TV preview: five things to watch on television this week

Top Gear gets back on the road, Alan Partridge explores the 'schasm' in the UK between 'the 'haves and the haven’ts', RTE looks back to Euro 88

Top Gear
Sunday, BBC Two, 8pm and RTÉ Two, 8.30pm
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines: it's time to hit the road for the long-awaited new series of Top Gear. It seemed to take an age, but we will finally get to see the new, rebooted, turbo-charged model of the car show and find out if presenters Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc can fill the plimsolls of the departed Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. The pair have help from a team of co-presenters, including former Formula One boss Eddie Jordan, German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, motoring journalists Rory Reid and Chris Harris and, of course, The Stig.

So what can we expect from this 23rd outing for the petrolhead show? The team have rolled into several countries to film segments – including a visit to Kerry – and have lined up some celebrity guests, with actor Jesse Eisenberg from Batman v Superman and mouthy chef Gordon Ramsay appearing in tomorrow night's opening episode (there were rumours Brad Pitt was lined up, but he became unavailable).

The proceedings open with a 30th anniversary homage to the film Top Gun, as Evans and Schmitz pit a Dodge Viper ACR against a Chevy Corvette Z06 in the Nevada desert. LeBlanc drives an Ariel Nomad through Morocco, and Evans and LeBlanc go head to head in a pair of three-wheeled Reliant Rialtos. The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment has been replaced by Star in a Rallycross Car, which sounds more fun. Will the new Top Gear take off or be a non-starter? Buckle up and find out.

Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle
Monday, Sky Atlantic, 10pm
It takes a special kind of reporter to step outside their comfort zone and spend time among real people living real lives. That won't stop Alan Partridge from giving it a go. In Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle, popular presenter of radio show Mid-Morning Matters on North Norwich Digital hops into his Land Rover and heads oop north to immerse himself in a world he only knew from dreams (fevered, disturbed dreams from which he woke sweating).


According to Alan, a “schasm” – a schism and/or chasm, if you will – has opened up in Britain between the “haves” and the “haven’ts”, so he’s out to see what’s on the other side. In this one-hour documentary, he hopes to make amends for a controversial on-air incident by spending time with the very people he has insulted. Will they forgive him and embrace him into their lives? Will the BBC give him his TV slot back? Aha! Now we know the real reason behind his sudden attack of social conscience.

Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
A 40-year-old murder case is at the centre of new crime series Unforgotten. When the skeleton of a young man is discovered beneath a demolished house, DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan (Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar respectively) are tasked to dig into the past and solve this very cold case. Four suspects soon emerge: Fr Robert Greaves (Bernard Hill), Sir "Frank" Philip Cross (Trevor Eve), Lizzie Wilton (Ruth Sheen) and Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay). Whodunit? We won't have to wait 40 years to find out.

Euro '88: We Can Beat This Lot
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm
As Ireland heads to Euro 2016, it's a good time to look back on previous outings in search of glory. Euro '88: We Can Beat This Lot , the first of two programmes, recalls the excitement of Irish fans as we took part in the tournament in West Germany, led by inspirational new manager Jack Charlton. We beat England in Stuttgart with a Ray Houghton goal and then drew with the Soviet Union. For Irish fans, it was the biggest ever sporting celebration, and when we were knocked out by the Netherlands, the team were still given a champions' welcome at home.

Wednesday, BBC Two, 9.30pm
Seventeenth-century France is the setting for a lavish new period drama (they're always lavish, aren't they?) that promises lots of betrayal, passion and beheading. Versailles tells the story of the early reign of Louis XIV, who created a magnificent palace at Versailles and invited the nobility there for a never-ending party so he could keep them distracted while he consolidated power in Paris. With sumptuous settings, haute couture costumes and lots of dangerous liaisons, this may be one to watch.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist