TV not to miss

SATURDAY

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

RTÉ Two, 12.05am

Matthew Broderick stars in John Hughes’s classic 1980s comedy about a high school student who skips class to spend a day in downtown Chicago. A massive success in 1986, it’s one that still stands the test of time.

The Madness Of King George

Film4, 6.50pm

Superb British film from 1994 starring Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren in the true story of a monarch who is losing his marbles. It manages to be both amusing and touching in its portrayal of King George III’s mental health issues, while the 18th century cures for such conditions look particularly unappealing.

SUNDAY

Nature’s Miracle Babies

BBC One, 6pm

The final episode in the series focuses on the Tasmanian devil, the meat-eating marsupial who is threatened with extinction due to a terrible disease that has wiped out 80% of the wild population. Martin Hughes-Games also looks at animals on islands such as Mauritius and Madagascar who have nowhere to run when disaster strikes.

Put ‘Em Under Pressure

RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Gráinne Seoige fronts a new quiz show in which well-known sports pundits test their knowledge against Irish sports stars in front of a live studio audience. The first of the eight episodes has Pat Spillane, Kenny Cunningham and Donal Lenihan going up against Ruby Walsh, Catherina McKiernan and Mal O’Kelly.

A South American Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby

BBC Two, 8pm

The veteran BBC presenter begins a new series of travels through South America. First up is a trip across Chile and Bolivia, hearing about life since the demise of General Pinochet and meeting child labourers who have formed a trade union. He also looks at benevolent uses of the coca plant and visits a remarkable music school in the Amazon.

Downton Abbey

UTV, 9pm

It was the big British drama hit of last year, and the second season of Downton Abbey promises another eight episodes of quality insight into life at an Edwardian country house. The world has changed since our last visit to the Crawley family, with world war one looming large in this series and men of all social backgrounds going off to face the horror of the trenches. As well familiar characters played by Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, a new face in the series is Irish actress Maria Doyle Kennedy, (pictured above, with actor Brendan Coyle), fresh from her success in the US with Dexter and here in the role of Vera, the wife of steadfast valet Bates (Coyle). There’s more good news for Downton fans in that plans are already under way for a third series.

MONDAY

Réabhlóid

RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Another look at one of the lesser-known stories from the Easter Rising, this time the life and death of Lieutenant Guy Pinfield, the first British officer to be killed during the insurrection when he was shot at the gates of Dublin Castle.

The Rise And Fall Of Fianna Fáil

TV3, 10pm

Finale of the documentary series on the political party that was once the largest in the land. As well as documenting its fall from grace after leading the country into financial ruin, Ursula Halligan assesses the frightening prospect of whether there are enough of the faithful left to ensure a revival in its fortunes.

This Is Jinsy

Sky Atlantic, 10.10pm

We haven’t seen a preview of this new quirky comedy, but the cast list alone ensures we’ll be giving it a look. A surreal take on island life complete with “catchy” songs, it’s directed by Matt Lipsey (Psychoville, Saxondale), and has Jennifer Saunders, Harry Hill and Catherine Tate among the guest stars. If it looks vaguely familiar, you may have seen the pilot episode on BBC Three.

TUESDAY

Inside Nature’s Giants

Channel 4, 8pm

While other shows in this series have focused on wild animals, this final episode goes inside an animal at the centre of a multi-billion euro industry — the thoroughbred racehorse. As the team dissects a dead horse, we see how it has been biologically engineered to win races. Careful breeding in the form of unnatural selection has developed the animal’s speed and stamina, but often leaves them vulnerable to injury. We are shown the extraordinary spring system that propels it to speeds of up to 45mph, and also visit a breeding centre to see how certain traits are selected.

Rescue 115

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

More exciting footage as the Shannon rescue helicopter attempts to rescue a sick crewman from a Spanish trawler, and overcomes language difficulties along the way. There’s also onshore action when a farmer falls into a gully in a remote area.

Later With Jools Holland

BBC Two, 10pm

The best music show on TV is back for a nine-week run, with an extended version on Fridays. It’s off to a flying start with Irish band Snow Patrol, veteran folkie Roy Harper and über cool Scandinavian electronic outfit Little Dragon.

The Bomb Squad

BBC One, 10.35pm

Since British forces took part in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, most of their casualties have come from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Hence the importance of the bomb squad. Here we follow bomb disposal operator Rod in Afghanistan in 2010. It’s nerve-wracking work, and three months into his squad’s work, three of the team of seven have either been injured or killed.

WEDNESDAY

Nationwide

RTÉ One, 7pm

A special programme from the ploughing championships in Athy includes highlights from the event and a look at some of the local business enterprises at the site.

Who Do You Think You Are?

BBC One, 9pm

Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees looks back into his ancestry to discover a decorated soldier, a midwife and strong links to Paisley, the centre of Scottish weaving.

When Amy Winehouse Came To Dingle

RTÉ Two, 11.20pm

The late singer was in the Co Kerry town for the Other Voices show in 2006. This show features some of the highlights of her performance.

THURSDAY

Glee

Sky 1, 9pm

Season three appropriately begins at the start of a new school year and Will is on the lookout for new recruits for the glee club. Needless to say, it’s got more of the songs, the dancing and tongue-in-cheek story lines that have turned the programme into a global phenomenon.

Billy Connolly’s Route 66

UTV, 9pm

He starts the second part of his journey in St Louis, Missouri, once the gateway to the west, visits a wolf sanctuary and views the incredible underground scenery of the Meremac Caverns.

The History Of The Clash

Sky Arts 1, 9pm

Looks back on the middle-class boys who became the most successful and influential band of the punk era. Includes archive interviews with the late Joe Strummer.

FRIDAY

Gardeners’ World

BBC Two, 8.30pm

Monty Don shows how you can take cuttings from roses to build up your stock, and also sows salad seeds that he hopes to harvest right up to Christmas. Thinking ahead to next spring, he’s also planning narcissi and foxgloves.

For a Few Dollars More

TG4, 9.45pm

Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef star in Sergio Leone’s classic western from 1967. As well as Clint’s performance, the film is probably best remembered for Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack.

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