TV guide: 27 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight
Back from the Brink, Jack Charlton, UK’s Tiger Kings, Catherine Celebrates Easter
Sharon Stone in the image that appears on the cover of her memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice. Stone will be chatting with Graham Norton on Friday
We Need to Talk About Dementia
Sunday, Virgin One, 8pm
Martin King lost his mother, grandmother and aunt to dementia. This documentary follows King as he aims to answer questions we all have about dementia. He looks back at his own mother’s life, meets families who are living with dementia, and visits a care home to see the work they are doing to help people. He also talks to medical experts about stigma, preventative measures, treatments and what is needed so that society can change the narrative around dementia to one of hope.
Back from the Brink
Sunday, RTÉ One , 6.30pm
You might be thinking that saving the environment is a lost cause – the world is sinking in plastic and shrouded in pollution, species are being wiped out, natural habitats turned into carparks. Might as well give up and accept that we’re going to be living in a rubbish tip for the next millennium. But life finds a way and there is a flicker of hope, as Derek Mooney sets out to prove in this documentary looking at efforts to restore the natural world and repair the damage done by a century of unbridled exploitation.
Mooney visits Rockabill Island off the east coast, where a team from BirdWatch Ireland is working hard to protect Europe’s largest breeding ground for the beautiful and vulnerable Roseate tern. Then it’s up to Northern Ireland, where the resurgence of the pine marten is having an unexpected benefit for the endangered red squirrel. Pine martens are preying on the invasive grey squirrel, which has driven the red squirrel to near-extinction, and this is helping to restore the natural balance. Mooney meets volunteers working to protect basking sharks, loggerhead turtles and (aww!) wild hamsters, and learns how European cities are providing havens for many species, including peregrine falcons, the common swift and vesper bats.
Sé mo Laoch (In Memory of Joe Burke)
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
The life and musical career of well-known box player Joe Burke, who recently passed away at the age of 81. The Galway-born Burke, who achieved fame on both sides of the Atlantic, began playing traditional music age four, and bought his first accordion in the 1950s. He won the All-Ireland Senior Accordion Championship in Thurles in 1959 and again in Boyle the following year. He co-founded of the Leitrim Ceili Band with Padden Downey in 1956. Go ndéana Dia trócaire air.
Finding Jack Charlton
Sunday, Virgin One, 9pm; Monday, BBC2, 9pm
In a four-star review from December, Irish Times critic Donald Clarke wrote: “Moving, touching, beautifully edited documentary on the life of a footballing legend. The directors have resisted all temptations to tread water with a charming film that bolsters the legend without giving in to hagiography. The elegant juxtapositions – Jack struggling with dementia in the years before his recent death, Jack as a footballer, Jack as a manager – take us to all corners, but his experiences with the Republic of Ireland dominate. It’s all here. The triumphs, the controversies and the Eamon Dunphy.”
Sunday, ITV, 8pm
It’s extraordinary to think that US fans of the series had a chance to see this episode back in 2019, a time when Covid-19 was unheard of and we were all still roaming the streets without a care in the world. This time, the village of Solomon Gorge is at the centre of intrigue, crime and murder: it’s the site of a fishing competition and an extreme obstacle course challenge on the same weekend. Saboteurs from both sides cause problems that leave someone’s life on the line.
Johnny Briggs: Coronation Street Legend
Monday, ITV, 8pm
Cockney businessman and Lothario Mike Baldwin (played by Johnny Briggs), was, for more than 30 years, one of the soap’s most memorable characters. Following the actor’s death aged 85, last month, Street stars and famous fans look back at some of Mike’s biggest storylines, including his affair with Deirdre Barlow behind her husband Ken’s back, resulting in that iconic scene on the Barlows’ doorstep, which pulled in over 20 million viewers. Other memorable moments in Weatherfield included the death of his beloved ex-wife Alma from cancer and his son Mark’s affair with his younger wife Linda. As well as being a Corrie legend, we also see how Briggs starred in a number of Carry On films, as well as The Lavender Hill Mob and TV shows such as Crossroads, The Saint and The Persuaders.
