TV guide: 12 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Music, dream homes, documentaries and a trip to the west of Ireland hit the small screen

Fanning at Whelan’s

Saturday, VM2, 10pm

Dave Fanning returns to the iconic Dublin rock venue for a third series of his music show, where the Guinness, chat and tunes will flow, all under the able guidance of the veteran rock jock. In the opening episode, Fanning will have a chin-wag with Bob Geldof, and between them the two will have veritable volumes of rock history to discuss. As usual, the musical offerings will be second to none, with Fanning hand-picking new acts to showcase live on the Whelan’s stage, including Cian Ducrot and Farah Elle, along with established guest such as The Coronas. “A splendid time is guaranteed for all,” says the celebrated Mr F.

I Can See Your Voice

Saturday, BBC One, 9.15pm

Can you tell if someone is a nightingale or a crow without even hearing them sing? This is the challenge faced by contestants in this new musical mystery game presented by Paddy McGuinness. The idea is to weed out the bad singers, with just a few clues and a lip-syncing performance to go on. In this episode, Andy Bell from Erasure, whose vocal prowess has earned him more than a little respect, is the special guest who will help the contestants spot the impostors, along with celebrity investigators Jimmy Carr, Alison Hammond and Amanda Holden.

My Life at Christmas with Sally Phillips

Sunday, BBC One, 10.30am

Actor and comedian Sally Phillips host this new three-part series for Advent, in which she interviews three well-known people about what Christmas means to them. They’ll be asked to cast their memories back to Christmases past, and recall landmark events in their lives that happened during the festive season, both happy and sad. Phillips’s first guest is the Rev Richard Coles, who recalls his journey from pop stardom with The Communards to his life as a vicar and the death of his beloved partner David.


Sunday, Sky Documentaries & Now, 9pm

In July 2021, Richard Branson flew to the edge of space in his own Virgin Galactic craft, but a couple of weeks before he made the historic flight, he gave an interview to film-maker Chris Smith – and for all he knew, it might have been his last-ever interview. He talks about his childhood with his spirited mum, his early taste for entrepreneurship, and his adrenaline addiction, which has seen him risk all by taking to the seas and the skies, and now to outer space. Happily, the beardy billionaire touched down back to Earth safely after his mission, but his thirst for adventure and business success will continue unabated.


Selling Ireland’s Dream Homes

Monday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Can you handle another attack of property envy? Episode two of this four-part series features another block of covetable cribs guaranteed to make your modest gaff feel dowdy and derelict. This week’s high-end homes going under the hammer include a luxury Dublin docklands penthouse with a huge roof terrace, a mansion in Wexford with its own medieval castle, a restored Martello tower in Cobh, Co Cork, and a penthouse in a five-star hotel in Dublin.

My Dead Body

Monday, C4, 10pm

Channel 4 continues in its tradition of transgressive TV with this unique documentary featuring a dissection of a human body. But it’s not just a nameless cadaver – we meet its owner, Toni Crews, before her death, as she tells the story of her terminal illness with cancer, and makes the decision to donate her body to science for public display. The cameras follow her up to and after her death in August 2020, and capture her dissection as part of an educational seminar in graphic detail. Not for the faint-hearted, naturally.

How to Crack the Class Ceiling

Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Britain may have escaped enslavement by its former EU overlords, but it’s still firmly locked into a class system that works hard to keep people firmly in their place. Young people from working-class backgrounds are finding the top jobs in law and finance are closed to them, but some have found a way to hack the class system and bypass the barriers to joining the elite professions. Presenter Amol Rajan meets young people trying to get to the next level without the benefit of privilege or posh accents.

Jamie’s Easy Christmas

Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm

With the cost-of-living crisis set to take a big bite out of our Christmas budgets, everyone will be looking for ways to cook up super seasonal meals without having to remortgage the house. Jamie Oliver – who has recently opened a restaurant in Dublin – is a master at mustering up a lavish feast at minimal cost, and he’ll be showing us how to do the Christmas dinner and still have enough dosh left over so you don’t have to survive on leftovers for the rest of the holiday season.

Tommy Tiernan’s Epic West

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

The west of Ireland is home for comedian Tommy Tiernan, and in this new two-part series he tells the story of Ireland’s west via the artists who have been inspired by its landscape and heritage. And what better way than to ramble on up the coast, starting at Skellig Michael and travelling through the Burren, Connemara and Sligo, meeting interesting and creative people along the way, including writer Kevin Barry, theatre director Garry Hynes, podcaster Blindboy Boatclub and musicians Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and The Saw Doctors.

Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything

Wednesday, Sky Comedy & Now, 10pm

Imagine knocking all your vices on the head in one go? Not just the booze, but the fags, the coffee, the pills, the Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, even the sex – basically all your addictions and compulsions. Sheridan Smith stars as Rosie, who has come to the painful realisation that her life is spiralling out of control – and that she’s ruining the lives of those around her. A total life reboot is what’s needed, but how will she cope with going cold turkey on all her addictions. And how will her friends, family and workmates cope with this very different Rosie? Father Ted stars Ardal O’Hanlon and Pauline McLynn reunite as Rosie’s parents.

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm

Every December, the stately home in Woodstock near Oxford becomes a Christmas wonderland, as its gardens and parklands light up with seasonal sparkle, and the place becomes filled with festive cheer and magical sights and sounds, including elves, fairies, sprites and nymphs, singing Christmas trees, a Victorian carousel, hearty winter feasts and of course Santa himself. This documentary captures all the preparations for this annual yuletide extravaganza.

I Am Ruth

Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Kate Winslet cements her standing as the new queen of must-watch telly with this one-off drama, part of Channel 4′s successful I Am ... series. This feature-length episode was co-created by Winslet, and she plays the titular Ruth, whose strained relationship with her daughter Freya, played by Mia Threapleton, is at the centre of this family drama. In a story “for our times”, the film explores Freya’s mental health issues and Ruth’s attempts to help her daughter.


Friday, TG4, 8.30pm

Need something calming and contemplative to wind down after another stressful week? This special “creative contemplation” by visual artist and composer Barry Kerr might be just the mental tonic. Kerr’s film reflects on the revolutionary period in Ireland’s history, using a mix of music and visual artistry to evoke the concepts of release, resolution and redemption, and framing it around the rugged landscapes of Connemara.

Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas

Friday, Channel 4, 8pm

If you want to cook fab Christmas dinners and bake awesome Christmas treats, there’ll be no shortage of programmes to help you channel your inner Nigella or Mary Berry. But what about making your Christmas crafts, you ask. Fear not, because Kirstie Allsopp is back with her ever-popular seasonal show, where she shows you how to create wonderful wreaths, tree decorations, handmade toys, knitted Christmas jumpers and even a gingerbread house. With lots of tips and trick from Allsopp and several guest craftspeople, you can look forward to your craftiest Christmas yet.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist