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Home News Stories From a box set of classic stage productions to The Rain & Bad...

From a box set of classic stage productions to The Rain & Bad Banks: The best on demand TV this week

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SKY/NOW TV, BRITBOX & STARZPLAY 

Centre Stage Collection

For those missing live theatre, BritBox has come to the rescue. They have made 25 RSC productions of Shakespeare plays available in its Centre Stage collection, as well as the Donmar Warehouse’s renowned all-female productions of The Tempest (2016), Julius Caesar (2012) and Henry IV (2014).

For those missing live theatre, BritBox has come to the rescue. They have made available 25 RSC productions as well as ballets like Sleeping Beauty (above) performed by the Royal Ballet

For those missing live theatre, BritBox has come to the rescue. They have made available 25 RSC productions as well as ballets like Sleeping Beauty (above) performed by the Royal Ballet

The trouble is that it’s impossible to watch, say, Christopher Eccleston as Macbeth in the electrifying 2018 production, or David Tennant’s acclaimed performance as Richard II in 2013, or to see the special effects in the 2016 staging of The Tempest without wishing you’d been there to experience it live.

In addition to the best of the Bard, BritBox has added ballets including a 2017 production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker (2018) and Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (2017), all performed by the Royal Ballet. There are also operas from the Royal Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. BritBox, available now

 

The Beverley Allitt Tapes

Allitt became infamous for killing four children at Grantham Hospital in 1991. The deaths of seven-week-old Liam Taylor, 11-year-old Timothy Hardwick, two-month-old Becky Phillips and 15-month-old Claire Peck all happened after Allitt tampered with their injections. 

Beverley Allitt became infamous for killing four children at Grantham Hospital in 1991. This documentary looks back at her life in an attempt to understand why she became a killer

Beverley Allitt became infamous for killing four children at Grantham Hospital in 1991. This documentary looks back at her life in an attempt to understand why she became a killer

Her crimes didn’t stop there – she also attempted to murder three others and caused grievous bodily harm to six more. This documentary looks back at Allitt’s life in an attempt to understand why she became a cold-hearted killer. Sky/NOW TV, available now

 

The Trevor McDonald Collection

This selection of acclaimed documentaries includes last year’s Babes In The Wood, in which McDonald explored the 32-year-old case of two nine-year-old girls’ murders, drawing on testimony from the parents of one of the victims and the police involved in the harrowing investigation. 

There’s also Britain’s Greatest National Treasures, with the former newsreader joined by Julia Bradbury to count down our top 20 favourite iconic buildings, ancient monuments, breathtaking coastlines and countryside wonders. Other programmes include Invitation To A Royal Wedding, Victoria’s Palace and Death Row. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Ramy

Ramy (comedian Ramy Youssef) is a young Egyptian-American man struggling to reconcile his lifestyle and addiction to X-rated websites with his faith. 

Ramy (played by Ramy Youssef, above with Mahershala Ali) is billed as a comedy drama, and when it’s funny, it’s very funny, but there’s more drama than laughs and some of it is pretty dark

Ramy (played by Ramy Youssef, above with Mahershala Ali) is billed as a comedy drama, and when it’s funny, it’s very funny, but there’s more drama than laughs and some of it is pretty dark

In the second season of the Golden Globe-winning comedy, in an attempt to shake off his depression and become a better person, he embraces a different form of Islam – one of his friends dismisses it as ‘New Age’ – and follows a charismatic new Imam, Sheikh Malik (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali). 

Ramy is billed as a comedy drama, and when it’s funny, it’s very funny, but there’s more drama than laughs and some of it is pretty dark. Starzplay, from Thursday

 

Enid

Helena Bonham Carter was nominated for a Bafta for her captivating portrayal of Noddy creator Enid Blyton, whose private life was rather more X-rated. In this 2009 BBC4 drama, Blyton is shown as a self-absorbed workaholic who buries herself in her fantasy world to escape first her unhappy childhood, then the bothersome needs and complexities of her two husbands – played here by Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson. 

Helena Bonham Carter was nominated for a Bafta for her captivating portrayal of Noddy creator Enid Blyton, whose private life was rather more X-rated

Helena Bonham Carter was nominated for a Bafta for her captivating portrayal of Noddy creator Enid Blyton, whose private life was rather more X-rated

Primly proper in polka-dot dress and heavy make-up, Bonham Carter brilliantly conveys the two conflicting sides of the writer: beloved ‘friend’ to her child fans, for whom she hosted lavish tea parties, but a distant, emotionally cold mother to her own children Gillian (Sinead Michael) and Imogen (Ramona Marquez, best known as the little girl in TV’s Outnumbered). BritBox, from Thursday

 

NETFLIX & DISNEY+

The Rain

The Danish post-apocalyptic thriller returns for its third and final series. It began when siblings Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen) and Simone (Alba August) sheltered in a bunker to escape a virus carried by rainfall that had wiped out almost all humans in Scandinavia.

The Danish post-apocalyptic thriller returns for its third and final series. Mikkel Folsgaard plays one of the survivors of a waterborne virus which has wiped out most of Scandinavia

The Danish post-apocalyptic thriller returns for its third and final series. Mikkel Folsgaard plays one of the survivors of a waterborne virus which has wiped out most of Scandinavia

They ventured out six years later hoping to locate other survivors, who included former soldier Martin (Mikkel Folsgaard), but found the world had changed beyond all recognition. The previous season ended as Rasmus was captured by Apollon, a shady company that kicked off the rain apocalypse. Netflix, from Thursday

 

Howard

Writer Howard Ashman, working in collaboration with composer Alan Menken, was responsible for some of the most iconic modern Disney songs, including popular hits from The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast. He fought to keep what turned out to be the popular track Part Of Your World in the former before pitching the idea of a musical adaptation of Aladdin. 

Writer Howard Ashman was responsible for some of the most iconic modern Disney songs, including popular hits from The Little Mermaid (above) and Beauty And The Beast

Writer Howard Ashman was responsible for some of the most iconic modern Disney songs, including popular hits from The Little Mermaid (above) and Beauty And The Beast

Ashman died of Aids-related complications in 1991, just before Beauty And The Beast was released in cinemas. This documentary features previously unseen archival footage and profiles the brilliant lyricist who also worked on various stage musicals, including Smile and Little Shop Of Horrors. Disney+, from Friday

 

The Innocence Files

This documentary series showcases the life-changing work of the Innocence Project, a group of US lawyers who have dedicated themselves to overturning wrongful convictions. What makes the series stand out is the detail explored, with each of the nine episodes often running to feature-film length and helmed by Oscar nominees and winners. 

The series is split into three sections based on the areas where the most damage is done; misleading science (also known as the ‘CSI effect’, after the popular TV show), false eyewitness testimony and misconduct by prosecution teams. Each episode focuses on an individual who was convicted – often for life and in some cases placed on death row – and follows their fight to prove their innocence. The high water mark of TV docuseries. Netflix, available now

 

Sam Jay: 3 In The Morning

The comedian and Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live writer performs a stand-up special filmed at the Masquerade in Atlanta in February. Jay reflects on something she used to do often, as many of us did – ‘travelling’.

Also in the hour-long routine she describes her journey to discovering she is gay, serves up fresh takes on relationships and muses on the audacity of white people. Netflix, from Tuesday

 

The Speed Cubers

Feliks Zemdegs was ‘king of the cubers’, solving Rubik’s cubes at breathtaking speed for nearly a decade. Until Max Park emerged on the scene in 2017, beating his world record. The pair have since become close friends, but the looming world championship threatens to put that to the test. This film captures their extraordinary twists and turns, but most mesmerising is watching the geniuses ‘cube out’ in seconds. Netflix, available now

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

Once Upon A Time In Iraq (BBC iPlayer)

This extraordinary five-part documentary tells the story of the Iraq War, not in a grand-sweep-of-world-history way but from the viewpoint of the men and women on the ground: the civilians, soldiers and journalists who lived through it. Film-maker James Bluemel has assembled an astonishing range of eyewitnesses who tell their harrowing stories. 

There’s Waleed Neysif, who was 18 when the war began and initially thrilled to get a job as a translator for the media. There is Alaa Adel, only 12 when shrapnel took out her eye. Nate Sassaman, now a haunted man, was a US officer until he went over to ‘the dark side’. 

Issam Al Rawi, a loyal supporter of Saddam Hussein, who says he still misses the dictator is just one of the people interviewed in Once Upon A Time In Iraq

Issam Al Rawi, a loyal supporter of Saddam Hussein, who says he still misses the dictator is just one of the people interviewed in Once Upon A Time In Iraq 

Nidhal Abed was holding her infant son when an explosion spread her child’s guts over the pavement. Issam Al Rawi, a loyal supporter of Saddam Hussein, says he still misses the dictator. Their accounts are illustrated with jaw-dropping footage, much of it unseen.

The episodes have been skilfully edited to create watchable but unbearably painful tales. In episode three there is a sense of mounting dread as the story of what happened in a minaret in Fallujah unfolds like a horror film.

The message – war is hell and this conflict was pointless – is hardly new, but rarely has it been delivered with such force.

Neil Armstrong 

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BBC iPLAYER & ALL 4

Bad Banks

Season two of the German financial thriller opens six months after the heart-pounding events of the last run. 

Season two of the German financial thriller sees Jana Liekam (Paula Beer, above), Adam Pohl and Thao Hoang formulate a plan to get transfered to DGI's Berlin HQ

Season two of the German financial thriller sees Jana Liekam (Paula Beer, above), Adam Pohl and Thao Hoang formulate a plan to get transfered to DGI’s Berlin HQ 

Investment banker Jana Liekam (Paula Beer) is still employed by DGI in Frankfurt, as are Adam Pohl (Albrecht Schuch) and Thao Hoang (Mai Duong Kieu), but the trio would much rather be at the company’s HQ in Berlin. 

They formulate a plan on getting there – but will their boss let them go? Walter Presents/All 4, from Friday

 

Cutting It

Created by Poldark’s Debbie Horsfield, and originally broadcast between 2002 and 2005, the slick and stylish show was an early vehicle for stars Amanda Holden, Sarah Parish, Ben Daniels, Jason Merrells and Angela Griffin. 

Created by Poldark’s Debbie Horsfield, this slick and stylish show was an early vehicle for its stars Amanda Holden, Sarah Parish (both above), Ben Daniels, Jason Merrells & Angela Griffin

Created by Poldark’s Debbie Horsfield, this slick and stylish show was an early vehicle for its stars Amanda Holden, Sarah Parish (both above), Ben Daniels, Jason Merrells & Angela Griffin

The romantic drama centres on the ups and downs of life at a hairdressing and beauty salon in Manchester, run by husband and wife Allie and Gavin (Parish and Merrells). Their lives are turned upside down when Allie’s handsome ex, Finn, and his glamorous but devious new wife open a salon across the street. The romance and rivalry plays out across four addictive series. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

The Adulterer

The Dutch psychological thriller was Walter Presents’s highest-streaming series of 2019 and it’s now returning for a welcome third season. Real-estate magnate Huub is finally where he belongs – behind bars – but his son-in-law, high-flying lawyer Willem, finds it hard to accept he’s only serving a sentence for blackmail. 

On the plus side, Willem is now free to marry his lover Iris and build a new life. However, their wedded bliss doesn’t last long when a mysterious and attractive woman called Anna appears on the scene. She bears an equally large grudge against Huub, and despite Iris’s objections, Willem simply can’t leave the past behind and agrees to join forces with Anna in seeking justice. All 4, available now

 

The Confessions Of Thomas Quick

In the 1990s, Sweden was chilled to the marrow by reports of the country’s first serial killer. Psychopathic loner Sture Bergwall, also known as Thomas Quick, confessed to 30 brutal murders – involving rape and cannibalism – and was convicted of eight of them. The fact that some of the details coincided with existing unsolved murder cases helped to convict him. That and his profile: a history of drug addiction and molestation of young boys. 

But was his statement, obtained while he was undergoing psychiatric treatment in a mental institution after stabbing a man he’d met in a bar, all that he said it was, or had he made it all up because he was lonely? In this 2015 documentary, Quick himself is interviewed about his case. Is the soft-spoken, articulate, white-bearded old man telling the truth this time? Or is he the ultimate unreliable narrator? All 4, available now

 

Heroes

This sci-fi drama was a huge hit when it first arrived on British screens in 2014 and eventually ran to four series. It’s about a disparate group of otherwise ordinary people who realise that they have superpowers. Among them are cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), who can rapidly heal from any injury and so is indestructible; geeky Japanese computer programmer Hiro (Masi Oka), who can manipulate time; and Isaac (Santiago Cabrera), a drug-addict artist who can see – and paint – the future. 

But why is this happening now, and how are these reluctant ‘superheroes’ linked? Creator Tim Kring said he wanted the series to be a blend of The Incredibles and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. BBC iPlayer, from Sunday, 11.15pm

 

AMAZON PRIME

The Boys 

The Seven, led by Homelander (Antony Starr), are a band of crime-fighting, life-saving superheroes, worshipped by the public. However, as idealistic new recruit Starlight (Erin Moriarty) quickly comes to realise, they’re also a gang of amoral, arrogant, abusive sleaze merchants.

They are effectively owned by Vought International, a powerful corporation that hires them out to cities willing to cough up the necessary. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, perpetrating the worst cockney accent since Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins) is the leader of the titular vigilante group and has personal reasons for wanting to bring down The Seven. 

This eight-episode adaptation of a comic-book series is routinely violent, frequently tasteless and hugely entertaining. Season two is due in September. Available now

 

Animal Kingdom

All four seasons of the bold crime drama based on the 2010 Australian film of the same name are now available. The tale centres on teenager J. Cody (Peaky Blinders’ Finn Cole), who moves in with his freewheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town after his mother dies. 

All four seasons of the bold crime drama based on the 2010 Australian film of the same name are now available. Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman (both above) and Finn Cole star

All four seasons of the bold crime drama based on the 2010 Australian film of the same name are now available. Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman (both above) and Finn Cole star

Quickly pulled into their life of excess, he soon discovers that it’s all being funded by their criminal activities – and joining the family business comes with plenty of dangers. Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman and Shawn Hatosy also star. A fifth season is due later this year. Available now

 

Goliath

The fourth and final season of this legal drama starring the brilliant, Golden Globe-winning Billy Bob Thornton is set for release in the coming months. Before that, here’s a chance to get reacquainted with washed-up lawyer Billy McBride and his ragtag team. 

The first season begins as Billy reluctantly agrees to pursue a lawsuit against the biggest client of the massive law firm he helped create. However, he soon uncovers a vast and deadly conspiracy, pitting them all in a life-or-death trial against the ultimate Goliath. Available now

 

Live WTA Tour

Tennis has been one of the last sports to get back up and running, but the women’s tour starts officially again this week ahead of the US Open at the end of the month. The Palermo Ladies Open is played on clay and features British No 1 Johanna Konta as well as World No 2 and reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep. From Monday

FILMS 

Alice

A young wife and mother (Emilie Piponnier) discovers that her husband has spent all their money on prostitutes and escorts, and they are now in debt and about to be evicted. 

A young wife and mother (Emilie Piponnier, above right) discovers that her husband has spent all their money on prostitutes and escorts, and they are now about to be evicted

A young wife and mother (Emilie Piponnier, above right) discovers that her husband has spent all their money on prostitutes and escorts, and they are now about to be evicted

So she throws him out and, er, becomes an escort and prostitute herself. It’s all a bit Belle de Jour, but director Josephine Mackerras delivers something that eventually comes together well. Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Barbican On Demand, available now

 

Infamous

Former child star Bella Thorne is perfect for this, a Bonnie and Clyde-style crime caper for the Instagram age. Arielle doesn’t start robbing banks with bad boy Dean to become rich – she wants to become famous online.

Former child star Bella Thorne (above with Jake Manley) is perfect for this, a Bonnie and Clyde- style crime caper for the Instagram age

Former child star Bella Thorne (above with Jake Manley) is perfect for this, a Bonnie and Clyde- style crime caper for the Instagram age

Which she does, thanks to her habit of filming each robbery and dressing to kill (sometimes literally). Most platforms, available now

Matthew Bond 

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