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BBC iPLAYER & ALL4

 

The Serpent

The drama about real-life serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who murdered travellers on the so-called Asian hippie trail during the 1970s, reaches its halfway point on BBC1 this week. 

If you can’t wait to see how the story pans out, or are in need of a recap (it’s true that the timeline jumps around a lot, often making it a little difficult to follow), the entire series is available as a boxset.

Tahar Rahim plays the icy-cold murderer, with Jenna Coleman (above, with Rahim) as his lover and Billy Howle as the diplomat who’s intent on tracking them down

Tahar Rahim plays the icy-cold murderer, with Jenna Coleman (above, with Rahim) as his lover and Billy Howle as the diplomat who’s intent on tracking them down

Tahar Rahim plays the icy-cold murderer, with Jenna Coleman as his lover and Billy Howle as the diplomat who’s intent on tracking them down. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

New Amsterdam 

If you’ve missed any episodes from the US medical drama’s second series, which can currently be seen on More4 on Thursdays (10pm), fret not because you can catch up with them via streaming. 

The run begins three months after the ambulance accident that closed the first series, as Max tries to get back to normal – but with a baby daughter to care for, that could be difficult. Ryan Eggold heads the cast. All4, available now

 

The O.C. 

Escape to the beaches of California with the Noughties teen drama following Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), a troubled kid from the wrong side of the tracks whose world is turned upside down when a wealthy public defender takes him home. 

Ryan struggles to fit in with his affluent new neighbours, bond with his adoptive brother and falls for girl-next-door Marissa (Mischa Barton, above, centre)

Ryan struggles to fit in with his affluent new neighbours, bond with his adoptive brother and falls for girl-next-door Marissa (Mischa Barton, above, centre)

While Ryan struggles to fit in with his affluent new neighbours, bond with his adoptive brother and falls for girl-next-door Marissa (Mischa Barton), their seemingly perfect lives have enough skeletons in their closets to keep viewers hooked for all 92 episodes. All4, from Friday

 

All The Sins 

Walter Presents’ first-ever Finnish series is a dark and haunting tale. Johannes Holopainen stars as Lauri, a young detective sent back to the small town of Varjakka, where he grew up, to investigate two brutal murders. 

The majority of the local population follow an ultra-conservative religion, so suspicion immediately falls on those who disagree with their beliefs. Lauri, meanwhile, battles the ghosts from his past that were originally responsible for him leaving the area many moons ago. Walter Presents/All 4, from Friday

 

Celebrity: A 21st Century Story 

This four-part history series charts the explosion of celebrity culture over the past two decades, focusing on how technological and cultural developments have pushed more people than ever into the limelight. 

It reveals how fame now affects every aspect of our lives, from our consumption of popular culture to what we buy and even how we vote. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Staged 

The genius of this show, just as with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip, is that Michael Sheen and David Tennant come across as playing only ever so slightly fictionalised versions of themselves, so that any luvvie meltdown or actorly tantrum translates as entirely believable. 

As in all good sitcoms, the two chums are trapped with each other (albeit on Zoom)

The fact that their performances are simmeringly brilliant makes this the best comedy from lockdown

The genius of this show is that Michael Sheen and David Tennant (above) come across as playing only ever so slightly fictionalised versions of themselves

As in all good sitcoms, the two chums are trapped with each other (albeit on Zoom) and their glamorous blonde partners and the added fact that their performances are simmeringly brilliant makes this the best comedy to have emerged from lockdown. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

APPLE TV+, SKY/NOW TV, BRITBOX & ACORN TV 

 

Losing Alice 

Alice (Ayelet Zurer), a once fêted film director who now makes commercials, is fired up by a chance encounter with a young fan, Sophie. When Alice reads Sophie’s amazing but very dark film script, which has been sent to her actor husband, it’s the beginning of a dangerous obsession.

Alice (Ayelet Zurer, above), a once fêted film director who now makes commercials, is fired up by a chance encounter with a young fan, Sophie

Alice (Ayelet Zurer, above), a once fêted film director who now makes commercials, is fired up by a chance encounter with a young fan, Sophie

But is Sophie all that she seems? A slowmoving but intense and atmospheric psychological drama. AppleTV+, from Friday

 

Westworld 

Ambitious, big-budget sci-fi series that is either a popcorn blockbuster about out-of-control killer robots or a chin-scratching meditation on identity, consciousness and free will, depending on your preference. 

The first series begins in Westworld, an immersive adventure playground for the wealthy, in which the old American West has been created and populated with android ‘hosts’, all but indistinguishable from humans, playing cowboys, bandits and hookers. 

Androids who have achieved self-awareness have escaped. The huge, brilliant cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton (above), Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris

Androids who have achieved self-awareness have escaped. The huge, brilliant cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton (above), Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris

By the third season, androids who have achieved self-awareness have escaped into the ‘real’ world. The huge, brilliant cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton (right), Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris. 

