TV guide: 31 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

David Brophy’s Frontline Choir, Designed for Life, Donal’s Family Kitchen, My First Threesome, Peataí!, The Jackie Collins Story, I Know What You Did Last Summer

D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis, Lane Factor and Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs, streaming from Wednesday on Disney+ Star

D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis, Lane Factor and Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs, streaming from Wednesday on Disney+ Star

 

Just Ask: A Mental Health Special
Sunday, Virgin One, 8.15pm
After a week of putting mental health front and centre with testimonials and expert guests, join Elaine Crowley and a host of familiar faces on World Mental Health Day as they chat through their experiences, trade stories and share hope for improved mental health in Ireland.

Followed by Breakdown: Ireland’s Mental Health Battle (9pm): Munster Rugby legend Alan Quinlan opens up on the mental health battle that almost cost him his life. In this moving documentary, he explores the struggles and the remedies in Ireland’s fight with mental health, the challenges that have faced some of the country’s leading sportspeople, and the trauma experienced in Irish families. Galway hurling star Conor Whelan discusses the tragic loss of his cousin Niall Donohue, which rocked the county and GAA community. Also, former Ireland and Premier League striker Kevin Doyle on the realities of professional sport and moving to England, Roz Purcell on the pitfalls of social media, and Leinster’s World Cup final head coach Stuart Lancaster on seeking help in the right places.

Followed by Freddie Flintoff – Living With Bulimia (10pm): The former England cricketer faces up to his eating disorder of 20 years as he challenges the stigma around the condition in men. He explores how bulimia has played a part in the course of his life, discusses his own experience in detail, and meets specialists and young men with eating disorders.

David Brophy’s Frontline Choir
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

Nurse Vanessa MacNamara and her daughters in Frontline Choir
Nurse Vanessa MacNamara and her daughters in Frontline Choir

As officials squabble over how to reward the selfless work of Ireland’s frontline health workers, conductor David Brophy knows exactly what he’s going to do: bring this caring cohort together in a choir and help them raise the roof in musical celebration. They’ve risked their lives and made huge sacrifices to help others during the pandemic, so it’s us who should be singing their praises. Brophy may not be able to give them a cash bonus or two weeks’ holidays, but he can provide the gift of song. Can they follow the success of the High Hopes Choir and the Choir of Ages? This three-part series follows the choir (made up of doctors, nurses, porters, ICU staff and nursing home staff across Ireland) as they begin rehearsals over Zoom, move to outdoor in-person rehearsals, and finally perform an emotional concert for their loved ones, with some of their musical heroes joining them for a grand finale show.

Sabrina Bartlett in The Larkins
Sabrina Bartlett in The Larkins

The Larkins
Sunday, ITV, 8pm
Back in the early 1990s, we were seduced by the bucolic charms of the Larkin family in The Darling Buds of May, featuring David Jason as Pop Larkin and Catherine Zeta-Jones as his voluptuous daughter Mariette. Life in this rural community was, as Pop put it, “perfick”, but obviously the producers of The Larkins reckon they can make it even more perfick, with this new series starring Bradley Walsh as Pop, Joanna Scanlan as Ma Larkin and Sabrina Bartlett (recently seen in Netflix’s hit series Bridgerton) as Mariette. The six episodes are based on the original novels by HE Bates, so expect to see the Larkins use all their wiles and ways as they battle with government officials, developers and blow-ins to preserve their “off-the-books” rural idyll.

Tom Parker: Inside My Head
Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm
In October 2020, 32-year-old Tom Parker of The Wanted was diagnosed with grade four incurable glioblastoma. This film follows he and his wife Kelsey as they manage his diagnosis, explore possible treatments and meet fellow brain cancer patients. At the same time, Tom attempts to pull together an ambitious fundraising concert at the Royal Albert Hall, calling on famous friends to help with the event, with proceeds split equally between Stand Up to Cancer and The National Brain Appeal.

A Year in Provence with Carol Drinkwater
Sunday, Channel 5, 9pm
To a generation, Carol Drinkwater will forever be Helen from the 1970s run of All Creatures Great and Small. But for the past 35 years she’s been renovating a Provence olive farm with husband Michel. In this six-parter, Carol offers a glimpse at their life, revealing how she and Michel met, before visiting a lavender farm in Sault and Fort Royal, where the Man in the Iron Mask was jailed for 11 years. Meanwhile, Michel deals with storm-damaged trees and welcomes Carol’s nephew for the summer.

Angela Black
Sunday, ITV, 9pm; Monday, Virgin One, 9pm

Joanne Froggatt in Angela Black
Joanne Froggatt in Angela Black

In this absorbing thriller, Angela Black (Joanne Froggatt) appears to have the perfect life: she’s a mum of two, volunteers at a dogs’ home and is married to the charming Olivier (Michiel Huisman). But beneath that veneer lies a terrifying truth: Angela is a victim of domestic abuse and trapped in her marriage. A possible way out falls into her lap when she’s approached by an investigator (Samuel Adewunmi), who reveals Olivier’s most sinister secrets to her, changing the course of the frightened woman’s life. Can Angela trust this stranger, and dare she use his information to break free?

Barney Curley: The Man Who Beat the Bookies
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
On June 26th, 1975, an obscure racecourse in Ireland became the setting for an astonishing gambling coup that would go down in history and establish its orchestrator as one of the sport’s most feared and enigmatic characters. An unfancied horse called Yellow Sam romped home at 20-1 but, at the track that day, few even knew what had really happened, nor was anyone aware of the origins of the drama or its true motives, buried as they were in decades of Northern Irish history. Featuring unseen interviews from before his death, this tells the extraordinary story of racehorse owner and punter Barney Curley, from his tough origins as a Catholic in Fermanagh, through his audacious betting coups and his charitable decision to “give a little back” by donating all of his winnings to charity and die penniless.

Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me
Monday, BBC One, 9pm
You don’t have to be a football fan to be riveted by this film, in which the former Arsenal star tries to understand why his life has been blighted by gambling and explores the relationship between betting and football. Paul Merson meets fellow professionals Keith Gillespie, John Hartson and Scott Davies, who lost over £15 million between them, and a doctor at Imperial College London, who aims to pinpoint the neurobiological basis of the addiction. Merson talks to pressure group Clean Up Gambling about how the industry has evolved, and meets the families of three men who took their own lives due to gambling.

Cops on Trial: Dispatches
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
In the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder by a Met police officer, reporter Ellie Flynn examines the scale of sexual misconduct by serving British police officers, the ultimate betrayal of trust by some of those tasked to protect us,and who wield immense power. She meets those who went to the police as the victim of a crime, and long-term partners of officers still in post. Plus, new and exclusive research reveals the shocking truth about serious allegations and proven sexual misconduct spanning the whole country.

Designed for Life
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Arlene McIntyre in Designed for Life
Arlene McIntyre in Designed for Life

Leading international interior designer Arlene McIntyre works with different sized homes, budgets and personalities to show that design is more than accessible – it can enhance how we live in our homes. We demand more from our spaces now than ever before. Light, furnishing, colour, texture can all have huge impact. When a room is both functional and beautiful, it enriches our lives. McIntyre is hugely passionate about design and the transformative effects it can have. She is confident that regardless of scale or budget, universal design principles can transform problematic pads into heavenly homes. Each episode deals with the transformation of one property. McIntyre meets the clients, hears their aspirations and their budget. The series follow the interior design process of creating bespoke solutions for each of the homeowners.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm
Haven’t the genial genealogy show’s makers run out of celebrities yet? Apparently not, because the series is back for its 18th run. Judi Dench, Ed Balls, Pixie Lott, Joe Lycett, Alex Scott and Joe Sugg are all set to appear, but it’s Josh Widdicombe who gets the ball rolling. He discovers how and why an ancestor was cut out of a family fortune before learning more about a courtier whose access to the king’s commode didn’t protect him from the terrors of the English civil war. Widdicombe also learns about relatives from the Tudor and Elizabethan nobility while researching a distinctly impressive ancestral line. It’s a fascinating opening episode.

Donal’s Family Kitchen
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Donal Skehan in Donal’s Family Kitchen
Donal Skehan in Donal’s Family Kitchen

Life is so hectic these days, it’s hard to find time to knock up a nice dinner for the family. Donal Skehan knows exactly how you feel, He’s been on a rollercoaster of late, moving back home to Ireland, dealing with two toddlers, writing a book and making this new cookery series. But Skehan still believes that amid the madness, it’s possible to create a tasty oasis at the dinner table. This new series sees Donal deliver tried-and-tested recipes that won’t take up too much home working time. Among them are braised beef shin lasagne, mac and peas, crispy chicken sandwich, and an Irish apple cake with salted caramel. I’ll be over to your gaff in half an hour, Donal.

Misneach
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm
Twenty years ago, Tom Clonan, then a captain in the Irish Defence Forces, completed a PhD in Dublin City University. As part of his doctoral research he interviewed 60 female soldiers. The research results would change his life forever, as 59 of those interviewed reported a catalogue of discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and assault.

Hunting the Essex Lorry Killers
Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Spanning Britain, Europe and Vietnam, this startling documentary examines how detectives smashed a multimillion-pound international smuggling ring with its roots in a haulage business in the heart of Northern Ireland. With exclusive access to Essex Police, their officers and the data, it reveals how detectives painstakingly pieced together a complex web, including the extraordinary role of “Witness X”, whose evidence helped bring down the gang. The film also travels to Vietnam to meet some of the families of the 39 migrants who perished in the back of a lorry, hearing their heartbreaking stories of loved ones whose search for a new life in the UK was based on a false promise and ended in tragedy.

My First Threesome
Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
The title may not leave much to the imagination, but there’s an insightful experience in store. Cameras follow first-timers as they go after their ultimate sexual thrill. The documentary also asks several important questions, including: if turning two into three comes at a cost, whether to leave as soon as it’s over, and what it feels like to watch your partner with someone else. Plus, people who have already done the deed share their stories, offering an insight into the nation’s inner sexual fantasies.

Shop Well for the Planet?
Thursday, BBC One, 8pm
The latest addition to the BBC’s ongoing Our Planet series is this first-ever combination of Shop Well for Less? and Eat Well for Less?, hosted by Joanna Page, Melanie Sykes, Jordan Banjo and Chris Bavin. Over three episodes, the team will help a different family. Some question if it’s possible to be more environmentally friendly on a budget; others are looking to make changes but don’t know where to start. Under the presenters’ eagle eyes, the clans will test a variety of sustainable versions of products they currently buy. But will they be as good, are they worth the money, and will they persuade each of the families to make shopping choices that are better for the planet?

will.i.am: The Blackprint
Thursday, ITV, 9pm
Airing as part of Black History Month, brace yourselves for a truly fascinating and educational hour as the musician embarks on a nationwide quest to learn about the lives of black Britons, comparing and contrasting their lived experience on both sides of the Pond. From civil rights heroes and tech trailblazers to inspiring schoolchildren and the odd famous friend, will.i.am meets members of the black community from across the country, and learns about the milestone events that have helped shape the modern black British landscape. His thought-provoking journey also draws on his own experiences growing up, and takes in the heartbreak of the past, the struggles of the present day, and hopes for our future.

Guilt
Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm
It’s been almost two years since we lapped up the first series of this compelling drama, but writer Neil Forsythe has come up with a second run that looks to be well worth the wait. Max McCall is released from prison, but when Roy Lynch rebuffs his efforts at a reconciliation, Max turns to Kenny for help, hoping to set aside their troubled history. However, Kenny is newly confident with a budding romance, and he proves to be a tougher challenge than Max expected. Meanwhile, events conspire to force Roy to ask Kenny and Max for help and it seems the latter’s fall from grace is complete. Little do those around him know he’s driven by other motives, yet to be revealed. Stuart Bowman and Emun Elliot star.

Complaints Welcome
Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
Millions of us grumble every day about what we see on the telly, more often than not huffing on social media. In more serious cases, some people are outraged enough to gripe directly to the broadcasters, sometimes getting a satisfactory answer – but not always. In this six-part series, presenters Tom Allen, Jessica Knappett and Munya Chawawa will be joined by a trio of guests to dissect viewers’ complaints, aiming to find solutions to the grumbles, as well as deciding whether to uphold or reject each one.

Cobra
Friday, Sky Max & NowTV, 9pm

Robert Carlyle in Cobra
Robert Carlyle in Cobra

And so it has come to pass: Begbie from Trainspotting is now the prime minister, but you wouldn’t recognise him in a suit and with a concern for citizens’ safety. Robert Carlyle is the PM and Victoria Hamilton is his chief of staff. And if you think Brexit was hard work, wait until you see what’s on their to-do list in this series about a team of top politicos and crisis management experts who are fighting to protect Britain from whoever or whatever is out to get them. In season one, the country was plunged into chaos when a solar flare knocked out the electricity grid; in season two, Britain is under threat from an unknown enemy, and the team reconvenes in Cabinet Office Briefing Room A to prepare for all-out cyberwar. The first season was panned as “cheap” and “uneventful”; let’s hope they’ve got a bigger budget this time to actually make something happen.

Peataí!
Friday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Tessa Fleming in Peataí!
Tessa Fleming in Peataí!

Welcoming Gaelgeóirí and their pets from the four provinces, Tessa Fleming is joined by vet Ellen Hegarty, groomer Paul Ó Gallachóir and behaviourist Paula Doohan at the Ark Farm in Newtownards, Co Down. The experts have a packed roster of cases to solve. In this episode, seasoned dog-shower Robert from Kilkenny is no stranger to presenting his precious pooches, but little Chinese Crested Elmo’s sensitive skin needs Ellen’s expert eyes. Paula takes teacher Róisín to task about her mischievous puppy Mo and his penchant for chewing furniture. And groomer Paul gets a lesson in preening a prize-winning... chicken. Meanwhile, Tessa meets the Quinn family from Castlwellan and their support dog Skye, and Ellen opens a restaurant for a hungry Hermann’s tortoise.

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story
Friday, BBC Two, 11.35pm

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story
Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story

In her four-star review from July, Irish Times film critic Tara Brady wrote: “Hugely enjoyable documentary on the queen of the bonkbuster novel. Piecing together hidden treasures from Collins’s personal archives with candid interviews and excerpts from her work, Lady Boss reveals the determined, guarded person Collins was to her family and friends – including her sister, actress Joan. The biggest coup is the access to Jackie’s diaries, written in the same punchy style that propelled each of her 32 novels onto the New York Times bestseller list. Fun for all.”

Billie: In Search of Billie Holiday
Friday, BBC Four, 9pm

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Even if you’re not a fan of the singer, don’t miss this documentary, drawing on the series of interviews, carried out by Linda Lipnack Kuehl in the 1960s, with some of the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. The result is a superb film that not only examines the American jazz and swing music singer’s life, career and influence on the genre and civil rights movement, but also captures Holiday’s depths and complexity through the words of those who knew her

ON DEMAND

Reservation Dogs
From Wednesday, Disney+ Star
Quentin Tarantino would no doubt approve of this play on the title of his first movie. Reservation Dogs is a comedy series about four indigenous teenagers plotting to escape their lives in rural Oklahoma and reach the mythical nirvana of California. They’re willing to lie and steal to reach their goal, but they won’t be shooting or torturing anyone, thank goodness (sorry, Quentin). Not only are the stars (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor) of indigenous heritage, but so are most of the cast and crew, making it something of a first for indigenous representation on TV.

I Know What You Did Last Summer
From Friday, Amazon Prime

Madison Iseman in I Know What You Did Last Summer
Madison Iseman in I Know What You Did Last Summer

Not a new drama series about Golfgate, alas, but a reboot of the hit 1997 horror movie, based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, in which a group of teenagers are haunted by a dark secret – and stalked by a killer who knows what they’re trying to hide. Only this time, there are more secrets to uncover, and the unbearable tension is stretched out over an entire series. Bingeing out won’t help, either, because cruel Amazon is only releasing four episodes to start with, then one a week until the explosive finale on November 12th. I can’t stand it!

You
From Friday, Netflix
The hit series about a smooth-talking psycho who worms his way into women’s lives returns for a third series, and it may be getting a bit too twisty and turny for comfort. Series two ended with a big shocker, and it’ll be interesting to see where it all goes from there. Penn Badgley returns as the ultimate coercive controller, looking to insert himself into the life of a new victim, but having a bit of trouble leaving the old subterfuges behind. “The episodes are f**king bonkers and the performances are insanely good,” tweeted showrunner Sera Gamble, so expect things to get crazier than ever. Could Joe turn out to be the prey and not the predator in this iteration? Nothing is ruled out.

The Velvet Underground
From Friday, Apple TV+
From Venus in Furs and Femme Fatale to European Son and The Gift, the Velvet Underground’s avant-garde sound was born from the band’s creative ethos, described by founding member John Cale as “how to be elegant and brutal”. In this fascinating docmentary, acclaimed director Todd Haynes explores how the group became a cultural touchstone and represented a range of contradictions: literary yet realistic, rooted in high art and street culture. It features in-depth interviews with the key players from their heyday, combined with a treasure trove of never-before-seen performances and a rich collection of recordings, films by Andy Warhol, and other experimental art to create an immersive musical experience.

Puppy Place
From Friday, Apple TV+
Based on the best-selling books from Scholastic and produced by Scholastic Entertainment, this live-action series chronicles the adventures of dog-loving siblings Charles and Lizzie Peterson (played by Riley Looc and Brooklynn MacKinzie) and the furry friends they foster in search of forever homes. Over eight episodes, the story of every puppy that finds his or her way to the Peterson family is told. Charles and Lizzie, whose different approaches complement, inspire and occasionally confound one another, will do whatever it takes to find a happy, loving home for every pooch. Plus, finding out what makes each dog special offers a unique view that helps the siblings overcome their own individual hurdles.

The Four of Us
From Friday, Netflix

The Four of Us
The Four of Us

Off the top of your head, how many German comedies can you name? If you’re clutching at straws, then make sure you don’t miss this wicked offering, originally called Du Sie Er & Wir. Set in a remote beach house, it follows two young couples as they meet up once again after a four-week partners swap. There was just one rule: no hanky panky. Of course, they all break it, but the bigger question is: have their feelings for their real partner changed? As the couples try to get to grips with the infidelities, their emotions are put through the wringer, while their life choices and expectations are re-evaluated. The whip-smart cast includes Nilam Farooq, Paula Kalenberg, Jonas Nay and Louis Nitsche.

Contributing: PA

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