TV guide: 30 of the best shows to watch this week

The Meaning of Life, Congo 1961, Cheap Irish Homes, Young Rock, Soundtrack to My Life, Strictly Come Dancing, Sex Education, The Morning Show

Ciarán Hinds in Kin, beginning Sunday on RTÉ One

Keys to My Life
Sunday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Brendan Courtney is back to drag more celebrities through that prickly hedge that is the past, bringing them to revisit the places they used to live, where they must confront their ghosts, not to mention the odd skeleton in the closet. The first guest to go back to their previous address and reawaken some lost memories is Fr Brian D'Arcy, who returns to the tiny village of Bellanaleck, Co Fermanagh, where he began his journey to becoming Ireland's best-known celebrity clergyman. A visit to the seminary in Dublin where D'Arcy trained as a priest brings up dark memories, but a visit to an old ballroom awakens fond recollections of when he was unofficial chaplain to the showbands, and we learn how he inspired a young Dermot Morgan to create the Father Trendy character, the precursor to Father Ted.

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
RTÉ may have finally found a successor to Love/Hate in this series about a fictional Dublin crime family embroiled in a deadly feud with an international drug cartel. Couldn't happen here, of course. The Kinsellas run a small, tight-knit family business led by Frank, who are working under crime kingpin Eamon Cunningham. Needless to say the business relationship soon turns sour, and suddenly the Kinsellas are locked in a vendetta with Cunningham's bigger and much better-resourced gang.

Kin has an all-star cast, including Aidan Gillen, Ciarán Hinds, Emmet J Scanlon, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Clare Dunne, Sam Keeley and Charlie Cox. It’s also got a few familiar gangland drama tropes: the hot-headed son out for bloody revenge, the contrite son who’s done his time and now wants to go legit. You can bet we’ll be all at home glued to the googlebox on Sunday night, just like back in the 2010s. The series, created by Ciaran Donnelly and co-written with Peter McKenna, has already been snapped up by various streaming services, including US network AMC. Just remember, folks, it’s nothing like real life in Dublin.

The Meaning of Life
Sunday, RTÉ One, 10.30pm

Joe Duffy and Jane Seymour in The Meaning of Life

Last year, following the death of original presenter Gay Byrne, Joe Duffy stepped into the great man’s shoes and rose to the challenge of interviewing a new set of celebrities and teasing out their beliefs, convictions and hopes and fears. He did a sterling job, and his interview with campaigner Vicky Phelan, who spoke with candour about her diagnosis of terminal cervical cancer and how it has affected her family, was a particular stand-out. Uncle Joebo is back for a second series, and his first guest is actor Jane Seymour, who he interviewed while she was in Ireland filming a new detective series, Harry Wild. The former Bond girl and star of Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman talks to Joe about how her parents’ experiences of the second World War affected her own outlook on life.

Sé mo Laoch
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh in Sé Mo Laoch

Sé Mo Laoch casts an eye on some of Irish traditional music’s heroes. This programme looks at the life and career of Donegal traditional singer and fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. A founding member of the supergroup Altan, Ní Mhaonaigh has brought the music of her native Donegal to stages the world over. She is also a member of the groups Na Mooneys, String Sisters and Sí Fiddlers.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Sunday BBC One, 6pm
This year's event doesn't open to the public for another nine days, but here's a sneak preview of what to expect. It's the first time the horticultural showcase has taken place in September, and those involved are looking forward to a more autumnal feel to the displays. As ever, designers from across the UK have been working hard on their show gardens, and we'll get a look at some of the most notable of them here.

Sunday, ITV, 8pm
Shaun Evans is currently in BBC One's Vigil, which will clash with the return of his most famous alter ego – DS Endeavour Morse. Thank goodness for catch-up services and personal recorders, eh? It's now 1971 and our hero isn't in good shape; he's still reeling from what happened to his lover Violetta, causing him to find solace in drink. That in turn forces him to call in sick on a regular basis, and when he does turn up for work, he's dishevelled and smells of booze. Thursday tries to be sympathetic, but the team have tricky crimes to deal with and it's a case of all hands on deck. A murder has taken place at an Oxford college that could have political ramifications, but Morse is assigned as the bodyguard to a local footballer who's been threatened by the IRA.

Antiques Roadshow
Sunday, BBC One, 8pm
The 44th series begins with a trip to Ham House, an impressive 17th- century property by the river in Richmond-upon-Thames. The pile provides a suitably spectacular backdrop for some incredible items. Among them is a photo album documenting the testing of British atomic bombs in 1956; fascinating, but it might have limited appeal. Also featured are a blanket made by a German POW, a portrait by Indian-born artist FN Souza, a collection of silver from Oman, and goblets engraved with images of the Crystal Palace. Perhaps the most intriguing moment involves an 18th-century robe that could be an important piece of Chinese history.

Jamie Oliver: Together
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm

Jamie Oliver: Together

To tie in with his 25th book, Jamie is inviting us into his kitchen as he prepares fun food for some serious socialising. He kicks off the new series by making a special meal showcasing a slow-roasted, rolled shoulder of lamb with a fennel, sage and spicy sausage stuffing, drizzled with a herby green sauce made with pistachio, mint and parsley. On the side, Oliver pairs it with crispy lemon roast potatoes, garlicky dressed French beans and a thyme and apricot sauce. He also creates a delicious starter of rainbow tomato crostini topped with crumbly cheese, and gets the party going with some cheeky mango caipirinha cocktails. The meal is finished off with an elegant dessert of individual yoghurt panna cottas with elderflower strawberries and a crushed biscuit crumb.

The Murder Files: Jason Corbett
Monday, Virgin One, 9pm (repeated Wed, 11pm)
In August 2015, Limerick man Jason Corbett was found bludgeoned to death in his perfect, suburban all-American house. Those responsible, his beauty queen wife and her retired FBI agent father, insist that they acted in self-defence. Jason's family tell a very different version of events – that Molly manipulated her way into the life of a vulnerable widow and killed him when he planned to leave with his kids. Now, four years after the Marten's murder convictions, the case is being thrown open once again. This one-off documentary unfolds the story from multiple perspectives of those closest to the case, featuring exclusive unseen FBI interviews with Molly and Tom Martens.

Coronation Street Icons: Norris Cole
Monday, ITV, 8pm

Malcolm Hebden as Norris Cole in Coronation Street

Actor Malcolm Hebden actually retired from playing Norris Cole last summer, after 27 years and more than 1,600 episodes on the soap. The iconic Corrie character is only just being killed off this week, with the news of Norris’s death revealed to his friends in Wednesday’s moving episodes. This special programme looks back at some of the character’s best scenes, including his Blackpool Ballroom success while partnering Vera Duckworth. It also features contributions from Hebden’s fellow cast members past and present, including David Neilson (Roy Cropper), Patti Clare (Mary Taylor) and Thelma Barlow (Mavis Wilton).

Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm

Spice Girls: Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown (Mel B), Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm (Mel C) in April 1998. Photograph: Ian Hodgson/Reuters

It’s now 25 years since the Spice Girls released their debut album, introducing us to such concepts as Girl Power and zigazig ah. This series uses rarely seen archive footage, new interviews and, of course, a poppy soundtrack to explore how five British women became a worldwide phenomenon and influenced a generation, many of whom grew up defining themselves by whether their favourite was Posh, Baby, Sport, Scary or Ginger. The series begins with a look at how the girl group was formed in 1994 against a backdrop of so-called ladette culture. As well as asking just what it was about them that caught the world’s imagination, the episode also asks what their emphasis on girl power meant for contemporary feminism.

Congo 1961 – Troid ar Son na Síochána
Wednesday, TG4, 930pm

Sean Maher, who served with the UN in the Congo, in November 2008 at the UN Memorial Garden Arbour House for the annual wreath-laying ceremony organised by the Irish United Nations Veterans Association. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A compelling blend of pathos, tragedy and humour depicting a brutal coming of age, Congo 191 is the story of the Irish Defence Forces’ first mission overseas, from 1960 to 1964, to the newly independent, war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here the veterans recount their experiences and describe the events that claimed the lives of 26 comrades and changed the course of Irish military history. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the mission.

The Man Putin Couldn't Kill
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
In August 2020, Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny was on a flight to Moscow when he started to scream in agony. The plane was diverted to the nearest city and he was rushed to hospital. This documentary tells the extraordinary story of what happened next, spinning a tale that involves claims of international espionage and seemingly incompetent assassins. But it also raises questions about why Navalny is seen as a threat to one of the most powerful men on Earth, and it asks how the battle between him and Putin will ultimately play out.

The Last Artifact
Wednesday, BBC Four, 9pm

The Last Artifact

It affects every aspect of our lives from the moment we are born, to the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the medicines we take. This object has helped send astronauts to the moon and satellites into space. It is an object unlike any other, the last of its kind. A literal constant in an ever-changing world, and the weight by which all others are measured. But, in 2018 all this changed. This film follows the high-stakes two-year race to redefine the kilogram, a small hunk of metal which is held in a high-tech vault just outside Paris, against which all others are measured.

Fred and Rose West: Reopened
Wednesday/Thursday, ITV, 9pm; Thursday, Virgin One, 9pm (part 1)
Fred West was facing trial for the murder of 12 women and girls when he died by suicide in January 1995. Later that year, his wife, Rose, was convicted of 10 murders. However, many people believe that there could have been more victims. In this two-part documentary, former DCI Colin Sutton, investigative psychologist Donna Youngs, author and West expert Howard Sounes, and reporter Sir Trevor McDonald investigate these claims in an attempt to discover the true number of victims and their identities. Their quest draws on previously unseen documents, including the full statement of Fred West's "appropriate adult", Janet Leach, and newly revealed records of discussions between West and his lawyer.

Cheap Irish Homes
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

House hunters Brenda Barry and Thomas Collins, flanked by presenters Kieran McCarthy.and Maggie Molloy

Sounds like the mantra being parroted by Government Ministers as they continue to promise the sun, moon and affordable housing to the Irish electorate. In this second series of the house-hunting challenge, presenters Maggie Molloy and Kieran McCarthy set out to help people find properties at rock-bottom prices. Sure they might as well go looking for Shergar, says you. The presenters are looking for home buyers with “an open mind” (ie they believe in miracles). Needless to say, our home buyers will have to widen their net – all the way out to the sticks, or away with the fairies – to snap up a home within their budget, and they’ll have to be willing to do a bit of remedial work to make the property actually liveable. We’ll soon find out if there are any bargains to be had out there, or if cheap homes are just a leaky pipedream.

Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer in Help

Jodie Comer is best known as the psychopathic assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve, but here she takes on a completely different role - that of care home worker whose mission is to make the residents’ lives better. The series is set in Comer’s home town of Liverpool, so she’ll be able to give her Liverpudlian accent a good airing as Sarah, a smart, sassy, rebellious woman who just can’t seem to fit in - until she begins work at Sunshine Homes, and discovers her talent for connecting with the residents. She has a particular connection with Tony (47), played by Stephen Graham, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and is prone to violent outbursts. Sarah and Tony build up a bond of trust, but when Covid-19 hits, the care home is poorly prepareed, ill-equipped and under-resourced, and Sarah and her colleagues face a whole new set of challenges to protect themselves and those in their care.

All Creatures Great and Small
Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm

Anna Madeley in All Creatures Great and Small

Most fans have embraced the new adaptation of books by vet Alf Wight, aka James Herriot. It’s back for a second series, which picks up three months after its predecessor. It’s now 1938 and James is facing the biggest dilemma of his life to date. He’s been offered a job at his old mentor’s practice in Glasgow, which his parents would love him to take. But he’s fallen in love with the Yorkshire Dales and its people – and particularly Helen Alderson. While James makes his mind up what to do, he and Helen are thrown together by a flock of sheep. James also has a plan that could transform the Skeldale practice.

Patrick Kielty: One Hundred Years of Union
Thursday, BBC One, 9pm
To mark the centenary of Partition, Patrick Kielty, who three years ago brought us the award-winning documentary My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me, explores how Northern Ireland's beginnings continue to influence many aspects of everyday life there. Along the way, he'll explore some of the key events that have shaped its history, from the unionist families who found themselves on the "wrong" side of the Border to Westminster's interest in ending Partition during the second World War in return for Ireland abandoning its neutrality. Kielty will also speak to people whose stories intersect not just with the past 100 years of history but with the experiences of his own family.

Young Rock
Friday, Sky Comedy & NowTV, 8pm

Uli Latukefu as Dwayne Johnson at age 18 in Young Rock

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to know what Dwayne Johnson’s life was like before he became a household name as The Rock. Well, if you think his blockbuster movies are wild and crazy, wait until you see what life was like for The Rock as a teenager growing up in a professional wrestling family filled with larger-than-life characters. This comedy series is a kind of turbo-charged take on The Wonder Years or Young Sheldon, and features a cast of comedy actors re-enacting the most outrageous moments from his past, including three actors playing Dwayne as a kid, a teen and a young man. And there’s no shortage of raw material to draw on, from Johnson’s days playing football for the University of Miami to his glittering career as one of the biggest stars of WWE wrestling. Johnson himself narrates, giving a mock interview as a “presidential candidate” for 2032 – we’re looking forward to when America is run by president The Rock.

Oíche Chultúir 2021 sna Gaeltachtaí
Friday, TG4, 8.30pm
To celebrate Culture Night 2021, TG4 visits some of the Gaeltacht areas to meet musicians and artists and get a flavour of the rich tapestry of arts and culture. Vignettes include Caitlín Nic Gabhann playing music in Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair; Diane Ní Chanainn with Meitheal Cholmcille; and Caoimhe & Séamus Ó Flatharta singing at An tSeanchéibh in An Spidéal. There will be a modern dance piece with Fearghus Ó Conchúir and some poetry from Dairena Ní Chinnéide agus Cathal Ó Searcaigh. The visual artist Cathal Mac Fhionnghaile will appear from Inis Bó Finne, and we will hear from a new generation of musicians and composers with Ensemble Mhúscraí in Baile Bhuirne.

Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
It's been a difficult few months for Gogglebox fans and the programme's stars. In June, Pete McGarry passed away; then, in recent weeks, Mary Cook's death at the age of 92 was announced, followed by that of Andy Michael (61) just days later. The series, which returns for its 18th run, won't be the same without them but, as the saying goes, the show must go on. The likes of Jenny and Lee, the Siddiquis, Giles and Mary, the Malones and Pete and Sophie are set to appear, offering their unique views on the week's TV. And there could be some new names and faces to get to know too.

Bill Bailey: Larks in Transit
Friday, BBC One, 10.35pm

Bill Bailey on stage performing Larks in Transit

He may be the reigning Strictly Come Dancing champ, but Bill Bailey has also been described as the finest British comedian around by some critics. Earlier this summer he returned to his roots, becoming the first stand-up to headline the Royal Opera House in the process. This show was recorded during an eight-night residency and offers a dazzling array of Bailey’s talents as he looks back on his time as what he describes as a “touring minstrel”. Musical virtuosity is the order of the night, as well as surreal stylings and bizarre but thought-provoking takes on such subjects as politics, philosophy and the pursuit of happiness. Among the highlights to listen out for are a symphony created from a ringtone and an unusual take on the Stars and Stripes.

Soundtrack to My Life
Saturday, RTÉ One, 9.50pm
How do you create the right weekend mix of music, chat and couch therapy without calling yourself The Late Late Show or The Tommy Tiernan Show? RTÉ hopes to find the formula with this new series, presented by musician and podcaster Niall Breslin aka Bressie, and featuring  musical guests who will chat about what inspires them, what saddens them, and what makes them keep doing what they do. First up is Eurovision legend Johnny Logan, who will look back at his life and career and of course perform some of his best-known songs (including two Eurovision winners) with help from the likes of musicians Jerry Fish, Grainne Duffy and Jimmy Smyth. Bressie is a well-known advocate for looking after your mental health, so his chats will surely touch on some difficult topics – in Logan's case the death of his friend, and composer of What's Another Year?, ShayHealy. Other upcoming guests  include Celine Byrne and James Vincent McMorrow.

