John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Saturday Jan 3 – Friday Jan 9)

The New Year really kicks off this week in Telly Land, with a blizzard of new and returning shows including Charlie, Broadchurch and Red Rock. Going out is no longer an option . . .

Pick of the week

Charlie, Sunday, RTÉ One

This new drama explores the emergence of modern Ireland through charting the rise and fall of the charismatic and divisive figure of Charles J Haughey.

Written by theatre and screenwriter Colin Teevan, directed by Kenny Glenaan and Charlie McCarthy, produced by Catherine Magee, the drama covers the period from Charles J Haughey’s bid for power in 1979 and chronicles his attempts to maintain that power until his departure from politics in 1992.

The ensemble cast includes some of Ireland’s finest screen talent, amongst them is Aidan Gillen (Charles J. Haughey), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (PJ Mara), Risteárd Cooper (Dermot Nally), Peter O’ Meara (Brian Lenihan), Gavin O’Connor (Sean Doherty) and Marcus Lamb (Des O’Malley). Also joining them is celebrated English actress, Lucy Cohu (Terry Keane).

As the opening episode begins it’s 1979 and Ireland is struggling with high unemployment, mass emigration, and a huge budget deficit. Incumbent Taoiseach, Jack Lynch is under pressure to resign and George Colley anticipates the Fianna Fáil crown. But Charles Haughey has other plans. Charting his leadership battle with George Colley and the party’s fear that Charlie would break them up, his relationship with Terry Keane, his bold bid to engage the British over peace in Northern Ireland, and the financial implications of seeking and holding on to office, the episode culminates in 1981 when the perfect storm of economic implosion, party in-fighting and the Hunger Strikes conspire against him. He’s out – but not down.

Star of the week

Olivia Colman

Broadchurch, Monday, TV3

Olivia Colman has emerged in recent years as one of the great British actors of her generation. A three-time BAFTA TV Award winner, she first came to prominence as Sophie in Channel 4's Peep Show. Her other TV comedy roles include Green Wing, Beautiful People and Twenty Twelve. Her move to drama saw her receive critical acclaim for her performance as Hannah in the 2011 film Tyrannosaur. Her other film roles include Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in Hyde Park on Hudson and Bethan in Locke.

In 2012, she appeared in the BBC One drama Accused, for which she won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. At the same ceremony, she also won Best Female Comedy Performance for Twenty Twelve. In 2013, she starred as DS Ellie Miller in the ITV crime drama Broadchurch, which won her the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress.

Now, Broadchurch is back for a second run, with Colman and David Tennant once again starring as detectives Ellie Miller and Alec Hardy. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, James D'Arcy, Charlotte Rampling and Torchwood's Eve Myles are among the new cast additions this time around, in a story that promises to reveal why Alec is still in Broadchurch and what's next for Ellie after she uncovered her husband's dark side.

Starting this week

Revenge, Tuesday, RTÉ2

This OTT soapy drama about life amongst the wealthy residents of Southampton in New York's Long Island returns with a double bill to start its fourth season. As Emily (Emily VanCamp) plans to host her most surprising party ever, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) finds a way to turn her greatest setback into a dangerous advantage. Meanwhile, David Clarke (James Tupper) plans his next move.

Red Rock, Wednesday, TV3

This new drama series promises to live up to the hype, and has a fine cast that includes Cathy Belton and Denise McCormack. Starting on the day a long, dormant feud between two local families is brutally reignited, Red Rock is based around a busy Dublin Garda station and a local rivalry. On one side, the Hennessys, a local dynasty, whose name is above half the businesses in town. On the other side, the Kielys, who have turned petty crime into a cottage industry.

Charting the life and dramas of a community about to be enveloped by a feud, through the eyes of those who police it, each episode will be a mix of 'crime of the week' stories and on-going serial arcs, following principle characters in both their professional and personal lives.

Operation Transformation, Wednesday, RTÉ One

The eighth run of this hugely popular show sees presenter Kathryn Thomas introducing the five new leaders who will lead the nation on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Over the next eight weeks, the leaders will radically change their exercise and eating habits and inspire the nation to follow them on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.

The four OT experts are back – fitness Expert Karl Henry, principle clinical psychologist Dr. Eddie Murphy, dietician Aoife Hearne and GP Dr Ciara Kelly will be on hand to guide the leaders as they put the Operation Transformation health and fitness plan into action.

The Voice of Ireland, Sunday, RTÉ One

Back for a fourth run and with two new ladies joining the coaching panel, Una Foden and Rachel Stevens. Both pop stars have toured the world as part of chart topping bands The Saturdays and S Club 7. They will join Kian Egan and Bressie, on the spinning red chairs as each of the four coaches pick their top 14 acts to perform in the Battle stages.

Death in Paradise, Thursday, BBC One

Winter's out the window as the Beeb returns to the idyllic Caribbean island of Saint Marie for the fourth season of this sun-soaked drama. The first episode takes a supernatural turn when plantation owner and businessman, Elias Thomson, is brutally murdered during a group séance at his home. With the door to the room firmly closed, everyone in the room is a suspect, but how did the murderer go unnoticed when all participants – including Elias’ children, Daniel and Lucy – were holding hands throughout the séance?

The Fanatics, Wednesday, Sky 1

Super fans square off and try to ‘out knowledge’ each other in a high-stakes new quiz show hosted by 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy’s Baz Ashmawy. People who take the word ‘hobby’ to an extreme – be it a comic book junkie or chocolate lover – must complete a series of tricky studiobased challenges in order to be crowned the ultimate fanatic. In this opener, find out who wins between a Doctor Who devotee, a boxing aficionado and a contestant who knows their stuff about the London Underground.

Also starting this week:

Suits, Friday, RTÉ2

The Algorithm, Saturday, TV3

Walking the Nile, Sunday, Channel 4

Weighing Up the Enemy, Tuesday, Channel 4

The Holiday Show, Wednesday, TV3

Shut-ins: Britain's Fattest People, Thursday, Channel 4

Celebrity Squares, Friday, TV3

Foyle's War, Sunday, UTV Ireland

Donal McIntyre: Breaking Crime, Monday, TV3

Drama of the week

Scandal, Thursday, Sky Living

Shonda Rhimes’ frantic-but-fun political thriller returns just five weeks after season three’s emotional conclusion. Two months have passed since tragedy struck the first family and Olivia and Jake left the complications of Washington behind to "stand in the sun" together, and everything has changed. As a determined Fitz begins his second term in the White House, a grieving Mellie struggles to cope in the wake of their loss. Olivia’s ‘gladiators’, meanwhile, feel the impact of her absence: Abby is floundering in her new role as White House press secretary, Huck is working in a computer shop, and Quinn is desperately trying to get the gang back together. But Liv is busy lazing on a beach with Jake and doesn’t have a care in the world – that is until she receives some devastating news.

Comedy of the week

Modern Family, Monday, Sky 1

Celebrations are in order as the oldest Dunphy child turns 21 – and it proves to be a birthday to remember for Haley. Hitting a bar, Claire is on a mission to make Haley see her as more of a gal pal than a naggy, uptight mum, while Mitch and Cam are distressed when their ‘cool’ credentials come up short. Phil and Jay’s quick pitstop to buy a present takes a disastrous turn, too, and, on babysitting duties, Alex, Luke and Manny are stumped when Lily drops the dreaded ‘where do babies come from?’ question on them.

On Demand

Sons of Anarchy, Sky on Demand

Season six of this superb, gritty drama takes up in the wake of Tara and Clay's arrests as Jax struggles to hold biker gang SAMCRO together. Toric approaches Tara and Clay individually, and offers them deals in exchange for giving up SAMCRO.

Documentary of the week

We Need to Talk About Porn, Monday, RTÉ One

This two-part documentary looks at the scale and impact of pornography consumption in Ireland and ponders on what it might mean for both adults and young people. The programmes will explore the consumption of porn in Ireland in 2014 – how available is it, who watches it, how are they watching it and how does pornography affect our attitudes towards sex and relationships?  If porn does play a role in shaping our sexual norms and attitudes, then why aren’t we talking about it?

Film of the Week

The Guarantee, Thursday, TV3

Written by Colin Murphy and based on his stage play for Fishamble, The Guarantee stars David Murray, Gary Lydon, Orla Fitzgerald, Morgan Jones and Peter Coonan. As the title suggests, this film covers the most significant decision in modern Irish history. On the night of September 29, 2008, the Irish government decided to guarantee the entire domestic banking system. And we all know what happened next . . .