Big Brother and Voice presenter Emma Willis is immensely proud of her working-class Birmingham roots and reckons she comes from a long line of honest grafters. A photo showing her grim-faced great-grandmother with her family seems to confirm her ancestors were ordinary folk, although she bursts out laughing, “That makes me think of Peaky Blinders! You wouldn’t want to mess with her.”
Willis’s main concern is that her forebears are “good” people – and most are, so she seems genuinely excited (and occasionally emotional) about what she discovers. However, it’s when she traces another branch of her family that the surprises start. She’s thrilled to find a relative who was not only a respected and highly skilled stonemason but was also active in the campaign for the rights of Irish workers. Conversely, she’s horrified to learn that in 1790 her five times great-grandfather was a Protestant landowning gentleman in Ireland who, on one occasion at least, did not behave in a very gentlemanly manner.
There’s an opening flashback to detective Robin Griffin’s almost-marriage to a dope-head, though the ceremony doesn’t turn out as everyone planned. The groom-to-be ends up in a prison cell and Robin’s friends burn her wedding dress on a bonfire.
As Jane Campion’s epically pretentious drama creeps along we once again meet that bunch of geeks who spend their days in a café, rating prostitutes on websites. They are part of the overall picture of exploitation and misogyny painted in the darkest of colours in Top of the Lake.
But there is a chink of light in the irresistible pairing of the unreadable Robin (Elisabeth Moss) and her towering sidekick, soppy emotional mess Miranda (Gwendoline Christie). The pair try to establish the identity of the Asian woman found stuffed in a suitcase washed up on a beach. And Nicole Kidman is magnificently ghastly as an adoptive mum.
Insecure is a rich, razor-sharp comedy, and if you didn’t see its first series of eight episodes, it’s well worth catching up. US comedian Issa Rae writes and stars in a show that chronicles – sometimes with warmth, sometimes with real bite, always with nuance – contemporary life for twentysomething black women in LA. As the self-titled lead, the profane Issa – who works for a non-profit for teenagers – is a compelling on-screen presence, navigating the obstacles posed by race, sex, and sexism with her highly-strung best friend Molly. Here, we join them in a second series immediately in its bold, playful stride, and finds Issa concocting ways to win back her ex-boyfriend, while Molly struggles to discover a white, male colleague is paid significantly more than her. It’s caustic and playful, and a real treat.
Two friends learn, in Sam Bain’s three-parter, that the third member of their gang is treating his cancer with fruit juice and positive thinking instead of medicine. So, with the help of a rogue oncologist, they take matters into their own hands… if that premise sound unwieldy, it is, and there are cartoonish characters to match in a comedy that works best in the moments when it reveals how dark the situation is. It’s on iPlayer, ahead of a BBC2 slot later this year.
Purists will shudder at what Steven Spielberg has done to JM Barrie’s classic tale here, but their protests are likely to be ignored by those children who prefer old-fashioned derring-do to be brightened up with some 1990s trimmings. In this take on Peter Pan, Robin Williams plays the grown-up Peter, a ruthless business pirate who has no time for his family and no memory of his magical past. That changes, however, when his children are kidnapped and he gets a visit from Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts). As good as Williams is, the film is stolen by an almost unrecognisable Dustin Hoffman, whose Hook is suitably pantomimic (he is said to have modelled his performance partly on the larger-than-life screen image of Terry-Thomas) yet oddly sympathetic, a villain lost without his nemesis. The scenes between him and Bob Hoskins as Smee are a delight and, although the sentimentality gets a little sticky at times, this remains rousing entertainment.
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