Hello TV! 12 shows you need to watch this week
It’s a new year but nothing much is new. No matter: we know how this lockdown lark goes. Grab a cuppa, a nice cosy blanket, load up on the carbs and settle in for the night.
Television was 2020’s saviour and at this rate, it might also be the one thing that gets us through the first half of 2021 too. Handy, then, that there’s lots on to amuse. Read on…
History of Swear Words (Netflix)
This went live three days ago but don’t let that stop you. Nicholas Cage is your typically theatrical host for this rather silly but still rather engaging six-parter on some of the English language’s most forbidden words. Edifying in part but mostly just a fun way to spend 20 minutes. WARNING: do not watch with your impressionable seven-year-old son.
Surviving Death (Netflix)
Death: the final frontier – or perhaps not. Happily, this six-parter documentary is keen to find out either way and you’ll be pleased to know it’s not just Derek Acorah-types whispering ghostly summons in darkened rooms. Science is a factor here as are people’s actual first hand accounts of experiencing death.
Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
There’s Oscar buzz surrounding this feature length film about a woman (the brilliant Vanessa Kirby who you’ll know from playing young Princess Margaret in the first two series of The Crown) who loses her child in a botched home birth. Cheery? No. But exceptionally performed? Yes. Shia LaBeouf, who plays the husband, has seemingly been removed from all marketing due to him being in disgrace but watch it anyway. We can’t let him let Vanessa down.
Ooh, a French crime drama full of action and wit. Don’t mind if I do. This Netflix Original sees Jurassic World’s Omar Sy play a Parisian janitor who is hell bent on avenging the injustice of his father’s death by nicking Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre. Yeah, I’m not clear either but let’s roll with it. Directed by award-winning Louis Leterrier and based on the much-loved early 20th century Arsène Lupin novels by Maurice Leblanc.
The High Note (Sky Cinema) – Sat 9 Jan
Headed up by Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, this feature length film (which is now free on Sky Cinema) follows a fading R&B legend (Ross) and her longtime personal assistant (Johnson) whose real passion is to produce music, which she does in her spare time. Can you guess what’s going to happen? Well, there are a few twists and turns and an acknowledgment of how gender and race blight women’s careers, but yes, everyone is happy and fulfilled at the end.
Miss Juneteenth (Sky Cinema) – Sun 10 Jan
This award-winning full-length drama focuses on a single mother in Texas who, having gained a college scholarship through a Miss Juneteenth pageant, had to give it up after becoming pregnant. Her wish is that her 15-year-old child do the same despite her daughter’s obvious reluctance. It premiered at Sundance last year and got rave reviews.
Herself (Amazon Prime)
From director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia) comes this well-reviewed drama that was first shown at the 2020 Sundance but will premier in the UK on Prime tonight. It follows single mother (Irish actor Clare Dunne) who builds her own home with help from the community for her and her two daughters after being refused one by authorities. Great performances, brilliant direction.
Pooch Perfect (BBC One)
Who came up with this one? Who cares? It sounds brilliant. Sheridan Smith is the host of this show that pits the nation’s dog groomers against each other to see who is the most creative and talented canine coiffeur in the land. Eight episodes. What’s not to love?
The Cabins (ITV2)
Missing Love Island? Want a winter version? Well ITV2 has heeded your call. The premise is as follows: six single people move in with another in one of three cabins for 24 hours. After the 24 hours are over, they have the choice to stick or twist. Catch up on ITV Hub.
The Pembrokeshire Murders (ITV) – Mon 11 Jan
Everyone’s favourite Gaston, Hollywood’s Luke Evans, returns to his motherland to lead this three-part series retelling the 2006 solving of four cold murder cases from the 1980s. New advances in forensics were the key to cracking the case but the team were under pressure as the main suspect, already in prison, was up for parole. A lovely three-day treat for true crime fans.
The Great Pottery Throw Down (C4) – Sun 10 Jan
Where would we be without a reality TV show to get us through the dark, lockdown months? Well, exactly. So thankfully, on Sunday, judges Keith Brymer Jones and Rich ‘Kiln-Man’ Miller join forces with new presenter Derry Girls’ Siobhan McSweeney to put 10 new contestants through their pottery paces.
It’s A Sin (C4)
You may know Russell T Davies for shows such as Queer as Folk and Doctor Who and now he’s back with a gritty drama documenting the first few years of the AIDS crisis in 1980’s London. Three young gay men – played by Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas and Years & Years lead singer Olly Alexander – begin to navigate the capital just as rumours of a new plague begin to hit.