TV guide: 12 of the best new shows to watch, beginning tonight

From Louis Theroux’s encounter with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the uplifting story of Viagra

Bill Bailey’s Australian Adventure

Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm

All good things must come to an end, and so comedian Bill Bailey must wrap up his 5,000km journey around Western Australia, but not before he’s swept off his feet by the “intoxicatingly beautiful” tropical paradise of Broome, where he follows the footprints of dinosaurs along the coast, and encounters a wise astronomer known as Space Gandalf – real name Greg Quicke. After a mind-boggling night under the stars, Bailey goes fishing for sunken treasure at a pearl farm, but what he’ll take home with him are “amazing memories” of his epic road trip.

Murdered: The Baby on the Beach

Sunday, Channel 4, 10.35pm

In case you missed the first episode of this three-part documentary series, which started on Virgin Media One last week, Channel 4 is starting the series, about the notorious Kerry Babies case in 1984, when the body of a five-day old baby boy was found on a beach in Caherciveen. We all know the story of how local woman Joanne Hayes came to be wrongly accused of his murder, and how a subsequent tribunal turned out to be a charade designed to destroy Hayes’s reputation and absolve the authorities of blame for their shameful treatment of an innocent, vulnerable woman.

RTÉ Investigates ... The Planning Trap

Monday, RTÉ1, 9.35pm

Developers have been complaining for years about the proliferation of planning objections which are holding back the construction of new houses and businesses. They say many of the objections are frivolous and vexatious, but in recent times a new scandal has emerged: people demanding money to drop planning objections. For a few greedy people, objecting to planning applications has become a lucrative cash cow – but is it illegal? In this RTÉ Investigates special, reporter Barry O’Kelly looks at the growing trend for lodging planning objections only to drop them like a hot potato in exchange for big wads of cash.

Seeds of Deceit: The Sperm Donor Doctor

Monday, BBC4, 10pm

In the Netherlands in the 1990s many women desperate to have a child were turning to one man, hugely renowned fertility expert Dr Jan Karbaat. In 2017, however, the world was shocked to learn that Karbaat secretly used his own sperm to impregnate up to 200 of his patients. Many of the women affected by the scandal sued Karbaat, but he died before the case came to court. In this three-part documentary series, mothers of the so-called “Karbaat children” talk about how they were deceived by Karbaat, and how their faith in him led them to turn a blind eye to his unorthodox insemination methods.


Scannal: The Disappearance of Mary Boyle

Tuesday, RTÉ1, 7pm

It’s Ireland’s longest-ever missing child case, and 46 years after she disappeared, Mary Boyle’s family are still searching for answers. In March 1977, six-year-old Mary was at her grandparents’ farm in a remote part of Donegal, when she mysteriously vanished. Despite a huge search operation involving hundreds of locals and Army and Garda personnel, not a trace of Mary was found, and in this episode of Scannal, Mary’s twin sister, Ann Doherty, and her mother, Ann Boyle, reveal how Mary’s unsolved disappearance still casts a shadow over the family, and how rumour and conjecture only added to the family’s heartache.

Louis Theroux interviews Chelsea Manning

Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm

She is a polarising figure in the US, a former US army intelligence analyst who turned whistleblower, releasing a huge trove of classified documents that exposed details of human rights abuses, torture and illegal espionage by the US during the Iraq war. It was the biggest leak of state secrets in US history, and Manning talks to Theroux about what made her take such a huge risk, and how it has affected her life. She also discusses her own mental health issues she has had to deal with in tandem with being public enemy number one, and how her difficult upbringing in Oklahoma led her to question her identity.

Man Vs Ocean

Wednesday, RTÉ1, 9.35pm

Reckon you could row across the Atlantic in a tiny boat? Sounds like madness, but that’s exactly what lifelong pals Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell from Galway attempted to do in June 2022, setting off from New York in their two-man Seasabre rowboat the Cushlamachree, with the goal of reaching Galway Bay 5,000km away and setting a Guinness world record. Both are former rugby players (Browne was a Leinster star) with experience of taking on huge physical challenges, but this would prove to be their toughest test yet – particularly for Farrell, who had recovered from a serious spinal injury. This documentary follows the ups and downs and highs and lows of their voyage as they push themselves to the limits.

An Post Irish Book of the Year

Wednesday, RTÉ1, 10.35pm

The An Post Irish Book Awards were handed out to deserving authors, illustrators, publishers and booksellers in a star-studded gala ceremony at Dublin’s Convention Centre on November 22nd. But there’s still one more award to be handed out – the overall Irish Book of the Year. Will it be The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, also shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Liz Nugent’s gripping crime thriller Strange Sally Diamond, or Katriona O’Sullivan’s inspiring memoir Poor? In this one-hour special, Oliver Callan leafs through the six shortlisted titles, with the big reveal coming at the end of the show.

Neven’s Christmas in Adare

Thursday, RTÉ1, 8pm

The celebrity chef rocks up to Adare Manor as cheeky as you like with his pots and pans and does a Christmas kitchen takeover in the first of his two seasonal specials from the world-famous historic house in the heart of Co Limerick. He’s going full festive cheer in this first programme, creating a yummy traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, and a few tasty seasonal twists. He also checks out the local foodie scene, visiting Adare Manor’s Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant, and dropping in to The Good Room Cafe in Adare village for some dessert treats.

Imogen from the Heart

Thursday, RTÉ1, 10.15pm

The sculptor Imogen Stuart is the subject of this very personal documentary, based on 13 years’ worth of film shot by her grandson Emile Dinneen. Stuart is now in her mid-90s, and still driven to create thought-provoking artworks, with her sculptures on display all over the country. The film looks at her life and times, growing up in Berlin, meeting and marrying Irish sculpture student Ian Stuart, a grandson of Maud Gonne, moving to Laragh, Co Wicklow, and becoming one of Ireland’s most important and acclaimed artists.

JourneyCam: International

Friday, RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, 3.25pm

In this new documentary series, young people from diverse backgrounds are in charge of the camera as they embark on new adventures to faraway lands. Each week, a young person heads off to a place where they have a family connection to or a cultural affinity with. They’ll be documenting their journey and sharing their experiences and insights as they learn more about themselves through their travels. This week, 11-year-old Zuzanna from Sligo is heading to Poland to visit her granny and reconnect with her roots.

Keeping it Up: The Story of Viagra

Friday, BBC2, 9pm

It’s been a quarter of a century since men around the world began to take the blue pill – and found their moribund sex lives suddenly blossom again. Viagra was hailed as a magic solution to erectile dysfunction, and it sparked off a second sexual revolution, as men queued up to get a prescription and get their sex lives back on track. But the little blue pill is not without controversy, and on its 25th birthday, this documentary tells the story of how Viagra changed the world.