Five TV shows to watch this week

The Tunnel won’t bore you to tears hopefully


Would You Believe? The Secret of Christmas
Sunday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
Christmas is a time for eating your own weight in Turkey, bingeing out on boxsets and Selection Boxes, and spending the entire GDP of a small country on useless tat and unwanted gifts. Right?

You’d be surprised, but there are actually people out there who think Christmas is about more than just gorging on goodies and flashing the cash. For these crazy folk, helping others in need and giving back to the community is the true spirit of Christmas, and so every year they give up their time and effort to make sure other people can share in the joys of the season.

There’s nowt as queer as folk, eh? Would You Believe? The Secret of Christmas follows a diverse group of volunteers as they set out to bring some Christmas cheer to people who are sick, bereaved, lonely or living in poverty – whether it’s staging a Nativity play, putting on a Christmas concert, singing carols in nursing homes or hosting parties for sick children.

Some of the people taking part in the programme will also be included in a special “advent calendar” RTÉ is running across all platforms. Each day in the run-up to December 25th, a different story will be highlighted in the calendar – RTÉ is hoping it will inspire people around the country to perform their own small act of kindness to make Christmas better for others. Oh, all right, then, I’ll turn off the telly and go and record a charity single. Where’s Bono’s number?

The Tunnel
Thursday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
It won’t be long before Britain lifts up all the ladders, closes its shutters and severs all remaining ties with reality. And of course it will be filling in that confounded Channel Tunnel as well. But before that happens, there’s still time for one last series of British-French drama The Tunnel. Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane return as detectives Elise Wasserman and Karl Roebuck in The Tunnel: Vengeance. A tunnel worker is attacked by rats in Calais, and three children disappear from their home in Kent. Are these events related? This will require some serious cross-channel crime-solving before anyone can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Dermot Bannon’s New York Homes
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
Telly architect Dermot Bannon takes a break from transforming Irish houses to cross the Atlantic and visit some seriously palatial pads in Dermot Bannon’s New York Homes. Now, he’s not planning on doing any makeovers in Manhattan – these houses are fine as they are. No, he’s just having a nose around a few nice gaffs, including an $18 million penthouse apartment in a skyscraper in Tribeca with stunning 360 degree views, and a $35 million “superhome” in the Hamptons with everything a rich person needs, including an indoor basketball court and a rooftop putting green. In the second of this two-parter, Bannon heads to the West Coast to poke around a few pads in Los Angeles.

James Joyce: A Shout in the Street
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
When you’re telling the story of Ireland’s greatest author, you need to make sure to pick the right narrator for the job. James Joyce: A Shout in the Street  is a special documentary looking at the life and work of Joyce, and who better to guide us on this odyssey than actor Anjelica Huston?

Huston may be better known for playing the titular mammy in Agnes Browne, but her starring role in her father John Huston’s adaptation of Joyce’s The Dead will live forever. Anjelica Huston explores Joyce’s chaotic childhood, and examines the great ambition and commitment to his art that drove him on to great literary heights – and drove him to the brink. Huston talks to some well-known Joyceans, including Colm Tóibín, John Banville, Dominic West, Anne Enright and Edna O’Brien.

El Chapo
Netflix, from Friday
Following on from the success of Narcos, El Chapo told the true-life story of the rise and fall of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. But Guzman’s story didn’t end with his capture and incarceration. Series two follows El Chapo as he escapes from prison and attempts to re-establish himself as the drug trade’s head honcho.