THIS WEEK’S HIGH­LIGHTS

The Irish Times Magazine - - TV & RADIO - Kevin Court­ney

Just over a week to go un­til the re­turn of the one telly pro­gramme to rule them all ( no, not Daniel and Ma­jella’s B& B Road Trip), and just to whet the ap­petites for sea­son seven of Game of Thrones, Sue Perkins hosts a spe­cial an­tic­i­pa­tory edi­tion of Thronecast: War Room ( Wed­nes­day, Sky At­lantic, 9pm), a com­pan­ion show to the world’s big­gest TV se­ries ( sort of like Big Throne’s Baby Highchair). Perkins is joined by fel­low GoT fans Al Mur­ray, Lau­ren Lav­erne and Jonathan Ross, who en­thu­si­as­ti­cally share their ex­cite­ment at the im­pend­ing ar­rival of the new se­ries ( set­tle down – jeez, you’re grown- ups). The show comes to you from a dis­used church dec­o­rated with flags from the houses of Wes­teros, a mas­sive strate­gic map of that fic­tional land, and even a huge fire pit ( there’s an idea for the next se­ries of Celebrity Big Brother). Game of Thrones it­self un­sheaths swords on Mon­day, July 17th, at 2am for true- blue Throners, and again at 9pm.

In 1975, at the height of the Troubles, an Irish- Amer­i­can bomb dis­posal ex­pert em­barked on a heroic mis­sion – to bring res- pite to thou­sands of chil­dren caught up in the daily vi­o­lence in North­ern Ire­land. Sick­ened by im­ages of con­flict com­ing from his na­tive coun­try, De­nis Mulc­ahy, a for­mer NYPD bomb squad de­tec­tive, orig­i­nally from Cork, started up a scheme to bring chil­dren from both sides of the di­vide to spend six weeks on hol­i­day with a host fam­ily in the US. His story is told in the award- win­ning doc­u­men­tary How to De­fuse A Bomb – The Pro­ject Chil­dren Story ( Mon­day, RTÉ One, 9.35pm). Nar­rated by Liam Nee­son, and fea­tur­ing con­tri­bu­tions from for­mer US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and the late Martin McGuin­ness, the doc­u­men­tary won the Au­di­ence Award at the Irish Film Fes­ti­val. In the 40 years of Pro­ject Chil­dren, Mulc­ahy, with help from fam­ily and friends, brought more than 20,000 chil­dren to the US for a va­ca­tion from vi­o­lence, and gave them a taste of life in a neigh­bour­hood where chil­dren of dif­fer­ent faiths and cul­tures lived and played to­gether.

It’s the height of the sum­mer, you’re stuck in the office, and your two- week

break in Por­tu­gal seems like an aeon ago. Never mind – you can al­ways watch a bunch of other peo­ple on hol­i­days in Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour of Vietnam ( Sun­day, RTÉ One, 8.30pm). Ire­land’s celebrity hote­lier rounds up an­other bunch of hol­i­day­mak­ers and brings them on a sur­prise trip – and when they dis­cover their des­ti­na­tion, I doubt if any of them will be dis­ap­pointed. Brennan’s grand tour be­gins in the beau­ti­ful city of Hanoi in the north, and takes in the mag­i­cal is­lands of Ha­long Bay, the ru­ral retreat of Mai Chau, the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, the his­toric Cu Chi Tun­nels, the Mekong Delta and the float­ing mar­kets of Can Tho City. Brennan’s 12 guests, aged from 20s to 80s, in­clude grannies, priests and a florist, and we’ll get to know ( and envy) them over the course of this six- part se­ries.

For Christy Dig­nam, life as the front­man of one of Ire­land’s most pop­u­lar bands has never been easy. The As­lan singer has bat­tled drug addiction, the trauma of child­hood sex­ual abuse and, most re­cently, can­cer, but has kept his rock’n’roll dream alive for more than 30 years. On the eve of As­lan’s gig at Dublin’s Iveagh Gar­dens, Dig­nam tells his own story in This Is Christy ( Tues­day, RTÉ One, 9.35pm). He re­calls child­hood Sun­days lis­ten­ing to his fa­ther sing while cook­ing din­ner, and re­counts tales of near- rock star­dom with As­lan, as he stood at the brink of in­ter­na­tional fame, only to see his dreams dis­si­pate in a haze of drug addiction, and re­traces the long road back to be­com­ing one of Ire­land’s most en­dur­ing live acts.

What have the singer David Bowie, the au­thor Zadie Smith and the wiz­ard Harry Pot­ter got in com­mon? They’re all in the frame for one of Bri­tain’s most pres­ti­gious gongs, the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2017 ( Wed­nes­day, Sky Arts, 8pm). Melvyn Bragg presents the awards show that cel­e­brates the arts across the board.

How to De­fuse A Bomb – The Pro­ject Chil­dren Story ( Mon­day, RTÉ One, 9.35pm) won the Au­di­ence Award at the Irish Film Fes­ti­val

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