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

From Lily Rose Depp as an up-and-coming pop star in The Idol to a Phillip Schofield-free British Soap Awards

Back from the Brink

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

Derek Mooney goes wild across Europe in search of endangered species that are making a spectacular comeback thanks to the efforts of conservationists committed to protecting wildlife and biodiversity across the continent. In this new series of Back from the Brink, Mooney visits Rome, where the wolf, the symbol of the city, has returned, along with the wild boar. He also travels to Sweden, where Europe’s largest land mammal, the bison, is thriving again thanks to positive human intervention. And at home he meets the farmers who are working hard to revive the barn owl population.

Spy in the Ocean

Sunday, BBC One, 7pm

How do you infiltrate a summit meeting of sperm whales? It’s an espionage mission that would baffle even George Smiley, but in this new four-part nature documentary, scientists have created spy whale, a surveillance unit as big as a whale calf, able to swim and dive like a cetacean, and equipped with an array of cameras and hydrophones. Will it fool the biggest brains on the planet with its disguise? The series also features spy octopus, whose task is to win the trust of nature’s brainiest invertebrates, and spy puffer fish, which discovers that the species is capable of creating elaborate sculptures in the sea.

The Idol

Monday, Sky Atlantic & Now, 9pm

Lily Rose Depp, daughter of yer man Johnny, stars as Jocelyn, an up-and-coming pop star who is trying desperately to get her mojo back following a nervous breakdown. Her costar is real-life global pop star Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd, who plays charismatic self-help guru and cult leader Tedros. Will Tedros give Jocelyn the tools she needs to restore her confidence and relaunch her pop career into the stratosphere? Or will she become a sacrificial lamb to Tedros’s messiah complex? The series is co-created by Tesfaye and film-maker Sam Levinson, son of Barry.

Vicky McClure: My Grandad’s War

Monday, UTV, 9pm

In Trigger Point, Vicky McClure’s character, bomb disposal expert Lana Washington, has to face some tricky situations, but almost 80 years ago, McClure’s grandad, Ralph, landed on the Normandy beaches as part of the D-Day invasion, facing gunfire, shelling and bombing to help change the course of the second World War. McClure takes an emotional trip back in time with Ralph, now 97, to learn about his life in the royal navy during the war.


The British Soap Awards 2023

Tuesday, UTV, 8pm

Phillip Schofield was due to present the awards, but has since resigned from ITV. Tonight the focus is on the fictional soaps as EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Doctors battle for the best British soap gong. Other awards categories include scene of the year, best storyline and best villain.

Somebody, Somewhere

Tuesday, Sky Comedy & Now, 9pm

Comedian and singer Bridget Everett stars as Sam, a middle-aged woman in the midst of a midlife crisis and just trying to find her place in this world – specifically her hometown in Kansas, where she has always felt a bit of an outsider. On stage, singing, is where Sam feels most at home, and in pursuit of a musical career, she falls in with a motley crew of outsiders. Series two sees her continuing to find her voice – and her tribe.

Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig

Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm

The presenter returns with a third series in search of great getaways, and her first destination is the Republic of Ireland, where she discovers holiday hideaways in counties Clare, Cork and Kerry. As usual, Toksvig has an interesting woman to accompany her on the trip, and for this visit she’s joined by comedian and actor Eddie Izzard, who now identifies as a woman. Their first stop is Teeroneer House, a stunning timber-and-glass holiday home with a sunken kitchen in Co Clare, beside the shores of Lough Derg, and the handcrafted Ark Ranch Treehouse in west Cork.

Faraway Fields

Wednesday, RTÉ Player, 9.35pm

What happens when a Cork fisherman lands thousands of miles away, on the coast of Gambia in west Africa, and must use all his skills to survive outside his fishing comfort zone? This is the challenge faced by Johnny Walsh in the first episode of this new series. Walsh takes up his post on a wooden fishing boat off the Gambian coast, where he must use all his native skills to navigate the overfished waters and the country’s precarious food supply. Further episodes will feature a farmer and a forester transplanted to a whole new environment.

A Wright Family Holiday

Thursday, BBC One, 8pm

TV personality, sports pundit and former Towie star Mark Wright is going on a road trip with his brother Josh and dad, Mark snr, and you’re invited to come along for the wild ride. Wright describes his brother and father as “my two best mates”, and he’s looking forward to a well-deserved family break after all the stresses and strains of the past couple of pandemic years. There’ll be plenty of activities to help the trio bond, including hang-gliding in the Peak District and skydiving in Skegness.

Community Life

Thursday, BBC One, 8.30pm

Getting involved in your local community group or charity can be hugely rewarding, allowing you to help improve lives while making new connections with your neighbours. This four-part series looks at community work going all around Northern Ireland, starting with Fermanagh. Barra Best takes the plunge to join a group of cavers on a clean-up drive, while Connor Phillips sees how “chatty benches” in east Belfast are opening up dialogue. Meanwhile, Gyasi Sheppi joins an unusual orchestra whose repertoire is exclusively music from video games.

Der Pass

Friday, Sky Atlantic & Now, 9pm

Can two cops from opposite sides of the Germany-Austria border put aside their enmity and work together to solve crimes? Ellie Stocker is a German detective and Gedeon Winter is an Austrian investigator in this hit crime thriller series, and series three opens with a series of baffling murders in both countries, and the two sworn enemies must find a way to co-operate amicably before more people die.

Hidden Treasures of the National Trust

Friday, BBC 2, 9pm

This week’s programme sees the team working in Kent, at the former home of Winston Churchill. Chartwell House was the rural retreat of Churchill and his wife, Clementine, and among the memorabilia and mementos of Churchill’s life is a relief model of one of the Normandy beaches where Allied forces landed on D-Day. But cracks are starting to appear in the model, and pieces have gone missing, so a crack team is called in to restore this relic of the second World War.