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

The Change – Ireland’s Menopause Story, Hospital Live, Ardal O’Hanlon: Tomb Raider, Big Boys, Junk Kouture, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Stranger Things

Inside Classical: Women's Words and Voices
Sunday, BBC Four, 8pm
This new series showcases concerts by the BBC Orchestras and specially invited guests, all performed in prestigious concert halls. In the opener, Marta Gardolinska conducts the National Orchestra of Wales at Hoddinott Concert Hall in the Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff. The absorbing programme features the Bacewicz Overture, Tchaikovsky's rousing Fourth Symphony and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, where the orchestra is joined by Radio 3 New Generation Artist Johan Dalene.

Sunday/Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
The nailbiting series is back for a new run as 11 people, including an ex-military veteran, a serving police officer, a mother of two, a couple of experienced urban explorers and two profoundly deaf young men, aim to spend 23 days evading an elite team of hunters, led by the assistant chief constable of Cleveland Police, Lisa Theaker, and win a share of £100,000. In the opener, the fugitives must make their way from the Isle of Wight to the mainland, having been left on a deserted beach with only a change of clothes and a small amount of cash. Some try to hide in plain sight while others attempt a more conspicuous means of transport – only to be pipped at the post.

Britain's Strictest Headmistress
Sunday, ITV, 10.15pm
Cameras go inside Michaela Community School in Wembley run by Katharine Birbalsingh, who has been dubbed the country's strictest headmistress, for the first time in this intriguing documentary. We meet children who have been given detention for not making eye-contact, or because they've forgotten a second pencil. Birbalsingh describes the reasoning behind her controversial methods, claiming being lenient has led to a slide in standards and a loss of control for teachers, and prompted parents to give up.

The Change – Ireland's Menopause Story
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Last year on Liveline, many women talked to Joe about their experiences going through menopause. They challenged the taboo around “the change” and reminded listeners that the menopause is more than just a buzzword from women’s magazines, but a real-life event that affects a huge section of the population and their families. This documentary emerges from those Liveline conversations, exploring how women in Ireland experience menopause, and the challenges they face at home and at work as they navigate the symptoms. The programme also looks at the science behind menopause, and the work being done in the realm of biomedicine to alleviate its effects, with expert interviewees Dr Deirdre Lundy, Dr Caoimhe Hartley and Dr Sarah Callaghan helping shine a light on this often-hidden topic.

Silent Witness
Monday/Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm

Twenty-five years after first airing, Silent Witness is still one of the BBC’s most consistently popular crime dramas, surpassed only by Line of Duty in the ratings. Emilia Fox returns as pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander, and, to celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary, she’s joined by a former star Amanda Burton as pathologist Sam Ryan. Sam has just begun a new company, but no sooner has she launched it than the country is rocked by the high-profile assassination of Britain’s health secretary. Sam summons Nikki and her team to help with the investigation, but does Sam know more about the case than she’s letting on? And why does the DNA evidence reawaken ghosts from Nikki’s past?

Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
Have a box of hankies at the ready for this series, shown across three nights, as Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell knit together the stories of people who were abandoned as babies. They begin with Andy Hallsworth, who was left on the steps of a church more than 50 years ago and knows almost nothing about his birth. They also meet the series' youngest foundling to date: Natasha Carr, who was left in public toilets inside London's St Thomas's hospital in 1989. In episodes two and three, they meet Matt Butt, who was found as a baby in a London phone box, and David Reardon, who has spent a lifetime wondering about his origins after being abandoned opposite an underground station 70 years ago.

Troy Deeney: Where's My History?
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm

This insightful film chronicles the Birmingham City captain’s bid to make the teaching of black, Asian and minority ethnic histories and experiences mandatory in the school curriculum. It explores Deeney’s own school days and follows his meeting with Nadhim Zahawi, secretary of state for education, after the athlete wrote him an open letter that led to a petition with more than 50,000 signatures. We also hear from boxer Anthony Joshua, actor David Harewood MBE, ex-footballer Micah Richards, and MP Layla Moran.

Hospital Live
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm

What will the future bring for healthcare and medical science in Ireland? What breakthroughs and innovations are coming down the track, and will we find better treatments – and even cures – for some of the illnesses that still plague us as a society? To find answers to these questions, Philip Boucher-Hayes and Anna Daly spend three days in St James’s Hospital in Dublin, meeting healthcare workers and patients and seeing firsthand how frontline staff deal with the challenges of a healthcare system that has been under unbelievable pressure over the past two years. They meet doctors, nurses and porters who work hard to look after patients, as well as scientists and researchers working on the next generation of cutting-edge health innovations. Based in a purpose-built set on the grounds of the hospital, the presenters hope to build a picture of what healthcare could look like over the next several years, both in Ireland and around the world.

State of the Union
Tuesday, BBC Two, 10pm
The first series of this seriocomedy starred Rosamund Pike and Chris O'Dowd as a couple who met in the pub each week just before their marital therapy sessions. A new series keeps the same writer (Nick Hornby), director (Stephen Frears) and 10-minute long episodes, but adds new stars in Patricia Clarkson and Brendan Gleeson. They play liberal, campaigning Ellen and her more traditional husband, Scott. They are trying to save their 30-year marriage and contemplating what the future of their relationship might look like in a changing world.

The Witch Hunts: Lucy Worsley Investigates
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Lucy Worsley is one of Britain's most famous historians but in the unlikely event she's considering a career change, perhaps she should think about becoming a detective. As well as her current Radio 4 show Lady Killers, which finds her reinvestigating the cases of Victorian women who were accused of murder, she's using her sleuthing skills to tackle some of history's biggest mysteries in Lucy Worsley Investigates. Future episodes will see her looking at the causes of the Black Death, the supposed madness of King George III and the princes in the Tower, but she begins by exploring the true horror of the witch hunts. The case begins in North Berwick, where the story goes that in 1590, a coven of witches gathered to cast a spell to kill the king of Scotland, James VI.

The Chernobyl Disaster: Meltdown
Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
Ben Fogle narrates this three-part documentary exploring the 1986 nuclear accident and its impact. The series will also bring us up to date by examining the events of this year, when Russia took over Chernobyl during the war against Ukraine and the plant was once again set on a potentially catastrophic course. It begins by looking at the key mistakes that led to the disaster. It's a story that begins in the 1960s, when the Soviet Union set out to lead the world in nuclear power. However, employees at Chernobyl quickly realised that the plant was riddled with problems.

Gentleman Jack Changed My Life
Tuesday, BBC One, 11.45pm
Expectations were always high for the drama Gentleman Jack: it stars one of British TV's best actresses, Suranne Jones, and comes from writer Sally Wainwright of Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley fame. However, few people could have anticipated that the series, which is inspired by the real-life 19th-century lesbian Anne Lister, would be quite so life-changing. In this uplifting documentary, six women share their stories of how Gentleman Jack made them reassess their sexuality, including a woman in her 80s who was inspired to track down her lost love.

George Clarke's Flipping Fast
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Here's hoping we can continue our drinking game with the architect's new series. Usually we take a sip every time he exclaims "amazing!" while watching Amazing Spaces. Perhaps we'll have to change it to whenever he says "flipping" from now on. But whatever happens, it's always good to see lovely George back on the box in a new programme. In this one he follows the fortunes of six wannabe property developers. They're given a whopping £100k with which to begin their businesses. They're then sent out into the world to invest it in whatever homes or offices they can before selling them on. Whoever makes the most profit over the course of the series will be crowned the winner. Flipping amazing, eh?

Ardal O'Hanlon: Tomb Raider
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Fr Dougal as Lara Croft? Shirly shome mistake. Actor-comedian Ardal O’Hanlon is on a quest in this new series: to discover the first-ever Irish men and women, and he’s using old-fashioned archeology rather than heavy weaponry to get to the bottom of this age-old mystery. O’Hanlon is not the first to try to uncover the original Celts: in the 1930s, a motley crew of experts descended on the island of Ireland – including a team from Harvard, a geography professor from Wales and a Nazi archaeologist from Austria – in search of primeval paddies. O’Hanlon looks back at this period in Irish history, just a decade after partition, when the island was the source of some of Europe’s most important archaeological finds, and new national identities were being forged both North and South. Still, Dougal in hot pants dispatching CGI baddies...could be a gaming idea worth exploring.

