BBC iPLAYER, ALL 4 & YOUTUBE
I May Destroy You
Although not exactly unknown before I May Destroy You – her E4 comedy series Chewing Gum was much admired and she gave the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2018 – Michaela Coel is now being hailed as a TV superstar.
Michaela Coel (above with Weruche Opia) is the writer, star and co-director of this frank, graphic 12-episode series which fictionalises the story of her sexual assault
She’s the writer, star and co-director of this frank, graphic 12-episode series which fictionalises the story of her sexual assault. She plays Arabella, a Twitter-famous millennial writer who is trying to finish her novel before the deadline. Arabella can’t remember how the previous night on the town ended but she has bruises and her phone is smashed. Then she starts having flashbacks… BBC iPlayer, boxset available from Monday
For more than 40 years, Peter Shaffer’s play has wowed millions across the globe; most know it via the Oscar-winning 1984 movie. But in 2016 the National Theatre brought it to a new generation with an acclaimed revival. Adam Gillen takes the title role of rowdy young upstart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose genius enthrals and enrages his arch-rival, court composer Antonio Salieri (Lucian Msamati, who can be seen as Iago on Sunday in BBC4’s showing of the RSC’s 2015 production of Othello). National Theatre Live/YouTube, from Thursday
Behind The Filter
This sitcom pilot was released without fanfare a couple of weeks ago and is quickly gaining a following. Many have likened it to Fleabag – it’s about a single woman lacking in direction and some of the scenes are near the knuckle – but the lead character, Ruby, is more like David Brent from The Office. She’s so desperate to fit in and appear ‘cool’ that she regularly makes massive faux pas. Phoebe Walsh, who also co-wrote the show, plays her. BBC iPlayer, available now
Detective Fred Cain is a cynical homicide detective who doesn’t do things by the book. Naturally, his partner, Lieutenant Lucie Delambre, is a sexy, younger woman and there seems to be a certain frisson between them. Oh, and Cain’s in a wheelchair. This is a long-running series in France, where it’s a big hit. And if it doesn’t push back the boundaries of the police procedural, it’s an enjoyably undemanding show enhanced by its sun-drenched locations around Marseille. Walter Presents/All 4, available now
Former Castle star Stana Katic returns as Emily Byrne, the FBI special agent who vanished while hunting for a serial killer, only to reappear six years later with no memory of what happened to her. This time, Emily is still serving her suspension while trying to be a better parent to her son.
But she’s forced to rely on her old investigative skills when her family is threatened – and seeing as she’s still trying to work out what occurred during her disappearance, it’s a matter that’s far from straightforward. From Friday
Simply one of the greatest TV shows ever made. A decade of American history and social change – from 1960 to 1970 – is viewed through the prism of the lives of a group of New York ad agency employees. Is Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the philandering, flawed creative genius, the main character?
Simply one of the greatest TV shows ever made, Mad Men centred on a group of New York ad agency employees during the 1960s. Above: Jon Hamm and January Jones
Or is it actually Peggy Olson (a superlative Elisabeth Moss), who starts the series as Draper’s secretary but claws her way up the corporate ladder to become a creative powerhouse in her own right? From the acting to the storylines to the dialogue, the music to the costumes to the opening title sequence, this is pretty much flawless television. And, perhaps unusually for a long-running series, it has an ingenious and utterly satisfying finale. Available now
A who’s who of women’s tennis down the years graces this documentary, which examines what it takes to get to the very top of the WTA rankings. Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters all contribute with their take on the journey from a kid with a racket and a dream to the coveted position of World No 1. The only omission: no Steffi Graf? From Monday
NETFLIX & STARZPLAY
Have you ever thought about the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend? What’s her connection with Excalibur, and what’s she doing in a lake? This is her origin story. King Uther Pendragon is doing nothing to stop the terrifying Red Paladins, led by the fanatical Father Carden (Peter Mullan), from harrowing the land and terrorising the Fey people, a religious minority.
13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford (above) plays magical teenager Nimue in this new fantasy series about the Lady of the Lake which is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel
Nimue (13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford) is a teenager with magical powers. When her village is pillaged she is given a sword of power by her mother and told she must deliver it to Merlin. Based on the best-selling Frank Miller graphic novel. Netflix, from Friday
DC’s movie output has been somewhat hit and miss, but its small-screen outings – such as Harley Quinn and Pennyworth – have been excellent. Doom Patrol, about heroes who gained their powers following tragic events, joined the roster last year and now it’s back for a second series.
This time, the group’s members have been miniaturised and must find a way to deal with that, as well as their feelings towards The Chief, a man they thought was on their side. The always watchable Timothy Dalton and Brendan Fraser star, while Abigail Shapiro joins the cast as The Chief’s rather unusual daughter. Starzplay, from Thursday
Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall’s latest project is a no-holds-barred look at the larger-than-life characters working at a strip club in the Mississippi Delta. Among them is dancer Mercedes (Brandee Evans), whose incredible feats of athleticism on stage are mind-boggling; her colleagues may be less flexible but their backstories involve PTSD, survival against the odds, and battles against prejudice, which means there’s plenty of drama. And it all plays out against a backdrop of corporate greed as big companies arrive in the area, ready to suck its resources dry and leave the locals fighting to survive. Starzplay, from Sunday
Father Soldier Son
Brian Eisch is a decorated third-generation soldier. When he is injured in combat in Afghanistan, he and his sons, Isaac and Joey, have to deal with the challenging changes in their lives.
Filmed over nearly a decade, this documentary follows Brian Eisch as he and his sons adapt to changes in their lives after he’s injured in combat in Afghanistan
Filmed over nearly a decade, this documentary exploring the nature of masculinity, service and sacrifice is directed by two New York Times journalists. Netflix, from Friday
Polish director Jan Komasa’s movie won the Best International Narrative Feature award at New York’s respected Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. As a result, it was snapped up by the streaming giant’s bosses, who felt it had the power to become a cult hit. Now you can see if they were right.
Polish director Jan Komasa’s movie starring Vanessa Alexander and Maciej Musialowski (above) won the Best International Narrative Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival
The plot focuses on Tomek (Maciej Musialowski), a disgraced law student who is determined to make something of his life – particularly if it enables him to win over his childhood friend Gabi (Vanessa Alexander) and her family. Tomek hopes a job with a PR firm will do the trick, but the amoral activities expected of him in his new role begin to have an unexpected impact on his personality and future. Netflix, available now
An astonishing one in three African-American men will be jailed during their lifetime. That’s just one of the shocking statistics in Ava DuVernay’s powerful, Oscar-nominated documentary from 2016 exploring the link between systemic racism and incarceration in the US.
The video of Eric Garner shouting ‘I can’t breathe’ while being arrested in 2014 is especially harrowing given the last words of George Floyd. As millions have now watched the film to educate themselves about racial inequality, Netflix has also made it available for free via YouTube. Netflix, available now
Down To Earth With Zac Efron
In 2019 he graced our screens as the vile serial killer Ted Bundy. This year, Zac Efron has opted for a somewhat lighter role – that of eco-show presenter. The former High School Musical star is on a trip around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien to learn about sustainable living. They’ll be travelling to Puerto Rico, Iceland, Costa Rica, France, Peru, the UK and Sardinia investigating where we get our food, water and power from – ‘putting new perspectives on some very old problems’, as Efron puts it. And by the looks of the trailer, eating well and having a very nice time along the way. Netflix, available now
Why is there such a buzz about..?
Perry Mason (Sky/NOW TV)
Defence lawyer Perry Mason was originally a character in detective fiction but is now best remembered from the popular TV series that ran from the 1950s until the 1960s. In that show, Mason (Raymond Burr) usually proves a client innocent of the murder with which they were charged – and he often discovers the real perpetrator.
Defence lawyer Perry Mason was originally a character in detective fiction. This noir, Chandler-esque reimagining starring Matthew Rhys is a prequel of sorts
But this noir, Chandler-esque reimagining – a prequel of sorts – is very different and bears the same relationship to the original as, say, Christopher Nolan’s brooding Batman films do to the daft 1960s TV series. It’s set in Los Angeles in 1931. First World War veteran Mason (Matthew Rhys) is a cynical private investigator with a serious drinking habit who sports a permanent five o’clock shadow. He’s eking out a living exposing the sexual shenanigans of Hollywood stars and starlets when he’s hired to investigate the murder of a baby.
