TV preview: four things to watch on television this week

Game of Thrones moves towards its explosive finale; RTÉ hosts the first-ever Irish Country Music Awards

Game of Thrones
Monday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
The end is almost nigh for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, and we have been promised a truly titanic finale to bring the latest epic adventure to a close. As Throners know, GoT always delivers an action-packed spectacle in the lead-up to the last episode. Previous penultimate episodes have seen the execution of Ned Stark, the Battle of Blackwater, the Battle of Castle Black, and Daenerys's dramatic dragon-riding escape from the Fighting Pits.

Monday's hour-long episode is titled The Battle of the Bastards, so expect an epic face-off between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton. Next week's final episode clocks in at nearly 70 minutes, giving plenty of time for some serious curtain-closing action. After that, we can settle down to a summer of bingeing on boxsets of the first five series.

Tuesday, Sky Arts, 9pm

We've watched Vinyl, Martin Scorsese's hyperreal drama of a fictional record company in the 1970s, and marvelled at the supersized collars and egos of the characters, but what about the real-life pioneers of the recorded music industry? Soundbreaking is a new eight-part documentary that traces the history of music recording, and features original interviews with some of rock and pop's biggest stars, from the famous faces in the recording booth, to the innovators behind the mixing desk, to the movers and shakers in the record company boardrooms. The first episode focuses on the producers, including the "fifth Beatle" George Martin, Mr Wall of Sound Phil Spector and resurrection man Rick Rubin.

RTÉ Irish Country Music Awards
Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm
Ireland's love affair with country music goes back yonks, so the only strange thing about the RTÉ Irish Country Music Awards is why in tarnation they haven't done this before. Talk about an untapped goldmine. But finally, RTÉ – in association with the Irish Farmers' Journal and in partnership with the Irish Country Music Association – has decided to give country music its due and hand out awards to the finest practitioners of this cruelly maligned genre.


Besides, what better way to help viewers get through their Late Late Show withdrawal? And who better to host the inaugural awards than the high king of Irish country, Daniel O’Donnell? He will be presenting the show live from the RTÉ studios, and some of the biggest stars of country and Irish will perform, including Big Tom McBride, Mike Denver, Jimmy Buckley, Philomena Begley and the young buck from Liverpool, Nathan Carter, the Justin Bieber of country.

Viewers will get to vote for entertainer of the year, and also choose their favourite country song from a shortlist of four stone classics: Pretty Little Girl From Omagh, One Day at a Time, Four Country Roads and Wagon Wheel.

Glastonbury 2016
Friday, BBC Two, 10pm and 11.15pm; BBC Four, 7.30pm and 10.30pm
You're not likely to see Declan Nerney or Ray Lynam and the Hillbillies at Glastonbury 2016, but there should be a few artists worthy of your attention taking to the stage at Worthy Farm. The BBC ups sticks and follows the mudlarks to Pilton in Somerset for extensive coverage of the summer's biggest music festival. The first night will feature live sets from Foals, James, Jess Glynne, Disclosure, Underworld and, wait for it, ZZ Top. The night will culminate in the full live headline set from Muse on the Pyramid stage. Okay, it's not quite Brendan Shine at the Gleneagle, but it'll do.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist