TV guide: 27 of the best shows to watch this week
Ross O’Carroll-Kelly and his alter ego profiled, plus Martin Freeman in true-life police drama, the return of QI and Grand Designs, and meatless meals from Jamie Oliver
Paul Howard & pal in We Need to Talk About Ross
We Need to Talk About Ross
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
While working as a sports writer in the Sunday Tribune, Paul Howard had an idea for a column satirising the South Dublin rugby set, and thus Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was born. Twenty years, countless newspaper columns and 18 novels later, Ross is a national institution, and his adventures continue to chart the foibles and fortunes of modern-day Dublin with wicked humour and sharp observation.This documentary follows Howard as he writes his latest Ross novel, Schmidt Happens, works on his latest one-man Ross O’Carroll-Kelly play, and speaks to pupils in the cradle of South Dublin rugby, Blackrock College. We also meet some of the rugby stars and pundits whose names are frequently invoked by Howard’s clueless protagonist, including Brian O’Driscoll, Johnny Sexton and George Hook. We learn about Howard’s own origins in Ballybrack, just down the road from wealthy Foxrock, at which much of his merciless satire is directed. “It was the have-nots and the have-yachts,” he told this newspaper once. How does Ross stay relevant in a quickly changing world? This portrait of his creator might help to answer that question.
Big Week on the Farm: Harvest
Monday-Friday, RTÉ One, 7pm
The summer holidays are over, the kids are back at school, and down on the farm it’s time to bring in the crops and get ready for winter. And it’s time for Áine Lawlor and Ella McSweeney to give viewers another a ringside seat watching farmers at work during one of their busiest times. This week the programme will come live from a tillage farm in Stamullen, Co Meath, run by Ivan and Frances Curran. There’s barley, wheat, oats, carrots and potatoes to be harvested, sheep to be sheared, and mating to be done so next spring’s lambs can be born (they don’t just appear under a cabbage leaf, you know). We’re promised lots of wildlife-watching, and lots of science, along with a few farmyard challenges.
Jamie’s Meat-Free Meals
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
In his new series, Jamie Oliver goes on a mission to change the way people think about vegetables, demonstrating a collection of vibrant, hearty and healthy vegetarian dishes that everyone can add to their kitchen. In the first edition, he kicks things off with a cottage pie with a rich gravy and super-fluffy mash inspired by Indian street food, then makes a chip butty packed full of flavour and crunch. He goes back to school to meet children who are celebrating vegetables, and makes macaroni and cheese full of greens.
Monday, Virgin One, 10pm
In 2011, DS Steve Fulcher breeched police procedure to catch a killer, a decision that would ultimately cost him his career. This new drama explores the controversial case, with Martin Freeman playing Fulcher. It begins on March 19th, 2011, when Elaine O’Callaghan (Siobhan Finneran) discovers her daughter Sian didn’t return to the home she shares with her boyfriend following a night out. Fulcher, the on-duty senior investigating officer, launches a search, and the media coverage strikes a chord with Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton), who hasn’t seen her own daughter for more than eight years. After CCTV footage of Sian getting into a car outside a nightclub emerges, Fulcher decides to proceed on the basis that she is still alive and being held captive.
Monday/Friday, BBC1, 9pm
The celebrity cooking contest is back for a new series and an impressive line-up. Over the next few weeks, we’ll see famous faces including Motown legend Martha Reeves and EastEnders stalwart Adam Woodyatt trying to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. In this opening episode, the celebs taking on the challenge are designer Zandra Rhodes, long-distance runner and former Marine Andy Grant, reality star Joey Essex, ex-football hardman Neil Ruddock, and Strictly dancer Oti Mabuse. They’ll all be taking on three culinary challenges, but will Oti find it easier being judged by Torode and Wallace than being critiqued by her sister Motsi, who is joining the Strictly panel this year?
Monday-Friday, ITV2, 9pm
Joel Dommett and Emily Atack present this new nightly series, which follows five couples choosing to press pause on their relationships and spend a summer experiencing single life in multimillion-pound flats on the banks of the Thames. Each couple has a different reason for putting their relationships on ice – from school sweethearts who’ve never dated other people properly to newer relationships that have hit the rocks and two people who just want a summer of self-discovery before they settle down. But at the end of the summer will they choose to go back to their partner or keep flying solo?
Rise of the Nazis
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
New series. Dramatised documentary examining how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power in Germany during the 1930s, revealing the greed, manipulation and frightening underestimation of Hitler’s ambition. In 1930, Germany was a liberal democracy, with elections, parliament and the rule of law, but just four years later its leader was a dictator and its government was in the hands of murderers. Leading historians and experts take viewers inside the minds of those hellbent on gaining power and those who tried to stop them.
Monday, RTE2, 11.55pm
In Joe McStravick’s 14-minute short from 2015, Sean (Seamus O’Hara), a shy young photographer, enters a photography competition. So Sean takes to the city streets with his precious old film camera and a single roll of film. As the day goes on his confidencebuilds as he searches for interesting people to shoot. With only 24 frames on his roll of film, it means that every photo counts. How far will Sean go to get the shot How far will he go? Filmed around Jordan Victory Church in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.
Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein
Monday, BBC1, 11.15pm
A repeat from the night before of a documentary on the scandal that rocked Hollywood and inspired the #MeToo movement. See details here.
Tuesday, BBC One, 10.35pm
Can you trust your own eyes and ears in this world of deepfake videos? And how can you be sure Big Brother isn’t watching and listening to you through a myriad of surveillance methods? In this timely thriller, soldier Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) has been convicted of murder in Afghanistan, but his conviction is overturned because the video evidence is deemed unreliable. He goes back to life as a civilian, but when seemingly incriminating CCTV footage from a night out in London emerges, Emery is back fighting for his freedom. Is the video evidence reliable, or is there some deeper deception going on here? I’m plumping for the latter. Also starring Holliday Grainger, Ron Perlman and Famke Janssen.
Line of Duty
Thursday, RTÉ One, 9.45pm
In the fourth series of the BBC’s acclaimed police corruption drama (originally broadcast in 2017), Thandie Newton stars as DCI Roz Huntley, AC-12’s most devious opponent ye. In a career-defining case, Huntley is under intense pressure from her superiors to apprehend a serial murderer after months of fruitless investigation. When another young woman is abducted, Huntley is on the scene to track down and charge a 24-year-old man. But doubts around the suspect’s guilt lead the chief forensic investigator to AC-12.
The Hospital: From the Inside
Tuesday-Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm (repeated Thurs-Fri, BBC2, 11.15pm/11.05pm)
Documentary about the pressures and demands on Britain’s NHS in Northern Ireland. At the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, a surgical team prepares to perform major spinal surgery on a teenager, while in Belfast’s City Hospital a patient diagnosed with cancer undergoes life-saving treatment
Tuesday, BBC1, 11.40pm
With unprecedented access to Durham Constabulary and the communities of Peterlee and the surrounding areas, this documentary series takes viewers into a region that was the birthplace of the steam railway and once the epicentre of England’s industrial northeast. But the pits and the factories are closed, and the thriving railway industry is gone. High levels of crime and drugs also mean the police have their work cut out for them. In tonight’s first episode, a local officer takes on a new role, targeting offenders in the remote village of Horden.
The Keith Barry Experience
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician, a magician or a comedian – with the right mix of pizazz, showmanship and style, you’ll always find an audience. Keith Barry’s glitzy new show features dazzling tricks and death-defying stunts, but the real magic is how he draws his audience in with pure showbiz talent. The show promises to bring a “little bit of Las Vegas” into your home on a dull Wednesday evening. Not sure if I’d want a bit of Vegas in my home (where would I fit the slot machines?) but we’re sure this will be a midweek showstopper. Barry will be bringing on so many local celebrity guests that it might start to look a little like Conjuring with the Stars.
I Am the Night
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm (repeated Fri, midnight)
Inspired by true events, I Am the Night is the gripping story of teenager Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), who is given away at birth and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. Fauna lives basically comfortably with the mysteries of her origin, until one day she makes a discovery that leads her to question everything. As Fauna begins to investigate the secrets of her past, she meets a ruined reporter (Chris Pine), haunted by the case that undid him. Together they follow a sinister trail that swirls ever closer to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), a man involved in some of Hollywood’s darkest debauchery, and possibly, its most infamous unsolved crime
Location, Location, Location
Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm
The 33rd series of the property show begins with two couples ready to get off the rental roundabout and onto the property ladder. Kirstie meets Candice and Alistair in Swindon, who are expecting the arrival of their first baby and want to get out of Alistair’s bachelor pad and into a family home. They have their hopes set on Swindon Old Town but, as Kirstie discovers, their budget is £100,000 short for their dream home there. Her task is to push their boundaries – and hope they remain friends at the end. Meanwhile, Phil is in the countryside between Swindon and Newbury, where James and Hayley are seeking a rural retreat for themselves and their two dogs. However, nine months of searching has only made their wish list longer. Are they looking for a property unicorn?
World’s Greatest Warships
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
The first episode of this new series charting the history of the warship from the dawn of the 20th century to the present day focuses on the giant battleships that played a vital role in the second World War. Expert interviews, footage and computer-generated animations explain the creation of Hitler’s brutal leviathans, Bismarck and Tirpitz, the largest battleships ever built by Germany. But despite their size and power, the Bismarck was scuttled following fatal battle damage in 1941 in the north Atlantic, while the Tirpitz was sunk by Royal Air Force bombers in November 1944.
The Big Hospital Experiment
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Can young people help lighten the load of Britain’s overworked NHS staff? This four-part documentary, inspired by a programme in Germany, follows a group of 18-23 year olds from all walks of life as they’re put to work on the wards at the Royal Derby Hospital. It’s the job of clinical educator Andy to first train the 14 volunteers. Then, senior nurses and sisters guide the volunteers through what will be one of the most gruelling weeks of their lives. At the end of each day, the cameras will still be rolling to capture the group’s thoughts, anxieties and revelations. How will they cope with the blood, sweat and tears? And will the brave leap of faith made by hospital bosses be a success?
Who Do You Think You Are?
Wednesday, BBC1, 10.40 (repeated Thurs, 11.40pm)
Sharon Osbourne investigates her family history. Recalling her less than idyllic childhood and her remote relationship with her mother, Osbourne delves into her maternal family history and uncovers the difficult circumstances of her mother’s and grandmother’s lives. She later discovers that she had a great-grandmother who was born in the US, but soon comes to realise that her great-great-grandparent’s hope of living the American Dream did not go according to plan when they were faced with the harsh reality of work in a cotton mill.
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
New series. Kevin McCloud meets Andy Stakes and Jeanette Hardy, who are building a new house on top of a sheer cliff on the west coast of Scotland. The pair want to spend £250,000 on a two-bedroom, glass-fronted and earth-sheltered home for themselves and their two beloved Newfoundland dogs. However, construction on such an exposed site is fraught with danger and the pair face no end of problems throughout the build, and a last minute design change that begs the biggest question: even if Andy finishes the house, will Jeanette actually like it?
DIY SOS: Celebrating 20 Years
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
When DIY SOS began in 1999, some cynical viewers may have thought it was just another one of the makeover shows that appeared in the wake of Changing Rooms. Certainly few people would have guessed that a show that was dedicated to helping people clear up their DIY disasters would evolve into one of the most moving programmes on the box. To celebrate its anniversary, Nick Knowles looks back over the past two decades and revisits some of DIY SOS’s most ambitious projects, including Canada Street in Manchester, which was transformed into homes for veterans. He also looks backs at the teams’ longest and most logistically difficult build: the construction of the Grenfell Community Centre and Dale Youth Boxing gym.
The Dog House
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
New documentary set inside Wood Green animal charity, following staff who are committed to matching their homeless dogs with prospective owners. In the first episode, a terrified terrier known as Tiny arrives after his owner of five years is taken into care, while child-friendly Daisy, a Cairn terrier, is the only one of Wood Green’s charges deemed gentle enough for the Kerry family from Peterborough. Plus, Jack Russell Mozart and Zeus, a recently abandoned Staffordshire bull terrier, each try to charm couple Paul and Elf.
Billy Connolly’s Great American Trail
Thursday, UTV, 9pm
The Florida-domiciled Glaswegian presents a three-part travelogue on a subject he’s undoubtedly qualified on: the migratory trail of the Scots through America. It’s a journey that begins in New York, where Connolly opens the tartan day parade in front of a 3,000-strong crowd. From there he travels to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the pilgrims first landed on American soil. Billy learns more about those early settlers as well as the Native American tribe whose people and language were nearly wiped out in the process. Then it’s on to meet a group of naughty nuns in Boston before a visit to the graveside of what would be the most famous man you never knew was Scottish.
First Dates Hotel
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
New series. Maitre-d Fred Sirieix returns to the luxury hotel, where he and his matchmakers welcome singletons from across the UK. First to nab a poolside lounger is royal family-obsessed perfumer Perry, who’s already turning heads in some natty gold trunks. He’s on the scent for a man who can get the seal of approval from his beloved mum and dog Dolly. His match is art dealer Naveed, whose pre-date nerves could be his undoing. Single dad and builder Richard is trying to find someone he can resonate with on a spiritual level. Heartbroken after the breakup of his marriage, he’s checked in hoping to restore his faith in love.
The Mash Report
Thursday, BBC2, 10pm
Not everyone will be celebrating the return of this topical comedy show – last year former This Week presenter Andrew Neil singled the series out for what he saw as a lack of balance in some of the BBC’s satirical output. (As you might imagine, the show’s hosts had something to say about that.) But will Nish Kumar and his cast of comedy correspondents, including Ellie Taylor and Steve N Allen, ruffle any more feathers as they present their pointed and surreal take on the week’s news?
Friday, BBC2, 10pm
The long-running comedy quiz returns for another series, with Sandi Toksvig once more at the helm. For the first of the new run she is joined by panellists Loyiso Gola, Jason Manford of new sitcom Scarborough (see below), Sarah Millican and the quite interesting Alan Davies (who has been in every episode) to answer questions about quirky topics. As usual, the panellists will not necessarily be expected to deliver the correct answers, and Toksvig will be handing out points to those who provide the “most interesting” guesses.
Friday, BBC1, 9.30pm
Cuddly comedian Jason Manford stars as a comedian in this new comedy series. Mike has been on the road too long and so decides to hang up his mic and go back to his home town to try to have a normal life once again. This proves to be not to be as easy as it sounds, and Mike is going to need a big sense of humour to negotiate the pitfalls of family, friends and relationship. Unfortunately, his girlfriend Karen (Catherine Tyldesley) doesn’t find it funny when Mike is caught drunkenly kissing another woman behind the crab stand. She’s not taking his calls, so Mike will have to wait until karaoke night comes around to try to win Karen back.