The Black Maternity Scandal: Dispatches
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
Presenter and mother-of-three Rochelle Humes digs beneath the shocking statistic that, compared with white women, black women are more than four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, and for up to six weeks after. Asian and mixed ethnicity women also die at higher rates. Humes explores the various factors at play and asks if race has a role in whether pregnant women literally live or die. Through meeting expectant mums, bereaved families and those who survived a near miss, a complex picture emerges of how biases in society filter into maternal care.
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.55pm
The success of Netflix’s Bridgerton has given us all a taste for watching lustful, lavishly costumed lovelies waltzing around grand old houses, so RTÉ is bringing back this six-part series that first aired on ITV, a tale of simmering passion and scandalous secrets set in London’s most prestigious postcode. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes adapted this story from his own 2016 novel and brought in a whole cast of superb actors, including Tamsin Greig, Philip Glenister, Harriet Walter, Alice Eve, Tara Fitzgerald, Paul Ritter and Saskia Reeves. It’s June 1815, and upwardly mobile James and Anne Trenchard are invited to the biggest event in London society: the Duchess of Richmond’s ball, in honour of the Duke of Wellington just two days before Wellington defeats Napoleon at Waterloo. But when the Trenchards’ young daughter Sophia catches the eye of Edmund Bellasis, scion of one of England’s richest families, it sets in train events that will make Waterloo look like a bunfight.
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
It’s always disappointing when you don’t win the lottery, but hey, that’s life. But imagine the disappointment of discovering you were just one number away from scooping the jackpot? Now, that’s just plain cruel. The fourth series of The Syndicate focuses on gambling addict Keeley and her co-workers at Woodvale Kennels, who have formed a lotto syndicate in hopes of getting out of this dog’s life. With Keeley deep in debt and the kennels about to close, she could do with some luck –and money – fast. So when she heads to the local newsagent to check the syndicate’s ticket, she’s told she and her workmates have won 500 quid. Okay, it’s better than a kick in the head, but when the syndicate learn they were only one number short of a £27 million jackpot, they wonder if perhaps a mistake might have been made. If they could only find Frank the newsagent, then surely the numbers could be put right…
Britain’s Tiger Kings – On the Trail with Ross Kemp
Tuesday, ITV, 9pm
Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness was a massive success last year as lockdown began. It was recently announced that Louis Theroux’s next project will see him come face-to-face with its main protagonist, Joe Exotic; before then, Ross Kemp meets Brits who, like Mr Exotic, enjoy keeping big cats as pets. Incredibly, there are some 4,000 dangerous creatures – as lions, bears, crocodiles, giant snakes and, of course, tigers – in private hands in Britain. Kemp comes face to face with some of them, including animals belonging to a former circus trainer who hires them out to production companies, and the lions living in a back garden.
Tuesday, BBC1, 11.45pm
Every religion marks the circle of life with rituals and ceremonies – but how are they commemorated in multi-faith Britain? This new five-part series begins with a focus on UK Jewish communities, paying particular attention to Ethan (12), who is about to have his bar mitzvah, while Jolanda and Jack prepare to tie the knot in a modern ceremony adapted to fit in with their beliefs. The programme is followed by Being Hindu, in which Bhumi and Chirag mark the birth of their son, while Priti carries out her father’s wish for a traditional funeral.
Viva Ceol Tíre
Tuesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Country music videos filmed on location in Ireland and presented by Jo Ní Chéide. This week features John Hogan, Michael English, Declan Nerney, Nathan Carter with The High Kings, Bernie Heaney and Daniel O’Donnell.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
David Tennant is back in Broadchurch territory with this drama (which first aired last year on Channel 4) about a small community rocked by a terrible crime, only this time he’s one of the suspects. He plays Tom Kendrick, a popular local GP in the sleepy Scottish village of Kirkdarroch, who lives with his teacher wife Kate (Anna Madeley) and their three daughters. Their life seems perfect, until one night a fire engulfs their house. Tom gets out, but his family doesn’t – and the tragedy takes a sinister twist when it emerges that it wasn’t the blaze that killed them. Kate’s best friend (Cush Jumbo) is determined to find out what really happened, but in the process her own relationship with her police officer husband (Matthew McNulty) is tested.
In Jane Austen’s Footsteps with Gyles Brandreth
Wednesday, Channel 5, 9pm
Jane Austen is such a national institution in Britain that her picture appears on the £10 note. Here broadcaster Gyles Brandreth sets out to learn more about the woman behind Pride and Prejudice and Emma as he uncovers some of the real-life events that inspired her. The journey starts off in Steventon, where Jane’s own story began, and takes in Bath and Lyme Regis, locations that appear in her novels.
Wednesday, RTÉ 2, 10.35pm
The pandemic stopped many a TV production in its tracks, but Grey’s Anatomy simply adapted and adjusted its storyline to take in the spread of coronavirus, and the challenges faced by frontline medical staff in dealing with an ever-evolving situation. The 17th season of the popular medical drama picks up one month into the pandemic, as the lives of everyone at Grey Sloan hospital is turned upside down and the staff face their greatest challenge. This could get real.
Wednesday, BBC1, 11.55pm
Many jobs have been affected by the pandemic, including social media influencers. So it’s the perfect time for this award-winning comedy to return as struggling documentary-maker Liam Williams teams up with online talent agent James Wirm (Tim Key) to investigate how industry has changed. For Liam, it’s all a means to an end, as he hopes it will help him win his own followers for his politically charged passion project. In the meantime, he’s going to start by exploring the world of travel influencers to find out what it takes to create a social-media-friendly holiday experience, especially when we’re meant to be staying at home. In the second edition, he meets mega-vlogger Millipede (Emma Sidi), who’s landed a role in a West End musical despite not being able to sing.
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
There might be a pandemic on, but that doesn’t mean people have to stop coming up with outrageous and downright daft business ideas to put before the Dragons. For its 18th series, Dragons’ Den has moved offices to the BBC, but the game is the same: would-be entrepreneurs pitch their wheezes to the panel of successful businesspeople in the hope they’ll throw them a few bob to get their idea off the ground. Among the idea are a tea venture, an anti-glare eyewear invention and a mindfulness art business. As this is April Fool’s Day, the Dragons might be forgiven for wondering if some of the hare-brained ideas on display are a joke.
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
It’s been an extraordinary year, and it will take an extraordinary documentary to process the past 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. This three-part series follows events around the globe in the first year of coronavirus, as people struggled to make sense of this devastating disease suddenly unleashed on our lives. Episode one is aptly titled Shock of the New, as the world is suddenly faced with an unknown and unpredictable virus that moves with devastating speed around the world. Among the people we meet are Xie, a food blogger from Wuhan, whose city went into lockdown shortly after her wedding day; Amie, a British doctor who witnessed devastating scenes of people dying in Italy; and musician Valery from Belarus, whose leaders were convinced the virus would never reach them.
Catherine Celebrates Easter
Friday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Remember when we all thought the whole pandemic thing would be over by last Easter? That notion soon went with the Easter Bunny. But never mind – at least Catherine Fulvio is here to help us make the most of another lockdown Easter, with some ideas for tasty treats using locally sourced artisan produce. So, what’s on Fulvio’s menu for Easter feasting? Only wild mushroom risotto with walnuts and thyme for starters, followed by butterflied leg of lamb with chimichurri served with a pistachio, carrot, grape and goat’s cheese salad. Yum! And just to put the Easter bonnet on it, Fulvio will show us how to make a dessert of shortbread biccies shaped like bunnies and eggs. She’ll also meet some of the finest artisan producers around, and learn how to create a beautiful Easter bloom display from the owners of Floral Art in Greystones. After another winter of discontent, what better way to fill your heart with the joys of spring?
Gardeners’ World Easter Special
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
Good Friday is still seen by some people to be the start of the gardening year, and the Easter weekend tends to be one of the busiest in the calendar for nurseries and garden centres. With that in mind, Monty Don looks ahead to the summer months, planting out sweet peas, as well as advising on mulches for borders. Meanwhile, Carol Klein is at RHS Rosemoor in Devon, revelling in the floral sensations of spring. And there’s a look back at how Nick Bailey transformed his own garden into a colourful and productive oasis in just one season. Plus, presenter JJ Chalmers on how the natural world helped with his rehabilitation. Finally, there is a trip to a daffodil show and more visits to viewers’ gardens.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC1, 11.15pm
Norton is joined by Basic Instinct legend Sharon Stone, who talks about her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, which chronicles her efforts to rebuild her life after suffering a massive stroke. Also tonight, Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy discuss working together in superhero comedy Thunder Force, while David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed, co-stars of Sky workplace comedy Intelligence, drop by. Comedian Frank Skinner and star of RuPaul’s Drag Race Michelle Visage discuss their latest projects, while Steps perform Heartbreak in This City.
Éirí Amach Amú/Wrecking the Rising
Friday, TG4, 11.05pm
Another chance to see TG4’s three-part flagship project to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, in which three modern-day Dublin men endure listless and unexciting lives. The men (played by Peter Coonan, Seán T Ó Meallaigh and Owen McDonnell) are gearing up for a dress rehearsal of the events of Easter week when a mysterious box transports them back in time to 1916. No sooner have they arrived in the past than they commit a monumental blunder that changes everything. They must somehow concoct a plan to keep history on course.
Food Unwrapped Gets Chocolatey
Friday, Channel 4, 7.30pm
To celebrate Easter – the most chocolatey time of the year – this special episode looks back at favourite chocolate-based investigations from the Food Unwrapped archives. Kate Quilton heads to a cocoa co-operative in Ghana to get to grips with chocolate’s raw ingredient. She uncovers the truth behind reports that dark chocolate can be good for your health. Matt Tebbutt heads to one of the UK’s largest chocolate factories to find out what makes white chocolate white. He also gets the inside story on After Eights: how does the minty fondant stay gooey in the middle?
World’s Most Scenic River Journeys
Friday, Channel 5, 8pm
Bill Nighy narrates this documentary series, telling the stories of six epic river journeys via the fascinating characters who live and work on and around the water. We begin on the attraction-packed Niagara, the border river between Canada and the US, before arriving at the world-famous Niagara Falls. Next we pass through a stunning gorge carved out of rock by the last ice age, and hear stories about Indigenous traders, a shipwreck rescue, and daredevil wire-walkers. Then for our final leg, we’ll drift past some of North America’s most picturesque small towns and sample the local delicacy: ice wine.
From Thursday, Netflix
Emily Spivack’s book Worn Stories was published in 2014 to great acclaim. It features anecdotes from a wide range of public figures, including Rosanne Cash, Greta Gerwig and Marina Abramovic, about treasured items of clothing. It was followed three years later by Worn in New York, another batch of sartorial memoirs tied to the Big Apple. Now there is an eight-part, small screen version of the tomes, in which pop culture icons and talented storytellers discuss their favourite coats, jackets, trousers, skirts or shirts, revealing why they love them so much and the places they have been worn. We’re promised a funny, tragic, poignant and celebratory show with a few surprises along the way.
From Thurday, Netflix
Chances are that you’ve never heard of Fernande Grudet, but after watching this fascinating biopic it’s unlikely you’ll ever forget her name or story. Born in 1923, Grudet’s early years are shrouded in mystery, but after the second World War she drifted into prostitution. She eventually went into management, setting up an exclusive prostitution network in Paris which reputedly had many high-profile customers. The plot focuses not only on Grudet’s business, but on the problems caused by a young woman who joins its ranks. Karole Rocher stars.
From Friday, Netflix
The golden age of the western is long over but, every so often, a new title heads our way that makes us feel as if there’s still life in the old dog yet – and Concrete Cowboy is the latest of them. It isn’t, however, the kind of project you might have seen John Wayne appear in back in the day. Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin plays Cole, a troubled 15-year-old from Detroit whose mother sends him to live with his estranged father Harp (Idris Elba) in Philadelphia. Although he’s in an urban setting, Harp lives as if he’s out on the range, riding horses and sitting around camp fires with his friends. It’s an eye-opening experience for Cole, whose life may never be the same again.