There will be a fourth series. Sky/NOW TV, available now

 

Sherlock Holmes Collection 

Michael Caine plays Holmes as a bumbling idiot in the movie Without A Clue, alongside Ben Kingsley (above, with Caine) as a super-smart Dr Watson

Michael Caine plays Holmes as a bumbling idiot in the movie Without A Clue, alongside Ben Kingsley (above, with Caine) as a super-smart Dr Watson

If he were around today, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably wouldn’t believe how many variants on his most famous creation now exist. Three feature in this collection – Michael Caine plays Holmes as a bumbling idiot in the movie Without A Clue, alongside Ben Kingsley as a super-smart Dr Watson; Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman bring the characters bang up to date in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s Sherlock, and finally, Jeremy Brett delivers arguably the definitive take on the sleuth in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Princess Margaret: The Rebel Royal 

She smoked, drank, loved a party and befriended celebrities – in many ways, the Queen’s younger sister reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed Britain during the 20th Century. 

The Queen’s younger sister (above, with the Queen) reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed Britain during the 20th Century

The Queen’s younger sister (above, with the Queen) reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed Britain during the 20th Century

In a two-part, in-depth profile, archive footage, revealing interviews and anecdotes flesh out Margaret’s life as she redefined the public’s image of the modern princess. Among the contributors in the documentary are her childhood friend and lady-in-waiting, Lady Glenconner, and biographer Christopher Warwick. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Cadfael 

This classic Sunday-evening drama was set in the mid-12th Century, a period of civil war now known as ‘the Anarchy’, and has an authentic period feel. Brother Cadfael (Derek Jacobi) is a Crusader turned monk who would like nothing better than to tend his herb garden at Shrewsbury Abbey but who keeps getting called on to solve violent crimes. 

Cadfael has been around the block a few times. He has killed and loved and, although a monk, is a man of logic and science. First broadcast in 1994, the show ran for four series and 13 episodes and is based on a popular series of novels. BritBox,from Thursday

 

The Silence 

Four-part crime drama about Amelia, a deaf teenager learning how to cope with new cochlear implants, who witnesses the murder of a police officer that seems to be linked to corruption in the drug squad. 

For the most part, this is a compelling thriller, but it is let down by the ending. It stars Hugh Bonneville and Gina McKee (both above) and Dervla Kirwan

For the most part, this is a compelling thriller, but it is let down by the ending. It stars Hugh Bonneville and Gina McKee (both above) and Dervla Kirwan

For the most part, this is a compelling thriller, well served by the deaf actress Genevieve Barr in the central role, but it is let down by the ending. Also stars Hugh Bonneville and Gina McKee and Dervla Kirwan. Acorn TV, available now

 

Why is there such a buzz about..?

A Teacher (BBC iPlayer)

Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) is the pretty new English teacher at Westerbrook High School in Austin, Texas. She’s ‘too hot to be a teacher’, in the view of one of the school’s jocks.

We know something is up with her because we see her shoplift a lipstick within the first few minutes. One of her students, 17-year-old Eric (Nick Robinson), is trying to improve his grades so he can study medicine. 

He persuades Ms Wilson, 32, to give him some extra tuition. He’s juggling schoolwork with a job and caring for his younger brothers. She’s in an unhappy marriage. 

Claire Wilson (Kate Mara, above) is the pretty new English teacher

Claire Wilson (Kate Mara, above) is the pretty new English teacher

He admires her passion for her subject (she’s a big Dylan Thomas fan). She likes the fact that he wants to be a doctor. There’s clearly a physical attraction. Before you can say ‘Don’t stand so close to me’, they are having a torrid and, obviously, deeply inappropriate sexual relationship that will have lifechanging consequences for both of them. 

First-class performances from Mara and Robinson and a clever script mean that although Claire is the predatory abuser, we are not entirely without sympathy for her, and although Eric is the victim, we question his decisions.

‘Some people are definitely going to feel uncomfortable watching,’ Mara has said. ‘It wasn’t something that we made thinking it would be a super-easy watch.’ 

The series has prompted a lot of discussion about the nature of grooming, and the ending, set ten years after Claire and Eric’s affair, has proved highly divisive.

Neil Armstrong 

 

NETFLIX

 

The White Tiger

Adarsh Gourav (above, with Priyanka Chopra) is charming as Balram Halwai, an ambitious chap who tries to use his job as a driver for two wealthy locals to his advantage

Adarsh Gourav (above, with Priyanka Chopra) is charming as Balram Halwai, an ambitious chap who tries to use his job as a driver for two wealthy locals to his advantage

In 2008, Aravind Adiga’s debut novel The White Tiger won the Booker Prize, and now it’s been turned into a feature-length drama. Adarsh Gourav is charming as Balram Halwai, an ambitious chap who tries to use his job as a driver for two wealthy locals to his advantage. 

He soon learns that loyalty counts for nothing, but sets out to reinvent himself. From Friday

 

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous 

The animated spin-off from the ever-popular film franchise returns for its second series. The previous run saw a group of youngsters stranded on the island of Isla Nublar, with only flesh-eating dinosaurs for company. 

The previous run saw a group of youngsters (above) stranded on the island of Isla Nublar, with only flesh-eating dinosaurs for company

The previous run saw a group of youngsters (above) stranded on the island of Isla Nublar, with only flesh-eating dinosaurs for company

Now they’re about to face new challenges as the battle to survive becomes increasingly tough. From Friday

 

Surviving Death 

Why is that when people who have had near-death experiences return from the other side, they never bring with them, say, a cure for cancer? Or even the name of the winner of the 2.30 at Newmarket? 

These are the sort of questions never asked in this six-part documentary about the supposed afterlife. Although a serious show, the two episodes featuring mediums are unintentionally hilarious. 

Why is that when people who have had near-death experiences return from the other side, they never bring with them, say, a cure for cancer?

Why is that when people who have had near-death experiences return from the other side, they never bring with them, say, a cure for cancer?

The one with the seance at which spirit guide ‘Silver Cloud’ and child spirit ‘Tommy Boy’ (‘I’m responsible for the ectoplasm’) manifest is possibly the funniest thing you’ll see this year. Available now

 

Fate: The Winx Saga 

There are countless series about wizards and witches and vampires, but fairies have been underrepresented in TV drama. Now here comes a new show from the Vampire Diaries writer and producer Brian Young to redress the balance. 

Inspired by a popular animation series, this is about fire fairy Bloom (Abigail Cowen) who attends Alfea, a school where fairies learn how to hone their natural powers. 

Inspired by a popular animation series, this is about fire fairy Bloom (Abigail Cowen, above) who attends Alfea, a school where fairies learn how to hone their natural powers

Inspired by a popular animation series, this is about fire fairy Bloom (Abigail Cowen, above) who attends Alfea, a school where fairies learn how to hone their natural powers

So, think Harry Potter or Fort Salem – but for fairies who here are powerful supernatural beings rather than, wand-waving wish-granters. From Friday

  

FILMS

Archive 

There are echoes of Ex Machina and Blade Runner (stars Toby Jones, above)

There are echoes of Ex Machina and Blade Runner (stars Toby Jones, above)

Divergent star Theo James plays a scientist working at the cutting edge of robotics and artificial intelligence. He’s made two prototypes and is on the verge of a breakthrough. 

Yes, there are echoes of Ex Machina, Blade Runner and TV’s Westworld but the visual effects are excellent, themes of redundancy, obsolescence and love are productively explored, and if you didn’t know director Gavin Rothery had worked with Duncan Jones on Moon, you might guess. 

The cast includes Toby Jones (above). Most platforms, from Monday

 

Baby Done 

Taika Waititi, of Jojo Rabbit fame, serves as executive producer here and brings his influence to bear in this darkly funny tale of an Auckland tree surgeon who lives for adventure and tree-climbing competitions… until she finds herself pregnant. 

Together with boyfriend Tim, she defiantly plans a bucket list of things to do before she gives birth. Lightweight, a tad uneven but laugh-out-loud funny at times. Most platforms, from Friday

Matthew Bond 

 

AMAZON & STARZPLAY

 

The Rental 

It seems like the perfect place to unwind – until all four begin to suspect they’re being watched… Dan Stevens and Alison Brie (above) star

It seems like the perfect place to unwind – until all four begin to suspect they’re being watched… Dan Stevens and Alison Brie (above) star

Dave Franco, brother of James, makes his directorial debut with this chiller, about two couples who rent a property by the sea for a weekend away. It seems like the perfect place to unwind – until all four begin to suspect they’re being watched… 

Dan Stevens and Alison Brie star. Amazon, from Friday

 

Tandav 

All nine episodes of this political thriller have just dropped. It follows Samar Pratap (Saif Ali Khan, above, centre),who is determined to oust his Prime Minister father

All nine episodes of this political thriller have just dropped. It follows Samar Pratap (Saif Ali Khan, above, centre),who is determined to oust his Prime Minister father

All nine episodes of this political thriller, billed as India’s House Of Cards, have just dropped. It follows Samar Pratap (Saif Ali Khan),who is determined to oust his Prime Minister father. Amazon, available now

 

Knives Out 

Entertaining Agatha Christie-style whodunnit that embraces the genre’s clichés. An oddly cast Daniel Craig, clearly relishing day release from his 007 duties, is Benoit Blanc, a detective investigating the mysterious death of best-selling crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) at his 85th birthday party. 

An oddly cast Daniel Craig (above, with Ana de Armas), clearly relishing day release from his 007 duties, is Benoit Blanc, a detective investigating the mysterious death of Harlan Thrombey

An oddly cast Daniel Craig (above, with Ana de Armas), clearly relishing day release from his 007 duties, is Benoit Blanc, a detective investigating the mysterious death of Harlan Thrombey

Pretty much his entire family had a motive. The excellent cast includes Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans and Don Johnson. A sequel is in the works. StarzPlay, from Thursday

 

Star Trek: Lower Decks 

The ninth entry in the Star Trek universe may be animated, but with plotlines that include transporter accidents making crew transparent, dating disasters and a genetically engineered dog, it’s certainly not for kids. 

Instead it’s the brainchild of Mike McMahan, who previously worked on South Park and Rick And Morty, and charts the adventures of the support crew of the USS Cerritos, one of Starfleet’s least important vessels, in 2380. 

A second series has already been commissioned. Amazon, from Friday     

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