tue 16/04/2024

TV reviews, news & interviews

Anthracite, Netflix review - murderous mysteries in the French Alps

Adam Sweeting

Ludicrous plotting and a tangled skein of coincidences hold no terrors for the makers of this frequently baffling French drama. Nonetheless, its story of a bizarre cult, a rapacious medical corporation and a trail of dead bodies stretching back through 30 years of history does somehow keep you coming back for more, if only to wonder how much more berserk proceedings can become.

Ripley, Netflix review - Highsmith's horribly fascinating sociopath adrift in a sea of noir

Helen Hawkins

There would have to be a good reason for making another screen version of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley, already successfully adapted by Anthony Minghella in his 1999 film. 

Scoop, Netflix review - revisiting a Right Royal...

Adam Sweeting

What with the interminable Harry and Meghan saga, the death of the Queen and the recent health scares for Kate and King Chuck, this is just what the...

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs the World Season 2, BBC...

David Nice

In the finale of the latest RuPaul extravaganza to make it to the BBC, our hostess asks each of the competitors “why does the world need drag now...

This Town, BBC One review - lurid melodrama in...

Adam Sweeting

Industrious screenwriter Steven Knight has brought us (among many other things) Peaky Blinders, SAS: Rogue Heroes and even Who Wants To Be a...

Passenger, ITV review - who are they trying to kid?

Adam Sweeting

Andrew Buchan's screenwriting debut leads us nowhere

3 Body Problem, Netflix review - life, the universe and everything (and a bit more)

Adam Sweeting

Mind-blowing adaptation of Liu Cixin's novel from the makers of 'Game of Thrones'

Manhunt, Apple TV+ review - all the President's men

Adam Sweeting

Tobias Menzies and Anthony Boyle go head to head in historical crime drama

The Gentlemen, Netflix review - Guy Ritchie's further adventures in Geezerworld

Adam Sweeting

Riotous assembly of toffs, gangsters, travellers, rogues and misfits

Oscars 2024: politics aplenty but few surprises as 'Oppenheimer' dominates

Matt Wolf

Christopher Nolan biopic wins big in a ceremony defined by a pink-clad Ryan Gosling and Donald Trump seeing red

Prisoner, BBC Four review - jailhouse rocked by drugs, violence and racism

Adam Sweeting

Sofie Gråbøl joins a powerful cast in bruising Danish drama

Drive to Survive, Season 6, Netflix review - F1 documentary overtaken by events

Adam Sweeting

Real-life dramas in the paddock were too late to make the cut

The Way, BBC One review - steeltown blues

Adam Sweeting

Michael Sheen's ode to Port Talbot stretches credulity

Kin, Series 2, BBC One review - when crime dynasties collide

Adam Sweeting

Dublin becomes a war zone in Peter McKenna's addictive drama

The New Look, AppleTV+ review - lavish period drama with more width than depth

Helen Hawkins

Ben Mendelsohn's tender performance as Dior anchors the spectacle in emotional truth

Griselda, Netflix review - Sofía Vergara excels as the Godmother of cocaine trafficking

Adam Sweeting

How Colombia's Griselda Blanco brought vice to Miami

The Traitors, Series 2, BBC One review - back to the mind-labyrinth

David Nice

Spoiler-free paean to keeping the murder mystery game fresh

Masters of the Air, Apple TV+ review - painful and poignant account of the Eighth Air Force's bombing campaign

Adam Sweeting

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's long-awaited epic of the war in European skies

True Detective: Night Country, Sky Atlantic review - death in a cold climate

Adam Sweeting

Jodie Foster investigates in supernatural below-zero murder mystery

Criminal Record, Apple TV+ review - law and disorder in Hackney

Adam Sweeting

Cush Jumbo and Peter Capaldi explore the dark side of policing

Mr Bates vs The Post Office, ITV1 review - a star-packed account of an incendiary story

Helen Hawkins

As the toxic Post Office scandal rumbles on, this four-parter gives its fallout a human face

The Tourist, Series 2, BBC One review - an amnesiac Jamie Dornan explores his Irish roots

Adam Sweeting

The Williams brothers' twisty thriller brings it all back home

Best of 2023: TV

Adam Sweeting

How many streaming services are you willing to pay for?

The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two review - bickering with the Ballet boys

Adam Sweeting

Latest satirical outing by rockumentarist Rhys Thomas

Murder Is Easy, BBC One review - was this journey really necessary?

Adam Sweeting

Dame Agatha's tidy thriller gets ideas above its station

Mad About the Boy: the Noël Coward Story, BBC Two review - the making of The Master

Adam Sweeting

The extraordinary life and times of the boy from nowhere

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249, BBC Two review - mummy's boy unleashes hell in the halls of academe

Adam Sweeting

Creepy Conan Doyle story brought to the screen by Mark Gatiss

The Heist Before Christmas, Sky Max review - the Santa Claus wars

Adam Sweeting

Timothy Spall and James Nesbitt lead strong cast in Christmas fairy tale

Blood Coast, Netflix review - mayhem in Marseille

Adam Sweeting

Captain Benamar and his team battle ultra-violent drug cartels

Footnote: a brief history of British TV

You could almost chart the history of British TV by following the career of ITV's Coronation Street, as it has ridden 50 years of social change, seen off would-be rivals, survived accusations of racism and learned to live alongside the BBC's EastEnders. But no single programme, or even strand of programmes, can encompass the astonishing diversity and creativity of TV-UK since BBC TV was officially born in 1932.

Nostalgists lament the demise of single plays like Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home or Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, but drama series like The Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness, Our Friends in the North, State of Play, the original Upstairs Downstairs or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will surely loom larger in history's rear-view mirror, while perhaps Julian Fellowes' surprise hit, Downton Abbey, heralds a new wave of the classic British costume drama. For that matter, indestructible comic creations like George Cole's Arthur Daley in Minder, Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister, the Steptoes, Arthur Lowe and co in Dad's Army, John Cleese's Fawlty Towers or Only Fools and Horses insinuate themselves between the cracks of British life far more persuasively than the most earnest television documentary (at which Britain has become world-renowned).

British sci-fi will never out-gloss Hollywood monoliths like Battlestar Galactica, but Nigel Kneale's Quatermass stories are still influential 60 years later, and the reborn Doctor Who has been a creative coup for the BBC. British series from the Sixties like The Avengers, Patrick McGoohan's bizarre brainchild The Prisoner or The Saint (with the young Roger Moore) have bounced back as major influences on today's Hollywood, and re-echo through the BBC's enduringly successful Spooks.

Meanwhile, though British comedy depends more on maverick inspiration than the sleek industrialisation deployed by US television, that didn't stop Monty Python from becoming a global legend, or prevent Ricky Gervais being adopted as an American mascot. True, you might blame British TV (and Simon Cowell) for such monstrosities as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, but the entire planet has lapped them up. And we can console ourselves that Britain also gave the world Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, David Attenborough's epic nature series Life on Earth and The Blue Planet, as well as Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. The Arts Desk brings you overnight reviews and news of the best (and worst) of TV in Britain. Our writers include Adam Sweeting, Jasper Rees, Veronica Lee, Alexandra Coghlan, Fisun Güner, Josh Spero and Gerard Gilbert.

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