Six unmissable TV shows on this week

Irish tourists head off on a mystery holiday, Toby Jones is The Secret Agent, Adam and Jonny are back home for Friday Night Dinner

Francis Brennan's Grand Indian Tour
Sunday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
New six-part series which follows 12 tourists as they head off on the mystery holiday of a lifetime, a 1,000km tour of India's Golden Triangle, led by the celebrity hotelier Francis Brennan. The BBC did something similar last year, bringing a bunch of celebrities to India. Mercifully, there are no celebs among the travellers here – they're ordinary people such as garda Edel Corcoran, B&B owner Josephine Walsh and painter/decorator Eddie McDaid. And they're paying for the privilege of this surprise trip.

None of them knows their destination until they get to Dublin Airport, and not all of them are happy when they find out. Facing culture shock, intense heat and the threat of Delhi belly, these tourists will be taken way outside their comfort zone.

The Secret Agent
Sunday, BBC One, 9pm
Meet Verloc, a secret agent working for the Russians. But he doesn't have any electronic gizmos or gadgets, and his weapon is more likely to be an Enfield revolver than a Walther PPK. Based on the novel by James Conrad, The Secret Agent is set in 1886, long before James Bond or George Smiley were operating. Toby Jones plays Verloc, a Soho shopkeeper who, unbeknownst to his wife, works as an agent for the Soviet Union. His mission is to infiltrate and eliminate an anarchist cell, but when his masters order him to plant a bomb to provoke the authorities to crack down on extremists, Verloc is pulled into a deadly endgame. This three-part drama also stars Vicky McClure, Ian Hart and Love/Hate's Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

A group of 23 women and men head for the Scottish highlands on a unique quest – to build a new society free of consumerism, social media and all the other trappings of 21st century life . Last year, Channel 4 called for skilled and experienced volunteers to help create this utopia in the wilds, and this series follows the group as they attempt to start all over again. There'll be no big brother watching them, no bushtucker trials – the participants will govern themselves and shoot the footage themselves. This format has been tried before, with BBC's Castaway 2000 and the more recent, ill-fated Utopia, a Fox series that was axed after just two months. Let's see if this lot can survive for longer than that.


The Search
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Documentary following two men as they take a journey into the unknown – their own pasts. Gerry Moran and Colin Brennan, Irish men of mixed-race origins, grew up in Ireland's notorious industrial schools, knowing little or nothing about their families. "Being brought up in those schools, when older you feel rejected. You've no family, no nothing. Everyone has a mother but where was yours?" says Moran. "We were treated the same way as people treat dogs. They take them from their mothers and separate the pups into different families: mother gone, brothers gone. It's like a death." The men also experienced racism, and Moran is convinced his Irish mother was forced to give him up because of his colour. Now in the 50s, the two men embark separately on a search for their lost families. The search takes Moran to the US, while Brennan heads to Liverpool to find out what became of his two brothers who were fostered out.

New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm

While much of the world's wildlife has evolved in a similar way, New Zealand has been doing its own thing for the past 80 million years, in splendid isolation from the rest of the world. New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands looks at just how differently things have turned out for the country's flora and fauna: with dinosaur-like reptiles, birds that behave like badgers, and super-sized insects. The islands are also prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity – and Irish-style wind and rain. Actor Sam Neill narrates this three-part journey through the landscape which became the location for Lord of the Rings.

Friday Night Dinner
Friday, Channel 4, 10pm
Pull up a chair and get ready to tuck into another course of cruel humour and personality clashes – Adam and Jonny are back at the family dinner table for a fourth series of the acclaimed comedy Friday Night Dinner. The brothers (played by Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal) join their mum and dad (Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter) for another round of raucous meals. In episode one, dad accidentally invites someone he used to hate to dinner – an easy mistake to make.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist