What to watch on TV this week

Des O’Driscoll looks through the highlights of what’s on the telly this week. 

What to watch on TV this week


Kodaline – Live

RTE2, 5.20pm

A live set from the popular Dublin band that was recorded at Brixton Academy in 2014.

Winnie the Pooh: The Most Famous Bear In the World

Channel 4, 6pm

Fans of Paddington and Yogi might gripe at the title, but there’s no denying the enduring appeal of the honey-loving slow-witted bear in AA Milne’s stories. As we hear from this documentary, they were created 90 years ago for the author’s only child Christopher Robin.

Life in Polar Bear Town with Gordon Buchanan

BBC Two, 8pm

After hanging out with the elephant family earlier in the holidays, this one-off special follows the wildlife cameraman to Churchill in Canada, where the world’s largest concentration of polar bears gather every year to wait for the sea ice to form. He meets a woman who survived being mauled by a bear, and also sees how the town has turned their wildlife encounters into a lucrative tourist trade.

Mrs Brown’s Boys

RTÉ One, 9.35pm

The second of the seasonal episodes from Brendan O’Carroll has Agnes getting involved at school when her grandson Bono is being bullied. Grandad also returns from hospital with a prescription for medical marijuana.

The Graham Norton Show

BBC One, 10.25pm

Olympic rowers Gary and Paul O’Donovan join their fellow west Cork man in the studio. There’s also a representative from Kerry in Michael Fassbender, who’ll be joined by his Assassin’s Creed co-star Marion Cotillard.

Jools’ Annual Hootenanny

BBC Two, 11.20pm

If you’re not tuning into the RTÉ event (see p40), Jools Holland is doing his annual New Year’s Eve party with an impressive line-up of musical guests. Chaka Khan, Gregory Porter and Rag’n’Bone Man are among those performing songs.



BBC One, 8.30pm

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return for another three 90-minute episodes in the adventures of the modern-day detective. First up is a story title that will send shivers down the spine of anyone old enough to remember the 1980s: ‘The Six Thatchers’. It revolves around a baffling case in which somebody is destroying images of the late British politician.

Poitín Mhicil

TG4, 9.30pm

Pádraic Ó Griallais comes from a long line of poitín makers in the Galway Gaeltacht. Unlike his ancestors, however, he wants to work within the law to turn his distilling enterprise into a legal business. Under the mentoring of his 88 year old grandfather Jimmí Chearra, he works on building a brand for the potato-based brew made from a secret family recipe.

An American Werewolf In London

Channel 4, midnight

There’s talk of a remake of John Landis’s classic comedy horror from 1981, but there’s little chance it will match the original in terms of gory fun.


Charlie Brooker’s 2016 Wipe

BBC Two, 10pm

A repeat of Brooker’s annual spin on the major events of the year. Given some of the events that occurred, he didn’t have to scratch very far to hit cynic’s gold.


Eco Eye

RTE One, 7pm

Duncan Stewart returns with another series of his ecologically-themed show. First up, Dr Lara Dungan looks at research that shows living near a green space can have positive effects on physical and mental health. She proposes that this factor should be more of a consideration in zoning and designing where we live.

Ear to the Ground

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

The laws around hedge cutting have become a major issue in rural Ireland. With proposals on the table to amend the Wildlife Act to allow cutting in August, we hear both sides of the story: farmers and others who say the changes make sense for road safety and ease of farm management; conservationists claim it would be a disastrous move for nesting birds that are already declining in big numbers.

Yellowstone: The Wildest Winter

BBC Two, 9pm

After the thrills of Planet Earth II, the Beeb moves onto its next major natural history event with this three-part series in the famous American national park.

Episode one follows Yellowstone’s most famous inhabitants, the bears. They were among the creatures who had to survive the most brutal winter on record in the park, and we see how the particularly bad conditions also caused problems for the park’s growing population of wolves.

Greys Anatomy

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

A double bill of episodes kicks off series 13. Meredith is struggling with her secrets, and there’s also a rush to help when one of the medical staff is admitted to Grey Sloan.


Italy’s Invisible Cities

BBC One, 9pm

Italy has one the richest archaeological heritage of any European country, and despite centuries of study, there’s still plenty to be discovered. This new series begins in Naples, where 3D scanning technology helps uncover new information about the impact of the volcano at Mount Vesuivus.

12 Years A Slave

RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Steve McQueen directs an impressive cast in his 2013 tale of American slavery.



RTÉ One, 7pm

Is it really time to think about holidays already? Joe Lindsay and newcomer Mairead Ronan begin with reports from two rather different destinations: Nevada and Co Fermanagh.

Fair City

RTÉ One, 8pm

Farrah and Emmet feature quite a bit in this week’s episodes, and Ciaran isn’t happy with their romance. Tonight, Emmet is caught by Farrah, and over the next few episodes we’ll see Ciarán setting him up for a fall.

Operation Transformation

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

The second episode introduces the rest of this year’s participants.


The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

BBC Two, 9pm (not NI)

In the first episode of the new series, Piers Taylor and Caroline Quentin take to the mountains to look at some spectacular homes. In the Santa Monica mountains of California, they visit a house that was partly built with the wings and tail fins of Boeing 747, while New Zealand and the Swiss alps also feature.

Graham Norton’s Big Red Chair

BBC One, 10.35pm

A behind-the-scenes look at the Red Chair segment of Norton’s show, with the presenter also picking out his favourite 500.

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