Pick of the week The Apprentice, Thursday, BBC1, 9pm Once upon a time, the BBC’s The Apprentice looked fresh, dynamic even, a talent show for entrepreneurial types. Inspired by the American series starring Donald Trump, the British version had the benefit of a far less obnoxious host, Alan Sugar — a no-nonsense East End tycoon who spoke bluntly and took no prisoners. The contestants were always self-important, absurdly power-dressed, but back in the day, some were vaguely competent.
And let us not forget that our own Jennifer Zamparelli appeared on the show in 2009. She lasted seven weeks, and at one point announced that she was “the best saleswoman in Europe”. She hasn’t looked back, and in fairness to Zamparelli, bragging and chest-puffing is par for the course on The Apprentice.
This is a show that feeds off the moxie of its candidates, their hubris its primary source of entertainment. Comedy, though, has become The Apprentice’s rationale, its only reason for existing, and the contestants now seem more like cast members of a sitcom.
Still we watch, not always charitably, and this season at least the 18 candidates will get to travel a bit. They’ll be off to Dubai at some point and this first episode kicks off in Antigua where, under the watchful eye of Lord Sugar’s vicars on earth Karren Brady and Tim Campbell, two teams are tasked with selling and running bespoke island tours.
TV and movie Highlights of the Week
Pick of the day: New Year’s Eve Party
RTÉ One, 10.15pm
Jennifer Zamparelli and guests kick off the New Year festivities with this musical celebration featuring performances from Ash, Tom Grennan and others, with the backing of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
The Last Leg of the Year
Channel 4, 9pm
Celebrity guests including Sue Perkins, Rylan, Tom Davis, Ellie Simmonds, Desiree Burch and Mike Wozniak join hosts Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdecombe to reflect on the highs and lows of 2022. And there’ll be music from Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Match of the Day
Liverpool’s clash with Leicester is probably the pick of today’s Premier League games. Gary Lineker presents highlights of that, as well as Manchester City v Everton, Spurs v Aston Villa, Brighton v Arsenal, Bournemouth v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Southampton and Wolves v Manchester United.
Video of the Day
Mrs Brown’s Boys
RTÉ One, 9.40pm
Agnes has long been convinced that her antique vase is valuable, but when Buster convinces her to get it valued, she might be in for a disappointment. While Father Damien is confused when he’s called to minister to some very depressed chickens.
Movie: Inside Out
One of Pixar’s more imaginative flights of fancy, Inside Out takes us inside the growing mind of 11-year-old girl Riley, who’s stressed out about moving to a new home. As she negotiates a new school and neighbourhood, Joy, Sadness, Fear and Anger jostle for supremacy in her brain. With the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader.
Movie: Stan & Ollie
Delightful comic drama based on the true story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s concert tour of the UK and Ireland in 1953, an emotional journey that would turn out to be their swansong. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly (above) star in this touching tribute to the greatest comic double act that ever was.
Pick of the day: Happy Valley
Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood is approaching her retirement when the discovery of a body in a remote Yorkshire lake yields a connection to gangland crime, and Catherine’s old enemy, Tommy Lee Royce, the man who raped her daughter. With Sarah Lancashire, James Norton.
His Dark Materials
In Asriel’s Republic, Mrs Coulter is put on trial and pleads her case for finding Lyra. And as MacPhail makes a weapon to destroy ‘Eve’, Lyra and Will ask Iorek to help fix the subtle knife before heading into the Land of the Dead. With Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy.
The fight for places in Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad should sharpen the focus of Leinster and Connacht’s players in this United Rugby Championship tie at the RDS Arena. The game kicks off at 7.35pm.
When Motown Came to Britain
A look back at the 1965 visit to the UK by Motown stars Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and The Supremes, which energised an emerging soul scene in northern England.
Movie: Mary Poppins Returns
In this musical sequel to the 1960s Walt Disney classic, magical nanny Mary Poppins descends from the skies to help the now grown-up Jane and Michael Banks. Lin-Maneul Miranda struggles manfully with a Cockney accent, and Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw co-star.
Movie: The Little Things
RTÉ One, 9.30pm
Noirish thriller starring Denzel Washington as a small town Californian sheriff who returns to his former precinct in Los Angeles to join the hunt for a man who’s been killing women and staging their bodies. Jared Leto plays the prime suspect, and Rami Malek and Natalie Morales co-star.
Pick of the day: Silent Witness
While investigating the case of a man who died after falling off a high-rise building, the Lyell team uncover connections to a notorious mafia group and join forces with the National Crime Agency to uncover the truth. Emilia Fox, David Caves, Sophia Myles star.
The Mayfair Hotel Megabuild
One of London’s most prestigious hotels, Claridge’s, has been undergoing a major renovation, and in this documentary series filmed over six years, attempts to create a huge basement and add four upper floors is followed.