Strictly Come Dancing
Saturday, BBC One, 7.45pm
Last year's Strictly went ahead under the shadow of Covid but still managed to bring some much-needed razzmatazz ito the lives of weary, locked-down viewers. Not only did Strictly 2020 deliver the goodies, it set the bar higher for sheer entertainment value, as comedian Bill Bailey dazzled  with his twinkle-toed routines and waltzed away with the big prize. This year's celebrity line-up includes comedy actor and author Robert Webb, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, Dragons' Den investor Sara Davies, McFly star Tom Fletcher, Coronation Street star Katie McGlynn, and actor Greg Wise. But the focus will be firmly on feet as the celebs put on their dancing shoes and step outside their comfort zones, with help from their professional dance partners (look out for Kai Widdrington from our own Dancing with the Stars among them). This year's contest will also see the show's first deaf contestant, East#enders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis, and its first all-male dance pairing when Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner take to the floor.

Michael Hartnett – Muince Dreoilíní
Saturday, TG4, 7.15pm
On the 80th anniversary of his birth, her's a welcome rebroadcast of an award-winning  1999 profile on one of Ireland's most respected poets. Michael Hartnett traces his life from his early days in Newcastle West, Co Limerick to Dublin. He discusses his love for the Irish language, his battle with alcohol and his lifelong devotion to poetry. Featuring contributions from poets Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan and Liam Ó Muirthile, as well as artist Graham Knuttel, Muince Dreoilíní examines Hartnett's inspiration for writing in Irish and English.


Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father
From Tuesday, Netflix
The actor-comedian and his talent agent father Michael are jetting off for one last unforgettable holiday. No doubt they'll clash over what they should be doing when they get there; the formula has worked for the past four seasons. They've visited 14 nations so far, but this time keep things closer to home by exploring the UK. Among the highlights to look out for are a dinner to forget involving Gordon Ramsay; a hair-rising flight in a Spitfire; and an exploration of Edinburgh. Although father and son wind each other up something silly, there are touching moments to be had as well.

From Wednesday, Netflix
In December 2013, racer Michael Schumacher suffered a brain injury in a skiing accident. Little about his life since then is known, and if you're looking for more information via this documentary, you will be disappointed. However, sports fans and those of Formula 1 in particular will enjoy its look back over Schumacher's illustrious career, which included winning a joint-record seven World Drivers' Championship titles. Schumacher can be seen discussing his achievements via archive interviews, while previously unreleased footage helps paint a compelling portrait of a remarkable sportsman. His wife Corinna, father Rolf, brother Ralf and children Gina-Maria and Mick are among those interviewed

Sex Education
From Friday, Netflix

Emma Mackey and Asa Butterfield in Sex Education

The horny teen comedy returns for a third go. The big question is, can series three keep it up, or will the laugh levels start to droop? And where can we get vulva cupcakes? Sex Education focuses on painfully shy high school student Otis (Asa Butterfield), whose social anxiety is in contrast to the sex therapist career of his brash mother (Gillian Anderson). But when Otis turns teen entrepreneur and sets up his own unofficial sex clinic at his high school, his life changes irrevocably. Series three finds Otis immersed in the joys of casual sex, while Jean is expecting a new baby and Moordale’s new head teacher Hope is determined to restore the school to its former glory. Will things get totes awks? You can bet on it.

The Morning Show
From Friday, Apple TV+

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show

Cast your mind back to November 1st, 2019. That was the launch date for Apple TV+ and its big opening series was The Morning Show, a 10-part drama which had “hit” written all over it thanks to the participation of Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. The first series introduced viewers to breakfast news broadcaster Alex Levy (Aniston) and her arch rival Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon), as well as Mitch Kessler (Carell), Alex’s former colleague who was fired following allegations of sexual misconduct. This time around, coronavirus rears its ugly head, while Julianna Margulies, Hasan Minhaj, Greta Lee and Ruairi O’Connor join the cast.

Contributing: PA