With the New Year comes great new shows and returning favourites. Here is the RTÉ Guide team's pick of the programmes from across the channels.
RAW Sunday RTÉ One
The restaurant-based drama is back for a third season, with RAW firmly established as one of Dublin’s best neighbourhood restaurants. All the familiar faces are back – but there are changes.
Jojo (Charlene McKenna) and Dylan (Paul Reid) are still going strong and have bought a house. Bobby (Liam Garrigan) and Dylan are making a success of their bar and Jojo is well established in RAW as Geoff’s (Damon Gameau) number two in the kitchen. Life can’t seem to get any better for Jojo. But it can always get worse.
Laughing, Charlene McKenna reflects on her character: “She’s getting all domestic, and pretending to be a grown up”, she says. “But things aren’t going to go according to plan. It’s Jojo after all. I don’t think things will ever really work for her because she tends to hit the self-destruct button after a while – which is exactly what she does this season. The glint in her eye is still there.”
Filming season three only ended in November and although it went “great”, according to Charlene, it was overshadowed. “We did have a sad and very unfortunate incident in the middle, our beloved DP (Director of Photography) Donal Gilligan died suddenly. So that shocked and threw everyone, but if you were to look for a silver lining it really super-bonded the set and crew.”
Last season, we saw the arrival of Ger Ryan as Jojo and Shane’s mother Maeve. This time around, dad joins in the family fun. “Yeah, daddy”, says McKenna, “We’ve Mark Lambert joining us this year. You get the whole Harte family, now, which is great. And then there’s the additional cousin as well,” she adds, referring to Marcella Plunkett’s arrival as drop-dead gorgeous cousin Ellen. “Which does not suit Jojo one bit,” says McKenna. “It’s Jojo’s idea of hell.”
Grey’s Anatomy Tuesday RTÉ Two
“The theme of this season is rebirth”, says Shonda Rhimes, the brains behind medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. “Everybody is sort of coming out of this very dark place”, she says, recalling last season’s jaw-dropping, murderous finale. But the uplift came soon, with wedding bells in this season’s opening episode, which went out last week on RTÉ Two. “And there was something really hopeful and beautiful about Cristina and Owen getting married”, Rhimes feels.
The show’s main inspiration felt that, after all that had happened last year (deaths, miscarriages, lots of unhappiness) she wanted something to signify that the show was undergoing a major change of emphasis in season seven. Yep, even a Desperate Housewives-like flash forward was considered.
“We talked about jumping ahead in time, we talked about jumping ahead a year”, she says. “And when it came down to it, the one thing that signals the biggest change in the world is Cristina wanting to be a bride. There can be nothing more different for Cristina than Cristina wanting to be a bride.”
But now that she and Owen are man and wife, could that spell a period of domestic bliss and character boredom for two of the more edgy and interesting roles in Grey’s Anatomy? Rhimes has no doubt it’s the right move.
“It’s really hard for Cristina and Owen to be boring”, she insists. “If Mer and Der are a lighter couple, Cristina and Owen are so fraught with their darkness and their twistiness that I can’t imagine them getting boring, ever.”
Another priority for Rhimes this season is to find closure for Alex, who still seems to be suffering the loss of Izzie. “We’re talking about it obsessively and trying to figure it out”, she says. “We’re approaching it pretty carefully. I want however we deal with Alex growing up and moving on and moving past that relationship to feel authentic, and not to feel like something that’s patched together.”
Body of Proof New to RTÉ One
Last year we saw Dana Delany walk away from Desperate Housewives after an offer came along that she couldn’t resist. This spring, she’s back on our screens in her own show, Body of Proof, playing Dr Megan Hunt, a brainy neurosurgeon who starts a new career as a medical examiner after an accident prevents her from returning to the operating room. The RTÉ Guide’s Janice Butler chats to the actress in Monte Carlo about her new venture.
Can you tell us a bit about your new show and the character of Dr Megan Hunt?
It’s a procedural, which people seem to like, and every week we will examine a different case and why the person died. I think it’s really interesting because it combines medicine and crime, and I have a great character – she’s very complicated, kind of like a female Dr House – that’s what drew me to it.
Was it a huge change from your character Katherine in Desperate Housewives?
It’s very different, but I like to change things up and stretch myself. But you know I feel so lucky, I never thought at this stage in my life that I’d still be offered new shows.
