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

Including Dancing with the Stars, Dancing on Ice, Operation Transformation and Travel Man: 48 Hours in Dublin

Dancing with the Stars - full celebrity line-up

Dancing with the Stars

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

Eleven celebrities, 11 professional dancers, three judges, two presenters and an entire viewing public: the DWTS dancefloor is filling up nicely, and in episode two of the latest series, the men will be tasked with tapping into their inner Latin lover, while the women will be told to go strictly ballroom, for a new set of challenging dance routines. The celebs – including Panti Bliss, Marie Cassidy, Brooke Scullion, Leah O’Rourke, Shane Byrne and Kevin McGahern – will have to put their best foot forward if they don’t want to get bumped off the contest.

Dancing on Ice

Sunday, UTV, 6.30pm

If watching Irish celebrities hoofing it on the dancefloor isn’t your thing, don’t worry – you can switch over and watch British celebs busting some moves on the ice rink, including EastEnders star Patsy Palmer, football legend John Fashanu, Love Island winner Ekin-Su and drag queen The Vivienne. They’ll be hoping to stay as cool as ice and avoid wobbles to skate away with the grand prize, with help from professional ice dancers including Olivia Smart. Presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby will keep everything gliding along smoothly, while judges Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, Ashley Banjo and Oti Mabuse will cast a cold eye over the rink routines.

The Last of Us

Monday, Sky Atlantic & Now, 9pm

We just love when video games get adapted into TV series, only because we can tune in without worrying about being humiliated in battle by our game-savvy kids. Pedro Pascale drops the Mandalorian helmet to star in this series, alongside Bella Ramsey, set 20 years after the complete collapse of civilisation. So about last week, then.

Pascale plays hard-boiled survivor Joel, who is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie (Ramsey) from a quarantine zone. Little do they realise the epic journey that awaits them, but we can guess there’ll be lots of baddies to dispatch along the way.


The Case I Can’t Forget

Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

The visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011 was a huge success, but it could just as easily have been a diplomatic disaster, as it emerged that dissident republicans were plotting a bomb attack at Dublin Castle during the State banquet for the queen. Retired Garda assistant commissioners Pat Leahy and Mick Feehan, and retired det chief supt Kevin Donohue, recall the huge policing operation to ensure the safety of the royal party during the visit, running battles with rioters on Dublin’s streets, and the agonising decision about whether to allow the queen’s historic address to go ahead or to evacuate the castle.


Tuesday, BBC Two, 8pm

Winter can be a lovely time of the year – as long as we’re all warm and cosy in our homes and not out there in the cold and wet. So settle down for a new series of Winterwatch, presented by the doubles team of Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan in the wilds of Norfolk, and Iolo Williams and Gillian Burke in Edinburgh. Along with pre-recorded wildlife stories featuring mountain hares, curlews and backswimmers, the series will feature live cameras trained on a badger sett in Edinburgh Zoo and on the marshlands and farmlands of northwest Norfolk.

The Family Pile

Tuesday, UTV, 9.30pm

When parents pass away, that can signal the cue for major sibling infighting, and this new comedy series, set in Liverpool, follows four sisters as they prepare to offload the family home after the deaths of their folks. But with none of them on the same page, it’s not long before the grief gives way to grumbling and griping. Amanda Abbington, Clare Calbraith, Claire Keelan and Alexandra Mardell star, with the team behind Derry Girls producing.

Operation Transformation

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Episode three of RTÉ’s new year makeover series brings our five leaders close to the halfway mark in their quest to transform their lives for the better. Thomas Hynes, Stephanie Bowden, Marie Clear, Lorraine Dempsey and Andrea Daly have been working hard to motivate themselves – and their local community – to be fitter, healthier and happier for 2023. The show has dumped anything that might be seen as fat-shaming or guilt-tripping, going for a more positive, encouraging and less judgmental approach, while still focusing on overall health and wellbeing.

Surgeons: At the Edge of Life

Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Nurse! The screens! If you think life in the operating theatre is like an episode of ER, think again. This series follows the world-class surgeons of Addenbrooke’s and Royal Papworth hospitals in Cambridge as they perform complex, intricate surgery at the cutting-edge of medical science. These are no ordinary procedures; in episode one of this fifth series, the specialists have to treat a man critically injured in a motorbike crash, a 72-year-old woman who has fallen off the roof of her caravan, and a single mother with severe spinal injuries.

The Apprentice

Thursday, BBC One, 9pm

There’s a certain satisfaction in watching a bunch of yammering yuppies getting yelled at by an old guy with a peerage, and series 17 of The Apprentice features 18 more victims – or young entrepreneurs – who will have to prove themselves worthy of winning an investment from Lord Sugar. There are some Irish names among the hopefuls, including senior account executive Emma Browne from Co Kildare, and Dublin accountant Kevin D’Arcy, but all of them will have to pull out all the stops to get that quarter-of-a-million-pound prize. Who’s next to hear the dreaded words “You’re fired?”

First Dates Ireland

Thursday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Thursday night is first dates night as a new batch of singletons take their seats at the restaurant of romance, hoping that true love is on the menu. Maitre d’ Matteo and his team of Alice, Pete and Neil are on hand to smooth the way for love to blossom in this third episode. Will Dinuth from Sri Lanka make a spiritual connection with Nicole from Clare? Will Jarleth from Sligo mark Clare woman Celia’s dance card? And will Ciara from Armagh’s date with Conor from Wexford be alive and kicking – or dead on arrival?

Truth Be Told

From Friday, Apple TV +

Octavia Spencer returns as investigative reporter, true crime podcaster and amateur sleuth Poppy Scoville for a third season of the crime series based on the novel While You Were Sleeping by Kathleen Barber. When blonde and blue-eyed teenager Emily Mills goes missing, local police and media put all their resources into finding her, but when Poppy takes a closer look, she discovers that a number of young black girls have also gone missing – but that their disappearance received scant coverage and minimal investigation. Gabrielle Union plays an unorthodox school principal who is determined to get these girls’ names to the forefront of people’s minds.

Travel Man: 48 Hours in Dublin

Friday, Channel 4

Dublin is this week’s destination for Joe Lycett, and he’s joined by fellow comedian Mawaan Rizwan for a two-day delve into the delights of the Irish capital. The pair go on a tour of Dublin’s statues, using the QR codes on the plaques to receive phone calls from the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Molly Malone. They do lunch at the tiny Assassination Custard restaurant on Kevin Street, run by Gwen McGrath and Ken Doherty; then join the 1.7 million annual visitors to the Guinness Storehouse, where they learn the art of pulling the perfect pint. After a “scrotum-tightening” swim at the Forty Foot, the pair visit the hallowed halls of Trinity College and drop into Windmill Lane studios to channel their inner Bono.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist