TV guide: The best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Best Interests, family history with Tony Connolly and Roy Keane’s trip to Cork with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Back From The Brink

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

Derek Mooney continues his trip around Europe in search of rare species who are being rescued from the threat of extinction by conservationists and scientists. This week, Mooney is in Germany where an endangered bird is learning to fly to its migration grounds and, then, to Sweden, where an unlikely TV star has emerged – the moose. It’s on to Rome afterwards, where wild boars roam the suburbs again, then to Kerry when an ancient oyster bed has been rediscovered and, finally, stopping off in Scotland to meet the Scottish wildcat.

Wild Atlantic Way: A Musical Journey

Sunday, TG4, 8.30pm

There are visual treats aplenty along the Wild Atlantic Way but this four-part series focuses on the sonic delights to be found in the pubs, venues and local seisiúns along the iconic coastal route. A diverse mix of Irish musicians and singers – from traditional to folk to rock and beyond – gather in the Royal Theatre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, to showcase their talents and provide a suitably epic soundtrack for this journey to the west. Each programme in the series focused on the music of a particular county but, believe me, it’s all good.

Best Interests

Monday, BBC One, 9pm

Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen star as parents Nicci and Andrew, whose 13-year-old daughter, Marnie, has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Doctors have advises Nicci and Andrew that it would be in Marnie’s best interests to be allowed to die but they refuse to give up hope for their daughter and, thus, begins a battle that threatens to tear apart their marriage and their family. The four-part drama is created by Bafta-winning writer Jack Thorne and sees Horgan and Sheen – and Niamh Moriarty as Marnie – turn in a performance that will leave you in a heap on the floor.

Tony Connolly: A Hidden History

Monday, RTÉ Player, 9.35pm

RTÉ's Europe editor is always in the thick of breaking news stories but, here, he delves back into the news of the past, focusing on his own family stories from a hundred years ago. Connolly’s aim is to learn all about his grandfather Michael Connelly, who was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary during the War of Independence and then became a sergeant in Northern Ireland’s fledgling police force following Partition. Connolly has only a few faded photographs and some family anecdotes to go on but he puts all his investigative skill into this very personal report.


Africa Rising with Afua Hirsch

Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm

You’d need an epic 10-season docuseries to even begin to scratch the surface of this vast, culturally diverse continent but this three-part series might make a good jumping-off point for an exploration of African creativity. Writer and artist Afua Hirsch goes on an artistic odyssey through Africa to learn how young Africans – women, in particular – are reshaping the cultural landscape in Morocco, South Africa and Nigeria. Among the artists she encounters are renowned Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj, known as the African Andy Warhol, Moroccan rap star Sigou Marouane and equestrian star Amal Amhari.

The Witness Is a Whale

Tuesday, BBC Four, 9pm

So, just how many whales were there in the world before humans came along and hunted them almost to extinction? More than you’d ever guess. This amazing documentary uncovers evidence that the world’s oceans were teeming with whales 1,000 years ago and finds their influence on both sea and land was mightier than you imagined. Some of the evidence was found in the most unlikely place: a basement in Odessa, where records of Soviet whaling, controlled by the KGB, reveal the shocking extent of the decimation of the world’s whales.


Wednesday, BBC One, 10.40pm

It began as a lockdown series, with actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant playing fictionalised versions of themselves as they attempt to stage a live-streamed play in the middle of a pandemic. Now, the actors are back for a new series and this time, they can abandon the Zoom rehearsals and get down to some in-person drama. The two actors aren’t keen to work together again, however, and it’s up to the director, Simon (played by director Simon Evans) to persuade the pair to resume their working relationship. Georgia Tennant co-stars as David’s wife and Anna Lundberg co-stars as Michael’s girlfriend.

The Overlap on Tour

Wednesday, Sky Max and Now, 9pm

Are you ready for the sporting sparks to fly? Three football legends – Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher – embark on a live arena tour around the UK and Ireland, playing to thousands of footie fans each night, but is there any venue big enough to contain these three powerful personalities? In each episode, the trio go out and about in each city they visit and explore its footballing heritage, beginning with Ireland, where Keane takes Neville and Carragher to visit his boyhood clubs Rockmount AFC and Cobh Ramblers, see his hometown of Mayfield, kiss the Blarney Stone and try their hand at hurling in Croke Park.

All Fired Up

Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm

We’ve dragged the barbecue grill out of the garage and cleaned it up but, now, we just need that spark of inspiration to get us cooking up fab summer barbies. Fear not: chef Nico Reynolds is back with a whole new bunch of delicious barbecue recipes. He’s also putting his own “Nico twist” on some old staples, such as sticky pork ribs with a sweet and tangy banana ketchup as well as a spice-up version of the grilled chicken spice bag.


Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Writer Colm Tóibín and actor Ciaran Hinds join forces in this powerful documentary that explores Seamus Heaney’s iconic “bog poems” while also looking at how Ireland’s bog lands have faced huge threats from climate change and the burning of fossil fuels. The film delves into the powerful influence Ireland’s bog lands exert on the Irish psyche and hears the voices of local people in the midlands as they talk about the vital role of bogs in rural life. Michelle Fairley brings Heaney’s poems to life, while photographer Tina Claffey brings new insights into Irish bogs through her camera lens.

Queen of Oz

Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm

Catherine Tate goes the full monarchy in her latest comedy series, in which she plays disgraced princess Georgiana, a spoilt party girl who is regularly splashed drunkenly across the country’s tabloids. After yet another public scandal, her royal parents hatch a plan to force Georgiana to shape up – they ship her out to Australia and install her as the new queen down under, hoping that giving her a bit of responsibility might prompt her to clean up her act. She’s hardly two minutes on Australian soil, though, when she puts her high heels in it and completely insults her new subjects.

The Grand Tour: Eurocrash

From Friday, Prime Video

Can three rusty old jalopies rattle across central Europe without the wheels coming off? Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are back on another turbocharged adventure and, far from running out of road, they’ve planned an epic 2,250km journey from Gdánsk in Poland to Lake Bled in Slovenia, via Slovakia and Hungary. They’ll be driving some unlikely cars on this trip, including a gangstermobile but along the way, they’ll get to try out an eastern European hypercar, a Skoda racing classic and even a flying car.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist