mon 24/06/2024

TV reviews, news & interviews

Presumed Innocent, Apple TV+ review - you read the book and saw the movie...

Adam Sweeting

Scott Turow published his cunningly-wrought legal thriller in 1987, and Alan J Pakula’s powerful movie version, starring Harrison Ford, appeared in 1990. Enough time has elapsed, perhaps, for Apple TV’s revised version of Presumed Innocent for the streaming age.

Eric, Netflix review - a fairytale of New York

Adam Sweeting

New York in the 1980s is the setting for Abi Morgan’s new six-part drama, and it’s a city riddled with squalor, homelessness, racism and rampant crime. The Aids pandemic is also beginning to rear its hideous head.

theartsdesk Q&A: Matthew Modine on 'Hard...

Adam Sweeting

Maybe California-born Matthew Modine caught the movie bug courtesy of his father Mark, who used to manage drive-in theatres, but after bagging his...

Tokyo Vice, Series 2, BBC iPlayer review - an...

Adam Sweeting

It’s entirely fitting that Jake Adelstein should have a poster for All the President’s Men on the wall of his Tokyo apartment, since it was the...

The Beach Boys, Disney+ review - heroes and...

Adam Sweeting

It was – let’s see – 63 years ago today that Brian Wilson taught the band to play. Fabled for their resplendent harmonies and ecstatic hymning of the...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Eddie Marsan and the American Revolution, posh boys and East End gangsters

Adam Sweeting

Versatile actor on playing John Adams opposite Michael Douglas in Apple TV+’s ‘Franklin'

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottish 'tec hits the jackpot

Adam Sweeting

Richard Rankin makes a compelling debut as the unorthodox Edinburgh cop

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+ review - how the boy from Sayreville, NJ conquered the world

Adam Sweeting

Four-part documentary series outstays its welcome

Red Eye, ITV review - Anglo-Chinese relations tested in junk-food thriller

Adam Sweeting

Richard Armitage returns in another preposterous potboiler

Blue Lights Series 2, BBC One review - still our best cop show despite a slacker structure

Helen Hawkins

The engaging Belfast cops are less tightly focused this time around

Baby Reindeer, Netflix review - a misery memoir disturbingly presented

Helen Hawkins

Richard Gadd's double traumas are a difficult watch but ultimately inspiring

Anthracite, Netflix review - murderous mysteries in the French Alps

Adam Sweeting

Who can unravel the ghastly secrets of the town of Lévionna?

Ripley, Netflix review - Highsmith's horribly fascinating sociopath adrift in a sea of noir

Helen Hawkins

Its black and white cinematography is striking, but eventually wearying

Scoop, Netflix review - revisiting a Right Royal nightmare

Adam Sweeting

Gripping dramatisation of Newsnight's fateful Prince Andrew interview

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs the World Season 2, BBC Three review - fun, friendship and big talents

David Nice

Worthy and lovable winners (no spoilers) as the best stay the course

This Town, BBC One review - lurid melodrama in Eighties Brummieland

Adam Sweeting

Steven Knight revisits his Midlands roots, with implausible consequences

Passenger, ITV review - who are they trying to kid?

Adam Sweeting

Andrew Buchan's screenwriting debut leads us nowhere

3 Body Problem, Netflix review - life, the universe and everything (and a bit more)

Adam Sweeting

Mind-blowing adaptation of Liu Cixin's novel from the makers of 'Game of Thrones'

Manhunt, Apple TV+ review - all the President's men

Adam Sweeting

Tobias Menzies and Anthony Boyle go head to head in historical crime drama

The Gentlemen, Netflix review - Guy Ritchie's further adventures in Geezerworld

Adam Sweeting

Riotous assembly of toffs, gangsters, travellers, rogues and misfits

Oscars 2024: politics aplenty but few surprises as 'Oppenheimer' dominates

Matt Wolf

Christopher Nolan biopic wins big in a ceremony defined by a pink-clad Ryan Gosling and Donald Trump seeing red

Prisoner, BBC Four review - jailhouse rocked by drugs, violence and racism

Adam Sweeting

Sofie Gråbøl joins a powerful cast in bruising Danish drama

Drive to Survive, Season 6, Netflix review - F1 documentary overtaken by events

Adam Sweeting

Real-life dramas in the paddock were too late to make the cut

The Way, BBC One review - steeltown blues

Adam Sweeting

Michael Sheen's ode to Port Talbot stretches credulity

Kin, Series 2, BBC One review - when crime dynasties collide

Adam Sweeting

Dublin becomes a war zone in Peter McKenna's addictive drama

The New Look, AppleTV+ review - lavish period drama with more width than depth

Helen Hawkins

Ben Mendelsohn's tender performance as Dior anchors the spectacle in emotional truth

Griselda, Netflix review - Sofía Vergara excels as the Godmother of cocaine trafficking

Adam Sweeting

How Colombia's Griselda Blanco brought vice to Miami

The Traitors, Series 2, BBC One review - back to the mind-labyrinth

David Nice

Spoiler-free paean to keeping the murder mystery game fresh

Masters of the Air, Apple TV+ review - painful and poignant account of the Eighth Air Force's bombing campaign

Adam Sweeting

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's long-awaited epic of the war in European skies

Footnote: a brief history of British TV

You could almost chart the history of British TV by following the career of ITV's Coronation Street, as it has ridden 50 years of social change, seen off would-be rivals, survived accusations of racism and learned to live alongside the BBC's EastEnders. But no single programme, or even strand of programmes, can encompass the astonishing diversity and creativity of TV-UK since BBC TV was officially born in 1932.

Nostalgists lament the demise of single plays like Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home or Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, but drama series like The Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness, Our Friends in the North, State of Play, the original Upstairs Downstairs or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will surely loom larger in history's rear-view mirror, while perhaps Julian Fellowes' surprise hit, Downton Abbey, heralds a new wave of the classic British costume drama. For that matter, indestructible comic creations like George Cole's Arthur Daley in Minder, Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister, the Steptoes, Arthur Lowe and co in Dad's Army, John Cleese's Fawlty Towers or Only Fools and Horses insinuate themselves between the cracks of British life far more persuasively than the most earnest television documentary (at which Britain has become world-renowned).

British sci-fi will never out-gloss Hollywood monoliths like Battlestar Galactica, but Nigel Kneale's Quatermass stories are still influential 60 years later, and the reborn Doctor Who has been a creative coup for the BBC. British series from the Sixties like The Avengers, Patrick McGoohan's bizarre brainchild The Prisoner or The Saint (with the young Roger Moore) have bounced back as major influences on today's Hollywood, and re-echo through the BBC's enduringly successful Spooks.

Meanwhile, though British comedy depends more on maverick inspiration than the sleek industrialisation deployed by US television, that didn't stop Monty Python from becoming a global legend, or prevent Ricky Gervais being adopted as an American mascot. True, you might blame British TV (and Simon Cowell) for such monstrosities as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, but the entire planet has lapped them up. And we can console ourselves that Britain also gave the world Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, David Attenborough's epic nature series Life on Earth and The Blue Planet, as well as Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. The Arts Desk brings you overnight reviews and news of the best (and worst) of TV in Britain. Our writers include Adam Sweeting, Jasper Rees, Veronica Lee, Alexandra Coghlan, Fisun Güner, Josh Spero and Gerard Gilbert.

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