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Our film and TV recommendations: What to watch, from Drag Race UK to Sweetheart

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 4 days ago Nancy Durrant,Katie Rosseinsky,Charlotte O'Sullivan and Jessie Thompson

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.

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. A new episode arrives on BBC iPlayer weekly.

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.

Sweetheart

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.

The Alpinist

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.

Help

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. Stream it on All4.

Sex Education

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. All episodes arrive on Netflix today.

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.

Apple TV+

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.

All4

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

a group of people standing in front of a tree posing for the camera: The documentary features never-before-seen footage (Channel 4) © Provided by Evening Standard The documentary features never-before-seen footage (Channel 4)

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.

All4

Wolfe

Babou Ceesay wearing a hat: Babou Ceesay stars in Wolfe (Sky) © Provided by Evening Standard Babou Ceesay stars in Wolfe (Sky)

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

Cinderella

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?

Amazon Prime

Misha and the Wolves

When Misha Defonseca wrote a memoir about fleeing the Nazis as a seven-year-old girl and being raised by wolves, the story was so good that even Oprah’s Book Club were keen. Except... it turned out not to be true. The whole saga is now the subject of a gripping documentary directed by Sam Hobkinson.

In cinemas

Married at First Sight UK

Brandy Brewer, Willie Mitchell posing for a photo:  (Channel 4) © Provided by Evening Standard (Channel 4)

The new series of Married at First Sight UK kicked off on E4 this week, tweaked to replicate the success of its chaotic Aussie counterpart, and we are already unable to tear our eyes away. A group of experts match up total strangers, who then walk down the aisle together and exchange vows, despite having never met before. Generally, they each then march off to tell a camera person “they’re not really what I asked for”. We’re addicted.

E4 and All4

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.

Disney+

Gossip Girl

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

Vigil

Our Sunday evenings have been blissfully stress-free since Line of Duty came to an end earlier this year. That’s all about to change with the arrival of Vigil, which debuts on August 29 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.

TikTok

Our Ladies

This gleeful adaptation from Alan Warner’s 1998 novel Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour follows a raucous 24 hours in the lives of six Fort William teens in determined search of a shag while on a trip to Edinburgh with their Catholic girls’ school choir. A portrait of female friendship in the face of poverty of opportunity, awful men and recalcitrant nuns, it’s a riotous joy.

In cinemas

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

The Chair

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.

Netflix

Sabaya

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.

On demand

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.

Amazon Prime

Coda

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.

Apple TV+

Deceit

Niamh Algar wearing a suit and tie: Niamh Algar as ‘Lizzie James’ (Channel 4 / Kevin Baker) © Provided by Evening Standard Niamh Algar as ‘Lizzie James’ (Channel 4 / Kevin Baker)

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.

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.

Digital download

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

I Am…

Suranne Jones standing in front of a building talking on a cell phone: Suranne Jones in I Am Victoria (Channel 4) © Provided by Evening Standard Suranne Jones in I Am Victoria (Channel 4)

The second round of Channel 4’s female-led anthology series kicks off with I Am Victoria, featuring yet another powerhouse performance from Suranne Jones as a woman whose shiny facade is starting to crumble. The hour-long standalone story is streaming on All4 now; Letitia Wright and Lesley Manville also lead episodes.

All4

Cruel Summer

Here’s a shiny new guilty pleasure for fans of shows like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale. This 90s-set drama, already a hit on the other side of the Atlantic, weaves a compelling mystery across multiple timelines. A small Texan town is rocked when teen queen Kate (Olivia Holt) goes missing - but things take a darker turn when her classmate is accused of being complicit in the abduction. Streaming on Amazon now.

Amazon Prime

Cooking With Paris

Paris Hilton’s knowing, hugely entertaining new Netflix cooking show would make perfect hangover viewing. Each episode sees her join forces with a famous pal to whip up a meal, to varying degrees of success - and her first guest is none other than her former assistant, Kim Kardashian. You won’t learn a thing about food, of course, but Hilton is a witty host who is impossible to dislike.

Netflix

Jungle Cruise

It’s hardly going to change the world but parents will view the release of this silly jungle adventure starring the always watchable Emily Blunt and Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson (and a foppish Jack Whitehall) with some relief, and though it’s predictable nonsense, a very funny turn from the wonderful Jesse Plemons as a villainous German aristocrat keeps it from walking the plank.

In cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access

Tattoo Redo

There’s something endlessly entertaining about terrible tattoos (unless you’ve got one, that is). This mega bingeable new show from Netflix offers cover-ups to people with questionable ink - with a twist. The new design is not chosen by them but by their friend, and they don’t get to see it until it’s finished. Painful in more ways than one.

Netflix

Uprising

Powerful personal testimonies are skillfully woven together with archive footage in this three-part documentary co-directed by Steve McQueen and Joe Rogan, now on iPlayer. A companion piece for McQueen’s film series Small Axe, it examines the New Cross Fire, which killed 13 black teenagers in 1981, the Black People’s Day of Action and the Brixton riots, events which have not been explored on primetime TV on such a scale.

BBC iPlayer

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