Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga
This year’s competition fell by the wayside due to Covid-19, leaving a huge Eurovision-sized gap in our hearts. Thankfully Will Ferrell is here to fill it. He co-wrote this hilarious spoof after spending time backstage at the 2018 contest in Lisbon, devising a storyline about aspiring musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir – Fire Saga – who long to represent Iceland. Then, a surprise turn of events leaves them as the only available participants.
Will Ferrell has co-written this hilarious Eurovision spoof about aspiring musicians Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) who long to represent Iceland
Ferrell, who stars as Lars alongside Rachel McAdams, is wonderful, but Pierce Brosnan threatens to steal the show as Lars’s disapproving father. The duo’s song is also far better than some genuine entrants over the decades. Watch out, too, for Downton’s Dan Stevens as a cheesy Russian songster and one G. Norton as himself. From Friday
Larry Nassar was a world-renowned sports physician who treated America’s female Olympic gymnasts. However, in 2018 he was sentenced to 175 years in prison after more than 150 women and girls gave powerful statements accusing him of sexual abuse. The fallout from the Nassar scandal sent shockwaves through the gymnastics world, and as this documentary shows, the conversation is far from over. Here the Indianapolis Star reporters who broke the story discuss the extensive cover-up that allowed abuse to thrive within elite-level gymnastics. From Wednesday
Series three will be the last for this ambitious, atmospheric German sci-fi thriller set in a small town where strange goings-on are linked to subterranean wormholes providing portals to different eras.
Series three will be the last for this ambitious, atmospheric German sci-fi thriller in which history repeats itself with the same characters (including Lisa Vicari as Martha, above)
The immensely complicated plot involves history repeating itself with the same characters in different timelines, giving rise to hundreds of fan theories about what’s really going on. The showrunners have promised there will be definitive answers this series. Don’t even think about watching this if you haven’t seen the previous two series. From Saturday
There are plenty of unusual sporting traditions around the world. This docuseries explores some of most bizarre, including caber-tossing in Scotland, calcio fiorentino (like a wild version of rugby without rules) in Italy, voodoo wrestling in the Congo and roller derby in Texas. We also get an insight into the communities and cultures where these sports thrive. From Friday
Change the past and the present is drastically altered. Anyone who’s seen Back To The Future knows that. So the married Vera (Adriana Ugarte) really should have known better when a TV spookily flickered to life and the boy who lived in her house 25 years ago started talking to her. But she knows what became of the boy all those years ago – killed in a car accident outside the house – and is unable to resist warning him of the danger.
All seems well until she wakes up the next morning to find herself unmarried, without a child and in a job she knows nothing about. There are shades of Stranger Things in this twisting Spanish time-travel thriller as we follow Vera battling to get her life back. Available now
SKY, BRITBOX, APPLE TV+, DISNEY+ & ACORN TV
Machiavellian media baron Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is an expert at manipulating his avaricious, power-hungry offspring, who are desperate to take his place at the head of his company, Waystar Royco. But who will win?
Succession is both a black comedy about belligerent, back-stabbing billionaires and a drama about a deeply dysfunctional dynasty.Above: Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen
Savvy ‘Shiv’ (Sarah Snook), the youngest of the Roy siblings? Cocaine fiend Kendall (Jeremy Strong), once seen as Logan’s natural successor? Roman (Kieran Culkin), Logan’s arrogant and immature youngest son? Succession is both a black comedy about belligerent, back-stabbing billionaires and a drama about a deeply dysfunctional dynasty. And it’s brilliant. Sky/NOW TV, available now
After nearly two decades on death row for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Daniel Holden (Aden Young) is released when new DNA evidence emerges. He returns to his home town in Georgia to restart his life, having spent more than half of it in prison.
This moving drama starring Aden Young and Abigail Spencer (above with J. Smith-Cameron) had low viewing figures but it’s the best show you haven’t heard of
His sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer) has dedicated her life to exonerating him but not everyone i s convinced. This moving drama had low viewing figures, perhaps because of its stately pace, but it’s the best show you haven’t heard of. Acorn TV, from Monday
The docuseries about how the McDonald’s Monopoly-based giveaway was defrauded is a case of truth being stranger – and more entertaining – than fiction. It has everything: over-exuberant FBI agents, mafia types, wire taps, duplicitous men of the church, undercover stings and one mysterious man who got away with nearly £20 million in prizes. Sky/NOW TV, available now
Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2
Frozen 2, released in November last year, is already the most successful animated feature of all time, raking in more than $1.4 billion at the global box office. Now the countdown is on to the film’s streaming release on July 3. This six-part series goes behind the scenes with the film-makers, artists, songwriters and cast of the much-loved movie. Disney+, from Friday
The Centre Stage Collection
If you are currently in the doldrums after the cancellation of 2020’s summer music festivals, this collection of archive documentaries and performances could be just the tonic. Highlights include the David Bowie origin story Finding Fame (left), as well as The Last Five Years, which focuses on the end of the shape-shifting performer’s life before his death in 2016.
