From an ingenious, multi-award winning chef drama to slick Polish series The Defence, the best on demand TV to watch this week
SKY/NOW, BRITBOX, AMAZON, NETFLIX & STARZPLAY
Thanks to shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, we probably think we know what life as a chef is all about.
However, this ingenious, multi-award-winning drama – shot as one continuous, 90-minute take by director Philip Barantini – really shows it how it is, warts and all.
Stephen Graham heads the cast as Andy, the top man at one of London’s hottest restaurants.
Stephen Graham (above) heads the cast of Boiling Point as Andy, the top man at one of London’s hottest restaurants
On the busiest night of the year, he must juggle personal crises with professional issues – all under the watchful eye of an unexpected guest who happens to be a health-and-safety inspector.
Graham is wonderful, ably supported by Vinette Robinson and Alice Feetham. Amazon, Sky, BT, Virgin and Apple TV+, from Friday
A Quiet Place Part II
The second in a series of post-apocalyptic thrillers starring Hollywood husband-and-wife duo Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (Krasinski also writes and directs).
More than a year after the alien attack that ravaged Earth, grief-stricken Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt, above) remains hopeful she can find other survivors
More than a year after the alien attack that ravaged Earth, grief-stricken Evelyn Abbott (Blunt) remains hopeful she can find other survivors.
But when the monsters hunt by sound, can she and her three children, including her newborn, keep quiet as they traverse hostile territory in search of civilisation?
Blunt continues to prove her versatility with a gritty performance, and Cillian Murphy co-stars. Sky/NOW, from Friday
Charming, cultured, confident Simon Templar (Roger Moore), nicknamed The Saint, is a Robin Hood-type figure who carries out crimes that he sees as necessary for the greater good.
Charming, cultured, confident Simon Templar (Roger Moore, above) is a Robin Hood-type figure who carries out crimes that he sees as necessary for the greater good
The show, based on stories by Leslie Charteris, ran from 1962 to 1969 and these two series (five and six) were the final two and the first to be shot in colour.
It started as a straightforward mystery series (albeit one in which Templar regularly broke the fourth wall, speaking directly to the viewers), but by the end had started to experiment with the fantastical. Watch out, too, for some early eyebrow-raising action from Moore who, of course, later put his trademark to great use as 007.
BritBox, from Thursday
Shatner In Space
In October, Star Trek icon William Shatner finally got to see space, the final frontier, when he accepted billionaire Jeff Bezos’s offer of a seat in his spaceship.
At the age of 90, he became the oldest human to make such a journey, and this documentary charts his experience.
Some have described the whole thing as Bezos’s ego trip but, as viewers will get to see, it’s a rather more profound experience for Shatner. Amazon, available now
When Harvey Met Bob
Fascinating insight into the relationship between Bob Geldof and tough rock promoter Harvey Goldsmith, who came together to make Live Aid happen in 1985.
In this TV film from 2010, Domhnall Gleeson and Ian Hart are inspired casting as the duo; Paul Rhys also appears as Paul McCartney and Lesley-Ann Halvey pops up as Geldof’s then other half, Paula Yates. BritBox, from Thursday
A look at Barbara Windsor’s rollercoaster ride of a career, from her early years to her iconic spell in EastEnders.
A look at Barbara Windsor’s rollercoaster ride of a career, from her early years to her iconic spell in EastEnders, starring Samantha Spiro (above)
In between there’s an insight into the Carry On films that helped make her name, as well as her often tumultuous love life and the barren spell she endured before her sojourn in Walford.
Samantha Spiro and Jaime Winstone play bubbly Babs at different stages in her life. BritBox, from Thursday
In the near future, heavily pregnant Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith) are fleeing an android uprising – our robot servants having finally got fed up with us – and trying to reach a relatively safe human enclave where she can give birth.
In the near future, heavily pregnant Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz above) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith) are fleeing an android uprising
The film works well in the early stages as a dystopian thriller, albeit of a familiar stripe, and it is visually accomplished, but the second half is somewhat weighed down by an execution that falls short of its ambition. Netflix, from Friday
The Tender Bar
Nine-year-old J. R. and his much disappointed single mother (Daniel Ranieri and Lily Rabe) are forced to return to her parents’ home.
