John Byrne's TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Saturday Jan 17 – Friday Jan 23).
The dust is beginning to settle in Tellyland, but there are still new and returning shows on the way, including Grey's Anatomy, period drama Wolf Hall, Call the Midwife – and Claire Byrne's new current affairs programme.
Pick of the week
Grey's Anatomy, Tuesday, RTÉ2
Shonda Rhimes' first TV series just keeps on going. Now entering its 11th season, there's every chance that Grey's Anatomy may equal or even outdo the ultimate medical drama ER's record 15 seasons. So what's happening this time around? With Cristina gone, a new doctor, Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), making the rounds and Derek wanting a move to Washington DC, Meredith struggles to regain a sense of normality, both at home and in the hospital. Meanwhile, Callie and Arizona come to a decision about surrogacy, Amelia overhears a big secret, and Bailey realises she will have to fight Alex for Cristina's board seat. A freak accident also causes two teenagers to get caught in a very compromising position.
Star of the week
Claire Byrne Live, Monday, RTÉ One
One of Ireland's most assured broadcasters, Claire Byrne has now graduated to having her own TV show and will be joined by guests and a live studio audience for discussion, analysis and whatever has the country talking. The programme will contain a number of other elements, including authored reports, newspaper previews and much more.
Claire Byrne says: "It's been a busy few weeks preparing for the new programme and I'm excited to see everything coming together as we prepare to go live. I'm looking forward to meeting people from all around the country and from all walks of life to hear about the issues that really matter to them. It's a very exciting time politically and socially for Ireland, and there certainly is plenty for us to talk about."
Starting this week
Wolf Hall, Wednesday, BBC Two
This is a very promising historical drama, not least because of its impressive cast, and despite the fact that it's a chunk of history that's been explored many times in the recent past. Chronicling the rise of Thomas Cromwell, this is the story of a humble blacksmith's son who became King Henry VIII's chief minister, as he navigated the corridors of power in the Tudor court. Based on the award-winning novel by Hilary Mantel, it stars Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Wolsey, while Mark Rylance portrays Thomas Cromwell.
Planet's Got Talent, Saturday, UTV
One of the anomalies of the new UTV/UTV Ireland set-up, this new show is only available on Ulster. Presented by Warwick Davis, the concept is based around the premise that talent shows have provided abundant talent from across the UK, so what does the rest of the world have to offer? This could be eventful.
Get Your Act Together, Sunday, UTV Ireland
This sounds horrendous. Each week, host Stephen Mulhern will be joined by five different celebrities who battle it out to learn talents such as contortion, fire-dancing, ventriloquism, acrobatics, juggling and plate-spinning. Under the watchful eye of the world's most talented acts and performers, the contestants will have intensive training to master their chosen skill, before the celebrities and their mentors take to the stage together to perform in front of a studio audience. Hadn't they heard of Tumble?
The National Television Awards 2015, Wednesday, UTV
Presented by Dermot O'Leary, the UK's National Television Awards will play host to the biggest stars of Britain's best-loved shows in a big, brash and flash bash at The O2 London. Last year's winners included such favourites as Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Benedict Cumberbatch and our own Brendan O'Carroll's Mrs Brown's Boys. And please note - live coverage of this event is only available on UTV and not on UTV Ireland.
Call the Midwife, Sunday, BBC One
As comforting as a cup of cocoa, this charming period medical drama returns to warm up cold winter Sunday nights. Freshly qualified nurse Barbara Gilbert arrives to take up her position at Nonnatus and is extremely anxious to prove herself. But a late-night drinks party proves disastrous for her. Later, Barbara comes up with a clever scheme to help a new mother to overcome difficulties feeding her baby and earns the respect of all her colleagues; Trixie faces one of the most emotionally draining cases of her career, when a family of severely neglected children are discovered; Shelagh finds she is needed at the surgery almost as much as she is at home; and Sister Evangelina finally agrees to undergo medical tests for her abdominal pain.
Devious Maids, Tuesday, RTÉ2
Marc Cherry's frothy comedy-drama about five Hollywood housemaids returns. It's three months on from the season one finale, and Marisol has found a new love, while Peri discovers that Rosie is back in the US and goes to great lengths to keep Spence and Rosie apart. And as Carmen and Alejandro settle into their fake relationship, Odessa reaches her limit. Hola!
Ending this week
Charlie, Sunday, RTÉ One
Here's the third and final episode of the drama based on one of Ireland's most contentious politicians, the late Charles J Haughey. It's 1989 and CJ has been leading Ireland for a few years but the majority he has always craved remains elusive. A bid for absolute power and a fitting legacy leaves him exposed as his enemies circle.
Foyle's War, Sunday, UTV Ireland
In the third episode of the series, Foyle must re-examine Hilda Pierce's top-secret role within SOE (Special Operations Executive) during the war when an attempted assassination is carried out on Hilda outside MI5. Foyle comes to the conclusion that the shooting may be connected to the hunt for a traitor in the SOE.
Drama of the week
The Eichmann Show, Tuesday, BBC Two
The quite ubiquitous Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Fargo – whatever you're watching yourself) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace, Lantana) star in this 90-minute film about the televising of the trial of Adolf Eichmann - one of Nazi Germany's key architects of the Holocaust.
Described as the "trial of the century", it was shown on TV in 37 countries and was the first time evidence of the horror of the death camps had been heard live directly from survivors. The trial became the world's first-ever global TV event, and this film tells the extraordinary story of the production team that overcame enormous obstacles to capture the testimony of one of the war's most notorious Nazis.
Comedy of the week
Catastrophe, Monday, Channel 4
Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan write and star in this new six-part comedy that looks very promising. Horgan plays a young Irish woman who meets a handsome American stranger (Delaney) in a London bar and embarks on a wild affair that they both know will end when he heads back across the Atlantic. But things don't end there: she becomes pregnant, which forces him to return to Britain and sort things out.
20 Feet from Stardom, Netflix
Winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this fascinating film takes a look at the world of backup vocalists and the legends they support. It also shows how much the superstars are propped up by the 'invisible' folk performing behind them in the shadows.
Documentary of the week
Coming Out of the Curve, Monday, RTÉ One
Donal Óg Cusack, three-time All-Ireland-winning Cork hurler and one of Ireland's first high-profile sports personalities to come out, asks how much life in Ireland and internationally has changed for gay people in the two decades since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. He takes stock of gay rights, both at home and abroad, and asks how far Irish people have travelled from the days when being gay was illegal in Ireland. He talks to sports people about coming out, and interviews an 'ex-gay' man who claims to have been cured of his homosexuality.
Film of the week
Carnage, Monday, TG4
This Roman Polanski comedy-drama is great fun. When two schoolboys get into a fight in a park that results in one boy hitting the other in the face with a stick, their parents meet up to discuss the matter. Zachary's parents, Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet), visit the home of Michael (John C Reilly) and Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster), Ethan's parents. Their meeting is initially intended to be short and civilised, but the conversation turns personal, guards come down, social niceties go out the window and it all gets rather ugly.