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The 7 best things to watch on TV this week

Sure, the sun might be shining, but the calibre of TV this week is even brighter. From Tom Hiddleston in The Essex Serpent to BBC3's new Sally Rooney adaptation, here's what to stay in for.

PICK OF THE WEEK: Conversations With Friends, BBC3, 15 May

After the knockout success of 2020’s Normal People, safe to say we’re pretty excited about this new Sally Rooney adaptation, made by mostly the same team. The story follows two female Dublin University students who develop a connection with an older married couple, one of whom is played by Joe Alwyn (who happens to be Taylor Swift’s boyfriend — irrelevant but interesting to us nosy parkers). Expect plenty of gently melodic Irish voices, dreamy cinematography, and subtly compelling emotions across the 12 episodes.

The Jubilee Pudding — 70 Years In The Baking, BBC1, 12 May

First up: cracking pun; credit where credit’s due. For the benefit of those who haven’t themselves been trying to invent a new knockout trifle, or whatever, this year Fortnum & Mason has been holding a ‘Platinum Pudding Competition’ to find the perfect new pud for Her Majesty’s Jubilee. Tubs of double cream, sacks of sultanas, and mountains of jam have accordingly flown off supermarket shelves. The nation tightened its apron strings and sought patriotism in pastry. Now comes the final showdown: this GBBO-esque one-off program pits the five finalists against each other, with national treasure Dame Mary Berry poised to pick a winner. Which dreamy dessert will we be tucking into come the beginning of June? Tune in to find out!

Let’s Make A Love Scene, C4, 13 May

At this point, watching TV producers come up with new and increasingly wild ways to cash in on the Love Island reality cow is entertainment in itself. This one is a weird and awkward enough premise to pique our interest: singletons work with an intimacy co-ordinator to recreate iconic romcom scenes in lieu of a first date. So, you meet a stranger and then together immediately get stuck into a little light whipping, à la Fifty Shades of Grey, whilst being filmed and instructed by a film crew. Is this the secret to true love? Explains where I’m going wrong.

The Essex Serpent, Apple TV+, 13 May

There’s been a healthy buzz around this adaptation of Sarah Perry’s 2016 book for absolute yonks — and no surprise, what with it starring both Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston. Shrouded in misty atmosphere and pondering the juicy debate of science vs. faith and superstition in late 19th century England, the book was a huge bestseller. This adaptation is appropriately foggy and gothic, following widow and aspiring naturalist Cora Seaborne (Danes) as she follows reports of a “sea dragon” to rural Essex. Hiddleston plays local vicar Will Ransome, who is scornful of the existence of the creature and of his village’s accompanying hysteria. The two quickly form a close bond.

Eurovision Song Contest, BBC1, 14 May

Don your glitter and settle in for a night of entertaining, frankly ludicrous music. Given that no one’s under any illusions about the politics of the vote, Ukraine (pictured) is the favourite to win this year’s Eurovision: their folk / rap contribution has a rather effective note of yearning to it, singing about mothers and broken roads. Solemn global context aside, the bonkers outfits and deadly wit of Graham Norton guarantee a jolly night.

Tokyo Vice, Starzplay, 15 May

Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, West Side Story) stars in this enticing crime drama about a journalist investigating the yakuza (Japanese mafia) in turn-of-the-millennium Tokyo. Based on the autobiography of real-life journalist Jake Adelstein (who is also a showrunner) and directed by legendary film-maker Michael Mann, hence the nod to Miami Vice in the title, it’s a sleek look at Japan’s seedy 90s underbelly.

The Lincoln Lawyer, Netflix, 13 May

It’s good, snappy fun with this newest iteration of the familiar but still satisfying genre of snarky genius-lawyer stories. Though down-and-out in his personal life (deep cracks in his marriage, working out of the backseat of his car), LA attorney Mickey Haller gets a chance to tackle a huge, gripping murder case and skyrocket his career. That is, if he can navigate the suddenly dangerous waters that come with working it. There’s no reinventing the wheel here, but it’s a pleasing, punchy watch.

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