Want to hunker down in front of a screen but stuck for something to watch?
Here are the films, TV shows and special streaming events on our cultural radar right now, plus some of our favourites from recent weeks that you can catch up on…
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February 23, 2024
Not one for the faint-hearted. This new ITV show was written by three current and former doctors (Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio among them) and is a look at what was happening inside hospitals during the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s extremely harrowing, but fascinating – and a truly rage-inducing watch.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
It’s Netflix’s turn to give Avatar the live-action treatment. Dive back into the world of Aang and his friends as they journey to save the world. This time around, there’s a clear reverence for the source material, plus dialogue that doesn’t sound like it’s been put through a blender. All positives. Plus, the powers actually look cool this time around!
Noomi Rapace stars in this high-concept sci-fi piece from Apple TV+. She plays astronaut Jo, who returns from a gruelling mission in outer space to find things are a bit… wrong. She can play the piano (gasp) and maybe had an affair with her colleague? Things are spicy, but is it in her head or is something more sinister at work?
Can I Tell You A Secret?
This shocking new two-part Netflix documentary lays bare the crimes of Matthew Hardy, once dubbed “Britain’s worst troll.” He tormented tens, perhaps hundreds, of women online over ten years, stealing their identities and those of their friends and family, to ruin their lives. This tells the story of how he was eventually brought to justice.
February 9, 2024
Get ready to feel all the feelings with Netflix’s brand new adaptation of David Nicholls’ beloved book. Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall (of The White Lotus fame) star as Em and Dex, two star-crossed lovers whom we meet on the same day of the year, for twenty years. What’s more, it effectively banishes the spectre of Anne Hathaway’s dubious Yorkshire accent: Mod is note-perfect. Bring tissues.
Take Derry Girls to Liverpool and what do you get? Something (a bit) like G’wed, the new ITVX sitcom following the lives of working-class boys from Merseyside. Of course, there’s a fish out of water character, here in the form of Jake Kenny-Byrne’s soft southerner Christopher, and a resident bad boy (Dylan Smith’s Reece). The humour is gentle, the show heartwarming – perfect for weekend watching.
If the MCU is still your thing, then rest easy: Disney+ is bringing the newest entry in the canon to the streaming service this week. Starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris as the titular three superheroes, there’s a typically convoluted plot, lots of massive explosions and a tortured baddie in the form of Zawe Ashton’s villainous Kree leader Dar-Benn.
Halo Season 2
It’s been a good few years for fans of video-game adaptations, and the latest feast to hit streamers is the second season of Paramount+’s series Halo. This time around, it feels a bit less like a video game and more like an actual TV show, which is welcome – the plot is slicker, the characters more developed and the visual effects more realistic. But don’t worry, there’s still a lot of gunfights in space.
February 2, 2024
A Bloody Lucky Day
Move over, Squid Game: this could be the next Korean drama sensation. A Bloody Lucky Day, which is now coming to Paramount+, follows Oh Taek, a taxi driver who has the day from hell when he realises the passenger he’s transporting is actually a serial killer. To make it to the end of the ride unscathed, he needs to use all his cunning to stay alive.
Mr & Mrs Smith
No, not the Brad and Angelina version: this modern-day reboot instead casts Mr and Mrs Smith as Donald Glover and Maya Erskine. It’s just as fun as the original, but there’s a twist – this time, the pair are fully aware of each others’ super spy status. It’s the relationship that’s the lie, but as time passes, they realise they might actually have feelings for each other after all.
Could this new Disney+ production be the most gorgeous show to air this winter? The smart money says yes: shot in the UK, Jamaica, Italy and California, it tells the story of Covey (Chipo Chung), who bequeaths her children a series of tapes telling her extraordinary story. Though the present-day scenes drag, the ones set in the past are beautifully shot and deserve to be savoured.
BBC Three’s brand new witchy drama takes place in achingly cool Manchester and features a star performance from star Siena Kelly. She plays the eponymous Domino, who spends her days meeting up with men on dating apps so she can… suck the lifeforce from them (yep, that’s right). Silly it might be, but fortunately it’s also a lot of fun.
January 19, 2024
The Artful Dodger
David Thewlis chews his way through the scenery in this rampantly fun Disney+ take on Dickens. It reimagines the Artful Dodger as all grown up, escaped from Victorian prison and making a living as a surgeon Down Under. Sure, why not – but the real fun begins when Thewlis’ Fagin turns up and starts causing chaos.
True Detective: Night Country
A group of scientists go missing from an Alaskan research base. A murder mystery unfolds. And it all happens in an endless polar winter. That’s right, True Detective is back on Sky once more, and (hurray) it’s actually good again. Jodie Foster is Liz Danvers, Clarice Starling if she were all grown up and also cynical: watching her crack the case is a joy.
He was the most iconic designer of his time – and now, he’s finally getting his own TV series. Debuting on Disney+ in Spanish, it introduces us to Alberto San Juan as Balenciaga, who moves to Paris on the eve of war and, over the years, forges his atelier into one of the most important fashion houses in the world.
Now for the light entertainment: this adult animated TV series has made its way to Prime Video from YouTube by way of indie studio A24. Charming and chirpy, it follows Charlie Morningstar, the princess of Hell, as she sets about trying to open a ‘Happy Hotel’ with the aim of rehabilitating sinners. Just the thing for those January blues.
January 12, 2023
Big Boys Season 2
The warmest show on TV is back for another season. Written by Jack Rooke, the show - which charts the life of newly out Jack, aka Dylan Llewellyn - sees Jack and Danny (Jon Pointing) return for another year at Brent Uni. Beautifully wholesome (and at times, cringey) viewing, to be watched with chocolates and tissues.
Peter Capaldi is on top form in this nerve-jangling Apple TV+ drama. He plays the uber-sinister police detective DCI Daniel Hegarty, who finds himself under the spotlight when young upstart DI Lenker (Cush Jumbo) starts digging into an old murder case. Watching the two of them circle each other, each trying to get the upper hand, is mesmerising.
The Marvel machine rumbles on. This time around, it’s the turn of Maya, or Echo, to assume the role of reluctant superhero. As a Deaf, Native American protagonist, leading an MCU show does feel groundbreaking, and Alaqua Cox (who plays her) is magnificent, as are the supporting cast. A welcome break for those who fancy some mindless violence, and there is a lot of it.
Gladiators, ready! The hit 90s show that entertained a generation is back, this time rebooted on the BBC. Tune in to see Bradley Walsh and son preside over a new selection of spandex-clad super warriors (seriously, what do these guys eat?), and prepare to wince in sympathy as a group of average Joes try to take them on.
January 5, 2024
Julia Season 2
Sarah Lancashire chews more scenery (and food) in the second series of Julia, about celebrity chef Julia Childs. As her fame takes off, she must contend with everything from the White House to a potential FBI investigation. Served with lashings of humour and out on Sky.
In this Channel 4 show, Lindsay Duncan plays a retired police officer who makes a drunken pact with her friends: that if any of them called for it, the others would help them shuffle off this mortal coil. What unfolds is touching, funny and deeply sad.
Mr Bates vs The Post Office
This ITV drama packs a real punch. The show examines the Post Office scandal, where thousands of postal workers were wrongfully prosecuted by the Post Office for accounting crimes that were actually caused by faulty software.
December 15, 2023
Reacher Season 2
The beefcake is back, and he’s looking better than ever. Season one of Prime Video’s hit show saw him arrested for murder and uncover a massive local conspiracy; season two dials up the posturing and epic action sequences. For you see, Jack is contacted by his old Military Policing unit – there’s been a murder in their ranks, and to solve it, he has to get the team back together…
The Serial Killer’s Wife
This moody Paramount+ drama manages to neatly sidestep any whisper of cliché and instead delivers something rather gripping. As the title suggests, Beth (Annabel Scholey) suddenly finds her life upended when husband Tom (Jack Farthing) is arrest on suspicion of being a serial killer. It’s moody, it’s rank with suspicion and it’s very, very bingeable.
The Crown Season 6, Part 2
The Netflix juggernaut shudders to a stop in the final installation of the saga. In part two, we see a new generation of royal youngsters start to take their position on the global stage – chief amongst them William (Ed McVey), who steps sideways out of the drama and into a romcom when he meets Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy) at university in St Andrews. Is it silly? Um, yes, but it’s also very fun.
Dynamo is Dead
This has to be the best TV hook of all time: a magician buries himself alive (without a coffin) on live TV, and has to dig himself out. But it’s not just about death-defying stunts: Sky’s two-hour special is also a deep dive into trauma and loss as Dynamo (aka Steven Frayne) tries to come to terms with his own mental health and past before he (pun intended) buries it for good.
December 8, 2023
This rom-com from Sky is quickly shaping up to be one of the best of the year. Our heroes are Tom (Jon Pointing) and Sammy (Danielle Vitalis) who hook up after a drunken night at a bar and proceed to enter into a no-strings-attached affair for three weeks – no feelings allowed. Does it work? Of course not, but the end result is a beautifully wholesome bit of TV.
Bad Host – Hunting the Couchsurfing Predator
It’s The Tinder Swindler, but even darker (if that’s possible). Sky Documentaries’ new show tells the remarkably story of a group of women who banded together to hunt down their abuser. They had all been preyed upon by the host of a Couchsurfing app, whereby locals can volunteer to host travellers in their homes. Six years of fighting later, they finally brought him to justice.
Squid Game: The Challenge - The Finale
It’s finally out in all its glory. Loved Squid Game? Why not watch Netflix’s reality TV version, where real-life people go head-to-head to win an obscene $4.56m – the only difference is, there are no bullets. That said, watching folks backstab each other to add a few thousand dollars to the cash prize is deeply disturbing – and now, we’ll be able to see who comes out on top. Yay capitalism!
Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?
It’s not the most promising title, but the comedian and writer’s comedy debut is well worth a watch if raunchy humour is your thing. “Sex is really where I come into my own as an actor,” Reich explains in the trailer, but he makes time to ask the big questions – ie. “Is this helping?” and “Am I hot?” too. With that in mind, go forth and enjoy.
December 1, 2023
The Doll Factory
With a name like The Doll Factory, this Paramount+ show sounds like a reality TV show - but actually it’s set in Victorian London. Our heroine is Iris, a girl who becomes a model for a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists (hobbies included red-headed women, chivalry and paintings with intense colours). But Iris isn’t like the models (are they ever): she wants to become a painter herself.
Jackson Lamb and his dysfunctional group of MI5 agents are back once more to wreak havoc and foil evil plots. Based on author Mick Herron’s third book, Real Tigers, season three of the hit Apple TV+ show sees Lamb and his pals at the front line as a romantic liaison in Instanbul threatens the future of MI5 in London.
Sky is certainly pumping out some quality documentaries at the moment: their latest, Stasi FC, is all about life behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany. In the late 1970s, football was one of the last remaining political arenas - from the team they supported to the way they showed opposition. Naturally, this meant the Stasi were determined to quash it - and even more perplexingly, ensure their favourite team, BFC Dynamo, win at any cost.
Louis Theroux Interviews… Raye
Singer-songwriter Rachel Keen (better known as Raye) has had quite a year: she performed on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and has had several hit songs. However, there’s a dark side too - and this interview with the perpetually impassive Theroux will dig into some of the painful experiences she’s had in the music industry, and the way music has helped her process trauma.
November 24, 2023
Doctor Who - The Star Beast
Grab that sonic screwdriver: Doctor Who is back and it’s looking good. This BBC special is the first of three that sees David Tennant temporarily step back into the shoes of the Doctor (before Ncuti Gatwa takes over) and even better, he’s joined by Catherine Tate as Donna. Even the showrunner has returned: it’s Russell T Davies. Pure Whovian bliss.
Before Cary Grant was the legendary actor, he was Archie, a boy born into extreme poverty in Bristol. ITV’s newest drama sees Jason Isaacs don the spray tan to portray a complicated man who never stopped running from his past - to the detriment of his own personal happiness.
This devastating Sky four-parter is a look back at one of the biggest disasters ever to happen on British soil. In 1988, flight Pan-Am 103 went down over the tiny Scottish village of Lockerbie - and now, 25 years later, this is a deep-dive into what happened, who did it and the devastating - and surprising - aftermath of what happened.
Jodie Whittaker has been busy this year: in addition to starring in BBC show Time, she’s also appearing in One Night, an Australian thriller from Paramount+. Whittaker plays Tess, one of four friends who went through a life-changing experience today decades ago - now, though, it’s all starting to come back to the surface. And yes, she puts on the accent.
November 17, 2023
A Murder at the End of the World
A whodunnit for Gen Z… Emma Corrin shines in a bright pink bowl cut as Darby Hart, hacker extraordinaire. She’s invited to a remote, luxurious hideaway in the Arctic by a mysterious billionaire (yes, there are echoes of Glass Onion) but right on cue, guests start getting murdered, and Darby seems to be the only one qualified enough to solve it.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
It’s back! Years after the original cult film came out, the cast have come back together to reprise their roles in this zany anime show. Drawing inspiration from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic books, this show careers off the rails in all sorts of exciting new ways, spotlighting new characters and serving video game references galore. A joy.
Netflix’s flagship show has returned for one final season. Part one, which was released this week, tells the story of Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and her lover Dodi, who tragically met their ends in August 1997. The costumes are stellar, the locations gorgeous, and if it occasionally plays a bit fast and loose with the truth, it’s all in the name of drama.
David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived
Not many people know the story of David Holmes, but maybe that’s about to change. In 2009, Holmes, the stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe, suffered a catastrophic accident on-set that left him paralysed. This Sky documentary, made with longtime friend Radcliffe, is a celebration of Holmes’ life, and the impact he had on the Harry Potter series. Tune in for lashings of nostalgia and a rather devastating second half.