Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham not only star in but also executive produce this poignant drama, set in a Liverpool care home at the (terrifying) start of the pandemic. We follow Comer’s care home worker Sarah and her desperate struggle to look after her residents – including Tony (Graham), who has early onset Alzheimer’s.
Thursday 16 September, 9pm, Channel 4
Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain
A documentary series using the biggest girl band ever as a lens to squint at how feminism and society has changed, plus an examination of a legacy that promoted capitalism as much as it did community.
Tuesday 14 September, 9pm, Channel 4
Based on a grisly true story (which became a hit podcast, natch), Dr Death stars Joshua Jackson as Christopher Duntsch, a charismatic neurosurgeon who seems to be doing well in his Dallas practice – until his fellow medics (Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin) start to notice how many of his patients wind up dead.
Sunday 12 September, Starzplay
Lessons in love … Sex Education. Photograph: Sam Taylor
The high-school comedy-drama is back for a third series, and the first episode kicks off with a big ol’ sex montage (of course). But it’s not all smooth sailing: Moordale’s new headmistress (Girls’ Jemima Kirke) is set on raising standards and teaching abstinence to her perpetually randy pupils. Good luck with that.
Friday 17 September, Netflix
The great grotesques of 80s Spitting Image – Thatcher, Reagan, Yeltsin – seem almost quaint in their dastardliness compared with today’s political villains, who sometimes seem to be able to render satire obsolete. All the same, Spitting Image is sharpening its knives and getting stuck in with this new series, following the success of the show’s return last autumn.
Saturday 11 September, BritBox
The first season of the breakfast TV drama ended with Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) dropping a bombshell live on air about the company’s complicity in its history of sexual assault. Expect uncomfortable truths in this second series.
Friday 17 September, Apple TV+
Tall tales … Shaun Keaveny. Photograph: Leigh Keily
Supported by the Mermaids charity, which supports trans and gender-diverse teens, this joyful pod features guests reflecting on modern life – from pearl-clutching to drag names, racism and exams – in the company of hosts Alex Woolhouse (she) and Shivani Dave (they).
Weekly, widely available
A harrowing true-crime pod telling a story of sex, obsession and murder. When Jennair Gerardot began to suspect her husband, Mark, of having an affair with his boss, she began recording their trysts – and plotting a horrific revenge. This pod has laid out the story in detail; it now returns with some fascinating new developments.
Weekly, widely available
We’ve all had to pay renewed attention to our mental health over the difficult last 18 months. This pod explores positive emotions, how we can nurture them and how varieties of happiness (tranquility, ecstasy, hope) have their own meanings. Bidisha presents, speaking to artists, anthropologists and neuroscientists along the way.
Weekly, widely available
Anyone who is missing Shaun Keaveny’s dulcet tones on 6 Music (that’s quite a lot of people, isn’t it?) will be able to get their fix with this new pod in which Keaveny narrates a few of rock’n’roll’s craziest (fictional) tales. The series is based on Jon Holmes’s book Rock Star Babylon, a feast of rock apocrypha.
Weekly, Absolute Radio
What with a global pandemic and the climate crisis, it has been a busy couple of years for science journalists. These bite-sized weekly episodes explore scientific issues – ranging from vaccines for children to tree-planting in order to reduce carbon emissions – with input from experts in the relevant fields.
Weekdays, the Guardian
Siren song … Jennifer Hudson and Mary J Blige in Respect. Photograph: Quantrell D Colbert/Allstar
(12A) (Liesl Tommy) 145 mins
This drama about soul giant Aretha Franklin sticks to a conventional music biopic template: childhood pain, breakthrough success, relationship and substance problems, musical redemption. But with songs like hers, and their lung-bursting delivery by Jennifer Hudson (a perfect fit for the role), you may well get carried along in its emotional wake anyway.
(15) (Anne Zohra Berrached) 119 mins
A discreetly tragic romance where the obstacles to love are not just cultural. Based on the true story of a 9/11 terrorist, it stars the luminous Canan Kir as German-Turkish student Asli, who falls for Beirut-born Saeed (Roger Azar) in 1990s Hamburg. But then he starts keeping secrets from her …
(15) (Phyllida Lloyd) 97 mins
The Iron Lady director picks another forthright female character in this empowering drama, co-written by and starring Clare Dunne. She’s a Dublin mother fleeing an abusive marriage who sees a solution to temporary accommodation in building her own house. A Loachian tale with the sharp edges sanded down.
(15) (Andreas Koefoed) 96 mins
An engrossing delve into the grubby, moneyed world of fine art, as the discovery of a possible painting by the Renaissance giant inspires greed and acrimony. The documentary’s cast encompasses museum curators, Russian oligarchs and Saudi despots.
(18) (James Wan) 111 mins
The Insidious and Conjuring creator initiates another horror, this time with overt debts to Argento, De Palma and Eyes of Laura Mars. Annabelle Wallis plays a woman who sees visions of a serial killer, harking back to her own disturbed childhood.