One hundred years ago, Ireland was at war with the British Empire. A simmering enmity to occupation that had begun centuries before had found its fullest expression in the 1916 Rising, the brutal repression of which had turned the public mood irrevocably towards the cause of freedom. A guerilla war brilliantly masterminded by Michael Collins was in full swing across the country, with attacks on RIC barracks and the auxiliaries leading to bloody reprisals.
An endgame of sorts was in play, though the coming Treaty and Partition would lead to a civil war and sow the seeds of future miseries.
But what did the British think about all this?
As a former Minister of Defence who worked through the height of the Troubles, Michael Portillo knows all about how the brahmins of Westminster think about Ireland, and in this new two-part documentary he gains access to the letters, diaries and reports of senior British ministers and advisors as they struggled to deal with the rapidly changing events in post-Great War Ireland.
And as he investigates the shifting alliances within Dublin Castle and the Houses of Parliament, he finds discord and disagreement between hawks favouring violent repression and doves hoping to sue for peace.
Portillo also reveals a web of intrigue among Britain's ruling classes, for whom the real issue was never Ireland but rather their own party advantage and personal career interests.
The former Tory minister charts the machinations and blithe double-dealings of men who spent more time engaging in political manoeuvrings than they ever did trying to improve Anglo-Irish relations.
From the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles to the Foreign Office in London, the floor of the Dáil and Belfast's City Hall, Michael Portillo brings a fresh perspective to our War of Independence.
Films of the week
Tonight, RTÉ1, 11.40pm
John Huston's final film brilliantly recreates a wintry Dublin soiree in 1904 and stars Angelica Huston as a woman haunted by a dead lover. With Donal McCann, Marie Kean.
Two Days, One Night
Sunday, BBC2, 12.35am
Moving drama starring Marion Cotillard as a factory worker battling depression who, over the course of a weekend, goes door to door asking her co-workers to help fight her impending redundancy. Olivier Gourmet co-stars.
Monday, TG4, 9.30pm
Brad Pitt plays the leader of a tank unit that faces heavy combat as Allied forces move through western Germany towards Berlin. With Shia LaBeouf.
Wednesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
In 1977, Richard Nixon agreed to do a series of TV interviews with David Frost which he hoped would rehabilitate his reputation. He was wrong. Michael Sheen and Frank Langella star.
Thursday, Sky Drama, 8pm
Taron Egerton (below) gives an impressive performance as the young Elton John in Dexter Fletcher's salty and entertaining musical biopic. With Bryce Dallas Howard, Jamie Bell.
Ava Duvernay's drama compellingly recreates the seminal civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King. With David Oyelowo, Tessa Thompson, Carmen Ejogo.
The Queen and the Coup
Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth found herself in the middle of an international crisis on foot of an MI6 and CIA plot to overthrow the government of Iran.
Murder in the Car Park
Monday, Channel 4, 9pm
Dead man in Sydenham
In 1987, an investigator called Daniel Morgan was found dead in a south London car park with an axe in his head. The murder remains unsolved.
Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
The naked truth
A look back at 50 years of The Sun’s page three glamour shots, a dubious British institution that made models like Samantha Fox tabloid celebrities.
The Salisbury Poisonings
Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Long arm of the Kremlin
Mini-series based on the 2018 attempt on the lives of former Russian army officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. With Anne Marie Duff.
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
The royal tattoo
Monaco only has one tattoo parlour, but Princess Stephanie’s daughter Camille knows where it is and has decided to get a discreet inking done.
Making a Museum
Tuesday, RTÉ1, 7pm
The Story of MoLI
A look at the collaboration between UCD and the National Library that created a new museum showcasing Ireland’s proud literary heritage.
Documentary on One
Today, RTÉ Radio 1, 2pm
Every February, sledding dogs driven by mushers embark on a gruelling 650km race across the wilds of Norway through blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. So why is Irishwoman Helen Mullane out there in the thick of it, racing against Norwegian men?
Sunday, RTÉ Radio 1, 11am
Ireland is emerging from the lockdown faster than anyone could have envisaged just a few short weeks ago, but are we getting ahead of ourselves? Brendan O’Connor and his Sunday panel of experts will be reflecting on this and all the week’s other big news stories.
The Full Score
Monday, Lyric FM, 2pm
Liz Nolan has a treat for regular listeners this afternoon, as Emanuel Ax plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 backed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. And on the 25th anniversary of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Liz will recall some highlights.
The New Tech War
Friday, BBC Radio 4, 11am
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera investigates how the UK, America and other western nations are scrambling to keep pace with China’s rapid technological advances in various key fields, and wonders if it’s already too late for them to catch up,