TV guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week
Young, romantic and transitioning, plus the Love Island finale, Cork's Mother Jones on Herstory, and the return of Last Tango, Home of the Year and Better Call Saul
Empower couple: Victoria van der Spek and Max O Floinn profiled in Tras, Wednesday on TG4
Love Island: The Live Final
Sunday, Virgin One/UTV2, 9pm
Telly’s most popular shag-fest comes to its climax, and everyone is at the edge of their seats wondering who will win the £50,000 prize for being the best snoggers. It’s a bittersweet ending, as this means we have to wait anothe few months to watch more buffed, half-naked young people flirting and fumbling in a sunny villa. At the time of this early writing, viewers were hoping Shaughna and Luke M might join sexual forces and steal the big prize, but either way, there are sure to be fanny flutters a-plenty as the ultimate winners are announced.
Last Tango in Halifax
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid return as golden couple Alan and Celia in the fifth series of the Bafta-winning drama written by Sally Wainwright. Having reconnected on Facebook in their 70s after being widowed, Alan and Celia are now seven years into their marriage, settling into the nice new bungalow with its spectacular views of Calder Valley, but discord is starting to raise its ugly head. Celia thinks Alan is mad to take a job at the local supermarket, and Alan thinks Celia’s mad to spend loads of money on a new kitchen. To make matters worse, Alan has started talking to some imaginary creatures in the garden called Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka . . . sorry, I’m getting mixed up with Jacobi’s other job as narrator of In the Night Garden. Last Tango in Halifax also stars Nicola Walker, Sarah Lancashire, Timothy West and Ronni Ancona.
Gradam Ceoil TG4 2020
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
Live from The Waterfront in Belfast, Gradam Ceoil is back, bringing together the finest traditional musicians from far and wide for one spectacular celebration. Dónal Ó Connor and Doireann Ní Ghlacáin preside over TG4’s flagship traditional music awards with stand-out performances from greats such as Laoise Kelly, Seamus Connolly, Josephine Marsh, Sharon Howley, Ned Kelly, Lillis O’Laoire and Beoga.
Herstory: Ireland’s Epic Women
Monday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Cork-born schoolteacher and dressmaker Mary Harris Jones (1830(?)-1930), aka Mother Jones, aka “the most dangerous woman in America”, was a union organiser and activist. After her husband and four children all died of yellow fever in 1867 and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Jones founded the Social Democratic Party, helped establish the Industrial Workers of the World and led a children’s march on the home of President Roosevelt to protest against child labour conditions. Contributing to this episode are Dr Rosemary Feurer of Northern Illinois University, Dr Mary McAuliffe of University College Dublin, and Dr Angela Byrne, historian-in-residence at the Irish Emigration Museum.
Better Call Saul
Netflix, from Mon
Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV shows ever made. It ran for five seasons and its prequel series, starring Bob Odenkirk as sleazy lawyer Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman, is about to equal it in terms of longevity. When we catch up with the central character again, Jimmy has officially become Saul after getting his law licence back. We’re set to edge ever close to the Breaking Bad/Walter White timeline as Mike (Jonathan Banks) finishes work on the underground meth lab, expanding the criminal empire of the terrifying Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).
Flesh and Blood
Monday-Thursday, UTV, 9pm/Tuesdays, Virgin One, 10pm
How do you react when your recently widowed mum gets a new bloke? Do you congratulate her on getting over dad’s death so quickly, or do alarm bells start ringing? This four-part series centres around three grown-up siblings whose lives are upturned when mum Vivien (Francesca Annis) is swept off her feet by retired GP Mark (Stephen Rea). Is Mark genuinely in love with Vivien, or is he an ageing lothario looking to lead a vulnerable widow up the garden path? The siblings set out to expose Mark as a fraud, but their efforts are hampered by the inconvenient truth that they’re not exactly angels themselves, and getting them to put aside their demons and work together for a common cause is easier said than done. As tensions rise, someone will end up dead or injured on the beach – but who?
Monday-Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
A new series following real-life murder cases begins with the investigation into the death of Courtney Valentine-Brown (36), who was found stabbed in a flat in in Southend-on-Sea. The opening episode concentrates on the crucial first 48 hours, as the senior investigating officer and the forensics team get to work piecing together what happened. With no eyewitnesses or CCTV, identifying the killers will be difficult, but the police receive a lead when a witness comes forward to say she saw four people enter the flat just before the murder – and that she recognises two of them.
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
John Torode and Gregg Wallace return with the cookery competition as a new batch of contestants are put through gruelling culinary challenges to test not just their skills, but also their knowledge of food and ability to cope in a professional kitchen. This year they will have to cook not only for their place in the competition but also the right to wear a coveted MasterChef apron, with six contestants in each heat and only four aprons up for grabs. They begin by preparing their signature dish.
The Stand Up Sketch Show
Monday, UTV2, 10pm
The return of the show in which routines by renowned and up-and-coming comedians are reconstructed as sketches. In each of the segments the comedians will play the role they were born to play – themselves – and any dialogue in the routines will be lip-synced by the comics and actors adding to the surreal tone of each scene. Tonight’s performers are Judi Love, who recently became a panellist on Loose Women; former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Seann Walsh; Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Russell Kane; and north London-based funnyman and former bouncer Emmanuel Sonubi.
Home of the Year
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Will the Irish ever tire of poking their pince-nez into other people’s homes? D’uh, no. Hot on the heels of Dermot Bannon’s latest home improvement show (Bannon’s Bathroom Grouting Challenge, or something), it’s time for Home of the Year, in which homeowners get to showcase their fab houses in front of the nation and under the expert eye of a judging panelof starchitects Hugh Wallace, Peter Crowley and super-designer Deirdre Whelan. In this sixth series, 21 homeowners will compete in this property Olympics, putting their gaffes through their paces in hope of being crowned home of the year. Among the quirky and individual homes featured are a converted lighthouse-keeper’s cottage, a carriage house, and a former shop, along with some reimagined, renovated and reconfigured homes. What they all have in common is a guarantee to deliver a dose of property envy. Maybe that’s why we like poking around in people’s houses – it makes us feel like we own the place.
Love Your Garden
Tuesday, UTV, 8pm
Alan Titchmarsh & co are back with a new series, ready to transform the gardens of some very deserving people. They begin in Hull, where they turn a suburban plot into an exciting wildlife retreat for an inspiring, nature-loving teenager. Although some viewers who don’t have green fingers may wonder if that just involves giving up on mowing the lawn and letting nature take its course, there’s a lot more to it than that – especially as, in a Love Your Garden first, the team are also creating an outdoor cinema. The team will also offer advice on creating a beautiful, child-safe pond and revealing the best trees for adding privacy to an overlooked space.
Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm
The new series of the royal satire starring Harry Enfield might have trouble competing with the real-life soap opera playing out at the palace over the past year. No worries: the writers have incorporated recent events into the narrative. Will and Kate are feuding with Harry and Meghan; Andrew has dropped out of public life after dropping the family in it; and Camilla and Kate’s mum are locking horns over who’s going to be the next queen. The writers had better be careful – don’t want viewers mistaking this for a documentary. Happily, the Windsors veer just far enough from the tabloid script so you know it’s not real. Charles invokes Satan to help him succeed to the throne, and Pippa does a Hand That Rocks the Cradle vibe, worming her way into Harry and Meghan’s lives by taking a job as nanny to little Archie. But who’s going to walk Beatrice down the aisle now that daddy Andy is lying low after the fallout from his friendship with a convicted billionaire paedophile? (The prince being bezzies with a paedo?! We’re into the realm of sci-fi here.)
Back in Time for the Corner Shop
Tuesday, BBC2, 8pm
A family of five work in a corner shop to reveal how such businesses have changed over the course of the past 100 years, aided by presenter Sara Cox and social historian Polly Russell. The first episode covers shops from the Victorian era to the first World War. The family must learn to bake their own counter goods, measure loose products like tea, flour and sugar by hand, and make deliveries with a horse and cart. They also receive a visit from Kelly Holmes, who puts them through an Edwardian workout, and discover the impact of food shortages as the war drew on.
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Since the implementation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, giving legal gender recognition to any adult in the country, hundreds of people have changed their gender. However, Ireland’s transgender community is one of the most vulnerable and marginalised in the country. Tras is the story of two Irish 21-year-olds – Victoria van der Spek and boyfriend, Max Ó Floinn – who have changed their genders, the obstacles they face, the reactions of their families, and the challenges they undertake to forge their own identities.
Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs
Wednesday, BBC2, 7.30pm
Paul Murton returns to explore more of the nation’s lochs, beginning by heading to Wester Ross to find out about the heritage of Little Loch Broom. He then travels to the off-grid community of Scoraig, where he learns about violin making and wind power, before taking the plunge to explore the hidden depths of Corrieshalloch Gorge. In Ullapool, on the shores of Loch Broom, Murton learns the Russian word for parsley and how a huge fleet of Russian fish factory ships known as Klondykers used to visit the town.
Saving Lives at Sea
Wednesday, BBC2, 8pm
The documentary telling the stories of the unpaid volunteers who staff more than 200 RNLI lifeboat stations across the UK returns with a particularly dramatic episode: the volunteers race to the rescue of a shark-attack victim, while two fishermen caught by the tide find themselves stranded in a rising sea. Elsewhere, two young boys are swept out to sea in a rip current. The episode also explores some of the sacrifices the volunteers make – as well as braving dangerous conditions, they’re also jeopardising their social lives.
Thursday, RTÉ 2, 11.30pm
If you can manage to stay up late on Thursday night, you have a chance of catching some of the best musical talent out of Ireland, in concert at St James’s Church in Dingle, Co Kerry. Other Voices has been going for a whopping 17 series, and the 18th kicks off with a splash as the incredible Soak takes to the stage. The Derry singer-songwriter has matured into an assured pop artist with an expansive musical vision, and this concert will see her perform songs from her superb second album, Grim Town. This episode also features performances from Murder Capital, Arlo Parks and Junior Brother, while Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and May Kay will handle the compering duties with aplomb. The takeaway? We’re a fierce talented lot.
I Am Not Okay With This
Netflix, from Thursday
Already binge-watched every second of End of the F***king World and are looking for another project to get your teeth into? This could well fit the bill. I Am Not Okay With This comes from the same team (director Jonathan Entwistle and writer Christy Hall) and has at its core another offbeat teenager, albeit a very different one. Sophia Lillis heads the cast as Sydney, who istruggles to cope with all the usual stuff that comes at her stage of life, from high school issues to her budding sexuality and her family. But she also has mysterious superpowers that are beginning to come to the fore. Based on Charles Gorsman’s graphic novel.
Netflix, from Thursday
The first series of this futuristic crime drama, based on a novel by Richard K Morgan, starred Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier given a new chance at life after having his soul removed from storage and placed in a new body, or “sleeve”. But he could only buy his freedom if he successfully solved a murder. The run was met enthusiastically by viewers, and now it’s back with Anthony Mackie taking over as Kovacs.Hey, as characters can move from body to body, he can appear in any shape or form the writers want. Now Kovacs has a new quest: to be reunited with his lost love while tracking down whoever is responsible for a series of brutal murders.
10 Years Younger in 10 Days
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
10 Years Younger is back with more jaw-dropping makeovers and tips for viewers, after the hit show’s move from Channel 4 to Channel 5. Cherry Healey takes over as host, and the challenge is bigger than ever before. The experts will attempt to transform people’s looks and lives in just 10 days, without any surgery. Each episode will follow two contributors desperate to reverse the signs of ageing but have no idea how to go about it. Farmer Gail has spent more time caring for her animals than herself and feels her life in the great outdoors has left her looking older than her years. And dog walker Sarah has been hiding herself and her insecurities under layers of baggy clothes. Hopefully the experts’ tips and treatments will give them the confidence boost they need.
Meet the Richardsons
Thursday, Dave, 10pm
This new comedy series provides viewers with a fictional window into the funny and frustrated marriage of stand-up comedians Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont. We get glimpses into their home and work lives (well, as exaggerated version of them), as they are surrounded by celebrity friends and their Hebden Bridge neighbours – who also reveal what they really think of them. In tonight’s opening episode, the Richardsons decide to throw a huge birthday party for their daughter Elsie. But predictably, things don’t quite go to plan.
Friday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
The popular Fleadh Cheoil returns with six episodes featuring the best of Irish traditional music from Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019. John Creedon and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh return to the helm for Drogheda’s second and final year hosting the competition. This first episode features music from Oisín Mac Diarmada and friends, Francis Gaffney and John Carty, Sibéal Ní Chasaide and the O’Gorman family, made up of five young fiddlers. Throughout the series, Creedon reconnects with musicians and friends and enjoys soaking up everything that is unique about the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. Meanwhile, Nic Amhlaoibh performs in a few street sessions, getting fully immersed in what Fleadh Cheoil is all about, meeting new musical friends and reacquainting with even more.
All the Bright Places
Netflix, from Friday
In 2015, screenwriter, journalist and TV producer Jennifer Niven published her first novel aimed at the young adult market. All the Bright Places won various awards and was seemingly destined to be turned into a movie. Niven herself co-wrote the script with Liz Hannah, whose previous work includes Steven Spielberg’s The Post. Elle Fanning and Justice Smith play the central characters, Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, troubled souls desperate to escape their small Indiana town. Violet has struggled with survivor’s guilt following her sister’s death; Theodore suffers from depression and constantly thinks about suicide. The close bond they form offers them both hope, although danger seems to be lurking around every corner.
Laura Brennan: This Is Me
Friday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
A welcome rebroadcast of last year’s documentary that follows the final chapters in the life of Laura Brennan, who lived her life to the full with end stage cervical cancer. After a heroic battle, Brennan passed away last March 20th. But before she died, Brennan was determined that every parent in Ireland who had to make a decision on whether their daughter would be vaccinated against HPV would hear her story first. Her cancer, like 5 per cent of all cancers, is caused by the HPV, human papillomavirus. The vaccination rate in Ireland had fallen to 51 per cent, thanks to a lot of ill-founded negative publicity around the vaccine. Brennan worked tirelessly as an advocate for the HPV vaccine. The most recent figures show that the uptake has risen to 70 per cent.
Eric Burdon: Rock’n’Roll – Animal
Friday, BBC4, 9.30pm
A look at how pop group The Animals were important standard bearers of the early ’60s “British Invasion” of America, behind The Beatles but ahead of The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks. Alongside his passion for original American blues, frontman Eric Burdon got together in the late 1960s with the black LA band War, itself a political statement in the Black Panther era. And, inspired by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, he expanded his musical spectrum with jazz and funk. This documentary reveals how Burdon’s creative output made a profoundly authentic contribution to pop culture.