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WHAT TO WATCH 14-20 January

This week's best telly includes the highly-anticipated TV adaptation of the video game The Last of Us, Maya Jama's first series of Love Island, new drama Maternal, new comedy The Family Pile plus the return of Bad Education, Truth Be Told and Vera.

Here are 7 TV shows you can't miss this week...

1. Vera

Sunday 15th January at 8pm on ITV1

Brenda Blethyn is back as she dons her iconic mac and hat once again to play the unorthodox but brilliantly perceptive Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, in six new feature-length episodes of Vera, set against the backdrop of the North East.

When the charred remains of local GP, Doctor Lucy Yo, are found in the back of a burned-out car that’s been abandoned in a deserted quarry. Her husband states that she was called out to a patient on the evening in question but we soon discover from her colleagues at the surgery that there is no record of any patient. So who lured Doctor Yo out that night and who would want her dead?

As Vera probes further into Doctor Yo’s life she uncovers a web of intrigue, betrayal and deadly secrets. An elaborate affair, accusations of malpractice and an investigation into prescription fraud are just the tip of the iceberg with this case. As Vera seeks out the truth, amongst the bed of lies the real Doctor Lucy Yo is revealed.

1/6 Continues weekly

2. Bad Education

Sunday 15th January at 10pm on BBC Three

After 8 years away from our screens, Bad Education is returning to BBC Three for its fourth series and this time former Class K pupils Stephen and Mitchell are in charge.

It’s a new day at Abbey Grove, and as usual, Mitchell and Stephen are totally neglecting their teaching duties. Headteacher Ms Hoburn has had enough and tells them that, in a cost-cutting move, she will have to get rid of one of their departments unless they can prove the educational merits of their subjects.

Stephen tries to introduce PSHE into his drama lesson by exploring Jinx’s trauma about her parent’s divorce, only for him to turn it into a performance piece where he plays both her parents in a role play – much to Jinx’s distress. Meanwhile, Mitchell tries to add a bit of geography to his PE lesson by playing “the floor is lava” – with disastrous consequences.

Together, Mitchell and Stephen have a change of tack and start trying to take the other down – Stephen tries to convince Hoburn that Mitchell is frittering money away, and Mitchell manages to seed the idea that Hoburn has IBS – resulting in Class K and Stephen performing an excruciating assembly about the stigma of IBS. The whole thing backfires, and Hoburn doubles down on her threat to sack both of them!

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

3. Maternal

Monday 16th January at 9pm on ITV1

Parminder Nagra, Lara Pulver and Lisa McGrillis lead ITV1's new medical drama Maternal, from Jacqui Honess-Martin, which is about three female doctors returning to post-pandemic frontline medicine after maternity leave and having to heroically balance the intense demands of the NHS and motherhood.

Parminder Nagra plays Dr Maryam Afridi, a Paediatric Registrar who is returning to work after two years of maternity leave. As a parent of two kids under 2, with husband Raz, life is chaotic, and Maryam’s return to City General Hospital sees her catapulted straight back into frontline duties. An incident in Maryam’s first week impacts her hard, and this combined with lack of sleep, the stress of juggling medicine and motherhood, and news of a potential addition to her family sees Maryam begin to question where her priorities and interests lie.

Lara Pulver plays Miss Catherine MacDiarmid, a single mother and successful surgeon determined to be one of the boys in the macho world of surgery. Her career wasn’t doing badly until a fling with a married colleague, Dr Lars Nördstrom, resulted in the birth of her daughter Elis and a period of maternity leave which has seriously set her back. Yet, Catherine is determined to prove that neither motherhood nor competition with her colleague and ex, Jack, will prevent her from advancing her career… even if it means resorting to drastic measures.

And Lisa McGrillis plays Dr Helen Cavendish, a Registrar in Acute Medicine and mum to three children with her husband Guy who is a Consultant and also her boss in the same Acute Medical Unit. Their disintegrating work-life balance has put a strain on their marriage, exacerbated by Guy’s recent affair with a 24-year-old colleague. A mother to all, Helen has always put herself second to the needs of her family and friends. Over the series, she’ll come face-to-face with the sacrifices she’s made, as well as those made by all who worked in the NHS through the pandemic.

Read my interview with Lisa McGrillis from Sunday.

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

4. Love Island

Monday 16th to Friday 20th January at 9pm on ITV2

Get ready for a long hot... winter, because Love Island is returning to South Africa for the first of two series this year with new host Maya Jama who will be guiding these new islanders through the twists and turns of coupling up in what's being described as a jaw-dropping Villa.

One thing that hasn't changed, is the inimitable Iain Stirling who returns each night to narrate the series as more singletons desire, date and dump potential suitors.

For the first time ever, viewers were given the chance to choose the first male or female bombshell to enter the Villa, before the series had even started. Voting has now closed.

1-5/ Continues nightly

5. The Last of Us

Monday 16th January at 9pm on ITV1

Based on the PlayStation video game of the same name, Sky Atlantic's newest drama The Last of Us has been co-created by Chernobyl's Craig Mazin and takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed.

It stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, a hardened survivor who is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl played by Bella Ramsey, out of an oppressive quarantine zone.

What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

1/9 Continues weekly

6. The Family Pile

Tuesday 17th January at 9.30pm on ITV1

ITV aren't known for launching new comedies in recent years, but that could be about to change with their latest offering, The Family Pile which stars Amanda Abbington, Clare Calbraith, Claire Keelan and Alexandra Mardell as four sisters from Liverpool who have lost their parents and are packing up the family home to sell.

But even in grief, their messy lives go on. In the first episode, Nicole has sneaked her late parents’ house onto the market, but when her sisters cause as much strife as they do, and offer as little help, can you blame her? And soon she has a second secret to keep.

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

7. Truth Be Told

Friday 20th January on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ drama Truth Be Told returns for its third season as Gabrielle Union joins Octavia Spencer. It offers a unique glimpse into America's obsession with true crime podcasts, challenging viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage.

Octavia Spencer plays Poppy, a podcaster who risks everything, including her life, to pursue truth and justice and in this new season, she is frustrated by the lack of media attention for several young missing Black girls.

Poppy teams up with an unorthodox principal, played by Gabrielle Union, to keep the victims' names in the public eye while chasing down leads to a suspected sex trafficking ring that may have ensnared them.

1/10 Continuing weekly


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