This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I am sure many of you never want to watch another box set again! It certainly has been the year of TV and box sets. As I write this, the sun has come out, and we have a mini-heatwave, but just in case we have an occasional cold, grey weekend, I thought I would share a few TV recommendations, series and films that my friends or I have found and enjoyed.
GREYHOUND | APPLE TV
A film set in WWII starring Tom Hanks who also wrote the screenplay. The film is based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester and also stars Stephen Graham. The plot follows a commander of the US Navy on his first war-time assignment in command of a multi-national escort group defending a merchant ship convoy under attack by submarines in early-1942 during the Battle of the Atlantic, only months after the U.S. officially entered World War II. It has you on the edge of your seat and who doesn’t love Tom Hanks?
THE SPANISH PRINCESS | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO / STARZ
I love Tudor history and to be honest we needed a break from gory thrillers and subtitles. We had enjoyed The White Princess and The White Queen all based on books by Philippa Gregory. The Spanish Princess (2 series) is based on the novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. It centres around Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope), the eponymous Spanish princess who became Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII (Ruairi O’Connor).
I have not watched this but my girlfriends say it is a lot of fun. It is an American comedy-drama. American flight attendant Cassie Bowden is a reckless alcoholic who drinks during flights and spends her time off having sex with strangers, including her passengers. When she wakes up in a hotel room in Bangkok with a hangover from the night before, she discovers the dead body of a man who was on her last flight lying next to her, his throat slashed. Afraid to call the police, she cleans up the crime scene, then joins the other airline crew travelling to the airport. In New York City, she is met by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents who question her about the layover in Bangkok. Still unable to piece the night together, and suffering intermittent flashbacks/hallucinations about it, she begins to wonder who the killer could be.
MADE IN ITALY | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
This film stars Liam Neeson and is about a bohemian artist who travels from London to Italy with his estranged son to sell the house he inherited from his late wife. A charming Sunday afternoon movie, beautifully shot on-location in the Tuscany countryside.
THE SECRET GARDEN | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
A film to watch with the grandchildren when they are allowed inside your home! It’s a fantasy drama film based on the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters. It is bright, magical and we watched even though we don’t have grandchildren. Perfect for garden enthusiasts!
SHTISEL | NETFLIX
Shtisel is more of a straight family drama, although not without humour or lyricism as it follows the lives and love of the Shtisels in Jerusalem. Perhaps most engaging is the patriarch’s twentysomething son, Akiva — a sensitive art teacher failing to find a “suitable” wife, and instead of falling for the twice-widowed mother of one of his pupils. The series is essentially a highbrow soap opera, but more beautiful and quietly engrossing than that implies. There are 3 seasons and Season 3 has just been released. My husband, who is Jewish, and I just love the mannerisms – they don’t mean to be funny but they are in an endearing way. It is subtitled but worth the effort.
SEASSPIRACY | NETFLIX
I have not yet watched this but my youngest son has. It is been much hyped on Social Media and apparently we should all watch it as we need to know the truth about our oceans and the fish we eat.
KEEPING FAITH | BBC ONE
The addictive Welsh thriller returns for a third series, with the previous two breaking records on iPlayer. Eve Myles reprises her role as Faith Howells, the small-town lawyer in the striking yellow mac. As well as taking on the case of a gravely ill boy while establishing a new law firm with Cerys (Hannah Daniel), Faith has her daughter Alys’s teenage troubles to deal with. Celia Imrie and Mark Lewis Jones — two reliably class acts — are new additions to the cast.
THE BONFIRE OF DESTINY
This is a wonderful French costume drama series. After a devastating fire in 1897 Paris, three women find their lives upended by betrayals, deceptions and romantic turmoil. Inspired by real events. Starring:Audrey Fleurot (the red-headed lawyer in Spiral) I am really enjoying this series and I see from many reviews that there is hope for a second season.
TINA | SKY DOCUMENTARIES
This profile of Tina Turner is directed by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, whose 2011 sports film, Undefeated, won the Oscar for best documentary feature. There is an element of the sports doc to this film, with its billing as “the ultimate story of survival” and the narrative arc of Turner rebuilding her career from scratch after her traumatic marriage to the violent, cocaine-addicted bandleader Ike Turner. If you love Tina then you will enjoy this. She is an icon to our generation for so many reasons, her high-energy, her experience of domestic abuse, and her ability to bounce back. She is now 81 years young – she will never be old in my eyes.
THE IRREGULARS | NETFLIX
The latest addition to the rapidly expanding Sherlock Holmes “universe” concerns a group of teenage urchins who gather unsavoury information from the street to assist the great detective and Dr Watson (Royce Pierreson) in solving cases. The setting is a shadowy world of Victorian gothic — it turns out the capital in the 1890s was full of the supernatural. Holmes himself remains elusive, which becomes its own overarching mystery.
Now put the remote away as evenings are now for eating al fresco and enjoying being back, able to socialise, even if only outside and with no hugs.