TV guide: 12 of the best new shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

Including Fate: The Winx Saga, The Great British Bake Off and Frozen Planet II

The Island

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

Here’s a little-known Irish historical fact: Ireland used to be split in two — not politically but geologically. Our little country began as two separate land masses south of the Equator, before fusing together and moving north (this took a bit longer than your average passenger flight). This is the big revelation in a new series looking back through 1.8 billion years of Irish history. Presenter Liz Bonnin meets geologists and experts who uncover long-buried evidence of Ireland’s origins, and explores the cataclysmic forces that formed such iconic places as the Burren and the Giant’s Causeway.

Frozen Planet II

Sunday, BBC One, 8pm

David Attenborough narrated the original Frozen Planet series in 2011, and we never thought he would still be here to narrate the follow-up series 11 years later. The indomitable Sir David will take us on another magical journey through the world’s icy lands, touching the north and south poles, and meeting the amazing creatures who survive and thrive in this harsh environment. The new series will feature more stunning cinematography and a haunting, specially written song by Camila Cabello and Hans Zimmer.


Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Money’s too tight to mention, sang some red-haired fella back in the 1980s. Now it’s starting to feel like those bad old days again as young families struggle with spiralling costs of food, energy and housing. In this documentary we meet people working hard to make ends meet, including Linda and Gary Boyle, who were forced to shut down their Fusion Bistro restaurant in Killybegs, and Patricia and Ryszard Cichocka, who have had to move house five times over the past five years as rents escalate.


Monday, BBC One, 5.15pm

The popular quizshow is back and once again the contestants must try to get the lowest possible score to win the big prize. I don’t have space here to go into the rules but suffice to say there’ll be much racking of brains and donning of thinking caps. Alexander Armstrong presents and he’s joined by new co-presenter Sally Linsday, as Richard Osman has announced he is leaving to concentrate on his writing.


The Great British Bake Off

Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm

“In knead of some good news? Here’s a little something ...” Thus did the Great British Bake Off announce the air date of its latest series, with a new batch of hopefuls competing to create the dreamiest and most delicious confections. Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood return to pass judgment on the petit fours, while Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas handle the presenting duties with a mix of mischief and surrealism. As hard-pressed households face a winter of domestic discontent due to the cost-of-living crisis, Bake Off will provide a warm and comforting balm.

The 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Tuesday, Sky Max & Now, 9.45pm

Forget Oscar, the real action is on the small screen as TV series grab the spotlight and leave movies languishing on the backlot. This year’s Emmy Awards, at LA’s Microsoft Theatre, is hosted by actor and comedian Kenan Thompson, and some of the most talked-about shows of the past year are nominated, including Succession, Better Call Saul, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game and Stranger Things 4. Even the stars seem to be defecting from the cineplex, with Colin Firth, Andrew Garfield, Oscar Isaac, Toni Collette, Lily James and Amanda Seyfried up for gongs.

Neven’s Portuguese Food Trails

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Chef Neven Maguire continues his culinary trip through Portugal with a visit to the capital, Lisbon, and learns why the city is fast becoming the go-to place for discerning tourists. Maguire packs as much as he can into his visit, getting a pick-me-up at the city’s oldest coffee shop, Cafe A Brasiliera, and then visits a new shop selling a favourite Portuguese treat: pastel de nata. He also knocks up a nice version of the country’s ubiquitous chocolate mousse.

Dr Death

Wednesday, TG4, 10.30pm

Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater star in this true-life crime drama based on the hit podcast about the shocking story of Dr Christopher Dunscht, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment after maiming and mutilating his patients, leaving two of them dead. Joshua Jackson plays the narcissistic neurosurgeon who treated his patients like lab rats; his colleagues Dr Robert Henderson (Baldwin) and Dr Randall Kirby (Slater) are not sure if Dunscht is a murderer or just incompetent — either way, they have to stop him getting near another patient.


Thursday, TG4, 9.30pm

Another team of hurling hopefuls come together in the second series of Underdogs, and there’s a new management team in place: former Cork hurler and county manager John Allen, Wexford camogie star Claire O’Connor and former Cork minor player Jamie Wall. The goal is to take this team of underdogs and bring them up to the level to match the best teams in the country for skill, speed and scoring. A few hurling greats will drop by to give advice, including Davy Fitz, Lar Corbett and Declan Hannon.

My Grandparents’ War: Kit Harington

Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Playing Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, Kit Harington had to regularly strap on the big sword and go to battle. In the new series of My Grandparents’ War, however, Harington looks at the real-life conflicts from the past that shaped his family history and recounts war stories told by his relatives. The first season featured Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas and Carey Mulligan, and this series will see actor Keira Knightley, singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé and Harry Potter star Toby Jones dig into their archives.

The Grand Tour presents: A Scandi Flick

Friday, Amazon Prime

The three petrol-headed hydra that is Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are setting off on another turbocharged motoring adventure, and this time they have their satnavs set on Scandinavia, as they take their rally cars for a whirl along the icy roads of the Arctic Circle, from Norway all the way to the border with Russia. With the pandemic now firmly in the rear-view mirror, the trio are keen to get back in the driving seat, but we all know that whichever direction they drive, disaster and destruction can’t be too far behind.

Fate: The Winx Saga

Friday, Netflix

Northern Ireland has Game of Thrones but Co Wicklow has The Winx Saga — although for plot reasons the county has been renamed the Otherworld. Here is where six student fairies attend the ethereal boarding school of Alfea and learn how to wield their magical powers — although these teen sprites are more interested in shifting than shape-shifting. It’s a new term at Alfea, and the students are looking forward to learning new tricks and getting more teenage kicks, but there’s always some soul-eating monster to wreck everyone’s buzz.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist