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The Handmaid's Tale recap: episode five – Offred the invincible

2 hours ago

Offred spies another giddy act of rebellion, as Serena finds a new sperm source. But can a fertile woman ever be forgiven for murder – or pleasure?

Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4 in the UK. Please do not add spoilers from the novel, or from later episodes if you are further on in the series.

The friendly vibe between Fred and Offred dissolves this week as their relationship hits a stone in the road. He is happy to pour her whisky and exchange flirtatious glances like the worst holier-than-thou politician, preaching family values while knocking off one of the staff.

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- Julia Raeside

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Poldark recap: series three, episode three – go get 'em, Ross

3 hours ago

Beards, blood and gangrene (but no bare chest) this week, as Ross takes on the whole French army single-handedly. Mon dieu!

“T’in’t right, t’in’t fair, t’in’t proper.” Well it isn’t. But without it, we would not have seen Ross single-handedly take on the entire French army. Go Ross! And we would not have received news of Dr Enys and his gigantic beard. Much weeping here at the face of the relieved Sindy doll. Far be it from me, though, to mention that it was all a colossal waste of time, this adventure. Yes, we know Dwight is alive, but he is unlikely to be so for long. What was the point of Ross risking his life, unless to save Dwight?

I have to admit I don’t know much about infiltrating the French Revolution, but Ross and Hook-Handed Scarface seemed as unworried about »

- Viv Groskop

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Letter: Brian Cant obituary

9 hours ago

In 1969 I was involved in setting up Libyan TV. The programme controller fancied himself as a presenter and I will always remember him reading the Arabic translation of episodes of Trumpton while Brian Cant’s voice played in the background. Later I got to know Brian when he came into a TV studio where his wife, Cherry, was working on the team. He was one of the nicest, most unpretentious people I ever came across and when my children met him he put them completely at their ease.

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- Karl Sabbagh

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Louis Tomlinson: ‘Zayn has the voice, Harry is cool… then there’s me’

18 hours ago

In One Direction, Louis Tomlinson was ‘the kid at the back’. Now, with his first solo album and his own record label, he’s taking the spotlight and learning to trust himself

Coming out of a dissolving boy band must be a bit like being an entrant in one of those dystopian jungle fights – a Hunger Games-style event in which bandmates are scattered across an unknown terrain and challenged to slog their lonely route back to fame. Justin Timberlake, after NSync, enjoyed the unsporting edge of natural talent and crushed his former colleagues. Robbie Williams looked supreme in the Take That scrimmage, at least until Gary Barlow circled back, gathered up the other three, and made the fight a more compelling four-on-one. By the time One Direction announced they were to go on indefinite hiatus in 2015, many of us were familiar enough with the conventions of boy-band bloodsport to start »

- Tom Lamont

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The week in TV: Hospital; Theresa vs Boris: How May Became Pm; Who Should We Let In?; The Crystal Maze

18 hours ago

A live A&E response to the Westminster Bridge attack made for gripping TV, while a docudrama revisited the unedifying Tory leadership contest

Hospital (BBC2) | iPlayer

Theresa vs Boris: How May Became Pm (BBC2) | iPlayer

Who Should We Let In? (BBC2) | iPlayer

The Crystal Maze (C4) | All 4

Watch of the week, undoubtedly, was a simply superb start to the second series of the fly-on-the-wall Hospital, in which cameras, handled with courtesy, generally get to peer at the entrails of St Mary’s hospital, Paddington, west London, and the weary travails within its groaning walls. Those courteous cameras, and the producers behind them, were rewarded by being allowed to keep filming throughout Wednesday 22 March – the day a jihadist nutter mowed through the crowds on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman – rather than haughtily told to pack up. It was an eminently sensible, if risky, call by the St Mary’s high-ups, »

- Euan Ferguson

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Sunday’s best TV: The Handmaid's Tale; Shots Fired

19 hours ago

The magnificent Margaret Atwood adaptation hits its midpoint, as the Black Lives Matter-themed drama continues to impress. Plus: Omg! My Barbie Body

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- Jonathan WrightPhil HarrisonGraeme VirtueDavid StubbsHannah VerdierMark Gibbings-JonesEllen E JonesPaul Howlett

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The Neil Jordan series that isn’t: film-maker disowns Riviera

24 June 2017 4:05 PM, PDT

Millions have viewed or downloaded the drama, but director says his ‘darker’ version was reworked by others

It doesn’t look like a Neil Jordan series or feel like a Neil Jordan series. And it hasn’t been praised in the way one might expect of a Neil Jordan series. That’s because, according to the director himself, it isn’t.

Riviera, a big-budget drama series that stars Julia Stiles and has set viewing records for Sky Atlantic this month, has Jordan’s name emblazoned all over the credits, but the Irish film-maker behind hits such as Interview with the Vampire and The Crying Game now says the glossy finished product has almost nothing to do with him.

