I keep thinking that maybe we will run out of TV series and films to watch, but if this list is anything to go by, then again, we have a huge choice this month. Like me, some of the films are old ones that you may have missed when they were released theatrically. Of course, the TV series always have lots of thrillers, but I have some comedies and some gentler dramas for those who get fed up with watching people being killed.
THIS IS GOING TO HURT – BBC1 February 8
I have read Adam Kay’s book, been to his live performance and now…….
Ex-doctor-turned-author Adam Kay has adapted his personal account of life on the wards for a new BBC comedy-drama series, This Is Going to Hurt, with Ben Whishaw in the lead role.
The eight-part series is based on his hilarious yet devastating bestseller, which details the brutal honesty of being a doctor for the NHS – including both the highs and the lows.
I cannot wait to see this; maybe don’t watch it if you are about to go into an NHS hospital.
THE CHELSEA DETECTIVE
The Chelsea Detective follows a police pair solving baffling crimes in well-heeled west London. At last, Adrian Scarborough is playing a detective and not the victim.
Arnold, whose lifestyle on a battered houseboat in Chelsea’s Cheyne Walk contrasts sharply with the affluent elite whose crimes he helps solve alongside partner D.C. Priya Shamsie. He will leave no stone unturned to root out the truth and bring those responsible to justice, regardless of their wealth or status.
Acorn TV is available through your Amazon Prime Video app.
MY BEST FRIEND ANNE FRANK | NETFLIX
Filmmakers are finding new ways to explore the trauma and emotional affliction that millions of Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Ben Sombogaart’s new film, “My Best Friend Anne Frank”, unearths a new shade to the beloved legacy of Anne Frank. Frank is the driving force behind Sombogaart’s hard-to-watch yet rewarding film, one of the most celebrated and revisited victims from that terrible time.
HIDDEN ASSETS | BBC iPLAYER
We absolutely loved this series. The story is set in Co Clare, small-town Ireland and Antwerp’s diamond capital. This complex crime series introduces Ireland’s CAB – the Criminal Assets Bureau, the department responsible for tracking and seizing illegally-obtained assets. Essentially, they’re the ones who follow the money.
As a routine raid at an Irish drug dealer’s home turned up a bag of diamonds and deeds to an Antwerp apartment, it quickly became clear that the apartment was more than just a flashy second home.
Not only was it a grisly crime scene – with a woman face down in an overflowing bathtub – but also where a suicide bomber had stayed the night before a recent attack.
This trailer is strange as it has some unusual police footage cut into it. But hopefully, you will get the gist of the series, which is a thousand times better than this trailer.
TRIGGER POINT | ITV
This series stars Vicky McClure (Line of Duty), and Adrian Lester, and my husband and I have been gripped by it. It is a bomb disposal thriller produced by Jed Mercurio. My only criticism would be that Vicky McClure is in danger of getting herself typecast. This drama builds its set pieces around the granular, technical details of bomb disposal: which wires to cut first, where the second trigger might be hidden, the significance of one type of explosive vs another.
Definitely worth watching.
THE TRICK | BBC IPLAYER
The Trick on BBC1 iPlayer tells the real-life story of the “Climategate Scandal” from 2009 by following world-renowned scientist Professor Philip Jones, the director of climate research at the University of East Anglia, who found himself at the centre of an international media storm.
Jason Watkins stars as Professor Philip Jones, who was persecuted when some sections of the media picked up on the emails and used them to debunk the idea of global warming. Victoria Hamilton plays his wife, Ruth.
DODGER BBC | BBC IPLAYER & CBBC
Dodger follows the infamous pickpocket, The Artful Dodger (real name Jack Dawkins), and Fagin’s gang as they find ingenious ways to survive the grim and exploitative conditions of early Victorian London in the 1830s. It is a look at the world of Oliver Twist through the eyes of the “bad guys”. As it is being broadcast on CBBC, it is meant for children. However, I found it on BBC iPlayer and we really enjoyed it.
Rhys Thomas says about the adaptation: “I have always loved Oliver Twist but wasn’t so keen on Oliver himself. I preferred the company of Dodger, Fagin and the gang. So I thought it would be fun to create a family show with Dodger at its heart and see how he became a master criminal in Victorian London.
THE MARVELLOUS MRS. MAISEL SEASON 4 | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO (airs 18th Feb)
As season 4 begins, it’s 1960, and change is in the air. Midge finds a gig with total creative freedom looking to hone her act. But her commitment to her craft—and the places it takes her—creates a rift between her and the family and friends around her.
I have watched all three previous seasons and love the humour in this comedy series. Brilliantly cast, and it never gets dull.
INVENTING ANNA | NETFLIX (available 11th February)
Vivian (Anna Chlumsky), a journalist, investigates purported German heiress Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), who may be a con woman in this limited series from Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy) inspired by the New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler about Anna Sorokin, the Russian-born German convicted fraudster. The series stars Ozark’s breakout lead, Julia Garner.
It has all the ingredients for a winning series.
CHLOE | BBC1
We watched the first two episodes, which is very different from the other thriller series I have mentioned. Erin Doherty (Princess Anne in The Crown) stars in this social media thriller from Sex Education writer/director Alice Seabright.
