Six unmissable shows on TV this week

Bossa Nova and the Beach, Rod Stweart: a life, a look-back to the 1980s, and the Olympics gets under way

You'll probably hear the strains of Brazil's most famous song over the next few weeks, but what's the story behind the song? The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach (Monday, BBC Four, 9pm) is a one-hour musical journey into the origins of the hit song, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes in 1962 and which became a worldwide hit for Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, introducing Bossa Nova to the world. Presenter Katie Derham delves into the history of the Bossa Nova, the laid-back musical style invented by bohemians in Rio in the late 1950s, and meets some of Brazil's finest musicians.

Rock's original Jack the Lad is the featured performer in Imagine . . . Rod Stewart: Can't Stop Me Now (Tuesday, BBC One, 10.30pm). Alan Yentob meets the man now known as Sir Roderick Stewart, in this repeat programme. Rod chats about his early career as a mod in the 1960s, singing with Steampacket and Jeff Beck, and fronting The Faces with his mate Ronnie Wood, and his hugely successful solo career, when he swapped the blues-based rock for disco dross and MOR anthems, and dated a string of models and actresses. If this programme is anything like his autobiography, it should be a laugh-riot.

We've had endless analysis of Brexit from all sorts of experts, but the only opinions that really matter are those of ordinary folk who watched the whole thing unfold on the telly. Gogglebox: Brexit Special (Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm) is a special one-off episode of the popular series, this one focusing on the dramatic events that followed the Brexit vote, from Boris Johnson's appointment as foreign secretary to Jeremy Corbyn's intra-party travails. This could be one to get you hiding behind the sofa in fear.

In the early 1980s, Britain was being overtaken by a new consumerism, as ordinary people latched onto the joys of shopping, cooking and fashion. The 80s With Dominic Sandbrook (Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm) is a three-part series that looks at the decade through the prism of social and political change. The first episode, The Sound of the Crowd, tracks the new aspirational mood which followed the austerity of the 1970s, and the rise of the leftie sub-cultures which clashed head-on with Thatcherism.


If Scotland decided to vote for independence following Brexit, it would be a big loss for Britain, not least because the country has some of wildest and most rugged landscape in the British Isles. Highlands – Scotland's Wild Heart (Friday, BBC Two, 9pm) documents a year in the Scottish Highlands, using some incredible filming techniques to capture the extremes of each season. Ewan McGregor narrates this visually arresting series, and the first episode covers springtime in the Highlands, when the hills are aflame as part of the annual muir-burn in the Cairngorms, ospreys go fishing near Loch Ness, and red squirrels and roe deer's thoughts turn to breeding.

Get ready for a real Rio carnival, as this year's Olympics kicks off with the mama of all opening ceremonies. Rio 2016: Opening Ceremony (Friday, RTÉ Two, 11.30pm & BBC One, 11.35pm) is set to be a sumptuous spectacle, with renowned Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles at the helm. Four years ago, Danny Boyle did the honours for the London Olympics, and you can bet the BBC coverage will include sniffy remarks along the lines of, "Well, it's not as good as our opening ceremony, is it?" Better off watching it on RTÉ, where Daragh Moloney will be presenting live from the Maracana Stadium in Rio with the station's most comprehensive Olympics coverage ever.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist