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

Derek Mooney explores climate catastrophe while young offenders Conor and Jock return to our screens

Back from the Brink

Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm

How can the world step back from the cliff edge of climate catastrophe? With biodiversity under threat, and species facing extinction, it may seem we’re powerless to stop the tide, but in his fourth series of Back from the Brink, Derek Mooney travels around Europe, meeting scientists, environmentalists and conservationists who have come up with forward-thinking ideas to reverse the damage done to the natural world. Mooney learns how ospreys are being reintroduced to Ireland, and how Scotland’s beaver population is faring since its reintroduction 15 years ago. Mooney also sets out to learn what became of the Bavarian vole, and why Spanish orcas have suddenly started attacking boats


Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

Last month, a jury at the Stardust inquests concluded that the 48 young people who died in the nightclub fire in 1981 were unlawfully killed. Now the full story of the Stardust fire is being told in this three-part documentary series, made with the participation of the families of those who died, and chronicling the families’ 43-year search for justice for their loved ones. Parts two and three will be aired on Monday at Tuesday at 9.35pm. To accompany the series, family members recorded the pen portraits of their loved ones which they read out at the inquest, and these moving, very personal tributes will be available to watch on the RTÉ website and RTÉ Player.

Zoo Live 2024

Monday, RTÉ One, 7pm

Dublin Zoo is always a hive of animal activity during the day, but what happens at night when the sun’s gone down and the visitors have all gone home? Over the next three nights, viewers will be transported to the zoo’s African Savannah to see all the hard work being done by staff to keep the animals happy and healthy. The series will also keep us up to speed on how Dublin Zoo is supporting conservation projects around the world, including such places as Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Spain.

The Fortune Hotel

Monday-Thursday, UTV, 9pm

Imagine getting a free trip to a luxury hotel resort in the Caribbean, and when you arrive someone hands you a quarter of a million quid in a suitcase. You’d reckon there must be a catch, and you’d be right. In this new reality show presented by Stephen Mangan, 10 pairs of guests are handed a suitcase – but only one of them contains the cash. They’ll have to use all their cunning and wiles to work out which guest has the dosh, and the couple with the stuffed suitcase will have to bluff like billy-o to hold on to the prize. At the end of each episode is the climactic case swap, in which each couple must choose whether to keep or swap their case. But beware: one case contains a booby trap: an early checkout card that boots you out of the contest. A hotel where everyone is trying to outwit everyone else? Sounds like my kinda place.


Better Off Dead?

Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm

While debate rages about the ethics of assisted dying, actor and disability rights campaigner Liz Carr explores the issue in depth, and makes the case against legalised euthanasia. Carr, who has starred in such series as Good Omens, has a disability, and is worried that any change in UK laws to allow for assisted dying could devalue the lives of disabled people and send out a message that having a disability means your life is not worth living. Carr speaks to people on both sides of the debate, and travels to Canada, which has one of the world’s most permissive euthanasia laws. She also challenges the perception among many that severely disabled people are better off dead.

The Gathering

Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm

Part whodunit, part teen coming-of-age drama and part interrogation of family dynamics in a world of helicopter parenting and toxic social media, The Gathering tells the story of Merseyside teenager Kelly, an accomplished gymnast with a shot at international competition. When she is violently attacked at a rave, suspicion falls on her team-mates, but also on some of her friends’ parents. Who would want to attack Kelly, and why? The series is written by novelist Helen Walsh, whose first original screenplay for TV promises to keep us guessing – and stressing – right to the final denouement.

The Dry

Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

This Irish comedy series took a while to seep into our hearts, but by the end of the first series we were all firm fans of Shiv, the ex-boozing expat who returns home to Dublin and has to navigate a whole new normal. Róisín Gallagher returns as Shiv, with Siobhán Cullen (recently seen in Netflix comedy drama Bodkin) as Caroline, Adam Richardson as Ant, Moe Dunford as Jack, Pom Boyd as Bernie and Ciaran Hinds as Tom. Series two begins with Shiv celebrating her 36th birthday and determined to stay sober, celibate and solvent against a growing array of temptations – not least hot barista Alex (Sam Keeley), who has asked her out on a date. Will her resolve stay strong or will she drink from the poisoned chalice?

Ar Iarraidh

Wednesday, TG4, 9.30pm

This week’s episode of the missing people series focuses on the case of Esra Uyrun, who moved to Ireland with her husband in 2006 after getting job offers, and settled in Clondalkin, where she had her first child. Just a week before her 39th birthday, in February 2011, Uyrun went out for milk, and never came home. Her mother had been due to visit the next day, but 13 years later her family still have no idea what happened. This episode tracks her last-known movements before she went missing, and looks at how her sister Berna has spent the last 13 years visiting Ireland to in the hope of finding some clues to Uyrun’s disappearance.

Home Rescue: The Big Fix

Thursday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

The Home Rescue squad are preparing for their final mission, and this one could prove the toughest task they’ve every had to face. Peter Cowell and Jane Dalton’s family live in a small, super-cluttered semi-D in Lucan, where none of the furniture fits, the storage spaces are inaccessible and piles of laundry spill out into every room. Peter lost his left arm in a life-altering workplace incident, so he finds it a daily struggle to wrestle with the chaos and clutter. The family are also keen musicians, but all their instruments are in the attic. With nowhere for the family to gather and relax, the house is a source of stress, and it’s up to presenters Dee Coleman and Peter Finn to find a way for Peter and Jane to reclaim their family space.

Coca-Cola’s Dirty Secret: Dispatches

Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Coca-Cola is the Taylor Swift of soft drinks – a delicious fizzy concoction that we just can’t get enough of, and that has built up an unassailable global brand. But what price are we paying for our Coke habit? In this Dispatches special, reporter Ellie Flynn investigates the company’s claims of sustainability and finds that it may not be so squeaky clean. Full disclosure: Flynn herself is mad for Coca-Cola, but now she’s wondering if her thirst for the stuff is helping to harm the environment, as Coke’s claims of recycling its used bottles don’t seem to hold water. Could the world’s biggest soft drink producer also be its biggest polluter?

The Young Offenders

Friday, BBC One, 9.30pm

We’ve waited three long years for the return of Conor and Jock (Alex Murphy and Chris Walley), and finally the pair are out of prison after their “free” trip to Colombia ended in a puff of coke dust. Conor is back living with his mum Mairead (Hilary Rose), working with her in the local fishmongers and trying to keep out of trouble. But Mairead is now married to Sgt Healy (Dominic McHale), so Conor has to get used to the new abnormal. He’s also keen to get back with Linda (Demi Isaac Oviawe), but since she’s engaged to his arch-enemy Gavin (Daniel Power) Conor will really have to go on a charm offensive.

Nerves of Steel

Friday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

More Friday night thrills are in store in the second episode of this four-part documentary series taking us behind the scenes of the construction of Europe’s longest and most heart-stopping intertwining rollercoasters – right here in Co Meath. Nerves of Steel is filmed over two years in Emerald Park as the owners create a whole new 6½-acre attraction known as Tír na nÓg. When it opens later this month, visitors to the former Tayto Park will be taken into a land of Irish myths and folklore, with the Na Fianna Force and Quest rollercoasters as the centrepiece.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist