This summer's must-watch TV shows
Mr Sloane, Playhouse Presents, The Honourable Woman, Silicon Valley, Nick and Marget and Made in Chelsea New York all air this summer
The wintry Nordic Noir season is drawing to a close as we usher in a new selection of summertime TV.
If you’re missing Homeland, Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in The Honourable Woman, a new thriller on BBC Two set in the Middle East about a businesswoman whose handling of contracts sees her scrutinised by the Secret Service.
Britain’s ‘answer to Mad Men’, Mr Sloane, begins on Sky Atlantic this month. Starring Olivia Colman and Nick Frost, the six-part drama follows an accountant in the throes of a mid-life crisis in 1969.
As HBO’s Girls leaves our screen, the broadcaster’s new comedy Silicon Valley debuts on Sky Atlantic, taking a swipe at the socially awkward, overpaid uber-geeks of San Francisco’s tech mecca.
If that all sounds like too much of a commitment, Dawn Porter attempts to ‘cure’ the nation of its addiction to fast-fashion over on Channel 4 this July, while the Made in Chelsea gang swan about in New York.
Sky Atlantic, 23 May
What is it? A six-part, bittersweet rom-com about the hapless, hard-on-his-luck Mr Sloane, an accountant in the throes of a mid-life crisis. But it’s 1969, and things might just be about to swing his way…
Why should I be excited? Directed by Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Robert B Weide, it stars Nick Frost. We’re also taken by the support: Olivia Colman is his estranged wife, and Ophelia Lovibond is the wild (if wildly improbable) love interest.
Sky Atlantic, May/June
What is it? Sky’s neat strand of standalone dramas continues to provide a platform for top writing and starry turns. The season is underway, but there are gems coming up over the summer.
Why should I be excited? Polly Stenham makes her TV debut with Foxtrot, a girl-gang heist starring Billie Piper and Ben Whishaw. Space Age has fruity Richard Wilson and Simon Callow as ageing astronauts, while Cara Delevingne tries her acting chops in Timeless.
The Honourable Woman
BBC Two, July
What is it? An eight-part thriller about a businesswoman whose handling of contracts in the Middle East sees her embroiled in the Israel-Palestine conflict – and scrutinised by the Secret Service.
Why should I be excited? It’s got proper Hollywood stardust, in the form of Maggie Gyllenhaal in the main role. An ambitious and unflinching look at a major conflict, written by Hugo Blick – so expect it to twist and turn till you feel positively giddy.
Melvyn Bragg's Radical Lives
BBC Two, July
What is it? Two-part documentary looking at radical political thinkers John Ball and Thomas Paine. Ball was at the heart of the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, while Paine was the 18thcentury theorist whose Rights of Man really did change the world.
Why should I be excited? Rebellion! Revolution! Uprising! Intellectual political theory! How much more excitement can you take?!
This Old Thing
Channel 4, July
What is it? A series celebrating vintage fashion: perky Dawn O’Porter attempts to “cure” the nation of its addiction to fast-fashion, inducting a “vintage virgin” into the joys of thrift each week, while seamstresses are on hand to restyle old frocks.
Why should I be excited? Might have been exciting about a decade ago, before “vintage” got coopted by the high-street as a way to sell hacked-up manky 1980s dresses for a small fortune.
Sky Atlantic, July
What is it? New HBO comedy series takes swipes at the socially awkward, overpaid uber-geeks of San Francisco’s tech mecca. It’s a biting satire of the cultural zeitgeist – but don’t let that put you off…
Why should I be excited? Created by Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead), it’s already had some seriously good reviews in America.
Nick and Margaret: Immigration - Gain or Drain?
What is it? Former Apprentice stooges present a two-part social “experiment” where immigrants live and work with real-proper- born-n-bred- Britons, to see if they are a “gain or drain”.
Why should I be excited? Why should I be excited? Oh my! What’s that loud noise?! That’s the sound of the Beeb slamming on the accelerator in the race to the bottom…
The Great Instrument Amnesty
Channel 4, August
What is it? A musical revolution: presenter James Rhodes persuades those with unwanted musical instruments to donate them to schools, while he lobbies the Government for greater funds for musical education.
Why should I be excited? Likely to tug more (heart)strings than a pizzicato passage, as youngsters turn their lives around through music.
What is it? Five stand-alone films, showcasing new writing talent, all featuring terse encounters where dark secrets come to light.
Why should I be excited? Dominic Savage directs; writers include playwright Nick Payne (Constellations, above) and Bafta-nominated Him & Her’s Sarah Solemani, who writes and stars in her episode. Also features Sally Hawkins, and Olivia Colman (again).
Made in Chelsea: New York
E4, late summer
What is it? A mini-series that sees the Sloanes go West: six parts follow the SW 3 gang as they swan about in New York.
Why should I be excited? Are you still excited about MIC? No? Then watching them gape at Bloomingdale’s probably isn’t going to help. Move along.