UPDATE: July 18 - Killing Eve has recently had its second series added to iPlayer, so it’s come back again to our list of recommendations. Our brand new addition is a documentary about Extinction Rebellion, which has once again been appearing in the headlines for its enormous and disruptive protests. Read more about them and our other top picks below!
BBC Three has been since its inception a youth-oriented channel. It’s the reason it left the TV to become an online-only presence. But on iPlayer, it’s just as easy to catch up as anything else you’d find on the BBC.
Even if you’re a bit outside the age range of the kind of viewer the BBC was picturing, don’t write off the shows made under the Three banner. It’s often very topical and relevant to the current social climate, and as emotionally expressive as you’d imagine from a generation used to talking about controversial and important topics openly on social networks.
Some parts of it even make it to other BBC channels (like Stacey Dooley’s many documentaries), so you can trust it’s still of a high standard. We’ve collected some of the highlights here, including recent additions and old favourites.
Killing Eve - Series 1 and 2
With the release of the second season, this is a great time to get into the tale of Eve and Villanelle. Eve works for MI5, but after being unfairly dismissed she is recruited into a secret team to investigate a prolific assassin. Villanelle is that assassin, highly skilled, but with a playful streak that keep drawing attention to her killings. As the agents and assassins pursue each other through multiple countries, the two leading women take a unique interest in each other, derailing both operations in the process.
Extinction Rebellion: Last Chance to Save the World?
We all now know about the environmental protest group that shut down parts of London in April 2019, and launched a new wave of protests around the UK in July. This documentary shows the lead up to the original demonstrations in the capital, meeting with members in the centre and on the edges of the group, and how they believe they can force the government to take radical action to protect the planet from cataclysmic climate change.
Dating shows are often experimenting with formulas of how to get one person familiar with another, where there’s no room to hide any of their flaws. In Hot Property, the method is to take one singleton around the homes of three potential matches, and see if the possessions and people who can be found in their dwellings can help them make the right decision. Host Yung Filly follows the lucky contestant to give them a hand sorting through the rooms, flats and houses, and follows them on their final date to see if they made the right choice.
Just One Night
Facing a big decision about the state of their relationship, a couple spend a day apart getting to know someone new. Once they’re done, the pair will decide if they want to continue seeing each other, or if this brief time away has convinced them that splitting up might be for the best.
Life After My Brother’s Murder
Daniel Wallace was murdered 13 years ago, which means that his killer is now up for parole. Daniel’s younger sister, Chanell, is writing a statement to the parole board to explain the impact the murder had on her family’s life. This documentary follows her learning about her brother’s life and tragic death, having been sheltered from much of the event at the time by her family.
Back to Life
After spending 18 years in prison, Miri is released into a world she was never prepared for and back to friends and family who have moved on in their lives. Her town almost fully rejects her due to whatever crime she committed all those years ago, so finding new friends and a job looks like a formidable challenge for the ex-prisoner.
The first series has been a BBC Three staple boxset for a long time, but now there’s a second and final series. Our hero Fleabag (played by the show’s writer, the wonderful Phoebe Waller-Bridge), has a lot of troubles in her life, but she is kind enough to share them with the viewer. With a complicated history with all her family members, and an even worse one with her friends and lovers, this is a dramatic comedy that can make you laugh and cry in quick succession.
Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star
Stacey Dooley presents a competition for young make up artists to get the chance to break into the profession. Through a series of creative and skill based challenges, the artists are tested, with each episode climaxing with a one-on-one between the two worst-performers.
Eating with My Ex
In each episode of the show, two different couples who have split up are reunited for one last meal. All going to plan, it leads to a frank conversation about how relationships fall apart, and what each person has learnt since they went their separate ways. It can also be a chance to finally extract the truth or make a confession, and hopefully settle still raw wounds. Yes, it’s reality TV with a premise that can easily cause spectacular arguments, but the intimacy and simplicity of the presentation show how the genre isn’t always just for trashy fun.
If you want Stacey Dooley, BBC Three is the channel for you. She investigates people shot by their neighbours! She investigates extremism! She investigates sex and gender issues around the world! Don’t let the breezy girl next door persona fool you though, it enables her to disarm her interviewees, gaining confidences other interviewers might not. She’s one of the Beeb’s most-watched presenters and is well on her way to national treasure status.