THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS
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