TV guide: 14 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

There’s Mrs Brown’s Boys to First Dates Ireland and a whole lot more

Mrs Brown’s Boys

New Year’s Eve, RTÉ One, 9.40pm

Brendan O’Carroll gets mammied up again for the second of two Mrs Brown’s Boys seasonal specials, entitled Mammy’s Hair Loom. Cathy has a creepy new boyfriend, Boris, and Buster and Dermot suspect he may be a vampire, so they concoct a plan to save her (thankfully, it doesn’t involve a stake through the heart). Meanwhile, Agnes has an antique vase that’s been in the family for generations – could it be worth a fortune? And can Agnes crack a few ribald gags out of this old piece of crockery?

The Graham Norton New Year’s Eve Special

New Year’s Eve, BBC One

You can always rely on Graham Norton to see off the old year in style, with help from an impressive line-up of celebrities on the big couch. Guests ringing in 2023 with chat, banter and shameless plugging of their latest project are Olivia Colman from The Crown and Michael Ward from Top Boy (both are starring in Sam Mendes’s new film Empire of Light), comedy royalty Hugh Laurie, actor/comedian/presenter Romesh Ranganathan and England football star Leah Williamson.

Happy Valley

Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

Sarah Lancashire is back as police sergeant Catherine Cawood in the third and final series of the acclaimed crime drama created by Sally Wainwright and set in West Yorkshire. But don’t expect this to be a cosy farewell – Cawood is in for some harrowing times as she deals with the fallout from events in the previous two series. When a drained reservoir reveals the remains of a gangland murder victim, Cawood soon finds herself facing her late daughter’s rapist, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), who is the father of her grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah).

Taskmaster’s New Year’s Treat

Sunday, Channel 4

On New Year’s Day even the simplest job will feel like a daunting challenge, so spare a thought for the five celebrities who will face a series of bizarre and surreal tasks set by Greg Davies and Alex Horne in this special new year edition of the wildly popular Channel 4 series. Comedian and YouTuber Amelia Dimoldenberg, radio presenter Greg James, polymath Carol Vorderman, athlete Mo Farah and Rebecca Lucy Taylor aka pop star Self Esteem will take part, facing a series of bizarre challenges.



Monday, UTV, 9pm

British politician John Stonehouse was a star of Harold Wilson’s Labour government in the 1960s – until he began selling secrets to the Czechoslovakian government. When his political life and complex finances started to unravel, he did a Reggie Perrin and faked his own death, leaving his clothes on a beach, stealing the identity of one of his dead constituents, and fleeing to Australia to live with his secretary, Sheila Buckley. Thespian power couple Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes star in this three-part series retelling the incredible story of how Stonehouse’s house of cards came down.

Silent Witness

Monday, BBC One, 9pm

The long-running crime drama returns for its 26th outing, with Emilia Fox back in the role of forensic pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander. The star has promised an “epic story” for this new 10-parter, and it certainly starts off dramatically, with a man plunging to his death from a high-rise building in this two-part opening. Nikki and her investigating team at Lyell uncover links between the victim and the notorious ‘Ndrangheta organised crime cartel, but as she delves deeper into the murky world of the mafia, Nikki wonders if she’s also digging her own grave.

Waterloo Road

Tuesday, BBC One

The popular school drama is getting a reboot, so strap yourselves in for a rollercoaster school term as the pupils of Waterloo Road stage a protest that gets completely out of hand. It’s been seven years since the last series, so naturally there’ll be new faces in the school, including Corrie’s Kym Marsh as dinner lady Nicky, but a few old favourites are returning, including Angela Griffin as harried head teacher Kim Campbell, and Adam Thomas and Katie Griffiths as Donte and Chlo, who now have kids of their own attending the school.

The Style Counsellors

Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

It’s a new year but where is the new you? What happened to that complete makeover you promised yourself? Never fear, style and fashion consultant Suzanne Jackson on hand to help you get your mojo back and strut your stuff with confidence and panache – nothing beats a new wardrobe to restore that catwalk swagger. In this first episode Jackson plays fashion godmother to Catherine Connolly from Newbridge, Co Kildare, whose self-esteem has taken a knock over the past few years, and whose sister nominated her for a much-needed dose of glam.

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

Wednesday, Netflix

Not quite as catchy a title as the Wolf of Wall Street, this four-part documentary series by film-maker Joe Berlinger tries to unravel the story of financier Bernie Madoff’s monster $64 billion Ponzi scheme fraud. It questions how the financial world could turn a blind eye to this scam, and whether Madoff could have been working alone on this large and complex fraud. The series features interviews with victims, whistleblowers and investigators, and newly released video depositions from Madoff.

Operation Transformation

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

RTÉ's annual post-Christmas health kick series is getting a makeover of its own, with a new look and a new face on the expert panel. Dietitian Sophie Pratt joins fitness expert Karl Henry, clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy and GP Dr Sumi Dunne as they provide support and guidance to the leaders as they try to boost their health and wellbeing. Five new leaders from around the country will take up the challenge, and host Kathryn Thomas will be with them along their journey to wellness.

First Dates Ireland

Thursday, RTÉ2, 9.30pm

The restaurant of romance reopens for a new season of the datin’ and eatin’ show, and the first episode features a double date with bubbly best friends Aisling and Naomi – their dates won’t know what hit them (although actual hitting is, of course, not allowed). Also hoping to get a taste of romance is 73-year-old Paddy, who plans to use his skills as a musician to woo his date, Mary (71). And who better to match motoring enthusiast Sorcha with than professional auto detailer Colm – if the romance stalls, at least her car will look immaculate.

Page Turners

Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Who are the Iron Johns, the Forge, the Tertulia, Fiction & Coffee and the Paper-Hacks? They’re not shadowy organisations out to topple society but the names of some of the many book clubs that thrive around Ireland. This new series features eight Irish book clubs, as they get together to review classic novels and discuss what happens between the covers. Each week the clubs’ members will give their verdict on a selection of books, and first up are Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends, Marian Keyes’s The Break, Louise O’Neill’s IDOL, Shane Carthy’s Dark Blue and Sean O’Driscoll’s biography of Rose Dugdale.

Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job

Friday, BBC One, 8.30pm

Presenters Amanda Holden and Alan Carr are bezzie mates, with a shared passion for travel and home decoration. So they’ve decided to team up and combine their favourite pastimes by jetting off to Sicily, finding a run-down property, putting on their hard hats and workwear, and transforming their property into a luxury villa. Will this project put their friendship through the cement mixer, or will Holden & Carr renovations become a resounding success story?

Death in Paradise

Friday, BBC One, 9pm

Hot on the heels of the Christmas special, Ralf Little returns in the role of DI Neville Parker for the 12th series of the lighthearted detective series set on the Caribbean island of St Marie. With the body count rising with every episode, this island doesn’t seem so idyllic, but never mind. In this episode DI Parker is confronted with an astronomical mystery to solve – the death of a celebrity astronomer.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist