TV guide: 27 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Ireland’s Fittest Family, Underdogs, Dalgliesh, and Liam Neeson in The Marksman

Sunday, BBC One, 9pm
Hanna, a working-class student, has gone missing. The chief suspect is dislikable rich girl Talitha Campbell, whose attitude to her missing fellow college student is callous to say the least. The investigating officer, DI Paula Cassidy, is convinced she's got her woman, but the crown prosecutor wants this done by the book. It falls to Cleo Roberts, the duty solicitor on call on the night of Hannah's disappearance, to construct a robust defence in the face of a hostile police force and a baying public who desperately want a head on a plate. But can she guide Talitha through the gruelling interrogations and convince her to pull back on her bad attitude, which is only making her situation worse? With the prosecution using Talitha's gender, privilege and lack of empathy as a weapon against her, Cleo will have to find some way to to help her client fight her increasingly tight corner.

Doctor Who
Sunday. BBC One, 6.25pm

We’re only beginning to get our heads around Daniel Craig doing his last turn as 007; now we have to deal with another bombshell: Jodie Whittaker is making her final time-trip as The Doctor. What next? Pedro Pascal hanging up his Mandalorian helmet? Whittaker is bowing out as the 13th Doctor after 13 series, and it looks like she – along with showrunner Chris Chibnall, who’s also exiting the Tardis after years of driving the storylines – plans to go out with a bang. We’re promised “a universe-spanning adventure in space and time”; in other words, the usual stuff we’ve come to expect from telly’s top Timelord.

Whittaker’s last outing will see her encounter such foe favourites as the Sontarans, the Weeping Angels and the Ood, along with a new adversary, the fearsome Karvanista. We’ll also see the return of Mandip Gill as Yaz and new cast regular John Bishop as Dan Lewis. Episode one is titled The Halloween Apocalypse, and sees some spooky goings-on as ancient evils rise again (as they do). The first female Doctor has been a big success – whoever follows Whittaker will have a big challenge ahead of her.


Ireland's Fittest Family
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

In the old days, families competed in such tame contests as Family Fortunes. These days your family needs to be super ripped to win prizes, and Ireland’s Fittest Family will quickly separate the tough onions from the couch potatoes. Presenter Mairead Ronan leads the search for the family who can take the most punishment without cracking, and coaches Davy Fitzgerald, Anna Geary, Donncha O’Callaghan and Derval O’Rourke will send the families to hell and back as they battle for a 15 grand prize purse.

In series nine, the McCarthy’s from Cork city, the Lehanes from Co Cork, the Greenans from Co Cavan and the Bissetts from Dublin will be put through the wringer, in the form of some extreme challenges, including new events the Slingshot and the High Nelly, and the return of old favourite punishments Back Against the Wall and Pontoons of Pain. The best thing about it is the rest of us get to sit back in our comfy sofas and watch as other families get pushed to their limits.

Gradam Ceoil TG4
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

Celebrating TG4’s 25th birthday, Gradam Ceoil TG4 awards airs on Oíche Shamhna from Whitla Hall in Queen’s University Belfast. Doireann Ní Ghlacáin and Caoimhe Ní Chathail preside over TG4’s flagship traditional music awards with stand-out performances from award recipients Angelina Carberry, Steve Cooney, Sorcha Costello, Seán Ó Sé, Niall Hanna and the Glengormley School of Traditional Music. Viewers will also be treated to a specially commissioned piece by Belfast harpist Úna Monaghan.

10 Things to Know About
Monday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Look around you. Irish science is everywhere, working hard in the background to bring us all the everyday things we take for granted. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Kathriona Deveraux and Jonathan McCrea are now back for a seventh series looking at Irish life through a scientific lens. In this first episode, Ní Shúilleabháin goes outside to explore the new trend for outdoor living fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, and highlights the health benefits of getting out of our house. That’s right, we probably won’t catch our death out in the cold.

The pandemic has also shown that human health and animal health are inextricably linked, and Deveraux looks at the concept of One Health, which acknowledges this delicate balance between humans, animals and the environment. She also joins researchers analysing the waters of the Irish Sea for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global health threat, and sea swimmers brave not only the cold but the possible presence of bugs that are impervious to traditional antibiotics and antivirals. And McCrae makes a visit to Daniel O’Connell’s ancestral home of Derrynane House to delve into the benefits of sustainable tourism.

The Irish Wedding
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
There's something comfortingly familiar about your typical Irish wedding, and this new documentary celebrates the traditional Irish way of tying the knot – from the rigmarole around the ceremony to the reception and speeches and on to the "afters". The film follows a diverse group of couples as they prepare for their nuptial, capturing not only the long-established rituals (beef or salmon; the first dance) but also the moments of tenderness and melancholy that mark this momentous day. Director Alex Fegan has previously made such fine documentaries as Older Than Ireland and Abbeyfealegood, and he's fast becoming the fella you need to document Ireland's modern social history. The Irish Wedding was screened earlier this autumn as part of the IFI Documentary Festival.

Saol an Tréidlia
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Saol an Tréidlia captures the highs and lows of the busy and never straightforward lives of three west coast Vets. This four-part observational documentary takes us into the heart of the Limerick and Galway communities the vets look after. We join them at work and at home as they treat patients great and small. Vets Emma, Niamh and Liam deal with a range of unpredictable and emotional cases, taking challenging decisions that impact animals and owners alike. From fox cubs to racehorses, pet rats to St Bernards, our vets face every challenge with compassion, care and a heap of good humour.

Joanna Lumley and the Human Swan
Monday, ITV, 9pm
This astonishing and poignant documentary, airing as part of ITV's Climate Action Week, sees the veteran actress set out to follow adventurer Sacha Dench, also known as the "human swan", as she flies around Britain's coast on a three-month voyage. Her goal: to set a record for electric-powered flight and at the same time identify climate change solutions. Tragically, Dench had almost completed her pioneering Round Britain Climate Challenge expedition last month, but she collided in mid-air with her support pilot Dan Burton, who died while Dench was seriously injured. His family and all involved are keen that this story continues to be told with its urgent message in the drive for a net zero future.

The Goes Wrong Show
Monday, BBC One, 8.30pm
We catch up with the Cornley Drama Society, who do their best with four more performances as part of their Drama Festival. There's an audio drama that's a not-too-heavily disguised voiceover audition for Sandra. Annie stages a 1970s farce which, for moral and ethical reasons, was consigned to the dustbin of history. And Dennis performs the world's least interesting play. Plus, as a finale, Jonathan puts on a colourful, circus-based musical, and chaos ensues thanks to a horse and some tranquillisers.

It Takes a Flood...
Tuesday, ITV, 9pm
Kevin Macdonald directs this powerful documentary, airing as part of Climate Action Week. It examines the increasingly ferocious floods that have battered the UK in recent years, and how they have been driven by climate change. It recalls how London was hit by historic levels of rain this summer, where horrified homeowners had to deal with floodwater pouring up through toilets, while smartphone footage captures the moment raging water rampages through a historic town. Macdonald also takes a closer look at the work of Ravi Singh, the brains behind an international disaster relief charity that draws no distinction between a flood that happened in Bangladesh and one in Hebden Bridge.

What We Do in the Shadows
Tuesday, BBC Two, 10.05pm
The coffin lid comes off the third season of this hilarious and off-putting camp comedy. We pick up with Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja as they struggle to agree on what to do with Guillermo, who they think they have locked in a cage in the basement. Summoned by the Supreme Vampiric Council, they discover Guillermo's massacre has created a job opening for them. Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou and Harvey Guillén star.

Wild Weather: Our World Under Threat
Wednesday, BBC One, 7.30pm
They may still be classed as freak events, but this year it has felt like wild weather is increasingly becoming the norm. This summer, a small town was destroyed by fire after record-breaking high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, and entire villages were swept away by floods in Germany. Then there were dust storms from China and a plague of mice in Australia, while the people of Madagascar are on the brink of the world's first climate change-induced famine. Here reporter Justin Rowlatt asks which part of the globe are set to be the most affected in the future.

Location, Location, Location
Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm
In 2019, Alistair and Candice were searching in Swindon's pricey old town. Kirstie realised that their budget and expectations didn't quite match, so it was going to be a tough search. Pregnant Candice was keen to get into a new home before their baby was born, and Phil returns a year later to see how this young couple have settled into a new home. And in 2018, Thomas and Angelina had sold their family home of 32 years and were living with their daughter while they searched for their dream pad in Bolton. Now we're back to see if Angelina's green fingers ever came to be.

Tomorrow Is Saturday
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Reporting from the 2020 Galway Film Fleadh, Irish Times film critic Donald Clarke wrote: “For the past few decades, Seán Hillen, a Newry man of engaging disposition, has been among the most important – if insufficiently celebrated – of Irish artists. Best known for his collages involving John Hinde postcards, he is now dealing in photographs of cloud formations that, he claims, reveal hidden secrets about the universe. Gillian Marsh’s beautifully arranged film meshes contemporary footage – Hillen in his tiny, packed house – with a history of his progression from Newry to the Slade School in London and back to Dublin. The film reveals a kind man who, unlike many artists, is happy to explain the motivations and underpinnings of his consistently accessible work.”

Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm

Irish Times journalist Sorcha Pollak is Dáithí Ó Sé’s guest. Born and raised in Dublin, Pollak has spent much time abroad, particularly in Peru, and travelling through South, Central and North America has made the greatest impression on her. She began working as a journalist at the Guardian before returning to Ireland to write for The Irish Times. Her acclaimed series New to the Parish deals with newcomers to Ireland and their experiences in settling in the country.

Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm

Underdogs is back with Ladies Gaelic Football. A team of iconic footballers – Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, Caoimhín Ó Casaide and Michelle Ryan – have only six months to put together and prepare a squad of unknown players with enough drive, skill and passion to take on one of the country’s greatest Gaelic football teams. This week the management team must choose a panel from the hundreds of players who applied for the series. Between trials in Dublin and Kildare to callbacks in the National Games Development Centre, only a chosen few will gain a spot on the panel.

Sort Your Life Out with Stacey Solomon
Thursday, BBC One, 8pm
Tidying guru Stacey Solomon is back for a new run of this insightful and surprisingly emotional programme. She and her team of experts get busy in more ordinary homes, transforming them from cluttered chaos to serene spaces. The twist is, each family has seven days to reduce by half everything they own, and must decide what they want to keep and what will go. At the same time, the experts come up with some budget-friendly storage solutions.

Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm

It takes a big man to play Adam Dalgliesh. Perhaps that’s why, until now, there had only ever been two TV incarnations (Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw) of PD James’ most famous creation. Bertie Carvel now plays the detective chief inspector for this six-parter, set in 1975, which kicks off with a double episode. Dalgliesh is drafted in to investigate when a student nurse is murdered at Nightingale House. There are plenty of suspects among the trainees, including sinister identical twins Shirley and Maureen Burt. However, it’s not long before another nurse is bumped off and Dalgliesh is attacked, while DS Masterson (Jeremy Irvine) makes a discovery that sends the case in a strange direction.

Rosamund Pike: Off Camera
Thursday, Sky Arts, 9pm

Born to two opera singers, the stage was set early on for Rosamund Pike to pursue a career in the performing arts. Soon after finishing college, Pike got her first break as a Bond girl opposite Pierce Brosnan in 2002’s Die Another Day. For years she was cast in similarly cold and confident roles, and she longed for the opportunity to do more. Enter director David Fincher, who offered her the role of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, and her performance earned her a slew of awards and new opportunities. Pike joins Sam Jones to talk about her fascination with human emotion – and her intimate knowledge of bone saws.

The Graham Norton Show
Friday, BBC One, 10.35pm
Splash and Apollo 13 director Ron Howard drops by to chat about his memoir, The Boys, while Paul Rudd chews the fast about his role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Plus, Oscar-winner Halle Berry discusses her new sports drama Bruised, and Stephen Fry also swings by to describe his latest book, Fry's Ties. But bound to blow them all out of the water is Miriam Margolyes. The veteran actress is notorious for her naughty stories that leave just about everyone (even Graham) open-mouthed, and there's bound to be a bucketful of them as she talks about her recently released autobiography, This Much is True.

Susan Calman's Grand Day Out in Northern Ireland
Friday, Channel 5, 8pm
Susan and her van Helen Mirren nip over to the North for a whistle-stop tour beginning in Belfast, before striking out for the Antrim coast and the Gobbins, a three-mile passageway offering a unique, up-close experience with the Irish Sea. She meets craftspeople who have turned the spade into an art form, and fishes for freshwater eels in the UK's largest lake. Next, she tries her hand at the ancient sport of hurling, before heading to Ballymoney, made famous by Game of Thrones.

The Big Narstie Show
Friday, Channel 4, 11.05pm
If Saturday night's alright for fighting, according to veteran singer Elton John, then Friday night's gearing up to be the battle of the late-night chat shows. This bold, brash and streetwise chat/comedy/music show rightly scooped a Bafta for Comedy Entertainment programme, and makes a welcome return here. Big Narstie and Mo Gilligan will be joined by guests including comedian Katherine Ryan and rapper Digga D, as well as the one and only Idris Elba – who may even showcase his DJ skills. If you've never seen it before, forget the polite exchanges of Parkinson or Wogan. Instead, expect the unexpected from a show that breaks every rule in the book – and does so brilliantly.


The Harder They Fall
From Wednesday, Netflix

A labour of love for director Jeymes Samuel, who also co-produced, and co-wrote the screenplay and oversaw the music with longtime collaborator Jay-Z. Jonathan Majors stars as outlaw Nat Love, who discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba, starring in his second Netflix Western after Concrete Cowboy, despite being allergic to horses) is being released from jail. Love promptly rounds up his gang, including former love Stagecoach Mary, the hot-tempered Bill Pickett and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth and a surprising adversary turned ally, and sets out to have his revenge.

From Friday, Apple TV+

Tom Hanks heads the cast of this futuristic, feelgood film as Finch, a robotics engineer and one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic solar event that has left the world a wasteland. Living in an underground bunker for a decade, Finch has built a world of his own that he shares with his dog Goodyear. He creates a robot (Caleb Landry Jones), to watch over Goodyear when he no longer can and, as the trio embarks on a perilous journey into a desolate American west, Finch strives to show the machine, who names himself Jeff, the joy and wonder of what it means to be alive. Their road trip is paved with both challenges and humour, as the trio try to get along and manage the dangers of the new world.

From Friday, Apple TV+
Hailee Steinfeld stars in the third season of this Peabody Award-winning a drama, offering a heavily fictionalised account of author Emily Dickinson's life. It begins as Emily's most productive time as an artist coincides with the raging American civil war, as well as an equally fierce battle that divides her own family. As Emily tries to heal the divides around her, she wonders if art can help keep hope alive, and whether the future can be better than the past. Jane Krakowski co-stars, while Wiz Khalifa returns as the character of Death and Zosia Mamet plays Louisa May Alcott, alongside Ziwe as Sojourner Truth, Billy Eichner as Walt Whitman and Chloe Fineman as Sylvia Plath.

Narcos: Mexico
From Friday, Netflix
Prepare to be gripped once again as the curtain goes up on the third and final season of this pull-no-punches drama. The action takes place in the 1990s and, with Gallardo firmly behind bars, the various factions on the outside have been wasting no time in ripping lumps out of each other. As newly independent cartels struggle to survive political upheaval and escalating violence, a new generation of Mexican kingpins emerge. However, in this war, the truth is the first casualty and every arrest, murder and take-down only pushes true victory further out of reach. Scoot McNairy stars.

The Marksman
From Friday, Amazon

Liam Neeson walks his well-worn cinematic furrow as a grumpy old man with a past who’s forced out of his personal funk with the world to help someone else in distress. This time around he’s a miserly and hermit-like former marine sniper, living out his years as an isolated rancher along the Arizona-Mexican border, whose solitary existence is violently broken when he tries to protect a boy on the run from members of a vicious crime cartel. Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick costars alongside Narcos pair Juan Pablo Raba and Teresa Ruiz, in this Neeson vehicle that does its thing well enough to hold your attention.

Contributing: PA