The Flight Attendant
Thursday, Sky Max/Now, 9pm

She’s the most messed-up flight attendant you’ll ever meet – flying high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, regularly crashing and burning, and with no idea where the emergency exit is. Kaley Cuoco returns as Cassie Bowden in series two of the comedy/crime series. Following the madcap events of series one, Cassie’s life seems to have stabilised: she’s been sober for a year, she’s got a new boyfriend, and her side-gig as an asset for the CIA is going very nicely. But it looks like she might have a doppelgänger who is threatening her standing with the agency. Who could it be? The trailer suggests we might be getting two Kaley Cuocos for the price of one; that could be a bit too much of a good thing.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Thursday, BBC One, 9pm
For years Sue Perkins has kept the nation entertained and amused, from her daytime partnership with Mel Giedroyc and historical, gastronomic adventures with Giles Coren, to her witty turns on various panel shows. So it comes as no surprise to learn there's plenty of humour in her family tree, even among the poignant stories of an orphaned grandfather and a great-grandfather interned as an "enemy alien" during the first World War. But we see a whole new, heartbreaking side to Perkins when she delves into the German branch of her family who survived in eastern Europe throughout the second World War. She uncovers a harrowing tale of refugees fleeing back and forth across borders between Nazi and Soviet control.

Big Boys
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm

Proof there’s life for Dylan Llewellyn after Derry Girls comes in this comedy, narrated by Jack Rooke and based on his award-winning live shows. This double-bill introduces Jack (Llewellyn), as he heads to the local uni, where he encounters union head Jules, dedicated student Corinne, savvy fashion kid Yemi, and proud “lad’s lad” Danny. He and Jack try to find their individual crowds during Freshers Week while being banned from partying in halls. But a night out with Yemi leads to several surprises.

Thursday, BBC Three, 10pm
This four-part comedy is a breath of fresh air, following four teens in a Pupil Referral Unit a school for excluded children. It begins with Sienna's first day at the PRU and a chance for a fresh start. She makes a new friend in troubled Belle, reunites with frosty old schoolmate Jaeden, and crosses swords with hyperactive Halil, who won't take his ADHD medication. But when his behaviour threatens the class paintballing trip, Sienna takes matters into her own hands...with predictably disastrous consequences.

Junk Kouture: Behind the Seams
Friday, RTÉ One, 7pm

Junk Kouture: Behind the Seams highlights the creative process behind the design all before hitting the final runway at the live event. Five teams will explore key pillars of Junk Kouture, including youth activism, climate change, inclusivity & diversity, fashion design and self-expression. Hosted by presenter Órla Morris Toolen, the documentary showcases the future leaders, next biggest fashion designers and the change makers to come! The five teams will take to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre all in a battle to nab a spot in the top 10 finalists and secure their place in representing Ireland at the first Junk Kouture World Final in Abu Dhabi this autumn.

Inis Airc – Bás Oileáin
Friday, TG4, 8pm
On October 20th, 1960, 24 people left Inishshark island in a flotilla of boats bound for the Conamara mainland. They carried with them pots, pans, pets, bedsteads and furniture, all their worldly belongings. After centuries of resilient survival in the face of an unmerciful Atlantic and unsympathetic authorities, the community of Inishshark was no more.

Nordic Murders
From Friday, More 4, 9pm

Katrin Sass and Rikke Lylloff are back in the third run of the German crime drama (aka Baltic Crimes), set on the island of Usedom. Simone Eggebrecht, the ex-wife of a politician, wants to set up a hotel for people living with disabilities in a prominent location, only for her plans to be sabotaged by anonymous acts of vandalism. She suspects her former spouse’s involvement when a security guard goes missing, and while Ellen and Rainer get caught up in the escalating battle, for once, Karin tries to keep out of the case.

The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan
Friday, Channel 4, 10pm
It seems Graham Norton is no longer the undisputed king of Friday night chat, especially after Mo Gilligan's show picked up its second Bafta earlier this month. He's back to remind us just why his series became a hit as it returns for a third run. There'll be sketches, studio games where the audience get a chance to win some incredible prizes, and music from house band The Compozers, not to mention more Nursery Grimes. Mo will still manage to find time to chat some guests, including Top Boy actor and musician Ashley Walters, comedian and current Taskmaster scene-stealer Judi Love, and dancehall legend Sean Paul. But just in case they do have any time to fill, Judi has been known to bust a move to Sean Paul's music on Strictly...


Prehistoric Planet
From Monday, Apple TV+
Apple is getting a little bit inventive with its streaming: rather than dropping either one episode per week or the entire season all at once, one edition per day of this documentary will be delivered. Executive produced by Jon Favreau and with a score by recent Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and narration by David Attenborough, the series transports viewers back in time 66 million years to see what life on Earth was like when dinosaurs roamed freely. You may think you've seen it all before oin Walking with Dinosaurs, but plenty of new discoveries have been made since then, updating our knowledge of the prehistoric world.

Ricky Gervais: Supernature
From Tuesday, Netflix
Netflix has already launched the comedian-actor-writer's previous stand-up show, Humanity, as well as three seasons of his much-admired existential comedy Afterlife. Supernature would probably have appeared a while ago if it hadn't been for the coronavirus pandemic. Gervais began touring it back in 2020 before any of us had heard of Covid-19, but was forced to put it on hold for 18 months. Since he's picked the show back up again, Gervais has rejigged sections to keep it fresh and relevant, and now claims it's better than ever before. Subjects he riffs on include his take on the rules of comedy, why he spoils his cat and how fantastic nature can be.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
From Wednesday, Disney+

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the Jedi master in this latest live-action series set in the Star Wars universe, with Hayden Christensen returning as evil Sith lord Darth Vader. There have been so many spinoffs and sidebars to the franchise, we’re starting to wish this bloody galaxy would stay far, far away, but Disney hopes the marquee stars will lure us back for more adventures. This was originally going to be a movie, but with Solo: A Star Wars Story tanking at the box-office and The Mandalorian becoming one of the big TV events of 2020, producer Lucasfilm wisely decided to go with the episodic televisual format.

The action begins 10 years after the closing scenes of Revenge of the Sith and several years before the events depicted in the first Star Wars movie (To help viewers get their heads around Star Wars chronology, Disney + haa created a handy timeline so you can get your bearings). Obi-Wan has a serious problem on his hands: his star pupil, Anakin Skywalker, has gone to the dark side and become evil Sith lord Vader. Can he bring Anakin back to the light and thwart the Empire’s ambitions? Expect lots of lightsaber action – and hopefully lots of onscreen sparks – as these two old friends/foes go hood to helmet.

From Wednesday, Disney+
The Wu-Tang Clan are one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history. Formed in the early 1990s, they first found fame via the single Protect Ya Neck, which earned them an underground following and more mainstream success down the road. If you're looking for an in-depth insight into the band and its members' rise to fame, then this drama isn't for you – although the true story would make a great series. Instead, it's a fictional depiction charting how Bobby Diggs, aka RZA, had a vision, a way of escaping the nightmares of life on New York's dangerous streets via rap music, enlisting the skills of other young black men from his neighbourhood. Ashton Sanders and Shameik Moore star in the first run; two more seasons have since been produced.

Stranger Things
From Friday, Netflix

We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for more strange goings-on to start going on in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Finally, season four of the Duffer Brothers’ masterful retro series is imminent, and in between the jump scares and demagorgon attacks, we’ll be watching out for more blatant 1980s pop culture references. Season three ended with the battle of Starcourt shopping mall and the apparent death of Hopper in a secret underground laboratory. But a series of teaser trailers over the past year tells us that Hopper now seems to be doing hard labour in a Russian gulag, and Eleven has moved to California with the Byers family. You can be certain, though, it won’t be long before everybody ends up back in the upside-down.

Contributing: PA

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