire

The Countess and The Russian Billionaire: Riviera, Succession and Billions rolled into one true story. Photograph: BBC

Blue Planet Revisited
Sunday, BBC1, 5.35pm
The Great Barrier Reef is home to an astonishing array of life and is vital to the health of our seas. But this extraordinary place is under threat like never before. In the second programme of the series, Liz Bonnin is joined by a team of scientists and marine experts to explore the particular challenges facing the eco systems and wildlife in the region off Australia. As the breeding season gets underway, we follow whales and their calves, green turtles and their hatchlings, as well as the underwater dawn chorus of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 600 different kinds of coral and more than 1500 species of fish. Drawing on some of the best footage from 2019s week-long Blue Planet Live, evidence is gathered to help form a real-time snapshot of the health of our oceans.

Secrets of Egypt's Valley of the Kings
Sunday, Channel 4, 8pm
The latest episode of the immersive, action-packed series follows archaeologists hunting for Queen Cleopatra's lost tomb. Then, in the Mediterranean, another team of underwater scientists dives to explore the sunken ruins of ancient Alexandria. In addition, a batch of 4,000-year-old mummies are taken to hospital to be scanned for hidden treasure, and a lawyer-turned-archaeologist discovers a secret network of tunnels at a forgotten temple that could lead her to the jackpot: the tomb of the last Pharaoh of Egypt.

Malory Towers: a nostalgic world. Photograph: Steve Wilkie/BBC/WildBrain/Queen Bert Limited

Malory Towers
Monday, CBBC, 5.30pm
Based on the novels by Enid Blyton, this new 13-part series is set in post-war Britain on the sun-drenched cliffs of the Cornish coast, and explores a nostalgic world of midnight feasts, lacrosse, pranks, ghosts and friendships. It follows the adventures of Darrell Rivers (Ella Bright) as she leaves home for the first time to attend all-girls' boarding school Malory Towers, while keeping her past at her old school – St. Hilda's – a close secret. The full series is available on BBC iPlayer.

Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On
Monday, Channel 4, 8.30pm
This programme should not exist, but there will be many people out there who are pleased it does. Jamie Oliver and Channel 4's executives turned the format around in record time in response to the coronavirus. Its aim is to showcase how to turn kitchen cupboard staples into appetising meals if you're running out of ideas and — in some cases — ingredients while in lockdown. The series first aired each weekday at 5.30pm from Monday, March 23. It was clearly popular because it's now being repeated in a primetime slot. Tonight's episode sees Oliver demonstrate how to make a beef and oxtail stew as well as a mouthwatering pizza. After all, sometimes the simple pleasures in life can be the best.


Terror in Paradise
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
On Easter Sunday 2019, three churches and a trio of luxury hotels in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo were targeted by suicide bombers from an Islamic terror group. Further attacks took place later in the day in Dematagoda and Dehiwala. Almost 300 people were killed, including 45 foreign nationals; around 500 were injured in a total of eight bombings. In this special edition of the This World strand, Jane Corbin meets some of those who faced the attackers and lived to tell the tale. They have harrowing stories and memories of that day a year ago, and their accounts are illustrated here by clips from hours of CCTV footage that show the bombers on the move, revealing in graphic detail how they carried out the atrocities.

Monday, BBC1, 9pm
The semi-finals begin with a spectacular challenge as the nine remaining contestants head to the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth, where they have to cook for HMS Diamond's Trafalgar Night celebration dinner. Split into three teams, they face the enormous challenge of mass catering at fine-dining level from the ship's galley. They then return to the MasterChef kitchen, where they must create a dish to hold onto their hard-fought place in the competition, with two being sent home at the end by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Putin: A Russian Spy Story
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
The final instalment of the documentary opens in Salisbury with the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, before tracking back to see how Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency in 2012 after a four-year absence was greeted by furious protests and accusations of corruption, as well as American sanctions. The programme also looks at Putin's decision to annex Crimea and launch a war in eastern Ukraine and Russia's interference in politics on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Middle East. Last in the series.

Scannal: Scissors Sisters
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8pm
The long-running documentary series retruns to explore the case of Charlotte and Linda Mulhall, who killed and dismembered their mother's lover Farah Swaleh Noor in 2005. The programme features interviews with key people involved in the case including forensic scientist Martina McBride, barrister Kate Ní Chonfhaoala and reporter Caoimhe Ní Laighin.

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Carol Vorderman, Kelly Brook, Rob Rinder and Mo Gilligan take part in the final charity culinary challenge, overseen by judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, and presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, making her final appearance in the tent before being replaced by Matt Lucas for the next series. The contestants must take on three tricky challenges — a sandwich biscuit for the signature round, a sweet bread-based technical, and a cake showstopper which reveals their favourite guilty pleasure. Last in the series.

Your Home Made Perfect
Tuesday, BBC2, 8pm
New series. A couple living in a bungalow near Brighton are treated to two virtual reality visions for what their home could become by architects Laura Jane Clark and Robert Jamison. Silvia and Julian bought the property because they loved the garden, and thought they could make something of the house — but their renovations have not been a success. Robert proposes a way to make the planning rules that have restricted them work for the project, while Laura finds a way to bring the beloved garden inside the house. Presented by Angela Scanlon.

Alma's Not Normal
Tuesday, BBC2, 10pm
If you're not already familiar with comedian Sophie Willan's award-winning stand-up, you might recognise her voice — she's the narrator of the reality show The Circle. Now, she's getting her own comedy pilot, which she writes and stars in, and is partly inspired by her own life. It focuses on Bolton wild child Alma Nuthall, who is trying to get her life back on track following a recent break-up. Unfortunately, her rebellious streak and lack of qualifications are making it difficult. Meanwhile, the other women in her family have their own problems to deal with as her heroin-addict mum has been sectioned for arson, while her vampish Grandma Joan wants nothing to do with the situation. Can these three eccentric, unruly women find a way to manage with the hands they've been dealt?

The Countess and the Russian Billionaire
Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Self-isolation diary entry: put down some time with this oligarchical yarn that promises all the intrigue of Riviera, Succession and Billions all rolled into one true story. Sergei Pugachev amassed his $15 billion fortune under Russian president Vladimir Putin, and ran one of the country's largest private banks, along with a raft of other big companies. But his friendship with Putin turned sour, and he was forced to flee to his chateau in France, leaving his partner, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, and their three children behind in London. Will their fairytale romance have a nightmare ending or will the couple's wealth and privilege prevail?

Feel Good
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
The semi-autobiographical sitcom co-written by and starring Mae Martin, follows the life, loves and and addictions of a stand-up comedian. In the fourth episode, Mae finds out that her parents are visiting the UK without informing her, so she decides to travel north to meet them and takes George along with her for moral support. Now that she is regularly attending her drugs support group, Mae wants to apologise to her parents for her past transgressions as an addict, but they are less than impressed by her apology.

Coronavirus: How Clean Is Your House?
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
Just what we need in these stay-at-home times: someone making you feel paranoid about coronavirus lurking in your home. You thought you'd be safe behind closed doors - well, think again. That little bug could be all over your gaff, and it could strike at any time - even while you're watching this programme on the telly. Two families are visited by a forensic team who sweep the house for fingerprints to demonstrate how they unwittingly spread germs around the house. Then it's time for a deep clean, and the experts dole out advice on the best products to use to stop the virus in its tracks (can't wait to see the ad break). After watching this hygiene horror show, you'll be wrapping yourselves up in binbags and giving your family Dettol showers.

Coronavirus: A Horizon Special
Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm
With Boris Johnson testing positive for coronavirus, it's safe to say that, for Britons, Covid's truly coming home. As the nation belatedly comes together to combat coronavirus - and experts are no longer being dismissed out of hand - the Beeb gets out its big science guns to give the lowdown on where we're at 100 days into this pandemic, and what the world is doing to combat the biggest public health crisis in a century. Who knows, after all this is over, we may see nations displaying herd immunity to fake news and misinformation.

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land
Thursday, Dave, 9pm
You know the apocalypse is near when you start seriously considering watching this latest feature-length episode of Red Dwarf, starring Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn. Back in the mists of time, I whiled away many a beery night watching the antics of Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten as they hurled their way through space, getting smeggier and smeggier with every misadventure (the crew, that is, not me). Now that we're all instructed to stay at home, we don't have to feel guilty about plugging back into our puerile pursuits of the past, but our souls will probably feel a little smaller. Never mind - settle back for this one-off special, as the crew encounter three cat clerics who for some strange reason worship Lister as their god. Of course, he laps it up – that is, until he's recruited to help the clerics escape from the fearsome cat leader Rodon, who has vowed to destroy all who worship false cat gods.

Dynamo: Beyond Belief
Thursday, Sky One & Now TV, 9pm
Great news for fans of magic and illusion – Dynamo is back after a long illness, and he's ready to dazzle the world once again with his astounding, death-defying tricks. In case you've forgotten all about him (I had to go to the Google machine to refresh my memory), Dynamo was a big, rising star in the world of magic, impressing the likes of David Blaine, and performing magic on some of the world's top celebs, when he suddenly came down with a career-threatening illness. This new three-part series follows him on the road to recovery, and sees him trying out some amazing new stunts, using some exotic locations and big festival events as his backdrop. He goes to Mexico for the Day of the Dead festival and attempts to outdo James Bond for daring feats, and joins a Fast & Furious-style "drifter" race in Tokyo, where he attempts to stop a speeding car - with his bare hands.

