This week's best telly includes a hard-hitting drama starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, a fantastic new comedy from Sophie Willan, plus the return of Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in The Morning Show and so much more!
Here are 7 TV shows you can't miss this week...
1. The Only Way is Essex
Sunday 12th September at 9pm on ITVBe
It's hard to believe that The Only Way is Essex has been around for 11 years and in that time, it's moved from ITV2 to ITVBe, made household names out of many of its cast members, but as it returns for its 29th series, bosses have hit a bit of a rest button on the show with a reduced cast.
The new series kicks off with a glamorous staycation on the south coast, spending the week in Sandbanks, Dorset, home of the world’s most expensive coastal real estate. From beach parties and jet-skiing to fabulous holiday homes, will this UK getaway rekindle relationships? Spark new ones? Or will summer flings and social media mishaps interfere?
Since the cameras left them, a lot has changed for our glam group. Chloe Brockett and Lockie are the talk of the town as news of their secret tryst spreads like wildfire. Has their news confined itself to the Essex gossip mill, or have the juicy details reached a certain someone in Dubai?
Chloe Sims is on the road to 40 and trying to process the fact her little girl Maddie is growing up; whilst her sisters Frankie & Demi look to pursue a joint dream. Amy is back with her daughter Polly by her side, she’s newly single and on a mission to find a man.
Diags focuses on his latest challenge with his dad’s business; Saffron is on a new spiritual path and blocking out all negativity; and Roman’s modelling career is flourishing with the help of his new cheerleaders, the Sims sisters. Pete is throwing himself into his business and putting his serial-dater knowledge to good use by planning a singles retreat for the gang and Dani and Gatsby are very loved up, but have they gone official yet?
Elsewhere, Amber & Dan have been discussing the next step in their relationship, is it time to add to their family?
1/11 Continues weekly
2. Alma's Not Normal
Monday 13th September at 10pm on BBC Two
Set in her home town of Bolton, Alma's Not Normal, written by Sophie Willan sees the comedian play Alma, whose tumultuous childhood has led to continual chaos. Following a break-up, she embarks on a new beginning and wants to finally get herself sorted.
With a rebellious streak a mile wide and no qualifications to boot, Alma decides to explore the role of an escort to support her dreams of being a star. Many adventures and misadventures ensue as she navigates the past she’s had and the future she wants.
Meanwhile, and she is trying to get her family back together, but has her work cut out as she tries to fix the strained relationships between her drug-addicted mum Lin, played by Siobhan Finneran and her vampish Grandma, Joan played by Lorraine Ashbourne. And then there's best friend Leanne, played by Jayde Adams.
With a bitingly funny and unflinching take on issues from class, sexuality, motherhood, friendship, abuse and mental health, Alma's Not Normal is a series that is full of heart, humour and candour, celebrating powerful and complex women dealing with the hand they were dealt whilst doggedly pursuing their dreams.
Read my interview with Sophie Willan here.
1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch
Thursday 16th September at 9pm on Channel 4
From Jack Thorne, comes Help, a devastating and moving new two-hour drama on Channel 4, that tells the moving story of a young care home worker and a patient - played brillaintly by Jodie Comer and Stephen - exploring their relationship and how their lives are changed forever by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020.
Set in a fictional Liverpool care home, Comer stars as Sarah who is smart but has never fitted in, not in education and not in work. Her family told her she’d never amount to anything but she unexpectedly finds her calling as a carer at Bright Sky Homes.
Sarah has a special talent for connecting with the residents, including one in particular, 47-year-old Tony, played by Stephen Graham. Tony’s Young Onset Alzheimer’s has left him living out his days in care as his mind slowly deteriorates.
His illness causes periods of confusion and violent outbursts, which the other members of staff can’t handle, but with Sarah he begins to build a real bond. Sarah’s success at managing Tony and the other patients helps build her confidence and restore her self-belief.
Then March 2020 hits and everything Sarah has achieved is thrown into doubt with the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic. She and her colleagues tirelessly fight tooth and nail, ill-equipped, poorly prepared, and seemingly left helpless by the powers that be.
A determined Sarah goes to extraordinary lengths to protect those in her care, whose conditions make their suffering and isolation all the more traumatic. But the staff’s unwavering commitment, compassion and heroic efforts can only do so much, and Sarah is pushed into a dark corner and desperately looks for a way out.
4. All Creatures Great and Small
Thursday 16th September at 9pm on Channel 5
When Channel 5 brought back All Creatures Great and Small in 2020, it became the channel's top rating show since 2016 with consolidated figures topping 4.7m, and a Christmas special, the series is back for a second six-part run. Sadly not in the Sunday night slot we all know the show would suit.
Set three months on from the end of series one, a trip back home to Glasgow presents James with a dilemma that will mean choosing between the people he loves. As Helen and James navigate their feelings for one another, Siegfried, Tristan, and Mrs Hall are also forced to consider their places in the world, while James must decide between supporting his family and following his heart.
It’s spring in 1938, and James’s parents are overjoyed when he’s offered a position at his old mentor’s forward-thinking practice in Glasgow. When he returns to the Dales, James is reminded of how much he loves the place and the people - and thinks of one person who it would be worth staying in the Dales for.
Since Helen Alderson left Hugh Hulton at the altar, she has kept a low profile and James has given her the space she needed. But the pair find themselves forced together again when neighbouring farmer Rob Benson’s sheep are in trouble.
Inspired by his time at the Glasgow surgery, James pushes Siegfried to let Tristan do more veterinary jobs so that they can take on more small animal cases at Skeldale House. Tristan tends to a budgerigar whilst Mrs Hall uncovers a difficult truth.
1/6 Continues weekly
5. The Morning Show
Friday 17th September on Apple TV+
As Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon return to The Morning Show, the new season picks up after the explosive events on season one.
As the team emerge from the wreckage of Alex and Bradley's actions to a new UBA and a world in flux, where identity is everything, and the chasm between who we present and who we really are comes into play.
Joining Aniston, Witherspoon and Steve Carell for this new season are Greta Lee as Stella Bak, a tech world wunderkind who has joined the UBA executive team, Ruairi O’Connor as Ty Fitzgerald, a smart and charismatic YouTube star, Hasan Minhaj as Eric Nomani, a new member of The Morning Show team, Holland Taylor as Cybil Richards, the savvy chairwoman of the UBA board, Tara Karsian as Gayle Berman, a news producer, Valeria Golino as Paola Lambruschini, a documentary filmmaker and Julianna Margulies as UBA news anchor, Laura Peterson.
1/10 Continues weekly
6. Sex Education
Friday 17th September on Netflix
Laurie Nunn's hit comedy drama Sex Eduction - the series which follows Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother Jean - is finally returning to Netflix for a third season, 20 months to the day since we were treated to season two.
It’s a new year, Otis is having casual sex, Eric and Adam are official, and Jean has a baby on the way. Meanwhile, new headteacher Hope tries to return Moordale to a pillar of excellence, Aimee discovers feminism, Jackson gets a crush and a lost voicemail still looms.
Prepare for commitment animals, alien phenomena, vulva cupcakes and much more of Madam Groff.
7. Bill Bailey: Larks in Transit
Friday 17th September at 10.35pm on BBC One
Last month, Strictly Come Dancing champion Bill Bailey became the first British comedian to tread the hallowed boards of The Royal Opera House to perform a brand new summer special which the BBC has recorded and will be airing this Friday.
The multi-talented performer dazzles with stand-up, music and even a hilarious interpretation of an opera song.
Expect to go down the rabbit hole with Google reviews of Poundland stores, a proposal for a Victorian-style Love Island and Old MacDonald Had a Farm sung in the style of Tom Waits.