TV guide: 26 of the best shows to watch this week
The life and times of Sr Stan, plus Ireland’s Italia 90 recalled and celebrated, Christie at her creepiest, Valentine’s Day with Tubs, and the return of Homeland and Endeavour
My Family and the Galapagos
Sunday, Channel 4, 8pm
Two years on since Monty Halls, his wife Tam and daughters Isla and Molly first travelled to the Galapagos islands – one of the most unique and ecologically important places on the planet – the family head back to discover why it faces a fight for survival. In the opening episode, Monty experiences the mighty volcanic power that created the islands, mum Tam makes a solo voyage in search of threatened giant manta rays, and Molly, the youngest, has her first snorkelling experience.
The Pale Horse
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
The Beeb just love their Agatha Christie adaptations – almost as much as they love Jane Austen. And there’s no shortage of whodunits to work with from the biggest selling novelist of all time (says the Guinness Book of World Records). This two-parter stars Rufus Sewell as an antiques dealer who discovers that he may be cursed to die by witchcraft. A woman is found dead in suspicious circumstances, and the only clue to her murder is a list of names in her shoe – and neither Christian Louboutin nor Jimmy Choo are among them (that would be an anachronism). But why is mild-mannered Mark Easterbrook on the list? His quest for answers takes him to the village of Much Deeping, and to the Pale Horse, the home of three creepy spinsters rumoured to be able to use the dark arts to knock off unwanted wealthy relatives. Mark must race against time to lift the curse and find out who wants him dead before he’s next for the chop.
Sunday, UTV, 8pm
The crime drama is back for a seventh series – and it’s leaving the 1960s (and Morse’s moustache) behind. But will that be all the copper is losing as old friendships show signs of strain, and we grow ever closer to the John Thaw era? What we do know is that Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) sees the decade out in style, spending December 31st at the opera in Venice. Meanwhile, back in Oxford, someone is murdered on a towpath and Thursday (Roger Allam) is convinced he knows who’s responsible. When Endeavour returns to the city, he finds that an exciting new educational television programme has resulted in a fatal battle of the sexes. He joins forces with Thursday to investigate, and discovers there may be a link between a contentious college project and a young woman’s premonitions.
It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: Artemisia on Trial
Sunday, BBC4, 11pm
This historical drama recreates the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi. He was an artist of the Italian baroque who was accused of the rape of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most successful painters of her generation. To defend himself, Tassi questioned his victim’s morality, rubbished the evidence against him and nobbled the witnesses, all tactics that mirror those still in use today. Breach Theatre’s critically acclaimed play blends history, myth and contemporary commentary to ask, Has much really changed in the last four centuries?
The Boys in Green
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Ireland is preparing for a crucial Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia on March 26th – their last gasp to qualify for the tournament. So it’s tempting to look back on the glory days of Ireland football, when we bestrode the world arena, maybe not like a colossus, but somewhat like the Celtic warriors of old. But we won’t give into that temptation . . . oh go on, then, let’s have a look. This celebratory documentary is made by award-winning film-maker Ross Whitaker, who has done notable documentaries on Katie Taylor, Anthony Foley and Shane Lowry, and it brings us back to a time when Jack Charlton brought the Irish team – and the Irish people – on a fantastic journey to Italia 90 and beyond. The rise of the Ireland team ran in parallel with the rise of the Celtic Tiger; in 1990, fans were taking out second mortgages to follow Jack’s Army abroad. By the end of the decade, fans were taking helicopters to the stadium, and wherever the Boys in Green played internationally, the fans would be there snapping up investment properties. Ah, the excessive thrill of it all. A dream team of guests have been assembled for this two-parter, including Tony Cascarino, John Aldridge, Ronnie Whelan, David O’Leary, Mick McCarthy and Stephen Staunton. Ireland may or may not qualify for Euro 2020, but everyone’s a winner here.
Monday, RTÉ2, 9.35pm
Highlights from Sunday night’s Academy Award ceremonies in Hollywood. There was no dedicated host this year, but we’ve been promised heaps of famous faces as Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, Joker, Parasite, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ford v Ferrari (aka Le Mans ’66), 1917, Jojo Rabbit and Little Women vie for best picture.
Food Unwrapped: Sweet Tooth Special
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
An episode celebrating all things sweet, looking back at some favourite sugar-centred investigations. Matt Tebbutt hits the patisseries of Paris to find out why macarons are so expensive and explores the reasons for the surge in salted caramel Jimmy Doherty heads to the US to find out how the chunks in ice-cream stay solid, asks why chocolate sometimes goes a funny white colour, and learns the secrets behind fizzy sweets. Kate Quilton reveals why some honey is runny and other varieties are not.
Rio and Kate: Becoming a Stepfamily
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
It’s estimated that one in three of all British families are blended families. But just because stepparents are common doesn’t mean the situation isn’t fraught with difficulties. This documentary offers an insight into some of the potential challenges as it follows former footballer Rio Ferdinand and his fiancee Kate Wright in the months leading up to their wedding. As anyone who watched Rio’s award-winning documentary Being Mum and Dad will know, Rio tragically lost his wife Rebecca in 2015. So, for Kate (27), marrying him also means becoming a mum to three grieving children in a home where Rebecca’s memory will always be very present. As well as talking about their own experiences, Kate and Rio also meet other stepparents and visit child bereavement charities to learn about the support available.
Monday, RTÉ2, 11.55pm
Writer/director Sinéad O’Loughlin’s 14-minute drama won the Best Irish Narrative gong at the 2016 Kerry Film Festival. David Greene plays Mick, who finds himself stuck in a rut. While the rest of his friends have emigrated to Australia for the forseeable future, Mick has returned to Ireland and is reluctantly helping his father run the family farm. When he crosses paths with Aoife (Johanna O’Brien), his past feelings are rekindled and hopes for the future renewed.
Monday, More4, 9pm
Unless you’re a Top Gear or Grand Tour addict, you may not have a clue what the Lotus Elise is. Well, it’s a two-seat, rear-wheel drive vehicle which was conceived in early 1994. InBy September 1996 it was unveiled to the masses, and the mix of fibreglass body and aluminium chassis soon won over many a petrolhead. But how will mechanic Fuzz Townshend and parts-blagging expert Tim Shaw get on when they attempt to restore a 1997 version of this adored vehicle? .
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
Nicola Walker returns in a new run of Abi Morgan’s legal drama as a death in the family brings everyone back together. Hannah’s marriage seems to be back on an even keel after the past indiscretion of her husband (Stephen Mangan), but she has nevertheless begun a dangerous affair with a colleague. Zander returns from the States and introduces an unsettling new addition to the team. The firm also takes on a couple of major clients: a man who wants a divorce before he dies, and a TV presenter (Donna Air) who is stuck in an unhappy and controlling marriage.
The Truth Will Out: Walter Presents
Tuesday, Channel 4, 11pm
In this Swedish psychological thriller (original title: Det som göms i snö), troubled detective Peter Wendel (Robert Gustafsson) returns to the force after a protracted absence. He is assigned with developing a cold case team, but only gets two applicants: one wants to leave the police to sell property, and the other is an officer with addiction issues. When an unknown killer leaves a message that Sweden’s most notorious serial killer is a fraud, Peter and his team must reopen a case that will set them at odds with a powerful group of people.
The BRITs at 40
Tuesday, UTV, 8pm
If you’ve been watching the back-slapping ceremony for decades, there’s no shortage of BRITs highlights to choose from in this Jack Whitehall-narrated retrospective. Forget that year when hosts Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood looked like rabbits caught in headlights, and instead remember the better times, such as Geri’s Union Jack dress, Madonna’s calamitous cape and Adele’s show-stopping Someone Like You.? Scissor Sisters’s 2005 performance of Take Your Mama must rank as one of the most joyful performances, but will it be featured here? We can tell you that Mel B, Little Mix, Ellie Goulding, Bros, Dua Lipa, Rick Astley, Tom Jones, Robbie Williams and many more will be adding their thoughts on a music institution.
