this week’s highlights

The Irish Times Magazine - - TV & RADIO - Kevin Court­ney

You thought Stranger Things was scary? You ain’t seen noth­ing yet. Sure, the “up­side- down” is a pretty eerie place, but it’s a hol­i­day camp com­pared to the hor­ror­zone that i s the mid­lands. And, un­like the up­side- down, there’s no way out – the mid­lands will suck you back in like a big, boggy vor­tex. Co­me­dian Ali­son Spit­tle ( above) knows this only too well, and her new com­edy se­ries Nowhere Fast ( Mon­day, RTÉ Two, 10pm) is in­spired by her own land­locked life grow­ing up in West­meath. Spit­tle plays a young woman re­turn­ing to her mid­lands home to lick her wounds and re­group af­ter a dis­as­trous at­tempt to start a me­dia ca­reer in the Big Smoke. Now she’s sleep­ing on friends’ couches, cadg­ing lifts and plot­ting her escape from small- town hell. Can she break free from this vil­lage of the damned and find a way back to the real world? Think The Pris­oner with culchie ac­cents and some fright­en­ingly good jokes.

It’s sci­ence week, so RTÉ has re­leased all the boffins it’s been keep­ing locked up deep i n the bow­els of Mon­trose, and they’ve come out blink­ing into the light to share their knowl­edge with us lucky view­ers. Kathri­ona Dev­ereux, Jonathan McCrea and Aoib­hinn Ní Shúil­leab­háin are back for their lat­est in­stal­ment of their sci­ence se­ries 10 Things to Know About ( Mon­day, RTÉ One, 8.30pm). In the first episode, Ní Shúil­leab­háin looks at the silent killer that lurks in many homes – radon – and she delves deep un­der earth to look at ef­forts to make cop­per- min­ing safer and more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly.

What do Ir­ish peo­ple like talk­ing about more than any­thing else? The weather, of course, so as part of Sci­ence Week, Weather Live ( Wed­nes­day, RTÉ One, 7pm) will ex­am­ine Ire­land’s favourite con­ver­sa­tion topic from all an­gles. Kathryn Thomas will be joined by a team of top me­te­o­rol­o­gists, in­clud­ing Ger­ald Flem­ing, Eve­lyn Cu­sack and Joanna Don­nelly to talk about the weather, and why Ire­land’s weather is so unique and well worth talk­ing about.

They’ll be look­ing at the causes and ef­fects of Storm Ophe­lia, and re­view­ing tech-

no­log­i­cal break­throughs in weather fore­cast­ing, and of course Ire­land’s own tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced weapon in staving off bad weather – the Child of prague.

An­other sci­ence week special looks at work­ers’ great­est fear, Will a Robot Steal My Job? ( Mon­day, RTÉ One, 9.35pm). Anne- Marie Tom­chak, the UK edi­tor of news web­site Mash­able, ex­plores how ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ro­bots are chang­ing the face of work, and tak­ing over many roles tra­di­tion­ally per­formed by hu­mans. Will soft­ware soon re­place “wet­ware”? And with many ro­bots do­ing the job bet­ter than hu­mans, how does that make hu­mans feel? ( The hu­man I’ve re­placed to write this col­umn doesn’t seem to mind too much – wait, Kevin, put down that axe . . . aargh!)

Cil­lian Mur­phy re­turns as gang­land king­pin Tommy Shelby in the fourth se­ries of the peer­less Peaky Blinders ( Wed­nes­day, BBC Two, 9pm). Tommy is now a highly re­spected mem­ber of Bri­tish high so­ci­ety, with an OBE and a big coun­try pile. But he’s also cut off from his fam­ily and no long- er at home in his for­mer stomp­ing ground in the slums of Birm­ing­ham. But then a rev­e­la­tion on Christ­mas Eve forces him to re­turn to his roots and try to save his es­tranged fam­ily from an­ni­hi­la­tion. Mur­phy is joined by an all- star cast that in­cludes Ai­den Gillen, Adrien Brody, He­len McCrory, paul An­der­son and Tom Hardy.

EM Forster’s much- loved story, Howards End ( Sun­day, BBC One, 9pm) has been made into a se­ries – well, the BBC cos­tume depart­ment can’t be left to gather dust. There’ll be no end of fin­ery on show in this drama of so­cial mores and manners, as sis­ters Mar­garet and He­len Sch­legel ne­go­ti­ate the tricky ter­rain of eti­quette and deco­rum in early 20th- cen­tury Eng­land. Don’t ex­pect many steamy sex scenes, but there’ll be no short­age of fris­sons and mean­ing­ful looks over china tea cups.

Ali­son Spit­tle stars in new com­edy se­ries Nowhere Fast, on Mon­day, RTÉ Two, 10pm

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