TV Guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week
RTÉ’s Comic Relief, Eve Hewson in The Luminaries and Will Ferrell’s Eurovision spoof
Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, streaming from Friday on Netflix
Andy Murray: King of Queen’s
Sunday, BBC2, 4pm
Strawberries and cream at the ready? Then settle back and enjoy this look at the tennis star’s success in the Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club, featuring footage of some of Murray’s memorable matches. The pride of Glasgow has won a stunning five singles titles on the grass courts at Queen’s. It was the scene of his first win on the ATP Tour in 2005, and both of Murray’s Wimbledon titles were prefaced with victory at the west London venue. There’s also a look at Murray’s 2019 success with Feliciano Lopez in the men’s doubles, just months after his hip surgery. It might almost make up for the lack of court action at SW19 this year.
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Bono’s daughter in a miniseries set in the ’60s? Sounds intriguing. Except that this is the 1860s, and Eve Hewson stars as an emigrant newly arrived in New Zealand in this six-parter based on the 2013 novel by Eleanor Catton. Anna Wetherell is fresh off the boat, but she soon falls under the influence of the scheming Lydia Wells (Eva Green). Himesh Patel, star of the Richard Curtis movie Yesterday, costars as fellow passenger Emery Staines, who takes up with a former convict. A year later, a woman and a Maori man are found unconscious in an opium den, along with a corpse, thus beginning a murder investigation. How did the story get there from here? We trust the gaps will be filled in in most entertaining fashion.
State of Happiness
Sunday, RTÉ2, 11.30pm
It’s the summer of 1969 in the Norwegian coastal town of Stavanger. International oil companies have been test drilling for years, but nothing has been found. Stavanger lives off fish, and the North Sea is emptying out. No more cod, no more herring. Something has to happen. The town is in crisis. Then, the night before Christmas , a driller finds the largest sub sea oil basin in history. And everything is about to change for Stavanger and its citizens. The eight episodes of this drama from Norway (original title: Lykkeland) cover the years 1969-1972, a period of change that reflects western economic growth.
A Deadly Union
Sunday, Channel 4, 11.35pm
Alice (Alexia Barlier), the runaway daughter of a well-known chef and restaurateur, has come back home from Australia for the wedding of her younger sister Sandra (Joyce Bibring), who is getting married on the French Riviera. It’s a big family reunion and a classy affair but with the party in full swing, the bride vanishes. Alice’s ex-lover is the cop on the case who is tasked with delving into the history of a family who will attempt to hide their secrets from everyone regardless of the cost. The full series of this French thriller (original title: Noces Rouges, aka Crimson Wedding) is also available on All 4.
Lost Pyramids of the Aztecs
Sunday, Channel 4, 8pm
Part one of two. Archaeologists unearth the remains of the ancient civilisation from beneath Mexico City, digging deeper than ever before to find out who the Aztecs were and how they built their remarkable empire. The first episode features an attempt to build a replica of a pyramid, as well as investigating the mysterious ruins in the heart of Mexico City and a journey into a set of underground tunnels that have lain undisturbed for centuries.
Hamlet: Royal Shakespeare Company
Sunday, BBC4, 9pm
Shakespeare’s tale of murder and revenge is brought to life in this critically acclaimed and visually striking production, directed by Simon Godwin, set in a west African state and stars Paapa Essiedu, the first black actor to take on the dauntingly immense title role for the RSC. He’s supported by an outstanding cast, led by Cyril Nri as the kindly Polonius, Natalie Simpson as the distraught Ophelia, Clarence Smith as Claudius, and Tanya Moodie in the small but impactful role of Gertrude.
Kate & Koji
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Across the world, protesters are taking to the streets in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and communities everywhere are being confronted with the legacy of endemic racism and police brutality. So, how does RTÉ respond to this societal upheaval? With a nice, heartwarming sitcom about a blossoming friendship between a cafe owner and her asylum-seeker customer. Brenda Blethyn and Jimmy Akingbola star in a new series that first aired on ITV in March. Blethyn is Kate, a working-class caff proprietor in a run-down seaside resort. Akingbola is Koji, a doctor who is prohibited from working while his asylum application is being processed. Will the white person be the black person’s saviour, as the movie trope rulebook demands? Not quite, but Kate does see an opportunity that might prove profitable for both.
EastEnders: Secrets from the Square
Monday, BBC1, 8pm
Since 1985, millions of us have laughed and cried with the residents of Walford, but while cast and crew have faced many challenges over the past 35 years, obviously nothing prepared the EastEnders team for the horrors of Covid-19. Here, Stacey Dooley is joined by some of Walford’s biggest stars to relive their characters’ most iconic moments, share behind-the-scenes stories and reveal stuff that is normally kept under wraps. Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright (aka Mick and Linda Carter) talk about an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction and give Dooley a tour of the pub. Dyer also reveals which star sent him a special note before he took over the Queen Vic.
Roswell, New Mexico
Monday, ITV2, 8pm
This US sci-fi drama is based on the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. After returning to her hometown of Roswell, Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason), a jaded biomedical researcher and the daughter of undocumented immigrants, discovers that her teenage crush, deputy sheriff Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons), is an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect, but when a violent attack points to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him.
Devon and Cornwall
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
High up on Dartmoor, shepherds Steve and Crispin Alford gather their sheep for a speed-shearing competition. It’s a big day for Steve, as it’s the first time he’s hosted the annual charity event on his farm. In east Devon, master wheelwrights Greg and Mike Rowland embark on a new commission: building a gun carriage to sit aboard the HMS Warrior. And su on the south coast of Cornwall, foraging chef Greg Milne wanders the woodland in search of inspiration for a new dish to serve at his restaurant on St Michael’s Mount.
Saoi sa Chathaoir
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Here’s a simple idea for a show: take one chair, put a wise person sitting in it, and watch as they deliver their insights gleaned from a lifetime of experience. Never mind all that elaborate Love Island and X Factor stuff. All you need is a nice, comfy chair to sit your erudite guest in, and let them do the rest. But not just any old chair – this one is hand-made by Westmeath craftsman Jason Robards. First up in the cathaoir is veteran broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, who reminisces about his long career commentating on GAA matches. He recalls the time he first set foot on the grounds of Croke Park, at the 1948 All-Ireland final, and muses on the many great players he’s met along the way, including Christy Ring and Jack Lynch.
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
Creating any drama during lockdown has been a challenge for the TV industry, but one beloved series from years gone by seems custom-made for 2020. With some of the best acting talent around, including Jodie Comer, Lesley Manville, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Martin Freeman, now is the chance to see these minimalistic tales revamped for a new generation. In the first of a double bill, Imelda Staunton performs A Lady of Letters, the tale of a woman who compulsively spies on her neighbours. That’s followed by An Ordinary Woman, the story of a mother who finds herself developing incestuous desires for her own 15-year-old son. Sarah Lancashire stars.
The Railway 24/7
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
Cheap TV this may be, but it’s also a fascinating look at what may (or may not) get many of us from A to B, often at the busiest times of day. As the fly-on-the-station wall documentary continues, cameras follow commercial director Darren. He launches a new scheme to deal with passengers not paying for tickets with on-the-spot fines and penalties. Meanwhile, an abandoned rucksack on the Huddersfield-Manchester route has passengers on edge, so they raise the alarm.
Fíorscéal: The Breastmilk Boom
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm
Documentary presenting the latest research into the subject of breast milk and the hype around it. Some women are benefiting from this hype by selling their breast milk online. Doctors and midwives are calling for more breast milk banks and, in Switzerland, the first centre for breast milk research has been established. Although there are still many unanswered questions, one thing is undisputed: Breast milk is an especially valuable drink.
Other Voices – Courage
Thursday, RTÉ2, 11.30pm
The latest installment of the show sees up and coming Limerick-based rapper and spoken word artist Denise Chaila, supported by fellow rapper and collaborator God Knows, as well as Sean Murray, aka DJ Replay, give a mesmerising performance in the beautiful location of the National Gallery of Ireland.
The School That Tried to End Racism
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
This new series follows members of a British school as they try to help its students uncover and eradicate hidden racial biases. Led by experts and inspired by similar programmes in the US, a class of 11- and 12-year-olds takes part in activities designed to challenge everything they thought they knew about race. In episode one, the students are tested for racial bias and split into different work groups according to their skin colour. Cameras follow a white student and his black Caribbean best friend who are stunned to discover the level of unconscious bias they carry. And a biracial girl is keen to find out what racial group she belongs in: white or black?
Make Me Famous
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
While E4 celebrates the 20th anniversary of Big Brother, those old clips of folks made famous by the Orwellian compound does make some wonder about the impact of fame on reality TV stars. That’s the theme of this one-off drama penned by DJ Reggie Yates. It centres on Billy (Tom Brittney), who a year ago thought his life was set to change after appearing on a reality show. However, while some of his fellow contestants’ careers are thriving, assorted tabloid stories force his vulnerabilities to the surface. The excellent cast includes Amanda Abbington as Billy’s mother, a midwife who lives alone in a flat, and Aiysha Hart is Kelly, one of the producers on the reality show.
RTÉ Does Comic Relief
Friday, RTÉ One, 8pm
Comic Relief has been a mainstay of British telly for the past 35 years, and we’re well familiar with its annual Red Nose Day telethon on the BBC. RTÉ finally gets to do its own red nose day, as Deirdre O’Kane heads a host of Irish comedians, musicians and broadcasters in a marathon sesh in aid of a number of worthy charities. O’Kane has opened up her little black book and found the numbers of pretty much everybody in Irish showbiz, so expect star turns from Dara O Briain, Hozier, Amy Huberman, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Byrne, Andrew Scott, Una Healy, Aisling Bea, Soulé, Anne Doyle, Andrew Maxwell, Ed Byrne, Roisin O and Christy Moore, to name but a few.
The show will be hosted by O’Kane, Jennifer Zamparelli, Nicky Byrne and Eoghan McDermott from Montrose, with all the social distancing protocols in place, and many of the guests will deliver their segments remotely. There will also be contributions from the cast of Derry Girls, the satire team from Waterford Whispers, 1980s couple Bridget & Eamonn and – calm yourselves! – Normal People stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. And it wouldn’t be an RTÉ telethon without a look-in from Zig & Zag and Dustin the Turkey.
No mention, however, of that rib-tickling trio, Foil, Arms & Hog, who have kept us all laughing through lockdown via their hilarious YouTube clips. Go on, lads, drop in for a giggle.
The Glastonbury Experience Live
Friday, BBC Two, 8.30pm
Covid-19 has scuppered this year’s Glasto, which would have seen the festival celebrate 50 years of rockin’ and rollin’ in Worthy Farm. The first Glasto in 1970, then called the Pilton Pop, Blues and Folk Festival, attracted 1,500 people to see headline act T Rex for the princely sum of £1. Now, it’s the biggest greenfield festival in the world, and 2019 drew a crowd of 135,000 at £248 a pop to see headliners Stormzy, Kylie Minogue, The Cure and The Killers.
Jo Whiley and Mark Radcliffe kick off a weekend of Glasto celebrations with rarely seen performances from the archives, including clips from The Rolling Stones’ storming set in 2013 and PJ Harvey’s stunning performance in 2004. This 90-minute special will also feature live acoustic sets from some of the best contemporary artists around. So pull out your inflatable sofa, pour yourself a watery beer, dump a few gallons of muddy water on the livingroom floor and get ready to relive the Glasto magic.
Elbow at Glastonbury 2011
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
Glastonbury 2020 may have been cancelled, but the BBC are still marking what would have been a milestone year with a series of special programmes. They continue tonight with Elbow’s 2011 performance. That’s followed by Arthur Lee & Love: Forever Changes at Glastonbury 2003 (10pm), in which Lee gave a magical performance of the album on The Other Stage; Glastonbury Backstage Acoustics (11pm), a new series of impromptu, stripped-down sets in the presentation tent; and Jay-Z at Glastonbury 2008 (11.30pm), in which the American rapper blew the house down with a set packed full of his hits.
Jamie’s Quick & Easy Food
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
For millions of us, our diets have been up and down over the past few months as too many trips to the fridge have led to endless snacking. Thankfully Jamie Oliver is on hand to get us back on track with some tasty dishes. And if you love lamb curry, you’ll be drooling over this episode as Jamie cooks one up. But if you prefer flavour-packed harissa squash salad, then the chef’s recipe will leave some viewers hastily scribbling notes while adding ingredients to their next home delivery or shopping trip. Those who want a speedy rose pesto prawn pasta are in luck as there are atipson how to rustle that up. And if you fancy something sweet to round things off, a guide to making Buddy’s flapjack biscuits should really tickle the tastebuds.
Celebrity Snoop Dogs
Friday, Channel 4, 8.30pm
Cameras go inside the locked-down houses of well-known faces around the country. However, the filming is done by the homeowners’ dogs – so-called Snoop Dogs. While the pooches sniff out treats, chew shoes and go for naps, viewers can play along with the guessing game to try and work out which celebrity owns the adorable doggy. The opening instalment features a four-year-old Lhasa apso and an eight-year-old Labrador mix. Narrated by Kevin McCloud.
From Wednesday, Netflix
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk are responsible for some of the most compelling documentaries of the past few years, including An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow-up to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. They’re back with another factual tale to tell, one that is both chilling and inspirational. It charts the incredible investigative work carried out by reporters at the Indianapolis Star newspaper, who worked tirelessly to expose cruelty and abuse within the US elite gymnastics scene, paying particular attention to Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor who is now serving a 125-year jail sentence. The programme also follows lawyers working on various cases and, most importantly, applauds the whistleblowers who refused to be silenced.
Nobody Knows I’m Here
From Wednesday, Netflix
Known as Nadie Sabe Que Estoy Aquí in its native Chile, this compelling drama is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Lost star Jorge Garcia heads the cast as Memo Garrido, who lives on a remote sheep farm, largely cut off from the rest of society. But his life wasn’t always like that. As a child, Memo’s beautiful singing voice seemed destined to bring him stardom – but because he was overweight, he was forced to perform behind a screen while another boy took the credit. Traumatised by his brush with fame, Memo has retreated from the outside world. Now a chance encounter looks set to return him to the limelight, but does Memo have the confidence to grab the opportunity, or is he destined for a life in the shadows?
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
From Friday, Netflix
There was no actual contest during Eurovision this year, and even the release of this movie was pushed back due to Covid-19. But it’s here at last and if the trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to be rather marvellous. Will Ferrell thoroughly researched Eurovision in preparation for co-writing the screenplay and also stars alongside Rachel McAdams. They play Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, who get the opportunity to achieve a long-held dream: to represent Iceland at the contest. As you may have worked out from Ferrell’s participation, this is a spoof, but it’s done with enormous affection. Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens and Graham Norton also appear.