Tabú: Céad Míle Fáilte
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Designed in 2000 as a temporary six-month solution to Ireland’s growing number of asylum applications, the current Direct Provision process is struggling to cope. Céad Míle Fáilte focuses on the people who seek refuge in Ireland in order to escape conflict, trauma or domestic abuse in their home countries. It shows what the asylum system is like through the eyes of someone who has been sent into Direct Provision. An immersive and heartrending documentary, it casts light on a system that has been kept under wraps as it focuses on four individuals reeling from terror and persecution.
Kevin McCloud’s Rough Guide to the Future
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
While the next run of Grand Designs is in production, Kevin McCloud has been busy with this new series featuring three of TV’s most likable regulars: comedians Jon Richardson and Phil Wang and DJ/podcaster Alice Levine. The trio have concerns about what lies in store for humankind, so McCloud sends these sceptics around the world to let them decide for themselves if technology will help us meet the challenges humanity faces. First up is Richardson, who is sent to the US to explore the latest advances in food production. Meanwhile, Wang is off to China to experience a stomach-churning solution to how we cope with waste. And Levine has an encounter with robots in Japan.
A Very British History
Wednesday, BBC4, 9pm
Musician Angela Moran’s grandparents were among thousands of Irish who moved to Britain’s second city in the 1950s. She tells the story of the Birmingham Irish through the memories of local people, illustrated by archive footage. Moran hears about life during the 1950s and ’60s, and assesses the impact of the 1974 terrorist pub bombings, which killed 21 people and left 220 injured. As a result, the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled and many Irish people hid their identity. Moran also shares her experiences of growing up in the 1990s, when being Irish was something to be celebrated.
The Hairy Bikers’ Chocolate Challenge
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
How amazing would it be to have your own chocolate bar manufactured and sold by one of the biggest chocolate companies in the world? That’s the tasty hook this new show hangs on as seven budding chocolatiers battle it out for that special prize. Contestants will face a series of challenges that will push their creativity and skills to the limit. Under the scrutiny of expert Ruth Hinks, each week they must create real-world products. Whoever comes up short will be shown the door. Among the contestants are Bristol mum Carina, teacher Saqib, and Newcastle senior train host Karl. In one of the challenges, the seven contestants have to design their own chocolate bars and wrapping from scratch. But which will impress Hinks, Dave Myers and Si King?
Being Stan: A Life in Focus
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
To mark her 80th birthday, this documentary celebrates the life and work of Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, who has worked tirelessly all her life as a champion for the homeless and marginalised. There’s an added poignancy in that Sr Stan has recently undergone treatment for cancer, forcing her to step back from her charitable duties and take the time to fully recover. Oscar-winner Brenda Fricker narrates this documentary, which spans 60 years of Sr Stan’s campaigning and activism, during which she founded Focus Ireland, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and Young Social Innovators, and took on the powers-that-be to advocate for fairer treatment for the less fortunate. Sr Stan also looks back on her childood in the Dingle Gaeltacht, where she was born Treasa Kennedy, and reveals why she chose to become a nun. “I didn’t have a spiritual awakening, that I was called by God to do this. I entered to work with the poor. But then, I suppose, I stayed for another reason, because I was attracted to the spiritual life . . . So, I entered for one reason and I stayed for another.” Let’s hope Sr Stan gets back to the full of her health and can enjoy the fruits of a life lived selflessly and spiritually.
Thursday, RTÉ Two, 10.30pm
It’s been nearly two years since Carrie Mathison has been protecting the US from terrorists, jihadists and double agents. But now America faces its deadliest threat, from a billionaire blusterer who seriously thinks he’s above the law and, err . . . Actually, that’s not why Clare Danes is back in her iconic role as the troubled CIA operative trying to do the right thing in a world where it’s getting harder to know who the real enemy is. The last time we saw Mathison, she was in a bad place: banged up in a Russian gulag. Series eight finds her back in the real world, but with her head even more wrecked than before. But mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) has been given a seemingly impossible mission, and only one person has the expertise and experience to help him accomplish it, so he recruits Carrie for what may be her deadliest mission yet. RTÉ is getting the first look at the latest series on this side of the Atlantic, a few days before it airs on Channel 4.
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
Everyday folks flee from a team of expert hunters as the challenge returns for a new series. Contestants include a mum on the run, a 78-year-old grandfather with a mysterious past, and two childhood sweethearts. In all there’s 10 pairs pursued by an elite group of determined ex-military, law enforcement and security forces. The twist this time is the fugitives have been stripped of all personal belongings and cash; all they have is their clothes. Runners need to survive for 25 days, relying on their networks and the kindness of strangers if they’re going to stand a chance of winning that £100k. But first they need to identify the unknown city they’ve been dropped in and escape the helicopter hot on their heels.
Fíorscéal: Plastic, the Real Sea Monster
Thursday, TG4, 10pm
Millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. The world’s scientists have studied the phenomenon and come to alarming results, finding evidence that these toxins are entering the food chain and, ultimately, winding up in our bodies. Worse still, plastic simply doesn’t biodegrade. This is the alarming story of one of the biggest ecological disasters of our times.
Tyson Fury: The Gypsy King
Thursday, UTV, 9pm
The opening instalment in this three-part documentary following boxer Tyson Fury as he prepares for his rematch with Deontay Wilder for the WBC World Heavyweight title, after the first contest in December 2018 ended in a much-disputed draw. Filmed over several months, the programme provides an insight into the life of one of British sport’s most flamboyant and controversial characters and those who are closest to him.
First Dates: Valentine’s Special
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
The restaurant of love throws opens its doors at the most romantic time of the year, as maitre d’ Fred Sirieix and his staff hope to help more singletons find their perfect match. Hopefuls include Rachel (59), who is embarking on her first date with a woman. She quickly takes a shine to Debs – but how will her date feel once she knows Rachel’s story? Beauty queen Sophie is keen to prove there is more to her than her Miss Bournemouth title suggests as she sits down with cheeky chappy Bailey, while boxing compere and tattoo artist Jon wants to meet someone who will look past his tough guy exterior.
Inside Cinema: Meet the Family
Thursday, BBC4, 10pm
Pop quiz: what links classic movies 8 Mile, Do the Right Thing, Tokyo Story, Aliens, Bicycle Thieves, Dead Ringers, Home Alone and Back to the Future? Answer: they’re all featured in this documentary narrated by Kathy Burke. It puts cinematic families on the analyst’s couch for a look at what makes some of the most dysfunctional dynasties in cinema tick. Families on the big screen pose unique challenges even to the greatest film directors. For example, how can you make every family member in a huge cinematic ensemble like Gosford Park memorable when people in real life have trouble remembering who their second cousins are?
The Late Late Show Valentine’s Special
Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
The stars have aligned, and this year’s Late Late Valentine’s cuddle rolls out in front of an audience full of 200 singletons looking for love. Host Ryan Tubridy will once again be the nation’s wingman for what has become one of the most favoured and unpredictable shows of the year. “It’s probably the most bonkers show in The Late Late Show calendar,” he says, “but it’s a show that brings out the wild in people, and that’s what we want! We want people to come and join us in the assembly hall of dating destiny. We are opening our doors, our hearts and our arms to the singletons of this country. Your time is now, the place is here, so apply for true love – or, at least, love for 24 hours.”
Britain by Barge: Then & Now
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm
Bill Oddie joins fellow showbiz veterans Jennie Bond, Anne Diamond and Pete Waterman for a trek along three of Britain’s most famous waterways. Their journey starts on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, the longest single canal in the UK. After getting to grips with their barges, they visit the model village at Saltaire. The quartet also discover how a mill that was one the largest textile factory in the world has been reinvented as an art gallery and hi-tech production line.