What to watch on TV this week
From Andrew Dominik's divisive Marilyn Monroe film Blonde, starring Ana de Armas, to Kenneth Branagh portraying Boris Johnson in This England, this week in TV is filled with potential controversies
Blonde could become the most controversial film of the year. Based on the thick, 740-page tome by Joyce Carol Oates, the story is a fictionalised account of renowned actor and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas). It spans Monroe’s fraught childhood as Norma Jeane, her break into modelling and movies, her marriages to Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), before concluding with her tragic death aged 36.
Filmmaker Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford) pre-empted the potential backlash for the film by claiming there’s ‘something in it to offend everyone’. But let's face it: that only makes the project more intriguing.
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As with the Channel 4 film Brexit: The Uncivil War, many are concerned that Michael Winterbottom’s new series This England – about the government’s response to the Covid pandemic – is happening too soon. Especially as its protagonist, Boris Johnson, isn’t anyone’s favourite person right now. But this drama goes beyond the caricature of the former prime minister, often focusing on the hospitals and care homes struggling on the frontlines of the Covid crisis.
Kenneth Branagh transforms into BoJo, with Ophelia Lovibond at his side playing Carrie Symonds. Andrew Buchan portrays the health secretary Matt Hancock, Shri Patel takes on chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Simon Paisley Day plays the chief advisor Dominic Cummings.
What is it about handsome men of the cloth? After Andrew Scott in Fleabag and Tom Hiddleston in The Essex Serpent, David Tennant is the latest to don a cassock for television: this time, for Steven Moffat’s ambiguous new drama Inside Man.
The BBC has released scant information about the series, only details of seemingly disparate characters. Tennant plays a vicar in a small English town (naturally), Stanley Tucci stars as a convict on death row (known as the ‘Inside Man’), and there’s also a maths teacher trapped in a cellar. How are these people connected? Hard to say: the press release unhelpfully reveals that ‘they cross paths in the most unexpected way’.
Sex and drugs and high finance. The BBC/HBO series Industry is soap and trash disguised as prestige TV, and yet it’s so unerringly addictive. The first season followed a horny and ambitious gaggle of graduates training at the massive London branch of Pierpoint & Co – all vying for a permanent position.
Season two looks at the grads who made it through to the next stage, and the pressure’s even worse. Pierpoint is facing a potential merger with the New York offices, and Harper (Myha'la Herrold), Yasmin (Marisa Abela) and Robert (Harry Lawtey) need to find new clients for a post-Covid world.
This cat-and-mouse thriller was another production delayed by the pandemic. When the team returned to filming, the series' star Jeff Bridges was diagnosed with cancer. And then he caught Covid. But after both conditions settled, The Old Man continued filming and it's finally dropping this week.
Bridges plays the former CIA agent Dan Chase, who's been on the run for decades. Once an assassin tries to kill him, Dan comes out of hiding to finally confront the past. Because of a shared and tortured history, FBI man Harold Harper (John Lithgow) is tasked with finding and capturing the rogue agent.
Provoking a reaction seemed to be the mission statement for the 1997 Sensation exhibition at the RA. It displayed works by the controversial 'Young British Artists', which included Marcus Harvey’s infamous
handprint painting of Myra Hindley, Tracey Emin’s tent-based Everyone I Have
Ever Slept With (1963 - 95), and Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde shark in a
2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Sensation show, and the BBC marks the occasion with a three-part documentary about this punky period. The series interviews Dame Rachel Whiteread, Gavin Turk, Sir Michael Craig-Martin, and Alex James from Blur fame.
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