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Summer 2021 TV guide: Unmissable shows from Loki to Love Island

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Summer 2021 TV guide: Unmissable shows from Loki to Love Island
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he sun is finally out, the city has started to come alive again and our social calendars are (tentatively) filling up – but that doesn’t mean it’s time to unplug the TV and swear off streaming.

Pandemic-induced production delays conspired to fill last summer’s schedules with interminable repeats, but this year’s line-up is a far more appealing proposition – and not just because Love Island is finally back on our screens (mercifully giving us something to make small talk about beyond the tired ‘how was your lockdown’ chats). From a Marvel-lous superhero series to gripping true crime, clever comedies to returning favourites, these are the shows worth cancelling your plans for…

BBC/Matt Squire

Set in a British prison, the new drama from Jimmy McGovern makes for gruelling but gripping viewing. Sean Bean stars as a newly incarcerated teacher wracked with guilt, while Stephen Graham plays his support officer, a principled guard who must make an awful decision when his family comes under threat. An unsparing but deeply moving portrait of a flawed system with a brilliant supporting cast, it’s unmissable.

Watch if you like: Hard-hitting drama that makes you think

Where and when: BBC iPlayer and BBC One, Sundays at 9pm

Disney+

Marvel’s mischief-maker-in-chief has landed his very own spin-off series. Yes, he was killed off during a previous Avengers movie, but the laws of space and time can be stretched in superhero land. Another version of Loki (known, in a stroke of unfortunate timing, as ‘the Loki variant’) is very much alive – and he’s been tasked with travelling back to various historical periods to ‘fix the flow of time.’ Sounds confusing, but Tom Hiddleston’s character is charismatic enough to ensure this will be a fun ride even if you’ve got zero idea what’s going on.

Watch if you like: Mind-boggling, time-twisting escapism

Where and when: Disney+, June 9

Emmanuel Guimier

During the long nights of the winter lockdown, plenty of us ditched Duolingo for good, instead telling ourselves that watching subtitled shows such as sleeper hit Lupin would make us fluent in French by osmosis. That grand plan didn’t quite work out, but we were hooked on the super-slick antics of gentleman burglar Assane Diop (Omar Sy) all the same. Now he’s back for round two, mounting a rescue mission after his son Raoul (Etan Simon) was kidnapped at the end of the last series.

Watch if you like: Glossy thrillers with Gallic charm

BBC/Shoebox films

There’s a whole lot of talent crammed into this one-off film, which stars Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy as a couple who start to re-evaluate their relationship when they’re forced together during the coronavirus lockdown. It’s written by Dennis Kelly (who previously worked with Horgan on cult comedy Pulling) and directed by Stephen Frears.

Watch if you like: Love stories with an edge

Where and when: BBC Two, June 17

Rose Byrne dons fluorescent spandex, sweatbands and a perm in this pitch black comedy, set in 80s California. She plays Sheila, a bored, troubled housewife who ends up battling her demons through the unlikeliest of mediums: aerobics. Soon, high on endorphins, she becomes an in-demand fitness guru in the vein of Jane Fonda. If you’re still mourning the cancellation of Netflix’s Glow, which followed an unlikely bunch of female wrestlers and was set in the same era, this should fill the void.

Watch if you like: Big hair and big 80s tunes

Where and when: Apple TV+, June 18

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy

Jet-setting is most likely off the agenda this summer, but we can all pretend we’re joining Stanley Tucci on a gastronomic tour of Italy when his charming travelogue makes its UK debut later this month. The actor, whose Instagram cocktail-making tutorials were the toast of lockdown, explores his Italian heritage through the medium of pizza, pasta and all things delicious. Bellissimo.

Watch if you like: Living the dolce vita vicariously

Where and when: CNN International, June 20 at 7pm

This sweeping six-part documentary charts the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in America. Each episode focuses on a different decade, beginning with the ‘Lavender scare’ of the 1950s, then moving on to the queer legacy of the Civil Rights movement, the Aids epidemic, the fight for marriage equality and trans rights. Each one is helmed by a queer director, too.

Watch if you like: Uncovering hidden histories

Where and when: Disney+, June 25

Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow

The favourite daughter of the disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, much of Ghislaine Maxwell’s life – including her relationship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein – remains shrouded in mystery. This three-part documentary from Sky, which airs ahead of her upcoming trial on sex trafficking charges, will attempt to shed some light, exploring her early days and charting the events that led up to her arrest last summer.

Watch if you like: Gripping true crime

Where and when: Sky Documentaries and NOW, June 28

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork

Netflix

Almost a quarter of a century after the murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was found dead outside her Cork holiday home in December 1996, the case remains mired in controversy: the prime suspect Ian Bailey (who maintains his innocence) was convicted by a French court in absentia, but remains a free man in Ireland. The case has inspired plenty of documentaries, but this Netflix series is the first to be backed by Sophie’s family.

Watch if you like: Unsolved mysteries

Where and when: Netflix, June 30

Blessed be the fruit. The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which debuted in America earlier this year, is finally making its way across the Atlantic – if you can still bear to watch this relentlessly harrowing drama. The new episodes will chart the fallout from June (formerly Offred, another powerhouse performance from Elisabeth Moss)’s failed attempt to cross the border to find safety in Canada.

Watch if you like: Nerve-shredding dystopian drama

Where and when: Channel 4, June

ITV2/Love Island

Gather round the fire pit, grab your personalised water bottle and prepare to put all your eggs in one basket: Love Island is finally returning to our screens after a pandemic-imposed hiatus, with a new cohort of genetically blessed singles looking to find their type on paper – or at least secure a coveted Boohoo collab upon leaving the villa. Laura Whitmore is back on hosting duties, with her husband Iain Stirling once again dishing out genially snarky commentary.

Watch if you like: Sacrificing your entire summer social life

Where and when: ITV2, late June

Amazon’s anthology series, based on the New York Times’ weekly column about the travails of contemporary romance, is back for another star-studded outing, with each episode charting a unique love story. The cast is seriously stacked: everyone who’s anyone is on board, from The Crown’s Tobias Menzies to Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington to Bohemian Rhapsody’s Lucy Boynton.

Watch if you like: Glossy series that require zero commitment

When and where: Amazon Prime Video, August 13

Getty Images

Her deadpan turn as Eve Polastri opposite Jodie Comer’s Villanelle proved that Sandra Oh has impeccable comic timing. She’ll be putting those funny bones to good use in this sit-com from actress-slash-screenwriter Amanda Peet, playing the first female head of the English faculty at a prestigious American university. It’s the first Netflix project from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as part of their multi-million deal with the streamer.

Watch if you like: Off-beat comedy

Where and when: Netflix, August 27

After the success of The Missing, the moody thriller from prolific writing duo Harry and Jack Williams, grizzled French detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) earned his own spin-off series. The second season sees the retired sleuth head to Hungary to tackle a new mystery: the family of an ambassador (played by Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw) have gone missing, and the case gets nasty very quickly.

Watch if you like: Troubled cops

When and where: BBC One, summer

Married at First Sight Australia

Get ready to commit to another chaotic series of everyone’s favourite social experiment. The Aussie edition of MAFS has proved a huge hit for E4, and the seventh season, which was filmed in 2019, promises the return of previous contestant Elizabeth Sobinoff (the one who got messed around by ‘tradie’ Sam last time) and the show’s first same-sex couple, as well as the usual awkward honeymoons and red wine-fuelled slanging matches.

Watch if you like: Reality TV at its most addictive

Where and when: E4, summer

C5

Channel 5 has seriously upped its game drama-wise in recent years. Jill Halfpenny was compelling in their thriller The Drowning back in January, and she’ll be back on our screens soon with The Holiday, starring as a woman who discovers her husband is cheating on her – and the other woman might be one of her best pals, with whom she’s currently stuck on a group trip to the south of France.

Watch if you like: The telly equivalent of a beach read

When and where: Channel 5, summer

Facing intense pressure to catch Rachel Nickell’s killer in 1992, the Met Police opted for highly controversial tactics: using a ‘honeytrap’ in an attempt to ensnare suspect Colin Stagg. Channel 4’s four-part drama stars Niamh Algar as ‘Lizzie,’ the young female officer tasked with starting a relationship with Stagg – and eliciting a confession from what turned out to be the wrong man.

Watch if you like: A fresh spin on the true crime genre

When and where: Channel 4, late summer

Entertainment

Download Festival organiser claims results is ‘100% evidence’ tunes events can be risk-free

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Download Festival organiser says success is ‘100% evidence’ music events can be safe
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he organiser of Obtain Festival states it is “100% evidence” that massive-scale audio situations can just take position safely amid the pandemic.

Melvin Benn, controlling director of the Competition Republic group, mentioned he had viewed an “extraordinary” stage of compliance on website across the 3-working day festival, which has faced weighty rain and showers.

The rock and metal celebration, which concludes on Sunday night, is taking area as aspect of a Government live events pilot, indicating lovers do not have to put on masks or socially distance – while the capability has been significantly lowered from 111,000 to close to 10,000.

Speaking as the competition drew to a shut, Mr Benn advised the PA information agency: “It’s amazing definitely. It is really superb. I am really coronary heart-warmed by it all.

“What is amazing about it is the degree of compliance around the screening and demands we have is certainly incredible.

“In a way that you would anticipate when you are in the center or towards the tail stop of a pandemic, that level of compliance is amazing.

“It is coupled with a stage of normality that is equally remarkable when you have been out of it for so extensive.”

Asked about the strategy it stays difficult for large-scale music activities to be Covid-safe, he claimed: “It is evidence that this is not true. It is 100% proof that it is not accurate. This is a quite apparent demonstration that you can do it.”

Headliners Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Enter Shikari are amongst the acts that executed throughout Friday and Saturday, with Bullet For My Valentine and Frank Turner owing to participate in on Sunday night.

Mr Benn predicted the details becoming collected at the competition would establish comparable gatherings can choose spot.

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