We review the best TV shows and films currently available on BBC iPlayer. (Click here to skip to our reviews of the best movies on BBC iPlayer.)
For BBC Three recommendations, click here.
Pick of the Week: The Prosecutors
The only downside to the ongoing wave of true crime documentaries is that they often require bingeing several episodes to get through a case. BBC Two’s The Prosecutors is the perfect solution, providing quick, hour-long bursts of real life crime and punishment. Following the Crown Prosecution Service in their work, the bonus is that the legal series also shines a light on urgent issues that are affecting society today – such as, in this episode, the shocking network of modern slavery staffing nail bars across the UK’s high streets. The battle to bring this ring down is as important as it is satisfying to see in action.
Available until: 10th September 2018
Performance Live: Taxi Tales
After the superb Me, My Mouth and I, BBC Two’s Performance Live returns for another excellent short film, which follows a series of cabs through the heart of Middlesborough. Originally a play performed in its home town, director Ishy Din (former taxi driver, now playwright) simultaneously captures and acts out the anthology of three perspectives on Britain – a young British-Pakistani driver who is an entrepreneur, a local man who lost his job in construction, and a veteran who’s been doing the rounds for years. The result quietly blends TV and stage in an innovative way, but what really wows is the sensitive state-of-the-nation commentary that emerges about a post-industrial northern town. It finds resonance in the everyday connective tissue of transport, and marks Ishy Din out as a real talent to watch.
Available until: 9th September 2018
Sylvia Plath: Life Inside the Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath is tragically best known for The Bell Jar, her semi-autobiographical novel that was published just before her suicide. This respective, moving documentary uses that narrative, interwoven with interviews with her daughter, and a number of letters and pictures, to build a portrait of an artist whose life deserves to be as well known as her death.
Available until: 10th September 2018
Travels in Trumpland with Ed Balls
We live in a time when people’s willingness to reach across extreme divides and try to empathise with others is at a critical low. Who better to bridge that gap than Ed Balls, the man who unites Twitter for 24 hours every year just by accidentally tweeting his own name? That’s the logic behind BBC Two’s latest travelogue, and so we join Balls as he journeys across America’s Deep South, talking to Donald Trump voters to understand the world they live in, which seems so isolated from the rest of the country. What he unearths is a strong sense of pride, of their nation and their community, and even the label “Redneck”. Finding both Trump supporters and skeptics on his travails, the views they espouse are perhaps nothing surprising, but the most interesting segment sees Balls tap into the similarity between pro wrestling and Trump. Balls argues the President and reality TV veteran uses similar techniques to paint others as villains, all to frame a cartoonishly simple narrative that easily wins support. And then he demonstrates exactly that by jumping into the ring as “The British Bruiser” and whipping up an atmosphere of hostility and patriotism. Astute political commentary or an excuse to see Strictly Come Dancing favourite Ed Balls in a leotard? The two extremes don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Available until: 31st August (Episode 1)
Stewart Lee: Content Provider
“I trust you’ve all done the reading,” Stewart Lee says to his audience at the start of his Content Provider tour. The reading, it turns out, refers to Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, a painting that depicts a man standing in the Saxony mountains looking out at a stormy horizon and wondering what lies ahead in the unknown future. It’s a romanticised image that he hitches, gleefully, to Brexit – and, in an inspired move, doesn’t spend his show dissecting the political divides riven across the country, but railing against the whole thing because the rapidly shifting nature of society has made his stand-up comedy material impossible to make topical.
Lee is a master of division, usually ones that he creates himself, within his audiences, as he pretends that some aren’t smart enough to grasp his self-proclaimed wit and intellect. He’s rarely been more antagonistic towards his listeners – “Who knows more about comedy, me or you?” is one of his many knowingly abrasive remarks – but this set sees him soar to new heights, as, for the first time, he also starts mocking his own self-declared fans. Not even the people who claim to like Stewart Lee are spared his self-satisfied disdain. “I’m growing tired of the character of Stewart Lee,” he reflects at one point, as his side-splitting schtick steps up one more rung up the meta-ladder.
That ladder, in the past, has been limited to 30-minute focused bursts, as Lee has structured his show around his BBC filmed Comedy Vehicle series. With that now axed, he comes up with his most ambitious, accomplished and altogether rounded special to date: a lengthy epic that tackles 1970s Turkish funk, the demise of attention spans and hard-won achievements in an age of selfies and instant gratification, and the practical challenges of selling your own DVDs online at 10p profit per disc. The whole thing is conducted upon a mountain of bargain basement DVDs from other comedians’ live shows, positioning himself as a prophet surveying the bleak world to come. It’s a masterclass in atypical, untopical, scathingly relevant comedy, the kind of precisely calibrated performance art that is only topped by Hannah Gadsby. A two-hour must-see, whether you’ve done the reading or not.
Available until: 28th August 2018
Reginald D Hunter’s Songs of the Border
Reginald D Hunter is one of the most laidback, likeable comics on TV. Here, he turns that affable persona to music history in a thoughtful documentary looking back at America’s past. It’s a combination that might sound all too familiar for living room viewing, but there’s a topical poignancy to his road trip, as he travels along the US-Mexico border to explore how music and culture has bled across the wall between the two frontiers. His interviews with those he meets on both sides of the line (one that’s political, not physical) are insightful and interesting, from a mariachi singer turned rapper to one artist who plays the iron fence separating the countries as an instrument in itself. It’s all intercut with musical performances from Lyle Lovett, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Frontera Bugalu and more, with each set lyrically shot and beautifully performed.
Available until: 27th August 2018
Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema
Veteran of the BBC’s flagship film show, Wittertainment, Mark Kermode is a critic who needs little introduction, from his bequiffed head and large hands to even larger opinions and even more pointed rants. Here, he presents a guide to cinema one genre at a time, kicking off with the romantic comedy. From When Harry Met Sally to The Shape of Water, his insight is only rivalled by his enthusiasm, not only drawing the influences on Guillermo del Toro’s fishy fling through back to classic fantasy and horror, but also engaging happily with Richard Curtis’ modern version of the genre – by way of the effervescent writing of Nora Ephron. Structure, stereotypes and their subtle subversions are all scrutinised with detail without becoming dry, and the clips are neatly edited together to provide an enjoyable highlights reel over the pacy 60 minutes. The result is film criticism as it should be: accessible, informative and entertaining. There’s even a reference to Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.
Available until: 17th August 2018 (Episode 1)
Me, My Mouth and I
This astonishing 60-minute film explores neuro-diversity in the arts through the work of Samuel Beckett – specifically from the perspective of performer Jess Thom, whose Tourette’s Syndrome gives her a unique interpretation of the one-act play Not I, which sees a disembodied mouth run wild with an intimidating, uncontrollable, repetitive slew of instructions, insults and observations. Using that prism to ask us to reconsider inclusivity and representation of disability in the arts, the result is hilarious, moving and inspiring to watch, thanks to Jess Thom’s charismatic screen presence and irrepressible talent – and there’s a damn good bit of Beckett in the middle too.
Available until: 20th August 2018
Age Before Beauty
After Cutting It and Poldark, Debbie Horsfield returns to BBC One for another drama, this time about a family salon in Manchester, staffed by sassy family members torn between their failing finances and their equally failing affections for each other. It’s hardly new territory for Horsfield or for BBC One, and things take a decidedly soapy turn in the opening episode, as the salon owner (Kelly Harrison’s deliciously nasty Leanne) finds herself usurped by her sister, Bel (Polly Walker), whom Leanne’s husband, Teddy (Robson Green, of course), has long had a thing for. Throw in an affair for Bel’s husband, Wes (James Murray), and you have the kind of untaxing series that promises just enough complexity to hook you in. Original? No. But the cast clearly enjoying themselves give these tried and tested plot points a likeable enough facelift.
Available until: 30th August (Episode 1)
The Five Billion Pound Super Sewer
London wasn’t built to house this many people – and with the population growing, the amount of waste the city produces is overflowing, literally. Which is why, deep underneath the capital’s streets, a gargantuan feat of engineering is underway: a new sewer network to help the Victorian tunnels currently funnelling rubbish and faeces away into the Thames. 20 miles long, 7 metres wide, the new tunnel will follow the line of the Thames and eventually hook up to a new treatment facility. But every pump and watertight shaft has to be precisely calibrated to within a millimetre, or we’ll end up with millions of tonnes of waste stuck underground. The word “pressure” has never been more apt. This eye-opening documentary charts the progress of the workers making this new tunnel a reality, as the super-sewer upgrade is designed, dug and stuck together by dedicated engineers racing to build it both on time and on budget, let alone suitable to meet capacity. Watching the first step complete, as international colleagues witness their labour pay off, is a genuine relief – seeing raw sewage come up out of the ground has never been so satisfying.
Available until: 20th August 2018 (Episode 1)
Nadiya’s Family Favourites
If there were ever any doubt that Nadiya Hussain was a natural TV presenter, this series erases it instantly, as he she returns to show us how to create dishes that fit any kind of family day. The focus on home favourites far all ages makes for a welcome change to the more extravagant end of some TV cuisine, while the array of flavours and spices makes for an intriguing and mouth-watering treat. It’s Nadiya herself, though, that’s the magical ingredient: effortless natural and enthusiastically engaging, she’s a natural in precisely that sense of the word, never cutting away as she struggles to flip over a bowl or talk to her family. We’d hang out in her kitchen all day, if we could.
Available until: 20th August 2018 (Episode 1)
Picnic at Hanging Rock
BBC Two was quick to snap up this beautful six-part adaptation of the classic Australian novel. Originally published in 1967, it follows the disappearance of three adolescent girls and their governess in the Australian bush after a sunny Valentine’s Day picnic in 1900. Natalie Dormer stars as the enigmatic Headmistress of Appleyard College, as the impact of the disappearance spreads through the students and staff – theories start to circulate, paranoia sets in and long-held secrets surface. Click here to read our full spoiler-free review.
Available until: 14th September 2018
Reporting Trump’s First Year: The Fourth Estate
“It’s very important to be first. But it’s important to be right.” That’s the rare voice of reason in the modern media, a world of click-baiting, traffic-churning headlines that desperately battle for readers’ attention. In the last 18 months, though, that world has been thrown into even further disarray, thanks to the appointment of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Waging war against objective reporting and any truth that disagrees with his own agenda, the need for facts and transparency has never been greater. It’s in that spirit that The New York Times opened its doors for the first year of Trump’s White House reign, and documentarian Liz Garbus (Netflix’s What Happened to Nina Simone?) seizes the opportunity to chart the inner workings of one of the most prolific American news outlets. They swiftly realise that viewing Trump’s administration through the lens of a traditional presidency is impossible, and as an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election unfolds, the lives of investigative journalists (not only professional, but personal too) are swallowed by the endless cycle of revelations, tweets and distractions. Scoops are important, but being correct is too, and the result is a portrait of a paper’s hard graft against declining revenues, the rise of social media and a potential threat to democracy itself. The opening theme from Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor sets the tone for a nation out of tune with itself, a discord that is cut through by the slick, sharp presentation of hated figures doing important public work. Woodward and Bernstein given a raw, immediate update, this is gripping, vital documentary filmmaking.
Available until: 13th August 2018 (Episode 3)
Box Set: Pride and Prejudice
Oh, Mr. Darcy! Any chance to rewatch the BBC’s definitive take on Jane Austen’s novel, starring Colin Firth as you know who, is never to be missed.
Available until: 25th July 2019
Box Set: War and Peace
Andrew Davies begins the almost Herculean task of abridging Tolstoy’s literary classic into six hours of television with an impressively zippy first opening, which introduces us to 19th century Russia, as the country is drawn into war with France – and young idealist (and illegitimate son) Pierre Bezukhov finds himself the unexpected heir to his father’s wealth. Paul Dano is excellent as the hot-headed male, a nervy counterpart to the suave Prince Andrei, who wants to use the war to escape his wife. and a potential partner for the equally earnest Natasha Rostova (Lily James). The English-speaking cast and period costumes feel more like Jane Austen than Russia, but the successful juggling of subplots in itself is an achievement.
Available until: 11th January 2019
Box Set: Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle: Season 1 to 4
Stewart Lee is the death of stand-up comedy. His smug tirades and educated, middle-class opinions ruin it for everyone. For those who don’t like his intellectual concerns and patronising tone, he’s impossible to tolerate. For those who do, he makes it impossible to tolerate any other comedian. That’s the brilliance of Stewart Lee’s stand-up: either way, everyone ends up miserable.
Available until: 12th January 2019
The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan
Australia? Dara Ó Briain did a show there. Vietnam? Jack Whitehall went there with his dad. Cuba? Michael Palin. Brazil? Michael Palin. That’s Romesh Ranganathan going through the options for his new BBC travel series, which dispatches him to the world’s unlikeliest places for a holiday. Comedian travelogues are far from original, but Romesh Ranganathan has good form in the genre, with his travel series for BBC Three (Asian Provocateur) bringing a highly personal angle to a homecoming journey – it even brought his mum along in Season 2, setting a trend for comics bringing parents on travel shows with them. Fortunately, this new show finds another novel hook for Romesh’s travels, taking him to destinations that are deemed hostile or dangerous. He kicks off with a trip to Haiti to see if his preconceptions about the voodoo-loving culture is correct. He spends a week in Port au Prince, guided by journalist Jeremy Dupin, and there’s much mileage to be had in the unseen sights the programme unearths, from cathedrals destroyed by the earthquake to slums and a rapping session with a local musician – and, yes, a voodoo ceremony. Romesh is characteristically frank and entertainingly sceptical. “If it’s shit, I’ll tell you it’s shit,” he promises. The result is a likeable showcase for a charming TV presenter. “Is your mum coming?” his cameraman asks him at the start. “No,” comes the amusingly blunt reply. “Why would my mum be coming? Is your mum coming?”
Available until: 4th August (Episode 1)
After the smash hit success of Keeping Faith, it’s a pleasure to BBC One Wales mystery Hidden get a proper airing on BBC Four in its Saturday night subtitled slot. That means you’ve got a psychological thriller stacking up on BBC iPlayer that’s just begging to binge-watched, and it doesn’t disappoint. The eight-part thriller follows DI Cadi John and DS Owen Vaughan, as they investigate the discovery of a body in Snowdonia National Park – the body of a woman missing since 2011. The discovery opens old wounds in the community, not to mention family tensions and anger at police incompetence. It looks early on like we’ve already got a clear handle on who’s responsible, but with classy visuals and a solid cast teasing some intriguing characters studies yet to unfold, there promises to more than enough meat on these bones to chew over. The occasional Welsh subtitles are a cool bonus.
Available until: 4th August (Episode 1)
Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain and Ireland
Sheffield. Home of Britain’s once towering steel industry and smash hit film The Full Monty. But in the 1980s, it was also home to pioneering electronic music, as the UK saw the music world shift dramatically into the New Romantics, from the ska punk of Madness to the innovative pop of Spandau Ballet. This documentary is a fantastic guide to the revolution that was taking place, with on-the-ground insight from Gary Kemp, Marco Pirroni from Adam and the Ants and producer Trevor Horn. Presented with knowledge and evident passion by icons of the decade Midge Ure and Kim Appleby, the result is an accessible, informative ride through music history – and the clips and videos aren’t bad, either.
Available until: 7th August (Episode 1)
Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing
The Trip, but with fishing instead of food. That’s the premise behind this charmingly low-key chat between Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer, who go fishing in Norfolk for little reason other than catch some tench and shoot the breeze about health, childhood and bad Robert De Niro impressions. It’s not shockingly revelatory or a gripping gossip fest – and that’s exactly the point.
Available until: 24th July 2019 (Episode 1)
Poldark: Season 4
It’s all change as we head back to Cornwall for Season 4 of BBC One’s Poldark. The year is 1796 and Ross is being lined up for a political journey that will take him to the nation’s capital – unless, of course, he’s beaten to it by Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse), the lieutenant in love with Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) who continues to keep her heart torn. Nonetheless, the Poldarks try to rebuild their marriage, while George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) enjoys stronger power and even a closer bond with long-suffering wife Elizabeth (Heida Reed). Politics, affairs and gusty winds blowing across fields? In the words of Dead Ringers, Poldark is essentially a sexy version of The Archers. But with Aidan Turner on magnetic, brooding form as our hero, what’s not to like? Four seasons in and the show knows exactly what it’s doing, opening on a shot of Turner wading in topless from the ocean. Some things never change, after all.
Available until: 28th August 2018
Our Girl: Nigeria Tour
Michelle Keegan is back as Georgie, everyone’s favourite plucky army medic who throws herself into her work training Nigerian forces, only to find herself pitched headlong into danger. Fighting against Boko Haram is the new element of tension in her latest tour, but it’s the focus on grief and trauma that marks this new season out, as the BBC military drama doesn’t shy away from exploring the emotional conflict that faces troops away from the frontline. With its soldier banter and occasionally broad characterisations, it would be easy to turn one’s nose up at Our Girl, but with Love Island on our screens, the reminder that women can have professions that have historically been associated with men is something worth celebrating, not least because of Keegan’s superbly charismatic central performance.
Available until: 23rd January 2019
Box Set: Our Girl: Season 1 to 3
One of the BBC’s best dramas of recent years has been something different to the norm, following Molly, a young army recruit who has to find her feet in a hostile territory – not to mention a military force full of men. Starring Lacey Turner in Season 1, it was a thrilling, charming drama that combined the tension of Afghanistan conflict with a talented cast (including Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon). The later seasons replaced Lacey with the excellent Michelle Keegan, playing Lance Corporal George Lane, with ben Aldridge reprising his role as the good-hearted but haughty Captain James. The result was no less stirring, and found fresh suspense and topical threats in a Nepal Tour, not to mention a moving conclusion. Ahead of Season 4, which takes the group to Nigeria, the first three runs are back on BBC iPlayer. Don’t miss them.
Available until: 17th November 2018
This charming collection of comedy shorts balance sharp observations and witty writing with infectious imagination. Read our full review
Available for over a year
Britain’s Best Home Cook
The BBC’s new answer to Bake Off takes a different tack, as it steers away from baking to food overall – and pits 10 of the nation’s best home cooks against each other. There’s a hint of Fame Academy in there (they all live in the same house), as well as GBBO (each one gets a workstation in a gigantic kitchen), and the blend works surprisingly well – we get the suspense of seeing each one race to come up with a recipe (Episode 1: ideal burgers), from the cool-headed Tobi to the scientifically-minded Pippa. In a nice touch, the winner gets to pick a key ingredient for the second challenge, before the bottom chefs from the week try to outdo each other to survive until next episode. With the rest of the gang cheering on from the sidelines, the result whips up the cooking show formula with a nice balance of group flavours, while queen judge Mary Berry is in her element, as she can comment on something other than soggy bottoms.
Available until: 17th December 2018 (Episode 1)
It’s been five decades since Kenneth Clark’s 1960s series Civilisation was first broadcast – you can catch up with the whole thing from the archives on BBC iPlayer. Now, BBC Two is rebooting the programme, and the extra ‘s’ on the end of the title is hugely promising stuff. From its opening hour, Simon Schama is thinking as big as it gets, trying to pin down the rise of creativity across the globe, from the first signs of scratches on pots for decorative purposes to paint swilled in mouths and blown out against cave walls. It may not have the fantastic beasts of Blue Planet II, but this is stunning stuff, with visuals that match the epic scope of what the Beeb is attempting to achieve. Whether there’s too much packed into an hour or not, the good news is that the show is available on BBC iPlayer for over a year for everyone to catch up with.
Available on BBC iPlayer
“I have written and directed a film about veganism,” says Simon Amstell. “I’m sorry.” If you laughed at that, you’ll love this. Set in 2067, when the human race has apparently converted entirely to veganism – an alternate universe to rival The Man in the High Castle and SS-GB for unnerving chills – Amstell’s mockumentary looks back at the years when people slowly began to realise the horror of consuming meat, eggs and other produce sourced or derived from animals. The film purports to explore the strange, alien idea that humans and animals aren’t equal, aiming to break the taboo surrounding Britain’s carnivorous past. It’s a neat way to tackle an oft-derided concept, by deliberately presenting what’s considered normal as the absurd – but Amstell, crucially, doesn’t lose sight of the ridiculousness of his own concept. The result is simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and unsettling – and, most of unsettling of all, is the knowledge that, deep down, you may even feel yourself being won over by Amstell’s viewpoint. A thought-provoking, rib-tickling, stomach-churning satire. Read our full review.
Available until: March 2019
As BBC iPlayer’s Original Drama Shorts return for another season, one of 2014’s best, My Jihad, returns as a miniseries of three 15-minute films. The first introduced us to Fahmida (Anjli Mohindra) and Nazir (Hamza Jeetooa), two single Muslims who crossed paths at an unsuccessful speed-dating night. Picking up events one month later, this is a universal exploration of love in modern Britain that packs in twice as much warmth and wit as most 30-minute shows do in a whole season. (Read our full review.)
Available until: June 2020
Original Drama Shorts
BBC iPlayer continues to prove a platform for new talent with its latest bunch of shorts. From a moving demonstration of isolation and connection in an online age to a darkly funny – and unpredictable – story of female love and family loyalty, this is an impressively versatile collection of stories that are more than worth spending time with. (Read our full review.)
Available until: June 2020
Love & Friendship
“Not just the tale of a widow riding out the rumours of her romantic liaisons, while trying to find a suitor for her young daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark), Love and Friendship is also a non-stop string of witty insults and catty shots – and Kate Beckinsale is beautifully brilliant at firing them out… This comedy is Jane Austen like you’ve never seen her before.”
Available until: 26th August 2018
Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds are on fine form in this bittersweet, unpredictable drama about the unglamorous side of gambling.
Available until: 13th August 2018
My Brother the Devil
One of Britain’s best dramas of recent years, Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil tells the tale of two brothers both looking for a change in life direction in Hackney.
Available until: 18th August
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Idris Elba and Naomie Harris star in a biopic based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, chronicling his journey from a rural village to one of the great leaders of the modern age.
Available until: 21st August 2018
A Little Chaos
Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman star in this light period drama about a woman who does some gardening for King Louis XIV.
Available until: 22nd August 2018
Shakespeare in LOLs. This daft and delightful semi-fictional biography of William Shakespeare from the Horrible Histories team is Monty Python for kids.
Available until: 23rd August 2018
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
With the franchise reboot out now in cinemas, go back to the original two video game adaptations, starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous adventurer.
Available until: 30th August 2018
Carey Mulligan stole a nation’s heart with her superb performance in this coming-of-age drama. which sees young Oxbridge candidate Jenny whisked away into a world of glamorous possibilities by the Peter Sarsgaard’s older man, David. Watch out for a scene-stealing turn by Rosamund Pike.
Available until: 30th August
Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt star in this sombre time-travel thriller in which a convict from 2035 is sent back in time to find the cause of a virus which has wiped out most of the planet’s population.
Available until: 31st August
Jake Gyllenhaal is superb in this gripping drama about a bottom-feeding photographer who prowls the streets at night, listening police radios for crimes he can film and sell to news stations.
Available until: 4th September
Florence Foster Jenkins
Meryl Streep is on splendid form in this comedy based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a 1920s New York socialite whose attempts to make it on stage resulted in her being dubbed the worst singer in the world. Hugh Grant is wonderful as the English husband encouraging her.
Available until: 4th September
Drama about the life of the American poet Sylvia Plath (Gwyneth Paltrow), focusing on her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig) and her tragic early death.
Available until: 19th September
Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry Potter far behind as FBI Agent Nate Foster, who goes undercover with white supremacists on the trail of stolen explosives. The result is a subtle, brooding venture into hate.
Available until: 29th September 2018
The Rack Pack
BBC iPlayer’s first scripted original drama follows the rise of snooker in the 1980s, as a young Steve Davis faces a heated rivalry with Alex “Hurricane” Higgins. Snooker may not be the most exciting or mainstream sport, but the film understands that it’s about people as much as potting – and Will Merrick as Davis and Luke Treadaway as Higgins are uncannily good, one hilariously awkward and the other tragically self-destructive. Together with business guru Barry Hearn (a brilliant Kevin Bishop) crafting a new, professional era for the sport, The Rack Pack is a moving tribute to a bygone sporting age and a legend who simply wouldn’t exist today. The result is something everyone should go snooker loopy over, whether they’re fans of the sport or not. Read our full review.
Photo: BBC / Zeppotron / Keiron McCarron
Adam Curtis’ latest documentary is perfectly at home on BBC iPlayer, freed from broadcasting constraints to ramble through the last three decades of global history to try and work out how we got to today’s world of Donald Trump and Brexit. The result is typically simplified and willfully obtuse, but there are thought-provoking flashes of inspiration amid the experimental mash-up of polemic and pop culture. Clocking in at almost three hours, no one else is making documentaries like this, and that’s something to be celebrated.
Available until: October 2021
BBC iPlayer’s second original feature is the follow-up to teen documentary Beyond Clueless. Young director Charlie Lyne and the Beeb’s streaming platform prove a scarily perfect match, the lack of constraints giving him the chance to fully embrace the experimental nature of his film essay. The documentary stitches together clips from existing horror movies to explore how and why they scare us, but instead of an explanatory voice-over critiquing and giving context, we’re given a whispered narration from an anonymous woman who is working through her own fears. Contrasting cuts and eerie echoes arise during the hypnotic 80-minute montage, quietly raising questions while offering a fresh insight into films that have, in some cases, become all too familiar. As interesting as it is creepy. (Read our full review.)
Available until: October 2020