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

Including The Newsreader, The Great, Uncoupled, Paper Girls, the Neighbours finale and Myanmar: The Forgotten Revolution

The Newsreader

Sunday, BBC Two, 9pm

This Australian drama series, shown on RTÉ earlier this year, is set in the supercompetitive world of TV news in the 1980s. (It’s all so nice nowadays.) Anna Torv plays star newsreader Helen Norville, who locks horns with an ambitious young reporter as they cover such contemporary events as the Challenger shuttle disaster, the return of Halley’s Comet, the “dingo baby” case and the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.

Myanmar: The Forgotten Revolution — Dispatches

Monday, Channel 4, 11.05pm

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has overshadowed other world events, but there’s a war going on in Myanmar, as young Gen Z activists take on the might of the generals following the 2021 military coup in the country. This hour-long documentary details how Myanmar’s army may have committed war crimes, and offers footage and eyewitness accounts pointing to three major mass killings, as soldiers target peaceful protesters and those trying to help wounded civilians. This harrowing film was shot over a year by young Burmese activists, who have risked life and limb to capture this footage, and shows a spirited determination among young people in Myanmar to resist the new military dictatorship.

The Great

Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm

Elle Fanning returns as the Russian royal Catherine the Great in the second series of this gloriously over-the-top comedy-drama, which makes up in sheer chaotic exuberance what it might lack in historical accuracy and period detail. It’s like Bridgerton directed by Baz Luhrmann, with a dash of Tarantino for good measure. As this new season opens, our heroine has toppled her husband, Peter (Nicholas Hoult), and taken the Russian throne for herself, but with Peter holding out in his country villa, Catherine must take drastic measures to smoke him out — tormenting him with the smell of gourmet food. But her plan to bring enlightenment to her people has run into a few obstacles, not least that the peasants don’t seem particularly interested in freedom and all that rot. Catherine soon finds herself in conflict with her own court and locked in a battle of wills with her formidable mother (played by Gillian Anderson).


From Friday, Netflix

Sex and the City meets Tales from the City in this new series about a suddenly-single man in his 40s who’s trying to navigate a whole new dating environment in the Big Apple. Neil Patrick Harris plays the real-estate agent Michael Lawson, who has been in a settled relationship with his boyfriend, Colin, for 17 years. But when Colin suddenly walks out on him, Michael finds himself having to jump back into the gay dating scene at the deep end. This promises to be a helluva learning curve, as Michael tries to figure out how to swipe on gay-dating apps and how to take the perfect dick pic. The series is created by Darren Star, the man behind Sex and the City and Emily in Paris, and co-stars Tisha Campbell as his best gal pal, Suzanne, and Marcia Gay Harden as Claire, the haughty client with a heart.


Paper Girls

From Friday, Prime Video

Stranger Things has shown that the 1980s can be a trove of sci-fi and horror tropes. Here’s another kids’ adventure series set in that deliciously doom-laden decade. Four teenagers have jobs as paper girls — that’s where you deliver items known as newspapers to people’s actual houses — in 1988, but one day on their delivery route they are caught up in a battle between rival time travellers. Finding themselves catapulted into the future, they have to find a way to get back to that idyllic age before fake news and cancel culture. On their way they meet their grown-up selves, and also encounter a nasty crowd of anti-time-travel militants known as the Old Watch. Will their old-fashioned paper-delivery skills help them to survive in this hostile new era? I somehow doubt it.

Neighbours finale

Friday, Channel 5, 9pm

I’ve always thought it pointless watching soaps — you’re never going to find out how they end. But now we’ve got a real ending for Neighbours, as the Australian soap is pulling down the shutters after 37 years, following its axing by Channel 5, which broadcasts it in the UK. For people who have grown up with Neighbours, this is a momentous occasion, and the producers are planning a finale to end them all, with Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan returning to their iconic roles as Charlene and Scott. A tweet shows the Especially for You duo on the set, Kylie resplendent in Charlene’s trademark denim overalls, with the message “Now we’re back together”. They’ll also be re-releasing that 1988 hit single. Also confirmed to return for the soap’s final hour is Guy Pearce, in his role as Mike Young. “Once I knew the show was finishing, I knew I had to do it,” he said. This could be such a ratings hit the producers may have to do another finale, and call in their former cast members Margot Robbie, Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and Natalie Imbruglia. If you miss them this time around, the final two episodes will also air on RTÉ2 on Tuesday, August 2nd, and Wednesday, August 3rd.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist