British miniseries galore, Joanna Lumley travelogues, plucky teens putting on a musical about 19th Germany – May on Lightbox has got it all. Sam Brooks and Alex Casey run down what’s coming to Lightbox this month.
Love, Nina (May 2)
Who doesn’t love a delicious Nick Hornby adaptation to soothe the weary soul? Based on the semi-fictionalised book by Nina Stibbe about her time working as a nanny, Love, Nina was brought to the small screen by the same mushy heart that gave us High Fidelity, About a Boy and Fever Pitch. Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones, The White Queen) plays Nina, a 20-year-old nanny who is the polar opposite of Mary Poppins in the most delightful way. Her hair is all over the show, her accent very far from the Camden snoot, and her cool 1980s knits would make a killing in 2018. Follow her as she braves the bold new world of high literary society England, trying to keep the kids happy and their mother (played by the incredible Helena Bonham Carter) even happier. The Guardian called it “a joy” and it’s not hard to see why. / Alex Casey
Joanna Lumley’s Japan AND Joanna Lumley’s Tran-Siberian Adventure (May 7)
It’s Joanna Lumley. On camera. Why wouldn’t you watch this? What went wrong in your life that hearing those words in that order wouldn’t immediately draw you to your nearest streaming device to watch her? But in all seriousness, Joanna Lumley has proven herself to have a secret talent for this kind of travelogue show, where she goes around the world, to places you might not have gone to before, and talks about them on camera.
One reason is that she has one of the most utterly pleasant voices to ever grace our planet. If there were such a thing as a siren in our modern world, then it would sound like Joanna Lumley, and it would lure men and their ships to doom like it lures me to watch Absolutely Fabulous over and over again.
The other thing makes her so good at travel television is her genuine curiosity and wonder at the things she sees – this is a person who wants to learn more about the world, is genuinely thankful to the people who take her around all these places, and she asks the things that we might be too scared or too unaware to ask. She does the learning so we don’t have to, and these shows are all the more valuable for it. / Sam Brooks
Guerrilla (May 30)
It’s bloody Idris Elba AND bloody Freida Pinto. It’s created by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime). It’s six episodes of social and political history, with a good splash of love story. The year is 1971 and racial tensions are high as black power movements grow in London and the Immigration Act, one which restricted foreign access to the UK, is passed. An activist couple (Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay) work together to form an underground resistance cell and free a political prisoner, in what’s been reviewed as “an energised expose” and “radicalism without the mythology“. Watch the trailer here. / AC
Thirteen (May 14)
A classic British chiller for the ages, this miniseries follows a kidnapped woman who escapes her captor’s cellar after 13 years as a missing person. What unfolds is a complicated piecing together of her life as a 26-year-old woman and retracing the heinous crime that robbed her of her adolescence and early adulthood. Expect a couple of twists, turns, and a few shifts in tone to keep you on your toes. “We simply don’t know if we are watching a horror story or a quiet tribute to human courage and resilience,” wrote The Australian in their review. Only one way to find out! / AC
Rev. S1-3 (May 16)
The modern-day mumblecore version Father Ted, Rev. is a BBC comedy set within the four heavenly walls of the Church of England. Starring English rose Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Carribean, Pride and Prejudice, About Time) alongside everyone’s absolute fave Olivia Colman (Peep Show, Broadchurch), Rev. takes the Father Ted idea of the friendly local rural vicar and plonks him into inner-city London, where he must confront all the complexities of a multi-cultural, multi-faith environment. Don’t worry, there’s still a fair bit of binge drinking. / AC
The Good Wife S7 (May 22)
The final rocker season of The Good Wife comes to Lightbox this month, completing the boxset, so it’s all ready for binging. Here’s what we wrote about it before:
“Julianna Margulies displays a mastery over eyebrow acting, while Archie Panjabi and Christine Baranski bring the skills when it comes to being mean to other people onscreen. It’s always satisfying to watch people be mean in more clever and satisfying ways than you ever could.
It’s always satisfying to watch people be mean in more clever and satisfying ways than you ever could. If your brand of drama is people having too many feelings and not being able to express them properly because of the rules of society or the ethics of their job, then The Good Wife is the show for you.” / SB
Rise S1 (May 23)
A show about a group of plucky young kids trying to put on a production of Spring Awakening, lead by How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor and created by the guy who brought us the crying-meets-sports drama Friday Night Lights? I’m already reaching for the tissues and pretending that you’re the one who is crying, not me. Rise is very loosely based on Michael Sokolove’s book Drama High and stars Radnor as a teacher who decides to take over the drama department. You also might recognise Rosie Perez as a rival drama teacher, and you will definitely recognise the voice of one Auli’i Cravalho from Moana, who has a meaty live-action role here. / SB
Shakespeare Uncovered S1-2 (May 28)
Samantha from Sex and the City talking about Shakespeare, and not just any Shakespeare, but Antony and Cleopatra? I’m already sold. And it’s not just Kim Catrall – Shakespeare Uncovered features lots of other famous people talking what makes ol’ Billy Shakes so great. If you’re into the bard at all, then you’ll be all over this, but if you’re a more novice (maybe you attended the Pop-Up Globe once and got a taste for iambic pentameter, like a feral beast gets a taste for human flesh, who am I to judge?) then this is a great entry point.
Bonus points: If you ever had a burning desire to hear the mozzarella-voiced Morgan Freeman talking about the immensely problematic and definitely-now-sexist play Taming of the Shrew and if you want something a bit heavier, listen to David Harewood talking about white actors playing the absolutely not-white Othello. / SB
Watch all these and more on Lightbox this month:
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.