What to watch on TV this week...

Your home viewing entertainment wrap for the week ahead, with Des O’Driscoll.
What to watch on TV this week...


House of Cards


Season five of the political drama is now available on the streaming channel, and the more GUBU aspects of the show suddenly don’t seem so outlandish considering the current state of the American presidency.

Will the new series click with the cynicism of the age, or will it feel irrelevant?

Even the show’s creator, Beau Willimon, departed the camp in the wake of Trump’s election to form a group encouraging people to get more engaged with politics.

At the end of last season, you may remember President Frank Underwood dealing with a difficult hostage situation. After an American hostage is killed, Kevin Spacey’s character chillingly declares: “We don’t submit to terror, we make the terror.”

Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution

BBC Two, 9pm

The 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ classic album brings a slew of commemorative shows, and among the more interesting ones could be this documentary from composer Howard Goodall.

He gets access to studio out-takes and other material to really get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how the album was made.


Planet Earth II: A World of Wonder

BBC One, 9pm

The wildlife show was one of the TV highlights of last year, and presumably this ‘greatest hits’ of clips from the series will include such sequences as a snakes v baby iguana; the locust plague; and the leopards in the suburbs. Incidentally, the whole series also begins a run on RTÉ2.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Channel 4, 9pm

The opening episode contained some chilling scenes, but the online reaction suggests that most who saw it will be back for more bleakness in the tale of a woman who lives as a forced surrogate in a world where most women are infertile.

Tonight, main character Offred (Elisabeth Moss) has to assist at the delivery of another handmaid’s baby.


RTÉ One, 9.30pm

The EastEnders offshoot has been getting much criticism in Ireland, but those who’ve stuck with the show will get another episode of twists and turns as diligent garda Bernie continues to probe the circumstances around Lance’s death.

Arena: American Epic

BBC 4, 10pm

The third and final part of this excellent series shines a light into other little-known spheres of the development of roots music in the US.

First up is Joseph Kekuku, the Hawaiian man who combined his Polynesian influences with the invention of the steel guitar. From there, we see the melting pot of Cajun music and its development in the bayous of Louisiana.

Finally, the incredible story of Mississippi John Hurt, a minor star in the 1920s who was all but forgotten, before being rediscovered by a folklorist in the early 1960s, when he went on to become a leading figure of the folk revival.


The World’s Biggest Refugee Camp

TV3, 8pm

Where is it? Many people would probably guess at one of the countries bordering Syria, but it’s actually in Uganda.

As Colette Fitzpatrick and Liam Cunningham explain on their visit, Bidi Bidi has become the home of about 300,000 people fleeing the conflict in South Sudan.

The duo hear the stories of some of those people in an attempt to raise the profile, and hence the funding, of relief work in an area that rarely makes the headlines.


Grey’s Anatomy

RTÉ2, 9.40pm

The final episode of the current series has the expected mix of relationship issues and big-ticket events making for a dramatic show. A fire is raging in the hospital and various staff members are in life-threatening situations. Will everybody survive for next season?

The Walking Dead

RTÉ2, 11.50pm

Even if this opener for season seven was on at a reasonable time, it probably wouldn’t attract much of an audience, given that the big reveal on who was killed by Negan’s bat was revealed on other channels many months ago.

Unfortunately, what followed was probably the weakest season yet from the zombie drama, and fans are already hoping that the next instalment will bring much-needed improvement.


Missing You 

RTÉ One, 8.30pm 

The arrival of cheap video calls via the internet has made it much easier for emigrants to stay in touch with their families in Ireland.

This new six-part run of a series that debuted last year features more of those videos, including a woman showing off her son for the first time to the folks at home.

Horizon: Antarctica Ice Station Rescue

BBC Two, 9pm

A documentary that was filmed over three months in Antarctica as a team of researchers attempt to move a polar bear research station following the opening of a crevasse in the ice shelf.

Assassins: Ireland’s Contract Killers

TV3, 9pm

A look at Gary Campion from Limerick, convicted as a teenager for his role in the killing of innocent nightclub bouncer Brian Fitzgerald. After he was released from prison for that offence, he shot fellow-criminal Fat Frankie Ryan in the back of the head, and was subsequently sentenced to life.

The Snapper

RTE One, 9.35pm

Stephen Frears recently told this newspaper that The Snapper was the best film he ever made. Does the 1993 adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s book stand the test of time?

Lethal Weapon

RTE2, 9.40pm

You’ve seen the four movies... now watch the TV series. Or perhaps don’t. The small-screen version of the buddy cop tale is already into a second run in the US, where it’s received a fairly mixed response.

By the end of this double bill of opening episodes, you’ll probably know which side of the fence you sit on.


Channel 4, 10pm

Episode two of the enjoyable series starring Ewan McGregor.


Ackley Bridge

Channel 4, 8pm

Potentially decent new drama series about the merger of two schools in a divided Yorkshire town that forces the Asian and white communities together.

Apparently, a fake bomb storyline has been edited since the Manchester attack.


RTE One, 10.15pm

The final episode has Paula facing up to the fact that Callum may never fully recover, and she also has to face James one more time.

Frankie Boyle’s New World Order

BBC Two, 10.30pm

You’d imagine the Scottish comedian was presented with a hefty memo labelled ‘Good Taste’ before he was green-lit for this new series in which he discusses world affairs with a live audience and a panel of guests.


The Graham Norton Show

BBC One, 10.35pm

Boxing champion Anthony Joshua, actress Rachel Weisz and singer Shawn Mendes are among the guests.

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