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

Comedian and writer Sara Pascoe in her unique travel show, a show celebrating the life of Paul O’Grady, and Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year Awards

Blair (Leighton Meester, left) and Serena (Blake Lively), in Gossip Girl. Photograph: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc/BBC

Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe

Sunday, BBC Two, 9pm
Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe: Pascoe in the Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan. Photograph: BBC/Talkback/Fremantle

Comedian and writer Sara Pascoe has found a new role as a “worko-warrior”, on a mission to preserve endangered jobs around the world. She returns with a second series of her unique travel show, going to far-flung places and seeking employment in jobs with very little future career prospects. In series two, she travels to Greece to work as bell ringer, then goes to Jordan to become a Dead Sea lifeguard, and on to Denmark to become a Lego master.

For the Love of Paul O’Grady

Sunday, UTV, 8pm
Queen consort Camilla with since departed Paul O'Grady for an episode of For The Love Of Dogs. Photograph: Stuart Wilson/PA

Telly fans were shocked by the sudden death last month of Paul O’Grady, the beloved comedian and presenter, and this special tribute show will celebrate his life and glittering career, from his drag-queen alter-ego of Lily Savage to his hit canine series Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, which highlighted the work done by dog rescue and animal welfare services. This week also sees the start of a new series of For the Love of Dogs (Thursday, UTV, 10.45pm), which O’Grady filmed before his unexpected death.

The Secret Peacemaker

RTÉ One, Sunday, 10.35pm

A decade before the signing of the Belfast Agreement, Redemptorist priest Fr Alec Reid was working tirelessly in the background to kick-start the peace process in Northern Ireland. This documentary looks at the role he played to facilitate dialogue and bring warring parties to the negotiating table. Fr Reid was famously photographed in 1988 delivering the last rites to a British soldier killed at an IRA funeral – what the world didn’t know was that in his pocket was a blueprint for “stepping stones to peace” which he was planning to bring before leaders in the North.

Murder in Paradise

Monday, BBC One, 10.30pm
Journalists Allison Morris and Darragh MacIntyre in Murder in Paradise. Photograph: BBC NI

In 2011, the nation was shocked by the murder of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of legendary GAA manager Mickey Harte, while on honeymoon in Mauritius with her husband, John. Twelve years later, the murder remains unsolved, and in this three-part documentary series, journalists Darragh McIntyre and Allison Morris go to Mauritius to meet some of the law-enforcement officials involved with the investigation, and to find out if they are any closer to getting closure for Michaela’s family.


Long Lost Family: What Happened Next

Tuesday, Virgin Media One, 9pm

So, you’ve just upended some celebrity’s life by digging into their family history and revealing that their real family are Maga survivalists living in a shack in Wisconsin. Do you just leave them to get acquainted with their new gun-toting siblings or do you check with them later to see how well they’ve adjusted to the huge change? Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell are back with a new series of their family reunion follow-up show. This week they’re checking in on Kathleen Fraser Jackson to find out how she’s getting on with her birth mother in Canada and give her a bit of moral support as she sets off for Jamaica to finally meet her long-lost sister, Peta.

Made Up in Belfast

Tuesday, BBC One, 10.40pm
The gang from Made Up in Belfast take a selfie backstage before a drag performance. Photograph: BBC/Afromic Productions

You know you’re in business when the BBC make a reality TV series based around your company. Brendan McDowell started beauty brand BPerfect from the boot of his car; now it’s a global brand, and this series follows the dynamic young team at the Co Antrim-based company, introducing us to some very colourful characters – including jet-setting social media manager Ciara and James, aka drag queen Tailor Maid – and documenting the hard work behind all the glitz and glamour. In episode one, the team take on a very daunting task: creating a signature product range for Love Island winner Ekin-Su.

Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year Awards

Wednesday, RTÉ2, 8.30pm

The grown-ups have their Baftas and their Iftas, but these awards (known as the IYFTYs) celebrate young people who are doing amazing work behind and in front of the camera. The awards are part of the Fresh International Film Festival, and are hosted by presenters Stephen Byrne and Gemma Bradley. Among the shortlisted short films are Me and My Eleven Years War by 11-year-old Ukrainian Marusya Shuvalova; Shell, a portrait of 17-year-old Eva Duffy’s grandmother who has dementia; and Nellie by 18-year-old Malachaí Ó Ciardhubháin from Kerry.

Davy’s Toughest Team

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

GAA coach Davy Fitzgerald is passionate about helping young men and women to overcome the negative forces in their lives and see a brighter future, and in this series he is training a group of troubled young men for a tough trek across Iceland. They’ll need to build up their physical and mental resilience to meet this challenge – and hopefully be better prepared to meet life’s challenges. In this episode, the team begin their Icelandic trek to reach the summit of a volcano, but already one of the team is feeling the effects of the cold.

Home Rescue: The Big Fix

Thursday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm

The home makeover show is back for a new season, but regular presenter Róisín Murphy has stepped away from the show to spend more time at home with her family, so designer Dee Coleman will be joining builder Peter Finn and the Home Rescue team as they set out to transform six cluttered and chaotic homes into clean, comfortable and cosy spaces for everyday living. Coleman’s first task will be to help young couple Luke and Amy Martin, whose poorly laid-out home in Ballybrack is not working for them and their two small kids.

Gossip Girl

Thursday, BBC One, 11.40pm

The hit teen series has recently been rebooted, with Kristen Bell reprising her role as the disembodied voice of the titular blogger, and a whole new cast of teens creating havoc and scandal at a private school in Manhattan. Season one of the reboot featured cameos from stars of the original series, but this second series is set to be the last hurrah for the high school social-climbers, as HBO have axed the series. So, we’ll just have to wait another decade for the reboot of the reboot.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

From Friday, Prime Video
Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Photograph: Amazon Studios

It’s mic-drop time for Midge as Rachel Brosnahan makes one last circuit as the housewife turned stand-up comedian trying to find success in the male-dominated entertainment world of the 1950s and early 1960s. This is the fifth and final series of the award-winning fan-favourite show, and it finds Midge on the cusp of superstardom following her Carnegie Hall appearance at the end of season four. But she soon finds out that success is still tantalisingly out of reach.


Friday, UTV, 9pm

Paula Malcolmson stars as detective Colette Cunningham, who has been uprooted from her Liverpool beat to the mean streets of Dublin in this six-part crime series. Having learned of her estranged daughter Kate’s apparent suicide, Colette is having to adjust to life in a new town and in her new role as guardian and grandmother to her daughter’s two orphaned teens, Cara and Liam. In this penultimate episode, Colette is still trying to piece together her daughter’s last days, and a case she’s working on provides a possible new lead.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist