TV guide: 19 of the best shows to watch this week

The Olympics opening ceremony, This Way Up and Ireland’s Garden Heroes

BBC One, Sunday, 9pm
French detective Julien Baptiste returns to tackle another harrowing missing persons case, but this time he may not be up to the job. A personal tragedy has left him in a drink-sodden limbo, and when he takes on a complex and disturbing case, it threatens to push him right over the edge. Tchéky Karyo stars as the tortured Baptiste, with Fiona Shaw as British ambassador Emma Chambers, whose husband and two sons have mysteriously disappeared while skiing in Hungary. Baptiste takes on the case, and soon finds himself taking on the untrustworthy Hungarian cops, and an inquisitive media looking for any angle on this big story. Season two is once again penned by Jack and Harry Williams, the dynamic duo behind The Missing, which introduced us to Baptiste.

Fleadhfest 2021
TG4, Sunday, 9.30pm
In celebration of 70 years of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Dáithí Ó Sé and Doireann Ní Ghlacáin are travelling across the country to meet musicians, dancers and singers. Each episode looks at the musical heritage of each of the four provinces. On Sunday, Ulster's in the spotlight, with TG4 promising performances from newcomers and household names.

Professor T
Sunday, ITV, 9pm
So, who have you got for Criminology? Meet Professor Jasper Tempest, one of Cambridge University's most brilliant lecturers, and when he's not teaching students how to solve crimes, he's using his own vast intellect to catch criminals. Ben Miller, late of Murder in Paradise, stars as the titular Professor T, who, while also possessing great powers of deduction, also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is dealing with a traumatic past. This new drama is based on the successful Belgian TV series of the same name, and also stars Frances de la Tour, Emma Naomi, Sarah Woodward and Ben Onwukwe.

Taken: Hunting the Sex Traffickers
Monday, C4, 9pm
For the first time, a dedicated police unit has allowed cameras to film its secret investigation into a human trafficking gang. After a package of documents is posted anonymously through the door of a police station in the middle of the night, a covert unit is tipped off to an organised crime group who are sex-trafficking women from Brazil into the UK. With access to a range of secret tactics, from large-scale surveillance teams to undercover officers, this unit uses every tool in the box to work out how the gang operates. The ultimate target is to bring down its leader, a career criminal who's always managed to elude the police. At the heart of the case are the women who are being exploited, and in Brazil we hear from a woman who had been trafficked to a UK brothel.


Killing Escobar
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
How and why was a Scottish mercenary hired to kill notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar? This documentary tells the incredible true story of Peter McAleese, who, along with his friend Dave Tomkins, was approached by a Colombian cartel to undertake a mission to take out the world's biggest cocaine dealer. As well as a full account of the fateful mission in 1989 and the dark consequences for those involved, the film also provides a deeply personal character study of McAleese, whose youth in post-war working-class Glasgow was marked by poverty and violence. After serving with the Parachute Regiment and SAS, McAleese gathered a select team of ex-Special Forces operatives and began training for a lightning raid on Escobar's Hacienda. After 11 weeks of intense preparation, the men launched the operation – but it ultimately ended in disaster.

The Windsors: A Royal Dynasty
Monday, RTÉ One, 10.35pm
Not to be mistaken for Netflix's The Crown, this docudrama follows the ups and downs of Britain's royal family over the past 100 years or so, using a mixture of "stunning" archive footage and dramatic reconstruction along with interviews and commentary. Clearly viewers' appetite for royal family-related telly remains unsated, so who knows, there could be lots of other Windsor works in the pipeline. I'd personally love to see a Star Wars-themed retelling of the tale, but meanwhile this series, produced by the same people who brought us The Kennedys, and shown on Channel 4 last year, will have to suffice. This may not have quite the star heft of The Crown, but it will be a fascinating insight into the workings of the world's most famous monarchy. Episode one focuses on the succession crisis sparked by the death of George V, as Prince Edward is forced to choose between taking the throne or marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

A Very British Hotel Chain: Inside Best Western
Tuesday, RTÉ2, 8.40pm
There are 265 Best Western-branded hotels scattered around the British Isles, but go-getting CEO Rob Paterson want to expand that number to 500 within a couple of years. This fly-on-the-wall series (excuse me, there are no flies on our walls!) docuseries, aired on Channel 4 last year, introduces us to a bunch of real-life hotel staff who make the cast of The Office look deadly serious. But when faced with such bizarre requests from guests as making a bed into the shape of an elephant, you have to see the bizarrely funny side. In this first episode, new CEO Paterson, a former Aussie Rules footballer, brings his own style of HR to the company, while sales executive Terii takes on the challenge of her career: signing up chef patron Marco Pierre White as a celebrity Best Western hotel owner.

Secrets of the Museum
Tuesday, BBC2, 8pm
Visitors may not have been allowed in London's Victoria and Albert Museum for much of the past year, but that doesn't mean that work hasn't been carrying on behind the scenes. The second series of this fascinating documentary explores the V&A's workshops and storerooms, and meets the experts and conservators who have been keeping the past alive. In the first episode, they include Theatre and Performance keeper Geoff, who has just taken delivery of a red lurex suit belonging to Jim Lea, the bassist with glam rock titans Slade. Arguably even more valuable is a 500-year-old wax, modelled by the great Renaissance master Michelangelo, which is being brought out of hibernation. Meanwhile, conservator Alan spots a problem with a painting due to appear in a display of Renaissance watercolours.

George Clarke's Remarkable Renovations
Wednesday, C4, 9pm
Even before the pandemic encouraged more people to turn to internet shopping, there had been some big changes to the way we live – which goes some way to explaining why a third of Britain's 600,000 unused buildings are commercial. Banks and high street shops, as well as agricultural buildings, are now standing empty, leaving them at risk of being demolished or snapped up by developers. However, due to recent relaxations in planning laws around change of use, it is now easier to transform these local landmarks into family homes. In this new series, George Clarke meets the people who are taking on ambitious renovation projects and breathing new life into the country's architecture, hopefully without losing what made the property special. He begins by following Cornwall couple Richard and Sarah, who are hoping to convert the Victorian Grade II listed building that once housed their local bank.

Les Dawson: The Lost Tapes
Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
This year marks what would have been the 90th birthday of comedian Les Dawson, and ITV is paying tribute by giving viewers a chance to see a different side to the former Blankety Blank presenter, away from the gurning and (deliberately) bad piano playing that helped to make him a legend. Drawing on previously unaired family footage and clips, the programme also features appearances from Les's wife and daughter. Some of his famous fans, including Mrs Brown's Brendan O Carroll, Jason Manford, Omid Djalili and John Thomson – as well as lifelong friends such as Ruth Madoc and Gloria Hunniford – get a chance to view the never-before-seen material, and discover that it contains plenty of revealing surprises.

Hillsong Church: God Goes Viral – Storyville
Wednesday, BBC Four, 10pm
The story of Christian megachurch Hillsong, which has grown from a small family church founded in Australia in 1983 to an international Evangelical phenomenon. Fashionably dressed in fedoras, leather jackets and skinny jeans, their pastors are next-generation religious leaders, capitalising on the power of social media to spread their message. Director Nick Aldridge is granted rare access to key figures and followers, who tell personal stories of salvation and shed light on the organisation's current scandals relating to its finances, ties to controversial organisations, treatment of critics, and the actions of its founder.

This Way Up
Wednesday, C4, 10pm
Áine (Ashling Bea) and Richard (Tobias Menzies) are ready to move their relationship forward – they'd just prefer it if his housekeeper Marcia (Lorraine Ashbourne) didn't know what was going on. It seems Áine is also making progress in her career when her boss proposes a business venture. Meanwhile, Shona (Sharon Horgan) is trying to keep things strictly professional with Charlotte, which is probably just as well as the wedding plans are progressing – she's shopping for dresses with virtual help from Mammy (Sorcha Cusack).

Ireland's Garden Heroes
Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Trowels at the ready – it's time to dig around in the back gardens of Ireland in search of a new kind of hero. We can't all be Diarmuid Gavin, but with a little imagination and a couple of green fingers, we can turn our garden spaces into landscaped work worthy of a spot at Bloom. This new series celebrates the work put in by ordinary people to create gorgeous garden spaces for their homes. Three experts – horticulturalist Jimi Blake, garden designer Niall Maxwell and landscape designer Ingrid Swan visit three amateur gardeners each week and ask them, how does your garden grow? They'll go through their gardens with a fine-tooth comb, checking every stem and petal, and running their expert eye over the blooms and blossoms on show, before awarding one winner the title of Garden Hero. Just what you need when trying to relax in your garden: bloody experts scrutinising your shrubs and wrecking your vibe.

Grill Seeker: Nico Reynolds
Friday, RTÉ Player, 9am
Barbecuing can be a scary prospect for the amateur. One wrong move and you could crash and burn the burgers. But you can learn to get control over that black yoke in the back garden with a little help from grill seeker Nico Reynolds, whose quickfire style of barbecuing and ingredient-hunting has earned him much kudos on Instagram. This four-part series for the RTÉ Player is shot in Reynolds's back garden, and will feature such delicious barbecue recipes as jerk chicken fillet rolls, sesame prawn toast and grilled veggie flatbreads, many influenced by his Jamaican grandmother and his travels in South America. We may not be able to venture far from home this summer, but with help from Reynolds, our taste buds can travel the world.

Reclaiming Amy
Friday, BBC2, 9pm
On the afternoon of Saturday, July 23rd, 2011, Amy Winehouse was found dead in her flat in Camden, north London. She was just 27 years old. To mark the 10-year anniversary of the singer's untimely death, her mother Janis is looking to reclaim the legacy of her daughter and celebrate her as the complex, strong and incredible force of nature she was. Janis lives with Multiple Sclerosis, a condition which threatens to strip her of her memories of her daughter, so with the help of Amy's friends Naomi, Chantelle, Catriona and Michael, she pieces together the different sides of her daughter. The programme is followed by another chance to see Amy Winehouse at Portchester Hall — BBC Sessions (10pm).

Olympics 2020: Opening Ceremony
Friday, BBC1, 12am
The build up to an Olympic Games is rarely straightforward, but they have always gone ahead – until 2020. Last March, in the wake of the global pandemic, the Tokyo Games were postponed for the first time in the modern Olympics' 124-year history. Thankfully, the delayed sporting extravaganza is about to get under way at Tokyo's National Stadium. The Games of the XXXII Olympiad will finally be declared open, with ceremony drawing on the three core concepts of the Games Vision – Striving for your personal bes; Accepting one another; and Passing on a legacy for the future. After Clare Balding and Alex Scott have introduced action from the ceremony (there are highlights at 7.30pm), JJ Chalmers will be on hand at 12.10am to introduce the opening day's cycling, rowing and shooting action.

The Heart of Saturday Night
Saturday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
How do you fill that big Tommy Tiernan-shaped hole in the Saturday night telly schedules? Simple: gather together a bunch of Ireland's top musos, stick 'em in the Round Room at Dublin's Mansion House, turn on the tape machine and watch the sparks fly. This new summer series of musical evenings features acts we know so well (Gavin James, Imelda May, The Saw Doctors, Damien Dempsey, Bell X1, Mick Flannery) along with a few worth getting to know better (Saint Sister, Soda Blonde, Tolu Makay, Niamh Regan, Lyra). Many of these artists will be taking the stage for the first time since the pandemic began, and they're hoping we will all tune in and show our support for Ireland's beleaguered live musicians. The series is co-presented by singers Una Healy and Loah, and will also feature a weekly segment in remembrance of some of our dearly departed stars: Tonight's episode sees author Joseph O'Connor channelling his inner rocker for a special tribute to Phil Lynott. 

On Demand

Sexy Beasts
Wednesday, Netflix
Oh god, not another "dating show with a difference". In the battle to lure random young people into a room to perv out on each other in the name of ratings, Netflix have come up with a doozy: make everyone wear bizarre bunny heads, heads and duck-billed platypus heads to see if the animal attraction still shines through. So your date might look like a pig, but may still have the personality of a cute puppy. It's a bit like The Masked Singer, except these contestants will be trying to make another kind of beautiful music. You have to be desperate to dress up like a chicken to get the shift – I'd choose celibacy.

Friday, Disney+
This film, executive-produced by Dwayne Johnson, won the 2018 LA Film Festival's Audience Award Choice winner for Best Documentary Feature — and no wonder. It chronicles the highs and lows of veteran Hollywood stuntman Eddie Braun as he attempts what many argue is the most dangerous stunt in cinematic history. Following in the footsteps of his childhood idol Evel Knievel, Braun reflects on having survived multiple car crashes, explosions and death-defying leaps over his over 30-year career in film and television. Now in his mid-50s and finally contemplating retirement, Braun decides to cap off an extraordinary career by recreating Knievel's infamous but unsuccessful Snake River Canyon rocket jump.

Contributing: PA

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist