What to watch this week: the fall of Kabul, Bigelow's Detroit race riots drama, and a live orchestra performance for Culture Night – Independent.ie

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Your day-by-day guide to all the best shows and films you don’t want to miss
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BBC documentary 'Escape from Kabul Airport'
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Paul Whitington and Sheena McGinley

Pick of the week Escape from Kabul Airport, Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
In August of 2021, while the wider world grappled with the Covid pandemic, United States Forces completed their hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was an unseemly end to a faltering military expedition, which had begun 20 years previously in the aftermath of 9/11. The expulsion of the Taliban had brought positive change for Afghan society, particularly for women and children, but the US-backed regime in Kabul was corrupt and unreliable, and lacked the brutal clarity of the Taliban, who’d never really gone away.
When the Taliban seized Kabul, remaining US forces withdrew to Kabul Airport, where Marines would fight a fierce battle to retain control of the besieged airfield while a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded around them. In this documentary, we hear from those Marines, and also from eye-witnesses, evacuees, and even the Taliban fighters. Most dramatic of all is the testimony from Afghan citizens who raced to reach the airport, and what they supposed might be their last chance of survival.
In just 18 days, more than 124,000 people were evacuated from the besieged airport, making it the largest airlift in modern US history. In its aftermath, however, lots of questions remained about what the US occupation of Afghanistan had achieved, and what had been its purpose.

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Detroit
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Detroit
Friday, September 23, BBC1, 11.50pm
Kathryn Bigelow’s sprawling, gritty drama recreates the febrile atmosphere of the 1967 Detroit race riots, when rising tensions between police and black residents erupted into violence and looting. The 125th riots would last four days, and Bigelow’s film concentrates on a notorious incident that took place at the Algiers Motel. When twitchy National Guardsmen hear a shot ring out from the rundown motel, it’s descended upon by heavily armed police. Among them is an unhinged racist called Philip Krauss (Will Poulter), who rounds up those inside and starts humiliating them. And before too long, things get tragically out of hand. With John Boyega and Jack Reynor.
SATURDAY
URC Live

RTÉ2, 12.30pm
The United Rugby Championship takes Leinster to Italy this week, to face Zebre at the Stadio Lanfranchi. Kick-off at 1pm.
Film
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

RTÉ2, 8.50pm
Ethan Hunt is declared a fugitive by the US president after being implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin, so must go underground to find out who really did it. With Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson.

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Lost Treasures of Rome
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Lost Treasures of Rome
Channel 4, 7pm
In the suburbs of Napoli lies the extraordinary Roman ruin of Herculaneum, obliterated like Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79, and similarly preserved for millennia under a thick blanket of ash.

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Bloodlands
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SUNDAY
Bloodlands

BBC1, 9pm
When the body of an accountant is found on the shores of Strangford Lough, DSI Brannock knows exactly who he is, but must figure out who killed him. Season two of the northern crime drama, with James Nesbitt and Charlene McKenna.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
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Film
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Channel 4, 11pm
Bilbo travels with the dwarves through the forest kingdom of the traditional enemy the elves, before reaching the mountain fastness Smaug, where various dangers await. With Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.

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The Meaning of Life
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The Meaning of Life
RTÉ One, 10.25pm
Joe Duffy talks to hypnotherapist and author Paul McKenna about the secrets of his success, and his battle with depression following the loss of his father.

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Jamie's One-Pan Wonders
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MONDAY
Jamie’s One-Pan Wonders

Channel 4, 8.30pm
More one-pan recipes from Jamie Oliver, including sweet potato chilli, smashed lemongrass chicken and a chocolate tray cake with tinned mandarin and buttercream filling.

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The Exorcist
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Film
The Exorcist

TCM, 9pm
In William Friedkin’s classic horror, a wealthy actress becomes convinced her teenage daughter is possessed by the devil, and calls in an exorcist. With Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair and Max von Sydow.
The Boys from Brazil: Rise of the Bolsonaros
BBC2, 9pm
Since becoming president of Brazil in 2019, Jair Bolsonaro has had a profound effect on his country, from homophobic rhetoric to the liberalisation of gun laws and ramped-up exploitation of the Amazon.
TUESDAY
The Great British Bake Off

Channel 4, 8pm
It’s biscuit week, and illusion macarons and a 3D mask made entirely from biscuit are among the challenges facing the bakers. Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas present.

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Once Upon A Time in Holllywood
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Film
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Film Four, 9pm
In Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s drama, hack TV actor Rick Dalton is intrigued when director Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate move in next door. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt.

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How Long Will You Live?
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How Long Will You Live?
RTÉ One, 8.30pm
Dr Phil Kieran meets Carrie Roberts, a community youth worker and mother of two from Waterford who has turned 40, and wants to make changes in her lifestyle.

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Ultimate Hell Week — The Professionals
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WEDNESDAY
Ultimate Hell Week — The Professionals
RTÉ One, 9.35pm
The celebrities find the going increasingly tough as they continue their army training challenge and are put through a gruelling special forces course.
Film
Nightingale

Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Powerful drama starring David Oyelowo as Peter Snowden, a lonely war veteran whose mind unravels on the eve of an old friend’s visit. With Heather Storm and Elliott Lester.
The Good Fight
RTÉ2, 9.35pm
After her first therapy session, Diane feels positive about everything, and when Liz takes part in a student project about black female attorneys, she finds herself under fire. With Christine Baranski.

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Villages by the Sea
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THURSDAY
Villages by the Sea

BBC2, 7pm
Archaeologist Ben Robinson visits the idyllic village of Gorey, in Jersey, which sits just 14 miles from the coast of Normandy and still bears scars from the German invasion during World War II.
Film
Blazing Saddles

BBC4, 10.40pm
When a crafty major appoints a black man as sheriff of a violent frontier town, the local rednecks are not impressed. Slapstick comedy, starring Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little and Madeline Kahn.

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My Grandparents' War
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My Grandparents’ War
Channel 4, 9pm
Keira Knightley is amazed to discover her grandfather’s adventures at sea during World War II, and her grandmother’s secret role in the Normandy landings.

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Culture Night
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FRIDAY
Culture Night

RTE One, 7pm
The RTÉ Concert Orchestra perform live from the shores of Lough Boora in Co Offaly, and welcome special guests.

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The Red Shoes
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Film
The Red Shoes

BBC2, 2.15pm
Powell and Pressburger’s sublime dark fantasy stars Moira Shearer as a prima ballerina forced by her cruel director to choose between her career and love.
The Late Late Show
RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Ryan Tubridy presents another edition of the world’s longest-running chat show.

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Snabba Cash
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Snabba Cash
Netflix, Thursday
Whaddaya mean you didn’t know about this Swedish masterpiece depicting epic levels of greed, sociopathy, and the general human condition?! Given its first season was somewhat overlooked, we recommend you sink your teeth into it before season two lands this Thursday. However, if you’re short on time trying to catch up on all the rescheduled viewing in light of the queen’s rather protracted televised departure, here’s a brief recap of proceedings. Leya is an entrepreneur who happens to be a single mother. When she requires funding for her start-up, she feels left with little other option than to hit up her child’s estranged drug-dealing uncle for some of his ill-gotten gains. Now, a year later, Leya’s a start-up scene darling, but against her will, she must revisit previous underworld connections — all in a ruthless quest for easy money.

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Skandal!
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Skandal!
Netflix, streaming now
The Mafia, porn barons, and the Russian intelligence agencies… this documentary thriller on one of the biggest financial scandals has nearly all the crimes. In a world exclusive, Financial Times journalist Dan McCrum reveals the inside story of his six-year investigation into German fintech company Wirecard, and the dirty tricks deployed against him as he battled to expose a multi-billion euro fraud.

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Goodnight Mommy
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Goodnight Mommy
Amazon Prime, streaming now
Naomi Watts goes full B movie noir as she plays the heavily bandaged “mother” of twin boys who don’t really get the same warm and fuzzy vibes off mommy since her return from hospital.

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Fate: The Winx Saga
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Fate: The Winx Saga
Netflix, streaming now
Fairy school’s back in Wicklow under the militant authority of Alfea’s former headmistress Rosalind. By way of a recap, with the Burned Ones gone, Dowling ‘disappeared’, and Silva imprisoned for treason, the Alfea of last year has grown up with new magic. However, when fairies start to go missing in the night, Bloom and her suitemates discover a dangerous threat lurking in the shadows. If you’re a fan of wonderfully shot dramas boasting somewhat hammy acting, the dramatisation of the Thai cave rescue is released on Thursday.

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Fortune Seller: A TV Scam
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Fortune Seller: A TV Scam
Netflix, Wednesday
Having been lucky enough to visit Sardinia many times in a previous life, I can personally attest to the Italian grá for TV fortune tellers — especially ones set against a floral backdrop so they look like they’re emerging from a rose. The alleged soothsayers in this crime docu-series, however? Not so much. Rife with pop-culture references, this doc explores the known and unknown elements of now 80-year-old Wanna Marchi and a historical moment in the history of Italian TV.

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Super/Natural
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Super/Natural
Disney+, Wednesday
Executive-produced by James Cameron and narrated by Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, this new series uses scientific innovations and leading-edge filmmaking technology to reveal the secret powers and super senses of the world’s most extraordinary animals. Expect to see flowers in “bee vision” and eavesdrop on a conflab between elephant seals.

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Patton Oswalt: We All Scream
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Patton Oswalt: We All Scream
Netflix, Tuesday
MODOK. Nom nom. Max the dog. Remy the culinary rat. Jesse from Minecraft story mode… and that’s just for starters. Patton ‘Pinky Penguin’ Oswalt’s voice-acting prowess (never mind roles on The King of Queens and Veep) is almost unparalleled. And now Michelle McNamara’s widower is screaming into the abyss (or into your living room — if you choose to watch his latest stand-up offering). He’ll discuss what happens to our bodies as we get older, and who he could have been — had he followed the list he created during lockdown.
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