Clever sitcom starring Romesh Ranganathan as Jonathan, an affable but infuriatingly inert fellow who must find a way to reinvent his life after his partner decides to throw him out.
RTÉ One, 9.30pm
After a catastrophic unauthorised mission to Mexico City results in 007 being suspended from duty, he travels to Italy, Austria and Tangiers in search of the leader of a sophisticated criminal network. Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux and Christoph Waltz star in one of the better Bonds.
Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
In possibly the best-ever adaptation of a Stephen King story, Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a mild-mannered accountant who’s convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and sent to a hellish 1940s prison. But he protests his innocence, and patiently plots his escape. Morgan Freeman co-stars.
Pick of the day: High Road, Low Road
RTÉ One, 7pm
Pat Shortt and his daughter Faye sample the delights of Dubrovnik, but while one of them will be kicking back in a luxury five-star hotel, the other will flop down at a local hostel.
The Hairy Bikers Go Local
Si King and Dave Myers return in a new series to carry out an important mission — to establish connections between local food producers and suppliers, and the nearby restaurants who don’t even know they exist.
The Style Counsellors
RTÉ One, 8,30pm
Suzanne Jackson is back to help people find renewed confidence by freshening up their wardrobe. It’s been a tough few years for Catherine Connolly (above) from Newbridge, and her sister hopes a makeover will give her a much-needed boost.
The Woman in Black
Gothic horror starring Daniel Radcliffe as an Edwardian lawyer who’s called to a remote village to settle an estate and discovers that the late owner’s house is possessed by the vengeful spirit of a wronged woman. Ciarán Hinds, Roger Allam and Janet McTeer co-star.
Pick of the day: Operation Transformation
RTÉ One, 9.30pm
For five new leaders from all over the country, 2023 begins with a band as they embark on a health and wellness regime they hope will kick-start a new chapter in their lives. Host Kathryn Thomas will be on hand to guide the contestants every inch of the way.
Dogs in the Wild
This week we meet two canids with contrasting challenges. The Arctic fox has learned to live flexibly in a terrain where temperatures can drop to -27, while the black-backed jackal has developed incredible agility to survive in the baking Kalahari Desert.
Neven’s Greenway Food Trails
RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Neven Maguire begins this culinary journey through Irish greenways on the Great Western route, which follows the trail of an old railway line from Westport to Achill Island, passing through the spectacular scenery of Clew Bay and the Nephin Mountains.
Ukraine: The People’s Fight
Documentary filmed on the frontline of the Ukrainian War, as filmmaker Olly Lambert spends two months with a group of volunteer special forces as they prepare for the push to retake Kherson from the Russians that will change the entire course of the war.
Pick of the day: Page Turners
RTÉ One, 10.15pm
In this new series, members from eight passionate book clubs from all over Ireland discuss what they’re reading. And up for dissection this week are Marian Keyes’s The Break, Shane Carthy’s Dark Blue, Louise O’Neill’s Idol and Maeve Binchy’s classic Circle of Friends.
The Light in the Hall
Channel 4, 9pm
Psychological thriller series set in a small Welsh town and starring Joanna Scanlan as Sharon Roberts, the mother of a teenage girl whose murder some years before has cast a shadow across the entire community. The case is revived when a young journalist starts to investigate. With Alexandra Roach.
RTÉ One, 8pm
All around us, Irish wildlife is in decline, but at our newest national park, Wild Nephin, a major ecological restoration project is underway that could create a much-needed sanctuary. Anja Murray also investigates the possibility of reintroducing wolves, lynx and even bears in this and other sanctuaries.
Pick of the day: Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job
Amanda Holden has bought two rundown apartments in the Italian town of Salemi, and persuades her best friend Alan Carr to spend a summer knocking them into shape to create a dream holiday home — and they’ll do most of the work themselves.
Rugbaí na mBan: Ag Briseadh Tríd
Thirty years after their first international rugby match, this documentary follows the journey of Ireland women’s rugby team over three decades, as they fought for honours, opportunity and recognition.
Death in Paradise
As a new season begins, there are more murders for allergy prone police detective DI Neville Parker to solve on the idyllic but crime-ridden Caribbean island of Saint-Marie. With Ralf Little, Naomi Thomas.
Michael Mann’s chilling 1980s thriller stars William Petersen as an FBI profiler who must seek the help of jailed maniac Hannibal Lecktor in tracking down a serial killer. With Dennis Farina, Brian Cox.
RTÉ One, 11.35pm
Less flashy and more substantial than Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, Jonathan Teplitzsky’s film stars Brian Cox as an unhappy Winston Churchill, who in 1944 takes the hump when excluded from the Allies’ plans for D-Day, and becomes convinced the whole thing is a ghastly mistake. Miranda Richardson co-stars.