Clear the schedule! TV worth watching this week
Still not quite warm enough to hang around outside all evening without a sheepskin coat, is it? So, get yourself indoors, sneakily hitch up the heating and watch one of these fab shows instead.
The Great Northern Garden Build (BBC Two) – Mon 10 May
Did you know that there is a fifth RHS garden in Salford that is just receiving its finishing touches before it opens this May? I, for one, didn’t and this two-parter documentary will detail the efforts designers, engineers and gardeners went to in order to rescue the once-grand gardens of the now-demolished Worsley New Hall. At 154 acres, RHS Garden Bridgewater is one of the largest gardening projects the UK has ever witnessed and with walled gardens, two lakes, woodlands and meadows to deal with, the team really did have their work cut (dug?) out.
Motherland (BBC Two) – Mon 10 May
Series three is finally here of this much-loved sitcom detailing the machinations, trails and politics of middle-class motherhood. Julia (the always excellent Anna Maxwell-Martin) is hosting a nit-product party to attempt to boost her popularity with her fellow parents. Sharon Horgan is behind the script and Joanna Lumley guest stars.
Inside No 9 (BBC Two) – Mon 10 May
Same channel, same day, but entirely different vibe. The League of Gentlemen alum Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith are back with a new series of their dark, twisted tales, all of which take place behind a door marked No.9. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, each episode is a new story with new characters (and, more often than not, cameos from the UK’s finest actors) and it’s best described as gothic horror comedy. Absolutely delightful and deserving of its many, many awards.
Money, Explained (Netflix ) – Tues 11 May
The ‘Explained’ series is essentially a podcast for the eyes and delivered by Vox, an American media company. Having teamed up with Netflix, it delivers punchy, quick tutorials on cultural phenomena such as K-Pop or cryptocurrency. This time around, it’s the subject of money, debt and credit cards, narrated by Tiffany Haddish. Yes, it has an American bent but the lessons to be learned – saving for pensions, not falling for scams – are universal.
The Woman in the Window (Netflix) Fri 14 May
Amy Adams is leading the show on this Netflix Original psychological thriller, which is based on the book of the same name by A.J. Finn. Adams plays an agoraphobic psychologist Dr Anna Fox who befriends a woman living across the street from her, and starts to suspect something has gone terribly wrong when the woman disappears. Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore also star.
Halston (Netflix) – Fri 14 May
Also up on Netflix come Friday night is the new series on Halston, the fashion designer who defined the Studio 54, late Seventies era with his slinky dresses beloved of Bianca Jagger and Liza Minnelli. Written by Emmy-winner Ryan Murphy and starring Ewan McGregor as the man itself, this promises to be a sensationalist dive into the glamour (and rather grubby underside) of the Seventies’ Disco Set.
Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause (C4) – Wed 12 May
Davina was only 44 when she thought she was suffering from early onset dementia. As it happens, she was just peri-menopausal and her journey through the menopause process is that basis of this documentary that looks at the various taboos surrounding the transition, from sex to HRT.
The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime) – Fri 14 May
There’s been a lot of hype around this – not least because it’s based on the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead so expectations are high. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) is helming this 10-part historical drama series that follows the story of Cora, an runaway slave who attempts to grasp liberty using The Underground Railroad – a secret network of escape routes and safe houses that, by 1850, is believed to have delivered over 100,000 slaves to freedom.
The Secrets We Keep (Sky Cinema) – Fri 14 May
Noomi Rapace – who you’ll know from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – is leading up this thriller playing a Romanian refugee trying to build a life for her family in post-World War II America. She comes across Joel Kinnaman – who she believes to be a German SS soldier from her past – and kidnaps him, hoping to make him confess his crimes. Tense situations follow.
Domina (Sky Atlantic) – Fri 14 May
Glossy, period drama alert! And this time, from the point of view of the era’s women – which makes a refreshing change, don’t you think? Italian actress Kasia Smutniak plays Livia Drusilla, who navigated dangerous times and humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful women in the Roman Empire. Isabella Rossellini and Liam Cunningham also star and Simon Burke (writer of Fortitude) has delivered both the concept and script for all eight episodes.