The Mum Who Got Tourette's
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
Elizabeth is a typical suburban housewife and mother of three with one big difference – without warning, shortly after her 40th birthday, she developed Tourette's syndrome – a neurological condition that causes involuntary tics, some of them offensive. This one-off documentary follows Elizabeth and her family over the course of a busy summer, including a holiday in Cornwall, GCSE results and meeting her son's new girlfriend – experiences amplified by the unexpected impact of Elizabeth's condition.

Alexander Armstrong's Heavenly Gardens
Friday, BBC One, 1.40pm
This two-part special sees the Pointless host and garden designer Arit Anderson visit gardens of reflection and contemplation. At the remote Pluscarden Abbey in north-east Scotland, Alexander helps harvest luscious apples and accompanies the monks singing midday psalms. He then returns to his student haunts in Cambridge to discover a place designed to inspire joy, even on the bleakest days, in the university's Botanic Garden. Meanwhile, Arit walks in the footsteps of royalty in the glorious grounds of Sudeley Castle.

Joe Lycett's Got Your Back
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
The comedian hit the headlines a few weeks back when he announced he had officially changed his name to Hugo Boss. It was all part of a campaign we'll see more of during this run of his consumer programme. The first series, which aired last year, went down a treat with viewers. Unlike Watchdog (which has now been consigned to a footnote on The One Show), it avoided being preachy, instead using humour to highlight various serious issues – something you would probably expect from a stand-up comedian – while gaining impressive results. It's a busy week for Lycett/Boss because he's also back with a new series of The Great British Sewing Bee. Thankfully he has his trusty deadpan sidekick Mark Silcox, and this week, Katherine Ryan is their celebrity assistant.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 9pm
We know what you're thinking – with the nation in lockdown, how can a chat show possibly operate? Well, in its regular format, the simple answer is it can't. But as the BBC announced recently that it was dedicating itself to not only keeping us as up to date as is humanly possible on all matter coronavirus-related, it's going to keep us entertained too. Norton's show was among the programmes announced in a raft of new series, but few clues were given about how it would look, simply saying it would be "not quite as usual". So we'll have to trust its producers have something clever up their sleeves. What we do know, however, is that the infamous red chair remains, albeit in viewers' homes rather than in the studio.

On Demand

The World According to Jeff Goldblum: cult classic in the making. Photoraph: Disney

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
There are heaps of programmes out there that grab you the minute you hear about them and you look forward to tuning in. And then there are those that initially sound quite dull but, once word of mouth spreads, it becomes clear you HAVE to see them. This documentary falls in the latter category. Joe Exotic is a polygamist country and western singer who also runs his own roadside zoo. His particular passion is for big cats, a love he shares with a variety of largely unsavoury characters, including drug kingpins, conmen and cult leaders. But charismatic Joe is about to fall foul of Carole Baskin, an animal activist who threatens to put him and his friends out of business. As we see here, matters turn very serious indeed when Joe is implicated in a murder-for-hire plot...

The World According to Jeff Goldblum
During its launch a couple of weeks ago, much was made of the amount of family content and Star Wars-related offerings available on Disney's streaming platform. But there are a few more grown-up offerings out there, and this one could become a cult classic. Jeff Goldblum is undoubtedly one of the most unusual Hollywood stars out there, a charismatic presence in movies from The Fly to Jurassic Park. Now he's fronting a 12-part series in which he imparts his knowledge on us all on a variety of diverse subjects. He's at pains to explain he isn't going out and investigating these topics, this is stuff he already knows. Expect a few pearls of wisdom about sneakers, ice-cream and coffee. A second series has already been commissioned.

Brews Brothers
Netflix, from Fri
Greg and Jeff Schaffer are brothers. They're also the brains behind this new eight-part comedy; here's hoping their relationship doesn't mirror that of the siblings it depicts. Wilhelm and Adam Rodman have been estranged for years. They're both expert beer brewers, but their respective approach to their craft couldn't be more difficult, while their personalities are like chalk and cheese. These factors are going to cause problems when they find themselves running a brewery together. Can they find a way to make it work? Alan Aisenberg and Mike Castle play the duo. As the Schaffers have such hits as That 70s Show, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm on their collective CV, we're expecting more than just a pint full of laughs from this.

Additional previews: PA

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist