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

A new four-part, Sean Bean-led series on BBC, Cúltír on TG4, She-Hulk on Disney+, and more


Sunday, BBC One, 9pm Series 1, Ep 1/4

For awhile there, Sean Bean was known as the guy in the movie who’ll definitely die first. But his career has outlasted many of his doomed characters, and these days he’s doing a neat line in hard-hitting dramas about ordinary people dealing with the hand that’s been dealt to them. He recently starred with Stephen Graham in prison drama Time, and here he stars with Nicola Walker in a series charting the ups and downs of a 30-year-long marriage. Bean plays Ian, who has recently been made redundant; Nicola Walker — no slouch when it comes to great telly drama, having starred in Unforgotten, Spooks and The Split, is Emma, who’s getting on well at work but is mindful that Ian is having trouble adapting to being unemployed. The four-part series, written and directed by Stefan Golaszewski, details “the insecurities, the ambiguities, the hopes and the fears that are part of all marriages”. Chantelle Alle plays their daughter Jessica, with Jack Holden as Jessica’s new boyfriend, Adam, and veteran actor James Bolam as Emma’s dad, Gerry. “I’m thrilled to be playing opposite the talented Nicola Walker and I’m looking forward to bringing Stefan’s intimate scripts to the screen,” said Bean.


Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

Who’d like a job travelling the length and breadth of the land to experience the traditional music of different counties, and maybe even join in on a few sessions yourself? Sorry, the job’s already been taken by singer Pauline Scanlon and violinist Aoife Ní Bhriain, the presenters of this new series, and we know they’re going to do a fine job of bringing the best of music and song into our livingrooms of a Sunday evening. Over the series they’ll meet the likes of Mick Hanly in Co Kilkenny, Matt Molloy in Co Roscommon and Foster & Allen in Westmeath, performing with them in such venues as Mount Juliet and The Barn in Tyrrellspass. Their first stop is Cork, where they join Rebel county legend John Spillane, the Céilí All-Stars and more in the intimate setting of Tot’s Pub in Ballygurteen for a mighty musical evening. They’ll also be checking out some of the cultural and culinary delights of Cork, including a spot of road bowling.

Meitheal — The Story of a Search

Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.30pm

On March 14th, 2017, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 crashed at Blackrock island in Co Mayo with the loss of all four crew members, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith. It was a tragedy that gripped the whole country, but the small coastal village of Erris in north Mayo was at the centre of the drama as members of the community joined in the search for the missing crew of Rescue 116. Those involved in the search, which went on over 42 days, were deeply affected by the tragedy, and in this documentary many of them talk of the emotional turmoil they experienced as they played their part in the search operations. The bodies of Capt Fitzpatrick and Capt Duffy were eventually recovered, but the bodies of Ormsby and Smith were lost at sea. The documentary follows the community as they come together a year later to take part in a memorial cycle from Dublin Airport to Blacksod Lighthouse in Co Mayo.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

From Wednesday, Disney+

Here’s the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the story of a young lawyer trying to make her mark in the competitive field of law, but who invariably ends up making a dent in anything that gets in her way. You could say Jennifer Walters is pretty green — that’s because she’s apt to suddenly turn into a six-foot-seven green hulk who cannot only throw the book at criminals, but the entire library building too. Bruce Banner aka Hulk takes her under his wing to show her how to harness her awesome powers (and keep them under control), but she’s determined to make it as an attorney, so she dons the suit and starts work as solicitor to the superhumans, who are on the increase and increasingly in need of legal representation. Tatiana Maslany is Jennifer/She-Hulk, with Mark Ruffalo reprising his role as Hulk, and Tim Roth returning as Jennifer’s nemesis Emil Blonsky aka The Abomination.


Love Yourself Today

Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Damien Dempsey’s annual Christmas gig at Vicar Street has become a special, healing event over the year, a musical ritual of soul-cleansing and catharsis. So it’s no surprise that writers Ross Killeen and Ross O’Donnell have made this critically acclaimed documentary revolving around the seasonal event, but also focusing on the power of Dempsey’s music to heal no matter what the season. This blend of documentary and concert film, directed by Killeen, captures the magic of the Vicar Street gigs, and puts the spotlight on audience members who are in emotional pain or grief, and have come to this safe communal space where they can really let their feelings out and “sing all their cares away”.

Bad Sisters

From Friday, Apple TV+

Sharon Horgan’s latest TV series brings together a handful of fine young Irish women actors, in a darkly delicious comedy about murder, power and family secrets. Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Green and Eve Hewson star as the Garvey sisters, who are thick as thieves and always have each other’s backs. One of the sisters is married to an abusive, controlling monster (played with consummate menace by Claes Bang), and when he ends up dead, all five sisters become murder suspects. The fact that they’ve already tried to kill their horrible brother-in-law doesn’t help their case. Brian Gleeson and Daryl McCormack play the life insurance men who come knocking and asking awkward questions (and snaffling the sandwiches), but though each sister clearly has a motive for knocking off the bastard, did they actually do it? The 10-part series is co-written by Horgan and adapted from a Belgian TV series, Clan, but you can bet the Irish black humour and eye for the absurd will be present and correct. There’ll be two episodes aired on August 19th, with one episode every week until October 14th.


From Friday, Netflix

Identical twins are such pranksters, aren’t they? Walking out one door while the other walks in another door; pretending to be the other twin when unwanted visitors call; sleeping with each other’s unsuspecting husbands ... sure they’re gas altogether. Michelle Monaghan plays a double role in this new mystery thriller series, and I hope she’s getting paid double, because she’s got twice the workload, not to mention the extra stereotyping. She plays identical twin sisters Leni and Gina, who have been secretly swapping lives since they were kids, but now that they’re grown up and married, the life-swapping is getting a bit more complicated and difficult to maintain. When Leni goes missing, their carefully constructed double lives begin to unravel, long-buried secrets threaten to resurface, and things go way beyond a prank.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist