How To Be Irish
RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Rick O’Shea gets people based all over the world to submit their feelings on what it means to be Irish. Using mobile phones, webcams, etc, people from as far away as Columbia, New Zealand and Guatemala have submitted songs, jokes and observations.
Joe Lios Tuathail
A documentary on Joe Murphy, above, the north Kerry farmer who is also artistic director of the thriving St John’s Theatre in Listowel. He divides much of his time between fattening livestock for mart and organising events in the theatre that might range from local drama to Nicaraguan string quartets.
Round Ireland with a Fridge
BBC Four, 9pm
Round Ireland with a Fridge was a quirky travel book by British comedian Tony Hawks in which he tried to win a bar bet by doing exactly what it says in the title. His hitch-hiking escapades may sound like silliness of the highest order, but 800,000 copies later and a film adaptation starring himself, Ed Byrne and Sean Hughes, he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey
BBC Two, 9pm
Kate Humble and co continue their trip across the planet, showing the effects of our orbit around the sun. In this episode, she’s in the Arctic where spring arrives with a bang, and Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth’s angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on Earth.
War of the Worlds
BBC One, 10.45pm
This 2005 adaptation of HG Well’s classic novel will never be regarded among the finest moments of director Steven Spielberg or shaky star Tom Cruise, but its irresistible tale of an alien invasion of Earth does provide 105 minutes of fairly enjoyable entertainment.
RTÉ Two, 9pm
Tom Selleck and his pals arrived last year with a lot of hype, with what turned out to be a fairly decent cop series rather than the groundbreaking return to form it was pitched as. With expectations lowered for the second series, however, perhaps it will have found its level. Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood both appear in tonight’s episode.
Empire — Making A Fortune
BBC One, 9pm
You’ve got to love the letters to newspapers across the water describing this series as an anti-British rant. Those who believe our near neighbour’s conquering of other countries was to the benefit of the peoples who now fall under the civilising influence of her majesty will be particularly irate at tonight’s episode. Jeremy Paxman looks at the origins of the British Empire as a treasure hunt for those looking to make a buck. Some were, quite literally, pirates. In Jamaica, he explains how the trade in sugar cane made plantation owners rich on the labour of their African slaves; Calcutta is the setting for an explanation of the exploitation of India; and China is a springboard for the tale of how the British-run opium trade devastated parts of that country. Dear Mr Telegraph editor …
The Butcher Boy
Was it as good as the book? No, but Neil Jordan’s take on Pat McCabe’s magnificent tome does capture some of the tragic hilarity at the heart of the tale. Eamonn Owens plays the wayward Francie, from the dysfunctional family, while Brendan Gleeson is in the minor role of Fr Bubbles, the priest who is desperately trying to hush up one of his colleague’s indiscretions. “Will you have another custard cream, Frankie?”
One of the most intriguing things about this show is that it has popped up on an obscure satellite channel that only those on the Sky network (109) can get here. It’s off-centre location is strange, given that it’s produced by Lost supremo JJ Abrams and features such well-known faces as Irish-born Sam Neill, Jorge ‘Hurley’ Garcia and Parminder Nagra from ER.
This second episode sees the mystery thriller pick up from last week’s opener, in which investigations continue into the strange disappearance of all the prisoners and guards from the famous island prison. One of the former inmates is now on a killing spree and needs to be stopped.
BBC Four, 8.30pm
If you’ve ever been to Venice, this documentary series, following the emergency services as they work on the unique island city, is essential viewing. Ambulance crews, fire brigades and police have to work in a place with no roads. Tonight’s episode has them anxiously preparing for a rare papal visit, and the closure of the Grand Canal by security forces enrages some local residents.
One Born Every Minute
Channel 4, 9pm
Tonight’s births at the Leeds hospital include a 17-year-old suffering from pre-eclampsia who has to have an emergency caesarean. It means her baby is delivered prematurely and the mother now faces weeks of visits to the neo-natal unit, until the newborn is strong enough to go home. We also meet a dentist couple whose baby will be born with a cleft lip.
The Secret Life Of A Superpower
BBC Two, 9pm
First of a two-part series looking at the implications of the WikiLeaks cables for US diplomacy. Richard Bilton talks to diplomats and investigates the skullduggery WikiLeaks revealed.
Cé a Chónaigh I Mo Theachsa?
Manchán Magan visits Rice House in Dingle, Co Kerry, to reveal a tale of a local family who had a count of the Holy Roman Empire among their ranks, and were also involved in a plot to rescue Marie Antoinette from France, and smuggle her on a ship from Nantes to Dingle.
Channel 4, 10pm
First of a three-part documentary series in which film director Werner Herzog interviews men on death row in America.
BBC Two, 8.30pm
The longer days have allowed Monty Don to get stuck in to a large project, a garden pond. He’s already done much of the work and tonight he shows us how to line it and make it waterproof.
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