Want to hunker down in front of a screen but stuck for something to watch?
Here are the films, TV shows and special streaming events on our cultural radar right now, plus some of our favourites from recent weeks that you can catch up on…
We may earn commission from some of the links in this article, but we never allow this to influence our content.
Impeachment: American Crime Story
After exploring the OJ Simpson trial and the killing of Gianni Versace, Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story juggernaut continues to roll on. The latest series tackles the fallout surrounding President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen)’s affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein, always a scene stealer). This is a Murphy project, so naturally Sarah Paulson is involved, this time playing whistleblower Linda Tripp.
BBC Two, October 19 at 9.15pm.
The Velvet Underground
Director Todd Haynes brings his usual flair to this documentary charting the iconic band’s emergence from New York’s avant-garde scene in the Sixties, using split screens and montage to echo their sometime-manager Andy Warhol’s multimedia shows. Haynes has gathered new interviews with band members and other major players, as well as never-before-seen performance footage.
In cinemas and on Apple TV+
Previewing on Sunday at the ICA before a run from Tuesday, the artist Renzo Martens’s film follows his project to jump-start the economy of a Congolese village by training its people as artists and building an arts centre. The pitfalls of playing saviour in a place ravaged by powerful multinationals rapidly become clear, but the joy as some villagers discover their own talents and ambitions is palpable.
This coming-of-age comedy, co-created by Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo and made with a majority Indigenous American cast and crew, picked up rave reviews when it debuted in the US earlier this year. It follows four Indigenous teens who, bored of their Oklahoman reservation, embark on a crime spree to fund their longed-for escape to California.
The latest series from prolific screenwriting duo Harry and Jack Williams grapples with the subject of domestic abuse and coercive control. Angela (Downton’s Joanne Froggatt) seems to have a perfect life, but it’s a facade: her husband is violent, controlling and - if private investigator Ed is to be believed - has some very dark secrets. Watch it on Sunday night on ITV.
Margaret Qualley and her real-life mum Andie MacDowell play a mother and daughter in this moving Netflix mini-series, streaming now. Alex (Qualley) escapes an abusive relationship with her toddler in tow, and starts to piece her life together again while working as a cleaner. Margot Robbie is an exec producer - always a good sign.
Scenes From a Marriage
If anyone can pull off re-making Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed 70s series about a couple navigating the highs and lows of marriage, it’s Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, who studied at Juilliard together and previously made a formidable on-screen couple in A Most Violent Year. This intense two-hander puts long-term relationships under the microscope.
Sky Atlantic and Now from October 11
The V&A Presents Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
If you can’t go down the rabbit hole yourself, this documentary film is the next best thing. Featuring commentary and interview from the curator of the V&A’s critically-acclaimed exhibition on the intrepid little explorer, and you won’t get your knickerbockers dirty. It screens
In cinemas on October 14 and 17
This gripping period piece feels uncomfortably timely. Aggi O’Casey is so good as Vivien, a young Jewish woman who ends up infiltrating a neo-Nazi movement, it’s hard to believe this is her first TV role. The story is inspired by the 62 Group, the Jewish-led organisation that fought fascists in the East End in the Sixties.
BBC One, Sundays at 9pm; all episodes available on iPlayer
Reigning queen of British telly Anna Maxwell Martin is back on our screens in this four-part thriller from writer Sophie Petzal. It’s set in a close-knit, seemingly idyllic middle class community that’s torn apart when a child goes missing, prompting old secrets and tensions to bubble to the surface. Classic domestic noir, then.
This new South Korean series sees people forced to compete in playground games for cash prizes, with the teeny catch that the losers face a gruesome death. Yes, it sounds gruelling, but no one can stop watching it - this week it was revealed that it’s on track to become Netflix’s most popular series ever.
Controlling Britney Spears
The glut of Britney documentaries continues apace. Don’t bother with Netflix’s rubbernecking Britney vs Spears, which tells us nothing new and treats her life like a true crime podcast. Instead, watch the New York Times’s follow-up to Framing Britney Spears, which firmly put the star’s conservatorship struggles on the agenda with journalistic rigour earlier this year and continues to dig deep into the story.
RuPaul Drag’s Race UK
Were you about to get your autumn jumpers out? Please put all knitwear back, out of respect. It’s time to meet the fabulous queens of the third series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, so we’ll be covering ourselves in rhinestones, feathers and fake eyelashes to mark the occasion.
Thursdays, BBC iPlayer
Oasis Knebworth 1996
25 years after their seminal, era-defining gig at Knebworth comes the release in cinemas of this documentary about this turning point in Oasis’s life and career. “This is history!” Noel shouted as he reached the stage, with typical braggadocio but also astonishing and unexpected prescience that might have surprised even him.
This endearingly British debut from Marley Morrison is about a stroppy bucket hat-wearing teenager called AJ (Nell Barlow), who has been dragged to a crappy seaside caravan park for a family holiday. She rolls her eyes at everything, until she meets lifeguard Isla. It’s a tender tale of self-discovery from a talent to watch, and Jo Hartley is brilliant as AJ’s exasperated mum.
If you loved Free Solo, you’ll adore this vertiginous documentary in cinemas today about solo climber Marc-Andre Leclerc (admired by Free Solo’s Alex Honnold), a reluctant but affable subject doing wildly dangerous and completely insane (to the rest of us) things for the sheer hell of it. He says he eats every pre-climb dinner as if it might be his last.
This powerful one-off drama from Jack Thorne is set in a Merseyside care home at the start of the pandemic, with Jodie Comer as a young carer and Stephen Graham as a resident with early onset Alzheimer’s. The subject matter is undeniably bleak, but Thorne infuses the film with moments of humour and hope, and its two stars are wonderful to watch.
Everyone’s favourite sex-positive dramedy is back for a third series, with Jemima Kirke joining the cast as Moordale’s strict new headteacher and Jason Isaacs as Mr Groff’s pompous older brother. Meanwhile Otis (Asa Butterfield) is still grappling with his enduring crush on Maeve (Emma Mackey) - as well as the fact that his sex therapist mum Jean (the brilliant Gillian Anderson) is now pregnant.
The Morning Show
The first series of Apple TV’s first foray into prestige box set drama, with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon as stars and executive producers, was met with a mixed response. Was its tackling of MeToo in the media a bit heavy-handed and pleased with itself? Maybe. But it was always highly watchable, and seems to have settled into itself for a second series, which poignantly begins on the cusp of the pandemic.
Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain
This excellent three-part documentary on Channel 4 about how the Spice Girls dominated the Nineties is a huge nostalgia buzz.But it also takes the five-woman phenomenon seriously by intelligently exploring their far-reaching cultural impact. The best bits: footage of their tearful young fans, who simply cannot cope with how much they love them.
The North Water
Filmed in the icy archipelago of Svalbard, this moody period piece stars Jack O’Connell as a disgraced surgeon who joins a whaling expedition to the Arctic. Also on board is TV’s hardest working man Stephen Graham as a dodgy captain and a shaggy Colin Farrell on frankly terrifying form as murderous harpooner Drax.
BBC One and iPlayer
Grenfell: The Untold Story
This extraordinary documentary, shown on Channel 4, is a must-watch. Featuring never-before-seen footage from local artist Constantine Gras, who spent time with the Grenfell community before the fire, it captures residents voicing concerns about their treatment. Difficult but vital viewing.
Viewers of a sensitive disposition, look away now. Babou Ceesay leads this slick, darkly funny procedural from Shameless creator Paul Abbott. He stars as mercurial pathologist Wolfe Kinteh, who channels his forensic expertise to solve a series of increasingly gory murders. The impressive ensemble cast also includes Amanda Abbington, Natalia Tena and Shaniqua Okwok.
Sky Max and Now
It may be scientifically impossible not to enjoy this uber-camp, sardonically silly reinvention of Cinderella, which seems destined to become a cult classic. Written and directed by Kay Cannon of Pitch Perfect fame, it has a mega-watt cast led by Camila Cabello, featuring Billy Porter, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver. Oh, and it features Idina Menzel singing Material Girl in front of a washing line – what’s not to love?
Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles
This so-called “cinematic concert experience” from Billie Eilish looks set to be something quite special. It mixes animation with intimate footage of Eilish performing her new album, in sequential order, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Roger Rodriguez directs.
A new group of uber-privileged teens have taken up residence on the steps of the Met in this reboot of the glossy Noughties melodrama, finally available to watch in the UK on BBC One and iPlayer. There are enough expensive-looking set pieces and knowing callbacks to old storylines to make this a giddily enjoyable nostalgia trip, despite the self-consciously Gen-Z trappings.
BBC One and iPlayer
Our Sunday evenings have been blissfully stress-free since Line of Duty came to an end earlier this year. That all changed with the arrival of Vigil on BBC One. Suranne Jones stars as a detective leading the investigation into a suspicious death on board a nuclear submarine. With plenty of twists and turns and a brilliant ensemble cast, it’s shaping up to be one of autumn’s best shows.
BBC One and BBC iPlayer
Just So You Know
Celebratory, fun and new - Amazon Prime has just launched its first original series on TikTok, inspired by its star-studded anthology show Modern Love. With an original soundtrack, it spotlights six of the platforms LGBTQ+ creators, who each write letters to the love of their lives - from drag to music to their mums.
The Wimbledon Kidnapping
This Sky documentary, which airs on August 21, tells the story of Britain’s first high-profile kidnap and ransom case. In 1969, a fifty-something housewife named Muriel McKay was abducted from her home in Wimbledon - because the kidnappers believed that she was Anna Murdoch, then wife of media mogul Rupert.
Sky Documentaries and Now
Sandra Oh puts her impeccable coming timing to good use in this sitcom, the first Netflix project from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. She plays the first woman of colour to be appointed head of the English faculty at a prestigious American university, whose new role comes under threat when a social media scandal engulfs the department.
It couldn’t be a more horribly timely week to release this documentary about volunteers rescuing Yazidi women - Sabaya, a word which indicates their use as sex slaves - from their Daesh captors in Syria. Following Mahmud and his team on their daring missions is terrifying, but just as affecting is the quiet exploration of the women trying to rebuild their shattered selves.
Nine Perfect Strangers
Nicole Kidman steals every scene with the sheer force of her weirdness as scary wellness guru Masha in this starry, soapy Amazon adaptation of the novel by Liane Moriarty (she of Big Little Lies fame). Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans and Michael Shannon are among the familiar faces playing her baffled guests, who definitely didn’t sign up for 10 days of grave digging and psychedelics.
Sîan Heder’s wonderful Massachusetts-set film follows Ruby (English actress Emilia Jones), the only hearing child in a deaf family of fishermen (played by deaf actors), who discovers a talent for singing. It’s elevated by a thoughtful script and gorgeous performances that express the deep love and frustration in a close-knit family.
Channel 4’s true crime series explores the Met Police’s controversial and highly flawed honeytrap operation, which sought to catch Rachel Nickell’s killer in the early 90s. Their target, however, was the wrong man. Niamh Algar plays the undercover operative known as ‘Lizzie James,’ tasked with getting close to the suspect. Watch it on on Fridays at 9pm or stream the whole series on All4.
WeWork or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn
It seemed such a good idea - a community where people work together in harmony with free snacks. But the combination of WeWork founder Adam Neumann’s messiah complex and the fact that it was effectively a glorified real estate company in hock to rapacious investors was a recipe for disaster. The fascination of this documentary is the fairy dust myth Neumann weaves around his company and how many people are prepared to believe it.
The White Lotus
Self-absorbed rich people make great TV (see also: Succession). This biting social satire, which has already earned rave reviews in the US, is set at a luxurious resort in Hawaii, where a bunch of wealthy holiday makers have journeyed in pursuit of rest and relaxation. Spoiler alert - there’s very little of either on offer. Catch it on Monday nights at 9pm on Sky Atlantic - or stream the whole series on Now.
Sky Atlantic and Now