TV Guide: 30 of the best shows to watch this week
Paul Mescal in The Deceived, GAA legend Seán Boylan, a virtual Fleadh 2020
Gay Byrne with Mo Mowlam in 1998. Photograph: Leon Farrell
Gay Byrne’s Late Late Memories
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
For 37 years, Uncle Gaybo was the nation’s confidant and confessor who oversaw the breaking of many taboos and the airing of much political dirty linen. His death last November brought to an end an era of Irish telly-watching, but RTÉ is asking us to put aside the streaming and meming for just a short while and tune into a more innocent time, when the entire family sat around the box to listen in on the national conversation. This six-part series looks back at some of Byrne’s more entertaining and unforgettable moments from The Late Late Show; the second episode features iconic interviews with Bob Geldof and Mo Mowlam, but it’s not all cosy chats with the stars: there’s also an encounter with Hercules the wrestling grizzly bear from 1984.
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Great dramas about cricket are few and far between. Yes, there was the Australian Bodyline in 1984, but when it comes to dramatising the sport fiction is rarely more entertaining than the truth. Take England’s Test cricket team between 2009 and 2013. They were the first and only English side to ever reach the top of the world rankings as this documentary reveals. The Edge features hilarious, entertaining and rarely seen behind-the-scenes footage from that era, alongside candid interviews with star players and coaches, including Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar.
BBC Proms Classics
Sunday, BBC4, 7pm
An archive recording from 2017, when Chineke!, the first professional orchestra in Europe made up of majority black and minority ethnic musicians, premiered at the Proms. The soloist is Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the BBC Young Musician winner from 2016, with soprano Jeanine De Bique and conductor Kevin John Edusei also performing. The concert includes works by Pulitzer Prize-winning George Walker and young British composer Hannah Kendall, whose The Spark Catchers takes inspiration from the urgent energy of Lemn Sissay’s poem of the same name.
Monday, Channel 5, 9pm
Paul Mescal, in his first post-Normal People project, costars in this thriller co-written by Derry Girls’ Lisa McGee and husband Tobias Beer. It centres on Cambridge student Ophelia (Emily Reid) who embarks on a fling with Michael (Emmett J Scanlan), a charismatic lecturer. When he suddenly vanishes, Ophelia tracks him to his family home in Ireland, where she discovers that his spouse, a well-known author, has died in a fire. Michael takes her to his home, where she casts an interested eye on rugged local builder Sean (Mescal). Michael admits to Ophelia that he told his wife about their fling ... on the night she died.
Race Against the Virus: The Hunt for a Vaccine
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Documentary revealing how Covid-19 spread unstoppably throughout the world, told through the eyes of key scientists on the pandemic front line. Personal diaries recorded by scientists and intensive care doctors give an insight into efforts to identify the virus and unlock the secrets of its virulence, revealing how scientists came to realise the seriousness of the disease. Racing to develop a vaccine, leading scientist Prof Sarah Gilbert discusses the pressures she faces.
Monday, E4, 9pm
The world’s pre-eminent child-rearing expert, Jo Frost, offers more real-life solutions to parents. The Richardsons have found themselves at a loss managing their six fiercely independent kids and can’t keep up with the mess that follows them. But more importantly, Brittany’s four oldest children from her first husband are struggling with the recent passing of their father, which is causing friction between them and their stepfather Ralph. Can Jo help this family cope with the loss of a loved one and come together as a blended family?
Jurgen Klopp: Germany’s Greatest Export
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
Thirty years ago, Liverpool were the kings of English football. Manager Kenny Dalglish had led the Reds to a record 18th league title, having followed in the footsteps of some of the greatest managers in history: Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan. But then the title wins stopped, and for three decades Liverpool fans watched on as their rivals overtook them. The club looked to a charismatic, witty and immensely likable German manager, Jurgen Klopp, for salvation. In 2020 he delivered. With the aid of archive footage, this programme charts Klopp’s success with the people who know him, some of the great players and managers of our time, including Dalglish, Steven Gerrard, Jurgen Klinsmann and John Barnes.
Tuesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Tangier, 1955: A troubled young debutante arrives at this last outpost of colonial decadence and has a bit of a sexual awakening. This new series is based on athe 1979 collection of erotic short stories by Anais Nin, but don’t expect uncompromising feminist erotica – many of these stories were written in the 1940s, when Nin had a job writing pulp porno to order. But though the stories are told with a male gaze in mind, Nin does manage to subtly subvert the genre with tales of paedophilia, sadomasochism and lesbianism. Whether that comes through in this series, we’ll soon see. Juno Temple stars as Lucy Savage, the arms dealer’s daughter trying to escape her suffocating society life. She has come to Tangier to meet her fiance but is soon distracted by the dissolute lifestyles of the city’s denizens.
Cuba: Castro vs the World
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
The Bay of Pigs in 1961 was a failed attack launched by the CIA to push Fidel Castro out of power. It was also instrumental in the Soviet Union becoming Cuba’s key ally, a relationship which saw the Soviets deploy missiles in Cuba, creating one of the most unstable periods of the cold war. This new two-part documentary considers the Cuban prime minister’s early years and his commitment to armed revolution, and examines how Castro’s Cuba came to act like a superpower on the world stage. Testimonials from former Soviet and Cuban ministers give a glimpse into how the US success in the Cuban Missile Crisis strained the relationship between the allies. With the aid of archive footage, the strand also explores Che Guevara, Castro’s right-hand man, via the spies and comrades who fought alongside him.
Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm
In this one-off documentary, well-known black Britons discuss the conversation that parents and guardians of black and mixed-raced kids feel they must have because of the racism their children face as they grow up. The talk explains why folks outside their home might see them as different. It arms them for what they might face at school and work – and if they come into contact with the police, it might also save their life. Emeli Sandé, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Lennie James, Maro Itoje, Ade Adepitan, Tinie Tempah and other stars share their childhood experiences of the talk, and how it prepared them for the challenges they faced on the path to success. Now, those who are parents and guardians themselves must reflect on what kind of talk they must give their children.
Mike Denver – Live from Castlebar
Tuesday, TG4, 9pm
Galway-born country-western singer Mike Denver performs in front of a capacity crowd at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar Co Mayo. A memorable concert for the legion of fans who travelled for long distances for the spectacular show and for the new fans who are discovering his music through his many new songs.
How to Lose Weight Well: Summer Special
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Doctors Xand van Tulleken and Helen Lawal challenge three pairs of friends to try out the latest popular diets, while chef Stacie Stewart demonstrates some healthy recipes. Sophie and Zoe give the Citrus Diet and the Sexy Pineapple Diet a road test, Barbara and Denise spend six weeks on the Summer Salad Diet and the Summer Sandwich Diet ahead of their holiday in Ibiza, and Theo and Ervis take on the Greek Island Longevity Diet and the South American Diet so they can lose weight in time for a pool party.
Wednesday, RTÉ 2, 9.30pm
Portland, Oregon was in the news lately after Donald Trump sent federal troops into the city to beat its citizens into voting for him in November. Stumptown is a nickname for the northwestern US city, a reference to its rapid growth in the mid-19th century, when there were “more stumps than trees” (thanks, Wikipedia!). This series, adapted from the comic book, follows the adventures of Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), a no-nonsense army vet who now works as a private investigator in Portland. While solving crimes, Dex has to look after her brother Ansel, who has Down syndrome. She also has to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder from her time in Afghanistan as well as a gambling addiction that has seen her tumble into debt. So, another perfectly flawed crimefighting character.
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Here’s a chance to see one of the most lavish recent period dramas with some of the finest actors around. Among them is Samantha Morton as Margaret Wells, the madam of an up-and-coming brothel, and Lesley Manville as Lydia Quigley, a ruthless fellow madam of an upper class house of ill repute. Fans of Manville’s sublime sitcom Mum should also look out for her costar Dorothy Atkinson as religious zealot Florence Scanwell. In the first of a double bill, brothel owner Margaret plans to move up in the world by taking over a house in Greek Street, while rival Lydia enlists religious crusaders and constables to raid the illegal abode.
Surviving the Virus: My Brother & Me
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
Twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken have been two of the most recognisable British TV medics of the past few years. This documentary examines their view of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the third week of lockdown in the UK, Chris returns to work on the wards for the first time in a decade. As he treats patients on the infectious disease wards, Chris discovers how unpredictable the virus can be. In March, Xand contracts Coronavirus, which leaves him sluggish and tired. He also develops an irregular heart beat, which he thinks is part of the aftermath of his infection. Xand accepts an invitation to visit Philia Lodge Care Home in Peterborough, where they want to show him what they’re up against.
Tina & Bobby
Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
This three-part drama about England and West Ham star Bobby Moore’s life with his childhood sweetheart Tina Dean was originally broadcast in 2017. It details how the pair rose to the dizzy heights of superstardom. In the opening instalment, the 19-year-old insurance office typist agrees to marry the footballer, little knowing that their marriage will be defined by history. Their lives change markedly when the talented player becomes England captain aged just 23. However, when he is diagnosed with cancer Tina proves Bobby’s rock as he fights his way back to fitness in a bid to compete in the World Cup of 1966. Lorne MacFadyen and Michelle Keegan star.
Lose a Stone in 21 Days with Michael Mosley
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Given all the fridge-raiding many of us have been doing in recent months, this feels like January programming as we try to burn a few post-lockdown calories. Doctor and dietician Michael Mosley devises a lifestyle intervention that will make us feel good while it overhauls our health, as he puts five volunteers on a very low-calorie diet for three weeks in an attempt to help them get their health back on track. In the first episode Mosley runs a series of tests to find out just how badly lockdown has affected his volunteers’ health, before creating a bespoke diet plan for the 21 days.
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.10pm
He was one of the most successful and longest-reigning managers in GAA history, coaching the Meath Senior Football team for 23 years and leading them to four All-Ireland Senior Football titles, three National League titles and eight Leinster Senior Football championships during the 1980s and 1990s. This new documentary looks at the life and times of the legendary Seán Boylan, with contributions from family, friends, colleagues and former players, including Colm O’Rourke, Graham Geraghty and Trevor Giles. He managed his Meath team with passion and generosity of spirit while also running his own herbal medicine business, which has been in his family for generations. Get ready for some serious GAA nostalgia as this doc looks back at the life of one of the best-loved figures in Gaelic games.
Thursday-Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the world’s largest celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. This was due to be a big one for Mullingar. Dubbed “The Homecoming”, the 2020 Fleadh would return to the place where it all began in 1951 – until Covid-19 crashed the party. But as one door closes, another opens: Fáilte go Fleadh2020, broadcast over four consecutive evenings and presented by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, Dáithí Ó Sé and Kieran Hanrahan.
Musicians from Ireland and the diaspora include Beoga, Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill; Steve Cooney, Seamus Begley and family; Liz and Yvonne Kane & dancer Nathan Pilatske; Matt Molloy and John Carty; Sí Fiddlers-Donegal women fiddlers including Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh; 2018 All-Ireland winners the Blackwater Céilí Band; the Glackin family including presenter Doireann Ní Ghlacáin; Four Men and a Dog; Eamonn MacDonncha & family; David Geaney, Ryan Molloy and Fergal Scahill,;the Droney family; Aedmar O’Connor; last year’s under-18 champions Crossfields Céilí Band; Reelig, Attracta Brady and friends; under-12 fiddle winner 2019 Laoise Ní Chinnéide, Aoife Cunningham-Damaris Woods-Jack Fitzpatrick and their teacher Kieran Hanrahan; the Fitzgibbon Family from Limerick; Bofield CCE; and composer Michael Rooney.
Footage of musicians from around the world will also feature over the four programmes. These include a session with Irish musicians based in Brisbane; New York-based singig priest Frankie McCormic; Frank McArdle and the Irish Minstrels branch in Glasgow; and an all-Japanese céilí band from Tokyo.
Celebrity MasterChef: A Recipe for Success
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
The most recent series may have come to finish last week, but that doesn’t mean Celebrity MasterChef can’t still serve up treats. In this new series, John Torode and Gregg Wallace celebrate 15 years of the competition and look back on some of their favourite moments. In this first edition, they relive some of the best and worst food from the early rounds of the competition, and look back at the celebrities’ first taste of the MasterChef kitchen. they also revisit two of their favourite challenges, both of which involved taking the celebrities out of their comfort zone.
Thursday, BBC2, 10pm
We know Lee Mack for his fabulously scabrous sitcom Not Going Out, which is still going good-oh after 14 years. Here he once again plays a hapless middle-aged loser, watching helplessly as his suburban life goes down the drain. Stuart is separated from his wife, who lives across the road with her smug new husband. Meanwhile, Stuart and his much younger new partner, Emma, are dealing with the demands of a new baby and the fact that everyone thinks he’s Emma’s father. The show is filmed in real time, just like 24, with Mack as the anti-Jack Bauer, given just half an hour in which to salvage some dignity out of disaster.
Thursday, BBC2, 10.30pm
New spoof documentary series in which reporter Michael Squeamish (Matt Berry) explores various subjects using a unique selection of archive footage and playing fast-and-loose with the facts to create a joyously surreal whistle-stop tour of Britain. Squeamish begins by offering his unique take on British entertainment. From pigeon-racing to progressive jazz, beauty contests to the Buzzcocks, Squeamish takes viewers on an alternative journey through British culture.
Imagine: My Name Is Kwame
Thursday, BBC1, 11.15pm
Alan Yentob presents a profile of writer and director Kwame Kwei-Armah, who has spent the last two years serving as artistic director of London’s Young Vic, overseeing successful productions including Death of a Salesman, Twelfth Night, Tree and the controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning Fairview. As the Young Vic celebrates its 50th anniversary, Alan hears how a young Southall boy called Ian Roberts became the artist Kwame Kwei-Armah. He came to prominence playing paramedic Finlay Newton in the BBC drama Casualty – and his groundbreaking play Elmina’s Kitchen was one of the first by a black British writer staged at the National Theatre and in the West End.
Friday, Channel 4, 7.30pm
The award-winning world affairs strand celebrates its 20th year on air next month, and there has been no shortage of compelling features during its 38 series. In the first of a new run, reporter Marcel Theroux heads for Japan. There they meet some of the country’s Junior Idols, schoolgirl performers whose audiences consist almost entirely of middle-aged men. The youngsters hope their seasoned fans can be a springboard towards mainstream success. Theroux attempts to work out whether the performers’ interactions with their veteran male followers are a quirk of Japanese culture – or evidence of something more sinister going on in the music industry.
Everything: The Real Thing Story
Friday, BBC4, 9pm
This 2019 documentary chronicles how the “other four lads from Liverpool” found stardom in the 1970s as Britain’s first million-selling soul and funk band. Against a backdrop of social and political turmoil, The Real Thing were the first all-black British group to hit No 1 in the pop charts with the perennial You to Me Are Everything. Other hits like Can’t Get By Without You and Can You Feel the Force set dance floors alight, but their proudest moment was composing Children of the Ghetto – the first ever song to address the plight of black people in the UK. The band’s success has also been tempered with personal tragedy, but now the founding members tell their story.
Go Outside and Play – Local Adventures
Wednesday, RTÉ Player, 7am
We’ve cancelled our sun holidays, but there’s still fun and adventure to be had locally if this second series of travel vlogs presented by Carl Mullan is to be believed. The idea is to showcase the wildness and wonders found on our own doorstep, and to make the most of our travel restrictions by letting our imaginations loose while still staying local. In episode one, Carl comes up with the bright idea of a romantic journey with his girlfriend: watching the sun rise on the east coast, then driving across the country to watch it set in the west. In episode two, Carl takes the challenge to go on an overnight adventure after work – can he get back in time to be at his desk by nine the next morning? And in the third episode, Carl follows his local river, the Poddle, from its source; not easy as much of the river is hidden beneath the streets of Dublin.
From Wednesday, Netflix
A troubled genius or a man who wasted his career? Whatever you think about Nicolas Anelka, you can’t deny he had the skills to pay the bills. The French international striker scored goals across the globe during a 20-year career that saw him play for such teams as Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris St Germain and Real Madrid before hanging his boots up following a stint with Mumbai FC. On his day, Anelka could be a world beater, but his discipline had a habit of getting him into trouble. This documentary aims to tell the truth about this extraordinary figure. Seven years in the making, it examines not only his career but also his personal life. Much of the information comes from Anelka himself, who discusses many of the events featured here for the first time.
From Thursday, StarzPlay
If you didn’t catch the first season of this Golden Globe-winning comedy, then make sure you check it out to enjoy all the fun of the second run. It’s made a star of comedian/cocreator Ramy Youssef, who plays Ramy Hassan, an American Muslim trying to juggle his faith with his lifestyle as a millennial living in New Jersey. This time he’s continuing his spiritual journey by finding a new community and opting for a greater commitment to his religion. Double Oscar-winning star Mahershala Ali joins the cast, which also includes Mohammed Amer, Hiam Abbass and Steve Way. Gentle, entertaining and offering a unique insight into a particular way of life, Ramy is not to be missed.
From Thursday, Netflix
The Danish postapocalyptic drama is back for its third and final series. It has been years since the rain wiped out much of the population of Scandinavia, and now surviving siblings Simone and Rasmus, who have relied on each other for so long, may be torn apart by their differing views on their next step. While she insists they should continue searching for a cure for a virus that has already killed so many people, he is convinced everyone must be infected with a beta version of the illness that turned him into a superhuman. Alba August and Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen star.
From Friday, Netflix
Directed by Laura Terruso and produced by Alicia Keys, this coming-of-age comedy movie certainly has a decent pedigree. Rising star Sabrina Carpenter, a singer and actor whose Broadway debut in Mean Girls was recently cut short by the pandemic, takes the lead role of Quinn Ackerman, a teenager who dreams of landing a place at a top college. Joining her high school’s dance team would boost her chances of success, but there’s just one problem – Quinn has two left feet. As a result, she isn’t allowed into the snobby group, so decides to set up her own, featuring a variety of misfits. You can probably guess what happens next, and although it’s all rather cliched, it’s a whole lot of fun.