Television

With filming on season two of HBO’s controversial, critically lauded teen drama delayed due to Covid, here is the first of two specials aimed at making the wait slightly easier. Picking up where season one left off, with Rue (Zendaya) struggling to deal with her relapse, we also meet Colman Domingo’s Ali, a mentor from Rue’s rehab group.

Monday 7 December, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

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Dawn French returns as Geraldine Grainger in this Zoom-themed series of shorts reviving the beloved sitcom. We follow the vicar’s lockdown through her online sermons, giving tips on everything from at-home haircuts to social distancing.

Monday 7 December, 8.50pm, BBC One

Filmed over five years, this doc follows Lily Jones and her gender transition. It is a journey that started when Lily was 15 and living with her family in Aberystwyth, and captures a new chapter as she prepares for gender-reassignment surgery and a move to Birmingham.

Monday 7 December, BBC Three

Rowan Joffé’s crime drama returns for its third and final season. While the first two were set in the sleepy town of Little Big Bear, near the Canadian Rockies, this season sees Tim Roth’s Jim Worth, and his violent alter ego Jack Devlin, return to his home town of Liverpool, where he must face a dark truth and the reasons for his initial exile.

Thursday 10 December, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

Based on the popular manga series, Alice in Borderland follows slacker Ryōhei Arisu and his two friends as they navigate a parallel Tokyo. The only escape is to take part in a series of sadistic games governed by a mysterious gamesmaster.

Friday 11 December, Netflix

This documentary follows the story of self-described “art terrorist” Andy Link who, in 2004, stole Banksy’s The Drinker sculpture from a London plinth. A reworking of Rodin’s The Thinker, it was eventually returned as The Stinker in 2015 with the figure placed on a toilet seat.

Tuesday 8 December, 9pm, Sky Arts

Baking supremo Nadiya Hussain tries her hand at the travelogue in this two-part series where she samples the culinary delights of California and Louisiana. Beginning in the jazz city of New Orleans, she explores the heritage of Creole cuisine.

Thursday 10 December, 8pm, BBC One

Set in a Taiwanese high school in the 1990s, this creeping horror focuses on Yunxiang Liu, a transfer student who accidentally enters a forbidden campus. There she uncovers the ghost of Ruixin Fang, a former student who was persecuted for fighting for freedom during a time of censorship.

Saturday 5 December, Netflix

Gossip Girl and Lost combine in this teen drama in which a group of female students are stranded on an island following a plane crash. What starts as a fight for survival becomes a battle for answers as they suspect the “accident” may have been planned.

Friday 11 December, Amazon Prime Video

Artificial intelligence and religion battle it out in exec producer Ridley Scott’s new 10-part sci-fi blockbuster. It follows two androids – Mother and Father – living on planet Kepler-22b, who are tasked with raising the human children rescued from a war-torn Earth. Needless to say, the newfound peace is short-lived as religious conflict soon rises.

Saturday 5 December, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

Podcasts

Photography prize Prix Pictet launches a new podcast series inviting some of the world’s leading photographers to discuss how their work can capture the urgency of the climate crisis. Recent guests have included Brazil’s Sebastião Salgado discussing his seven-year project photographing the Amazon rainforest.

Weekly, widely available

A challenging and incisive new podcast from the Guardian Australia team, in association with the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Presented by Sisonke Msimang, Temporary tells the stories of some of the 30,000 asylum seekers who have landed in Australia to find themselves in a legal limbo.

Weekly, the Guardian

The Raising Hell hitmaker explores her love of all things supernatural on this podcast. Diving into the occult, urban legends, astrology and classic ghost tales, it’s a weekly guide to the unexplainable and features guests such as the Hollywood medium Tyler Henry, rapper Trippie Red and, for episode one, the veteran shock-rocker Alice Cooper.

Weekly, widely available

This narrative football pod from the stylish magazine Mundial has been in prolific scoring form recently, with in-depth episodes about the birth of the Somali women’s team and Tranmere’s fairytale run in the Anglo-Italian cup. Best of all is the tale of the recently departed Diego Maradona’s unlikely one-off appearance for Spurs.

Weekly, widely available

This scripted comedy pod follows troublemaker Samuel Adjei as he finds himself sent to boarding school in Ghana by his parents in an effort to get straightened out. What ensues is a deftly performed exploration of cultural identity and what it means to be a teen migrant in an intense world of chores and homework.

Weekly, widely available

Films

(12A) (David Fincher) 132 minsVisual nods to Citizen Kane abound in this fascinating Hollywood period piece, a tale of fatal flaws and myth making. Alcoholic writer Herman Mankiewicz (an exceptional Gary Oldman) pens Orson Welles’s seminal 1941 film, while flashbacks follow him into the gilded world of WR Hearst and his mistress Marion Davies, which he mined for his script.

In cinemas and Netflix

(15) (Rob Savage) 65 minsShort but perfectly terrifying horror, in which a group of friends having a lockdown Zoom seance inadvertently invite a malevolent spirit into their homes. Shot remotely under Covid restrictions, it’s up there with The Blair Witch Project for inventive, rough-and-ready scares.

In cinemas and Netflix

(12A) (George C Wolfe) 93 minsDespite not straying far from its origins, this version of August Wilson’s play about black blues musicians in 1927 Chicago is given vitality by two powerhouse performances. Viola Davis plays real-life singer Ma while Chadwick Boseman (in his final role) is all sparks as impetuous trumpeter Levee.

In cinemas

Tough British drama offering a necessary personal angle on news stories of city kids sent to rural areas to deal drugs. Conrad Khan is excellent as withdrawn 14-year-old Tyler, lured into criminality when his single mum (Ashley Madekwe, also great) loses her job.

In cinemas and Netflix

(15) (Viggo Mortensen) 112 minsMortensen also wrote this thoughtful, semi-autobiographical tale. A fiery Lance Henriksen plays a bigoted old farmer whose dementia makes him even more challenging for his gay son (Mortensen again), as past and present mingle in his mind.

In cinemas

Colm Tóibín’s novel gets a five-star treatment from director John Crowley, screenwriter Nick Hornby and its luminous star, Saoirse Ronan. The 1950s ambience is gorgeously evoked as her young County Wexford migrant, Eilis, heads to New York, finds her feet, struggles with homesickness, and is wooed.

Thursday 10 December, 8pm, BBC Four

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