Appetite for Distraction

Be entertained this week: Newsreader starts on BBC Two and Sky offers a horror in the Deep South

Newsreader, a new Australian series, covers major news stories from the 1980s while focusing on the main characters’ relationship while the comic and frequently unhinged tale of Catherine the Great returns to Channel 4

Anna Torv and Sam Reid in The Newsreader, Sunday, 9pm, BBC Two

The Newsreader is a new Australian six-part drama series created by award-winning writer Michael Lucas (Five Bedrooms) and set in a commercial television newsroom during the 1980s. Anna Torv (Mindhunter) plays Helen Norville, a talented newsreader often overlooked in this chauvinistic world. She is partnered with junior reporter Dale Jennings (Sam Reid) and their professional and private relationship is set against the public pressures of covering major news stories. The first two episodes are being shown on Sunday. EK

Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey in The Summer Show, Sunday, 6.30pm, RTÉ One

The Summer Show, Sunday, 6.30pm, RTÉ One

This pilgrimage by Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey is along St Declan’s Way. The walking route’s monastery and round tower are hard to miss, while its holy well is tucked away behind the spectacular Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford. From there the two pellegrini head north to Cashel in Co Tipperary, a 115-kilometre trek and some of it over mountains. The official website, incidentally, suggests doing it the other way round. EK

Help! We Bought a Village, Monday, 4pm, Channel 4

This series puts Hugh Wallace’s The Great House Revival in the ha’penny place. Its first episode sees people eyeing up entire towns in empty quarters of France and Italy, from which the locals have migrated to cities. There’s a medieval walled village in La France profonde in need of some serious TLC and an Italian hilltop town which a Yorkshire couple have their hearts set on. If they’re planning to set the places up as holiday prospects, perhaps they should call in the Brennan brothers from At Your Service first. EK

From, Tuesday, 9pm, Sky Showcase

From, Tuesday, 9pm, Sky Showcase

We could find ourselves in HP Lovecraft territory here. From is a science-fiction horror series about the Matthews family, who go on a road trip to the US Deep South and find themselves unable to escape a particular area. An initial detour recurs and always leaves them in the same town. Starring Catalina Sandino Moreno as Tabitha Matthews and Harold Perrineau as Sheriff Boyd Stevens, who comes to the new arrivals’ assistance. EK

Elle Fanning in The Great, Wednesday, 10pm, Channel 4

The Great, Wednesday, 10pm, Channel 4

Season two of the wildly comic and sometimes almost unhinged story of Catherine the Great and her 18th-century Russian court. It opens with the German-born Catherine (Elle Fanning) having deposed her husband, Tsar Peter (Nicholas Hoult). But he still lives (with his dead mother keeping him company in his cell) and Catherine is pregnant. The drama promises to be a crazy as ever. EK

Streaming picks of the week

Sam Elliott in 1883, Paramount+

1883, Paramount+

The four seasons of Taylor Sheridan’s western drama series Yellowstone must have gone down well. 1883 is a ten-episode prequel about the Dutton family’s arrival in Montana, following a disastrous journey during which former Union Army captain Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) becomes wagon master to a group of vulnerable German immigrants. With four episodes directed by Christina Alexandra Voros, there’s a lot of death, violence, tragedy and a rapidly shrinking cast in this raw epic set on the Oregon trail. EK

DB Cooper: Where Are You?! on Netflix

DB Cooper: Where Are You?!


On November 24, 1971, a smartly dressed man hijacked a passenger flight from Portland to Seattle, had a ransom of $200,000 delivered to him, then ordered the plane to take off again and parachuted into the night. Despite a major FBI investigation, his identity remains a mystery. This entertaining four-part documentary examines the surviving evidence, follows amateur sleuths as they unearth new suspects and asks why for some people DB Cooper (his media alias) has become an American folk hero. AL

Podcast pick of the week

The Beatles in Nothing is Real, available on podcast networks

Nothing is Real

Available on podcast networks

The Beatles’ recent epic documentary series Get Back was a reminder of just how endlessly fascinating their story remains. There are few better places to learn more than Nothing is Real, hosted by Dubliner Jason Carty and Belfast man Steven Cockcroft – the official 2018 Beatle Brains of Ireland. Like many great podcasts it’s essentially a double act, with Carty’s boyish enthusiasm balanced by Cockcroft’s dry humour as they discuss all things Fab Four, including their Irish roots, artistic evolution and even the films of Ringo Starr. AL

Game picks of the week

AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative, PS4/PS5, XSX/S, Switch and PC

AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative, PS4/PS5, XSX/S, Switch and PC

A visual novel can be a hard sell in a world of high-octane gameplay. AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative offers a bespoke experience, however, with the player taking control of a ragtag group of detectives who must solve the case of the Half Body murderer. Your time is split between two protagonists, Mizuki Date and Kuruto Ryuki. Both are assisted by artificial intelligence housed in their cybernetic eyes. Using these augmentations, you must piece together psychological puzzles while interrogating the game’s colourful cast of characters. JMB

Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, Switch

Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, Switch

Soccer fans waiting for the new season should check out Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, an eight-player arcade game full of juggle passes, tackles, dodges and super moves. It may not have the realism of Fifa, but it’s just as much fun – especially with the lack of referees. This iteration of Strikers is possibly the most mechanically dense Mario sports game Nintendo has ever created. The high-skill ceiling may deter some gamers, but after a couple of matches you’ll definitely get a grasp of the controls and find a style that suits you. JMB