TV – top specials of the week

Bears About The House (BBC 2, Wednesday 8pm)

Across Asia, bears are sold as trophy pets, used for their body parts in restaurants and processed for traditional Asian medicine. Some 10,000 are kept in cages in bear farms so their bile can be extracted to meet demand. Conservationist Giles Clark and his team are determined to put a stop to this. (See photo above.)

Golf: Chronicles of a Champion Golfer (BBC 2, Thursday 1pm)

Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus are the Open Championships’ three most successful post-war Americans - but what fuelled their success? This episode takes a look at rarely shown footage from their childhoods, personal insights from all three men and highlights of all 11 Open Championships the trio have won between them.

Gardening Together With Diarmuid Gavin (RTÉ 1, Friday 8pm)

What better way to pass these summer days than with Diarmuid, as he invites us in to his garden, encouraging everyone across the country, taking calls, answering questions and offering dozens of practical tips. He also gets a bit of help from plant legend, Helen Dillon.

Photographer: Andres Poveda

The Best of the Late Late Show Country Special (RTÉ 1, Friday 9.35pm)

Ryan Turbidy celebrates country music specials from the past five years, with music and more from the biggest names, including Big Tom, Daniel O’Donnell, Philomena Begley, Charlie Pride, Cliona Hagan, Mike Denver and many more.

The Plot Against America (Sky Atlantic, Tuesday 9pm)

Winona Ryder and John Turturro star in this timely alternate-history drama based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name. Told from the perspective of the Levins, a working class New Jersey Jewish family, as the anti-Semitic aviator-hero Charles Lindbergh ascends to the presidency.

MOVIES OF THE WEEK

Jessica Chastain stars in Molly's Game. Photographer: Michael Gibson

Molly’s Game (RTÉ 1, Wednesday 9.35pm)

A crime drama directed by the excellent Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame, it tells the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

Logan Lucky (ITV4, Thursday 9pm)

Two brothers plan to pull off an ambitious heist during a Nascar race, but need the help of a convicted safe-cracker - who is currently doing time in prison. Director Steven Soderberg’s crime caper, stars Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, with an hilarious Daniel Craig as the safe-cracker.

The Proposal (RTÉ 1, Friday 11.10pm)

This comedy drama sees Sandra Bullock get close and personal with Ryan Reynolds when she forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her visa status in the US and avoid deportation to Canada.

Photographer: JoJo Whilden

Bad Education (Sky Cinema, from Wednesday)

Hugh Jackman and Alison Janney star in this true life tale set around the beloved superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district - and how he became the prime suspect in the largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history.

CLASSIC MOVIE

The First Wives Club (5Star, Thursday 7pm)

Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton are three ex-wives dumped for younger models. The trio decide to take action and hit their former partners where it hurts most - their finances. Top comedy with killer lines.

KIDS STUFF

Sky Cinema Animation (Sky Cinema, launching Thursday July 23rd)

A brand new permanent channel bursting with the latest and greatest family-friendly animated movies. It’s home to the biggest animated blockbusters including Angry Birds 2, The Secret Life of Pets 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 3 as well as fantastic movies families may not have discovered yet like Wonder Park, Spy Cat and Astro Kid.

Mexico: Maya Underworlds (Dave, Wednesday 2pm)

Steve Backshall leads a team into Yucatan, Mexico on the trail of the ancient Maya. Uncovering sinister secrets and artefacts, they push far into the underworld of the Maya - a place they’re advised from which no rescue is possible if things go wrong.

Big Hero 6 (Disney, Thursday 3.30pm)

Aunt Cass sets Hiro up with 14-year-old Megan, which leads him to wonder if he is missing out on being a normal kid. Big Hero 6 must deal with an upgraded High Voltage.

Wild Tales from the Farm (Sky Nature, Sunday 8pm)

As the leaves change, wild urges grip the animals. Rams Roger and Hamish battle for dominance, while Sally the hen flies the coop for a tour of the farm.

ON DEMAND

Greyhound (Apple TV)

Tom Hanks scripted and stars in this wartime epic set in the early days of WWII, when a convoy of 37 Allied ships led by an inexperienced captain crosses the treacherous North Atlantic hotly pursued by wolf packs of Nazi U-boats.

13th (Netflix)

The title of director Ava DuVernay’s Oscar nominated documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States.’ It examines the horrors of the sprawling American prison industry - within which 1 in 3 African-Americans will be jailed.

Flesh and Bone (Amazon Prime)

Sarah Hay plays a troubled young dancer who lands a job with a prestigious ballet company in New York City, where she deals with a mercurial artistic director with whom she has a history. Brutal dance drama with quick feet.

Anita Afshar as Laleh Shahrokh, Setareh Naghoni as Sepideh Shahrokh, Amiralia Kianifar as Rayan Shahrokh, and Phoenix Raei as Javad Shahrokh in episode 104 of Stateless (Courtesy Of Netflix © 2020).

Stateless (Netflix)

Cate Blanchett created and stars in this drama inspired by true events set in an immigrant detention centre. A woman escaping a cult, a refugee fleeing with his family, a father trapped in a dead-end job, and a bureaucrat on the verge of a national scandal - all find their lives intertwined.

Homemade (Netflix)

A collection of short films created by celebrated filmmakers around the world. Confined at home as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak, filmmakers created personal, moving stories that capture our shared experience of life in quarantine

TOP SUMMER PODCASTS

Dolly Parton’s America

We all know Dolly Parton is much more than her obvious physical charms, and host Jad Abumrad reaches deep inside the Dollyverse to examine how her genius as a songwriter and musician has transformed her into a brand loved the world over.

Call Your Girlfriend

New York Times journalist Ann Friedman and businesswoman Aminatou Sow are based on opposite sides of the US - but phone each other weekly to share irreverent and incisive takes on pop culture and politics, including the twitterisms of the ‘Cheeto in Chief.’

THE SHOW MUST GO ONLINE

The Deep Blue Sea (www.national theatre.org.uk)

Terence Rattigan’s masterpiece sees Helen McCrory attempting suicide after a tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court judge. A portrait of need, loneliness and long-repressed passion behind the fragile veneer of post-war British civility.

Until Thursday 16 July.

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