Worth Watching Is Going Weekly!
The latest TV and streaming recommendations (and news) in your inbox every Friday. Here’s your first newsletter.
Scotty here. Hope you’re doing well. Welcome to Worth Watching.
Over the past few weeks, I have been doing a lot of thinking about this newsletter. As my job involves watching a lot of good (and occasionally some very bad) television, I often get asked for my recommendations and views on new and current TV shows. This newsletter started as a place for me to simply reel off shows I had watched that I reckoned were worth your time (hence the title).
A delight has been hearing that people really do find these recommendations useful, so useful in fact that I have been asked whether I can make a weekly edition. I’ve also been asked whether I can also do a regular round-up too on all of the big television and streaming news too as there’s so much to catch up on.
So here is the plan. This newsletter will be free once a month for current subscribers of Worth Watching, but for a small fee of £3.50 a month, you will get a fresh list of TV and streaming recommendations in your inbox every single week. The newsletter will arrive in your inbox every Friday afternoon - helping you work out your television viewing for that weekend.
In addition, there will also be a dedicated section listing all of the biggest television and streaming news for the week (and my takes on what it all means for all of us).
To sign up for these weekly emails, all you need to do is click through the link below and enter your details. If you only want the newsletter to arrive once a month, you don’t need to do a thing.]
As I haven’t sent this newsletter for a few weeks, here’s a few shows I have really enjoyed over the last few months:
THE ONE THAT YOU REALLY MUST WATCH (NOT KIDDING):
Mare of Easttown (NOW) / Sky) - If you haven’t got round to watching this captivating crime drama starring Kate Winslet, make sure you do. Similar in style as Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley, this seven parter has a grit and authenticity that at times fools you into thinking you are watching more of a documentary than a television show.
THE ONE TO GET YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE OLYMPICS:
Gold Rush: Our Race to Olympic Glory (BBC iPlayer) - A nice warm up to the Olympic Games (even though we know that it’ll look and feel very different). This engrossing documentary tells the story of Team GB from their worst ever medal result at Atlanta 96 (we were in 36th place) to their dominance at London 2012. A lot of it comes down to funding provided by the National Lottery; sport funding being so bad beforehand that in 1996 some athletes had to train around shifts working in Tesco. The documentary series also provides a fascinating portrait into how household names got into their sport (sometimes by accident). New episodes out weekly.
THE ONE YOU DON'T THINK YOU WANT TO WATCH BUT WILL ENJOY:
Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix) - Unlike any Netflix comedy special you have ever seen, this features the comedian Bo Burnham attempting to make a comedy special at home, without a cast or crew, throughout the pandemic. It has such an unexpected rawness and intimacy, with an inspiring level of creativity and ambition. It flies from moments of joy and wonder, to despair and pain. You won’t regret watching.
THE NOVELTY IS OVERRATED JUST GIVE ME SOMETHING CONSISTENT AND LONG:
The Golden Girls (Disney+) - All 180 episodes of the iconic 80s sitcom is now available to watch on Disney+ in the UK. It explores the friendship between four older women who all live together in a house in Miami. The series is classic because it captures their friendships so well, which in turn reminds you of your friendships and what they mean to you. It is also surprisingly inclusive and forward-thinking for a show 35 years old. It hasn’t aged terribly like some more recent sitcoms (👀).
[Trust me, there is so much love for The Golden Girls that when Disney+ announced they had acquired the rights, there was more excitement than for a lot of the much newer shows they were announcing that day.]
TRUST ME ON THIS ONE:
Sweet Tooth (Netflix) - The initial premise of this offbeat Netflix drama might put you off a bit. Why? Because it is set during a fictional deadly global pandemic! Stick around though for an unexpected and tender story about a young boy who is half-human, half-deer, trying to track down his mother. No I haven’t made it up. That is the plot! At times it verges on being a bit schmaltzy, but then manages to escape from it at the very last minute. I liked it an awful, awful lot.
MY HEART IS BROKEN WILD CARD:
Feel Good (Netflix) - This comedy drama created and written by Mae Martin and Joe Hampson (and starring Martin), captures perfectly those hedonistic early days of a new relationship, as you slowly reveal your vulnerable side, whilst also trying not to get hurt. The second series, which debuted just last month on Netflix, builds on the strengths of the first.
THE OLD SKOOL QUALITY SUNDAY NIGHTER:
Time (BBC iPlayer) - You cannot go wrong with the Jimmy McGovern, who has a knack at writing characters so believable you feel as if you have already met them. He’s written this excellent three-parter drama set in a prison, exposing all of the problems with the criminal justice system without it feeling like you’re being lectured. The drama stars Sean Bean and Stephen Graham. Remember the age old rule about Graham. He’s never been cast in anything terrible. The rule remains here unbroken.
Make sure you catch up on… Succession (Sky / Now TV) - The trailer for the much anticipated third season debuted earlier this week, so now is the perfect opportunity to watch it if you haven’t already. It follows a (legally fictional) family who also run a massive media empire. Nobody (apart from cousin Greg) is particularly likeable, but that’s part of the appeal. You love these people because they are so awful. It also manages to make well observed points about our media.
There’s twenty episodes so far, so if you watch two a week you’ll be up to date, I reckon, by the time the third season is out..
Here’s some news:
ITV said that a peak of 27.6 million people watched England v Denmark on Wednesday night, making it one of the most watched TV moments since the London 2012 Olympics (excluding lockdown announcements by Boris). I personally find it astonishing that half the nation is watching the same thing at the same time. Television is magic.
ITV have also scheduled “The Italian Job” to air before the England v Italy game on Sunday. Question to ITV. Have you seen the ending?
Meanwhile, Channel 4 will be repeating the 1966 World Cup for the first time (and in colour) this Saturday night.
BBC One’s Euro final coverage on Sunday starts 10 minutes before ITV’s.
BBC iPlayer have announced that they have acquired the rights to Gossip Girl, including all the new episodes later this year. As pointed out by many others on Twitter, the revival will be shown “later in the year” by the BBC, which means that we might have to wait a while.
Ofcom have decided not to investigate a number of complaints made against GB News, mostly on matters of accuracy. The major test for GB News was whether it would flout Ofcom impartiality rules by having an opinionated host balanced by a contributor or later presenter with different opinions. The fact that the channel has not been investigated suggests that strategy appears to be paying off.
Apple TV have released the first trailer for season two of The Morning Show, the breakfast TV show drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Anniston. The first season started on a rather flat note, then picked itself up and got interesting. It is well worth a go if you haven’t got round to watching it yet. Whilst you’re on Apple TV+, make sure you watch Ted Lasso.
What is happening with the Olympics / Paralympics?
Tokyo 2020 (yes, it is happening) is still set to air from 23rd July. The BBC, who share the rights with Discovery, will air more than 350 hours worth of coverage across BBC One and BBC Two. BBC One will be dedicated to almost continuous Olympics coverage all day, starting at BBC Breakfast (at the earlier time of 5am) all the way to 9pm, when additional highlights will air on BBC Two. Remember when BBC One became a rolling sports channel during the London 2012 Olympics? It’ll be like that again.
There won’t be a return to the endless sporting livestreams on multiple channels on the BBC, though. As the Olympic rights owner in Europe, Discovery will be the only place to watch every single moment and medal. Viewers will be able to watch every moment on the Eurosport and Discovery+ app (so far the only show that has captured my imagination on Discovery+ is the Barefoot Contessa.)
Channel 4 have also announced their plans for the Paralympics this week. They will have 300 hours of coverage, with The Last Leg returning each day during the competition. More4 will be turned into a dedicated sports channel, a livestream with 16 sports streaming on their website. The channel has also revealed that 70% of the presenting team are disabled.
It’s worth noting that Clare Balding will be hosting each day of the Olympics and the Paralympics. She has been presenting the Olympics since 96 and the Paralympics since 2000. Never forget the shopping trolley that accompanied her with all of her broadcasts from Rio in 2016.
Many British soaps have been available as boxsets on iPlayer and the ITV Hub during to the Euros, but earlier this week the BBC announced that EastEnders will continue to be available on iPlayer first until the end of the Olympics. As Tokyo is eight hours ahead timezone wise, there wouldn’t be any live sports at the time that the soaps would usually air anyway. I wonder if this is a test to work out whether soaps will be available on-demand first in future.
What is on TV next week?
TV: Wimbledon and Euro 2020 conclude on Sunday / Only Connect and University Challenge returns on Monday / This Way Up by Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan returns on Wednesday on Channel 4.
Where you can find me:
Must Watch. It’s the weekly BBC Radio 5 Live TV review podcast, where Hayley Campbell and I share our thoughts on new releases along with Nihal Arthyanake. We’ll be back on Monday afternoons once the Euros are over.
I’ve also written a column for Broadcast Magazine about why the BBC should capitalise on Eurovision’s popularity and launch a Saturday night competition to choose our entrant next year. The United Kingdom's Eurovision ratings were some of the highest in Europe this year, even beating that of the host. Why not capitalise on that?
I was on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Podcast Radio Hour this week giving my recommendations of great podcasts that you should listen to, including Tan France’s Queer Icons, Comfort Eating, Constantly Evolving and the Imperial War Museum’s Conflict of Interest. Listen on BBC Sounds.
I think it is fair to say that we have all slightly (and rightly) lost it this week. After our victory against Denmark on Wednesday, I switched to BBC One to find a (nearly) reunited Atomic Kitten performing “Football’s Coming Home Again.”
Apologies for my enthusiasm in that tweet. Anyway, in the cold sober light of day I realised that it probably wasn’t the best performance from Atomic Kitten. The wonderful Jake McBain, behind those .avi videos, agreed and re-edited it slightly.
That’s all from me on Worth Watching this week.
I’ll be back with another newsletter next Friday.
Scotty / @scottygb