Appetite for Distraction

What to watch, listen to and play this week: A transgender story from the 1960s

A one-off documentary follows the life of April Ashley, a model and dancer who was one of the first British people to undergo gender reassignment surgery

April Ashley: a one-off documentary on Channel 4 this Monday focuses on the life of the transgender model and dancer, who became one of the first British people to undergo gender reassignment surgery

Reviews and previews by Emmanuel Kehoe, Nadine O’Regan, Jenny Murphy Byrne and Jennifer Gannon


The Extraordinary Life of April Ashley

Monday, 10pm, Channel 4

In a week replete with LGBTQ+ programming, this one-off special focuses on April Ashley, a 1950s and 1960s transgender model and dancer in Paris, who became one of the first British people to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Casablanca, after enduring considerable trauma in her early life. Ashley died last December, having been awarded an MBE for services to transgender equality. EK

John and Francis Brennan in At Your Service, Monday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One

At Your Service

Monday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One

Hoteliers Francis and John Brennan return for a new series of the show designed to help hospitality businesses upscale their offerings. In this first episode, they visit Joe Phelan’s K2 Alpacas experience in Co Wicklow, which offers self-catering accommodation and trekking with animals, which is said to be stress-relieving and therapeutic. EK

Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster, Tuesday, 10pm, Channel 4

Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster

Tuesday, 10pm, Channel 4

This three-episode series tracks the story of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently sentenced to 20 years for her part in aiding the crimes of sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell grew up in the shadow of another powerful man, her father the media magnate Robert Maxwell: the documentary asks how her circumstances shaped her subsequent life. Worth watching, if you have the stomach for it. NO’R

On the Morning you Wake (to the End of the World), Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Four

On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World)

Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Four

This short Storyville documentary is about a terrifying text alert received by the people of Hawaii on January 13, 2018 telling them to expect a ballistic missile strike at 8.08am. This was a message sent in error, but naturally it caused widespread panic. The programme uses VR techniques to help recreate what the experience was like. EK

Paul Flynn’s Food Truck Favourites, Wednesday, 8pm, RTÉ One

Paul Flynn’s Food Truck Favourites

Wednesday, 8pm, RTÉ One

Paul Flynn’s return to Dungarvan 25 years ago to open the Tannery restaurant kickstarted its reputation as the food capital of west Waterford. Now he’s setting out to experience the food truck phenomenon which came to prominence during the pandemic. In this opening episode, Flynn visits Chad Byrne’s Hungry Donkey in Killarney serving lamb tacos. Later, he whips up Moroccan pulled lamb and lamb tortillas from his own truck in Kildare. EK


The Talk, streaming on RTÉ Player

The Talk

Streaming on RTÉ Player

A series of four conversations, mostly between young women, about life in modern Ireland covering racism, body image, fertility issues and anxiety. Radio with pictures? Maybe, but each is well produced and thought-provoking. EK

For All Mankind, streaming on Apple TV+

For All Mankind

Streaming on Apple TV+

Stream all three seasons of this alt-history science fiction story in which the Soviet Union beats the US to the Moon in 1969, and the space race still continues. There are excellent performances portraying real historical characters (Neil Armstrong, Wernher von Braun) and it comes complete with an intelligent script and restrained direction. EK


Fallen Angel, available on podcast networks

Fallen Angel

Available on podcast networks

Investigative journalists and veteran podcasters Vanessa Grigoriadis (Run, Bambi, Run) and Justine Harman (Broken Harts) apply their analytical expertise to the complicated story of Victoria’s Secret. Fallen Angel traces the origins of the savvy brand, showing how mogul Les Wexner turned a quaint boutique into a worldwide phenomenon. The eight-part series examines the business side as well as piecing together how this unattainable fantasy of perfection became a universal ideal. The series takes in the objectification of young girls and how the emerging Me Too and Body Positive movements changed the cultural landscape, leaving Victoria’s Secret looking like a redundant concept. JG

Just Like Us: The Tabloids That Changed America is available on podcast networks and studies the relationship between celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (above), the paparazzi and the public

Just Like Us: The Tabloids That Changed America

Available on podcast networks

From Bennifer to Brangelina to the nightclubbing tales of Britney, Lindsay and Paris (christened the Bimbo Summit by the New York Post), the insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip fuelled the late 90s and early 2000s. Throughout its eight episodes, Just Like Us moves through the world of Us and People magazines, and the early days of sites like Gawker and Perez Hilton, trying to understand how the relationship between the fan and the famous changed. The series studies the toxicity of the early 2000s picking apart the public’s strange desire to see stars suffer and how the paparazzi and the tabloids turned real people and real lives into disposable gossip fodder. JG


The Quarry, available on PC, XSX and PS4/PS5

The Quarry

PC, XSX and PS4/PS5

Who doesn’t love a horror story? Supermassive Games have mastered the art of crafting suspenseful and entertaining horror games, from their much loved Until Dawn, to the Dark Pictures Anthology. Their latest effort The Quarry is arguably their best yet. The game operates in a classic horror set-up: a group of unwitting teens spend their night in a shady summer camp, where vicious creatures lie in wait. All nine playable characters survive or die based on your actions, making this taut, effective thriller a nail-biting experience. JMB

Reviews and previews by Emmanuel Kehoe, Nadine O’Regan, Jennifer Gannon and Jenny Murphy Byrne