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Inside the Lightbox: The New British Invasion

Inside the Lightbox is a sponsored feature, mining the extensive Lightbox catalogue for the very best shows on a given theme. This time we took a look at the brand new haul of great British shows, fresh to Lightbox this week. /

Moone Boy

Created by Chris O’Dowd (the lovably Irish man from Bridesmaids), Moone Boy is about a 12 year-old lad (Martin Moone) with about as much imagination as he has woollen beanie hats. As well as writing the show, O’Dowd also co-stars in as Martin’s imaginary friend, accompanying him through bullies, kissing dead birds and awkward midnight feasts (advice: never bring a fried breakfast to a sleepover). It feels reminiscent of Richard Ayoade’s (The IT Crowd) feature film venture Submarine, a semi-biographical look at late 80s livin’ for kids with minds far broader than their small town confines.

Martin frees himself from both the nasty kids at school and his dysfunctional family of four through colourful drawings, which lend themselves to playful animations throughout the show. His parents (played by Dierdre O’Kane and Peter McDonald) shine as a couple swamped under their four children. In light of the all the bad Moon exposure we’ve had of late, it’s a welcome time to stand under this bright Moone. / AC

Ripper St

Ripper Street is a period drama set in East London, six months after Jack the Ripper made his final kill. But, as it turns out, he isn’t quite finished yet. A series of similar killings in the area set off further investigations by our man characters in the H Division, including Detective Inspector Edmund Reid. Based on the real detective who fronted the 1889 Ripper case, Reid is a gifted detective with progressive ideas for his time. Reid is haunted by his own tragic past after losing his daughter in a boating accident during the search for the Ripper, so he’s got his own bone to pick with our titular killer.

What better way to keep yourself off the mean streets than by spending quality time at home with the most famous serial killer case in history? / AC

DaVinci’s Demons

Move over Dan Brown, there’s a way better Da Vinci Code to unravel – the fact that everyone’s favourite artist was a tortured smokin’ badass. From the mind of David Goyer (writer of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Man of Steel), this is a superhero take on a mere mortal Renaissance man. Da Vinci’s Demons is the Art History lesson you never got at school, a racy ride through the mean streets of Florence in the 15th century. It’s part history and part fantasy, revealing Leo’s fight against those religious folk who tried to suppress his groundbreaking scientific and artistic truths.

One for all you 25 year-old budding scientists, artists, inventors, engineers and swordsmen out there who feel trapped in a time far less developed than your own genius mind. Oh, and everyone else, of course. / AC

The Thick of It S4

As the 2000s dawned, Armando Iannucci was principally known for creating Alan Partridge, a lovable buffoon of a radio announcer from Norwich. Partridge was a vainglorious and capable of Natalia Kills-esque cruelty at times, but there was a clear affection for the character present in both Iannucci’s writing and Steve Coogan’s performance. That sweetness would entirely evaporate when Iannucci’s next major project, The Thick of It, rolled around. It is perhaps the most vicious political satire ever written, with a breathtaking cynicism about politicians and the way they practise their business. The Steve Coogan equivalent here is Peter Capaldi, who breathes lava into the Prime Minister’s ‘enforcer’, Malcolm Tucker. Capaldi’s Tucker is foul-mouthed, violent and impossibly aggressive.

It’s one of the most kinetic performances you’ll ever see, and the fourth season is arguably the finest yet. It finds the party in opposition with a Leveson-style inquiry hanging over the House of Commons. Tucker is in particularly venal form, playing puppet-master and generally wreaking havoc just because he can. After the election we had in 2014, there’s no better time to watch Iannucci’s dark vision of realpolitik in motion. / DG

Sherlock S2

Playing more like a series of films than a conventional TV show, the BBC’s stunning contemporary reimagining of Sherlock Holmes brings us Benedict Cumberbatch as a supremely gifted sleuth with appalling social skills. He’s aided and abetted by Martin Freeman’s Watson, a retiring fellow sucked into Holmes’ world by the detective’s diabolical charisma. The second season sees three of Conan Doyle’s most celebrated stories tackled, including ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’, and combines elements of procedural, thriller and mystery. It’s the latter element which is most impressive – where most contemporary crime writing for television is sloppy and predictable, Sherlock is peppered with whiplash twists and an dazzlingly intelligent criminal minds – it’s bold and brilliant television. / DG

In addition to those five certified classics, there’s also a raft of other great British TV floating your way: MI High (BBC) Season 7, Doctor Who S5, S6 and S7, Getting On (S3), Luther S3, Mad Dogs S2, Mistresses S3, New Tricks S7, S8 TopGear S14-15, Torchwood: Miracle Day (S4), Wallander (S2, S3)

Lightbox subscribers: Watch the best of Britain on Lightbox by clicking here.

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