Weekend TV guide: 12 of the best shows to watch

Game of Throne’s Brienne of Tarth on Graham Norton, plus the Eurovision, Suranne Jones as the BBC’s Gentleman Jack, and more Durrells with Keeley Hawes

Legendary Dubliner John Sheahan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Legendary Dubliner John Sheahan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Late Late Show
Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
One of Ireland’s most recognisable and best-loved folk musicians, John Sheahan, celebrates his 80th birthday by joining Ryan Tubridy for chats and tunes along with some familiar faces, including Declan O’Rourke, Damien Dempsey, Ralph McTell and Phelim Drew, as well as Steve Wickham, Zoë Conway, Máire Breatnach and Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Also: After being diagnosed with cancer last year, nine-time Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen announced his retirement earlier this month. He tells Tubridy how it felt to come to that decision, and what the future holds. Plus: three international leading lights of the Irish crime fiction scene – Liz Nugent, Jo Spain and Patricia Gibney on how they started writing, the secrets to their success, and why the fascination with crime; Anne Randolph on pursuing a singing career after years supporting her goalkeeper son Darren, who plays for Middlesbrough and Ireland (Darren, also appearing, will talk about preparations for the Euro 2020 qualifiers); budding restorers taking part in this year’s Late Late Show Antiques Challenge; and music from Soda Blonde, a new band made up of four of the five members of Little Green Cars.

Puppy School
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
Leading dog experts Oli Juste, Katie Patmore and Hannah Molloy bring their pop-up school to the grounds of Chatsworth House, where they teach novice pet owners how to navigate puppyhood. But while the canines may be the stars of the show, we also get an insight into the lives of their new families and their reasons for opening up their homes to a four-legged bundle of joy. In the first episode, we meet Hannah and Jack, who thought that bouncy Labrador Rueben would be a practise baby, but are now finding they have very different parenting styles.

Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie is among the guests on The Graham Norton Show tonight on BBC1 at 10.35pm. With comedian Jack Whitehouse is filling in as host while Norton is in Tel Aviv for the Eurovision, other guests include Luke Evans, Peter Crouch, David Walliams and Sam Fender. Photograph: PA
Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie is among the guests on The Graham Norton Show tonight on BBC1 at 10.35pm. Photograph: PA

The Last Leg
Friday, Channel 4, 10pm
The satirical comedy show is back for a 17th series – not bad for a programme that originally began life as part of Channel 4’s coverage of the 2012 Paralympics. The key to its longevity is the chemistry between hosts Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, who offer their takes on the headlines and deal with the eternal question “is it okay?” However, the show has also boasted an impressive and eclectic line-up of guests, which in the last series alone included Alastair Campbell, Michael Sheen, Stephen Merchant, Stacey Dooley and Chesney Hawkes. So who will be joining them this week to reflect on the state of the UK as Brexit continues to loom?

The Sheridan Smith Story
Friday, Channel 5, 9pm

Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black in the UTV biopic Cilla (2014)
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black in the UTV biopic Cilla (2014)

Documentary examining the life and career of the actor and singer who has gained plaudits for her work in TV, theatre, radio and film over the past 20 years. At 16, Smith left her native Lincolnshire for London as a member of the National Youth Music Theatre, landing roles in shows such as Bugsy Malone. She was then cast in the classic sitcom The Royle Family before becoming a familiar face on a variety of dramas and comedies including Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Gavin & Stacey, Mrs Biggs, Cilla and Jonathan Creek.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019
Saturday, RTÉ One/BBC One, 8pm

Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands performs his song Arcade during the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday. The Dutch entry is given high odds for winning the 64th annual event. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA
Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands performs his song Arcade during Thursday's semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Dutch entry is given high odds for winning the 64th annual event. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

As everyone knows, Ireland’s entry, 22, sung by Sarah McTernan, didn’t make it out of the semi-finals; if you’ve already forgotten how the song goes, it apparently sounds like Leo Sayer’s 1975 hit Moonlighting, only not as catchy. Marty Whelan does the commentary for RTÉ, his 21st year on Eurovision duty, while Graham Norton does the honours on the BBC. As usual, there will be the usual parade of camp costumes and crazy choreography to distract from the mediocre musical fare.

Britain’s Most Historic Towns
Saturday, Channel 4, 8pm
Prof Alice Roberts is back for a new run exploring key periods in British history through the stories of individual towns. Episode one examines wartime Britain by studying the history of Dover, which was on the front line in the fight against Nazi Germany. Roberts visits the subterranean HQ where the Dunkirk evacuation was orchestrated, chats to a 90-year-old local who experienced the horror of the Teutonic onslaught, and has a taste of what life would have been like in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Battle of Britain.

Gentleman Jack
Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack
Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack

A costume drama with a difference, this new BBC series tells the story of Anne Lister, whose masculine looks and penchant for black attire earned her the nickname Gentleman Jack. It’s 1832, and Lister (Suranne “Doctor Foster” Jones) has returned to her family seat of Shibden Hall, where she hopes to find herself a wife and settle down. Soon, love is blossoming between her and local heiress Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle), but in the buttoned-down world of Georgian England, the couple must tread carefully through a social minefield. The series is based on Lister’s copious diaries which she kept throughout her life, writing the more salacious passages in secret code which wasn’t deciphered until a century later.

What We Do in the Shadows
Sunday, BBC Two, 11.15pm

Natasia Demetriou and Matt Berry in What We Do in the Shadows
Natasia Demetriou and Matt Berry in What We Do in the Shadows

Vampires have long fascinated and horrified us, but how much do we really know about their everyday lives? This mockumentary, a spin-off from the cult 2014 New Zealand comedy, follows a group of vampires sharing an apartment on Staten Island, simply trying to get on with their undead lives in a New World that just doesn’t understand them – or suspect their murderous motives. The “big blooder” house is run by self-appointed leader Nandor the Relentless, played by Kayvan Novak, with the mighty Matt Berry as dandyish British vampire Laszlo and Natasia Demetriou as sultry seductress Nadja.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Sunday, BBC1, 6pm
This series is always, ahem, blooming marvellous. Sophie Raworth will be joined by green-fingered expert Joe Swift for an exclusive first look at the horticultural event, showcasing some of the most eagerly anticipated show gardens and the latest plant trends in the Great Pavilion. Other horticultural stars and famous faces taking part are Adam Frost, Carol Klein, Rachel de Thame, Arit Anderson and Craig Revel Horwood.

What the Durrells Did Next
Sunday, UTV, 7pm

Alexis Georgoulis and Keeley Hawes in the final episode of The Durrells
Alexis Georgoulis and Keeley Hawes in the final episode of The Durrells

Gerald Durrell’s books about his family’s time in Corfu during the 1930s really touched a chord with many over the years. UTV’s photogenic drama based on said stories may have come to a close, but many fans want to know more about the eponymous family. If you’re among them then the good news is Keeley Hawes is back to reveal what the four Durrell siblings and their mother did when their time on Corfu came to an end. It’s a tale involving African expeditions, international celebrity, and the establishment of a zoo dedicated to saving endangered species.

The Ranganation
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Romesh Ranganathan hosts a new topical comedy show, in which a diverse group of 25 members of the public drawn from all walks of life are invited to share their thoughts on the state of modern Britain and the latest talking points in the media. Romesh and his outspoken and passionate focus group will be joined in the studio by a selection of celebrity guests, comedians, and experts to investigate how and why the events in the news matter to people.

Contributing: PA

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