TV Diaries: Everything I’ve seen this month and what I’m excited about

© BBC / Big Talk

In the latest instalment of her TV Diaries column, Hannah Bradfield recounts her month in TV and what she’s excited to watch next.

Spoiler alert: This feature contains spoilers for season two of The Outlaws.

May was a stressful one. Full of exams and farewells, I didn’t have much time for TV. Nevertheless, I still managed to fit in some gems and have racked up quite the watch list for the coming months. 

What I’ve loved

The Outlaws

Last month, I wrote about how I excited I was for season three of The Outlaws. My God, it did not disappoint. I watched all five episodes in two sittings, and that was me savouring it. The end of season two could have concluded The Outlaws altogether, which makes how good season three was even more impressive. Usually, if a drama could have ended, it probably should have. The Outlaws is an exception. 

Co-created by Stephen Merchant and Elgin James, The Outlaws is a comedy-thriller, set in Merchant’s hometown of Bristol, about a group of people doing community service under the watchful eye of Community Payback supervisor Diane Pemberley (Jessica Gunning). However, the group — made up of people from all walks of life — were thrown into Bristol’s criminal underbelly in season one and never really left.

Season two ended with the group framing violent London drug kingpin ‘The Dean’ with a stash of drugs while he was attending the community centre opening. Led by Rani (Rhianne Barreto) and Ben (Gamba Cole), the group had found themselves running the Bristol branch of The Dean’s drug empire to pay back a debt.

However, just as we thought all was well, Rani couldn’t resist her criminal urge, and she stole a car, driving off into the sunset. Season three begins with Rani arriving at Bristol City Farm — where the rest of the gang are completing their community service hours — with a corpse. 

The Outlaws is as dramatic as it is funny, and season three graces us with even more golden one-liners. Now a fully qualified PSCO, Diane is training up her protégé Stan (Harry Trevaldwyn). Diane was hilarious anyway, but the way these two bounce off each other somehow makes her even funnier. “You know the issue. Your uniform is too tight. It drives men crazy. You’re like a West Country Lizzo,” Stan tells Diane when she thinks Ben is confessing his love for her. 

There’s a great mix of physical comedy and laugh-out-loud dialogue, and part of the reason it’s so good is how different the characters are. It’s a stellar ensemble cast. 

The show also touches on hard-hitting themes, namely the exploitation and grooming of young children into gangs. 

Comedy-thriller is a difficult genre to hit, but The Outlaws gets it just right. 

Clarkson’s Farm

There’s just something about Clarkson’s Farm I find incredibly calming. Yes, I know most of it is probably for the cameras, and we probably have no idea who actually runs the farm, but oh well. It’s enjoyable. 

Season three could have perhaps been squeezed into fewer episodes, but I found the ‘unfarming’ theme interesting. Clarkson realises a large proportion of his farmland isn’t generating any profits – including fields with blackberries and nettles. So, he challenges colleague and fan-favourite Kaleb Cooper to a competition. 

Cooper is tasked with running the more traditional elements of the farm, while Clarkson sets out to make as much money as possible from the unused areas. Think nettle soup, mushroom farming, picking blackberries using a hoover. 

Clarkson’s Farm is the sort of show you put on in the background but end up invested in. Cooper and Clarkson’s quibbles are funny if a little predictable, and Lisa, Clarkson’s wife, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to delivering piglets. 

Filming is underway for season four, but I am unsure if there is enough content left to make another season out of. But I’m happy to be proven wrong.

Host Jeremy Clarkson in the third season of Prime Video’s reality series ‘Clarkson’s Farm’. | © Amazon MGM Studios

Lost Boys & Fairies

Based on the premise, I thought BBC’s Lost Boys & Fairies would be a pretty lighthearted watch — one that explored important themes, but in an Outnumbered-esque way. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s one of the most moving things I have watched, and I was in bits by the end. 

Though not autobiographical, Lost Boys & Fairies is based on some of writer Daf James and his husband’s experiences of adopting children. The mini-series follows Gabriel (Sion Young) and Andy (Fra Free) as they navigate the complex, often intrusive, but profound process of adopting a child, supported by their social worker Jackie (Elizabeth Berrington).

Gabriel, a performer, and Andy, an accountant, are very different, but their love for each other is clear. The adoption process brings up childhood trauma for both of them. Gabriel teeters on the edge of his old, self-destructive ways, and Andy busies himself with being there for other people rather than facing his abandonment issues. Both have to face up to events that happened in their childhoods (hence, I assume the Peter Pan-inspired name) while preparing to welcome — and prioritise — their adoptive child, Jake. 

Fairies & Lost Boys, the first Welsh bilingual drama to be aired during peak viewing hours, explores bleak but important themes, including AIDS, addiction, and the care system. Above all, it reflects the salient message that, whatever the circumstances, it’s never the child’s fault.  

Doctor Who

Finally, I have loved accompanying The Doctor and Ruby Sunday across time and space lately. There was a slight sensory overload at the end of episode two, ‘The Devil’s Chord’, when Strictly’s Shirley and Johannes popped up in the musical number, but that is what a Disney cash injection gets you, I guess.

On a serious note, though, I love Nctui Gatwa and Millie Gibson’s chemistry and think they complement each other incredibly well. Their standalone performances are strong – Gibson’s pretty much solo performance in ‘73 Yards’ was dynamic and endearing, and Gatwa was audacious and moving in equal measure in ‘Rogue’. 

Together, they are a powerhouse. Both can give as good as they get and achieve a balance between sassiness and tenderness.

It’s also been great to see multiple outfit changes throughout the season, with Ruby and The Doctor’s sartorial choices giving greater depth and context to their characters. 

There have been great monsters, music, and storytelling, and I might even go to the cinema to watch the season finale

Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff star as The Doctor and Rogue in ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘Rogue’. | © James Pardon / Bad Wolf / BBC Studios

Other things I’ve watched

I finally saw the tennis romance extravaganza Challengers a couple of weeks ago. I’m still not 100% sure about it, but Zendaya says in this video that is kind of the point, and your opinion will change every time you watch it. The film is very visceral – think close-ups of rolling beads of sweat and, at one point, seeing things from the tennis ball’s POV. 

Although I hate to admit it, I’ve also been watching Love Island. The producers put Joey Essex in the villa, and it’s clear from his reality television CV he knows how to manufacture drama out of thin air. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with this series — I usually drop off a few weeks from the end — but currently, it’s easy evening watching.  

What I’m looking forward to   

I am excited to watch Daisy Ridley’s new historical drama film Young Woman and the Sea, which is based on the true story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. What’s more, I still need to catch up on Channel 4’s new drama Queenie, adapted from Candice Carty-Williams’s best-selling book.

Also from Channel 4, psychological thriller, The Gathering is on my radar. Mystery thriller meets elite gymnastics sounds intriguing, and if it’s got Warren Brown in it, I’m watching it. And while I feel like I’ve watched several episodes already through TikTok snippets, I’m also looking forward to properly catching up with the steamy sensation that is Bridgerton. But I think I’ll save that one for when my parents are out.

Words by Hannah Bradfield

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