Catch up TV review: Maxxx, The Sister, Hair Power, Damilola: The Boy Next Door
James R | On 01, Nov 2020
What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
Maxxx (All 4)
From Walk Hard to Popstar, there’s something about the music industry that is particularly rife for great comedy. Maxxx is no exception. O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) is laugh-out-loud funny as the eponymous musician, a former star of a forgotten boyband who is desperate to launch a comeback. The six-part sitcom, based on a web series from All 4, follows Maxxx’s attempts to reconnect with an old record producer and – with the dire advice of his social media manager (the excellent Helen Monks) and the attempt of wise guidance from smart Oxford grad Tamzin (Pippa Bennett-Warner) – reunite his former band members is cringe-inducingly brilliant. Fagbenle manages to keep us on side despite his character’s repeated horrendous behaviour, with one funeral set piece an inspiredly horrifying climax.
The Sister (ITV Hub)
ITV got into the Halloween spirit this week with a psychological thriller that descended into horror by the backdoor. Russell Tovey is typically brilliant as Nathan, who has buried his secret memories of what happened one night at a party years ago – which led to a young woman’s death – deep down beneath his calm, stoic surface. It all comes bubbling up, though, when Bob (a wonderfully weaselly Bertie Carvel) re-enters his life with a spooky audio recording to share. Things start off nervous and ramp up the twitching tension with every episode – and while Neil “Luther” Cross may not need four hours to tell this twisting tale (based on the novel Burial), the performances alone will keep you hooked.
Hair Power: Me and My Afro (All 4)
Part of Channel 4’s Black and Proud season, this superb documentary is an fascinating exploration of Black hair and how it’s intrinsically tied to the Black experience in modern Britain. From the way that straight hair and white beauty standards are reinforced as the default by the media from a young age to the bullying that can surround Afro-textured hair in school playgrounds, it’s a reminder of how surface appearances can not only shape attitudes but also career paths and life direction. From ancestry through to contemporary activism, writer Emma Dabiri teases out honest and eye-opening accounts from a wide range of interviewees – all filmed with a vivid, dynamic energy given that this is essentially a talking-heads piece. The result is informative but also resolutely empowering and uplifting, delivering insight and an inspiring burst of self-belief in equal measure.
Damilola: The Boy Next Door (All 4)
“A no go area.” “The danger zone.” That was how media reports described Peckham in the wake of Damilola Taylor’s murder. 20 years on, DJ Yinka Bokinni, who grew up on Taylor’s estate – later demolished – explores the events, and the legacy of Damilola’s tragic death, with fresh eyes and heartfelt insight. Rapper Tinyman revisits the local library for his interview with Bokinni as part of her efforts to reconnect with former estate residents, but there’s as much a focus on living now as well as sharing and process the childhood trauma they experienced. This is a documentary about love more than reliving the killing, emphasising the community behind the news headlines that defied its dehumanising portrayal in the news. A poignant comparison to Lily Allen’s LDN, the music video for which contrasts Lily’s rose-coloured view of life to the stark reality outside of her bubble, resonates powerfully, but this is a rousing, moving portrait of a community’s worth – film-maker Cornelius Walker, who starred in the short documentary Black Sheep about his family moving out of London after Taylor’s death, telling observes how he didn’t experience racism until he moved out of that loving environment and into Essex.