What to watch on TV this week

Esther Rantzen is paired with John on the first episode of Celebrity First Dates, on Channel 4 at 9pm on Friday.

What to watch on TV this week

SATURDAY

Marco Polo 

Netflix

This first run of the big budget drama didn’t quite set the world alight, but the second season is still a welcome addition to the summer rosters.

Loosely based on the eastern travels of the 13th century Venetian.It’s also got Gabriel Byrne.

Avatar 

Channel 4, 8pm

To fully appreciate the spectacle of this 2009 film, you really do need the 3D glasses and big cinema screen, but it still carries enough of a plot to enjoy on your home system.

James Cameron also has four sequels on the way, but we won’t see the first of these until at least December 2018.

SUNDAY

The Hunt 

RTÉ2, 6.30pm

Episode five of this superb series looks at the battle of Predator v Prey on opan grasslands.

It’s an environment that’s well-familiar to viewers of wildlife programmes, but this show still manages to enthrall.

Top Gear 

BBC Two, 8pm

There are some prestige cars up for testing in this episode, including the Porsche 911 R and the MGB Roadster.

American actor Patrick Dempsey (Dr Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy) and comedian Greg Davies step up for the ‘Stars in a Rallycross Car’ segment.

Inglourious Basterds 

Film4, 9pm

Quentin Tarantino’s tale of glorious revenge in the Second World War forms part of a Brad Pitt season on Film4 all this week.

A film with some memorable scenes and an excellent cast that includes Michael Fassbender and Christoph Waltz.

Fearaibh Fionntrá 

TG4, 9.30pm

A repeat of one of those series TG4 is so good at producing. Various residents of Ventry, Co Kerry, tell stories from their lives, with results that are both interesting and entertaining.

MONDAY

Brad Pitt: Seven Years In Tibet 

Film4, 6.15pm

David Thewlis and Brad Pitt star in the true tale of two Austrian climbers who end up in Tibet during the Second World War.

Wild France with Ray Mears 

ITV, 8pm

No, this new six-part series doesn’t feature the fan zones in Marseilles. Instead, the presenter looks at incredible variety of wildlife France has managed to preserve in its forests, mountains, etc.

For his first show, Mears is in Vanoise National Park in the Alps, on the trail of marmots, ibex and bearded vultures.

Forces of Nature with Brian Cox 

BBC One, 9pm

The pin-up scientist begins a new series giving us a physicist’s perspective on how our world works.

For example, this first episode looks at the forces that shape icebergs, and how bees’ honeycombs are based on a mathematical rule.

Ray Donovan – Girl with Guitar 

Sky Atlantic, 9pm

Liev Schrieber returns for a fourth season as the high-powered ‘fixer’. We pick up the action after last season’s shootout, with our hero recovering in hospital and trying to rebuild bridges with his family.

The Great British Sewing Bee 

BBC Two, 9.30pm

Forget about Euro 2016 – the final of the Sewing Bee has arrived.

The first task is to create a pin-tucked dress shirt; and then the alteration task involves a bit of gender reassignment as they tranform a tuxedo into a little black dress.

A floor-length evening gown completes the challenges before the judges make their decision.

Luke Kelly - Prince Of The City 

RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Repeat of the recent documentary on the late great singer.

TUESDAY

Follow Donal 

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Donal Skehan is married to a Swede, and has made several visits to the country, so is very familiar with its cuisine. In Stockholm, he dives right in for the local ‘fika’ ritual of coffee and cake.

The Living and the Dead 

BBC One, 9pm (not NI)

The drama series continues with Nathan doing his best to help a young boy suffering from hallucinations.

Mr vs Mrs: Call the Mediator 

BBC Two, 9.30pm

Among the splitting couples featured tonight are Parvez and Robina, who are ending their arranged marriage.

We also see Jess and Matt trying to resolve issues over where their children will spend time; and the extremely difficult situation of a woman who wants to move back to Portugal, taking the former couple’s three year old daughter with her.

WEDNESDAY

Boy Meets Girl 

BBC Two, 10pm

A second series of the sitcom that revolves around transgender character Judy, played by trans actress Rebecca Root.

THURSDAY

The Wire 

Sky Box Sets

The greatest TV show ever made?

Fans of The Sopranos and Game of Thrones might disagree with its exaltation, but the first series of the tale from the mean streets of Baltimore more than stands up to another viewing.

FRIDAY

Celebrity First Dates 

Channel 4, 9pm

After a high-profile Irish series, the dating show returns to the UK for four episodes, this time around with celebrity twist.

Esther Rantzen is probably the best-known of the participants in tonight’s episodes, and the 76-year-old admits that she’s had some lonely times since the death of her husband in 2000.

Other participants include EastEnders stars Richard Blackwood (the nasty Vincent Hubbard); Jess Wright of The Only Way Is Essex; and paralympian Will Bayley.

One of the future episodes will feature Scarlett Moffatt, the twenty-something darkhaired Durham woman who appears with her mam and dad on Gogglebox.

Independence Day 

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Will Smith stars in the original version of the sci-fi epic, a film that achieved phenomenal success on its release in 1996 and was for a time the second highest grossing film ever.

Love Island 

UTV Ireland, 9pm

Is this show the ultimate guilty pleasure for TV watchers? We’re at the end of the penultimate week with the beautiful people in Majorca, and will soon find out who wins the £50,000.

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