Although the series is prefaced with the standard warning ‘Contains scenes some viewers may find distressing’, there was much social-media discussion about whether we really needed to see the dead infant, eyelids gruesomely sewn open. As his investigation progresses, Mason tangles with crooked cops, seedy establishment figures and religious fanatics.
The show looks fantastic – no expense has been spared recreating 1930s LA – and the cast is fabulous, with Shea Whigham as Mason’s sidekick, John Lithgow as the lawyer employing them and Scottish actress Gayle Rankin a standout as the dead child’s mother.
SKY/NOW TV, BRITBOX & APPLE TV+
The German Second World War drama starring Clemens Schick remains one of the most gripping shows around. In the second eight-part series the Gestapo is on the hunt for the French Resistance in La Rochelle, while boozy German submariners brawl and chase women in the port’s fleshpots.
The German WWII drama starring Clemens Schick (above) remains one of the most gripping shows around. It’s morally complex and as viscerally thrilling as the 1981 film that inspired it
Meanwhile, beneath the Atlantic a U-boat is on a secret mission that, for once, doesn’t involve attempting to destroy Allied convoys. But is its disillusioned commander about to go rogue? Morally complex and as viscerally thrilling as the revered 1981 film that inspired it. Sky/NOW TV, available now
Bafta: Screenwriters’ Lectures
Ever wondered where ideas for top-rated TV series and blockbusting movies come from, and what it takes to transform them from something inside a writer’s head into a fully fledged screenplay? If so, you’re in the right place. Four Weddings And A Funeral’s Richard Curtis, Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame, and Abi Morgan, creator of The Hour whose credits also include the films Shame and The Iron Lady, can be seen discussing their creative processes in a series of fascinating talks. BritBox, available now
Any Human Heart
Sam Claflin, Matthew Macfadyen and Jim Broadbent play the same character at different ages in this gripping adaptation of William Boyd’s much-admired novel. The story begins as 80-something Logan Mountstuart (Broadbent) looks back on his eventful life while reading through his old diaries.
The tale then jumps between various flashbacks as Logan recalls how his time on Earth has intersected with major historic events and figures. The all-star supporting cast includes Tom Hollander and Gillian Anderson as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Tobias Menzies as Ian Fleming. BritBox from Monday
The first series was a workplace comedy set in heaven. God (Steve Buscemi) had given up on Earth and had a new project in mind. Low-level angel Craig (Daniel Radcliffe), whose job was to answer prayers, was trying to save the planet.
The first series was a workplace comedy set in heaven. This time around, it’s the same cast but a new story – set in a cod-medieval era – with Daniel Radcliffe as Prince Chauncley
This time around, it’s the same cast but a new story – set in a cod-medieval era – with Radcliffe as Prince Chauncley, a sensitive, artistic lad who is a big disappointment to his violent warlord father, and Buscemi as Eddie, the town’s faeces collector. There’s a Horrible Histories vibe but this is amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny. Sky/NOW TV, from Monday
Bess King (Brittany O’Grady) is a talented young songwriter who jots down lyrics while doing her job as a New York dog-walker but lacks the confidence to perform her work to an audience.
Bess King (Brittany O’Grady, above with Colton Ryan) is a talented songwriter who jots down lyrics while working as a dog-walker but lacks the confidence to perform to an audience
Whether you enjoy this coming-of-age story with music will largely depend on your tolerance for a show in which there’s a romantic encounter in the first five minutes, and when the guy asks Bess what one word best sums her up, she spells out ‘Mess’ in Scrabble tiles. We’re not talking kitchen-sink realism here. But stick with it, it’s not all schmaltz and it does get much better. Featuring original music by Sara Bareilles. Apple TV+, available now
Older parents, brace yourself for changes. Not only can the snack-snaffling hound now talk in full sentences, the animation style has been updated and Dick Dastardly parachuted in from Wacky Races as the villain. But it does all just about work thanks to a strong voice cast led by Will Forte, Zac Efron and Mark Wahlberg. Various platforms, now
A game Rosamund Pike certainly captures radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie’s feisty character in Radioactive but overall this historical biopic disappoints
A game Rosamund Pike certainly captures radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie’s feisty character, but does so in a film that defies historical biopic convention by jumping between timelines and using distracting screen graphics – and generally blustering its way through the admittedly rather tricky science. Various platforms, now