There’s been a raft of shows made in presenters’ homes during lockdown, but I don’t think I’ve seen one as imaginative as Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix).
The 30-year-old stand-up comedian may not be all that well-known in this country, but he wrote, directed, filmed and edited this special within a single room of his home over the course of 2020 and the resulting film is absolutely spellbinding.
It starts with a song where he asks “should I be joking at a time like this?” and over the course of the next 90 minutes he more than makes the case in the affirmative, with string of songs and pitch-black humour that touch upon social media pressure, mental health, isolation, relationships in the digital age and even suicide.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a comedy special that’s maudlin and laden in misery.
Burnham hits us with confessional moments which land with a raw honesty that rock you back in your seat.”
It’s wall-to-wall jokes, but it’s just that in amongst the silly songs about the challenges about speaking to your mum over FaceTime and critiquing the fakeness on white women’s Instagrams, Burnham hits us with confessional moments which land with a raw honesty that rock you back in your seat.
Making Inside clearly acted as a form of therapy for Burnham during lockdown and sometimes his struggles and pain seeps onscreen.
During a direct-to-camera address at the beginning he tells the audience: “I hope this special can maybe do for you what it’s done for me these last couple months, which is to distract me from wanting to put a bullet into my head with a gun.”
That moment caused me an uneasy chuckle at the time, but by the end of Inside I knew he wasn’t saying that just for a quick joke.
McGovern is as good as ever
You don’t need me to tell you to watch the new Jimmy McGovern series Time (BBC One).
He’s been an absolute master of his craft for almost 40 years and his latest – a bleak prison drama stars Sean Bean and Stephen Graham – is as good as anything he’s done.
As viewers, we’re introduced to the harsh realities of life behind bars through Bean’s character, a school teacher who killed a cyclist while drink driving.
Graham plays a fundamentally decent prison officer who finds himself conflicted between doing the right thing and keeping his family safe.
Time isn’t an easy watch, but fans of McGovern’s work should be heartened to learn he’s still firing on all cylinders.
Going to war over a statue
Fair play to Bristol mayor Marvin Rees – he was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation last summer when he agreed to be filmed by a documentary crew.
Cameras started rolling as the city was engulfed in a cultural and racial firestorm after protesters pulled down the statue of Edward Colston, a merchant involved in the slave trade.
Statue Wars: One Summer in Bristol (BBC2) spoke to protesters from both sides of the debate as well as Rees, as he attempted to strike a balance between acknowledging the complicated history of his city and erasing it from public spaces.
And you think your job is stressful…
A fresh look at serial killers
I wouldn’t normally use the words “Channel 5” and “unmissable documentary” in the same sentence, particularly when it comes to crime ones, which frequently feel cobbled together and exploitative.
However, Fred and Rose West: The Search For The Victims was in a different class altogether and actually endeavoured to delve into the psychology of the killers rather than dwell on the gory details.
Movie of the week: Braveheart (Channel 5, Friday 10pm)
I suspect it isn’t a coincidence that this unapologetically jingoistic Oscar winner is airing minutes after Scotland and England’s clash at the Euros, so at least we’re guaranteed at least one happy ending.
It may be fashionable to sneer at Mel Gibson’s three-hour William Wallace biopic, but it’s pure Hollywood escapism and deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with old school epics like Spartacus and Ben-Hur.
Those looking for historical accuracy won’t find it here, but what it lacks in authenticity it more than makes up for in heart-pounding action.
The battle scenes, brutally visceral and happily lacking CGI enhancements, play like Mad Max in the Highlands and the late James Horner’s score still stirs the heart.
If Scotland do well at the Euros expect to hear a lot more of it.