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Sunday 20 April 2014

Schindler's List

Not everyone was over the moon when Steven Spielberg announced in the early 1990s that he would be making a film about the Holocaust. Despite having made sombre-enough films such as Empire of the Sun and The Colour Purple, he was still best known for crowd-pleasing fluff such as E.T. and Indiana Jones and critics muttered about his unsuitability for the job.

Spielberg, the consummate filmmaker, was underrated. Schindler's List, he strongly felt, was the film he had been born to make, and he took the task of getting its tone right very seriously.

Based on a true story, the film follows Oskar Schindler, an unscrupulous Czech businessman and womaniser, who sets out to make a profit from the Holocaust but ends up becoming an unlikely saviour.

Liam Neeson is wonderful as the suave industrialist, who surprises himself by growing a conscience, but Schindler's List is dominated by the performance of Ralph Fiennes as the monstrous Amon Goeth. The film at times is very hard to watch, but it's also extremely moving.

Dirty Harry (1971): Thriller based on the Zodiac killings of the late 1960s and starring Clint Eastwood as Harry Callaghan, an uncompromising lawman intent on solving San Francisco's crime problems with his trusty .44 Magnum (Tonight, RTE2, 12.20am).

Braveheart (1995): Wildly inaccurate but thoroughly enjoyable account of the exploits of Scots hero William Wallace, directed by and starring Mel Gibson (Sunday, C4, 9pm).

Cinderella Man (2005): Oscar-winning biopic of Jim Braddock, a washed-up boxer who made a remarkable recovery in 1930s. With Russell Crowe (Sunday, BBC2, 10pm).

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002): Sam Rockwell is excellent in George Clooney's directorial debut as a TV producer who lives a secret life as an international hitman (Tuesday, BBC1, 11.15pm).

Leaving Las Vegas (1995): This dreary melodrama about a doomed liaison between an alcoholic and a prostitute might just put you off hooch -- and hookers -- for good. With Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth Shue (Wednesday, RTE1, 12.50am).

The Silence of the Lambs (1990): Jonathan Demme's electrifying thriller in which Jodie Foster's FBI agent Clarice Starling tries to catch a serial killer, with the help of demented prisoner Hannibal Lecter. With Anthony Hopkins (Friday, Channel 6, 9.50pm).

How Low Can You Go: Reality Check

Monday, RTE2, 10.30pm

Many of us will have secretly envied the idiotic exploits of Baz, Mark and Michael in How Low Can You Go, because their adventures involved travel to sunny and exotic climes. But in this new series their wings have most definitely been clipped. The boys inadvertently offend Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh on their way to see their commissioning editor, who informs them that their show has been axed.

Shorn of big budgets and fancy locations, Baz, Mark and Michael are forced to use their Dublin lives as a backdrop for the new show. We see them at work and in the pub, and the only travelling they're doing from now on is boarding the 46A. Good enough for them.

Seinfeld: When George decides to help out a busboy he ruins his life. Comedy, with Jerry Seinfeld (Monday, Channel 6, 7.35pm).

LangerLand TV: New series from the people behind LangerLand.com, which satirises the great and the good of Irish life (Monday, RTE2, 11pm).

Mutual Friends: John asks Leigh and her sons to come and stay. Comic drama about a marriage break-up in the aftermath of a bereavement (Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm).

Sex and the City: Carrie attempts to iron out some of Big's more annoying habits, and Charlotte dates an uncircumcised man (Wednesday, Channel 6, 9pm).

My Name is Earl: Earl gets all sentimental about his moment in the limelight when a reality show in which he briefly appeared is re-peated on television (Thursday, Channel 6, 8.30pm).

Ugly Betty: Betty falls foul of a poisoned perfume plot, the victim of which was intended to be Claire. America Ferrera stars (Friday, C4, 9pm).

A Number

Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm

The BBC seems to be reviving its grand tradition of adapting plays for television, and this complex drama by Caryl Churchill mixes themes of family, identity and terrifying scientific innovations.

Tom Wilkinson (pictured) stars as Salter, who is confronted by his son Bernard (Rhys Ifans), who demands more information on his childhood and past. He soon wishes he hadn't asked, because his father informs him that he's a clone of a son who died in a car accident.

Bernard then discovers he is one of 20 individuals who were cloned from the original Bernard, who complicates matters further by turning up.

Salter, meanwhile, confronts a disaster of his own making.

The Tudors: While Henry is haunted by memories of Thomas More, Anne tries to cement her position by negotiating a match for her daughter with a French royal (Sunday, TV3, 11.45pm).

Raw: New Irish drama by Lisa McGee about life in a hectic restaurant kitchen, starring Charlene McKenna as a young commis chef and Michael Colgan as an egotistical head chef (Monday, RTE2, 9.30pm).

Mad Men: Peggy fends off the advances of various ad men, while pining for the absent Pete. Outstanding drama about Madison Avenue in the 1960s (Monday, RTE2, 11.45pm).

Prison Break: Michael and his team have one day to find the next cardholder if they're to avoid going back to prison (Tuesday, RTE2, 9pm).

Grey's Anatomy: In the first part of a season finale, Meredith and Derek have one last chance for a successful outcome for their clinical trial (Tuesday, RTE2, 9.55pm).

The Wire: McNulty and Daniels wonder how they will keep their key witness safe until he testifies (Thursday, Channel 6, 9.30pm).

Where Was Your Family During The Famine?

Monday, RTE1, 9.30pm

In the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, some of the most dramatic episodes have involved subjects whose ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust. For Irish people researching their family trees, the calamity they are bound to come up against is the Great Famine, the disaster that befell our country between 1845 and 1848, leaving a million dead and forcing at least another million to emigrate. In terms of generations, the 1840s is not that long ago, yet most of us know little of our families' experience in the Famine.

This documentary takes the cases of three public figures -- John Waters, Eddie Hobbs and Jasmine Guinness -- and examines how their ancestors were affected by Black '47 and its aftermath. Each individual begins their journey by returning to the place they and their family originated from. Coming from a prosperous family, one might be forgiven for imagining that Jasmine's ancestors were comfortably insulated from the torments of the 1840s, but it's her maternal line that turns up some shocking surprises.

9/11: Ground Zero Underground: Those who attempted to find loved ones in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks (Tonight, C4, 7pm).

Joanna Lumley: In the Land of the Northern Lights: The actress attempts to fulfil a lifelong ambition by viewing the northern lights (Sunday, BBC1, 9pm).

Disasters: The tragic fire at a film screening in the town of Dromcollogher, Co Limerick in 1926 (Tuesday, RTE1, 8.30pm).

Trish's Paris Kitchen: Trish Deseine returns with more tips on French food and style (Wednesday, RTE1, 7.30pm).

Who Do You Think You Are?: Chef Ainsley Harriott makes a surprising discovery about his great-great-greatfather (Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm).

Ryan Confidential: Gerry talks to Meat Loaf (Thursday, RTE1, 10.15pm).

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final

Sunday, RTE2, 12.30pm

With all due respect to Kilkenny, hardly anyone outside the county will be cheering for them in Sunday's final. This has nothing to do with a lack of respect for the Cats; it's just that in recent seasons, their All-Ireland triumphs have begun to seem inevitable. This year, they're going for three titles in a row, and they've won five times since 2000.

This miraculous squad must be one of the greatest sides to have played the game, and Brian Cody one of the truly great coaches, but this Sunday the other 31 counties will be cheering for their opponents. Waterford have been the nearly men for the past four or five seasons, a talented team who've come close to reaching a final several times.

It's hard to see the Cats slipping up, but if Waterford start well and Dan Shanahan is in goal-scoring form, you never know.

Racing: The Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes from Leopardstown, presented by Robert Hall (Today, RTE2, 2pm).

Paralympics: A preview of the Beijing Paralympics, which kicks off today and runs until September 17 (Today, RTE2, 5pm).

Soccer: In Giovanni Trapattoni's first competitive game in charge, the Republic take on Georgia at the neutral venue of Mainz (Today, RTE2, 5.30pm).

Motor Racing: David Kennedy and Declan Quigley present live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix (Sunday, Setanta Ireland, 12.15pm).

GAA: Pat Spillane and guests look back at the highs and lows of the 2008 hurling championships (Sunday, RTE2, 9.30pm).

Soccer: World Cup qualifying game number two, and what should be an easy-enough tie away to Montenegro (Wednesday, RTE2, 5.30pm).

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