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

Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey are off around Ireland, while James May is headed to Italy


Saturday July 9th, BBC Four, 9pm

Summertime, and the living is easy . . . you need something to counter that sugar rush from all the ice-cream and episodes of Love Island. Well, the BBC have got the perfect antidote for those sunny summer vibes, with this slice of Nordic noir set on the remote Faroe Islands, way up in the north Atlantic somewhere between Iceland and Norway. The series is written and created by Torfinnur Jákupsson and based on the crime novels of Jógvan Isaksen, and tells the story of Faroese journalist Hannis Martinsson, who is summoned back to his home by his estranged daughter, a local activist who claims her life is in danger. When her body turns up in the waters of a whale hunt, Hannis suddenly finds himself on very unfamiliar territory.

The Summer Show

Sunday July 10th, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

It’s the summer holidays, but there’s no rest for RTÉ's hard-pressed presenters, as their paymasters put them to work making travel programmes to keep the viewers entertained. Poor Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey are being forced to go on a four-part road trip around Ireland - each week following one of Ireland’s celebrated pilgrim’s paths. Happily, Mooney and Carey will be joined by a few celebs to help lighten the load, including Nathan Carter, Mary McEvoy and David Brophy. In the first episode, Derek and Nuala are in Co Wicklow for a hike along St Kevin’s Way, between Hollywood and Glendalough, and Nuala heads to Co Sligo to visit the megalithic sites of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel, which are bidding for Unesco World Heritage Site status.

Ackley Bridge

Monday, July 11th, Channel 4, 10pm

Ackley Bridge is back for a fifth series - taking the next step in its bid to oust Grange Hill at the top of the class for school dramas. The series is set in a Yorkshire mill town, where the white and Asian communities live separate lives - that is, until two separate schools are merged into one academy school, bringing kids from both communities together and forcing families on both sides to engage with each other’s lives and cultures as never before. Needless to say, sparks fly between the teenagers of Ackley Bridge, and Channel 4 is promising “more high-jinx plans, scams and mad adventures”, plus new teachers and students joining the series just to really mix things up a bit. It’s the second half of the school year, and if it’s anything as eventful as the first half (love triangles, catfishing, and a failed gypsy wedding), then we’re in for quite a semester.


Wednesday July 13th, Sky Comedy, 9pm & Now

It’s series three of the dark comedy series about the challenges of modern parenting, and let’s face it, things aren’t getting any easier for the Worsley family. Dad Paul (Martin Freeman) is still reeling from being punched by teenage son Luke (Alex Eastwood), while mum Ally (Daisy Haggard) is dealing with early menopause and a difficult relationship with adolescent daughter Ava (Eve Prenelle). Luke refuses to live under the same roof as his dad, so Paul has to move into his mother-in-law’s house, leaving Ally to try to keep the household, her job and her sanity together.


Super Telescope: Mission to the Edge of the Universe

Thursday July 14th, BBC Two, 8pm

So, what happened around 200 million years after the Big Bang? Let’s take a look. Nasa is releasing the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, and the BBC Horizon crew will take us through the development and construction of the world’s most powerful and technically advanced telescope, 100 times more powerful than Hubble. We’re getting into Doctor Who territory here as the Webb telescope can look so far back through time, even the Tardis would have a hard time getting there. And just to really blow your mind, the telescope is so sensitive it could even detect signs of life on a far distant planet. At a cost of about eight billion quid, it better find a seriously cool alien civilisation.

James May: Our Man in Italy

From Friday July 15th, Prime Video

When he’s not tearing around foreign countries in elite cars with fellow middle-aged motorheads Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in The Grand Tour, James May likes to slow down and take in the world at a more leisurely pace. For the latest in his “Our Man In…” series for Prime Video, May is exploring the delights and delectations of Italy - and learning about its food, culture, landscape, sports and leisure pursuits. He’s in search of “la dolce vita” and he’s got a lot of fertile ground to cover, from the Dolomites in the north to Palermo in Sicily on the southern tip. Along the way, he’ll learn how to make pizza, fight like a Roman gladiator and play a zampogna, a sort of traditional Italian bagpipes - with mixed results. And just to reassure you petrolheads, May will be getting behind the wheel of a few Italian cars at regular intervals, tearing down racetracks and driving through cities (although I can’t work out which is more dangerous).

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist