Appetite for Distraction

What to watch and listen to this week: Sifting through the embers of a Viking dynasty

RTÉ One’s Fire and Blood is the latest attempt to capture the long-ago milieu of Viking rule in Ireland, while weight loss guru Eva Orsmond returns in the balmy setting of the Algarve

Fire and Blood: The Vikings in Ireland, Sunday, 6.30pm, RTÉ One: the story of Ivarr who founded a dynasty that went on to change the course of Irish history

Previews and reviews by Emmanuel Kehoe and Nadine O’Regan


Fire and Blood: The Vikings in Ireland, Sunday, 6.30pm, RTÉ One

Despite numerous historians attempting to paint Vikings as domesticated pussycats and good-natured traders, the focus on Vikings in recent TV fiction has been on their more violent side. This two-part dramatised documentary takes a different slant, relating the tale of Ivarr, a Viking king who, we’re told, founded a dynasty that would go on to change the course of Irish history. However, this dynasty also carried out a thriving business in Irish slaves. Some science pops up too, with TCD geneticists analysing the DNA of eighth-century remains on Rathlin Island. EK

Prince Victor Duleep Singh and Anne Coventry in Queen Victoria and the British Maharajah, Sunday, 7pm, Channel 4

Queen Victoria and the British Maharajah, Sunday, 7pm, Channel 4

This film documents the story of Prince Victor Duleep Singh, the grandson of the Sikh ruler of Lahore, who became Queen Victoria’s godson. His chief claim to fame was that in 1898 he married the English aristocrat Anne Coventry, eight years his junior, and a daughter of the Earl of Coventry. Bankrupted by gambling, Singh died in 1918, but Anne survived into the mid-1950s. EK

Dr Eva’s Great Escape, Monday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One

Dr Eva’s Great Escape, Monday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One

Five years ago, Eva Orsmond had a dream of renovating a former hotel and farm complex in the eastern Algarve and turning it into Solar Alvura, a 21-bedroom boutique health hotel. Now, post-Covid, it’s finally time to open the doors of Solar Alvura – but the project has had considerable costs attached to it, both financial and emotional. As the weight-loss doctor disclosed last weekend in an interview, she and her South African husband Wyatt are no longer together, though they remain friends and partners in the business. EK

Cryptocurrency: Has the Bubble Burst? Tuesday, 10pm, Channel 4

Timing is everything in life,. and that old adage seems particularly apt when discussing cryptocurrency: some early investors have emerged with millions, others have not been so lucky. In this one-off investigation, Ade Adepitan hears from supporters and cynics and decides to invest his own money into it – right before the market crashes. Oops. NO’R


Nothing to Declare, RTÉ Player

Directed by Garret Daly, this charming documentary revisits the adventures of Keith Byrne and Noel Murray, two Dubliners who ran away from their homes in Dublin – when they were aged just 10 and 13 – and made it the whole way to America, stowing themselves away on a transatlantic flight. Recounted by the men themselves as still-mischievous and likeable adults, this is a heartwarming and loveable lookback. NO’R

The Dead Zoo, RTÉ Player

Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, Paul Duane’s documentary about the Natural History Museum in Dublin begins in 2020 and deals with the stressful moving, wrapping and dismantling of enormous exhibits, overseen by senior curators Nigel Monaghan and Paolo Viscardi, to make way for much needed repairs to the building’s roof from which, since the late 19th century, have hung two enormous whale skeletons. Mikkel van Leeuwen, a Dutch taxidermist, supplied his expertise in dismantling these skeletal giants, missing parts of which had surprisingly been reproduced by the Victorians in plaster and expertly carved wood. An excellent documentary. EK

Five Days at Memorial, Apple TV+, from Friday

Five Days at Memorial, Apple TV+, from Friday

Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial is an eight-part series that chronicles the real-life impact of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on a local hospital. Horrific decisions had to be made concerning life and death at a New Orleans hospital when floodwaters rose, power failed and the heat soared – decisions that would leave workers traumatised. Starring Vera Farmiga, Robert Pine and Cherry Jones, the first three episodes of the series will be available from Friday. NO’R

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, streaming on Netflix

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, Netflix

This docuseries goes behind the scenes at Woodstock ’99, a festival held in upstate New York that was supposed to be a wonderful celebration of music and culture, but instead gave rise to riots, fires and looting. Performers including Fatboy Slim, Gavin Rossdale and Jewel are interviewed, and festival staffers and attendees give their eyewitness accounts of the mayhem. NO’R

Roger Avary and Quentin Tarantino in conversation on The Video Archives, available on podcast networks


The Video Archives, available on podcast networks

Ever wanted to earwig on a conversation with Quentin Tarantino, famed director of Pulp Fiction, Death Proof and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? Well, now you can, courtesy of the new podcast The Video Archives, which pairs Tarantino with his one-time producer and screenwriter Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction). Listen in as the pair recollect their early days as former video store clerks (“We didn’t even have cash registers!”), meeting early mentors and experiencing the highs and lows of making their way in the world. Naturally, they also talk through favourite films, starting with John Carpenter’s cult classic Dark Star. Three episodes are available now. NO’R