Best TV for December – dramas, box sets, films and documentaries

Has everyone had enough of TV or is it just restlessness and apathy for this lockdown that have set in? I find that the evenings are long and we have eaten so much earlier so there are more hours to fill. We have all binge-watched The Crown and Queen’s Gambit so what is there to keep us from hitting the Quality street and cooking brandy before the festive season… I have a few options.


SMALL AXE | BBC iplayer

Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) is behind this series of films that tells stories from London’s West Indian community from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Ahead of their debut on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, several of the feature-length dramas have been played at film festivals around the world, where they have earned glowing reviews.

Each one tells an individual self-contained story, which shines a light on an important moment in Black British history or culture, with a stellar cast that includes Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and John Boyega (Star Wars).

The first instalment in the series, Mangrove, is available to stream now, depicting the fallout from a peaceful protest against racial discrimination held in Notting Hill in 1970.


Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel about forbidden desire, religion and sexual repression has already been adapted once before, into the classic 1947 film Black Narcissus – and now the story is being told again in a new three-part BBC drama. Black Narcissus follows Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton), who leads the nuns of St Faiths to a remote spot high in the Himalayan mountains, where they set up a branch of their order in the palace of Mopu. There, Sister Clodagh is “increasingly attracted ” to the arrogant land agent, Mr Dean, as is the unstable Sister Ruth. The drama also stars the late Diana Rigg as Mother Dorothea, in one of her final screen appearances.


If you’ve been glued to all the coverage of the hotly-contested US Presidential Election, make sure to check out The Trump Show – BBC Two’s revealing docuseries on Donald Trump’s presidency.

Featuring interviews with the incumbent’s former aides, including Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Anthony Scaramucci, the three-part series explores Trump’s time in office, from his unexpected win in 2016 and the Stormy Daniels scandal, to Robert Mueller’s inquiry into claims of Russian interference in Trump’s 2016 campaign.


If, like me, you decided to read Barack Obama’s first volume of his autobiography, The Promised Land, during this second lockdown then this interview will also interest you.

In a UK exclusive, former American president Barack Obama encounters historian David Olusoga to discuss his long-awaited memoir A Promised Land, his reflections on the volatile racial divide in the US, his steadfast refusal to abandon American ideals, and how the sight of a black president and black first family in the White House may have cast a spotlight on the depth of racial fault lines in America.


Set in the world of international finance, Industry is an upcoming drama miniseries for the BBC, executively produced by Girls creator and star Lena Dunham.

The 8-part show follows a group of ambitious twenty-somethings all competing for a limited number of permanent positions at a London investment bank during the 2008 global financial crisis.

According to the official synopsis: ‘The graduates immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs, and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line.’ On now so available on Catch Up. Not my favourite series but I am sure those working in this field will love it!



Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant lead the cast of this tense drama about a woman called whose world starts to disintegrate when her husband goes missing – leaving behind a string of terrible revelations as questions are raised about his true identity. The Undoing is based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. It is already running on Sky Atlantic but it is also on Catch up.


This streaming platform has done a lot to make this strange year more bearable, with a vast array of new content regularly added to its extensive library. And the platform isn’t letting up in December, with one last batch of new films and TV shows set to round off the year in style.

Hillbilly Elegy

Glenn Close and Amy Adams star in Ron Howard’s Hollywoodized version of J.D. Vance’s best seller. An urgent phone call pulls a Yale Law student back to his Ohio hometown, where he reflects on three generations of family history and his own future.

This hasn’t got good critic reviews but I am sure this cast and director will still produce a 120 minutes of entertainment.


MANK is a scathing social critique of 1930s Hollywood through the eyes of alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane. On Netflix December 4. (It’s in black & white)


Occupied is the most high-budget show Norway has ever produced—a near-future geopolitical thriller dreamed up by best-selling crime writer Jo Nesbø—and the third season just launched on Netflix last week.

The series depicts a fictional near future in which, due to catastrophic environmental events, Norway’s Prime Minister has stopped the country’s oil and gas production. Russia, with support from the European Union, occupies Norway to restore its oil and gas production, in response to a Europe-wide energy crisis.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

The biggest movie release of December 2020 has only been made more important given the untimely death of one its lead stars, Chadwick Boseman.

Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the legendary “Mother of the Blues.” Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe. Starring Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown and Taylour Paige. Coming to Netflix December 18.


One of the biggest casts Netflix has ever assembled will come in December with The Prom which for many this year will be the only Prom they’re able to attend.

The musical follows a troupe that swarms a smalltown high school girl who is looking to take her girlfriend to prom but generally frowned upon.

Among the stars includes Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Kerry Washington, Jo Ellen Pelman, Keegan-Michael Key, and Andrew Rannells.

Available from 11th December

The Midnight Sky 

George Clooney directs and stars in this sci-fi film about a lone scientist in the Arctic who races to contact a crew of astronauts returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

Available from 23rd December.

Bridgerton season 1 

First season of the new period drama series about eight close-knit siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family attempting to find love in Regency-era England. It could fill the gap that lovers of Downton Abbey have been suffering from.

The Song of Names

An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Norman Lebrecht, it stars Tim Roth and Clive Owen as childhood friends from London whose lives have been changed by World War II.

Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) has been haunted throughout his life by the mysterious disappearance of his “brother” and extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, Dovidl Rapaport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin discovers that Dovidl (Clive Owen) may still be alive, and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left.

The film was nominated for nine Canadian Screen Awards, winning five.

The Life Ahead

Sophia Loren is by far the best reason to see Edoardo Ponti’s new Italian-language drama, out now on Netflix. But what a reason it is: Though at 86 she may no longer be the ripe screen goddess of yesteryear, time only adds gravitas to her turn as a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute who reluctantly agrees to take in an orphaned Senegalese street kid named Momo. Beautifully and artfully directed by Sophia and Carlo Ponti’s son Eduardo Ponti.


I’m your Woman

This idiosyncratic thriller stars Rachel Brosnahan (Marvellous Mrs. Maisel) as a sheltered 1970s housewife who must go on the run after her spouse runs afoul of some criminal associates.

Rachel Brosnahan plays Jean, who loves her husband Eddie (Bill Heck) but tries not to think about how he makes his living. Her wilful ignorance is challenged early in I’m Your Woman when Eddie comes home with a baby in his arms, offering it to her as their child. Where did Eddie get the baby? He advises her not to ask — after all, Jean has suffered several miscarriages, so why spend time worrying about such questions when she always wanted to be a mother? 

The introduction of the baby is just the first of several shocks for Jean, who is awoken late one night by a knock at the door and a friend of Eddie’s warning her that she must flee town immediately. A man she’s never met, Cal (British actor Arinze Kene), will escort her and the child to a safe house, but he can’t give her any details about what Eddie has done or where he is. “I’ve never been on my own,” she anxiously tells Cal. In quick order, she’s going to find out what’s required to take care of herself.

Available 11th December.

Sylvie’s Love

Sylvie’s Love stars Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha as two lovers who share a jazz-filled romance in the sultry summer of 1957. Sylvie’s Love debuted to rave reviews when it screened at Sundance earlier this year, so expect it to become a strong awards contender as 2020 turns to 2021.


Let Them All Talk

Let Them All Talk is an upcoming American comedy-drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay by Deborah Eisenberg. The film stars Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, Candice Bergen, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan.

A famous author (Meryl Streep) goes on a cruise trip with her friends and nephew in an effort to find fun and happiness while she comes to terms with her troubled past.

I hope that you all have a great December and manage to get together with family and friends (if allowed) and that in between you might enjoy some of this selection of Best TV for December.

Stay safe, stay well.