Is that the end of you in Desperate Housewives?
We don’t know yet, it depends on what happens with Body of Proof. When my new show got picked up, Marc Cherry, the creator of Desperate Housewives, sent me a big bouquet of flowers with a note saying, ‘I’ll be waiting for you’. And I told him that I like a man who waits! So if my show doesn’t work I might come back but even if it does I might come back anyhow for the final season to wrap things up.
Brothers & Sisters Returning to RTÉ One
Emily Vancamp (Rebecca) on . . .
. . . working on Brothers & Sisters
“It’s wonderful – it’s such a great group of people and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been doing this for a while and it actually feels like I’ve been going to school for the past eight weeks, between this show and Everwood. I’ve said it a million times before but Patricia Wettig, who plays my mom on the show, is the most incredible women I’ve ever worked with.”
. . . working with Sally Field
“I was very intimidated at the start but it’s all about the challenge for me and tackling it. I remember my first table reading was with Rob Lowe and Sally Field – it was so nerve-wracking. But they are all incredibly supportive people and they are so giving with their time, especially Sally Field. She’s always there to guide me but never in a pushy way, more like mentor.”
. . . the rumours of a relationship with co-star Dave Annable
“Oh there’s always rumours about Dave and I – but honestly he is just a great friend and we have a wonderful time working together. But the media invasion is very weird for me – people think because you’re an actress you’re an extrovert, but in fact I’m very shy and not the most capable people-person out there and I find it very hard. But by the same token, I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Lark Rise to Candleford Returning to BBC One
In need of a perfect winter warmer? Well you can’t do better than the fourth series of Lark Rise to Candleford, Bill Gallagher's adaptation of Flora Thompson's charming memoir of her Oxfordshire childhood. Favourite characters return, including Julia Sawalha as post mistress Dorcas Lane; Olivia Hallinan as Laura Timmins, her assistant; Claudie Blakley as Laura's mother, Emma; Ben Aldridge as handsome journalist and Laura's sweetheart Daniel Parish. Joining the cast is Richard Harrington (Holby Blue, Collision), who plays Gabriel Cochrane, the handsome (naturally) and once-wealthy owner of a large iron foundry.
Criminal Minds Returning to RTÉ Two & Living
Back for a sixth season of profiling, the Criminal Minds crew is a little slimmer this time around as JJ (played by AJ Cook) is being written out of the show while Prentiss (Paget Brewster) will no longer be a regular. On the plus side, the Forest Whitaker-led spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (sic) is on the way.
Mad Men Returning to RTÉ One
We’re up season four in the stylish ’60s-based drama starring Jon Hamm as advertising executive Don Draper. It’s the fall of 1964, and the recently established Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is going through some teething problems. Pete and Peggy try to secure more money for the firm and when their plan goes wrong, Don has to pick up the pieces.
Zen New to BBC One
Rufus Sewell plays fictional Italian detective Aurelio Zen in three feature length dramas based on the best-selling novels by the late Michael Dibdin.
Set in and around Rome, the series will feature many of the combined attractions of Italy and the Dibdin novels – thrilling investigations, fun, warmth and beautiful people. “I'm thrilled to be a part of this project with the opportunity to play such an intriguing, complex and likeable character”, says Sewell. The series is set in contemporary Rome and is made from the producers behind the BAFTA award-winning Wallander. However, unlike the Swedish detective, Zen is a handsome, humorous and romantic kind of guy.
Boardwalk Empire New to Sky Atlantic
Steve Buscemi stars in the Martin Scorsese-directed drama set in America’s Prohibition era that chronicles the life and times of Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who was equal parts politician and gangster.
Parenthood New to RTÉ Two
This is the story of the Bravermans – Sarah, Adam, Crosby, and Julia – four grown siblings sharing the headaches, heartaches and unexpected joys of being a parent. From Academy Award-winning executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and writer/executive producer Jason Katims comes this contemporary re-imagining of the international hit feature film. Focusing on the everyday challenges that modern families face while raising children and starting over, Parenthood grounds its drama and its comedy in the celebration of the beautiful mess of life.
Marchlands New to UTV
This five-part drama stars Alex Kingston, Jodie Whittaker, Dean Andrews and Shirley Conn in a gripping story of three unrelated families living in the same house at different times: the 1960s, 1980s and the present day. The families are linked by the spirit of the young daughter belonging to the 1960s’ family, who died in mysterious circumstances.
Mildred Pierce New to Sky Atlantic
Based on the book by James M Cain that was also made into a film noir classic starring Joan Crawford, this HBO adaptation features Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce in a tale of a middle-class mother whose daughter Veda is one nasty piece of work.
Kidnap & Ransom New to UTV
When a businesswoman (Emma Fielding) is kidnapped in South Africa, expert hostage negotiator Dominic King (Trevor Eve) believes he’s dealing with a straightforward case – pay the money, get her back. But when the release is botched and they strike again in Britain, the kidnapper, Willard’s (John Hannah) motives become far more sinister.
The Good Wife Returning to RTÉ One
Forget the hype around Glee, this was the best new show to arrive last year from the US. And the good news is that the second season promises to be even better. Great cast, led by Julianna Margulies, appealing characters such as Kalinda, Will and Diane, plus superb storylines make this show unmissable.
Wild at Heart Returning to TV3 & UTV
Back this week, the African-based drama sees Danny Trevanion appointed as State Vet, which means he must take on the overall responsibility for all the animals in the district. Life rarely runs smoothly and this season there’s animal poaching, a lion breeding programme, orphaned baby rhinos, smuggled wildlife and the local township being moved on by a mining company.
Chase New to TV3
Former Desperate Housewives’ hunk Jesse Metcalfe heads the cast in this lightning-fast-paced drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat and mouse as a team of US marshals hunts down America's most dangerous fugitives.
Fringe Returning to 3e & Sky1
Returning after a mid-season break, sci-fi drama Fringe continues where it left off, with a game-changing third season set in the real and alternate universes. Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble and Lance Reddick star in one of TV’s most improved shows.
The Big C New to RTÉ One
Laura Linney stars as Cathy, a reserved suburban wife and mother whose recent cancer diagnosis forces her to shake up her life and find hope, humour and the light side of a dark situation while managing her immature but well-meaning husband, played by Oliver Platt.
Lie to Me Returning to Sky1
The popular US crime drama continues its third season with British actor Tim Roth playing human lie detector Cal Lightman and, as the series returns, he puts his own life at risk during an investigation into the deaths of six miners.
Primeval Returning to UTV
We don’t need an excuse to show a snap of the utterly fantastic Ruth Bradley, but the Irish actress will feature in the new season of Primeval, the no-expense-spared, CGI-tastic, sci-fi drama that returned on New Year’s Day.
Treme New to Sky Atlantic
Drama series created by David (The Wire) Simon and Eric Overmyer about the residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and ordinary New Orleanians, as they try to rebuild their lives, homes and unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.
Nurse Jackie Returning to RTÉ Two & BBC Two
Is it a dark comedy or a humorous drama? Either way, Nurse Jackie is a highly entertaining, adult show that proves once more that Edie Falco is a brilliant actress. And as much as she stands out as the morally ambiguous Jackie, Eve Best is great fun as her best pal, Dr Eleanor O'Hara.
The Promise New to Channel 4
Peter Kosminsky's four-part drama is about an 18-year-old Londoner Erin (Claire Foy) who sets off to spend summer in Israel while reading an old diary belonging to her seriously ill grandfather, who was involved in the post-WWII British peace-keeping force in Palestine.
Monroe New to UTV
Medical drama starring James Nesbitt as dark-humoured neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe. Written by Peter Bowker (Occupation, Desperate Romantics), it focuses on Monroe’s life both inside and outside hospital.
Hustle Returning to BBC One
Hustle, the everyday story of a bunch of con artistes, returns for a seventh series in 2011 with the same cast as last time out – Joe Ryan is played by Joe Armstrong, Emma by Kelly Adams, Albert by Robert Vaughn, Mickey by Adrian Lester, Ash by Robert Glenister, Sean by Matt Di Angelo and Georgina Althorp by Ange
10 O'Clock Live New to Channel 4
This is a live comedy and current affairs show hosted by David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne. Each week, the hosts present an intelligent, informative and – more importantly – funny, take on the world of current affairs with a mix of debates, interviews, topical comedy, investigations and opinion pieces.
The Eurovision 2011 Returning to RTÉ One
Eurovision fever will once again kick off in the New Year as Ireland’s Eurovision entry will be selected on the The Late Late Show Eurosong 2011 on February 11. The winning act will go on to represent Ireland in the 56th Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final in Düsseldorf, Germany, in May 2011.
Take Me Out Returning to UTV & TV3
Paddy McGuinness is back with the dating show that helps lucky lads and ladies find love. The formula hasn’t changed, as once again, each male contestant comes down the love-lift to face 30 single women and try to convince one of them to take him out.
The Daily Show Returning to RTÉ One
Celebrity guests lined up include Jon Kenny and Pat Shortt, Pixie McKenna, Michelle Collins, John Giles and Rob Kearney. Former World Champion Bernard Dunne is joining the team as he travels the country meeting Ireland’s sporting champions of the future, while Lottie Ryan returns with the latest showbiz news.
Ant and Dec’s Push the Button Returning to UTV
TV’s ever-present pair return for another run of their Saturday night game show spectacular. Each week, a family will start of with £100,000 (around €120,000) and head through a series of tasks that can reduce that amount. We’re told that there will be several new exciting twists to the show.
Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford New to UTV
Following the successful pilot show, award-winning stand-up comedian Jason Manford hosts this brand new series. It promises to be an hour of prime-time entertainment featuring some of the hottest comedians and entertainers plus some of the biggest music performers around.
Sophie Dahl on Mrs Beeton New to BBC Two
Best-selling author and food writer Sophie Dahl returns to BBC Two to tell the compelling story of Mrs Beeton, one of the most famous food writers in British cooking. Sophie Dahl On Mrs Beeton will mix social history with cookery and storytelling. Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management was once a must-have on the wedding list of every aspirational Victorian bride. An instant best-seller when it was first published in 1861, it was the first of its kind to combine thousands of recipes with advice on every aspect of domestic management.
“I have been a long-time devotee of Mrs Beeton and leapt at the chance to learn more about her extraordinary life through this programme,” says Sophie.
“People have an image of her as a starchy Victorian matron, but she was actually a startlingly modern woman, who wrote her famous book at the age of 23. Her life story is compelling and I'm honoured to tell it.”
Hugh's Big Fish Fight New to Channel 4
Three years ago Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launched his initiative to create greater awareness about chickens. Now Hugh leaves the comfort of River Cottage to focus attention on the world's diminishing fish stocks.
Garraí Glas New to TG4
Garraí Glas is based on a simple idea, in each program Síle Nic Chonaonaigh, who is planning to begin her own vegetable garden, visits a backyard organic grower three times during the season. During her visits Síle helps out in the garden, picks up a few tips, learns from other’s mistakes and makes some hard and fast friends.
Jamie's Fish Supper New to Channel 4
In this series of ten bite-sized programmes, Jamie Oliver aims to give consumers and cooks delicious and easy new recipes using different, more plentiful types of fish and seafood, so that fish can stay on the menu for generations to come.
Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait New to Channel 4
Gordon Ramsay investigates the shark fin soup trade. Each year an estimated 100 million sharks are killed worldwide. Gordon confronts the horrific fate of these majestic creatures and discovers how their decline is damaging the oceans' food chain.
ICA Bootcamp Returning to RTÉ Two
Mentors Breda, Imelda and Josephine put 12 unsuspecting ‘Tiger Cubs’ through their paces as they try to teach them how to fend for themselves. From baking to hat-making, these girls have the chance to uncover hidden talents and learn skills that will save money and impress their peers.
The Biggest Loser Returning to UTV
Davina McCall present the British version of the international hit show, as 14 seriously overweight people battle it out to change their lives. Contestants weigh from an ample 15 to an incredible 31 stone and are made up of seven couples, including combos of mothers and daughters, friends, etc.
The Model Agency New to Channel 4
This new, seven-part series offers unprecedented access to the world of modelling. Using a multi-camera documentary rig in a commercial environment for the first time - the offices of the famous Premier Model Management agency – the show reveals the realities of daily life in the world's most glamorous industry.
Feirm Factor Returning to TG4
Filmed on location in the various Agricultural Colleges nationwide and also on their own farms, the farmers compete to achieve the highest standards and winning margins possible in all tasks, in the third season of the agricultural reality show.