If someone had told me a year ago I could stay inside and work my way through all of the TV shows and films I’ve been meaning to watch for an unspecified amount of time it would have been my dream offer. It’s not quite the same in reality though is it? Fingers crossed the weather picks up soon so it will be all white wine and BBQs in the garden (evenings and weekends of course) but until then I’ve asked some friends for their recommendations of TV and movies to watch during lockdown across all streaming sites, and thrown in a few of my own too:
All4 is an underrated streaming services for me, the layout isn’t great and I don’t find it all that easy to find stuff but once you work out how to navigate it, there’s some great shows on there, as well as some classic box sets like Catastrophe and Green Wing.
Barrymore: The Body in the Pool (Documentary)
Nineteen years after Stuart Lubbock was found dead at Michael Barrymore’s home, this film forensically explores the full story behind one of Britain’s most high-profile unexplained deaths. For anyone who lived through the media circus of the case at the time, it’s really interesting to go back and revisit and hear some details that possibly weren’t widely reported at the time.
Derry Girls (TV show)
As well as being hilariously funny, Derry Girls is a beautiful love letter to the 90s. The young cast are incredibly talented and the music chosen for the show is brilliant. Both series are currently on All4 and series 3 in also in the pipeline.
ER (TV show)
If you’re really wanting to do lockdown justice and are in it for the long haul then start watching ER from the beginning. It hasn’t aged well, and I found myself skipping the first few seasons when I started re-watching it recently. All 15 seasons are on there though so, it will keep you going for quite a while
Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain (Documentary)
When Jade Goody was selected as a contestant in 2002’s Big Brother, the producers had no idea of what they had let themselves in for. By the time she was voted out, she had the world at her feet, and she messed it up quite fantastically. This two part documentary is a must see for anyone who was ever a fan of Big Brother (when it was good!). There’s also a less good Jade Goody documentary on All4 called Jade: As Seen on TV if you wanted more, but it’s largely just the same clips and a bit out dated now.
The Trial: Murder in the Family (TV show)
A fictional murder case tried in a real court. There’s a murder and two prime suspects; the murdered woman’s ex husband and her new partner. The trail is shown in full and intercut with the story of what actually happened. For anyone who’s ever wanted to be on a jury this us fascinating and if you’re anything like me, you will change your mind a million times over who you think it guilty.
Three Identical Strangers (Documentary)
Watched on a whim before Christmas when I was have a very rare booze free night however turned out to be a hidden gem of a documentary. The astonishing true story of three men who make the chance discovery, at the age of 19, that they are identical triplets; a discovery that unearths an extraordinary and disturbing secret. It’s since also been added to Netflix’s roster where i’m sure it will gain traction but I wanted to honour where I first watched it.
Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds was raised his whole life Mormon and lead to believer that being a gay was a sin. Being a popstar and marrying outside the moron faith opened his eyes to the fact that this seemed completely unfair and unjust. He explores whether it’s possible to be mormon and gay and how he struggles with the label of ‘famous Mormon spokesman’. Can one person change a whole religion?
Fleabag (TV show)
If you haven’t watched this already it’s sacrilege quite frankly but since we’re in lockdown I’ll let you off as long as you promise to get it watched. I’m not normally a fan of the whole breaking the fourth wall and talking to camera type shows but this works so well and I defy anyone to watch this show and not laugh and be moved to tears in equal measure.
In My Skin (TV show)
A dark comedy made for BBC Three and available on iPlayer, it’s about 16-year-old Bethan who is trying to hide the truth about her mentally ill mother and chaotic home life from her friends.
Inside No. 9 (TV show)
The full series is on iPlayer but you can also find some on Netflix. They’re only half hour episodes but each is a self-contained little story. The only real theme to connect them is that most have a dark comedic element to them, often venturing into horror. What they manage to pack into 30 minutes is very surprising! Give the first two episodes a go, the first is about a game of hide and seek that takes a dark turn and the second is a near dialogue-free episode about an art theft which descends into farce.
Race Across the World (TV show)
It’s not often there’s a show that appeals to both me and Dave, and RATW has fast become one of favourite things to bond over on a Sunday night. 5 couples have to race from point to point with no social media phones etc and only the amount of money that the air fare. They’re not allowed to fly and have to work to make up any money if they’re short. Season 1 was London to Singapore and Season two Mexico to the most southern point of Argentina. We loved season 1 and have loved Season 2 even more. An absolute must for any travel or reality TV fan.
Snowfall (TV show)
Three seasons all available on BBC iPlayer and it’s about the crack epidemic in LA in the 80s and how the CIA helped create it. The series follows the stories of several characters whose lives are fated to intersect.
The Nest (TV miniseries)
Staring Martin Compston off of Line of Duty who plays a rich Glaswegian man who, along with his wife are struggling to conceive so enlist the help of a young girl who needs the money. Twists and turns ensue, the young girl isn’t quite all she cracks up to me and there’s a lot of moral questions raised about how much can you really buy whatever you want. It’s only 4 episodes and epsiode 1 is a little slow but definitely worth sticking with
The Split (TV show)
There’s two series of this brilliant drama staring Stephen Mangan. It’s about a couple who are both family lawyers; the clients they represent, sometimes on opposing sides of the court, but also the family drama, secrets, infidelities and childhood issues that surround their home lives. I loved it from start to finish, and Donna Air is surprisingly good in series 2.
Family Guy (TV show)
We all need some light relief in these trying times don’t we? Family Guy is one of our go-to TV shows to watch in the hour or so before bed to wind down from all the crime documentaries I watch, or ‘murders’ as Dave calls them. If you like the Simpsons, but also like some humour dark then this is the perfect show for you.
Flesh and Blood (TV show)
I was devo’d that this was only four episodes long because I really got into it. Mum has a new boyfriend and grown up kids don’t like him. But do they have just cause or are they just mourning the death of their beloved dad? Russell Tovey is great and Imedla Staunton plays the creepy neighbour really well.
Liar (TV show)
I was on the fence about whether to include this show because whereas I loved the the first series; about a woman who suspects sh’es been raped on a date by a well respected surgeon and you don’t know until the end of the series whether he did it or not. All the way through the series you change your mind as to who to believe and I was thoroughly gripped. The second series however is just a bit silly if I’m honest and has none of the tension or series 1. Could just be me though!
Quiz (TV show)
We all remember the Who Wants to be a Millionnaire ‘coughgate’. Where Charles and Diana Ingram were accused of cheating in the show by having a mole in the audience who coughed when the right answer was read out. It was the biggest news story at the time. Now ITV have made it into a 3 part TV drama and its so so good. Michael Sheen plays Chris Tarrant so well it’s hard to believe its not really him and actually leaves you wondering whether they actually did it on or not?
Superstore (TV show)
Such an underrated sitcom starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) about a Walmart style store in the USA, the daft staff and the madcap japes they get themselves into. I discovered it while I was working away down in Eastbourne when it was on before Love Island and I thought it was actually quite funny. Again, an easy 20 minute watch
Netflix is probably my favourite streaming service, mainly because once you have it, everything in it is available unlike some sites that charge you extra for everything you want to see *ahem*Prime*ahem.
Cheer (Documentary Series)
One I binged watched over the space of one weekend. If you were ever a fan of early 00’s movie Bring it On, you’ll love this. Following a college cheer squad on the quest to win the US Championships, these lads and lasses do more than just jump and shout let me tell you! The athleticism is incredible, how some of those girls are happy to just be flung about amazes me. And when they get dropped it’s pretty savage! Definitely one of my personal highlight series of recent times
Creep by name, creep by nature because this film is creepy AF! It’s a ‘found footage’ type story. A filmmaker answers an ad placed by someone who seemingly wants a video made for his unborn child to leave behind as he has terminal cancer. But all isn’t quite what it seems. The ending may well stay with you for some time, it certainly did me.
Community (TV show)
If you haven’t watched this yet there where the heckers have you been?! Probably my favourite comedy show all things considered. It’s a 20 minutes easy watch comedy and it takes a few episodes to get going but once you get to know the characters you’ll love it. It’s about a misfit gang of students who are all attending Community College for various reasons and form a study group. Quite literally, hilarity ensues!
Another example of how corrupt the US justice system is but if you’re a fan of courtroom style stories this is an excellent on. Two lads are accused of murder while they were high on drink and drugs. One is coerced into admitting he did it; simply because he can’t remember so can’t say for definite one way or another. But he takes his mate down with him, who’s dad is convinced of his innocence. It’s a slow starter but is utterly fascinating in the end
An in depth look of sexuality and promiscuity in the modern world told via following some college kids on Spring Break in Florida and their extremely lax attitudes to casual sex. The attitudes of the lads in particular but also some of the girls is shocking to say the least, disturbing in fact. But it also talks about the pressures on both sexes to be sexually confident at a young age. It will resonate with anyone who’s ever been on an 18-30s holiday of has the ‘what happens on holiday stays on holiday’ mentality.
Sense8 (TV show)
Eight strangers around the globe find themselves connected – first by a violent vision, then by their shared ability to connect with one another’s thoughts and actions, and finally by the urgent need to find out what happened and why. They are hunted by a mysterious organization, intent on destroying them.
Sunderland til I Die (Documentary series)
I know, I know because i’m such a massive footie fan! The fact it’s about a football club shouldn’t put you off, it’s actually a very good documentary series about businesses, how they’re run and how they treat their staff. I love a ‘behind the scenes’ type story anyway The fact it’s about Sunderland just makes it funny.
The English Game (TV miniseries)
Another footie one, sorry! But for the lads and lasses missing their weekly Match of the Day fix this might help. The English Game is about the conflict between the amateur & professional sides in the 1870’s-1880’s. It’s by Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and is what you expect with that piece of information. There are only 6 episodes, but it only dropped a week or 2 back and I hope they pick up a second season as the early days of football in this country is ripe for stories to tell.
The Pharmacist (Documentary series)
4 part documentary series about a pharmacist in New Orleans whose son dies of an opioid overdose. Which is sad enough, but it opens a whole can of worms around the over prescribing of drugs to teenagers. There’s loads of twists and turns and Mr Schneider gets himself into a whole heap of trouble trying to uncover the truth.
Tiger King (Documentary series)
I couldn’t not include it could I? It’s all anyone is talking about and even the Wikipedia page for the show has acknowledged that it’s success is largely due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Joe Exotic runs a big cat zoo and is in competition with almost everyone else in the world who says the world ‘Tiger’. What starts as look at the world of endangered animal trading suddenly turns into a story of murder, takeovers and country music. Needs to be watched to be believed.
Unbelievable (TV miniseries)
A young girl reports being raped by an intruder but because of her personal circumstances, certain members of the police force make it their mission to discredit her. Kaitlyn Dever (also in Booksmart, see below) is absolutely brilliant in it, as is Toni Colette, as always.
Unorthodox (TV show)
Based on Deborah Feldman’s 2012 autobiography Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots and the first Netflix series to be primarily in Yiddish, it follows a young girl who escapes her strict Hasidic community in New York and escapes to the Germany. It’s brutal in places, and because most of it is primarily in subtitles, you really have to concentrate on it, but hey, we’ve all got bags of time on our hands right now haven’t we?! It’s beautifully acted and a really fascinating story.
As I said before I like what you can find on Prime but there’s loads you had to pay extra for and that’s just pretty annoying. In fact we almost cancelled our membership after my brother let me use his Disney + account but since we’ve gone on lockdown, we need all the TV options we can get
Black Sails (TV show)
Written as a prequel to Treasure Island and written by Michael Bay off of Transformers it’s the action packed story of Captain Flint and his crew as they fight for fortune and survival. I haven’t seen it, it was recommended to me by Becky at work. I’m guessing there aren’t any poop deck or booty jokes though.
I remember a quiet buzz about this film when it came out, then I completely forgot about it. An excellent modern teen film centred around two friends in their senior year in high school who feel they haven’t experienced high school the way the should have so try and make up for it in one night of debauchery, with varying results. The script is fantastic, the two main leads brilliant and it’s really, really funny!
Daniel Radcliffe plays a CIA agent who goes undercover to infiltrate a group of White Supremacists. Extreme racism ensues. A very tense film, not as violent as I feared it might be (which is a god thing) but a really decent drama and Daniel Radcliffe’s fear when trying to act as ‘one of them’ is palpable.
Pistorius (Documentary series)
3 part documentary series about the life and trial of Oscar Pistorius who was famously convicted of killing his girlfriend in 2013. The first episode is about his childhood and career and the second 2nd and 3rd about the incident and the subsequent trial. A must for any true crime fans.
UnREAL (TV show)
In binged watched this over a series of a week and a bit. It’s a TV show that is right up my street! It’s about a fictional reality dating show and how the crew and producers manipulate the cast to get the story lines and drama that they want. Although it’s acted, it’s written and produced by a woman who used to work as a producer on The Bachelor in the US so i imagine it’s actually more true to life than you might first think. It’s got Shiri Appleby in off of Roswell as well, who is very good in it.
Wild Rose (Film)
Wild Rose is the story of a troubled young Glaswegian woman (played by Jessie Buckley) who dreams of becoming a Nashville country star. It’s not the lightest of films in places but is an uplifting one overall and Jessie Buckley is brilliant in the role.
Vinyl (TV show)
The show is set in 1970’s New York at a record label and documents the music and excess around at the time. It was written by Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter (Sopranos) and Mick Jagger (!) so that in itself should back Alan’s recommendation. Inexplicably Prime only has series 1 and not series 2 available so it won’t take long to get through the 10 episodes!
Chernobyl (TV miniseries)
We loved this, and is another one that we binged in one sitting. In the 80s we had some children from Chernobyl come and stay with some local families when we lived in Belgium so I remember the effects of the nuclear disaster well. It’s a brilliant miniseries, absolutely harrowing in places but brilliantly acted and the end court scene involving some of the scientists and the Russian Government are some of the best telly I’e seen in a long time
Save Me/Save Me Too (TV show)
A down and out finds out the daughter he didn’t know he had, is missing and goes to great lengths to try and find her. It’s written, created by and stars Lenny James from Line of Duty, who is brilliant so I expect it’s very good!
The Rookie (TV show)
John Nolan was a construction worker who got divorced, has a midlife crisis and moved to LA to train as a cop. The show is about 3 rookies as they do the next part of their training on the job with their instructors on the streets of LA.
Upright (TV Show)
I’m a massive Tim Minchin fan, you should check out his university graduation speech on YouTube, its so good! I’ve never really seen him act in anything before though so this was a real treat. It’s a dark comedy about a guy who’s trying to move an Upright piano across Australia and the young girl he meets along the way. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love it.
Not really classed as a streaming channel in the truest form but hey, it’s free, anyone can access it (usually by your TV these days too and there’s some good stuff on there if you know where to look.
The Boyband Con (Documentary)
I will continue to promote how good this film is and not just because it obviously stars my fave lads. It’s actually very good crime documentary, about the guy behind boybands like Backstreet Boys and N Sync and how me swindled them out of millions of dollars, then went on to run the biggest ponzi scheme in American history. It used to only be available on YouTube premium but free on normal YouTube now.
Man vs Food (TV show)
Made popular on the travel channel, some kind user has now uploaded all three series for you to enjoy. Follow lovable Adam Richman as he travels across America trying all their insane food challenges, and some amazing eats along the way. Don’t watch while you’re hungry.
Road Rules (TV show)
It’s notoriously hard to find MTV shows on YouTube thanks to their strict copyright infringement team but since Road Rules is so old now and no longer made I don’t think they’re too bothered about it being on there anymore. Road Rules is a big brother/I’m a Celeb cross over. Six college age kids travel around and live together in an RV and complete challenges to be able to win a handsome reward at the end. In later series then introduced a ‘voting off’ system if they failed a mission, which spiced things up a little. They’re easy 20 minute episodes so a fun watch if you’re into that kind of thing.
Tom Stade: You’re Welcome Live (Stand up show)
Tom Stade is my favourite comedian and has been since we first saw him years ago at the hyena cafe in Newcastle. This full length stand up show is available free on YouTube and if you’re a fan f the likes of Jimmy Carr or Frankie Boyle you’ll really like Tom and and his ‘drunken Canadian’ style of storytelling. He lives in the UK now so does great observational comedy about the differences between Brits and Canadians. Definitely not safe for kids.
Honorable mentions to Disney Plus and Starzplay which we’ve also downloaded to help us with lockdown bordom. Starzplay is a weird one, it’s available through Amazon Prime – and i’ve already said how much I dislike that Amazon Prime makes you pay extra for all the stuff you really want. However, they have an offer on right now for your first 3 months for 99p a month (£4.99 thereafter) so reckoned that was a bargain to get us through lockdown then can just cancel when we’re released and they start charging us full whack.
The Simpsons (Disney Plus)
30 series of the iconic TV show are all available from the newest streaming site on the block so we’ve started watching them for the beginning again. Which is a bit of a slog early on, I forgot how bad the animation was in the beginning but so easy to have on in the background or something to watch while winding down before bed. Also, since we don’t have Sky any more, I reckon there’s probably at least 15 seasons worth of stuff I’ve never seen. So looking forward to getting to them eventually
The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)
Also known as ‘Star Wars: the TV show’ The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. The series depicts a lone bounty hunter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. We haven’t started watching it yet but it’s on the list. Plus there’s baby Yoda in it. Baby. Yoda. How. Cute.
Before Glee and American Horror Story, was the absolute amazingness of Nip/Tuck from Ryan Murphy about 2 plastic surgeons in Miami. I’d forgotten how much I LOVE this show. I can’t explain how happy I am that I’m now able to watch all 6 seasons. I used to have them all on DVD and was my go to drama when I was still living at home. Funnily enough, having only recently gotten back into season 1, it hasn’t aged at all like most shows have, and Bradley Cooper is in the later series, yummy!
The Act (Starzplay)
One of the reasons I wanted Strazplay in the first place, and amazing 8 part drama series about the real life case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard so is a victim of Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy where her mum makes her believe she’s ill when she’s not. As Gypsy grows up, she starts to realise that she may not actually be as sick as she’s been lead to believe and her relationship with her mum deteriorates as a result. Joey King and Patricia Arquette are just amazing in it. Worth the 99p a month for that alone
If you want a laugh and enjoyed comedies like the Green Wing, try Friday Night Dinner on Sky. Thanks for the recommendations.
Thanks Karen! Yes! I love Friday Night Dinner, i think that’s all on All4 too, one of my other go to comedy shows!
Some great recommendations there, I’ve just been watching Save Me Too its harrowing but I’m enjoying it. Some of my recommendations – Naughty and Crosses (so so good) on BBC iPlayer I think I binge watched the series in a weekend before this all started and wished I had saved it and the entire 4 series of Lucifer (between Prime and Netflix) it’s so hilarious!
Fab suggestions! We are about to start on Ozark.