As the nation endures yet another lockdown, and the timetable for opening up is still unconfirmed, many of us have been deepening the dents in our sofas even further to see what the TV schedules and streaming services are serving up for our entertainment.
UK TV over Christmas was pretty meagre fare, partly due to many production companies having to put filming on hold during 2020 as lockdown restrictions came in. Repeats and endless “Top 50” whatever countdowns seemed to fill the schedules. Of course, there was Britain’s Got Talent which managed to pioneer a socially distanced live show, and the ever-popular Strictly Come Dancing, the final of which topped 13 million viewers.
With so little to tempt us terrestrially, no wonder the number of subscribers to Netflix, the most popular streaming service, surpassed 200 million in January!
Now, with Spring approaching, these are some of the shows that have caught my eye which, if you haven’t seen them already, are definitely worth a watch:
The Serpent (BBC iPlayer): the chilling real-life tale of a gem dealer, thief, fraudster and serial killer, Charles Sobhraj who preyed on Western tourists on the Hippie Trail in Southeast Asia. Apart from the thrilling cat and mouse game as Dutch diplomat, Herman Knippenberg, tries to gather enough evidence to get Charles and his French-Canadian girlfriend, Marie arrested, the series is an evocative and colourful portrayal of both East and West in the 1970s.
Bridgerton (Netflix): this Regency feast for the eyes is everything you could wish from a richly shot costume drama but with a modern feel. Much racier than adaptations of novels by contemporary Regency authors such as Jane Austen, it follows the courtship of London debutante, Daphne Bridgerton and the handsome Duke of Hastings. There’s more than meets the eye as the Duke is not playing fair and the powerful gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown is watching with pen poised to take them down in a society most concerned with keeping up appearances.
It’s a Sin (All 4): the latest critically acclaimed drama from Russell T. Davies focuses on a tight-knit group of friends from London’s gay community in the 1980s living in the shadow of the impending HIV/Aids crisis that was to about to tear their community apart. Aided by a superb Eighties soundtrack, the series took us through the decade with equal measures of humour and great sadness all based around an excellent cast and superb writing. It’s a Sin has quickly become All 4’s most binge-watched show having been viewed in its entirety over 6.5 million times!
The Dig (Netflix): this film starring Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by John Preston, reimagining the events of the 1939 excavation of the Anglo-Saxon burial ground, Sutton Hoo. On the eve of the First World War, Suffolk landowner, Edith Pretty (Mulligan), hires a local self-taught archaeologist-excavator, Basil Brown (Fiennes) to tackle the large burial mounds in her estate near Woodbridge. The film has been nominated for 9 BAFTAs, so this is definitely one to watch!
Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV): and now that The Masked Singer winner has been, well… unmasked, it’s time for Ant and Dec to return with their rip-roaring, prime-time antics from 20th February. Great family viewing a welcome addition to the schedules for frazzled parents in their constant quest to find something different to amuse the kids! Plus there’s a chance to win a few prizes…
According to Ofcom, at the height of the first lockdown, adults spent an average of 6 hours and 25 minutes per day staring at screens. As this lockdown limbo continues, thank goodness there’s so much cracking TV to keep us occupied