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

Including Keys to My Life, North Sea Connection and Neven’s Portuguese Food Trails

Keys to My Life

Sunday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Brendan Courtney goes poking around the former homes of eight more celebrities in this new series of Keys to My Life, and first up on this househunt down memory lane is actor Bryan Murray, who brings Courtney back to his childhood home in Arbour Hill in Dublin, a corporation house that was pure luxury in comparison to the rundown tenement in Islandbridge where Murray was born. Then it’s on to the bright lights of London, where Murray became a star thanks to such hit TV shows as Bread and The Irish RM, and a visit to the chic city apartment where he lived, and a house in the London suburb of Barnes picked out for him by his Irish RM co-star, the late actor Peter Bowles. There’s also a detour to a certain Brookside Close, where Murray played the villainous Trevor Jordache in the Channel 4 soap, kickstarting a trend for British soaps to have one evil Irish character. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Murray, though; he recalls how he made a load of money from making soap adverts in the US, only to be cleaned out by a bad investment in a theme park scheme in Co Kildare.

North Sea Connection

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Connemara is a long way from the North Sea, but the connection soon becomes apparent in this new six–part crime drama about a fishing family that gets caught up in the world of international drug-dealing, and must learn to ride a wave of violence and ruthlessness to keep from sinking. The Kenny family have worked hard to survive in the idyllic but unforgiving west of Ireland landscape, and youngest child Ciara is captaining the family’s fishing boat. They’re not above dabbling in some low-level smuggling and illicit trade to supplement their meagre fishing income, but when Ciara’s brother Aidan gets the family tangled up with a ruthless Swedish drug cartel she has to get smarter and tougher to keep herself and the family alive. Lydia McGuinness, Kerr Logan and Sinéad Cusack star.

Tractor Wars with Patrick Kielty

Tuesday, BBC One, 10.40pm

Sounds like a great idea for a new farm-based reality show, Bake Off meets the Ploughing Championships, where contestants get in their Massey Fergusons and face off on the field of battle. But this is actually a new documentary presented by the affable Kielty, in which he recounts the riveting story of a bitter industrial rivalry between Ford Motor Company and Harry Ferguson, the Northern Irish man who invented the modern tractor. The dispute unfolded in the 1930s when Ferguson made a “gentleman’s agreement” with Ford to produce a new line of tractors based on Ferguson’s designs. It wasn’t long before it turned into nosebags at dawn, with lawsuits and allegations of patent infringement being flung around like cow dung.

Neven’s Portuguese Food Trails

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Chef Neven Maguire heads to one of Ireland’s favourite holiday destinations, but he won’t be lying around by the beach as he’ll be too busy travelling from Faro in the south to the Douro Valley in the north to learn all about the country’s cuisine. He’ll meet chefs, food producers and winemakers in such places as Lisbon, Evora, Aveiro and Porto, and get some eye-opening insights into Portuguese food and drink culture, and see the sheer variety of each region. First stop is the Algarve, the mecca for Irish holidaymakers, where Maguire visits one of the region’s most popular restaurants, O Ribeirinho, which specialises in piri piri chicken, and meets Irish artist Patrick Swift, who set up Porches Pottery to keep up the Portuguese pottery tradition. Each programme ends, of course, with Maguire cooking up a fab meal inspired by his Portuguese adventures.



Thursday, BBC Two, 10pm

Dylan Moran is back with a new sitcom written by and starring himself, and co-starring Morgana Robinson, and all is right with the world again. We’ve missed Moran’s comic genius of late, although replaying Black Books on the All4 player has kept us going. In this new series Moran seems to be putting the surrealism on the back seat and focusing on the sometimes weird, sometimes wonderful and sometimes wojious twists and turns of modern love. Dan and Carla are stuck in a rut, and their shaky relationship has reached a crossroads, with all signs pointing towards things going south. Dan has been made redundant so isn’t exactly brimming with future prospects; Carla is much younger than Dan and is wondering if it’s time to jump this creaky ship and set off for new horizons with her ex-girlfriend Maya, who has popped back on the scene. Expect lots of honest, hard-hitting and hilarious observations in a show that sounds like it could hold its own with Sharon Horgan’s sitcom hits.

Mercury Prize 2022

Thursday, BBC Four, 9pm

Who’s got the best album of them all in 2022? The Mercury prize committee have weeded out the chaff and whittled the shortlist down to 12 cracking LPs – all it needs now is for the judges to pick the winner out of this dynamic dozen in a televised ceremony from the Apollo in London’s Hammersmith . There’s Irish skin in game with the inclusion of the incredible, evocative album by Kerry singer and actor Jessie Buckley and guitarist-producer-overall genius Bernard Butler, entitled For All Our Days that Tear the Heart. This one lifts vocal and musical virtuosity to a new level. It’s up against some heavyweight names, including Harry Styles with his album Harry’s House, Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under, Self-Esteem’s Prioritise Pleasure and Wet Leg’s self-titled debut. There’s also an album sung almost entirely in Cornish, Tresor by Gwenno, and the current favourite, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, by London rapper Little Simz.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist