TV Guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week
Socially Distant, Yellowstone, Mrs America, There She Goes, Stateless, The Old Guard
Mary McEvoy in Socially Distant, Sunday on RTE1
Sunday, RTÉ One, 10.35pm
How many times in the past few months have you heard someone say, “Ah, sure we’ll all have a good laugh about this someday”? Well, the makers of Socially Distant aren’t waiting until the whole Covid-19 thing blows over. They’re going to have a laugh about it right now, with Ireland’s first comedy about lockdown, made during lockdown. Some of Ireland’s top comedy actors have taken part, adding cinematographer to their CVs, filming their own parts from the comfort of their cocoons. Dave (Dermot Whelan) is trying to organise a surprise birthday party for Brid (Mary McEvoy) – not the best timing, as the country is about to go into lockdown. But, restrictions or no restrictions, Dave is determined to get this get-together together if only he can persuade his flaky relatives to buy into the whole idea. These include Michael (Oliver Callan), who thinks it’s all a conspiracy; delivery driver Eric (Eric Lalor), who reckons the whole pandemic is hyped up, and schoolteacher Isabelle, who is finding the whole home-schooling thing a bit of a challenge. Will Brid get the birthday bash she deserves, or will it all be a bit of a damp online squib?
Alex Brooker: Disability and Me
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Uncovering painful memories, comedian and TV presenter Alex Brooker revisits his own past as he confronts what disability really means in Britain today. For the first time, The Last Leg cohost, who has hand and arm impairments and uses a prosthetic leg, askstough questions about his disability and the impact it had on himself and his family when he was growing up. He catches up with his childhood friend Andy, who has spina bifida, and they discuss how their disabilities affected them and whether if it is ever right to make a joke out of disability. Then, turning his mind to the present, Brooker visits a bespoke helpline to talk to others about day-to-day life, challenges, prejudice, support and access. The Arsenal supporter also chats to other fans at the club’s Disabled Supporters’ Club, and meets Paralympic swimmer Suzie Rodgers for a dip in the pool and to hear about the reality of her life outside the sport.
The Kemps: All True
Sunday, BBC2, 10pm
Long before his son, Gogglebox companion and travelling buddy Roman, was born, Martin Kemp was in a pop band that was quite famous and, according to some, fairly decent. Formed in Islington in 1979, Spandau Ballet, whose classic line-up features Martin and his brother Gary as well as Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and John Keeble, were one of the most successful groups of the New Romantic era. This mockumentary sees Brian Pern cocreator Rhys Thomas interview the Kemps about their lives following Spandau Ballet’s 40th-anniversary celebrations last December. As well as looking back at their musical and acting careers, it also sees the Kemps indulge in their other passions — Martin attempts to launch a new film franchise and Gary markets a new vegan meat-substitute called Wonge. Of course, it’s a spoof, so not technically “True”’.
Much Ado About Nothing: Royal Shakespeare Company
Sunday, BBC4, 9pm
Christopher Luscombe directs Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett as Beatrice and Benedick in this acclaimed RSC production of the Bard’s classic comedy. It’s autumn 1918, and a group of soldiers return from the trenches. The world-weary Benedick and his friend Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to a life of parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall deeply in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own altogether more combative courtship.
Britain’s Cancer Crisis – Panorama
Monday, BBC1, 7,30pm
Covid-19 has killed thousands, but now there are fears the pandemic has caused a crisis in cancer care that could mean many thousands more will die prematurely. Reporter Deborah James, who herself has incurable bowel cancer, explores the impact of the focus on coronavirus on cancer treatment. She investigates how the NHS has managed care during lockdown, speaks to experts and analyses new research, and also meets fellow patients to discover what the pandemic has meant for them.
Coronation Street: Stories That Gripped The Nation
Monday, ITV, 8.30pm; Wednesday, Virgin One, 7.30pm
Comedian Jason Manford narrates this series, which trawls the archives of the soap for its most memorable storylines, moments and characters from the past 60 years. Each episode is ccarefully curated to bring alive each theme via specially selected highlights. The first instalment focuses on the way that Coronation Street has always connected with its audience and made headlines by reflecting on pivotal storylines that captured the public’s imagination, including the tram crash of 2010 and the Mike-Ken-Dierdre love triangle of 1983.
Monday-Friday, TG4, 10am
Diarmuid Ó Mathúna is back in the kitchen: The man who enticed us all with his recipes each week on Cúla4 Ar Scoil will be showing us how to make more tasty dishes as well as foods from around the world. We will see the journey food makes from a farm in South America to a plate in the Aran Islands. Special guests will talk about food and nature in Ireland as well a camping and cooking outdoors.
The Secrets She Keeps
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
This Australian psychological thriller, which is already running on RTÉ, stars Jessica De Gouw as Meghan, a rising “mummy blogger” who is pregnant with her third child. To shelf-stacker Agatha (Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael), who is also pregnant, Meghan seems to have it all. But unbeknown to Agatha, Meghan’s husband is experiencing money problems and isn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of another child. Agatha also has secrets of her own – and the two women’s lives are about to collide.
Pluto: Back from the Dead
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
Discoveries from the edge of the solar system are transforming what is known about Pluto, thanks to the New Horizons space probe that took the first-ever close up images of the planet. Pluto was once thought to be geologically dead, but the pictures revealed it to be an active world of stunning complexity, with mountains carved from ice, a nitrogen glacier that appeared to be moving and a recently active volcano, with data sent back lead some scientists to speculate that there may even be life on Pluto today.
Canada’s Drag Race
Monday, BBC One, 11.45pm
24 actor and model Elisha Cuthbert presents this new series as 12 drag queens (Priyanka, Juice Boxx, Rita Baga, Kiara, JIMBO, AnaSTARzia Anaquway, Lemon, Tynomi Banks, BOA, Ilona Verley, Scarlett Bobo and Kyne) showcase their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent in a bid to become Canada’s First Drag Superstar and to secure a $100,000 prize. Their efforts are assessed by a judging panel comprising drag queen and ballet dancer Brooke Lynn Hytes, actor and fashion model Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, and fashion model and runway coach Stacey McKenzie.
Tuesday, RTÉ 2, 9.30pm
From Dallas to Succession, you can’t beat a good hothouse family saga. Here’s another one to add to the annals, the story of a family who run America’s largest contiguous ranch – and have to ruthlessly protect it from bandits, bankers, politicians and other ornery cusses. But this is no ordinary ranching family: their patriarch is played by Kevin Costner, he who dances with wolves, so you don’t mess around with this crew. The publicity shot (above) shows Costner and his crew mounted on their horses in full cowhand get-up – except for the modern-looking hoodies, gilets and T-shirts. So Yellowstone is set in modern days, but rest assured there will be lots of old-fashioned betrayal, double-crossing, infidelity, murder and revenge. Bet it still can’t hold a candle to Dallas, though.
How’s Your Head, Hun? with Michelle Visage
Tuesday, BBC1, 12.15am
If you missed it on BBC3, Michelle Visage’s lockdown chatshow is now coming to BBC1. The Drag Race judge and Strictly Come Dancing graduate is throwing open the doors of her house, recruiting her husband as a cameraman and chatting (remotely) to celebrity guests. In the first episode, she’s joined by Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, who talks parrots and rude cakes. Dr Ranj Singh offers a health check and also dispels a few Covid myths, while fashion guru Susannah Constantine has a surprising take on hair care. But will she settle the big question facing Visage as she tries to decide whether to go grey or not?
The Battle of Britain: 3 Days That Saved the Nation
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm
In May, Britain celebrated (as best it could under lockdown) the 75th anniversary of VE Day. In this new series, Kate Humble and Dan Snow mark 80 years since another significant period in the second World War, when the RAF defended the England from the air. The Battle of Britain is generally held to have run from July -October 1940, but over three nights the hosts will examine three key dates in the fight to stop a Nazi invasion, beginning with 15 August 1940. The episode draws on the diary of Joan Fanshawe, a 19-year-old member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, who tracked the ensuing battle as it happened.
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
One look at the cast list – which includes Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, James Mardsen and Tracey Ullman – was enough to get many viewers excited about this nine-part series. Set in the US the 1970s, it follows the fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and the backlash it faced. One of the most outspoken opponents was the conservative Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett), who believed that giving equal rights to women would also remove some of their privileges, ranging from separate bathrooms to not having to register for the military draft. Through her eyes and those of other women of the era, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem (Byrne), the series explores how the fight would give rise to the “moral majority”, shaping the political landscape for years to come.
There She Goes
Thursday, BBC2, 9.30pm
We’ve seen no end of warm-hearted comedies about harassed parents bringing up a small family. Now prepare yourself for something else entirely: a second series of the drama about parents struggling to raise a child with a severe learning disability, and dealing with things a lot more challenging than temper tantrums and night-time feeds. Em (Jessica Hynes) and Si (David Tennant) are a happy couple with a second child on the way, but when Rosie is born, it is apparent that all is not right with the world. As with the first series, the story follows two timelines: the first when Rosie is aged three, and the second when Rosie is aged 11. In the wrong hands, this kind of storyline could sound all the wrong notes, but series one was praised for handling the topic with humour and empathy. Miley Locke plays Rosie with skill beyond her years; Locke is not a disabled actor, but the producers (Sharon Horgan’s company Merman) decided against using a disabled actor as the demands of the role could be overwhelming. In the first episode, Si and Em’s hopes are raised when Rosie starts to say the word “mama”.
Thursday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Our favourite Rossie returns for a third series of the dark comedy about hustlers and hucksters in Hollywoody. Roscommon man Chris O’Dowd (for it is he) is back in action as gangster-turned-filmmaker Miles Daly, alongside Ray Romano as washed-up B-movie producer Rick Moreweather, both hoping to leave their dodgy pasts behind and make some legit bucks in Tinseltown. The show is loosely based on a novel by Elmore Leonard – itself made into a hit movie starring John Travolta – but follows its own narrative arc, so don’t go looking for faithful interpretations. Instead, expect superb acting as two fine comedy talents riff off each other.
Fíorscéal: Cannabis: Wonderdrug?
Thursday, TG4, 10.30pm
What if there could be a cure to most severe diseases, such as cancer or Aids? Not really, but cannabis can. As a matter of fact, molecules inside marijuana are now at the centre of medical research around the world. There are more and more scientists, doctors and psychologists encouraging the therapeutic and controlled use of cannabinoids for specific treatments. While in France the use of this plant remains strictly illegal, the Israeli government authorises the production, sales and utilization of medicinal cannabis – in order to cure serious illness.
Other Voices – Courage
Thursday, RTÉ 2, 11.30pm
It’s the last programme in this special lockdown series of the popular music show, and the producers need someone special to bring the curtain down in grand style. They’ve chosen well, bringing back an artist who has been part of the fabric of Other Voices since day one. It also helps that he’s also one of Ireland’s favourite musical sons. Glen Hansard will perform some inspiring music from the hallowed halls of the National Library of Ireland, delving into his own back pages and no doubt delivering superb readings of tunes by some of his favourite artists. As with the rest of the series, the production will follow social distancing guidelines, but don’t worry –Hansard will make everything feel up close and personal. Book yourself a place for this finale; it’s sure to be a blockbuster finish.
The Good Place
Thursday, E4, 10pm
In the season three premiere, Judge Gen authorises Michael (Ted Danson) to travel to Earth, where he saves the lives of Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi, Jason and Tahani, creating a new timeline. Michael and Janet then monitor the humans, who reform for six months but eventually revert to their previous lifestyles. Chidi explores his brain health with a neuroscientist, Simone, but gives up decisiveness after his coworker Henry is injured. Michael then returns to Earth and is concerned when Eleanor encourages Chidi to date Simone. However, Janet reassures him that Chidi and Eleanor have connected meaningfully when they were not romantically involved. Finally, Shawn leads a Bad Place team that tries to hack into Gen’s system, and when Michael opens a backdoor, they decide to exploit it. Got all that?
Jack Whitehall’s Sporting Nation
Friday, BBC1, 8.30pm
Having paid tribute to his dad a couple of weeks ago in a Father’s Day special, Jack Whitehall turns his attention to another of the great loves of his life – sport. When the show was commissioned in May, we were starved of live action, so making a programme dedicated to the nation’s greatest sporting moments seemed a good idea. Whitehall promises it will be both entertaining and amusing as he examines Britain’s love affair with sport. Expect a nostalgic trawl through the archives and some light-hearted banter from various experts.
From Wednesday, Netflix
Jai Courtney costars in this six-part Australian drama about strangers whose lives collide at an immigration detention centre in the middle of the Outback. One is a flight attendant (Yvonne Strahovski) on the run from a dangerous cult; another is an Afghan refugee (Fayssal Bazzi) and his family fleeing persecution. We also meet a young father escaping a dead-end job, and a bureaucrat (Asher Keddie) running out of time to contain a national scandal. The cast also includes Dominic West and Cate Blanchett (the latter also co-created the show) in showy supporting roles.
The Old Guard
From Friday, Netflix
Charlize Theron fans have been counting the days until this adaptation of Greg Rucka’s acclaimed graphic novel dropped on Netflix. She plays Andy, a warrior who leads a covert group of seemingly invincible mercenaries who have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. However, when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their supernatural abilities are suddenly exposed, Andy and new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne) must help the group stop those who seek to replicate and monetise their power by any means necessary. If the trailer is anything to go by, this should be one of the most talked-about fantasy thrillers of the year. And obviously the presence of Chiwetel Ejiofor doesn’t hurt matters one bit.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron
From Friday, Netflix
Fans of the US actor have been worried of late: they hadn’t seen sight nor sound of the star in nigh-on a year. Had he done a Joaquin Phoenix and gone a bit bonkers, maybe living as a tramp behind the 7-11 in Malibu? The good news is that Efron is alive and well and in more than one good place as he tours the world in search of wellbeing and balance and all that other good Goopy stuff. He’s accompanied on his quest by wellness expert Darin Olien, and though Netflix aren’t giving away too much, they have released some photographs of Efron in full beekeeping regalia with a honeycomb of bees, getting his aura cleansed (not too painful,apparently), looking very sustainable as he kneads dough in one of those recipe book-perfect kitchens, and gazing meaningfully over a screensaver-perfect landscape.
From Friday, Apple TV+
JJ Abrams has the Midas touch when it comes to any project, whether it’s Mission: Impossible, Star Trek or Star Wars. Now his Bad Robot company hopes this new series will help Apple TV+ win the ratings war against other online streaming giants. Little Voice explores “the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s”. Keep an eye on Brittany O’Grady, Shalini Bathina and British actor Sean Teale – this could turn them all into stars. One of the driving forces behind the series is Jessie Nelson, who adapted the film Waitress for the stage. She’s written and directed many of the episodes, so it’ll be interesting to see if this voice resonates with the masses.
From Friday, Walter Presents/All 4
When this series debuted in France in 2012 (as Caïn), some dismissed it as a Gallic Ironside in the fact he’s a wheelchair-bound crime buster. But there’s a lot more to the show than that. English-language viewers now have a chance to see series two, and our hero (Bruno Debrandt) is trapped not only by twisted murderers, but also by his colleague Lucie (Julie Delarme) and his turbulent feelings towards her. They team up when a mother and her teenage daughter are kidnapped by a masked stranger. The husband and father of the victims is the prime suspect, but is there more to the case than meets the eye?