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

Including Million Dollar Pigeons, Dial M for Middlesbrough, David Harewood on Blackface and the return of Good Omens

Our Guy in Colombia

Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm

Guy Martin is no ordinary holidaymaker – when he visits a country, he gets down to street level and right under the bonnet. And in this new series, he’s taking a big risk – delving into the workings of Colombia, a country of contrasts: where beauty, biodiversity and rich culture exist alongside a history of drugs and violence. On his itinerary is a gruelling round of kidnap training used by politicians, a visit to a hidden drugs lab and a meeting the nephew of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Not exactly your typical holiday timetable.

Queer As Folk US

Sunday, Channel 4, 11pm

The classic British drama created by Russell T Davis makes a transatlantic crossing – and not for the first time. The iconic series set in Manchester at the turn of the millennium, and featuring Aidan Gillen, was remade for American audiences in the noughties and was set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This new series, however, is a complete reimagining and follows a disparate group of friends in New Orleans as they try to piece their lives back together after a shooting at a gay nightclub called Babylon. While QAFUS can’t possibly match the cultural impact of the iconic original series, who knows, this might prove a hit with folks.

Million Dollar Pigeons

Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

To most of us, pigeons are a nuisance, cooing loudly in the eaves and making a mess on our cars and decking. To an elite coterie of pigeon fanciers from around the world, however, they are feathered formula one machines, ready to race for big bucks in high-stakes competitions. In this documentary, we meet some of the oddball characters who devote their lives to breeding champions that will enter into the most lucrative pigeon race on the planet. There is a whiff of corruption in the air as the big race approaches, though, and nobody wants to be seen as a stool pigeon. We’re promised some wacky races as the contestants try to stop each other’s pigeons from swooping on the big prize.

Six Four

Monday, RTÉ2, 9.35pm

Kevin McKidd from Grey’s Anatomy and Vinette Robinson from Boiling Point star in this new crime series set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which aired on ITV in March. McKidd plays detective Chris O’Neill, with Robinson as his wife, Michelle, a former undercover cop. The couple’s lives are turned upside down with disappearance of their teenage daughter. At the same time, Chris gets new information about a notorious cold case disappearance of a teenage girl named Julie. If he can solve this year-old case, will it help him find his own daughter? Michelle, meanwhile, uses all her covert policing skills to infiltrate the underworld to try to save their daughter but things soon get very complicated.


Electric Cars: What They Really Mean for You

Tuesday, BBC One, 8pm

We’re all being guilted in to swapping our polluting gas-guzzlers for clean electric cars, but many of us have concerns around range, charging infrastructure and the bloody price. With Britain planning to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the Beeb’s climate editor, Justin Rowlatt, has a look under the bonnet of the industry to see if electric cars are up to speed and fit to replace the old models. Michelle Ackerley hears the gripes of ordinary Brits as they deal with the frustrations of charging their EVs while environmental scientist Tara Shine asks why EVs cost so much and explores possible alternatives including synthetic fuel and hydrogen.

Mealladh Na Mara

Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm

In the third and final episode of the Irish language series, we meet another person who has felt the strong pull of the sea since childhood and has followed their dream even into perilous waters. Retired teacher Conall Ó Domhnaill spent his childhood summers in Donegal, where his fascination with the sea grew deeper and wider with each passing season and led to him becoming a highly trained search-and-rescue diver. We also meet Cork-based schoolteacher Niamh Ní Drisceoil, who returns to her home of Cape Clear island every weekend to be near the sea, and Dr Eoin McCarthy Deering, whose passion for surfing has taken him around the world in search of the ultimate wave.

Dial M for Middlesbrough

Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson return as driver and tour guide Terry and Gemma for another instalment in the comedy murder series centred around a coach tour company whose passengers seem doomed to die in suspicious circumstances. We’ve had Murder on the Blackpool Express and Death on the Tyne, and now comes a third stand-alone TV film, first released in 2019. The cast includes Sally Lindsay, Annette Crosbie, Phil Davis and Jason Donovan. When their coach breaks down mid-tour, Terry and Gemma of Draper’s Tours decide to take refuge in a creepy caravan park – and it’s not long before their passengers are being bumped off one by one.

The Girl from Plainville

Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm

Elle Fanning and Chloe Sevigny head the cast in this United States miniseries based on an explosive article in Esquire magazine, detailing the infamous “texting suicide” case in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in 2014. When a young man, Conrad Roy III (Colton Ryan), dies by suicide, investigators focus on his online relationship with a girl named Michelle Carter (Fanning) and discover text messages urging him to go ahead and take his own life. The series looks at events leading up to Roy’s death and Carter’s subsequent conviction for involuntary manslaughter.

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland

Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.10pm

Made by the Bafta-winning team behind Once Upon a Time in Iraq, this historical documentary series examines the Troubles in Northern Ireland and attempts to unravel the complex dynamics at play. Episode two brings us to the year 1972 and the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, when the deep divisions in the North become entrenched. We meet James, who joined a loyalist paramilitary group as a teenager and was making bombs at 17. We also meet young people from both communities who find escape via the emerging sounds of punk music.

David Harewood on Blackface

Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm

We remember, not very fondly, that staple of Saturday night telly, The Black and White Minstrel Show, featuring an all-white cast of singers and performers, half of them wearing blackface. Where did it come from and why was it so popular, pulling in 20 million viewers each week? David Harewood delves into the origins of this deeply disturbing art form and learns that it was actually adapted from African-American music in the US deep south during the days of slavery but deliberately twisted to cruelly mock black people. Harewood looks at the deep scars left on Britain’s black community by this the weekly broadcasting of this shameless ritual of racism.

The Power of Parker

Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm

Meet Martin Parker, entrepreneur extraordinaire, who has all the trappings of business success, including a chain of electrical stores, a flashy auto, a wife and a mistress. Parker’s empire, however, is built on a house of cards and if he doesn’t do something soon, the plug will be pulled on his electrical chain. Conleth Hill stars as the unreconstructed man without much of a plan in this comedy series set at the turn of the 1990s, with Sian Gibson and Rosie Cavaliero as the two put-upon women in his life, Kath and Diane.

Good Omens

From July 28th, Prime Video

If you said you weren’t waiting with childlike anticipation for the return of Michael Sheen and David Tennant as dynamic angel-and-demon duo Aziraphale and Crowley, then we just wouldn’t believe you. The pair are back in full flight for season two of the fantasy series based on the original novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. With brand new storylines that go beyond the original source material, we’re expecting things to get even more biblical and apocalyptic, as the pair’s idyllic life among the mortals is threatened by the unexpected arrival of the archangel Gabriel (played by Jon Hamm) at Aziraphale’s antique bookshop. He’s got a bad dose of angel amnesia, leaving Aziraphale and Crowley to hide him from the all-seeing eyes of Heaven and Hell while they get to the bottom of this bottomless mystery.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist