TV guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

TV guide: 25 of the best shows to watch this week, beginning tonight

The Vasulka Effect
Sunday, BBC Four, 10.15pm
This Arena film portrays the life of video art pioneer Steina Vasulka and her partner, Woody Vasulka. It examines their artistic processes and their profound affect on the 1960s New York art scene, and beyond, through their experiments in the electronic medium of video. Following their story over a 40 years, we explores how the video art movement caught the spirit of the times and, with their unique cross-disciplinary environment The Kitchen, helped to launch the career of many artists who have defined the American avant-garde, including Philip Glass, Jonas Mekas, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, Robert Mapplethorpe, Laurie Anderson and Cindy Sherman.

Sunday, TG4, 9.30pm

Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin

Thirty years ago this week, broadaster and celebrated sean-nós singer Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin died tragically. For one weekend every year at this time, the community of Cúil Aodha/Baile Mhuirne is given over to his memory with the hugely successful Éigse Diarmuidín. This film was made and first shown by TG4 in Ó Súilleabháin’s memory 10 years ago to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. As well as footage of the great man himself, Diarmuidín features music and heartfelt memories from his siblings Eoiní, Danny and Eilís Maidhcí, as well as fellow musicians and friends.

Cad Faoi na Tuismitheóirí?
Monday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
How do Irish parents meet the daily challenges of bringing up kids without actually going a bit mad? This new four-part bilingual series tackles some of the big issues facing parents : how to deal with fussy eaters, how to reduce kids’ screen time, how to help an anxious child. Presenters Evelyn O’Rourke and Ronan Mac Niallais, themselves at the coalface of bringing up small children, will meet with other parents caught up in the kidstorm, drawing on their own experiences and enlisting the help of experts in meeting the many challenges that confront parents 24/7. And they’ll be doing all this as gaeilge agus béarla, so don’t underestimate the juggling skills of your average Irish mammy and daddy.

The past two years have seriously disrupted families’ lives, and in this series, O’Rourke and Mac Niallais hope to help families restore a bit of balance in their lives. Each week child psychologist Stella O’Malley will mentor a family over a month as they try to solve a tricky home situation, whether it’s sleeping problems, screen addiction or fitting in at school. In episode one, the Slattery family are trying to stay active, but that Playstation keeps beckoning. Can O’Malley help the family through a digital detox?

The Case I Can’t Forget
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Pat Marry in The Case I Can’t Forget

One of the hazards of being an investigator is that a case you’ve worked may never leave you. The crime has been solved, the perpetrator has been brought to justice, but years later, the case still plays on your mind. In this second season of the true crime series, detectives look back on that one case that continues to haunt them, beginning with the murder of Rachel Callely in 2004 by her husband. Having bludgeoned his wife to death in the bedroom of their house, Joe O’Reilly conducted a public show of innocence, even going on The Late Late Show with his in-laws to appeal to the public for help in finding Rachel’s killer. Rachel’s parents were in no doubt, however, that the killer was sitting brazenly beside them in the RTÉ studio.

Detective Pat Marry talks candidly about his painstaking, three-year investigation into O’Reilly. Rachel’s parents, Jim and Rose, talk about their fraught relationship with their son-in-law, and journalist Jenny Friel recalls a chilling interview she conducted with the killer before he was finally caught and convicted.

Winter Walks
Monday-Thursday,BBC4, 7.30pm
Over the course of four nights, BBC4 viewers can join guest walkers as they explore dramatic landscapes with only a 360-degree camera for company. Our travelling companions for the rest of the series are Alastair Campbell, the Rev Kate Bottley and Nihal Arthanayake, but we begin with Amanda Owen, aka the Yorkshire shepherdess. She’s used to being out in the elements, and she’s also on familiar territory as she crosses hills and fields through Wensleydale and Raydale on her winter walk. Along the way, she meets up with fellow sheep farmers to talk about their shared occupation.

An Lá a Rugadh Mé: Séamus Begley
Tuesday, TG4, 7.30pm
Musician Séamus Begley takes us back to the news and events on the day he was born: August 26th, 1949. Looking through the newspapers, Begley meets up with Olympic champ Ronnie Delany to find out more about world-class athlete JJ Barry from Tipperary. The man known as The “Ballincurry Hare” set the record for the fastest Irish mile. Also that year, Lambay Island was in the papers. The island just off the coast Dublin was home to free-roaming Wallabies and still is today. So Séamus heads to Lambay to try and spot these evasive creatures.

Scannal: Priory Hall
Tuesday. RTÉ One, 7pm

Priory Hall resident Katarzyna Bielecka with her daughter Liliana (2 months) in October 2011, after she and the other residents were handed eviction notices due to health and safety violations at the complex. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Tonight’s episode looks back at the story of Priory Hall, one of the worst examples of the Celtic Tiger Ireland’s building boom. We examine how the case brought the practice of so-called “self-regulation” of building companies to light and the emotional and financial toll moving out took on the homeowners. Ten years ago, some 240 residents were evacuated, by court order, from the controversial Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede over fire safety concerns. Marketed as a modern, desirable development in a prime Dublin location, the apartments were mostly bought by young first-time-buyers. Dublin City Council purchased 26 of the apartments for social housing.

In 2009, the development was found to have a litany of structural defects as well as major fire safety concerns. The council promptly evacuated its tenants, but those who had bought their homes privately were left in limbo, living in an apartment complex they knew to be unsafe. Two years later, in 2011, the court ordered the remaining residents to evacuate the premises. They were given just two days to pack up their belongings and move to temporary hotel accommodation.What followed was a two-year battle by the former residents for justice. A bittersweet resolution was eventually reached, albeit under tragic circumstances.

The death of former Priory Hall resident Fiachra Daly, and his partner Stephanie Meehan’s subsequent appearance on The Late Late Show, was a last desperate cry for help on behalf of the residents. The public anger and outrage that resulted from Stephanie’s emotional plea would lead to enormous pressure being put on taoiseach Enda Kenny, and ultimately, a resolution that allowed the former residents to walk away from their Priory Hall homes and have their mortgages written off.

The show asks why all this was allowed to happen, what has changed, and if it could happen again. Former Priory Hall residents and those who supported them reflect on their traumatic experiences.

Secret Life of the Forest
Tuesday, Channel 5, 7pm
It’s autumn in Kielder Forest and there’s a feeling of change in the air, with wildlife preparing for the colder months ahead. This season of renewal sees some spectacular moments : the forest’s red squirrels are busy hoarding nuts, Atlantic salmon make their incredible journey upstream, and a range of fascinating fungi mysteriously appear within the area. There magical sights above the canopy as well, with controls on light pollution making Kielder one of the best places in the world to see the stars.

Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country
Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
The property expert, husband Graham Swift and their four boys reflect on their first 2½ years living in Somerset, asking themselves whether they have become country folk yet. But before they can tackle any of the rooms, the house needs a floor. Cement mixers roll in to pump screed throughout the property, but it’s not all plain sailing as rain threatens to derail the process. Once the floor’s in, the fitting out of the interior can begin. The family have set themselves the target of getting the grand hallway ready for their first visitors in six months’ time. For inspiration, they head to Crowcombe Court, a local stately home.

Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Monica and Giles begin a new series by donning their thermals and visiting the ION Adventure Hotel in Iceland. They get involved in a whole range of adventure activities, from snorkelling in icy water to exploring fresh lava flows and glaciers. Monica visits the hotel’s unlikely neighbour, a geothermal power plant while Giles goes fishing with a local family for the restaurant kitchen. Then, for a heated challenge, both get to work with safety crews to ensure the guests are safe on an erupting volcano.

Attack on Pearl Harbor: Caught by Surprise
Tuesday-Thursday, Channel 5, 9pm

Navy veteran Clark Simmons (80) looks over the rusting hulk of his old ship, the USS Utah, during ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 2001. Photograph: Ronen Zilberman/AP

On December 7th, 1941, Japan staged a surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This three-part documentary gives a detailed account of the raids, with the opening edition revealing the background to the events. Japanese pilots were trained on a replica of Pearl Harbor and went to great lengths to keep the mission a secret. This included using decoy radio operators and not dumping their rubbish at sea in case it was seen by an enemy submarine. But there were missed opportunities that could have helped the Americans avert the disaster. Some of the survivors of that day share their stories. They include a 103-year-old Japanese torpedo bomber and an American sailor who was on the USS Arizona when it was hit by a bomb that ignited its ammunition magazine, killing 1,177 men.

My Bungalow Bliss
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Hugh Wallace in My Bungalow Bliss

Architect Hugh Wallace is back doing what he does best – flying the flag for fine homes – in this new series with a single-storey twist. Wallace is best known as the presenter of Home of the Year and The Great House Revival, but in this four-parter he focuses on that much-maligned dwelling: the bungalow. He meets first-time owners who have purchased a tired, dated old bungalow and pairs them up with innovative architects to help them revamp their properties and turn them into modern-day heavenly homes. In Ireland in the 1970s, it was known as bungalow blitz – a simple, affordable and rather ungainly solution to housing shortage. Soon they came to represent all that was wrong with modern planning, as bungalows dotted the countryside willy-nilly until people saw them not as unobtrusive small homes, but as squat monstrosities.

Can Wallace rehabilitate the humble bungalow with help from some design experts? First up is a bungalow in Galway that’s more like a rabbit warren, thanks to various extensions carelessly tacked on by previous owners over the years. Can new owners Niki and Davin untangle this mess of dank passages to create a bright, open-plan home? Architects Nicola and Grainne from Studio Red will have to use all their considerable imagination to transform this

Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism
Wednesday, BBC One, 9pm
The Top Gear and Question of Sport presenter and his model wife have three children – twins Penelope and Leo (8) and five-year-old Felicity – all of whom have been diagnosed with autism. The couple share their experience in this moving documentary, during which they also learn more about the condition and what the future may hold by speaking to experts and other parents in similar circumstances. The BBC describes the programme as “intimate, emotional and refreshingly candid, the portrait of a family so many assume they know, but seen here like never before. The film aims to challenge people’s preconceptions and kickstart a national conversation about an increasingly common condition that so few of us really understand.”

Altered State
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm

Margaret E Ward in Altered State

There’s no doubt the pandemic has changed the nation, but is it a change for the better? Over the past two years, Irish people have had to reassess what’s really important as focus turned to our family life, our health and wellbeing, our sense of community and our economic survival. Now four of Ireland’s foremost thinkers and commentators look at how the pandemic might change Ireland in the long term. Will we have a greater sense of compassion and empathy, and will our faith be weakened or strengthened by the challenges we’ve faced.

Irish Times journalist Jennifer O’Connell explores how our young people will deal with the legacy of the pandemic, while financial journalist Margaret E Ward asks if the pandemic has reset our gauge for what constitutes success. Tech entrepreneur Mark Little looks at how Ireland’s social solidarity has become one of our greatest strengths, and writer and IT columnist Michael Harding goes in search of spiritual meaning in a time when our faith has been sorely tested.

These thought-provoking televisual essays will also feature contributions from a range of figures from Irish life, including educationalist Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, photographer Ruth Medjber, surfer Easkey Britton, influencer Emma Hurley, and psychologist and sports pundit Richie Sadlier.

Thursday, Channel 4, 10pm
Sacked, ostracised, de-platformed or blacklisted – all in the blink of an eye. This is cancel culture. You can be fired for an offensive tweet sent as a teenager; or speak out on a controversial subject, only to find yourself viciously attacked by an online mob. In this Dispatches report, Richard Bacon asks if free speech is under threat and examines how cancel culture is affecting our lives. He meets “the cancelled” to hear first-hand about the impact and consequences of being publicly shunned, and asks what it mean to live in a world where jobs can be lost, lives ruined and reputations destroyed in an instant, simply at the whim of so-called “keyboard warriors”.

Seal le Dáithí
Thursday. TG4, 7.30pm
Eimear Breathnach is Dáithí Ó Sé’s guest this week. When Breathnach was 17 and on holidays in An Cheathrú Rua, she had an accident that would change her life forever: she broke her neck and was left in a wheelchair. But didn’t put a stop to her interest in sport, and she began competing in rugby, athletics and table tennis. Breathnach competed at the Paralympic Games in Beijing and London before retiring from sport. She is currently president of Paralympic Ireland.

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