TV guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week
Disney+ launches, plus Dancing behind closed doors, Pauline McGlynn on the road to Istanbul, Amy Poehler’s Duncanville premieres, and the return of Friday Night Dinner
Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins in Hitmen, premiering Wednesday on Sky One
Dancing with the Stars
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
Coronavirus is forcing sporting events to be either cancelled or played behind closed doors, and now Ireland’s favourite dance contest is required step out without a studio audience in situ.With Fr Ray finally voted out – and taking half of the entertainment factor with him – and now with no audience to cheer or jeer the remaining contestants, this is shaping up to be a bit of an anti-climax, but there’s still a big audience at home who’ll be watching intently and voting for their favourite to win. Four celebs went into last Sunday’s semi-final: presenter Lottie Ryan, model Grainne Gallanagh, Fair City star Ryan Andrews, and GAA hurler Aidan Fogarty. By the time you read this, only three will be left standing – though hopefully not standing still. We’re hoping Lottie goes the distance, for her dad.
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
You’ve been trying for years to have a baby, with no success. You’re down to your last embroyo. Would you trust a teenage randomer to act as your surrogate, and how can you be sure she hasn’t got an ulterior motive, like taking everything you have? Martin Compston, star of hit cop drama Line of Duty, and Sophie Rundle play Dan and Emily, who have everything they could possibly want in life – except the one thing they want most. Mirren Mack plays 18-year-old Kaya, who offers to act as a surrogate for the couple if they’ll help her get her life back on track. It soon becomes apparent, though, that Kaya wants a lot more out of this deal than anyone could have expected.
Sunday, TG4, 8.30pm
Eibhlín Ní Chonghaile and Eoghan Ó Loideáin meet the kids from Scoil Naomh Eoin Baiste in Lispole, Co Kerry. From showcasing their Riverdance capabilities to their knack for telling a good story, expect the unexpected. The kids along with members from the local community and the Lispole GAA club, will take on a new intergenerational challenge. Together they will form Lispole’s newest Pop-Up choir and perform an as Gaeilge version of hit song Shotgun from George Ezra live in studio. Special guest will be past pupil and Ros na Rún star Colm Mac Gearailt.
Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook
Sunday, UTV, 10.30am
Ainsley Harriott embarks on a journey across the Mediterranean, beginning in style on board a 44ft catamaran. Skipper Jean-Hughes teaches him the basics of sailing and they drop anchor in a crystal-clear cove on the island of Lavezzi, where Ainsley tries his hand at paddleboarding. He cooks up some delicious recipes in the boat’s galley kitchen, including seafood skewers with pepperonata. Back on dry land, it’s time for a masterclass in the famous Corsican wild boar stew at a family-run restaurant just outside of Ajaccio. Then Ainsley indulges in patisserie at a classic French boulangerie. It’s a hard life.
Squeaky Clean: Britain’s Favourite Cleaning Product
Sunday, Channel 5, 6pm
British people spend some £4 billion annually on cleaning products, and that figure has no doubt gone up and recent weeks. But which one do they like the best? In this top 20 countdown, an array of celebs unbottle the secret histories of the sprays, liquids and sponges we all use to polish, wipe and buff our homes clean. From bleach to bathroom spray, and from the humble sponge to the abrasive scouring pad, these go-to housekeeping items are put to the test. There’s also a chance to see cleaning icon Barry Scott in his natural habitat.
Putin: A Russian Spy Story
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Documentary series examining how Vladimir Putin brought his knowledge of spycraft to bear on his leadership of Russia, how his personal experiences have influenced his politics, and how modern Russia has been created through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger.The programme takes viewers on a journey into the mind of one of the 21st century’s most influential leaders, offering a portrait of a politician who modelled himself as the Russian James Bond and whose never-ending presidency reads like a spy thriller.
Made in Chelsea
Monday, E4, 9pm
Ollie and Binky are back, and the gang get together for a catch-up dinner. Talk turns to the mischief and mayhem they have created, and Ollie gets emotional as he tells all about his recent romance and surprise engagement to long-time friend Gareth. Elsewhere in SW3, Jamie and Habbs are back on track after their dramatic reconciliation in Buenos Aires and they view a plush potential pad. Zara is also in the mood for interior design as she suggests dramatic changes to Sam’s house. But trouble looms when skittish Sam confides in Harry that he’s not ready to take the next step.
Cloch le Carn: Big Tom
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm (repeated Wed, RTÉ2, 8.30pm)
The half-century career of Big Tom McBride (1936-2018) is encapsulated using rare archival footage, interviews and memories from some of those who knew him. It’s hardly any wonder that Big Tom was christened the King of Irish Country Music: thanks to his rich, distinctive voice he built a lasting rapport with his audiences. His regal status was cemented when Susan McCann sang ‘ig Tom Is Still the King back in 1978. Being a modest man from humble beginnings, McBride wasn’t hugely comfortable with the royal title. He saw himself first and foremost as a farmer, content and fulfilled while working the land. When he wasn’t gigging he passed the time driving tractors and quads along his beloved country roads, stopping to chat to people along the way. The programme features contributions from Tom’s daughter Aisling McBride-Duffy, Fr Brian D’Arcy, Margo O’Donnell, Tom Gilmore, Jo Ní Chéide, Josie Ó Cualáin, Kevin McCooey, Susan McCann and Marina O’Neill.
From Tuesday, Disney+
Today sees the European launch of Disney’s new subscription service, and its flagship series is set in a galaxy far, far away, sometime between the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order. The Mandalorian is a lone gunman and bounty hunter (think Clint Eastwood with a helmet) who is tasked with tracking down the “Child”, better known as the meme of 2019, “Baby Yoda”. The show is directed by Jon Favreau, and is the first-ever live action Star Wars series, so expect your kids to march like Stormtroopers into the livingroom to watch this.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
From Tuesday, Disney+
Is this the first TV show to feature a double colon in the title? The title is a clue to the meta-ness of this “mockumentary”, in which a fictional high school stages its own version of High School Musical: The Musical, in the very same place where the original High School Musical movies were filmed. Sorry, you lost me at “High”. Expect lots of teenage lust – though heavily sanitised and Disney-fied, of course. Don’t want to frighten the parents.
From Tuesday, Disney+
Disney’s new streaming service is, as to be expected, dominated by entries in the Stars Wars and MCU franchises. But there are also a few hidden gems. Perhaps the best is this 2017 documentary, which can be found in Disney’s National Geographic offshoot. Written and directed by Brett Morgen, it focuses on the work of Jane Goodall, now regarded as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. The documentary examines her early years in the field when, at the age of 26 and without receiving any formal training, she was sent to study the animals in Tanzania.
The Yorkshire Vet
Tuesday, Channel 5, 8pm
Back on the rounds with Thirsk animal doctor Peter Wright, who owns the practice once run by world-famous vet James Herriot, and his former partner Julian Norton. Peter visits old clients Alan and Tricia, whose cow has a prolapsed uterus after giving birth. But the feisty new mum doesn’t seem too keen on being helped. He also treats a Shetland pony struggling to walk due to a painful foot condition. In nearby Boroughbridge, Norton meets a lhasa apso with a horrible-looking mouth tumour. He also locks horns with a ram to examine its sore eye.
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
The military drama returns, with Michelle Keegan back for another tour of duty as British army medic Georgie Lane, who this time insists she is staying put in the UK. Now a sergeant in charge of training a new bunch of medics, Georgie tells her friends in 2 Section she is quite happy with her lot and will not be joining them on their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. But when a night out ends in a near-fatal accident, she cannot deny that the painful memories of losing Elvis to a Taliban attack is the real reason she does not want to go back, and she realises she has to return to face her own fears.
Wednesday, Sky One, 10pm
So, what have former Bake Off presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins aka Mel and Sue been up to these days? Oh, just going around killing people for money – and making an absolute Eton mess of it. The comedy duo star in this new series about two half-baked assassins who are more cowboy outfit than professional hit(wo)men. With their latest hit job missing the target, they’re going to need all of their half wits about them to avoid getting the bullet.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
From Wednesday, Netflix
Barack and Michelle Obama are among the executive producers of this eye-opening documentary, which should prove how worthwhile it is. At its heart is disability rights activists Jim LeBrecht, a renowned sound designer for theatre and film. He is also the co-director and producer during a journey back in time to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he spent time at a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers near Woodstock in upstate New York. LeBrecht reveals how the place changed his life, giving him and others a sense of freedom and empowerment they hadn’t previously enjoyed.
Wednesday, BBC2, 10pm
Leslie Winner is a loser – that’s the premise of this new comedy series about a well-intentioned klutz with the ironic name who is followed by disaster everywhere he goes. Despite being a total clumsy clod, Leslie has won the heart of Jemma, and the couple are now preparing for their wedding. But how can Leslie pay for the wedding and honeymoon when every job he gets ends in a P45 and a big repair bill? Spencer Jones plays this updated version of Frank Spencer; in the first episode he comes across an old piano and hatches a scheme to make some money out of music. Expect lots of bum notes and premarital dischord.
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
The staff at Barnsley Hospital A&E in South Yorkshire are back, with changes. Some of the nursing staff have been promoted, junior doctors have joined – and there is a shiny new red phone! As a new shift begins, consultant doctor Sue Mason and Sr Benita prepare resus for a 56-year-old patient who has been found unconscious at home. But they can’t track down his family and without them it’s difficult to work out what is wrong. Dr George Kay treats an 85-year-old struggling for breath, and a 10-year-old arrives after chopping off the tip of his finger. His mum and dad have brought it with them in a bag of frozen peas – but can it be re-attached?
Born to Be Different
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
For 20 years, C4 has followed five individuals born with disabilities. Now that they have reached young adulthood, cameras return for the first of two new documentaries to find out how it feels for them to be out in the world alone. Zoe is starting a law degree but has refused the help of a care team while at university. Emily is studying to become a nurse, while William has moved to his own flat. However, he has spent more time in hospital than his new home. Shelbie’s family are taking one day at a time. But against all odds, she has turned it around and is heading back to school. And in New Zealand, Hamish is moving into a student house while training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
You Are What You Wear
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
Rylan Clark-Neal presents this new fashion makeover show – but he’s not the one doing the making over. For that, he has five stylists ready to take on a diverse range of people seeking to reinvent their wardrobes. After giving their reasons for wanting to change, each volunteer is given three new looks before one final showstopping look is unveiled at the end of the day. In the first show, a personal hygiene salesman wants to inject some colour into his wardrobe and a 5ft 3in man who only wears children’s clothes is looking for a grown-up style. A PE teacher is keen to swap her gym gear for glamour, and a warehouse worker is worried that her work wardrobe is creeping into her weekend.
Thursday, E4, 9pm
The seventh run of the US comedy sees the cops tackling a big case. After an assassination attempt on a city councillor, Jake leads a manhunt to find the shooter. He decides to let Holt join the case out of pity after Madeline Wuntch demoted the former captain to the role of uniformed beat cop. Elsewhere, Amy seeks Rosa’s help when she believes she might be pregnant – but it doesn’t stop her rushing at an armed and dangerous man. Then, in tonight’s second episode, a new captain attempts to ingratiate herself with the squad by inviting them over to her house for a dinner party.
Friday Night Dinner
Friday, Channel 4, 10pm
The comedy revolving around a weekend family meal returns for a sixth helping, and we’re looking forward to rejoining the Goodmans at the dinner table to see what’s cooking in their dysfunctional world. Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter return as mum and dad, with Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal as pranking brothers Adam and Jonny. So, what non-culinary delights have the Goodmans in store for us this season? For a start, Dad has for some reason moved into a smelly old caravan that even Fr Noel Furlong wouldn’t be seen dead in, while Aunty Val has discovered the joy of sexting. But where’s Jonny’s phone? Oh, Adam has gaffa-taped it to the ceiling. Somehow, I suspect that prank will backfire.
Friday, Channel 4, 10.35pm
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Simpsons writers Mike and Julie Scully co-created this animated comedy. It revolves around Duncan (voiced by Poehler), an average 15-year-old who fantasises about the freedom adulthood will give him, only to be brought back down to earth by the reality of still being a teenager. So to make up for all this, he creates a rich fantasy life. But it seems he is not the only one with dreams – his mother (also Poehler) is a parking enforcement officer who wants to one day be a detective, while his dad is a rock music-obsessed plumber determined to be a better dad than the one he had. In the first episode, Annie worries about her very average teenage son.
Making the Cut
From Friday, Amazon Prime
Project Runway is back, sort of. Model-turned-presenter Heidi Klum first teamed up with fashion consultant Tim Gunn while making that series, in which wannabe designers vied for a chance to launch their fashion careers. This time a dozen international entrepreneurs and designers have been invited to take part. Their aim is to build a successful fashion brand, with a $1 million investment up for grabs. The extra twist is that each week’s winning look will be available to buy from Amazon for under $100.
The Gadget Show
Friday, Channel 5, 7pm
Jon Bentley takes Google’s latest laptop – the Pixelbook Go – on a day’s work experience at the Mail Online. The G Team assists some NHS nurses who want to see how gadgets can get them improve their sleep patterns when working night shifts. Plus, Craig Charles attempts to turn a house into a smarthome using off-the-shelf DIY kits. And Georgie Barrat hunts down the must-haves for 2020 at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas.
Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul
Friday, BBC2, 11.05pm
Actor Pauline McLynn, journalist Adrian Chiles, former politician Edwina Currie, Olympian Fatima Whitbread, broadcaster Mim Shaikh, TV presenter Amar Latif and comedian Dom Joly set out to cover sections of the Sultans Trail – a modern-day 2,200km pilgrimage across eastern Europe that starts in Vienna and ends in Istanbul. Each has varying religions, with Dom and Pauline confirmed atheists. Starting in the Serbian capital Belgrade, they stay in basic hostels and sleep in shared dorms, acting as simple pilgrims traversing the ancient military route by rail and foot.