this week’s highlights
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