Pass the remote! 7 things to watch this week
Whack the kettle on and pop that corn: it's TV time! Fresh and hot this week are the new acclaimed series of Top Boy, Anne Hathaway in a tale of corporate hubris, Comic Relief, and more besides.
PICK OF THE WEEK: Top Boy, Netflix, 18 March
Top Boy started life as a quietly applauded show on Channel 4 back in 2011, an unflinching look at life in east London just after the riots. It was then cancelled. But people kept watching it, and its enduring fanbase continued to rise until Drake — yes, one of the biggest music stars on the planet, Drake — personally lobbied Netflix to pick it up again, stepping in as executive producer. Series three kicked off in 2019, and series four drops this Friday. It is firmly, fiercely critically acclaimed, and a masterful piece of drama. The plot centres on an engaging group of gangsters making their living in Hackney.
Holding, ITV, 14 March
Unsurprisingly, given it’s been adapted from a novel by wit-master Graham Norton, this four-part crime story is rippled through with humour. What begins as a gentle small-town comedy soon turns into a tight whodunnit, charmingly balancing bathos with mystery. It also boats some of Ireland’s greats: Father Ted’s Pauline McLynn, Derry Girls’ Siobhán McSweeney, and the Oscar-winning Brenda Fricker.
Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives., Netflix, 16 March
Netflix squeezes another crazy, gratuitously gripping documentary out of a true crime podcast, complete with riotously dramatic editing. Here it’s the story of Sarma Melngailis, a celebrated vegan restaurateur who was taken in by fraudster Anthony Strangis after he, among other things, promised to make her dog immortal. You-won’t-believe-it content at its best.
WeCrashed, Apple TV, 18 March
Not enough true podcast adaptations for you? Here’s a flashy serialised take, starring Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto. Similar to last week’s The Dropout, this chronicles the bewitching rise and catastrophic fall of a company: this time the bonkers firm WeWork that attempted to reinvent the workspace (with no real source of profit). Hathaway and Leto play the central couple Adam and Rebekah Neumann with aplomb: respectively charismatic yet shaky, and dangerously resentful.
Windfall, Netflix, 18 March
The buzzword about this latest Netflix thriller is ‘Hitchcockian’, so no surprise it doesn’t skimp on the suspense. The premise sees a man break into a tech billionaire’s holiday home, only for things to escalate into an unplanned hostage situation when the billionaire and his wife arrive home. It’s an intriguing mix of a cast: Jesse Plemons (Oscar-nominated for The Power of the Dog), Lily Collins (Emily in Paris), and Jason Segel stepping out of his more familiar comedy roles (How I Met Your Mother). A thriller that’s minimalistic, character-driven, and deliciously tense.
Life & Beth, Hulu, 18 March
Comedian Amy Schumer takes on a more grown-up story with this sweet, slightly mis-matched series about a woman having a midlife crisis despite her on-paper perfect life. Crippled with ennui about an attractive but unpleasant fiancé and an unfulfilling but flashy job selling wine, she heads on a voyage of personal discovery. This puts her in the path of a quiet farmer played by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s Michael Cera (who, at 33, seems to have finally gone through puberty, many congratulations to him). It all flickers a little jarringly between comedy and emotional weight, but the takeaway effect is really quite charming.
Comic Relief, BBC1, 18 March
That’s right, folks, time to jam a brightly-coloured stress ball onto your face again: it’s Red Nose Day, that biennial staple of the philanthropic TV world. Settle in for a telethon of crossovers, cameos, and pulled heart-strings led by Lenny Henry, David Tennant, Alesha Dixon, Paddy McGuinness and Zoë Ball. Highlights will include a French and Saunders version of The Repair Shop, and adult bedtime stories from Sue Perkins.