The drama is about a young woman called Becky, filling her days with temp work and spending her nights caring for her mother with dementia, never far from her mobile phone and almost always scrolling through social media. That’s how she begins and ends each day, checking not-quite-but-clearly-meant-to-be Instagram to see how everyone else lives their lives, comparing the picture-perfect alternative to her own less than ideal life. And then she becomes obsessed with Chloe Fairbourne.
It is, on the whole, quite a clever way of representing social media in a television drama.
REACHER | AMAZON PRIME
There is a new Jack Reacher in town. The eponymous Reacher is based on the first Jack Reacher book Killing Floor, by best-selling author Lee Child. The first season begins when Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), a retired Military Police detective, is arrested on suspicion of murder in Margrave, Georgia’s sleepy, working-class town.
MAGPIE MURDERS | BRITBOX (available 10th February)
Magpie Murders is a twisty-turn crime drama starring Lesley Manville, Tim McMullan and Daniel Mays. I have only seen a preview, but I really enjoyed it. It is based on Anthony Horowitz’s novel of the same name and is a 6-part series. It is better than Midsomer Murders but is a similar genre, quintessentially English.
Just FYI, BritBox, the streaming service, is borne of a partnership between British television networks BBC and ITV and is the place where you can go to watch classic pieces of British TV and new series.
The BritBox app is available on most smart TVs, and installation is fairly simple for each of them, even though the installation methods are slightly varied depending on what brand you have.
NO RETURN | ITV
This series began on Monday 7th February and is starring Sheridan Smith. She must have been so busy making all of these TV series during the pandemic, so you have to block out the character she recently played in Four Lives.
When Kathy (Sheridan Smith) and Martin’s teenage son Noah goes to a beach party during the family holiday in Turkey, little do they know their world is about to turn upside down. Accused of a serious crime, he denies committing, Noah faces prison thousands of miles from home.
THE TEACHER | CHANNEL 5
And another TV series starring Sheridan Smith.
Sheridan Smith (Four Lives, Cleaning Up) plays Jenna Garvey, the titular educator who is accused of “inappropriate behaviour” with one of her pupils –15-year-old Kyle (Samuel Bottomley) claims that the pair had sex. Still, she has no memory of the night in question.
Sheridan Smith shines in this series, but overall it is not as good as some of her other series that she has been in. One to watch if you have an evening to fill.
FRACTURE | NETFLIX (film)
This is a movie from 2007 that I obviously missed, but it is now on Netflix. I watched it with friends recently, and we all really enjoyed it. Ryan Gosling looks so young but holds his own against the powerful acting of Anthony Hopkins.
The story is about an attorney (Gosling) intending on climbing the career ladder toward success finds an unlikely opponent in a manipulative criminal (Hopkins) he is trying to prosecute.
WILD TALES | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Each of the six stories here, which average about 20 minutes, is thoroughly enthralling, and all are united by mordant black humour. Connected thematically in dealing with revenge and retribution, each segment sets expectations that its successor ingeniously fulfils or surpasses.
The first pre-credits story, “Pasternak,” gets things off to a high-flying start. An attractive young woman – a model, we soon learn – checks in for a flight and hears she won’t get frequent flier miles because someone else has paid her ticket. On board the plane, she begins chatting with another passenger and learns they both knew a guy named Pasternak, a boyfriend she dumped years ago. Then another passenger says he was the professor who failed the same guy. Could it be? Sure enough, the plane is full of people who’ve shafted Mr P. And who’s that locked in the cockpit?
Grace says, “one of the best, most surprising films I’ve ever watched on Amazon Prime.”
THE GREAT SEASON 2 | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult return for the second season of Hulu’s The Great – the zany, bawdy historical romp about Catherine the Great (Fanning), and billed as “an occasionally true story”.
The first episode kicks off with a pregnant Catherine (Fanning) in a bind, after she managed to wrest power from her idiotic husband at the end of season one – but failed to kill him, to the continued consternation of her advisors. In the meantime, Peter (Hoult) decides that he must win his wife’s affection by any means necessary.
According to the official synopsis, in season two, “Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own – but she will quickly learn that dethroning her husband was just the beginning,” according to the official synopsis.
Grace says, “a truly original drama with a great cast and never a dull moment!”
SPLIT | Season 3 is coming soon
If none of the above appeals to you, then in the meantime, you can watch Season 1 & 2 of Split on BBC iPlayer. Even though I had watched this series some time ago, I was amazed to watch it all again and not be bored. I think that is a sign of a good series.
The Split is a British legal drama, written and created by Abi Morgan, that was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC1 in April 2018. The first series follows the lives of the Defoe family, who all work in divorce law for the family firm, aside from eldest sister Hannah (Nicola Walker), who works for rival family law firm Noble & Hale and youngest daughter, who is a childminder. The series co-stars Stephen Mangan, Fiona Button, Annabel Scholey and Barry Atsma. Series 2 saw the return of the Defoe family at newly merged law firm Noble Hale Defoe, with most of the original cast confirmed.
A high-end divorce lawyer with marital problems of her own? It is a solid setup with obvious dramatic potential.
The Split has been called Britain’s answer to The Good Wife – certainly Hannah Stern has silk shirts as covetable as anything in Alicia Florrick’s wardrobe.
Season 3 is coming very soon.