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

A three-part documentary series about the Civil War and the return of JK Rowling’s detective Cormoran Strike are among this week’s highlights

The Irish Civil War

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

It was one of the darkest periods in modern Irish history and, 100 years later, mentioning the Civil War can reopen old wounds and reawaken long-held bitterness. In this three-part documentary series, writer and director Ruán Magan tries to cut through the omerta surrounding the conflict and get to the root of what really happened and why. The series is narrated by Brendan Gleeson, and features archive footage, photos and documents and first-hand witness accounts voiced by actors, plus detailed maps of the conflict taken from the Atlas of the Irish Revolution.

Strike: Troubled Blood

Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

So, who’s got the quirkiest cop moniker, Endeavour Morse or Cormoran Strike? Whatever, Strike’s name is back on everyone’s lips as JK Rowling’s celebrated detective returns for a fifth series, adapted from Rowling’s novel Troubled Blood (under the pen-name Robert Galbraith). Strike (Tom Burke) and his colleague Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) are faced with a new challenge – a cold case that dates all the way back to the 1970s and the mysterious disappearance of a doctor, Margot Bamborough. Strike and Robin must delve decades back into the age of disco to uncover long-buried clues.

The Disappearance of April Jones

Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

In October 2012, the Welsh town of Machynlleth was rocked by the disappearance of five-year-old April near her home. Authorities embarked on the biggest manhunt in Britain’s history, and when the trail led to a local man, Mark Bridger, who knew his victim, the community was shaken to its core. This harrowing three-part series is made with the co-operation of April’s family, the Dyfed-Powys police and the people of Machynlleth, and tells the story through the eyes of those most closely affected by this terrible event.

Selling Ireland’s Dream Homes

Monday, RTÉ2, 9.35pm

This week it’s lights, camera, auction as film director John Boorman’s magnificent house in Annamoe, Co Wicklow, goes on sale. The Glebe has been Boorman’s home for the past 50 years, and has hosted such starry guests as Sean Connery and Lee Marvin, but now, at 90, Boorman is (reluctantly) downsizing and moving back home to Surrey, and it’s up to estate agent David Ashmore to handle the sale of this property brimming with cinematic history. Also featured in this episode is Ballinacurra House in Kinsale, Co Cork, where Michael Jackson stayed in 2007.


Storyville: A Bunch of Amateurs

Tuesday, BBC Four, 10pm

Bradford Movie Makers is Britain’s oldest amateur film club, founded 90 years ago through a shared love of cinema, This heartwarming documentary tells the story of how the club has provided continuity for the local community since 1932, and how the club has managed to keep going through thick and thin. The documentary also follows the club’s efforts to save itself from impending closure by remaking a classic Hollywood musical in their own inimitable style.

Chris Kamara: Lost for Words

Tuesday, UTV, 9.15pm

For years, Chris Kamara has been a beloved football pundit on television, but his recent diagnosis of apraxia of speech (AOS) has forced him to reassess his TV career and ask himself if it might soon be time to hang up his microphone. AOS is a speech condition which causes difficulty in pronouncing words, and although Kamara has continued to comment on sport on telly, he’s finding it harder to watch himself, and fears the viewers might start feeling the same. This very personal authored documentary offers an insight into the football legend’s life with AOS.

Ar Lorg na Fírinne

Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

It has been 25 years since the signing of the Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday agreement, but there’s been no sign of the promised reconciliation or a sense release from the stranglehold of bitterness and recrimination. This documentary looks at the revelations that the British government had an army of agents with licences to kill or facilitate killing operating in the North during the Troubles, and meets families still searching for answers as to why their loved ones were targeted for killings.

Vienna Blood: Deadly Communion

Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Matthew Beard returns as psychologist Max Liebermann in the third season of the thriller series set in Austria in the 1900s, and based on the novels by Frank Tallis. A keen student of Sigmund Freud, Dr Liebermann is recruited by detective Oskar Rheinhardt (Jurgen Maurer) to use his insights into the human psyche help solve disturbing murders. In season three, Liebermann and Rheinhardt investigate the murder of a young seamstress and find themselves plunging into the glamorous but deceptive world of haute couture.

Francis Bacon: The Outsider

Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

U2 bass player Adam Clayton puts on his art historian’s hat for this documentary marking the 30th anniversary of the Irish-born artist’s death. Clayton is a self-confessed Bacon-head, and here he retraces the artist’s 1929 trip to Ireland, uncovering new insights into Bacon’s complex relationship with the land of his birth, thanks to recently discovered diaries kept by the artist’s friend Eric Allden, who accompanied him on his visit. Clayton also meets Bacon expert Dr Margarita Cappock, who oversaw the reconstruction of Bacon’s studio at the Hugh Lane gallery.

Never Mind the Xmas Buzzcocks

Thursday, Sky Max & Now, 9pm

Greg Davies, Noel Fielding, Daisy May Cooper and Jamali Maddix step into Christmas with this festive edition of the pop quiz show, with added tinsel, snow and sleigh bells. Expect lots of Christmas-related questions, so start brushing up on your Christmas No 1s and Mariah Carey trivia. The studio will be decked out in all the usual festive tat, and guest panellists are comedian Tom Allen, Steps singer Claire Richards and louche Libertines legend Pete Doherty.

Gangsta Granny Strikes Again

Friday, CBBC, 5.30pm

The sequel to the hugely popular Gangsta Granny has been another best-seller for its author David Walliams, so no surprise that it’s getting the BBC TV special treatment. Walliams returns as dad Mike, with Sheridan Smith as mum Linda, and Archie Yates as young Ben, who is finding life without Gran a little bit boring (spoiler alert: Gran dies in the original book). Still, he can always reminisce about the fun they had pulling off that daring heist of the crown jewels. But when word comes of a new crime spree bearing all the hallmarks of the Black Cat, aka Gran, Ben wonders if his dear departed granny might have nine lives after all.

Celebrity Gogglebox: Best of 2022

Friday, Channel 4, 9pm

What could be better than settling down on the couch on a Friday evening and watching a bunch of people settled on their couches watching TV? Only one thing: watching celebrities watching telly. This special Gogglebox episode rounds up the best square-eyed celebs from this year’s programmes, and includes such armchair telly critics as Rylan Clark and his mum, Linda, Gyles Brandreth and Joanna Lumley, Denise Van Outen and Duncan James, and Madchester mates Shaun Ryder and Bez.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist