Best on TV

Des O’Driscoll picks his highlights from the coming week’s TV schedule

SATURDAY

Smash

Sky Atlantic, 10pm

This major new show from NBC didn’t quite live up to its name in the US, when early good ratings and positive reviews gradually gave way to more negative opinions. But a heavyweight cast ensures it’s at least worth checking out tonight’s pilot and deciding for yourself. Debra Messing (Will & Grace) plays Julia, the driving force behind an attempt to create a Broadway musical on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The cast also includes Anjelica Huston, while Uma Thurman and teen hearthrob Nick Jonas will pop up in guest roles.

I Love 1971

BBC One, 9pm

Part of a series of shows on 1970s kitsch culture, Britt Ekland looks at 1971, the year of her big break in Get Carter. It was also the year that gave us other iconic items, such as the Space Hopper and hot pants.

Das Boot

Film4, 9pm

A full-length director’s cut of Wolfgang Petersen’s classic submarine film.

The Bridge

BBC Four, 9pm

Another week, another highly-rated crime thriller from Scandanavia. This 10-part series is a co-production between a Swedish broadcaster and DR, the Danish state TV company that was also behind cult favourite The Killing. The action begins with the body of a woman being found on the Øresund Bridge, the famed construction that joins Sweden and Denmark. It all takes a macabre twist when it’s discovered that the body is actually made up of two victims. And so begins the investigation of Saga Norén from Malmö CID and Martin Rohde from the Copenhagen police department. On the evidence of one episode, it’s not up to the standards of The Killing, but does have potential.

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

BBC Two, 9.55pm

Miloš Forman’s 1975 adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel won all the major Oscars and is still remembered as one of Jack Nicholson’s best performances. It also presented a rare take on mental illness.

SUNDAY

Frank Wild: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero

BBC Two, 7pm

Documentary on the Yorkshireman who served with Tom Crean and Ernest Shackleton on Scott’s trip to Antarctica. Paul Rose joins an expedition to bury Wild’s ashes next to Shackleton on the remote island of South Georgia.

Indian Ocean With Simon Reeve

BBC Two, 8pm

Simon Reeve is among the more affable of TV presenters and this new six-part travel series has him travelling around the planet’s third-largest ocean. Over the next few weeks he’ll journey from Cape Town, up through Africa, along the Arabian Peninsula, India and Indochina, before finishing in Australia. In this first episode, he encounters some of the drug dealers and smugglers of a poverty-stricken township and dives with some of the sharks who end up as victims of the destructive fin trade.

Perspectives: David Walliams — The Genius of Dahl

UTV, 10.15pm

The former Little Britain actor explores the life of Roald Dahl, explaining how the Welsh writer’s Norwegian parents influenced his work. Walliams also talks to the author’s widow and his illustrator Quentin Blake.

MONDAY

Game of Thrones

Sky Atlantic, 9pm

Episode four brings much violence and bloodshed as the various warring factions vie for power.

TUESDAY

Barcelona v Chelsea

TV3, 7.45pm

The second leg of the semi-final sees the English side face a daunting task at L’Estadi Camp Nou as they try to hang on to a one-goal lead in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.

Hidden Talent

Channel 4, 9pm

This new six part series tries to uncover talents in people that they never knew they had. Hundreds of randomly selected people are put through a series of tests to identify those with hidden abilities. Then presenter Richard Bacon follows their progress, uncovering the science that enables them to achieve so highly. First up are the diverse skills of rock climbing and lie detection: a 45-year-old grandmother scales a 200ft sea stack, while we also see people who are among the one in 400 who can spot a liar with any degree of accuracy.

WEDNESDAY

Shallow Grave

Film4, 9pm

Danny Boyle’s directorial debut from 1994 was also many people’s first glimpse of Ewan McGregor. Then 22, the Scottish actor plays one of the flatmates who discovers a suitcase of money belonging to a man who has died after moving in with them. Cue the moral dilemmas and tough decisions on what to do with the body.

THURSDAY

The Zoo

RTÉ One, 7pm

We see more of zookeeper Brendan’s video diary from Uganda as he gets to see some of his captive charges’ wild cousins. It’s also Bonham heaven in Dublin Zoo as new litters of red river hogs and Tamworth pigs arrive.

Bóithre Iarainn

TG4, 8pm

Tonight’s episode looks at one of Ireland’s more unusual railway lines, the Lartique Monorailway, from Listowel to Ballybunnion in Co Kerry. Running on a single rail rather than tracks, it operated from 1888 to 1924.

Laochra Gael

TG4, 10pm

Kerry football legend Mikey Sheehy and his eight All-Ireland medals are the subject of tonight’s show.

Extreme A&E

Channel 4, 10pm

Dr Kevin Fong continues his tour of the world’s emergency departments by travelling to the Bronx in New York, where there are still more than two murders a week. He bases himself in St Barnabas hospital where many of the victims of shootings and gang violence go to be patched up.

Breaking Bad

TG4, 11pm

Episode two of the top US drama has cancer-afflicted teacher Walter being dragged deeper into the world of drug dealing.

FRIDAY

Gardeners’ World

BBC Two, 8.30pm

Monty Don stakes some perennials and plans for the summer, while Rachel de Thame offers advice on which plants thrive in ponds.

The Graham Norton Show

BBC One, 10.35pm

Guests on tonight’s show include Hollywood stars Zac Efron and Matt LeBlanc, plus British comedian Lee Mack.

Picture: Megan Hilty performs The National Pastime in the new NBC musical drama Smash which begins tonight on Sky Atlantic.

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