- What to Watch
UPDATE: March 20 - Red Nose Day’s been and gone, so we’re now recommending the highlights. Some new programmes have been added to the New section, and Fleabag has been moved to the Comedy heading of the Favourites section.
iPlayer contains the vast majority of the BBC’s TV show output from the last 30 days, plus a few select shows that get to reside on the service for much longer. We’ve pored through the contents of the service, in order to show you what’s new, and what the highlights from the BBC’s archives are.
What’s New on iPlayer?
The Internet’s Dirtiest Secrets: The Cleaners
Credit: BBCFacebook, Twitter and the rest of the internet’s social networks are well known for being full of objectionable content. A group of moderators are charged with scanning this content to see if it is permissible or could be dangerous or harmful if left online. This Storyville documentary looks into their work, the standards they use, and how they cope with rapidly developing situations, where each decision has enormous potential consequences.
Credit: FX ProductionsThis well-received US show has come to BBC Two, and therefore iPlayer shortly after. It’s about the people surrounding ‘ball culture’ in the New York City of the 1980s. The balls in questions are a series of dance and costume competitions fought between ‘houses’ of LGBTQ people, particularly those who are also part of minority racial groups. With the AIDS crisis and a generally unsympathetic population surrounding them in everyday life, these events are crucial forums for expressing their true selves.
Comic Relief 2019
Credit: BBCThe 2019 Comic Relief specials have now all been broadcast, but the BBC has kindly cut down the sketches and special episodes of its shows into individual chunks, letting you enjoy watching the Four Weddings and A Funeral reunion, the Bodyguard parody short, or Celebrity University Challenge piece by piece.
James May’s Big Trouble in Model Britain
Credit: BBCThe quaint hobby of maintaining miniature trains, planes and more is under threat. Hornby, the biggest name in the business, is in a tough spot financially, which puts pressure on the whole model Over the course of a year, James May guides us around the company’s departments and the activities of the company’s fans, showing us what’s at stake and how different people want to solve the money problem.
This Time with Alan Partridge
Credit: Baby Cow ProductionsNot seen since his 2014 film, Alan Partridge is now back on TV as the co-host of This Time, a magazine programme in the style of The One Show. He might only be filling in while the normal presenter is off sick, but he takes on this temporary role with great excitement, and his usual overflowing, unfounded confidence.
Want to see what’s about to expire on iPlayer? Check our iPlayer leavers page
From all across iPlayer, we’ve brought together some shows that have a longer shelf life, so you’ll be able to enjoy them across a longer period of time. Or know that they’re here waiting for you if you get the binge-watching urge.
Jodie Whittaker’s turn as the 13th Doctor is the best looking series of the regenerating sci-fi show yet. This is bad news for anyone who prefers the Doctor to be running around a disused quarry pursued by a man covered in tinfoil, but the new approach means that, combined with the show's trademark mix of warmth and high stakes drama, the new series is great fun to watch. But don’t forget about the last four Doctors though. All episodes broadcast since the revival of the series in 2005 are available too.
If slightly off-the-wall cop dramas are your thing then you’ll love Idris Elba in Luther: the iPlayer has all five series, including the 2019 one. It’s a bleak show: the crimes are abhorrent, the police are far from your traditional ‘good guys’, and Luther rushes headlong into trouble every time. You’ll still enjoy it for its twists, schemes and Elba’s performance though.
The Dumping Ground
Now into its sixth series, this spin-off from the successful Tracy Beaker series still takes place in a children’s foster home, following a wide group of kids as they deal with life, growing up and finding foster parents. If you still want to watch the antics of Ms. Beaker, then you can also find all the episodes of her original show in the same place.
DIY show, in which kids’ dream rooms or dens are built by a team of creative and talented designers. These are often made to reflect the lucky child’s hobby or career aspirations, and are quite frequently exciting enough to make even an adult viewer quite jealous.
Children from all across the UK film a documentary about family members, friends and themselves in this series, to explain what it's like living with different health conditions, pursuing unusual hobbies or living in strange places.
For online-only BBC content aimed towards a more youthful audience across all genres, BBC Three is the best place to look
There She Goes
A comedy drama featuring not one but two high-profile leads in David Tennant and Jessica Hynes, is a warm but honest look at the lives of a family where one child has profound learning difficulties. Tennant in particular is very good: if you’re used to him chewing the scenery as Doctor Who you’ll find him hardly recognisable here.
There’s a ruthless assassin on the loose, and Eve, an MI5 agent, is tasked with bringing her in. But when she and contract killer Villanelle meet, their antagonistic relationship becomes a lot more complicated.
Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema
Film critic Kermode breaks down popular genres of film in this series, each episode devoted to a different type. He examines the techniques filmmakers and actors use to sell their stories to an audience, taking examples from around the world to show the power of this visual medium.
Credit: BBCMany of the shows starring the BBC’s chief investigator of the strange are available to watch on iPlayer. Start at the beginning with Weird Weekends, see his more recent work in the Altered States series, or dive into his highlights, such as his brushes with the famous and infamous in ‘When Louis Met…’, or his LA Stories, examining different sides of the City of Angels. His newest programme is The Night In Question, which covers the topic of sexual harassment on US college campuses. In a climate of rapidly changing rules designed to tackle these crimes with greater efficacy, Theroux visits people under investigation by their colleges, even when they have been found not guilty by the courts, as well as survivors arguing in favour of the new regulations.
Looking for some movies instead of TV? iPlayer’s film section has you covered
Luisa Omelian’s Politics for Bitches
Part standup, part documentary and as powerful as it’s funny. Omelian tackles a major issue affecting the young people of Britain in each episode, using jokes and facts to make the information entertaining and easily digestible, whether it be dull, complicated or emotionally sensitive.
Inside No. 9
An anthology series featuring half of the League of Gentlemen. Shearsmith and Pemberton tell us the peculiar tales which go on in places bearing the number ‘9’. Sometimes scary, but always funny, this is a show you’ll want to watch through again as soon as you've finished it, just to see how the answers for each episode’s twist were hidden in the dialogue and the characters' innocuous actions.
Two Brothers Pictures LimitedAfter a hiatus lasting over two years, this fantastic comedy written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a second series. Fleabag is the uniquely self-aware character through whom we see the action play out, her asides to the audience putting a spin on an already finely composed script that shows both the humorousness and emotional depths of living the kind chaotic life that she has. The new series is still releasing each episode weekly, but all six episodes of the first are ready to watch right now.
And if none of that takes your fancy, how about some sport? iPlayer has plenty of that too.
(Images Credit: BBC)