TIM FAN­NING MY VIEW

Wear a hole in your sofa watch­ing all the new and re­turn­ing shows of 2014

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

Christ­mas is over for another year but there’s plenty on the box to keep us oc­cu­pied as we head into 2014. The New Year kicks off with some of the big­gest shows on TV, not least the re­turn of Holmes and Wat­son in a new run of the BBC’s Sher­lock (see be­low right).

While the run-up to Christ­mas saw the grand fi­nales of The X Fac­tor and I’m A Celebrity…, there’s plenty of jug­ger­naut shows to keep fans of the mod­ern tal­ent con­test happy, in­clud­ing RTÉ’s The Voice Of Ire­land, which re­turns with new judge Dolores O’Rior­dan re­plac­ing Sharon Corr along­side King of the Jun­gle Kian Egan, Bressie and Jamelia. With many of us of a mind to diet at this time of year, Kathryn Thomas is back with some great ad­vice, as she presents a new run of the fat-fight­ing show Op­er­a­tion Trans­for­ma­tion, while Danc­ing On Ice and div­ing con­test Splash both kick off on TV3/ UTV. And if all that ex­er­cise and di­et­ing are too much, The Great Ir­ish Bake Off re­turns on TV3.

On RTÉ, crime and mys­tery fans can look for­ward to Quirke, three fea­ture­length adap­ta­tions of Ben­jamin Black’s crime nov­els set in 1950s Dublin, star­ring Gabriel Byrne, while Am­ber is a four-part se­ries – star­ring Raw’s David Mur­ray and Eva Birth­whis­tle from Wak­ing The Dead, and di­rected by Thad­deus O’Sul­li­van – fol­low­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of a 14-yearold girl from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. For those who pre­fer true crime, 24 Hours To Kill be­gins a new run next week on TV3.

Filmed in the Wick­low Moun­tains, the big- bud­get Ir­ish- Cana­dian pro­duc­tion Vik­ings is a nine-part se­ries based on the life and times of Norse war­rior Rag­nar Loth­brok (Travis Fim­mel) who yearns to ex­plore the world out­side his vil­lage. It airs on RTÉ in the New Year.

Fi­nally, af­ter his ex­pe­ri­ence of learn­ing and per­form­ing a stand-up rou­tine in Ir­ish, comic Des Bishop goes a step fur­ther in his Chi­nese Rev­o­lu­tion, when he moves to China for a year and sets about learn­ing Man­darin with the aim of per­form­ing a show in front of a Chi­nese au­di­ence.

So set­tle down and pre­pare to hi­ber­nate in front of the TV for the win­ter… This is surely the most ea­gerly awaited re­turn of a TV drama in years. Not only are fans of this bril­liant reimag­in­ing of the Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries des­per­ate for more; we’re also itch­ing to find out how our hero could pos­si­bly have sur­vived what seemed to be his cer­tain death at the end of the last se­ries. On that sub­ject, my lips are sealed – as they are about much else in this open­ing episode of se­ries three, which (be­lieve me) is full of sur­prises. What I can say is that it’s another grip­ping story, full of daz­zling mo­ments of drama and com­edy – and that Martin Free­man’s Wat­son and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch’s Sher­lock re­main one of the all-time great dra­matic dou­ble acts. There are only three episodes in this new se­ries – make the most of them.

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