TV guide: 24 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Letters to Gay Byrne, Adrian Dunbar in Inside No 9, a colour-blind Anne Boleyn, TOWIE's Joey Essex on grief, Gary Barlow: I’m with the Band, Sweet Tooth on Netflix

Call the Midwife Special Delivery
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Sometimes it's good just to stop what you're doing and take stock of what you've done. To celebrate 10 years of the popular TV series, this special episode features favourite scenes from a decade of drama and midwifery, along with interviews with cast members past and present. The series, set in postwar Britain, tracks a period of major social change, and huge advances in healthcare, and this programme looks at some of the many medical crises tackled in the series, including spina bifida, thalidomide and tuberculosis, not to mention topical issues such as FGM, racism and abortion.

The Masked Dancer
Sunday-Friday, Virgin One/ITV 7pm
The TV guessing game is back – but this time they're dancing. Host Joel Dommett is joined by panellists Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan and Oti Mabuse. The week-long competition (which began last night) will see 12 celebrities dancing in outrageous costumes and keeping their true identities hidden for as long as possible. In tonight's episode the first six masked dancers take to the stage: Zip vs Knickerbocker Glory, Beetroot vs Llama, and Viper vs Scarecrow. At the end of the show the first celebrity's identity is revealed. Expect cryptic clues, epic routines and amazing reveals.

Back to Barrytown: The Van
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

It’s the last of the three documentaries revisiting the Barrytown trilogy of movies based on the books by Roddy Doyle. This looks at the making of The Van, set in the magical summer of 1990 when the whole nation was gripped by Italia 90 fever. With a cruel summer ahead, as Ireland has failed to qualify for the postponed Euros this summer – or for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for that matter – we can look back fondly at a time when it all was in front of us. Colm Meaney revisits Kilbarrack, where The Van was shot during the sweltering summer of 1995, and meets some of the locals who took part to hear their stories about following Jackie’s Army. We also hear from the film’s director, Stephen Frears, and Meaney’s co-stars Ger Ryan and Brendan O’Carroll.


Cork Folk Festival
Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm
Despite the pandemic the best of Irish music gathered in Cork city last autumn to celebrate one of Irelands best-loved music festivals. Hosted by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, this episode features Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Victoria Pierce & Macdara Ó Faoláin, Caoimhín Ó Fearghail and Cork legends Eoiní Maidhcí Ó Suilleabháin & Johnny Lehan.

Piers Morgan's 100 Life Stories
Sunday, ITV, 9pm
Since the series of in-depth interviews began back in 2009, Piers Morgan has notched up 100 Life Stories. In this programme he looks back at some of his favourite moments, including encounters with Rod Stewart, Mary Berry, Bruce Forsyth, James Corden, Barbara Windsor, Roger Moore, Alesha Dixon, Mel B, Mo Farah and Simon Cowell. Morgan is back with a new Life Story on Tuesday, when he will be chatting with Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Brian Cox's Adventures in Space and Time
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
Drawing on a mixture of footage from his past programmes and the latest scientific research, physicist Brian Cox is attempting to some very big questions in this series, starting with one that many people have pondered at one time or other: are we alone in the universe? The question has also been considered by experts,; with scientists sending space probes to the furthest reaches of our solar system and beyond, the search for alien life has begun in earnest. Cox explains why we should take this mission seriously, and explores the chances of us discovering life on other planets.

24 Hours in A&E
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
The award-winning series is back for a 24th series, which was filmed at St George's in southwest London last the autumn. It's a reminder that hospital staff didn't just have to deal with Covid last year, as the first episode features Josh (27), who is rushed to A&E after being thrown from his motorbike at speed. As the doctors prepare him for surgery, his pregnant partner admits that his biking has long been source of anxiety for her. Meanwhile, Georgie brings in her 10-month-old son after catching him sucking on a bleach tablet; and Ross (21) needs treatment after dislocating his shoulder at work. The staff also share their stories, including doctor Martyn, who explains how he's been touched by the public's response to health professionals during the pandemic.

Inside No 9
Monday, BBC2, 9.30pm
Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton star in a new episode of… Line of Duty? Hang on, what's going on around here? Apparently, the macabre comedy anthology series has become so popular, famous people are lining up to guest star in it. According to Pemberton, Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar had expressed an interest in being in the show (ie he pestered them), so they capitulated and cast him in this episode as an actor named James, who is about to get his teeth into a juicy part in a new crime series. But while James waits in a caravan to be called up for his role, something doesn't seem right, and the strange family that owns the caravan (including Pauline McLynn) clearly have something sinister to hide…

The Truth about Police Stop & Search
Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
In England and Wales, black men are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white men. Presenter and former footballer Jermaine Jenas here takes g a closer look at the controversial policy and its wide-reaching social, psychological and personal consequences. As well as sharing his own experiences of being stopped by the police, Jenas also hears from 40 black men who recorded their own interactions with officers on the streets to see what it tells us about the scale of the issue.

The Anti-Vax Conspiracy
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Who is behind the international anti-vax movement, spreading the message that Covid is a myth and part of a government plot to inject us with dangerous vaccines? This documentary goes inside the astonishing world of the anti-vaxers and their opponents, ranging from "bleach hunter" mothers who expose anti-vaxers profiting from lethal fake cures, to Piers Corbyn, the brother of the former British Labour leader, who believes the vaccine rollout is equivalent to experiments carried out in Nazi concentration camps. At the root of much of this is disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield, whose debunked study linking vaccines and autism helped spark the anti-vax movement.

Anne Boleyn
Tuesday-Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm

Channel 5’s new historical drama sets out to tell the story of Anne Boleyn as a psychological thriller, told from a new perspective: hers. Much of the advance press has focused on the colour-blind casting and lead actress Jodie Turner-Smith. Now, we get to see her in action as the three-episode series explores the doomed queen’s final months. When it opens, all seems to be going well for Anne, who is pregnant and convinced she’s about to give Henry VIII his longed-for heir. But the king (Mark Stanley) also seems to have taken a shine to Jane Seymour, and when he is injured in a riding accident, it becomes clear that Anne’s status is much more precarious than she thought.

Dear Gay
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

These days, when we as a nation need to get something off our chest, we talk to Joe. But back in the late 20th century we had another outlet for our worries, fears and concerns: writing to Gay. When no one else would listen or even care, we would pour our hearts and souls out on Basildon Bond paper, put it in an envelope and post it to the Gay Byrne radio show. RTÉ has delved into its documents archives and dug out almost 30 years’ worth of correspondence from the Plain People of Ireland to the one person they felt would listen without prejudice.

Some are whimsical observations on everyday life; others are deeply felt opinions on some issue or other; and many others are cries for help from people trapped in loveless marriages, abusive relationships or financial hardship, or who have found themselves ostracised over their sexuality or beliefs. A social history of Ireland in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the documentary reads between the lines to reveal a repressive society whose citizens were desperate to break the chains of silence and acquiescence. A year and a half after his death, this documentary will feature Byrne’s own voice reading out many of the letters while daughters Crona and Suzy discuss how their dad became the country’s unofficial confessor-in-chief.

Building Britain's Biggest Nuclear Power Station
Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
Casualty and Innocent actor Priyanga Burford narrates this four-part documentary that brings to light the sheer scale involved in the construction of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. Situated in a remote corner of the Somerset countryside, this is the first such plant to be made in the UK in a generation, and building it is not without its challenges. The series follows the engineers, technicians, and staff who are under pressure to keep the project on track.

Open for Business
Thursday, RTÉ One, 7pm
In the final episode as Ireland prepares to open for outdoor dining, Open for Business visits restaurants and cafes to see what and how they are planning for a summer outdoors. With so many factors to consider, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a seating and business plan for outdoors. We will hear from eateries with limited space, those who are creating space and those who are choosing to wait for indoor dining. The episode also looks at retail – how the high street has opened up successfully. We find out what consumers have missed and what they have embraced about the new shopping rules,

Joey Essex: Grief and Me
Thursday, BBC1, 9pm
On the surface, it appears that everything in Joey Essex's life is "reem". But a decade in the reality TV spotlight and a luxury lifestyle haven't been able to heal the grief that the Southwark-born TOWIE star has kept buried for 20 years. At the age of just 10, Joey's world was ripped apart when his mum, Tina, tragically took her own life, and only now, as he leaves his 20s behind, is he ready to confront his trauma and move forward. With the help of clinical psychologist Dr Stephen Blumenthal, Joey sets out to finally face the impact his beloved mother's death has had on him. After an unsure start and trust issues that threaten to derail the process, Joey realises that to be able to move on, he has to look back at his past.

Thursday, Dave, 10pm

A new six-part run of the sitcom, which follows pizza delivery drivers and best friends Joshua (Samson Kayo) and Ricky (Theo Barklem-Biggs), attempting to get by – and get girlfriends – on the pay from their menial job in South London. Under their not-remotely-Italian boss Mario (David Mumeni), Joshua and Ricky still inhabit a world where counterfeit money, vindictive call centre staff, hopeless security guards and aggressive teens reign supreme. In tonight’s opener, Joshua is trying to patch things up with Naomi (Weruche Opia), but unfortunately for him, it may be too late as she has a new boyfriend. Meanwhile, Ricky gets mugged.

Celebrity Gogglebox
Friday, Channel 4, 9pm
Famous faces old and new invite us into their homes to watch them watch telly. A familiar enough format by now, but one which still sounds quite bizarre when you actually write it down. Anyway this series' rolling cast includes Denise Van Outen, Nick Grimshaw, Mo Gilligan, Rylan Clark-Neal, Gyles Brandreth, Shaun Ryder, and Martin and Roman Kemp. Brandreth remains excellent entertainment value as the series' resident crotchety old man,.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band
Friday, BBC4, 9pm

Martin Scorsese is an executive producer of this confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music: roots-rock outfit The Band, who had who had a string of hits across the 1960s and 70s. Robertson effectively narrates the story, while Band collaborators, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison, chip in with reminiscences about the good old days.

Gary Barlow: I'm with the Band
Friday, BBC1, 10.45pm
It's that Barlow fella again, not content with just being an anonymous member of Take That, but always trying to steal the limelight from his bandmates, er, thingy, yer man and the other fella. Here, he recruits an all-star band to jam with him in this TV special, including Jamie Cullum on piano and vocals, James Bay on guitar and vocals, Mica Paris on vocals, and Guy Chambers on keyboards and musical direction. He's also borrowed Rag'n'Bone Man's bassist and Adele's drummer, and invited pop superstars Anne-Marie and Craig David to come in and talk about their musical inspirations and do a couple of numbers. "I just wanted to get in a room with a load of people I love and respect and play music," said Barlow. "It's simply a musical treat for everyone who loves watching the best musicians performing great songs from any genre and any decade." Now that he's got that out of his system, he can go back to the day job in the old boyband.

Bear & Nicola Adams' Wild Adventure
Friday, ITV, 9.30pm

Adventurer Bear Grylls has already taken one boxing champion out into the wilderness when he shared a Wild Adventure with Anthony Joshua in 2017. Now it’s the turn of Olympic Boxing gold medallist and Strictly Come Dancing star Nicola Adams, who begins her mission in a quarry in the middle of Dartmoor National Park. The terrain quickly proves to be one of the toughest obstacles to overcome, as Adams first has to abseil 150 feet down a sheer cliff face, before getting to grips with a technique involving using a rope and upper body strength alone to make an ascent. Upper body strength, you say? It’s just possible that our boxing hero might be ok with that one.


Lisey's Story
From Friday, Apple TV+
Stephen King has adapted his own 2006 novel for the screen, which was inspired in part by the aftermath of his 1999 accident when he was seriously injured after being hit by a van near his home in Maine. The book is one of King's personal favourites and he's lovingly turned it into an eight-part series. Julianne Moore heads the cast as Lisey Landon who, two years after the death of her husband (Clive Owen), a famous author, begins to suffer a series of disturbing events. Each one forces her to revisit her memories of her marriage, some of which she has seemingly deliberately blocked from her mind. The thriller also stars Joan Allen, Dane DeHaan and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Sweet Tooth
From Friday, Netflix

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: they’re handed their little bundle of joy, and it turns out to be half human, half deer. That’s right, that little doe-eyed boy also has a little Bambi face, wriggly ears and the beginning of a set of antlers. Oh, dear. What has caused this animal-human mash-up? The culprit, in this new series based on the DC comic, is The Great Crumble, a virus event that has resulted in an epidemic of “hybrid” babies – it’s like a kids’ fancy dress party from hell. Soon these hybrid kids are even more feared than Antifa and, by the time he reaches 10, Bambi-boy, whose name is Gus, finds himself being hunted like a, well, deer. He is befriended by a loner named Jeppard, who nicknames him Sweet Tooth, and both set out on a quest across a perilous American landscape to find some answers.

The Defence
From Friday, All 4
The Walter Presents streaming strand is launching a new Polish season through August. The first entry is this seven-part legal drama (original title: Chylka), which focuses on uncompromising lawyer Joanna Chylka (Magdalena Cielecka), whose prime goal appears to be bringing down male members of her profession who have gotten a too big for their boots. Her latest case involves the disappearance of a three-year-old. When the police can find no evidence of a kidnapping, the child's parents are accused of murder. As Joanna is an old friend of the family, she becomes their defence lawyer, despite an overwhelming amount of work piling up on her desk. Although mountains of evidence seem to indicate the couple's guilt, she's determined to prove their innocence.

Box 21
From Friday, All4

This Swedish/Romanian co-production (originally title: Roslund & Hellstrom) stars Ioana Ilinca Neacsu as Lidia, who is lured from her eastern European hometown to Stockholm by her supposed boyfriend. On her arrival, she discovers his promises of a better life were all lies and that she has been trafficked into prostitution. But Lidia refuses to accept her fate and begins to fight back against her captors. Meanwhile, a senior police officer (Leonard Terfelt) is hunting down his nemesis, a dangerous criminal, with help from a young colleague. As they delve deeper into the villain’s case, and Lidia continues to wage war against those who have wronged her, it becomes increasingly likely that their paths will cross in dramatic fashion.

Contributing: PA