TV guide: 23 of the best shows to watch this week

RTÉ returns to the glory days of Irish football, plus TG4’s whistle-stop tour of the Irish language, Martin Freeman comedy Breeders, and a new series of The Undateables

Dancing on Ice
Sunday, Virgin One/UTV, 6pm
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby host the grand final of the skating challenge. Three celebrities and their professional partners remain, and each pair is challenged to perform a special showcase routine choreographed by Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill. After that one pair will be eliminated, with the other going on to the final round by performing their own take on Torvill and Dean's signature piece, Ravel's Bolero. Then the entire cast of this year's show will return to the ice for one last performance.

Dragons' Den
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Hard to believe it's 15 years since this BBC version of Japanese series Money Tigers first saw the light of day. Once more entrepreneurs will pitch their money-making ideas to a panel of self-made millionaires prepared to invest their company's money in the scheme if they think it could work. Some of the aspiring tycoons will fall at the first hurdle; others stand a good chance of seeing their dreams turned into a reality – if the Dragons like what they see. As ever, Evan Davis presents the show, while series regulars such as Peter Jones pass judgment.

Crufts 2020 – Best in Show
Sunday, Channel 4, 7pm

So this is it: the culmination of the annual dog-lovers event, when the finest of all pooches is chosen. Clare Balding guides us through proceedings as coverage of the world’s largest dog show concludes at the NEC in Birmingham. Balding is joined by celebrity guests as well as reporter Radzi Chinyanganya and commentators Jim Rosenthal, Graham Partridge, Frank Kane and Jessica Holm. Plus DJ Roman Kemp reveals how his chihuahua helped his mental health, and singer Russell Watson explains his love of dogs to Clare.


Race Across the World
Sunday, BBC2, 8pm
As series two begins, cameras follow contestants as they embark on an epic and adrenaline-fuelled adventure, trekking into the unknown without gadgets or many of the things we take for granted. The journey will see these five pairs racing from the top to bottom of Latin America. They will trek from from Mexico City to the most southernly city in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina. With no smartphones, internet access and credit cards, the only cash they carry will be equivalent of a one-way airfare. Episode one sees the teams set off from Mexico City, the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. Throughout the race they must pass through seven checkpoints to reach their final destination, beginning with Copan Ruinas in Honduras.

The Boys in Green
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Fans are getting decidedly jittery as Ireland prepare to face Slovakia on March 26th in a last-gasp playoff to qualify for Euro 2020. What better way to calm the nerves than with a big, honeyed spoonful of football nostalgia? This two-part sports doc series sets the controls on the time machine straight for Ireland's golden era of football, when the Boys in Green made their first foray onto the global arena, spurring fans to join up with Jack's Army and follow the squad to Italy, the US and other far-flung places. Between 1986 and 1995, the revitalised Republic of Ireland team gave the country an almighty lift, and (probably) helped to bring the Celtic Tiger into being. All the big moments from that historic period are here, including Packie Bonner's famous penalty save against Romania in Italia 1990, Ray Houghton scoring the winning goal against Italy in the 1994 World Cup . . . I could go on, but I suspect this series will tell the story a lot better than I can. Our guides on this trip through time include Tony Cascarino, John Aldridge, Mick McCarthy, Ronnie Whelan, David O'Leary, Jason McAteer, Kevin Sheedy and Stephen Staunton

Herstory: Ireland's Epic Women
Monday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Wicklow-born dancer, teacher, choreographer for the Abbey Theatre and founder of the Royal Ballet, Ninette de Valois (1898-2001) is the subject of this final episode in the documentary series. The importance of de Valois’s role in creating not only a world-class national company and school but a unique national style of dance and audience for ballet cannot be overstated. Contributors include Anne Maher, artistic director of Ballet Ireland; Anna Meadmore of the Royal Ballet School; and Dr Victoria O’Brien, dance historian.

Miriam's Big Fat Adventure
Monday/Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm
Miriam Margolyes loves her life but hates her body. She's been fat (a word she doesn't shy away from using) for as long as she can remember, but at 78, she feels the time to do anything about it is running out. However, she's far from alone as, despite societal pressure to be thin and the slew of information about healthy diets, Britain is more overweight than ever. So Margolyes sets out to learn more about the impact of obesity. She begins by meeting Gemma, who has checked into a weight-loss bootcamp where she's subjected to a calorie-restricted diet and five hours of exercise a day. However, blogger Bethany takes a different approach as she argues that body positivity is better than yo-yo diets and being miserable about your size.

Random Acts as Gaeilge
Tuesday, TG4, 8pm

From downward-facing madras to pop-up Gaeltachts, from Luas women to loose translations, Random Acts as Gaeilge takesa whistle stop tour of the Irish language along with the views of some well-known faces, including Stephen Fry and Ronan O’Gara. There’s a generational collide when Snapchat star James Kavanagh boards the Luas at Ranelagh and meets none other than Doireann Ní Bhriain, broadcaster, linguist, and Voice of the Luas, with insightful, educational, and hilarious results. Belfast-based Caoimhe Ní Chathail snaps regularly as Gaeilge, and through her snaps the show explores Belfast and meet other people who are using their Gaeilge daily. Na Cnocadóirí, founded in 2003, is a hiking and hillwalking group that uses Irish as the main means of communication among members. And acclaimed Dublin alt-rock group Delorentos go behind the scenes as they record a track, as Gaeilge, for this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge Ceol.

Mrs Fletcher
Tuesday, Sky Comedy, 10.15pm

So, your only son has gone off to college, leaving you all alone in a big, empty house. What do you do? Make like Tom Cruise in Risky Business and dance around in your jocks and socks to the music of Bob Seger? How about look up the number of the local embroidery club in the hopes of filling all those empty days ahead? Kathryn Hahn stars as the titular empty-nester faced with the dilemma of what to do with her newfound freedom. (We suspect it won’t involve needlework.) Meanwhile, her son, a popular jock in high school, is out of his comfort zone and lost at sea in the complexities of social media. This HBO series promises to explore themes of gender, sexuality, parenthood, online etiquette and, inevitably, internet porn.

Dirty Money
From Tuesday, Netflix
Alex Gibney, the acclaimed film-maker behind the Oscar-nominated Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, is the brains behind this series. Each episode of the first run focused on an example of alleged corporate corruption and featured interviews with key players and experts; among the subjects covered were the Volkswagen emissions scandal and Donald Trump. For the second series a handful of topics have been announced, including in-depth looks at Jared Kushner's real estate empire, the Wells Fargo banking scandal, and Malaysia's 1MDB corruption case.

The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Sandi Toksvig has announced she's stepping down as a presenter. But before she goes she's joining Noel Fielding for a series of special charity editions of the culinary challenge, with judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. The first set of contestants are documentary maker Louis Theroux, comedians Jenny Eclair and Russell Howard, and athlete Ovie Soko, who are challenged to make a giant biscuit, a classic bake, and a choux sculpture depicting their perfect day. Will Jenny seize the chance to make an eclair?

Five Guys a Week
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9.15pm
Never let it be said that C4 doesn't want to help the people find love – it's already brought the world Naked Attraction, First Dates and Flirty Dancing. The idea behind Five Guys a Week is that a singleton gets the chance to trial five live-in boyfriends over the course of five days. That may sound like a more sensible way to get to know someone than performing a dance routine with them or seeing their exposed body parts, but the twist is that all of them will be moving in at the same time. In the first episode focuses on marketing consultant Amy (34). Among the guys she will trial are country singer-songwriter Scott, debonair stuntman Michael, international fraud investigator Christian, and local government consultant Glenn, who fears he's less exciting than the competition.

Joanna Lumley's Hidden Caribbean: Havana to Haiti
Tuesday, UTV, 9pm

Joanna Lumley’s previous travelogues have sent her to the Silk Road, India, Japan and Greece. For her latest adventure, the AbFab star is heading for two of the Caribbean’s most enigmatic and isolated countries. The journey begins in a Havana boxing gym, where Lumley meets one of the country’s rising female fighters. She also learns more about the country’s history as she visits the town of Hershey, which was built on the success of the sugar industry, as well as the tomb of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro’s hometown, Santiago de Cuba, as it prepares for the 60th anniversary of the Great Revolution. But Cuba is looking to the future as well, as Lumley discovers how Ernest Hemingway’s favourite beach is being turned into a five-star luxury complex.

Big Life Fix
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

How do you help a young rower to overcome a disability to compete in rowing contests? It’s not rocket science . . . er, actually, it is. In the second programme in the new series of Big Life Fix, rocket scientist David McKeown takes on the challenge of developing a device that will allow Eoghan Barry (17) from Skiberreen, who was born without one of his hands, to use an oar safely. Throughout the series, scientists, engineers, programmers, designers and tech-heads are tasked with inventing something that will make a difference to the lives of those with disabilities. Designer Trevor Vaugh and electronics engineer Chiara Cavarra, for instance, must race against time to preserve Roisin Foley’s voice before motor neurone disease takes it away. The pair will have to find a way to allow the 31-year-old mother of three to continue to communicate with her family and friends, hopefully using her own voice.

Child of Our Time: Turning 20
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
In 1999, Child of Our Time began filming a group of babies, from the moment of birth, to explore what would shape their lives in the new millennium. More than 20 years on, three of the subjects reflect on growing up during a time of amazing social change. Cameras explore their childhood as inhabitants of the first generation of 21st-century Britain. Eve, Jamie and Rhianna discuss their feelings on starting school, finding friends, and their tempestuous teenage years. They also reflect on how rebellion, family tension and bereavement played a part in making them the adults they are today. Plus, other children from the TV experiment share their reflections and experiences on some issues that touched their generation.

The Undateables
Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
The series following extraordinary singletons as they search for romance returns. Nicholas (26), who has Asperger's, longs to find a partner to share his life. Meanwhile, Shantae (22), who has Down's syndrome, goes to the Pentecostal church every Sunday with her family and dreams of meeting a religious family man. Cameras also follow Robbie Williams superfan Sam (28), who has a global learning delay. He's a successful horse rider, competes regularly and has won scores of rosettes. Can he find Ms Right?

Seal le Dáithí
Thursday, TG4, 7.30pm

The Rev Trevor Sargent is Dáithí Ó Sé’s guest this week. The former leader of the Green Party (2001-2007), author (Trevor’s Kitchen Garden, 2012), and TD for Dublin North from 1992-2011, in 2018 Sargent (59) was ordained a priest in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory.

How to Beat – Ageing
Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
Kate Quilton and Dr Javid Abdelmoneim explore small changes that could bring huge health benefits. With the assistance of volunteers and scientists, this new series reveals the latest scientific evidence when it comes to bringing down your biological age; managing stress; beating pain; and sticking to a healthy diet. In this offering, eight volunteers take part in an experiment to see if making simple lifestyle changes can knock years off their biological ages in a mere five weeks. Plus, a look at technological innovations in home gym applications; whether training in extreme environments holds the key to staying young in body and in mind, and how doing a good deed can benefit the mind and the body.

Thursday, Sky One, 10pm

Martin Freeman is one of the lucky actors who has escaped the Hobbit’s Curse, whereby anyone who plays one of JRR Tolkein’s diminutive characters can’t get arrested afterwards. It helped Freeman that he moved on to a superb role in the Netflix series Fargo, and now in this new 10-part series about the trials and travails of modern parenthood. Breeders addresses the big parental paradox: is it possible to love your children to death while also wanting to kill them? Parents Paul and Ally (Freeman and Daisy Haggard) struggle to bring up their two children without strangling them or – worse – not sending them to the right school. In the opening episode, Paul is up against something even more challenging than stealing a dragon’s treasure without waking him up: getting the kids to go the f**k to sleep.

Shipman: 5 Mistakes That Caught a Killer
Thursday, Channel 5, 10pm
Twenty years ago, English GP Harold Shipman (1946-2004) was convicted of murdering 15 of his patients by injecting them with diamorphine. However, he is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of more than 200 people. This documentary reveals the string of mistakes that led to Shipman's arrest. One of them was establishing a pattern and drawing attention to himself. Often, his victims were found fully dressed and sitting up – unusual for elderly patients who he claimed had been unwell in the weeks beforehand, while his lack of computer skills also led to his downfall.

From Friday, Netflix

For newcomers, this Spanish drama centres on three working-class teens attending Las Encinas, an exclusive school where the elite send their children. The first two series went down a treat worldwide thanks to their heady mix of murder, intrigue and adolescent angst. Elite has reportedly been streamed by more than 20 million viewer; will the third series prove to be as popular as the coolest student in school?

Lost Girls
From Friday, Netflix

Director Liz Garbus is best known for making such documentaries as Love, Marilyn and Bobby Fischer Against the World, and she now moves into the world of narrative drama with this 95-minute true-crime story. Amy Ryan stars as Mari Gilbert, whose 24-year-old daughter Shannan goes missing. Mari embarks on a dark journey, during which she’s forced to face some uncomfortable truths about Shannan. With police bias seemingly preventing the case being investigated thoroughly, the distraught mother must delve in herself, uncovering unsolved murders involving sex workers, young lives she is not willing to let the world forget. Gabriel Byrne and Dean Winters costar.

How Healthy Is Your Gut?
Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
In this one-off documentary, Sabrina Grant explores just why the gut is so important to our overall wellbeing and how it affects everything from our moods and energy, to sleep and health. With the aid of six volunteers, all with a typical abdomen complaint, Grant puts some of the most popular regimes to the test and sees whether they actually work. Cameras follow the subjects as they attempt everything, including the radical bone broth diet, colonic hydrotherapy and a 10-night intense detox programme.

Contributing: PA