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

The Late Late Toy Show, Ireland’s Fittest Family - the final, Saipan: Rebel Without a Ball and more

Ireland’s Fittest Family - the final

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

While we’ve been relaxing by the telly after our Sunday roast, 16 of Ireland’s toughest clans have been putting themselves through hell in pursuit of the fittest family crown and a prize of €15,000. Now, the field has been narrowed down to four families, and they must take on the most daunting challenge of all: the Mountain in Killruddery. They must complete two tasks – Mountain Madness and Back Against the Wall – before one family is eliminated. But before the grand final, the three remaining familise must face a fresh hell – the Wall of Pain. God, we viewers are such sadists.

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy

Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

What better way to keep warm and cosy these winter nights than with a look back at highlights from this year’s Willie Clancy Summer School, which took place in Miltown in Co Clare, and brought musicians and performers from far and wide to add to the annual tapestry of sound. The first episode will feature the Ó Gealbháin family from An Rinn, concertina master Jack Talty, and Sorcha Costello, a former TG4 Ceoltóir Óg na Bliana, who will be joined by a few friends for an abundance of great tunes.

David Baddiel: Jews Don’t Count

Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

Anti-Semitism is often seen as a less-evil form of racism, but, as Kanye West’s recent anti-Semitic tweets prove, it is still a scourge on humanity. Comedian and writer David Baddiel sets out to learn why otherwise progressive people will still tolerate such screeds against Jewish people while continuing to rail against racism in general. He will talk about his own experience of anti-Semitism and interview a range of people to find out why Jews are being left out of the conversation about race and identity.

Saipan: Rebel Without a Ball

Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Twenty years ago, Roy Keane stormed out of the Republic of Ireland soccer squad camp in Saipan, on the eve of World Cup 2002, and ever since then the nation has been tortured with thoughts of what might have been. Now this new documentary revisits that painful episode in Irish sport history, with help from the likes of Jason McAteer, Shay Given, Stephanie Roche, Bertie Ahern, Paul Kimmage and Mario Rosenstock, and asks the intriguing question: could we have gone all the way that year if Roy had decided to stay?


Tokyo Vice

Tuesday, BBC One, 9.10pm

Ansel Elgort stars in this crime thriller series as young American journalist Jake, who finds himself immersed in the underworld of Tokyo, and chasing stories that could get him killed. It’s loosely based on Jake Adelstein’s first-hand experience as a crime reporter in the Japanese capital, working for city newspaper Meicho Shimbun. Jake soon learns, however, that the Yakuza, Tokyo’s ruthless organised crime syndicate, are not too keen on media attention, and when Jake is embedded with the local police, he’s got to have all his wits about him to avoid becoming embedded in concrete.

You Won’t Believe This

Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm

Here’s another quiz show, but there’s a twist: instead of phoning a friend, you call the police. Ellie Taylor presents this forensic gameshow, featuring “suspects” who spin a likely yarn, each one more incredible than the other. The contestants must use all their powers of deduction to work out who’s telling porkies and who’s got the airtight alibi. They’ll have help from actual law enforcement professionals, who’ll share some of their criminal investigation tricks to help sift out the truth from the lies.


From November 23rd, Netflix

The Addams family are back – and so is director Tim Burton – in this new series starring Jenna Ortega as the titular uber-goth teenager. Having been expelled from Nancy Reagan High School after throwing piranha fish into the swimming pool, Wednesday is enrolled at creepy Nevermore Academy, where her parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) met, but Wednesday is finding it hard even here to fit in. That is, until a mysterious creature starts going on a killing spree, and it’s up to Wednesday to use all her paranormal powers to save the local town.

Mná na Talún

Wednesday, TG4, 8.30pm

This new four-part series celebrates four very diverse women farmers as they work hard to keep their businesses thriving amid financial challenges and a changing relationship with the land. Úna Ní Bhroin has been growing her organic farm in Ballinasloe while also bringing up four children; Hannah Doherty runs a sheep farm on the Derry-Donegal border, and has to handle many difficult births during lambing season; Bríd Ní Hicí is passionate about her self-sufficicient farm in Gaoth Dobhair and Clíona Ní Chonghaile is keeping traditional cattle farming alive on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands.

The English

Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm

The gritty frontier adventure that’s nothing like Little House on the Prairie continues as Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) sets out to return the orphaned children to their wider Mennonite family, and Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) stays with two Native American farmers while he awaits her return. But Eli soon makes a shocking discovery about what’s going on down at the farm. Stephen Rea also stars as Sheriff Robert Marshall of Powder River, Wyoming, who is investigating the death of an ex-soldier and his wife.

Na Ceithre Ráithe sna Déise

Thursday, TG4, 8pm

In this new four-part observational documentary series, we spend a year in Rinn Gaeltacht in Co Waterford, and explore the people, events, stories and legends of the area. Viewers will be immersed in the daily lives of those living and working in the region, with stories from every season and every aspect of life in the locality. Having previously chronicled a year in the life of the Aran Islands, Red Shoe Productions now turn its cameras on the Déise, in a series that promises to be evocative, informative and entertaining.

The Late Late Toy Show

Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Deck the halls, get those chestnuts roasting and come rest ye merry gentlefolk on the livingroom couch, because it’s time once again for The Late Late Toy Show to burst on to our screens with a cast of performing kids led by chief kiddult Ryan Tubridy. Whatever theme is chosen this year (Pinocchio? Encanto?), there’s sure to be well-choreographed set-pieces, prodigious displays of musical talent, special surprise guests and of course lots of fab toys, toys, toys. Just to get you in the mood, The Late Late Toy Show Singalong starts at 7pm, with favourites from Toy Shows past.

Agatha Christie: Mystery Queen

Friday, BBC Two, 11.05pm

She is the most successful novelist of all time, whose sales are only eclipsed by Shakespeare and the Bible, and presenter Lucy Worsley investigates the undisputed queen of murder mysteries, who is still the yardstick against which all other crime novelists measure themselves. In three hour-long episodes, Worsley will delve into Christie’s life to find the real, complex woman behind the famous persona, and demonstrate how her books reflected changing attitudes in 20th-century Britain.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist