TV guide: 31 of the best shows to watch this week
Profiles of The Boomstown Rats, the Irish driving test and gardaí in the K, plus new drama Noughts + Crosses and the return of Antiques Roadshow and Ready Steady Cook
The Boomtown Rats: Citizens of Boomstown, Thursday on RTE One
Sunday, BBC1, 8pm
No offence to the nuns of Call the Midwife, who did a sterling job of holding the fort, but Sunday nights just aren’t the same without Antiques Roadshow. Fiona Bruce and the team are back this week, ready to unearth more treasures in a show from Battle Abbey in East Sussex. They strike lucky with a rare Beatles guitar that boasts a fascinating history and turns out to be one of the most valuable items ever seen on the show. As well as a rock royalty, there’s also a brush with the monarchy as the experts appraise letters from Queen Victoria’s children, along with a rare gold coin and a pawned diamond ring that has a backstory worthy of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?.
An Fhidil Bheo – Ceol an Northern Fiddler
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
The Northern Fiddler (1979), by Allen Feldman and Éamonn O’Doherty, is a unique book compilation of music, photos, illustrations and interviews, featuring fiddle players from south Donegal and Tyrone, including musicians of the calibre of John and Simey Doherty, John Loughran, Con Cassidy, and Francie and Mickey Byrne. The concept of the “Northern Fiddler” is explored in this documentary commissioned by BBC Gaeilge and TG4. The important legacy of the Northern Fiddler emerges through performances and discussion from Maurice Bradley (south Derry), Ellie Nic Fhionnlaigh (Glencolmcille), Dónal McCague (Monaghan), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Gweedore), Maggie Maguire (Fermanagh), Laura Kerr (Armagh), Dermy Diamond and Conor Caldwell (Belfast), Sinéad McKenna (Tyrone), Paddy Glackin (Dublin), Roisín McGrory (Inishowen) and Dermot McLaughlin (Derry).
McDonald & Dodds
Sunday, UTV, 8pm
The latest series of Endeavour came to an end last week, but viewers don’t have to wait long for a new detective drama set against the backdrop of one of Britain’s most picturesque cities. McDonald & Dodds stars Tala Gouveia as DCI Lauren McDonald, an ambitious, driven copper who, in her quest to climb the ladder, has accepted a transfer from the mean streets of south London to the seemingly sleepy environs of Bath. There she meets DS Dodds (Jason Watkins), who has happily been stuck behind a desk – and in a career rut – for years. Now Dodds finds himself back on the frontline when he and his new colleague investigate a shooting in a deserted mansion.
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Remember when you took your driving test? Of course you don’t: you’ve been on a provisional licence your whole life and just rolling it over each time it’s due to expire, you chancer. But the Government is clamping down on long-term provisional drivers, and anyone caught driving without the requisite full licence holder in situ may have their vehicle seized on the spot. That won’t look good when you’re driving the kids to school. And in case you’re feeling trepidation about finally taking the driving test, this six-part series is here to reassure you that it’s not all that bad. In the programme, we’ll meet drivers young and old as they prepare for their driving test, and meet some of the testers who have to get in the car with these learner drivers. In episode one, we meet a 17-year-old who is nervously going for his test. What sets Rob apart from other kids his age is that he’s already experienced – he’s a racetrack champion who has been driving since he was 10. Can he curb his racing instincts and keep within the speed limit for his test? We also meet Denis (66), who’s been on a provisional licence, like, forever, but must finally bite the bullet and go for the test. Will he be able to undo 40 years of acquired bad driving habits in just weeks? This could be a white-knuckle ride all the way to the test centre.
Monday-Friday, BBC1, 2.15pm
Jimmy McGovern’s hit anthology returns to BBC1 this week. The pick of the latest drama offerings is reportedly Wednesday’s powerful story about a very current issue: homophobia in sport. Josh Chambers (Mark Addy) was once a rugby league international and now, at 53, he is a local hero and man of steel. However, his life is thrown into chaos when his ex-wife (Jane Slavin) shows up on his doorstep, demanding he gives her £5,000 in 48 hours to repay a debt that her new husband has run up. Josh, she insists, must sell his international caps – and if he doesn’t, she will expose a secret that he has been hiding all his life.
Ready Steady Cook
Monday-Friday, BBC1, 4.30pm
Rylan Clark-Neal takes over as host for this revamped version of the cookery contest. The new show reflects contemporary food themes, from cooking on a budget to eating healthily, managing food waste and feeding the whole family. In the first edition, Rylan unveils the brand-new kitchen and introduces us to the chefs: award-winning Anna Haugh and globe-trotting Mike Reid. They are joined in the kitchen by today’s contestants, Gemma and Bria. As they battle it out in the Green Pepper and Red Tomato kitchens, can the chefs teach the couple a few new tricks?
Monday, UTV, 9pm; Thursday, Virgin One, 9pm
With its knuckle-gnawing plot, Liar was one of the TV highlights of 2017. The psychological thriller charted the story of Laura Nielson (Joanne Froggatt), who was sexually assaulted by Dr Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd) during a date, and then forced to prove her version of events was the truth. The first run ended with Andrew outed as a serial rapist before his body was shown half-submerged in the marshes, his throat slitt. The second series picks up three weeks later, with a DI (Katherine Kelly) and her team tasked with finding out who killed the bad doctor. Laura is an obvious suspect, and as she tries to move on from her ordeal, the teacher finds herself drawn back into the monstrous surgeon’s destructive path once again.
Monday/Thursday, Virgin Two, 10pm
After losing everything, a newly broke family of millionaires arrive at their one remaining asset: a backwater town of the title, which they bought for their spoiled son as a joke. As this now cult comedy enters its final season on Netflix, Virgin Media is starting from the beginning with what television critic Stuart Heritage called a “tight bearhug of a series” and “almost definitely the best sitcom you haven’t quite got around to watching yet . . . It’s warm and inclusive and tolerant, and up there with something like The Good Place when it comes to making comedy from the art of self-improvement.”
Dorg Van Dango
Monday/Wednesday/Fri, RTÉ2, 7.40am (repeated 3pm)
Dorg Van Dango is a regular teenager growing up in the town of Normill. But life takes a wild turn when four magical beings escape crash-land in his back garden. Dorg takes them under his wing and disguises them as normal teenagers – but his new gang of best friends are anything but normal. Jet the cool unicorn, RD the goofy alien, Yooki the spooky ghost, and Patronella the weird witch all try to help Dorg navigate teenage life. Whenever he has a problem or chore, they’re always quick to offer a magical shortcut, but it’s not long before their magic gets out of control and things escalate in unexpected ways.
The Trip to Greece
Tuesday, Sky One, 10pm
It’s been 10 years since comedy actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan filmed their first culinary trip with director Michael Winterbottom – a tour of the north of England’s finest eating establishments. Since then the laconic duo have gone on to eat Italy and Spain out of house and home, and now they’ve set their sights – and appetites – on Greece. As usual, they’ll be exchanging quips, trading barbs, and going head to head to see who can do the best Michael Caine impersonation. The pair will be seeking good eats and enlightenment as they traverse this ancient and beautiful land. Will this be a Greek tragedy at the table, or an odyssey to equal the greatest stories of Greek mythology? There’s also a topical element to the trip, as Greece is also the birthplace of democracy, which has gotten quite a roasting of late.
Nightmare Cruises: Going Overboard
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
A luxury cruise is usually the holiday of a lifetime, but occasionally it can turn into tragedy. Once a fortnight, somewhere in the world, someone is expected to go overboard from a passenger ship. The thought of being all alone in cold, dark waters is a terrifying one – but what are your chances of survival? Cruise lines obviously want passengers to be safe and outfit their ships with features including minimum railing and balcony heights. But is enough being done to prevent and investigate these tragic incidents?
Britain Underwater: Fighting the Floods
Tuesday, UTV, 9pm
In 2015, Yorkshire’s Calder Valley was devastated by floods. As a result, millions of pounds were invested in defences, some of which were not due to be completed until this summer. And then Storm Ciara and Dennis hit in February . . . This documentary visits some of the towns that suffered most during the recent extreme weather to learn about the devastation caused by flooding.It includes dramatic footage of residents being evacuated from Mytholmroyd in Yorkshire and Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire. The programme also goes behind the scenes at the UK’s Environment Agency, and asks if more can be done to stop flooding or if we need to accept that it will increasingly be a part of life in the 21st century.
Tuesday, TG4, 10.30pm
The Welsh drama set amid the beautiful scenery of Carmarthen returns for its second series (after originally airing on BBC1 last July). Eve Myles stars as Faith Howells, a mother, wife and lawyer who has to fight for everything that’s dear to her. The first series originally aired in Welsh, and was such a hit the BBC commissioned an English-language version. It’s now 18 months since Faith’s husband (Bradley Freegard) returned following his mysterious disappearance, and the Howells are trying to pick up their lives again. Meanwhile, Faith takes on an intriguing new case: a local farmer accused of murdering her husband.
Dr Ranj: On Call
Tuesday, UTV, 7.30pm
Ranj Singh first found fame on the CBeebies show Get Well Soon, before reaching a whole new audience via Strictly Come Dancing, This Morning and Save Money: Good Health. However, he’s also a real doctor, specialising in paediatric emergency medicine. On this new health show, Singh will be advising on how to spot, treat and deal with common illnesses and injuries and providing updates on the latest medical news. In the first episode, the good doctor is riding along with the West Midlands Ambulance Service as they attend call outs and deal with life-and-death situations. Meanwhile, the show’s co-presenter, journalist Kylie Pentelow, is heading to Milton Keynes to take a closer look at a robot with the potential to revolutionise keyhole surgery.
Wednesday, RTÉ 2, 9pm
Castle Rock is the fictional Maine town that features in many of horror maestro Stephen King’s novels. So it’s fair to say that the town is a bit of a hotbed of creepy goings-on. This series is set in the King “multiverse”, and promises lots of psychological-horror shenanigans along with – we hope – plenty of jump-scares and sticky, gory ends. Shawshank prison also features in the series, although don’t be expecting much in the way of redemption. One of its inmates, known as The Kid (Bill Skarsgård), may well be the scion of the horned one himself. In this opening double bill, a Death Row attorney (André Holland) receives an anonymous call and is lured back to his home town of Castle Rock, where he uncovers a mystery both puzzling and terryifying. Needless to say, the lawyer’s own dark past plays more than a walk-on part.
Tabú: An Garda Cósta - ár n-insint féin
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
For the first time in the history of the State, the Irish Coast Guard, a Blue Light agency, was struck with the loss of five of its members within five months. With unprecedented access, this documentary tells the story of how the men and women at the coal face of emergency service, along one of the longest coast lines in Europe, have continued to serve despite the loss of their colleagues and friends, in their own words.
The Trouble with Maggie Cole
Wednesday, UTV, 9pm
Dawn French stars in this new six-part drama. Maggie Cole, who lives in a small coastal town with a close-knit community, is certainly at the centre of it – she’s a nosey parker who likes to know everybody’s business. The problem is that she can’t keep it to herself. So when a reporter interviews her for a small piece about local life, she ends up blurting out all manner of information about her friends and neighbours. Each episode then focuses on the impact her tittle-tattling has had on those around her as gossip and rumour disrupts their lives. Mark Heap co-stars as Maggie’s headteacher husband and Julie Hesmondhalgh plays her best friend.
100 Kilo Kids: Obesity SOS
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Here’s a shocking statistic: half of Britain’s children are now believed to be overweight or obese. This documentary follows the work of medics and experts at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, which is home to the nation’s leading childhood obesity clinic. Cameras chart the progress of some of its most extreme patients, beginning with Tommy. At 14, he is one of the clinic’s heaviest patients and, despite 18 months of treatment, his weight is spiralling out of control. As he reaches 23 stone, the team in charge of his care feel they have no option but to admit him to hospital. Liliana (5), meanwhile, is twice the average weight for her age and her appetite knows no bounds. Finally, Harry (15) needs emergency treatment after his hip collapses.
Tigers: Hunting the Traffickers
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Aldo Kane reports on the illegal tiger trade in southeast Asia, with the endangered big cats trafficked for products including wine and glue made from their bones. He works alongside wildlife crime investigators working the key trafficking routes in Malaysia, China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and uncovers shocking footage of breeding facilities and animals being fattened for slaughter. With fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild, this profitable illegal enterprise threatens to wipe the species out altogether.
The Guards: Inside the K
Wednesday, Virgin One, 9pm
This five-part series gives unprecedented access to the work carried out by the Garda in the K, country’s busiest policing district that includes Blanchardstown, Finglas and Cabra. With gang violence at an all-time high, the guards in the K battle to keep guns off the streets and to reassure the community. In Blanchardstown the team investigate a murder and respond to a reckless assassination attempt.
High Road, Low Road
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
The scene: RTÉ execs are sitting round the meeting table for a brainstorming session. Exec 1: “The peasants are revolting.” Exec 2: “I’ll say they are! Boom! Boom!” Exec 1: “No, they’re actually revolting over the licence fee, saying it’s a waste. We have to come up with a programme that makes them feel it’s worth paying the fee.” Exec 3: “I know, how about we do another travel programme, where we send so-called ‘celebs’ on a luxury holiday to exotic destinations, staying at five-star hotels, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, and doing top-end sightseeing tours and activities, all at the licence fee payers’ expense?” Exec 1: “Well, that’s hardly going to placate the peasants, is it?” Exec 3: “No, but the twist is, we send another ‘celeb’ along with them, only they have to do it on the cheap, taking the bus everywhere, booking into hostels, and visiting low-end attractions like flea markets and cockfighting contests. It’ll be rich vacation v poor vacation.” Exec 1: “I love it – just before the viewers start getting annoyed about one celeb in the jacuzzi, we can cut straight to the other celeb trying to wash themselves under a trickly shower in some downmarket dump. And it’ll satisfy their sadistic need to see people suffer on the telly.” Boss: “Right, that’s commissioned, then. But we’re gonna have to hike the licence fee to pay for it.”
Citizens of Boomtown
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
The extraordinary story of Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats is told in this all-access two-part series. With a string of successful albums and world tours, for a time The Boomtown Rats were the most successful pop band on the planet and, as their star waned, Geldof revolutionised charity records with Band Aid and later global broadcasting with Live Aid, which was watched on more than 90 per cent of the TVs on Earth. Citizens of Boomtown reveals the highs and the lows of the first Irish band ever to reach No1 in the UK charts – not once (with Rat Trap) but twice with global top seller I Don’t Like Mondays. The filmmakers had exclusive access to personal archives and interviews with the four members of the re-grouped Boomtown Rats (Geldof, Garry Roberts, Pete Briquette and Simon Crowe). There are also compelling insights from the likes of Bono, Sting, Sinéad O’Connor, Jools Holland, Clem Burke of Blondie, and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics), Various music critics join historians Roy Foster and Diarmaid Ferriter; sociologist Eoin Devereaux; author Joseph O’Connor; and broadcasters Paul Gambaccini and Dave Fanning to unravel one of the most dramatic and compelling narratives in modern music.
Noughts + Crosses
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
We’re in for a couple of high-profile dystopian alt-history series this year, as TV execs try desperately to replicate the Handmaid’s Tale and Man in the High Castle effec. Noughts + Crosses imagines a world in which black people are the dominant race and white people are former slaves who are now an oppressed minority. This sounds like fodder for white supremacists and racists banging on about “the great replacement”, but the original YA novels by Malorie Blackman have been hugely acclaimed, so we’ll reserve judgment until we see what this series actually has to say about real-life racism, which is very much directed at people of colour. The plot sounds like another take on Romeo and Juliet, as star-crossed lovers Sephy (one of the black “Crosses”) and Callum (a white “Nought”) embark on a forbidden romance.
Thursday, TG4, 8pm
On the western edge of Europe lies a unique culture that depended and fought with the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years. Native sailboat the Galway Hooker sustained this poorest of communities, and the new generation of these same families still sail the coast of Connemara, now racing to be champions. The Hookers awaken from the long Connemara winter, only to find new contenders aboard for this season’s regattas. The preparations have started in earnest, and this documentary follow the sailors as they compete against other in the first of the summers races.
Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm
Laochra Gael returns for an 18th series, beginning with the story of Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy, who won four All Ireland medals, three All Stars and Footballer of the Year. The man called Star has an extraordinary story: breaking through with the Underdogs, the experiment that made a full forward out of him, the basketball hands, the decline and the revival, and of course, Joe Brolly. And in the background, the complex and difficult relationship with his father that was tied up in everything he did on the field of play.
Thursday, Yesterday, 9pm
The painstaking work that goes into the restoration of iconic aircraft are followed this series, which tells the incredible stories of the airfield where the workshop is located, the men and women who flew the plane, the part it played in military history, and the challenges it now presents its restorers and pilots. Aircraft featured in the series include an American C47 paratroop plane that was damaged on D-Day; a rare biplane veteran of the Condor Legion that fought in the Spanish civil war; and a Cold War L39 jet. Tonight begins with an iconic Spitfire MJ772 that flew over 50 wartime combat missions.
From Friday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
It’s known as the most lavishly produced non-English language series ever, which is fitting: Babylon Berlin is set during the huge cultural and social explosion of Germany’s Weimar Republic during the 1920s and early ’30s. The series, based on the detective novels of Volker Kutscher, centres round the investigations of a police inspector (Volker Bruch) and his protege (Liv Lisa Fries), a policewoman by day and a “flapper” on Berlin’s social scene at night. As series three begins, Berlin has been hit by the stock market crash of 1929, and no one knows how long more the good times will last. Meanwhile, Rath and Ritter investigate the mysterious death of film star Betty Winter; has her death anything to do with the shady characters who have invested in the movie?
From Friday, Netflix
After working together on four previous movies, director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg reteam for a comedy thriller loosely based on the novel Robert B Parker’s Wonderland by Ace Atkins. Wahlberg plays Spenser, a former cop who causes more problems than he solves. Recently released from jail, he’s planning to leave Boston for good, until his old boxing coach and mentor Henry (Alan Arkin) persuades him to help train a promising amateur. Hawk (Winston Duke) is loud, brash and full of confidence, just the sort of person Spenser needs on his side when he decides to investigate the murder of two former police colleagues.
From Friday, Apple TV+
In 1985, Steven Spielberg launched Amazing Stories, an anthology series in a similar vein to The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits that was never a big ratings hit. Apple clearly has faith in the idea because it’s backing this reboot; Spielberg is once again on board as an executive producer. So far, the storylines are largely being kept under wraps, but we do know that the likes of Edward Burns and, in his final role before his death last October, Robert Forster, are set to appear. Five episodes will be made available in total.
Wild Cuba: A Caribbean Journey
Friday, BBC2, 8.30pm
Cuba’s isolation has helped preserve many of its natural riches, creating unspoiled landscapes home to many enchanting animals. In the first of a two-part documentary, cameraman, director and naturalist Colin Stafford-Johnson explores corners of the country that few outsiders have seen. Among the wonders he encounters is the bee hummingbird, the world’s tiniest bird, and the spectacle of thousands of crabs migrating en masse. In this authored odyssey, the natural magic of one Earth’s most intriguing countries is revealed.
Michael Kiwanuka at the 6 Music Festival
Friday, BBC4, 11.30pm
Highlights from the first night of the event in Camden, with Michael Kiwanuka headlining the Roundhouse main space. The singer-songwriter’s 2012 debut album, Home Again, achieved gold status in the UK, and he also won the BBC’s Sound of 2012 competition. Kiwanuka’s follow-up LP, Love & Hate, debuted at No 1 in 2016 and led to numerous other award nominations, including the Mercury Music Prize. His third studio album, Kiwanuka, was released in November last year and earned him his fourth Brit nomination.