TV guide: 16 of the best shows to watch this week

Another baby boom at The Rotunda, plus Mary Black and De Valera i Meiriceá, and the return of Neven’s Spanish Trails

Mary Black – No Frontiers
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

This landmark one-off documentary on an artist widely regarded as the first lady of the Irish music industry, promises rare, unprecedented insight into her life and career. Mary Black opens up on topics close to her heart, among them motherhood, mental health and the realities of being the biggest female selling artist in 1980s Catholic Ireland. The documentary looks at her early beginnings growing up in a tenement on Dublin’s Charlemont Street to her international success with songs such as A Song for Ireland and Ireland’s biggest selling album of all time, A Woman’s Heart. Interviewees include Black’s husband and manager Joe O’Reilly, children Danny O’Reilly (lead singer with The Coronas), Roisin Ó and collaborator Eleanor McEvoy. The rich performances include specially recorded numbers featuring The Black Family, her band (Bill Shanley, Pat Crowley, Nick Scott) and guest appearances from Steve Cooney and Máire Breathnach.

My Big Day: Home or Away?
Monday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Tara Fay and Bruce Russell have risen to the top tier of their profession – wedding planners who create elegant receptions and exclusive private events for celebrity clients all over Europe. In this series, Fay and Russell will make very different wedding day pitches to our soon-to-be married couples. She will present dream weddings in Ireland while he will showcase glamorous foreign locations. Each couple will be offered a tantalizing preview of both options. And then they’ll choose: for their big day, will it be Home or Away? In episode one it’s all go in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where student nurse Niamh and her partner, clothing entrepreneur Conor, are balancing work and family life with their son Alfie (2). The couple’s €12,000-€15,000 budget will have to cater for 150 guests at home, but just 50 abroad.


Beyond the Menu
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm

Award-winning chef Mark Moriarty presents this six-part series that goes behind the kitchen doors at some of Ireland’s top restaurants run by young chefs. From west Cork to north Donegal, Moriarty will showcase the incredible creativity and talent on this island, alongside the passion, pain, and the challenges of working in the restaurant industry. In the first episode, he travels to Rosscarbery, Co Cork to meet with chef and “King of Veg” Mark Jennings and his partner Sadie Pearce to see what it takes to run a restaurant as a couple. Moriarty quickly learns that running a successful restaurant is no longer just down to the chef – it’s as much about the team and the experience. Together they meet with local producers who grow some of the predominantly vegetarian offering used in the restaurant.

The Geansaí
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 7pm

The Geansaí returns with a new series focusing on Ireland’s sporting communities and their stories. The first of three episodes looks at Parkrun, which thousands of people up and down the country are doing it, at the same time every Saturday morning – free, fun and for everyone. Parkrun came to Ireland in 2012 and there are currently 5km free timed runs organised by volunteers every Saturday at more than 90 locations nationwide. The Geansaí gets a flavour of the passion and the stories behind some of the runs and the runners.

The Troubles: A Secret History
Tuesay, BBC1, 8.30pm
This documentary unearths new evidence on the beginnings of the Troubles. The first episode focuses on unrest between unionists and republicans in the 1960s, the arrival of the British army toward the end of the decade, and the downfall of the Northern government in 1969, when the IRA believed it was about to force out the army.

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth
Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
Freddy (30) is a gay transgender man who longs to start a family, but for him this desire comes with unique challenges. After years of soul searching, he decided to carry his own baby, but nothing could prepare him for the reality of pregnancy, as both a physical experience and one that challenges society's understanding of gender, parenthood and family. Freddy soon realises that what to him feels pragmatic, to others feels confusing. He is forced to confront his naivety and lean on every friend and family who will stand by him. Made over three years, Seahorse follows Freddy from preparing to conceive right through to birth.

The Hot Zone
Tuesday, National Geographic, 9pm

A documentary about the Sahara? A study of volcanoes? No, this new National Geographic series is actually a gripping six-part drama about the origins of Ebola. The Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) stars along with Noah Emmerich, Topher Grace and Liam Cunningham in this thriller that centres on how the highly infectious and deadly virus made its way from the central African rainforest to the suburbs of Washington DC in 1989. Margulies plays US army scientist who heads a top-secret military biohazard team on a perilous race against time to stop the virus spreading to the human population. Time to finally throw out that old VHS of Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman – this will definitely deliver the thrills and blood spills.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm

In the final episode of the current series, former The Only Way Is Essex star and presenter Mark Wright investigates his family history. First, he examines his father’s side of the family, and uncovers surprising facts about his Sephardic Jewish ancestry and his relation to a master swordsman living in late 17th-century Andalucia. Mark’s journey then takes him to Spain, where he is astonished to find out how one of his relatives survived the terror of the Spanish Inquisition, and another was burned at the stake. Last in the series.

De Valera i Meiriceá
Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm (repeated Fri, 7.30pm)
The extraordinary story of how Éamon de Valera stowed away on a ship to America in 1919 and announced himself in the lobby of the world's most expensive hotel as the "First President of Ireland". De Valera was a wanted man and Ireland was still part of the British Empire, but Irish America made him an immediate star. Then it all went incredibly wrong. Using previously unseen archive material preserved in New York, the documentary tell on screen for the first time the story of the political baptism of fire for de Valera and how the trip shaped him into the politician he would become – a man who would go on to shape modern Ireland for the next 50 years.

Gogglebox Ireland
Wednesday, Virgin One, 9pm
A new series of the show that finds some of Ireland's funniest and most outspoken armchair critics sharing their opinions on the week's TV. (A new series of the UK version starts on Channel 4 on Friday.)

The Rotunda
Thursday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm
The award-winning series returns with eight episodes charting the highs and lows of pregnancy and childbirth in the world's longest running maternity hospital. The Rotunda follows 32 stories of expectant parents hoping to welcome new arrivals into their lives. For some, this will be a straightforward visit to the delivery suite; for others, the journey to parenthood will require additional help and support from the hospital's dedicated team of doctors and midwives. From extreme highs to devastating lows, the series provides a unique insight into the busiest maternity hospital in Europe.

Neven's Spanish Food Trails
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Neven Maguire returns to Spain for a new series in which he explores the spectacular northern regions of Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. Just like the landscape, the food varies greatly in each region, from the mountainous Picos de Europa National Park to the cities of Santander, Gijón, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, and the stunning coastal Rías Baixas. In the first episode, Maguire travels to Santander, where he learns to cook local tapas and tastes unusual ice cream flavours. His own recipe this week is a grilled marinated chicken caesar salad with anchovies.

Hairy Bikers: Route 66
Thursday, BBC2, 8pm

It’s one of the world’s most memorable highways, so the fact Dave and Si have not made a show about it before now is remarkable. The first leg sees Messrs King and Myers travelling from Chicago to St Louis. In the Windy City we see how migrant workers were drawn into its meatpacking industry, and with them came a line-up of dishes as diverse as the region’s population. Later they receive an invitation from the Amish community, where they cook together and learn more about this very different way of life. Crossing the Mississippi into Missouri, Dave and Si visit St Louis, where they sample concrete custard. But what will they make of it?

Watchdog Live
Thursday, BBC1, 8pm
Matt Allwright, Steph McGovern and Nikki Fox return with a new run of the UK consumer show. They investigate allegations about a safety device in millions of homes, ask whether high street chains are failing when it comes to recycling, and rank energy companies on cost, complaints and customer service. In Rogue Traders, Matt confronts a gardening firm whose elaborate lies have left customers thousands of pounds out of pocket, while Swab Mob checks in to a hotel chain accused of some hygiene horrors.

Jesy Nelson: "Odd One Out"
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm

Jesy Nelson rose to fame with hugely successful pop band Little Mix. But success came at a price as she was abused online about her looks and weight. Now Nelson opens up about the effects cyberbullies had on her life. Jesy reveals the extent online trolls took on her mental health and, allowing cameras a behind-the-scenes look at her personal and professional life, she begins to understand the layers of protection she has built in order to cope with the bullies. She also chats to other victims of cyber abuse, sharing stories of online trolling. Plus, fellow singers Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall discuss how Nelson’s torment affected dynamics within the band.

The Rook
Friday, Virgin One, 9pm

The first episode of this eight-part London-set thriller gets off to an arresting start as Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell) wakes up in a park surrounded by dead bodies, and with no memory of how she got there. Myfanwy must fight to uncover her past and resume her position at the head of Britain’s most secret (supernatural) service before the traitors who stole her memory can finish what they started. Joely Richardson and Adrian Lester costar.

Contributing: PA