Highlights of this collection of archive documentaries and performances include the David Bowie origin story Finding Fame (above) and world exclusive Harry Styles: Live In Manchester
Other programmes to look out for are Ed Sheeran’s 2015 Wembley show, Robbie Williams: One Night At The Palladium, and a world exclusive – Harry Styles: Live In Manchester. BritBox, from Thursday
Inmate #1: The Rise Of Danny Trejo
His name may not be familiar, but Trejo is one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood thanks to appearances in more than 400 movies and TV shows, including Heat and Breaking Bad. Yet few people know that the actor’s life has itself played out like a movie. After falling into a life of crime in his teenage years, he went on to become a screen icon and has since made it his mission to give back to Chicano communities in Los Angeles. This documentary tells his story. Various platforms, from Monday
Lambs Of God
Deeply weird four-part thriller about three nuns (Ann Dowd, Essie Davis and Jessica Barden) of the Order of St Agnes who live self-sufficiently on a remote island. They have developed their own belief system, seeing their sheep as reincarnations of dead members of their order. When a priest (Sam Reid) turns up to check on the church’s property, he’s surprised to find the nuns there and tells them they will have to leave. They’re not keen on the idea. There are echoes of Misery in this grisly Australian production. BritBox, available now
Animated musical comedy about the Tillerman family who live in New York’s Central Park because the father is the park’s devoted manager. Mum is a journalist who dreams of writing proper stories, daughter Molly is a shy teenager who draws comics and worships a boy from afar, and son Cole loves animals.
The terrific voice cast includes Josh Gad and Kristen Bell from Frozen, plus Stanley Tucci as the baddy, a wealthy old lady who wants to concrete over the park. The songs are catchy, Broadway musical-level numbers, written by the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Fiona Apple and Meghan Trainor. Apple TV+, available now
Why is there such a buzz about..?
Little Fires Everywhere (Amazon Prime)
‘Hands visible, OK honey?’ Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) tells her teenage daughter as a police officer approaches their car, in which they’ve been sleeping.
That’s one of her first lines in the series and the instruction, born of her fear that the cop might use any excuse to abuse two African Americans, could hardly be more apposite, given recent events.
The policeman is there because journalist Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) spotted the old car with battered-looking luggage tied to the roof on her way into the office and thought it was lowering the tone of the neighbourhood, the smart Shaker Heights, and so – naturally – called the cops.
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon (above with Rosemarie DeWitt), two of the most powerful women in TV, co-produce as well as star in this layered drama
The lives of the Richardson family – Elena and her husband have four children – and the Warrens become entwined when single mum Mia rents an apartment from Elena and much drama about motherhood ensues. But the reason this layered show, based on the best-selling novel by Celeste Ng, has taken off is because of its exploration of insidious racism and white privilege.
Washington and Witherspoon, two of the most powerful women in TV, co-produce as well as star. They’re friends in real life, but not here. Elena is a buttoned-up control freak and supposed pillar of the community. Mia is a free-spirited, hard-up artist who moves around from town to town. Their scenes together really crackle as the two very different characters clash.
Though never intended as a eulogy to its two stars, this documentary – completed just before both their deaths, one day apart in 2016 – is a fitting tribute to two members of Hollywood royalty. Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher were not only mother and daughter but also true film stars from two different generations.
Though never intended as a eulogy, this documentary is a fitting tribute to two members of Hollywood royalty: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher
Fisher is a hoot and always quick with a quip, while Reynolds exudes old-school star power. They lived their lives in front of the camera and had the scars to prove it, but what shines through most is the genuine love and warmth they have for one another. Available now
To Kid Or Not To Kid
There is a massive misconception that if you don’t have children, you’re weird, selfish and something is wrong with you. From Oprah Winfrey to Helen Mirren and Jennifer Aniston to Theresa May, women who haven’t had kids are often singled out for criticism or pity. This documentary on the subject was five years in the making and follows film-maker Maxine Trump as she travels the UK and US to explore the cultural pressures and disapproval that child-free women experience. Available now
Ireland is having a TV moment with Normal People. Now here comes Dating Amber, a bitter-sweet comedy set in 1995 in County Kildare about two gay teenagers who pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend in order to avoid the attentions of bigoted bullies. ‘Just until school is over and we can get out of this dump,’ Amber (Lola Petticrew) tells Eddie (Fionn O’Shea – the loathsome Jamie in Normal People). Amber’s dream is to move to London to open an anarchist bookshop ‘but with franchise potential’. Eddie is set for the Irish Army. Petticrew marks herself out as one to watch, as O’Shea already has. Available now
Set almost entirely inside an aircraft cockpit and employing only a handful of actors, this feels like a glimpse of the film-making future. But it’s also a pretty effective thriller in its own right, thanks to the naturalistic restraint shown by German director Patrick Vollrath, and the decision to cast the reliably classy Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an American pilot suddenly forced to deal with an attempted hijacking.
Set almost entirely inside an aircraft cockpit and employing only a handful of actors, this effective thriller stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a pilot dealing with an attempted hijacking
Or a ‘7500’, as it’s apparently known in emergency code. Some of the plot twists are a touch predictable, but well-maintained tension and claustrophobia earn comparisons with Phone Booth, Locke and, tragically, the 9/11 drama United 93. Available now
Sci-fi romcom set in the future when dying people can choose to be ‘uploaded’ into a digital afterlife. Computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell), fatally injured in a freak accident (or was it?), is uploaded into Lakeview, an expensive but disappointing simulation filled with additional in-world costs. He spends increasing amounts of time with the avatar of Nora (Andy Allo), his ‘angel’, the real-world customer service representative overseeing his transition to the virtual world. Part The Good Place, part Black Mirror, it’s funny and inventive. Available now
Schroders Battle Of The Brits
In ordinary times, the world’s tennis stars would have been limbering up for the start of Wimbledon next week. Instead, the top British male players are hunkered down at the LTA’s headquarters in Roehampton for the UK’s first behind-closed-doors indoor tournament. British No 1 Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Jamie Murray are among the entrants, but more importantly Andy Murray is competing in his first tournament of the year. And, even more importantly, it’s a fundraiser for NHS charities. Tuesday-Sunday
Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, J. K. Rowling has penned four Cormoran Strike crime novels – on which the TV series are based. Ahead of the latest (due later this year), refresh your memories of the private detective’s adventures via the superb adaptations of the first two books.
Ahead of the latest Strike novel, refresh your memories of the private detective’s (Tom Burke, above with Holliday Grainger) adventures via the superb adaptations of the first two books
Tom Burke takes the lead role, with Holliday Grainger as his sidekick Robin. Here the pair investigate a supermodel’s supposed suicide and an author’s disappearance. Available now
Sex, corruption, betrayal… and a giant whale skeleton. There’s so much gloom in Leviathan it calls to mind P. G. Wodehouse’s take on the tragic Russian condition, the ‘soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife and dropping the baby into the city reservoir, he turns to the cupboard, only to find the vodka bottle empty’.
And yet for all its bleak misery, there’s a strange, poetic allure to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s tale of a mechanic living with his son and unfaithful wife in a remote coastal town. There’s also, if you care to look, a biblical parallel with the book of Job. The 2014 movie won an Oscar nomination and widespread critical praise. From Monday
Stephen: The Murder That Changed A Nation
A timely chance to see the meticulous three-part documentary about the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993. The first episode covers his parents Doreen and Neville’s meeting in the 1960s.
A timely chance to see the meticulous three-part documentary about the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993
It then shows the fallout from the teenager’s shocking death and how the Lawrences launched the first private murder prosecution in 150 years. Finally, the focus moves to the public inquiry that led to a change in the law. From Monday
Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health
The Duke of Cambridge continues his campaign to encourage people to open up about their emotions with this powerful and moving documentary. He meets figures from the world of football, including former England goalkeeper Joe Hart, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and ex-Team GB striker Marvin Sordell, to speak about mental health in the context of the sport. But it’s not just the professionals who are featured. William also visits Sands United grassroots team in Northampton, which is comprised entirely of fathers who have lost a child. Available now
It’s little known that as a young man, the white-faced mime artist was a hero of the French Resistance who smuggled hundreds of Jewish orphans out of France.
Jesse Eisenberg is well cast as a young Marceau who was a hero of the French Resistance and smuggled hundreds of Jewish orphans out of France
Jesse Eisenberg is well cast as Marceau, while Matthias Schweighöfer is truly terrifying as Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie, the ‘Butcher of Lyon’. Flawed but revelatory. Various, out now
If you liked Erin Brockovich then here’s a similar tale, as lawyer Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) helps a West Virginia farmer who believes his cattle are being killed by a polluted water supply. With the DuPont chemical company as the chief suspect, it’s a true and important story, slightly marred by some over-the-top performances. Sky Store, to buy from Monday
The True History Of The Kelly Gang
Based on Peter Carey’s 2001 novel, this new take on the life of the Australian outlaw (George MacKay) begins energetically and features some lovely supporting performances from Russell Crowe, Essie Davis and Nicholas Hoult. But it does all get a bit over-indulged after a while. Rakuten, from Monday