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From ‘Top of the Lake’ to ‘Gay Britannia’, here’s what we’re watching on TV this week

By Ross Semple

We’re not having the greatest Summer here in the UK, which makes us feel a lot better about spending our evenings and weekends locked inside watching television. Besides, if they want us to go outside, they should stop making TV this good.

There’s plenty on offer this week to keep us locked to our screens, from the bleak mystery of Top of the Lake: China Girl and the Old Hollywood glamour of The Last Tycoon, to the trashy brilliance of Celebrity Big Brother and The Real Housewives of New York City. 

Take a look at our picks below:

Top of the Lake: China Girl

The first season of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake received rave reviews in 2013, with critics praising the cinematography and Elizabeth Moss’ performance as tortured police detective Robin Griffin. Top of the Lake: China Girl picks up four years later, as Griffin returns to Sydney and is immediately thrust into the investigation of the mysterious death of a sex worker whose body is stuffed inside a suitcase. At the same time, Robin begins to seek out contact with the daughter she gave up for adoption 18 years previously.

With themes of trauma, motherhood, and the commercialisation of pregnancy, China Girl is an often bleak but visually stunning miniseries that will leave you profoundly affected. Nicole Kidman gives her second powerhouse TV performance of the year, following her scene-stealing role in Big Little Lies, as the adoptive mother of Robin’s daughter.

Top of the Lake continues on BBC Two on Thursday at 10pm, or you can watch the whole series on iPlayer.

Gay Britannia season

There’s plenty of LGBT+ programming across the BBC as the corporation’s ‘Gay Britannia’ season celebrates the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. Olly Alexander’s deeply personal documentary Growing Up Gay examines the mental health issues often face by young queer people in the UK. Queers is a series of eight monologues, featuring the likes of Ben Wishaw and Alan Cumming, that highlight the changing faces of homosexuality across the last century. Is It Safe To Be Gay in the UK? looks at the rise of anti-LGBT+ hate crime across the UK, while The Man in the Orange Shirt is a cross-generational drama about gay love before decriminalisation.

Gay Britannia continues throughout the week with programmes on BBC Two, Three, and Four.

The Last Tycoon

Matt Bomer stars as Monroe Stahr in the Amazon Studios adaptation of F. Scott Firtzgerald’s novel, which was unfinished when the author died in 1940. Stahr is a superstar producer at a film studio in the 1930s, who has been left devastated by his wife’s recent death. While trying to stay on top of the food chain in the cutthroat world of moviemaking, Monroe must grapple with his mogul boss Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) and deal with the effects of the impending war in Europe.

The Last Tycoon is loosely based on the life of Irving Thalberg, who produced some of MGM’s most memorable films of the 1930s, many starring his wife Norma Shearer, before his untimely death in 1936 at age 37. While it may not be as slick as this year’s other fictionalisation of Classic Hollywood, Feud: Bette and Joan, The Last Tycoon is still enjoyable fare for anyone with more than a passing interest in Hollywood cinema.

The Last Tycoon’s entire first season is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Celebrity Big Brother

The reality TV stalwart returns for its TWENTIETH series on Tuesday night. There may be an ever-dwindling list of celebrities who have yet to appear on the show, but that doesn’t stop the producers of Celebrity Big Brother from managing to reliably cook up drama every series. A supposed cast list was leaked by the tabloids at the weekend, and if it’s accurate we can look forward to seeing famous faces like Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, Amelia Lily, and former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville.

Unfortunately, Sinitta won’t be appearing after refusing to get a swearing ban imposed on the housemates …

Celebrity Big Brother launches on Tuesday at 9:05pm on Channel 5.

The Real Housewives of New York City


has always been the most off-the-wall hilarious of the Housewives franchise, and season nine has managed to keep pace with the madness we’ve previously been witness to (leg-throwing, infidelity discovery). What the season has lacked in catty drama, it has more than made up for in this hysterical ridiculousness. The producers have created the perfect mix with this season’s casting, which has been evident during the girls trip to Mexico over the last two episodes. Dorinda’s consistent slurring, LuAnn’s falling into two separate bushes, and Ramona’s lack of social awareness have made this a trip to remember. We don’t want it to be over

The Real Housewives of New York City is streaming on hayu. New episodes are added every Thursday.

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