TV not to miss

SATURDAY

The Normans

BBC Two, 7pm

The second episode in the history series explores the impact of the Normans on southern Europe and the Middle East. The occasional Sicilian redhead is probably testimony to their power on that island, or perhaps it’s something to do with the visit of Irish fans for Italia ‘90. Professor Robert Bartlett explains how the Normans created their most prosperous kingdom on the Mediterranean island, a place where Christianity and Islam co-existed in relative harmony.

Hans Litten vs Adolf Hitler — To Stop A Tyrant

BBC Two, 8pm

Last week we had the excellent drama The Man Who Crossed Hitler. This documentary looks at the life of Hans Litten, the Jewish lawyer who challenged and humiliated the Nazi leader in the early 1930s. We see how his brave efforts to fight the fascists eventually cost him his life.

American — The Bill Hicks Story

BBC Four, 10pm

The Bill Hicks Story looks at the incredible life of the controversial Texan comedian. At 21, he had never tried drink or drugs, but soon fired himself down both roads with incredible enthusiasm. The various adventures he got up to while under the influence formed a central part of his act, and even when he managed to leave most of the illicit substances behind, he remained a slave to tobacco, and mined his nicotine addiction for plenty of jokes. Unfortunately, his lifestyle probably led to his early demise and he died of liver cancer in 1994, aged 32.

SUNDAY

Ocean Giants

BBC One, 9pm

Third and final part of the incredible documentary series on whales and dolphins. Most of those who went along to see the sperm whale stranded in Co Waterford last week may not have been aware that these amazing creatures make the loudest sound of any creature on earth. This episode looks at their deafening clicks and also examines similar cetaceans who use their voices to locate breathing holes in Arctic ice-floes or round up prey.

Céad Seans: Spike: Ceart agus Coir

9.30pm, TG4

This documentary made by communications students at Waterford IT looks at the fate of prisoners on Spike Island, Co Cork, during the Famine. It explains how many of the inmates were victims of the awful events that befell Ireland, rather than hardened criminals.

Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail

RTE Two, 11.05pm

Louis Theroux presents the second episode of his look at life inside Miami County Jail. You’ll end up making a definite note to self: don’t ever end up in an American prison.

MONDAY

Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets

Channel 4, 8pm

Stephen Fry, right, is a self-confessed gadget addict, and is the ideal presenter for one of those lighthearted countdowns that Channel 4 churns out. Over three hours, he’ll run through a list of historical contraptions and high-tech modern devices. From the tin opener and the iron to the iPod.

Spectacle

Sky Arts 1, 10pm

Elvis Costello has Bono and The Edge in front of a live studio audience as he begins his new series of interviews with some of the big stars of the music world. The duo talk about the early days of the group and tell anecdotes from their evolution into the biggest band on the planet. Among the interesting tales are how producer Brian Eno tried to erase Where The Streets Have No Name from The Joshua Tree. Future interviewees on the show include Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen.

The Field Of Blood

BBC One, 10.45pm

First episode of a two-part adaptation from the Denise Mina crime novel centres around Paddy Meehan (Jayd Johnson, right), a young copygirl working in a newspaper office. She’s trying to become an investigative journalist but inadvertently becomes embroiled in a dark murder case.

TUESDAY

Inside Nature’s Giants

Channel 4, 8pm

The first of four new episodes in the superb dissection show travels to the Australian outback to chop-up one of the region’s many feral camels. Since European invaders introduced the desert creature in the early days of settlement, its numbers has increased to more than a million. Here, Mark Evans and Joy Reidenberg show us inside a camel’s hump and explain other amazing adaptations that help it survive in such inhospitable terrain. A female camel-jockey also demonstrates how to break in and ride a wild camel.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

BBC Two, 9pm

Based on the novel by Irish author John Boyne, this film explores the relationship between the son of a Nazi officer in Auschwitz and a Jewish child inmate of the camp. While it had a mixed reaction from critics, the British production did provide a useful device for a rare exploration of the Holocaust by a fairly commercial film.

True Stories: Contact In The Outback

More4, 10pm

Australia is also in the spotlight for this remarkable documentary on a meeting of two cultures in the desert in 1964. A military patrol in the officially uninhabited Western Desert were shocked to encounter a group of 20 women and children. They were from the Martu tribe, a group of Aboriginal nomadic herders and were whisked off to Jigalong Mission before the army began test-firing rockets in the area. Among the Aboriginal group was 17-year-old Yuwali, who is now 62 and still living at Jigalong. She talks about her experiences.

WEDNESDAY

Location, Location, Location

Channel 4, 8pm

Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer are back with a new series of the property-hunting show. Tonight they help two couples with very different budgets.

The Natural World

BBC Two, 8pm

While the killer whale is one of the most feared predators in the ocean, New Zealand scientist Ingrid Visser does much of her research by getting into the water with these magnificent creatures. We see how her closeness to the animals is useful as she attempts to uncover the cause of an unusual number of deaths in her local pods.

THURSDAY

Comhrá; Eamon De Buitléar

TG4, 7.30pm

Máirtín Tom Sheáinín’s guest is Éamon de Buitléar, and they chat about the veteran wildlife filmmaker’s career, as well as how he met his wife and when Charlie Haughey asked him to become a senator.

Monty Halls’ Great Irish Escape

BBC Two, 8pm

Monty has been prone to padding out his shows, but they still contain some great scenes from the west of Ireland. Tonight he’s fishing for blue sharks and attaching tags to them in order to track their migration across the Atlantic.

FRIDAY

Dexter

FX, 10pm

Season five has probably been the weakest so far, but has probably hung on to most of the die-hards up to this final episode. As we’ve come to expect from a Dexter finale, we are guaranteed close calls and significant deaths.

Treme

Sky Atlantic, 10.15pm

Episode one of the second season of David Simon’s take on life in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Good characters, but like every other TV show on the planet, suffers in comparison with Simon’s work on The Wire.

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