John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Monday Nov 3 – Friday 7)

Modern Family and Republic of Telly are just two of the shows making a welcome return this week, while it's also the last time out for the likes of The Fear and Peaky Blinders.

Pick of the week

Modern Family, Monday, Sky 1

Back for a sixth season, there's just no stopping this monolithic US sitcom. Coming off one of its best seasons yet - which won a fifth outstanding Comedy Series Emmy - Modern Family returns with a case of the Dunphys. If Alex didn’t already suffer from Middle Child Syndrome, she’s about to develop a severe case of it as the Dunphys have enjoyed a blissful Brady Bunch-like summer without their smartest member, who has been away on a humanitarian trip. This leads the rest of the clan to worry that she’ll rock their steady boat after arriving home ahead of schedule.

Cam and Mitchell, meanwhile, are back from their honeymoon and, determined to keep that lovey-dovey feeling alive, Cam goes one step too far. Actually, quite a few steps too far. Plus, prepare to see a different side to Gloria when, following a row with Jay about the lack of effort he puts into his appearance, she decides to down tools and de-glam. Ty Burrell, as Phil Dunphy, is once again the one to watch here.

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Star of the week

Jennifer Maguire

 Republic of Telly, Monday, RTÉ 2

Yep, Jenny from the Baldoyle block is back. And as in-your-face as ever. The IFTA Award-winning Republic of Telly kicks off its eleventh season. Presenter Kevin McGahern, Jennifer Maguire and Bernard O’Shea will, as usual, be ripping telly to shreds for your entertainment. Ireland’s greatest detective Surelook is also back, along with Bridget & Eamon, who remain bickering and trapped in the 1980s. Al Porter joins the team to provide his own unique take on the week’s news and there’s a host of guest stars as well as the Red Carpet, and there’ll be plenty of cutting TV show parodies and comedy music videos.

Here's Bridget & Eamon and The Trip: WARNING! Strong language throughout

Starting this week

Blue Bloods, Wednesday, Sky Atlantic

The self-righteous cop New York drama starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan and detective son Danny returns for a fifth run. In the premiere, Danny and Baez come under attack as they escort confiscated drugs to a remote location for incineration.

Here's a flavour of what's in store:

Ear to the Ground, Thursday, RTÉ One

Darragh McCullough explores exotic wallaby being farmed on Lambay Island, two miles off County Dublin’s coast; Ella  McSweeney travels to the Galtee mountains where she meets two scientists who have successfully built a business around cultivating mushrooms; Helen Carroll speaks to a farmer’s wife in County Cavan, left behind after her husband took his own life.

Micky Flanagan’s Detour de France, Monday, Sky 1

For his first-ever TV documentary, Flanagan is sampling the sights and sounds of France, hopping on a bike to put his spin on the Tour de France. The event is one of the most gruelling tests of endurance on the planet, but, taking a couple of detours here and there, Micky succeeds in ‘jollying’ it up.

Trollied, Monday, Sky 1

Stephen Tompkinson is among the new additions to this supermarket-based comedy that's back for a fourth run. Shaking up the shop floor, a few fresh faces have been added to the mix, including Tompkinson's pharmacist-cum-fantasist Brian.

Ending this week

Angela Scanlon: Full Frontal, Thursday, RTÉ 2

In the final episode of Full Frontal Angela Scanlon explores the world of dating apps. These apps allow people to hook up for romantic encounters without bothering to find out if they have any shared interests: it’s all based on appearance – and availability.

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The Fear, Monday, RTÉ 2

Farmer Phil tries to save a cow at the National Ploughing Championships and Fred Cooke walks 500 miles when he wakes up. Elsewhere Jimmy enlists the public’s help while practicing for his driving test and The Nun gets very confused over some light reading in the park.

The Last Ship, Friday, Sky 1

Michael Bay’s post-apocalyptic drama bows out with a double bill that sets up the confirmed second season. Alarm bells ring in the first when Rachel asks for six volunteers to participate in her human trials for the vaccine. Back in the USA, Chandler’s family find themselves in a perilous situation.

Mount Pleasant, Tuesday, Sky Living

Mount Pleasant is engulfed in panic in the tense series finale. As Bradley’s enemies close in, the Dawsons realise that staying in Manchester is no longer an option – but Tanya can’t leave without a party.

Human Universe, Tuesday, BBC Two

Brian concludes his exploration of our place in the universe by asking, what next for the ape that went to space?

Drama of the week

Peaky Blinders, Thursday, BBGC Two

Cillian Murphy stars as gangster Tommy Shelby as this period drama reaches its season two finale. It's Epsom on Derby Day. Tommy is there to execute the mission given to him by Major Campbell - the assassination of a high-ranking member of the military establishment. But Tommy plans turn the situation to his advantage by bringing his gang to the racecourse and striking a blow at gang boss Sabini - a scheme that could take his organisation to another level. What Tommy doesn't know is, more than one of his adversaries forged secret plans that could send him to his grave. As the crowds assemble at the racecourse and Tommy readies his troops, he receives shocking news that will change everything.

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Comedy of the week

Enlightened, Friday, Sky Atlantic

Amy’s plans to destroy Abaddon come to a head in the last-ever episode of this comedy drama. With Jeff ’s exposé about to run, an energised Amy is preparing for things to get messy. First up she tells Tyler that she couldn’t halt the article, forcing him to break the news to a furious Eileen (Molly Shannon). Next up, she explains all to her mum Helen, who is less than impressed and shocks Amy with the suggestion that she should move out.

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On Demand

The Wire, Sky Atlantic

Dominic West stars in the acclaimed drama from writer David Simon. Each season, Simon explores a different area of Baltimore’s problems, dealing with the drug trade on the streets, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and, in the final run, the print news media. If you haven't seen it before, you're in for a rare treat.

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Documentary of the week

Tony O'Reilly - The Real Deal, Monday, RTÉ One

For six decades Tony O’Reilly has been a byword for success. That all changed this year when the High Court heard O’Reilly, who was once Ireland’s richest man, was now insolvent. Tony O’Reilly – The Real Deal is a special hour long documentary by RTÉ’s Business Editor David Murphy, which includes interviews with Tony O’Reilly Junior, Seamus Mallon and Michael Smurfit. The programme will also feature early footage of O’Reilly which has never been broadcast before on Irish television.

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Film of the Week

 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Friday, Sky Movies Premiere

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris star in this biopic that features an impressive performance from a Golden Globe-nominated Elba in the role of Nelson Mandela. In 1948, the South African government inflicted a racial segregation upon their people that forced black citizens into poverty-stricken townships away from wealthy white communities. Apartheid was the last straw for charismatic lawyer Nelson Mandela, who grew to become the prominent figure in a struggle for equality.

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