The best of the week ahead... your TV highlights
Game of Thrones: Season 5, Monday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm Fantasy series back with a bang
"Freud goes on the rampage!" was how distinguished author and Game of Thrones fan Margaret Atwood described the show in a recent tribute. She was referring to the orgy of rapes, murders and disembowellings that punctuate the progress of this hugely popular fantasy series. As Game of Thrones nuts will be well aware, season five kicks off on Sky Atlantic Monday night, and having seen the opening episode at a recent première, I can assure you that it's business as usual.
After killing his dad at the end of season four, Tyrion Lannister is on the run, drinking his way across the Narrow Sea while hiding in a poky wooden crate, rescued by a friend who tries to re-interest him in the game of power politics. And while his sister, Cersei wants revenge, his brother Jaime still seems reluctant to do what's necessary. Daenerys Targaryen has taken over the city of Meereen, but her new-found power is threatened by a popular uprising. And in the North, Stannis Baratheon tries to use Jon Snow to persuade Mance Rayder to "bend the knee" and become a loyal subject, a fraught situation that leaves Snow facing a dreadful dilemma.
It looks fantastic, and the cast is impressive: Aidan Gillen is back as the odious Petyr Baelish, who seems a bit like a cross between Richard III and Charles Haughey, or maybe that's just me. Emilia Clarke is as luminous as ever as the mercurial Daenerys, and Peter Dinklage provides a bracing dose of cynical humour as the cheerfully dastardly Tyrion. It's hugely entertaining stuff, and season five looks sets to be a ripper.
Inside Harley Street
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
How the rich get better
In this new three-part series, film-maker Vanessa Engle lifts the lid on the private clinics on London’s Harley Street that offer every imaginable medical procedure — for a price. Everything from plastic surgery to hair transplants is available, but in this opening episode, we hear about some of the good things done on Harley Street, and meet a teenager who’s been flown in from Kuwait to be treated for a brain tumour, and a sick Russian boy whose visit has been funded by a TV telethon.
Once Upon a Time
A fairytale in Maine
A playful modern-day take on the fairytale genre, season 3 of Once Upon a Time is showing on RTÉ, while all four seasons are now available on Netflix. Jennifer Morrison stars as Emma Swan, a bounty hunter from a small seaside town inhabited by fairytale characters who’ve been sent there and robbed of their memories by the evil Queen Regina. Emma’s originally from the Enchanted Forest too, and only she can save Snow White, Prince Charming and so forth from the horror of suburban oblivion.
Close to the Enemy
Hard-hitting postwar spy saga
This ambitious new drama by Stephen Poliakoff is about to go into production and will star Jim Sturgess as a British Army intelligence officer who tries to force a captive German scientist into sharing the secrets behind the Nazi V2 rockets. Close to the Enemy, set in 1946, will recreate the wreckage of postwar London and explore a battered nation’s attempts to recreate itself. A fine cast includes Freddie Highmore, Alfred Molina, Angela Bassett and Lindsay Duncan.
The soapbox: secrets and spoilers
From Carrigstown to Corrie, ultimatums abound…
Emmerdale: After Jacob trashes Home Farm, the police arrive to make an arrest, leaving Alicia reeling. Lachlan, meanwhile, is still showing zero remorse, forcing Chrissie to make contact with the teen's father. Emma convinces James that he should be jealous of Paddy and Chas's friendship. Seriously. Next thing, the master manipulator is inviting her ex-husband back to hers for a drink and to, eh, tread familiar ground. If that gets out, there'll be hell to pay…
Coronation street: When Andy lets slip that Bethany and Sarah are heading back to Milan, the 14-year-old bursts into No. 8 on the absolute rampage just as mum Sarah was in the midst of enjoying Callum's charms. David's over his slew of houseguests, and things get worse when he spots Gail putting flowers on the real Gavin's grave. Owen declares his intention to depart after Anna refuses to give their relationship another go, while Tracy is still inviting Tony to sneak down the ginnel.
Fair City: It's only been months in the making, but - this week - Jackie admits to Pete that she still has feelings for him. As expected, ultimatums are being issued all over the shop, especially when Orla finds out what's going on. Kerri-Ann has split up with Frank to be with Decco; unfortunately the latter gives her the flick without realising. Ama's life is saved by Jim's son, Shane, who thinks he's the new doctor, and Rachel heads out for a night on the tiles with Charlotte before her Irish oral.
Eastenders: Roxy gets herself proposed to by Aleks this week. This would be good news if she wasn't falling in lurve with her sister's husband. This storyline is entirely different to the time she had a dalliance with her sister's boyfriend, Jack. That was just a one-night-stand that resulted in a child, not unbridled soap-love. On the upside, Aleks is proposing in the knowledge that his girlfriend is playing away. However did he find that out?
Ros na rún: Following a drunken outburst, Evan gives Berni an ultimatum - it's either Cathal or her son.
Sheena McGinley is an editor at entertainment.ie