The 11 very best things on TV this week
It's a corker of a telly week! From the dry, darkly funny This is Going to Hurt to a true story of the woman that conned New York high society, here's what not to miss.
PICK OF THE WEEK: This is Going to Hurt, BBC1, 8 Feb
The entirely charming Ben Wishaw (fanciable as John Keats in Bright Star, lovable as the voice of Paddington, iconic as the Q to Daniel Craig’s Bond) steps into bloodied scrubs for this adaptation of Adam Kay’s much-acclaimed, wry memoir of being a junior doctor. Dry, detailed, unflinching — entirely funny — it’s a heady insight into the flawed, exhausting ordeal of working for the NHS. Published in 2017 and drawn from Kay’s diaries from 2004-2010, the series takes on an even greater weight in today’s pandemic world. But don’t expect depressing grit: the early dubbing of obstetrics as “Brats ‘n’ Twats” nicely sets the tone.
Chloe, BBC1, 6 Feb
Created, written and directed by Sex Education‘s Alice Seabright and starring The Crown‘s Princess Anne (aka Erin Doherty), this whip-smart sort-of-murder-mystery grips from the off. We follow Becky (Doherty), a twenty-something living with her dementia-suffering mother, who cons her way into the circle of a girl (the eponymous Chloe), who has just committed suicide, and who Becky had been entirely obsessed with. Not an easily pigeonholed premise, it has shades of Killing Eve as well as Netflix’s Inventing Anna, listed below.
No Return, ITV, 7 Feb
It surely can’t be long before Sheridan Smith has undergone every feasible hardship in the name of gritty British drama. She is of course very good at it: full-dimensional and unrelenting. In this latest iteration, Smith seeks justice for her teenage son, accused of a late-night offence by the Turkish government, in possibly the worst family holiday ever. Things get complicated when it seems her son has a lot to hide.
Boobs, C4, 7 Feb
You’ve got to appreciate a nice, pithy title. Boobs! Not to be dismissed, this Channel 4 documentary warmly brings women of all shapes and sizes together to reclaim a body part that’s typically judged, sexualised, critiqued. If that all sounds dangerously worthy, you’ll be pleased to know that Boobs manages to stay witty and uplifting without feeling hammy.
Starstruck, BBC1, 8 Feb
This charming, subverted rom-com about a chaotic millennial and a famous actor — like a genderbend Notting Hill, but better — returns for a second series. If you missed the first iteration of this, which so brightened spring 2021, it’s well-worth a revisit on iPlayer. Series 2 takes up where we left off: on a bus, with Jessie having quietly missed her stop, choosing to stay sitting next to Tom and not catch a flight home. Can these two crazy kids get over their messy insecurities to make it work?
Brit Awards, ITV, 8 Feb
Mo Gilligan hosts an evening of pop celebration, with performances from Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, Liam Gallagher, and more. This year will be the first to scrap male / female divided awards, in what seems likely to prove a trend.
Mega Mansion Hunters, C4, 9 Feb
For fans of Selling Sunset and the outer-space-egos of The Apprentice, this new Channel 4 series follows a luxury estate agent and his commission-hustling team. Coming in three parts, it’s full of big numbers, big pressure, and big personalities.
Magpie Murders, Britbox, 10 Feb
Britbox is making a convincing claim for significance with this brilliant new series. Adapted from Anthony Horowitz’s 2016 novel that offers a murder mystery within a murder mystery, it’s a devilishly fun six-parter whodunnit about a murdered crime writer, and the missing final chapter of his book. Familiar faces include Lesley Manville (The Crown, Harlots), Daniel Mays (Line of Duty) and Pippa Haywood (Bodyguard, Bridgerton).
The Fear Index, Sky Atlantic and NOW TV, 10 Feb
Adapted from a thriller by Robert Harris (who also wrote the recently-adapted Munich and An Officer and a Spy), this series comes in four parts and follows a computer scientist who has invented an AI that will help him make a killing in stocks. Things get complicated when he begins to suspect that someone is framing him, and people begin to question his sanity. Instantly intriguing, well-plotted stuff.
Inventing Anna, Netflix, 11 Feb
From the makers of Scandal and Bridgerton, this one’s set to be your next unstoppable binge. It’s based on the real life (and utterly bonkers) story of Anna Sorokin, who was arrested in 2017 for posing as a German heiress in New York high society. Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, weaves an enticing series out of the story (entirely true “except for all of the parts that are totally made up”), with Ozark‘s Julia Garner playing the mysterious, arrogant, manipulative Anna.
Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America, BBC2, 13 Feb
Everyone’s favourite documentary filmmaker is back with a piercing look at the impact of the internet on extremely controversial corners of American society. If you enjoyed Radio 4’s excellent recent series The Coming Storm on the QAnon conspiracy theory, this looks similarly at the recent surge in extreme opinions in the States: misogyny, anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia, fanned by social media flames.