Tuesday 16 January 2018

Television: Stay switched on

Mrs Brown's Boys
Mrs Brown's Boys
Local Hero Award winner Donal Walsh.
James May's Toy Stories: The Motorcycle Diar
The Thirteenth Tale
Agatha Christie’s Marple

Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington rounds up the highlights of the New Year's TV schedule

Tonight, Sky One, 8pm

This rousing two-part adventure yarn was filmed in Ireland and is based on a novel by John Meade Falkner.

Aneurin Barnard stars as an 18th century orphan from a small English coastal town who falls in with a tough gang of smugglers led by Elzevir (Ray Winstone), a wily and resourceful scoundrel who tries to stay one step ahead of customs officials while searching for Blackbeard's buried treasure.

Charlie Brooker's 2013 ScreenWipe
Tonight, BBC2, 10.40pm

Charlie Brooker  tilts his satirical lance at the highs and lows of 2013, and looks back on a year that might have seemed uneventful but was actually anything but.

Among the subjects under discussion are the horse meat scandal, the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, the resignation of Pope Benedict, the arrival of a royal baby, Margaret Thatcher's death, the US government shutdown, freak weather and the Justin Bieber backlash.

Endeavour: Everest without Oxygen
December 29, BBC4, 10.45pm

Documentary charting the extraordinary achievements of Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner who in 1978 became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest without the use of additional oxygen.

Their triumph confounded medical experts and seasoned mountaineers, who were convinced that it was impossible to survive free-breathing above 8,000 feet in the Himalayas, in the altitudes known as the Death Zone.

Agatha Christie's Marple
December 29, UTV, 9pm

Julia McKenzie and Wendy Craig star in this festive whodunit based on the stories of Agatha Christie.

Jane Marple has gone to stay with her recently-widowed friend Marjorie when she meets a young chauffeur with big ambitions. Mike Rogers thinks all his dreams have come true when he marries an American heiress, but when she's found murdered in their new home, he's the chief suspect.

Mrs Brown's Boys: New Year Special
December 29, RTE One, 9.30pm

Mrs Brown completes her two-part festive run with this New Year's adventure which opens with the sad news that Maria has lost her Auntie Mary in a car crash.

And when Father Damien announces that Mary's pet parrot will have to be put down unless they find a new home for it, Mrs Brown reluctantly agrees to take it in.

Meanwhile, Agnes tries to make sure her beloved grandson Bono doesn't get sent to a notorious local primary school.

Good Year/Bad Year
December 29, RTE One, 10.15pm

Simon Delaney hosts this one-off panel show that takes a satirical look back at events domestic and international over the past 12 months.

The light-hearted quiz will feature celebrity team captains and guest panellists who will cast a comic eye over the big and not so big stories of the year, from global politics and Middle Eastern insurrections to the goings-on in the Dail bar, Irish sports and, of course, the departure of the Troika.

Gok Does Panto
December 30, Channel 4, 7.05pm

This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows fashion guru Gok Wan over three weeks as he prepares to fulfil the dream of a lifetime by becoming a pantomime star in a London production of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'.

Along with fellow cast members Stephanie Beacham and Gary Wilmot, Gok is taught to sing and dance and even masters the art of flying on a wire. But will it all work come opening night?

Jamie's Festive Feast
December 30, Channel 4, 8pm

As the post-Christmas indigestion kicks in, Jamie Oliver cooks food that should help you unwind after the festive madness, including easily prepared dishes such as extra-cheesy pasta and tasty one-pot Bloody Mary beef.

He also makes breakfast waffles with 'epic' hot chocolate, spicy fiesta tacos, and comes up with some ingenious suggestions for nibbles and treats for your New Year's Eve party.

The Thirteenth Tale
December 30, BBC2, 9.30pm

This tense psychological drama is adapted from a novel by Diane Setterfield and stars Olivia Colman  as Margaret Lea, an academic who finds out she has been hand-picked by famous novelist Vida Winter (Vanessa Redgrave) to write her biography.

But as Margaret arrives at the author's remote country home, she doesn't realise that she's about to hear an extraordinary confession. With Robert Pugh and Steven Mackintosh.

Two Doors Down
New Year's Eve, BBC1, 9pm

Arabella Weir and Alex Norton head the cast of this seasonal comedy set during a rowdy New Year's Eve party thrown by Scottish couple Eric and Beth Baird.

They're joined by their social-climbing friends Colin and Cathy, and bemused Norwegian neighbours Henning and Nina. But Eric and Beth are also awaiting the return of their soldier son from Iraq, and as drink flows and tensions mount, tempers begin to fray.

The Graham Norton Show
New Year's Eve, BBC1, 10.15pm

In 2013 Graham Norton has yet again proved he's the outstanding chat show host of his time, and in this seasonal special he talks with Will Ferrell Steve Carell and Christina Applegate, the stars of 'Anchorman 2'. He'll also host a rare interview with sisters Joan and Jackie Collins, and welcome the entire 'Monty Python' team on the eve of their reunion. With music from Michael Buble.

New Year's Eve Live: The Ultimate Gathering
New Year's Eve, RTE One, 10.15pm

Daithi O Se, Will Leahy and Sinead Kennedy present this musical countdown to the New Year, and will also celebrate the unqualified success of the Gathering initiative in 2013. Ryan Sheridan and Madness will be among the acts performing at the 3 NYE concert in College Green, while on the banks of the Shannon, Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries will be appearing, alongside The Coronas and The Strypes.

Jools' Annual Hootenanny 2013/14
New Year's Eve, BBC2, 11.30pm

Way back in the late 1960s, Ray Davies wrote some of Britain's most iconic pop songs with The Kinks, and he'll be among Jools Holland's guests at his annual New Year bash. Also joining him will be Charlie and Craig Reid, aka The Proclaimers, 1980s soul diva Lisa Stansfield, former Spice Girl Melanie C, Charlie Wilson, Laura Mvula, John Newman, The Lumineers and Californian sisters HAIM.

New Year's Day, BBC1, 9pm

The BBC's award-winning present-day adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories returns for a new three-part run, and Dr Watson is just recovering from the horror of seeing his friend Holmes plunge to his death at the Reichenbach Falls, when Sherlock turns up out of the blue and apparently in perfect health. But there's no time for catching up, because Holmes has been told about a bomb plot in London. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star.

Reality Bites: Donal Walsh -- My Story
New Year's Day, RTE Two, 9.30pm

An emotional celebration of the short but inspiring life of Kerry teenager Donal Walsh. He was only 16 when he died of cancer last May, but before his passing he had inspired an entire nation with his courage and relentless positivity. This documentary celebrates the young man's life, his impassioned campaign against teenage suicide and his moving and memorable appearance on the 'Saturday Night Show'.

January 2, RTE One, 7pm

At this time of year, thoughts inevitably turn to the summer holidays, and in this new series of their co-produced travel show, Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain and Joe Lindsay will give us plenty of tempting suggestions. They begin with a trip to the coastal town of Sorrento on Italy's Amalfi Coast, a stone's throw from Positano, Naples, Capri and the historic sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Dolphins -- Spy in the Pod
January 2, BBC1, 8pm

The makers of this extraordinary undersea natural history programme used life-size replicas of dolphins, tuna and turtles armed with cameras to provide an unprecedented insight into the complex social lives of these elusive creatures. The dolphins in particular were very curious about their new neighbours, which were able to keep pace with the animals as they dived and swam, leading to some truly spectacular footage.

Birds of a Feather
January 2, UTV, 9pm

Fifteen years after the award-winning suburban comedy about two bickering sisters came to an end, this brand new series catches up with Sharon and Tracey and their extended families. Sharon is still living in her Essex council flat and Tracey is still ensconced in Chigwell with her youngest son, Travis, but events are about to bring the sisters back together. Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson star.

ROG -- The Ronan O'Gara Documentary
January 2, RTE One, 9.30pm

Munster and Ireland out-half Ronan O'Gara retired from playing in May of last year after an extraordinary career that saw him become the highest ever points-scorer for his country. This intriguing documentary follows him through the last four years of his professional career, when he struggled to maintain his very high standards as a rival appeared at international level in the form of Jonny Sexton.

James May's Toy Stories
January 3, BBC2, 9pm

In this episode of 'Toy Stories', James May and his old friend Oz Clarke embark on a daunting challenge. May sets out to build a motorbike and sidecar entirely from Meccano that will be strong enough to take on the Isle of Man's legendary TT circuit. The Meccano bike will have to carry James and Oz around the 37-mile course, and they'll be racing against the clock.

Irish Independent

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