Pick of the week:

Monday July 8

Dark Money

9pm, BBC One

The first thing we see in Dark Money is a boy underwater, holding his breath with a look of trying to put off the moment when he has to come back to the surface. Maybe even debating whether he wants to at all.

When he does come up for air, it becomes clear that the indoor pool he’s in is actually part of a palatial family home, the kind of spacy dream pad you might glimpse in the glossiest of magazine spreads, or the wildest of your dreams: all clean lines, glass walls, and a price in the millions. It seems this kid lives here, along with his well-groomed mum and dad who, as they kiss in their pristine kitchen, look very content with the hand life has dealt them.

Then, though, comes another moment to disturb the gloss. As he stands chopping vegetables for dinner, the father catches sight of a news story on his laptop – something about a Hollywood producer’s latest big-budget epic – and freezes in a kind of trance, staring at the screen, apparently oblivious to the fact that he’s started squeezing the knife blade so hard his hand is running red with blood.

What’s wrong with this picture? We begin to learn when the story suddenly flips back to one year earlier, to find the father, Manny (Babou Ceesay), waiting excitedly at the airport to welcome his son home from a momentous trip.

The kid, Isaac (Max Fincham), is a child actor, and returning from Hollywood, where he’s been playing one of the leads in a hotly anticipated sci-fi blockbuster. Aged only 13, and with little experience, but talent to burn, it’s the kind of break that could change his life. Maybe all their lives, because, when they get home, it’s to a very different situation than the luxurious lifestyle depicted in the prologue – a boxy little house in the city, where the debts keep piling up, and the money never lasts the month.

But just as they’re beginning to celebrate Isaac’s success and bombard him with questions about Tinseltown, Manny and his wife, Sam (Jill Halfpenny), notice something’s wrong. Isaac is very quiet and withdrawn, and it’s not just jetlag. Very quickly it comes pouring out. All their lives will indeed be changed by his Hollywood experience. Because, while he was over there, he was sexually abused by the movie’s producer.

Written by Levi David Addai, Dark Money does well at juggling two difficult jobs. One on level, it’s a message drama, serving up a hot topic for our consideration, a genre that can often come across as more well-intentioned and worthy than actually interesting. Simultaneously, however, the opening episode offers a provocative element. As the family attempt to confront their son’s abuser and his powerfully intimidating legal team, they are soon faced with a choice that makes us wonder just where the sudden wealth glimpsed in that opening flashforward came from – and ask what we might do in the same situation.

Whether there is enough story here to warrant a four-part series (the first two episodes go out on Monday and Tuesday this week) is debatable, but Addai’s themes are compelling, and well served by his cast. Ceesay and Halfpenny are nicely understated – the latter is particularly good at the moment she learns what happened to her boy, the moment when everything changes. But the performance you’ll remember is Fincham, excellent both in the many sequences when Isaac looks damaged, sad and haunted, and the fleeting moments when he’s just allowed to be a kid.

Daily highlights

Sunday, July 7

Arena: That Summer

9pm, BBC Four

Released in 1975, Gray Gardens is perhaps the most celebrated film by the pioneering documentary team David and Albert Maysles. Grotesque yet tender, it introduced audiences to the private, tumbledown world of scatty, catty, ageing socialite Edith Bouvier Beale (Jackie Kennedy’s aunt) and her daughter, “Little Edie”, women left behind by time, who lived in isolation in a decaying mansion in the Hamptons.

Recently, long-lost footage from an earlier, abandoned, film on the Beales was discovered, from which director Göran Hugo Olsson assembled this new documentary. The 1972 material catches the Beales in a more depressingly precarious state. Their mansion, which was subsequently spruced up (a little), is not just decaying, but squalid. Fans will still lap up the chance to see more, but the film lacks the nuanced, probing vision of the Maysles’ cult classic.

Tuesday July 9

Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate

8pm, STV

I honestly can’t think of a single reason why anyone who had any choice in the matter would actually want to watch this, and yet I feel compelled by a numb sense of responsibility to alert you to the fact that it’s going to be on, even if only to give you time to take all the necessary precautions to absolutely ensure that there is no possible chance you might stumble over it by accident, unawares, and thus find yourself suddenly throwing up a little inside your mouth, while simultaneously being rendered so listless and depressed that you can no longer even remember how to summon together the combination of bodily functions that would allow you to spit it out, and so will have to just sit there, staring distantly at the screen, sensing the bile growing colder on your tongue. Julie Etchingham presents.

Wednesday July 10

8 Days: To The Moon And Back

9pm, BBC Two

As we approach July 20 and the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings, there will be many documentaries to mark the date. But this first off the launch pad is one of the most affecting, even though it dabbles in the dubious realm of dramatic reconstruction.

The title refers to the amount of time the entire mission took from blast-off to splash down, and the film seeks to bring to life what those days were like for the Apollo 11 crew like never before, by using the recently-declassified audio recordings Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made during the greatest trip in history.

Actors are employed to reconstruct the scenes, lip-syncing to the old tapes, but the story is so odd, magnificent, moving and unlikely the film gets away with it – helped immeasurably by the real, eternally stunning footage from the Nasa archives.

Thursday July 11

Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal

9pm, BBC Two

News of an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – “mad cow disease” – first broke in the late 1980s. By 1990, fears of the risks associated with infected meat had grown to the point that politicians were scrambling to assure us it was perfectly safe. But by 1995 the first cases of the human form, vCJD, had been identified. Since then, almost 200 people have died.

This documentary tells the story of the crisis, with speculation on the greed that caused it; its mismanagement by the government of the day; and its devastating impact on individual lives, such as Annie McVey, who relates the harrowing experience of her daughter, Claire, who died in 2000 aged only 15. Starkly, the film underlines that it might not be over: vCJD can lie dormant for decades, and scientists have no way of knowing how many still carry the infection.

Friday July 13

Roy Orbison: One Of The Lonely Ones

10pm, BBC Four

It’s all sport and repeats on TV just now, but on the plus side it means another chance to see this loving portrait of the man in the impenetrable shades who, even at the height of pop success, always stood apart from the mainstream, thanks to the beauty and soaring weirdness of that high lonesome voice, and the obsessive, vulnerable melodrama of his songwriting.

The film uses Orbison’s own words and a barrage of evocative archive to chart his life, from the pill-popping Sun rockabilly days, through the 1960s classics, to the 1980s renaissance and The Travelling Wilburys. Among the contributors, T Bone Burnett, sums it up best: “He had desolation in his voice.”

It’s followed by the 1988 special Roy Orbison And Friends: The Black And White Concert (11pm), featuring a band including Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt.

Saturday July 13

TV’s Black Renaissance: Reggie Yates in Hollywood

9pm, BBC Two

For this film, the actor and DJ travels to LA to explore the recent wave of shows with majority African-American casts and writers that have helped to bring a new level of frankness about race and identity to the screen. Considering the impact of series like Atlanta, Dear White People and Insecure, Yates meets with actors including Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, True Detective) and Caleb Mclaughlin from Stranger Things, and writers and showrunners including Dear White People’s Justin Simien (Dear White People) to explore how the rise of black voices has responded to the rise of Trump’s America. Stay tuned straight after, as it’s followed by the launch of the second series of one of the best shows under discussion, Atlanta, the deadpan, downbeat sitcom from Donald Glover, aka rapper Childish Gambino.