What to watch on TV this week

Some great TV to watch this heading into the new year. 


The Cat in the Hat TG4, 5.35pm

Mike Myers stars in this enjoyable 2003 take on the Dr Seuss book.

Leningrad And The Orchestra That Defied Hitler BBC Two, 9.10pm

This documentary looks back at an amazing event in the Second World War that is also credited with being one of the most incredible chapters in the history of music. On August 9, 1942, an orchestra made up of a ragtag group of starving musicians assembled from various military units, performed Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony at the Philharmonic Hall in Leningrad. 

The symphony had been partly written by the great composer when he was in Leningrad during the early part of the siege, and its legendary performance was broadcast on loudspeakers around the city, some supposedly within earshot of the German lines. 

As many as a million people died in the siege, but the city didn’t fall to the Nazis. Historian Amanda Vickery and music writer Tom Service explain the significance of the performance and how it offered a beacon of light to the besieged city and the wider world in the face of the dark forces unleashed by the Germans.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Channel 4, 10.35pm

It doesn’t exactly zip along, but this 2011 adaptation of John Le Carré’s Cold War spy novel is very watchable. Gary Oldman stars as the intelligence officer who comes out of retirement to track down a Russian spy.


Doctor Zhivago RTÉ One, 1.10pm

If the weather is closing in and you’re looking for something to do, David Lean’s classic from 1965 is perfect Sunday matinee fare. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie star in Boris Pasternak’s love story set against the backdrop of the First World War and then the October Revolution in Russia.

The Voice of Ireland RTÉ One, 6.30pm

The talent show returns for a fifth series with the same judging team of Una Foden, Kian Egan, Bressie and Rachel Stevens. Last year’s early rounds showed how several years of such shows have taken their toll on the depth of talent available in a country with such a low population, but it did produce a worthy winner in Patrick James. We’ve been promised a musically diverse range of contestants and the show’s first drag queen.

At Your Service RTÉ One, 8.30pm

And then there was one. Francis Brennan is without his brother John for this new series of the show offering advice to people in the hospitality industry, but carries on regardless in his own inimitable style. He begins in Co Louth, where Caroline Workman wants to create a new holiday rentals business in the grounds of her family’s country house. She has bags of enthusiasm, but little business experience.

My Mediterranean With Adrian Chiles BBC Two, 9pm

Adrian Chiles already has quite a range of shows under his belt, and his return to the BBC sees him add the travel genre to his CV as he tours the Mediterranean, taking a particular look at the three religions which exist in the region. 

He begins in his mother’s homeland of Croatia, admitting that his atheist parents called him a “holy Joe” because he used go to Mass with his nan. He also celebrates the Muslim festival of Eid in Istanbul before completing the opening episode in Jerusalem.


Food Unwrapped Diet Special Channel 4, 8pm

It’s that time of year when the words ‘diet’ and ‘detox’ get used quite a bit. In this special episode, the presenters look at the science to reveal that there are some treats that might actually be good to eat when you’re trying to lose weight.


Eco-Eye RTÉ One, 7pm

Duncan Stewart begins his latest series with a look at how the recent global agreement on climate change will affect life in Ireland.

Ear To The Ground RTÉ One, 8.30pm

The Boyne valley is one of the most archaeologically well-endowed regions of Ireland, so Darragh McCullough looks at the experience of farming in the area. Clare Tuffy of the Newgrange centre explains why farming has to be so carefully managed, and we also hear about the practices of Ireland’s first farmers. Bringing the show right up to date is a look at the new technology being used to catch, tag, and release salmon in the Boyne.

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing BBC Two, 9pm

Choreographer Jack Murphy begins his two-part attempt to revive social ‘partner’ dancing, and the fun of the old-style dance hall.


Great Barrier Reef With David Attenborough BBC One, 9pm

Episode two of the veteran presenter’s look at sea life off Australia has him visiting Osprey Reef, a mountain in the ocean just off the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. He takes to the water in a Triton submersible to see tiger sharks, green turtles and a mysterious dwarf minke whale.

Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe BBC Two, 10pm

One of the highlights of the cynic’s calendar, Charlie Brooker takes a break from working on his Black Mirror series for Netflix, to present his annual look at some of the major events of the year.


Getaways RTÉ One, 7pm

Angela Scanlon and Joe Lindsay kick off the latest series of the travel show with a trip to Florida. Along the way, they take in the Kennedy Space Centre, Miami and jetpacking.


Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast Channel 4, 8pm

Goldie Hawn pops up on the show to cook fettuccine Alfredo, while Jamie Oliver makes a slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, with spices.

Amy Channel 4, 9pm

What to watch on TV this week

The TV premiere of Asif Kapadia’s excellent documentary on the late Amy Winehouse.

Top Of The Pops: The Story Of BBC Four, 10pm

The post-punk era was a particularly fertile era for pop music in the UK, and this show looks at how the pop charts in 1981 saw the emergence of such acts as Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, while The Specials hit the number one spot with ‘Ghost Town’ before splitting up in the Top of the Pops dressing room.


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