Our film and TV recommendations this week: from Mad About the Boy to Arnold
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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June 9, 2023
Mad About the Boy
Noel Coward is synonymous with a very particular type of Englishness: erudite, witty, sophisticated. But as this new documentary shows, he came from humble beginnings before establishing himself as one of our most-loved playwrights. Featuring narration by Alan Cumming and with Rupert Everett voicing Coward, it pulls together archive material, clips from personal videos and interviews to create a nuanced portrait of the great man himself.
Mad About the Boy - The Noël Coward Story is available to watch on demand now from altitude.film and other digital platforms, and in select UK & Irish cinemas
The original man of steel is getting his own Netflix series! Over the course of three episodes, Arnold delves into the history of an extraordinary public figure, charting his rise from elite bodybuilder, to politician, to one of the highest-paid actors in the world. Featuring interviews with Arnie himself, it’s not to be missed. Just do it! Do it now!
Davina McCall’s Pill Revolution
Davina McCall is on a mission to change the way that women use the pill. This hard-hitting Channel 4 documentary follows her as she chats to charities, gynaecologists and even an MP in her quest to bust taboos and address misinformation around contraception. Prepare to scrape your jaw from the floor – and leave feeling rather disheartened about the state of the NHS.
Eva Longoria directs this heart-warming and bizarre Disney+ feature film... about the origins of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. Jesse Garcia is a lowly janitor who ends up being the brains behind this culinary revolution: defying the odds, he convinces his bosses that a Mexican-inspired flavour explosion is just what the masses are craving. And what do you know: fifty years later, they still are.
June 2, 2023
The Gallows Pole
Leave it to cult film director Shane Meadows to produce a BBC historical drama with a difference. Based on the story of the Cragg Vale Coiners, this is the story of one of the biggest forging operations in British history, set all the way back in the 1700s. It’s weird, it’s hilarious and Swedish psychedelic rock group Goat are in charge of the music. Beautifully bonkers.
Never Have I Ever: Season 4
Mindy Kaling’s teen romance is back for the fourth and final time on Netflix. In it, Devi’s story (and very convoluted love life) is finally set to come to an end as she and her friends get ready to graduate from high school. Not that there won’t be drama: Devi has now slept with enemy-turned-lover Ben, but former flame Paxton is back on the scene.
Alan Carr explores his own past in this bizarre, breezy ITV sitcom. In it, Oliver Savell plays young Carr, a lad growing up in Eighties Northampton. Featuring rather meta appearances from the Chatty Man himself (who also co-wrote the script), it shirks sadness for laughs and is, all things considered, a very wholesome watch.
An action-comedy? Featuring Mike Tyson? Sign us up! Set in Colombia, it follows the story of Reda (Ramzy Bedia), who decides to carry off the heist of a lifetime to save his younger brother from a dangerous cartel. Off course, things go off the rails, none more so than when Reda kidnaps the cartel leader’s own son for a hostage swap…
May 26, 2023
Does it even need saying? Tune into Sky Atlantic at 2am on Monday morning to catch the final-ever episode of Succession and watch the Roy kids battle it out once and for all for control of Waystar Royco. Will Kendall manage to claim the spoils? Will Shiv swoop in and undercut him? It’s all to play for - and it’s set to be must-watch television.
Arnie is back! Schwarzenegger makes the jump to the small screen - and of course, it’s an action thriller. He plays Luke, a CIA operative who has spent his life lying to daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro) about his job - not realising that she has exactly the same job, and has been doing exactly the same to him. The term Fubar stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition - which should give you some indication of how things go from there.
The cast of mega-hit indie film Everything Everywhere All At Once reunite for a Disney+ show with a twist. Ben Wang stars as Jin Wang, a high-school kid who gets sucked into an epic battle between figures of Chinese mythology - two of whom are played by Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu. With Ke Huy Quan bringing up the rear as the mortal Freddy Wong, it promises to be an absolute hoot. Yes please!
To Catch A Killer
Shailene Woodley continues her streak of playing troubled, gun-wielding heroines in this latest Sky film. She is Eleanor Falco, a talented officer in the Baltimore Police Department who is hired by the FBI to help profile and track down a sniper who is attacking civilians at random. Naturally, Eleanor, with her tortured psyche, is the only person who can peer into the killer’s twisted mind…
May 19, 2023
Fancy a holiday? You won’t be wanting one like this. Paramount+’s latest TV series - a UK original - follows Lana and Kitty, two best friends who think they’ve found the perfect adventure sailing through Asia on yacht The Blue. Naturally, not all on board are as they seem, and things soon become dangerous.
UNTOLD: The Secret World of Boy Racers
One to make the jaw drop - or the blood boil. Channel 4’s latest documentary focuses on the fascinating (and very illegal) world of boy racers. Gathering in the dead of night, they zoom down the country’s motorways at speeds that sometimes hit 170mph. It’s driving at its most extreme, dangerous and thrilling - and it’s out on Monday.
When Michael Schur (the brains behind The Good Place and Parks and Recreation) produces a TV series, you know it has to be good - and so it proves here. Inspired by screenwriter Shea Serrano’s life, the story is billed as a coming-of-age comedy following Rafa Gonzales, a 16-year-old being raised by his mother and five uncles. Are helicopter uncles a thing? After this they will be.
To All The Boys I Loved Before was a smash-hit when it arrived on Netflix in 2018 - so naturally, what could be more appealing than a spin-off series focussing on Lara Jean Covey’s younger sister Kitty? Anna Cathcart reprises her role as an older Kitty, who moves halfway across the world to Korea to reconnect with her long-distance boyfriend. Why not: it’s perfect for a lazy weekend.
May 12, 2023
City on Fire
AppleTV+’s hot streak of adapting acclaimed novels continues - hot on the heels of Silo comes City on Fire, a gritty New York-based thriller about music and (what else) murder. In 2003, a student is shot dead in Central Park; as the investigation into her death unfolds, a sprawling web of connections builds between the city’s music scene, a series of mysterious fires and one family’s secrets.
Wales is in the spotlight in this latest offering from the BBC. Billed as a ‘factual drama’, the action is split across two different timelines - 1973 and the early 2000s - as Port Talbot police try and catch a killer more than thirty years after it happened, using pioneering DNA evidence.
The Muppets Mayhem
Everybody’s favourite sentient stuffed toys are back to cause more carnage in this joyous Disney+ series. In it, YouTube star Lilly Singh, a junior executive at a recording label who suddenly finds herself with rather a lot on her plate when Muppet rock group (yes, it’s a thing) Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem roll into town.
Queer Eye Season 7
The wholesomeness cannot be denied. The boys are back and they’re coming to change the lives of more deserving but underappreciated Americans with food, styling tips, a new house interior and good old talking therapy. Bring your tissues and a tub of ice-cream: it’s perfect for binge watching and a cathartic cry.
May 5, 2023
The historical bonkbuster is back! Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton prequel series shifts the spotlight onto Queen Charlotte (played here by India Amarteifio). As a 17-year-old, she’s being married off to a complete stranger, George III - but the plot is unimportant. Is there a lot of sex? Yes. Is there a tortured hero? Yes. Does Rosheuvel reign supreme in a wig? Also yes. Perfect.
The BBC’s new comedy/ thriller series takes a ‘what if’ concept and runs a mile with it. Set it East London, it tells the story of Dom and Kay, two Police Community Support Officers who accidentally find themselves thrust into the murky world of deep cover infiltration.
Ed Sheeran - The Sum of It All
It’s Ed Sheeran as you’ve never seen him before: absolutely miserable. This Disney+ documentary follows Sheeran at his lowest ebb, dealing with the death of his friend Jamal Edwards and his wife Cherry’s cancer diagnosis. It’s a raw, heartfelt show - the singer cries several times - and a compassionate portrait of a man struggling under the weight of his own grief.
Star Wars: Visions - Season 2
That’s right: Star Wars can be kooky too. The second series of the acclaimed anthology series gives studios from around the world the chance to create their own Star Wars narratives. The result is a delightful mash-up where we see anime, puppet and 2D-art takes on the beloved franchise - and beloved studio Aardman even shows up to give Stormtroopers a Wallace-and-Gromit makeover.
April 28, 2023
Prime Video’s blockbuster TV series is James Bond 2.0: there are high-octane action sequences, glamorous people and a spy agency on the rocks. Richard Madden plays Mason Kane, an agent who has lost his memory and finds himself thrown back into the action alongside fellow spy Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). Produced by Marvel alumni the Russo brothers and co-starring Stanley Tucci, it’s a hoot.
Karin Slaughter’s best-selling Will Trent novels have finally made their way onto the small screen. This Disney+ adaptation sees Ramón Rodríguez take on the titular role of Trent, a (very unpopular) detective in Atlanta, Georgia, who finds himself on the hunt for an abducted woman — alongside a reluctant police officer.
The Curse Season 2
We’re heading back to the Eighties for the second season of Channel 4’s hit crime sitcom. At the end of season one, the gang have made it to the Costa del Crime, but 18 months on, their slice of paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Cue more chaos, scarier gangsters and people sniffing around their money.
Guilt Season 3
Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives are back one last time as Max and Jake for the final series of hit BBC show Guilt. Reunited at last, the brothers are back in the Leith criminal underworld as Max plots his final showdown against the villainous Maggie (Phyllis Logan).
April 21, 2023
The Americans’ Keri Russell takes on the po-faced role of Kate, a career civil servant who suddenly finds herself in the role of US Ambassador to the UK (when she would much rather be in Kabul instead). When a diplomatic incident occurs, she’s soon up to her neck in plotting, marital crises and kidnappings; it’s supremely silly, but perfect for binge-watching.
This glossy Prime Video remake of the iconic 1988 film sees Rachel Weisz take on the title role from Jeremy Irons. She plays twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot, who are on a mission to change the way in which women give birth. If necessary, they’re willing to do it the bloody way (did we mention? They’re also psychopaths). Brilliantly nasty, darkly funny.
ITV’s latest show is made by the same people as Line of Duty, so you know it’s got to be good. In it, Niamh Algar is simply brilliant as Dr Lucinda Edwards, an A&E doctor whose life goes pear-shaped after one of her patients dies of an opioid overdose on her watch. Cue a medical investigation - and of course, all sorts of buried secrets soon start rising to the surface.
Drops of God
Who knew tasting wine was a superpower? In Apple TV+’s latest (and rather bizarre-sounding) show, it most definitely is. Adapted from the bestselling manga series of the same name, it follows the daughter of world-famous wine expert Alexandre Léger, who dies and leaves behind a multi-million pound wine collection. The catch: to inherit it, she has to undergo a tasting competition against Léger’s protégé.
April 14, 2023
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 5
Midge Maisel takes the stage one last time in the final series of the beloved dramedy. Season four saw aspiring comedian Midge get cut from her tour with the singer Shy Baldwin; this season will see her rebuild her comedy career and resolve her romances with both Milo Ventimiglia’s Handsome Man and comic Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby)...
The Last Thing He Told Me
Jennifer Garner shines in this glossy AppleTV+ show. She plays married mother Hannah, whose husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, charming and menacing as ever) disappears. To find him, she’s going to have to forge a relationship with her prickly stepdaughter Bailey (Angourie Rice); as might be imagined, plenty of dark secrets soon start bubbling to the surface.
Stacey Dooley: Ready for War?
The ever-chipper Stacey Dooley gets access to an extraordinary training programme that sees Ukrainian civilians from all walks of life (florists, grocers, welders and more) flown to the UK for basic army training that includes a month of rough sleeping, weapons training and preparing to kill. It’s sobering stuff, made all the more so by the way we get to know this batch of trainees. Prepare to get emotional.
Bowelbabe: In Her Own Words
Dame Deborah James’ life is celebrated in this moving BBC2 documentary about her activism and legacy. Filmed with James in the last months of her life, it brings together never-seen-before mobile phone footage, James’ TikTok videos, recordings from her podcast You, Me and the Big C and more to create something really quite moving.
April 7, 2023
Daisy May Cooper shines in this searing HBO/BBC comedy that takes This Country and runs with it. In it, she plays single mother, writer and sometime peepshow dancer Costello Jones, who’s constantly skirting the edge of poverty and is trying to build a better life for her daughter Iris. When she’s evicted from her flat, she reluctantly lets her erstwhile gay best friend Selby (Jack Farthing) back into her life in the hopes he can save them from the gutter.
Anybody who has sisters will relate to Sky’s new show Dreamland. It stars Lily Allen (yes, the pop star) as Mel, the black sheep of a group of four sisters, who returns home to the seaside town of Margate. However, not everybody is pleased to see her (especially not eldest sister Trish, played by Freema Agyeman) and her arrival soon brings all sorts of nasty family secrets bubbling to the surface.
Schmigadoon! Season 2
AppleTV+’s bonker musical extravaganza is back for its second outing. This time around, central couple Josh and Michelle find themselves heading to the magical musical town of Schmicago: yep, that’s right: it’s a gritty American cityscape where the duo find themselves solving murders, getting framed and dealing with gangsters.
The Good Mothers
Foreign-language dramas are definitely having something of a moment, and this excellent Disney+ Italian contribution deserves all the hype it’s currently getting. It follows the true story of three women who grew up in one of the deadliest Italian Mafia clans in the country. However, these same women were also instrumental in bringing that same clan down, working with a female prosecutor to put together a sting operation for the ages.
March 31, 2023
Murder Mystery 2
Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston return as the unlikely crime-solving duo Nick and Audrey Spitz in the Netflix follow-up to the 2019 film. This time, the bickering couple (now licenced private detectives) find themselves invited to an island wedding that goes horribly wrong - now they have to solve a murder and track down their kidnapped friend.
ITVX’s latest crime drama stars a returning Kevin McKidd (of Grey’s Anatomy fame) as police officer Chris O’Neill, whose daughter mysteriously goes missing. Alongside estranged wife Michelle (Vinette Robinson), he attempts to find out who – and finds himself butting up against a wall of police corruption.
The Big Door Prize
This light-hearted AppleTV+ show is all about the power of human potential. Chris O’Dowd plays Dusty, whose world is rocked when a magical machine appears in his town’s local grocery store. The machine promises to reveal people’s potential – and naturally, the entire place descends into chaos.
Octavia E. Butler’s book is just as powerful now as it was when it was published in 1979 – and now it’s finally getting the Hollywood treatment it deserves. Debuting in Disney+, it tells the story of Dana, an African-American writer who finds herself sucked back into the past, to a Maryland slave plantation.
March 24, 2023
Succession Season 4
It’s back! Dive into the twisted world of the Roys one final time and place your bets for who’s going to come out on top. Last season, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) double-crossed his double-crossing children; this season starts with them plotting revenge. The show is due to air on Sky Atlantic at 2am on Monday; for the less devoted, it will also be airing on NOW afterwards.
Yellowjackets Season 2
Survival show Yellowjackets was a surprise hit when the first season aired in 2021. Combining elements of drama and horror, it follows the story of a high school female football team whose plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness and must fight to survive- as well as their adult selves, years later.
ITVX’s latest drama sees Roisin Gallagher take on the role of recovering alcoholic Shiv. She’s returning to the family in Dublin after a family death; unfortunately, the rest of her relatives are less than pleased to see her and Shiv’s approach of radical honesty soon starts to raise hackles.
Keifer Sutherland returns on Monday in a Paramount+ series that seems rather like a cross between Now You See Me and Jack Reacher. Sutherland plays John Weir, a “master of deception in the world of corporate espionage”. Unfortunately, he finds himself on the run when he’s framed for murder by sinister forces; cue chaos.