13 of the best TV shows to watch this April – BBC


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(Credit: Michelle Faye/FX)
1. Under the Banner of Heaven
In 1984, a gruesome double murder rocked the state of Utah, when Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter Erica were killed in their home at the hands of Brenda’s two brothers-in-law. The tragic story gained international attention, in part because of its links to fundamentalist Mormonism: the brothers were part of an offshoot of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, which still believed in and practiced polyamory, and claimed in court that they were compelled to commit the crime by instruction from God. This new TV series adapts Jon Krakauer’s seminal book on the murders, and stars Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield as Detective Jeb Pyre, and Normal People’s Daisy Edgar Jones as Brenda Lafferty. Dustin Lance Black, who won the Oscar for writing the film Milk, has written the show, and David Mackenzie (Outlaw King) is the director. Watch the trailer here.
Under the Banner of Heaven is released on 28 April on Hulu in the US
(Credit: Apple TV+)
2. Roar
This new anthology series is the latest example of Apple TV+’s strategy of attaching big name stars to book adaptations (others not included in this list but coming this month are Slow Horses starring Gary Oldman and Shining Girls starring Elisabeth Moss) with Roar. Based on a collection of short stories by PS I Love You author Cecelia Ahern, it promises to offer an “insightful, poignant and sometimes hilarious portrait of what it means to be a woman today” via eight, half hour-long stories featuring the likes of Nicole Kidman, Cynthia Erivo, Issa Rae, Merritt Wever, Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Meera Syal. Speaking to Irish News in 2018 about the book, Ahern said: “On the surface, they are fun and whimsy, but the root of each story is real – and also moving… they are about real issues like guilt, confusion, frustration, intimidation, exhaustion – private moments when a woman feels she wants to roar.” Watch the trailer here.
Roar is released on 15 April on Apple TV+
(Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Showtime)
3. The First Lady
Here’s another anthology drama about the lives of women, but this time with some of acting’s most famous faces embodying some of America’s most recognisable ladies. Viola Davis is Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer is Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson is Eleanor Roosevelt in this 10-episode series about the women at the heart of the White House. Despite taking place in very different time periods, the show weaves the three stories of these great First Ladies together. “The whole point was to always sort of finish one sentence with another character’s sentence, but sometimes you’re looking for similarities and sometimes you’re looking for quite the opposite to make a point,” producer and showrunner Cathy Schulman told Vanity Fair. With a supporting cast that boasts names including Kiefer Sutherland, Aaron Eckhart, Dakota Fanning and O-T Fagbenle, and The Undoing director Susanne Bier behind the camera, expect high drama, historical insight, and hopefully some of the year’s finest acting. Watch the trailer here.
The First Lady premieres on 17 April on Showtime in the US
(Rob Youngson/ Netflix)
4. Heartstopper
Called “the anti-Euphoria”, this sweet gay British teenage love story is arriving on Netflix with a devoted fan base in tow, thanks to the cult following for the webtoon (a kind of online comic that you subscribe to) it’s adapted from. The series follows Nick and Charlie, two 15-year-olds at a UK boys’ school, as they navigate sexuality, love, friendship and everything else that comes with life. Alice Oseman, the creator of both the comic and this small-screen adaptation, told The Guardian that she wanted to create a story that was “optimistic and joyful”; with the show, Netflix will surely be hoping to replicate the success of its other popular teen comedy-drama set in the UK, Sex Education. Watch the teaser here.
Heartstopper is released on 22 April on Netflix
(Credit: Eros Hoagland/HBO Max)
5. Tokyo Vice
“I want to know the real Tokyo, what’s beneath the surface,” says Ansel Elgort (West Side Story, Baby Driver), speaking in Japanese in the new trailer for this bilingual crime drama. Inspired by Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir of being an American journalist embedded within Tokyo Police in the 90s, Tokyo Vice looks at the “neon-soaked underbelly” of the Japanese capital. The revered film director Michael Mann – who made the similarly-titled Miami Vice – directed the pilot, and multi-award-winning playwright J T Rogers created and wrote the series, while the cast includes Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Rachel Keller (Fargo). Speaking to Deadline in 2020 about the series, Mann said that Elgort took daily four-hour Japanese language classes to prepare for the role, and that this performance “will be a breakout, both for his work and for this kind of a character. It’s unusual, in very unusual circumstances.”
The first three episodes of Tokyo Vice will launch on 7 April on HBO Max in the US, with subsequent episodes premiering weekly, while the series will begin on 24 April on Wowow in Japan
(Credit: Apple TV+)
6. They Call Me Magic
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, for the uninitiated, is one of basketball’s greatest athletes. Playing professionally in the 80s and 90s, he left his mark on the sport as a 10-time NBA champion and two-time NBA hall of fame inductee. But his life and legacy is so much more than the sport. In this “four-part documentary event”, Johnson, and the people who know him best, explore his life – from the glamour of being an A-list sports star, to his 1991 HIV diagnosis, and his philanthropy. Talking heads include his long-time rival (and good off-court friend) Larry Bird, Samuel L Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal and Barack Obama. Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds wrote that the series “will inspire you to see a man who could have gone in a completely different direction with his life with the hand he was dealt. Instead, he turned and used that opportunity for the greater good. It’s quite magical when you think about it.” Watch the trailer here.
They Call Me Magic is released on 22 April on Apple TV+
(Credit: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+)
7. The Offer
In the year that The Godfather turns 50, it feels like the film is everywhere, from cinematic re-releases to a reunion of Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino at this year’s Academy Awards. It’s only fitting, then, that this year also sees a 10-part series about the making of the film, told from the perspective of producer Albert S Ruddy (played by Whiplash’s Miles Teller), who is trying to get this book adaptation off the ground all the while being told that “gangster movies are dead”. The rest of the cast include Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game) as legendary fellow producer and studio executive Robert Evans, Juno Temple (Ted Lasso) as Ruddy’s assistant Bettye McCartt, and Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) as Coppola. Speaking to Vanity Fair, series creator Michael Tolkin said: “For every character [involved] in the film, getting it made or stopping it from being made was at the core of their actions, and it was a matter of life and death to them… That’s what gave the book and the movie so much power. Everyone is fighting for their existence.” Watch the trailer here.
The first three episodes of The Offer are released on 28 April on Paramount+ in the US, with the rest released weekly thereafter
(Credit: Ross Ferguson/HBO)
8. The Baby
Parenting can be challenging at the best of times, but in this new horror-comedy, it’s positively terrifying. When Natasha (Michelle De Swarte) is unexpectedly landed with a baby, her world is turned upside-down, and a surreal ordeal awaits her as she navigates the realities of parenting a child she doesn’t want, but who definitely wants her. Co-creators Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer have said that they want the series “to explore the powerful anxiety around the question of whether or not to have children,” something which many can relate to. If the trailer is anything to go by, expect gore, laughs and some very cute children doing some very creepy things.
The Baby premieres on 24 April on HBO Max in the US, and will be released later in the year on Sky Atlantic and Now in the UK
(Credit: Netflix)
9. Anatomy of a Scandal
Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend headline this new limited series from Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley. Based on a bestselling novel by Sarah Vaughan, it is a psychological thriller meets courtroom drama that centres on an British politican (Rupert Friend) and his lawyer wife (Miller) after their peaceful and privileged lives are upended when the former is accused of rape. “To me, Anatomy is really about entitlement and the scandal of entitlement,” Vaughan told The Guardian. Also starring are Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Naomi Scott (Aladdin); you can watch the trailer here.
Anatomy of a Scandal is released on 15 April on Netflix
(Credit: BBC)
10. Life After Life
This adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s celebrated novel, which won the 2013 Costa Book Award, asks the question: can a perfect life ever be lived? Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, Last Night in Soho) stars as Ursula Todd, who is born in 1910, but dies before she takes her first breath. She’s then reborn many more times, living and dying in totally different ways throughout the early 20th Century, while carrying with her a sense that there is something she needs to do. Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and James McArdle (Mare of Easttown) are Ursula’s parents, and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay also appears. The novel was called a “marvel” by The Guardian, so here’s hoping this adaptation does such a celebrated, complex text justice.
Life After Life is released in April on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in the UK
(Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)
11. We Own This City
David Simon, creator of The Wire, and his long-time collaborator George Pelecanos are back with another forensic examination of Baltimore institutions in this new six-episode limited series. Based on the non-fiction book by Justin Fenton, it tells the story of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, an elite police unit which abused their power to steal from and terrorise the city’s residents, with members of the unit found guilty of federal crimes. (See this BBC News longread for more background about the real story). Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Wunmi Mosaku (Loki) star, alongside Succession’s Dagmara Domińczyk, Jamie Hector, who was Marlo Stanfield in The Wire, and Ozark’s McKinley Belcher III. Mosaku recently warned against comparing it to The Wire – which was voted the greatest TV series of the 21st Century by BBC Culture – telling Variety: “It’s a one-off and it’s precious all on its own” and it’s “too much pressure” to compare it. Watch the teaser trailer here.
We Own This City premiers on 25 April on HBO in the US
(Credit: Aimee Spinks/Showtime)
12. The Man Who Fell to Earth
Despite having the same name, this isn’t a remake of the classic 1970s sci-fi film starring David Bowie as alien Thomas Jerome Newton – but rather a sequel of sorts, this time focusing on another extraterrestrial, played by Bafta and Olivier-award winner Chiwetel Ejiofor. IndieWire wrote that the series balances “silly, heartwarming character-building with a brisk pace and weighty gravitas,” and that Ejiofor and his co-lead Naomie Harris are “excellent” and surrounded by an “exemplary supporting cast”, which includes Bill Nighy as Newton himself, Clarke Peters and Jimmi Simpson. On playing an alien who arrives on Earth, Ejiofor told Deadline: “You have to rely on the ways you’ve interacted with people, the way you’ve felt like an outsider, the way you’ve tried to belong… you have to bring that to playing the part to try to understand it.” Watch the trailer here.
The Man Who Fell To Earth premieres on 24 April on Showtime in the US
(Credit: Alamy)
13. Derry Girls
The third and final season of Lisa McGee’s hit comedy is upon us – and what a bittersweet goodbye it’s set to be. The teenage girls (and of course, the wee English fella) living in 1990s Derry have found cult-like devotees, not just in the UK and Ireland but around the world. Starring Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell and Dylan Llewellyn as the girl gang + sidekick (who have been nicknamed the Irish Spice Girls because of their enormous fanbase) and Siobhán McSweeney as the fierce Sister Michael, this series will be the last outing for this group. They’ve grown a lot over the last two series, which has touched on issues of religion, sexuality and all the usual things teenage girls face when trying to make their way in the world, all with the shadow of the Troubles hanging over them. Watch the trailer here.
Derry Girls series three premieres on 12 April on Channel 4 and All4 in the UK and will be released on Netflix internationally at a later date
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