mon 22/07/2024

TV reviews, news & interviews

The Jetty, BBC One review - lowlife in a Northern town

Adam Sweeting

Jenna Coleman seems to pick her roles with care, whether it’s Queen Victoria, the girlfriend of mass murderer Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent, or “occult detective” Johanna Constantine in The Sandman, but her antennae may have been a bit awry when she climbed aboard this one.

The Turkish Detective, BBC Two review - a bad business in the Bosphorus

Adam Sweeting

Any show making its debut in the midst of Wimbledon and the Euro-football, plus a spectacular performance by Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, is likely to be gasping for air, and BBC Two’s ditzy new cop series didn’t so much charge out of the blocks as trip over them. Masterminded by Ben Schiffer, the eight-part series is based on Barbara Nadel’s Inspector Ikmen novels, which are much loved by their readers.

The Night Caller, Channel 5 review - all he hears...

Adam Sweeting

Showing over four consecutive nights, Night Caller is a stripped-down psychological thriller which steadily boils up to a conclusion which is both...

I Am: Celine Dion, Prime Video review - inside...

Adam Sweeting

It was 20 years ago that Celine Dion first experienced the muscle spasming which would eventually be diagnosed as Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS). She...

theartsdesk Q&A: Lucie Shorthouse is flying...

Adam Sweeting

Lucie Shorthouse is enjoying some high-profile TV action with her roles in Channel 4’s We Are Lady Parts, about the adventures of an all-woman Muslim...

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Presumed Innocent, Apple TV+ review - you read the book and saw the movie...

Adam Sweeting

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in absorbing TV adaptation of Scott Turow's legal thriller

Eric, Netflix review - a fairytale of New York

Adam Sweeting

Abi Morgan's drama is a strange mix of urban grime and magic realism

theartsdesk Q&A: Matthew Modine on 'Hard Miles', 40 years in showbusiness and safer cycling

Adam Sweeting

An eventful journey from 'Full Metal Jacket' to 'Oppenheimer' and 'Stranger Things'

Tokyo Vice, Series 2, BBC iPlayer review - an exciting ride that stretches credibility

Adam Sweeting

The return of Jake Adelstein, ace reporter

The Beach Boys, Disney+ review - heroes and villains and good vibrations

Adam Sweeting

Stylish retelling of the Beach Boys saga could use sharper teeth

theartsdesk Q&A: Eddie Marsan and the American Revolution, posh boys and East End gangsters

Adam Sweeting

Versatile actor on playing John Adams opposite Michael Douglas in Apple TV+’s ‘Franklin'

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottish 'tec hits the jackpot

Adam Sweeting

Richard Rankin makes a compelling debut as the unorthodox Edinburgh cop

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+ review - how the boy from Sayreville, NJ conquered the world

Adam Sweeting

Four-part documentary series outstays its welcome

Red Eye, ITV review - Anglo-Chinese relations tested in junk-food thriller

Adam Sweeting

Richard Armitage returns in another preposterous potboiler

Blue Lights Series 2, BBC One review - still our best cop show despite a slacker structure

Helen Hawkins

The engaging Belfast cops are less tightly focused this time around

Baby Reindeer, Netflix review - a misery memoir disturbingly presented

Helen Hawkins

Richard Gadd's double traumas are a difficult watch but ultimately inspiring

Anthracite, Netflix review - murderous mysteries in the French Alps

Adam Sweeting

Who can unravel the ghastly secrets of the town of Lévionna?

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

Helen Hawkins

Its black and white cinematography is striking, but eventually wearying

Scoop, Netflix review - revisiting a Right Royal nightmare

Adam Sweeting

Gripping dramatisation of Newsnight's fateful Prince Andrew interview

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs the World Season 2, BBC Three review - fun, friendship and big talents

David Nice

Worthy and lovable winners (no spoilers) as the best stay the course

This Town, BBC One review - lurid melodrama in Eighties Brummieland

Adam Sweeting

Steven Knight revisits his Midlands roots, with implausible consequences

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

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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