But the young boy finds solace and sanctuary, not just in the domestic chaos of his grumpy grandfather’s crowded house but also in the wisdom of his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) and the kindness and generosity of the customers at his uncle’s book-lined bar.
George Clooney directs, leaving the acting honours to the terrific Affleck, nominated for a Golden Globe, and an on-form Christopher Lloyd as the curmudgeonly grandpa. Amazon, from Friday
The latest eclectic collection of films to arrive on Britbox includes The Mercy, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz and based on a true story about an amateur yachtsman’s disastrous attempt at a round-the-world challenge.
And The Sense Of An Ending, an adaptation of the Julian Barnes novel about a pensioner (Jim Broadbent) coming to terms with events from his past, which also stars Charlotte Rampling. BritBox, from Thursday
Ambitious entrepreneur Rory O’Hara (Jude Law) moves his wife and children from suburban America to a manor house in Surrey in search of a new business venture.
Jude Law plays a convincing narcissist in dark, romantic drama The Nest. Carrie Coon (above, with Law) co-stars
But a family breakdown appears to be on the horizon when wife Allison (Carrie Coon) struggles with the move, the uncertainty of 1980s Britain and O’Hara’s unsustainable drive to grow his status.
Law plays a convincing narcissist in this dark, romantic drama. Netflix, from Monday
The Mitchells vs The Machines
Dazzling comedy featuring the voices of Olivia Colman and Maya Rudolph.
A quirky family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the midst of a robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope
A quirky family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the midst of a robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope. Netflix, Sky Store, Amazon and iTunes, available now
If you enjoy Guy Ritchie’s crime capers – Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – then you’ll love this.
Marijuana mogul Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) finds that his planned retirement might be in jeopardy thanks to the complicated machinations of Chinese and Russian gangsters, a sleazy private investigator and goodness knows what else.
The plot is preposterous, the characters are caricatures and it’s comedy gold. Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery and Succession’s Jeremy Strong are among the cast. Netflix, from Monday
Olivia Colman and David Thewlis deliver compelling performances in a black comedy written by Colman’s husband, Ed Sinclair.
It’s inspired by the true story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, a mild-mannered couple from Mansfield who, in 2014, were found guilty of murdering Patricia and William Wycherley, Susan’s parents.
They had kept the crime a secret for a staggering 15 years, siphoning off money from the Wycherleys’ estate to fund a passion for celebrity memorabilia. Sky/NOW, available now
Another eccentric, highly comedic take on historical figures from Tony McNamara, creator of The Favourite.
Elle Fanning (above, with Gillian Anderson) plays Catherine in this ‘occasionally true story’ (very occasionally – if it’s historical accuracy you’re after, look elsewhere)
The Great is Catherine the Great of Russia, brilliantly played by Elle Fanning in this ‘occasionally true story’ (very occasionally – if it’s historical accuracy you’re after, look elsewhere). Nicholas Hoult is her barking-mad husband, Peter.
The two seasons chart the modernising Catherine’s rise to, and consolidation of, power. It’s rude, irreverent and very funny. StarzPlay, available now
Why is there such a buzz about..?
Take a generous measure of The Lord Of The Flies and mix in a pinch of Lost, a dash of Desperate Housewives and just a smidgeon of Big Little Lies and you have the recipe for a genre-bending hit.
In the first episode of this ten-part drama, we’re introduced to various members of a New Jersey high school girls’ soccer team, the Yellowjackets, in 1996.
Watch out especially for great work from Christina Ricci (above) in Yellowjackets
They’re thrilled to make ‘the nationals’ but the plane taking them to the tournament comes down in the remote Canadian wilderness.
Meanwhile, in the present day, a journalist wants to know from one of the survivors, Shauna, now a housewife, what really happened out there.
‘The plane crashed. A bunch of my friends died. The rest of us starved and scavenged and prayed for 19 months until they finally found us, and that’s the end of the story,’ Shauna insists.
But that’s definitely not the end of the story – we know from the beginning that terrible things happened after the crash.
The show flips between the timelines and mixes mystery, horror, teen coming-of-age drama and black comedy to hugely enjoyable effect.
The cast are excellent and include Melanie Lynskey and Sophie Nélisse as adult and teenage Shauna, and Juliette Lewis and Sophie Thatcher as Natalie, but watch out especially for great work from Christina Ricci and Sammi Hanratty, who play the oddball Misty.
iPLAYER, ALL4, ITV HUB & TALKING PICTURES TV
The slick Polish drama returns for its eagerly awaited second series.
Magdalena Cielecka reprises her role as hotshot lawyer Joanna Chylka. She’s called in to defend businessman Piotr Langer Sr’s son, who has been accused of murdering two people.
It looks like an open and-shut case – the corpses were found in Jr’s apartment, where he had seemingly lived alongside them for ten days.
Magdalena Cielecka (above) reprises her role as hotshot lawyer Joanna Chylka in slick Polish drama The Defence
However, Chylka’s instincts tell her there’s more to the matter than meets the eye and she’s determined to get to the truth, despite her client’s refusal to discuss it. With Miroslaw Baka. All4, from Friday
Nostalgia channel Talking Pictures is repeating the sci-fi classic The Outer Limits (see below), but if you prefer your nostalgia a little more down-to-earth, fret not – here’s an opportunity to see the 1960s series featuring Georges Simenon’s most famous creation.
Rupert Davies (above) stars as the dogged French detective Commissaire Jules Maigret, who always gets his man
Rupert Davies stars as the dogged French detective Commissaire Jules Maigret, who always gets his man. Talking Pictures TV, from Saturday
The Outer Limits
Not to be confused with that other eerie 1960s science-fiction fantasy series, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits was as famous for its opening line (‘There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission’) as it was for its frankly disappointing rubbery monsters.
Look out for the likes of Donald Pleasence, Bruce Dern, Gloria Grahame, Leonard Nimoy and Martin Sheen among its stars. Talking Pictures TV, from Friday
Sarah Lancashire has never been better than playing hard-bitten police sergeant Catherine Cawood in Sally Wainwright’s outstanding drama.
Across the course of two series – both of which are now available to stream – it follows her efforts to bring up her grandson while maintaining law and order in West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley and keeping the lad’s evil criminal father Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) out of the picture.
The great news is that a third and final series is on its way. BBC iPlayer, available now
When the body of Hannah Ellis (Abra Thompson) is found, posh, privileged and hugely dislikable fellow student Talitha (played by Céline Buckens), with whom she’d fallen out, is suspected of her murder and the court case generates worldwide media coverage.
Talitha (Céline Buckens, above) is suspected of murder when the body of Hannah Ellis (Abra Thompson) is found
Everyone hates Talitha – but is she guilty? This twisting five-part drama follows both sides of the legal battles and keeps viewers guessing about what really happened. BBC iPlayer, available now
After their collaboration on Juno, writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman reteamed for this dark comedy drama.
Charlize Theron (above) plays an alcoholic writer who returns to her home town in an attempt to tear her high-school sweetheart away from his wife and baby daughter
Charlize Theron plays an alcoholic writer who, with her career on the slide, returns to her home town in an attempt to tear her high-school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson) away from his wife and baby daughter. BBC iPlayer, from Friday
Kate Mara and Nick Robinson star in a taut American-made drama about the complexities and consequences of a forbidden romance between a teacher and an 18-year-old student.
Claire Wilson (Kate Mara, above) is dissatisfied with her marriage, but finds herself attracted to one of her students, Eric
Claire Wilson is dissatisfied with her marriage, but finds herself attracted to one of her students, Eric. He asks her for a favour, bringing them closer together and setting them on a path of potential disaster, ruin and shame.
BBC iPlayer, available now
Toast Of London
Matt Berry plays the terrible actor Steven Toast in this cult sitcom, penned by Berry and Father Ted co-creator Arthur Mathews. There is surrealism, satire and silly running gags. Robert Bathurst, Doon Mackichan and Tracy-Ann Oberman co-star.
There are three series here and a new series, Toast Of Tinseltown, starts on Tuesday this week. BBC iPlayer, available now
The show that arguably launched a thousand teenage boys’ haircuts, to judge by any town-centre nightclub queue.
Cillian Murphy leads a razor-blade-toting gang in post-First World War Birmingham. The hugely successful series also stars the late Helen McCrory. BBC iPlayer, available now
Piers Morgan’s Life Stories
After 12 years of face-to-face celebrity interviews that owe more to In The Psychiatrist’s Chair than This Is Your Life, Piers Morgan bows out with a final tear-jerker chat.
But here’s the thing: it’s with the woman who will now take over the show: Kate Garraway. ITV Hub, available now