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- Nadine O'Regan and Vanessa Thorpe

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Doctor Who recap: series 36, episode 11 – World Enough and Time

24 June 2017 11:30 AM, PDT

The Mondasian Cybermen make a deliciously chilling return – and they’re not the only ones. Get ready for more hijinks and foul play in next week’s finale

The time has come. But the moment has been prepared for. That’s to paraphrase the Fourth Doctor as he faced his own impending demise. It’s a shame that we know so far in advance that a Doctor is leaving, because it always means that the sense of foreboding overrides everything else. Add to that the fact that it is Steven Moffat’s final run, and perfectly good episodes like Knock Knock and The Eaters of Light, even the ambitious Monks Trilogy, run the risk of feeling a bit whatever. It is a human curse to wish your life away, and a fan curse to wish away a quality series so that we might just get to the end.

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- Dan Martin

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All hail the new nostalgia: The Crystal Maze and Blind Date are back

24 June 2017 2:00 AM, PDT

Without a hint of irony, these two 90s ratings-busters stay incredibly faithful to the originals

Long-suffering TV viewers will know that when Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes: “What has been will be again … there is nothing new under the sun,” he was talking about light entertainment. It’s hard to tell whether the vogue for reboots is based on sepia-tinted nostalgia or simply a dearth of blue-sky thinking. Certainly, one might look at the simultaneous revival of one-time ratings-busters The Crystal Maze (30 June, 9pm, Channel 4) and Blind Date (24 June, 7pm, Channel 5) and wonder whether the great brains of our major television networks simply all lived in the same 1990s student house.

The most startling element of these particular reboots is their determination to replicate the originals with little concession to our altered times. In the case of Blind Date, the format is identical: a contestant puts questions to three potential dates hidden behind a screen. »

- Fiona Sturges

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Life swap … landlords are being given the chance to live like their tenants

23 June 2017 11:00 PM, PDT

Will they put up with the terrible conditions some tenants have to suffer? A new BBC programme is putting them to the test

Linda is 66, lives alone and sets her alarm for 4.30am to start work as a carer for children with special needs. She has taken on three jobs a week, despite being close to pensionable age, to earn enough to pay the £950 rent on her two-bed flat in Chadwell Heath, a workaday suburb on the fringes of east London. The bathroom hot water tap seized up long ago. Half the rings on her electric cooker aren’t working. The smell from the mould and damp is overpowering. And, after paying her rent and bills, she is left with just £54.12 a week.

Father and son Peter and Mark are her landlords. They own £7m-worth of property, making £15,000 a month. “It’s just the best way of becoming wealthy,” says Mark, »

- Patrick Collinson

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The Crystal Maze review – a warm and witty revival

23 June 2017 11:00 PM, PDT

Richard Ayoade brings a 21st-century wit to the update of the venerated 90s gameshow – but maybe only nostalgic mid-lifers will be interested

And so the reboot of the 1990s continues. Twin Peaks, Blind Date, now The Crystal Maze (Channel 4). Next thing you know, there’ll be a new Labour government, and a new dawn. Things can only get better ...

Anyway, Richard Ayoade is the new Richard O’Brien (and the new Edward Tudor-Pole, but no one remembers him). In spite of a purple suit and a gold hand on a stick (“follow the hand, follow the hand”), new Richard is less flamboyantly theatrical than old Richard, but still amusing and arch. “Wow, it’s like looking at Heat magazine,” he says of the five boiler-suited TV personalities lined up outside the Industrial zone. Yes, they’re celebs, collecting crystals and then – in the Crystal Dome – gold tokens, in aid of Stand Up for Cancer. »

- Sam Wollaston

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Saturday's best TV: Foo Fighters at Glastonbury; Britain's Great Gay Buildings

23 June 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

More action from Worthy Farm with Dave Grohl and co – and Jeremy Corbyn. Plus, Stephen Fry fronts an extraordinary documentary and the Doctor Who finale kicks off

Saturday at Worthy Farm offers a bumper crop for music lovers. BBC2 boasts a selection of afternoon highlights including Run the Jewels (featuring Jeremy Corbyn), Craig David, Katy Perry and, later, Foo Fighters’ headline set. Over on eclectic finger-clickin’ BBC4, there are sets by the National, Father John Misty and Toots and the Maytals. Plus, a Wimbledon-free diary means the Beeb’s digital diaspora is devoted entirely to even more Glastonbury goodness. Mark Gibbings-Jones

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- Mark Gibbings-JonesJack SealeJohn RobinsonAli CatterallAndrew MuellerPhil HarrisonBen ArnoldPaul Howlett

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Why I love… comedian and actor Hasan Minhaj

23 June 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

Talking about love, racism, Islamophobia and everything in between, he bounces from cynical to idealistic. It’s a winning formula

The twin elements of my personality – Pollyanna optimism and bone-deep cynicism – are constantly at odds. Most days, I ask myself: are human beings generous and wonderful, or are they actually the worst thing on this godforsaken planet? It’s no wonder I’m an insomniac: there’s a war of attrition in my heart. But I’ve found a new person with whom I can identify: American comedian and actor Hasan Minhaj.

At 31, Minhaj is a relatively fresh face – he looks it, too, with emotive brown eyes and a disarming smile – but he’s making an impression. You may have seen him in his regular gig with The Daily Show (he was former host Jon Stewart’s last hire, in 2014), where he covers everything from gun laws to Syrian refugees. »

- Bim Adewunmi

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RuPaul's Drag Race: from camp curio to the very best reality show there is

23 June 2017 9:43 AM, PDT

With sassy stars, the supermodel of the world and quite heroic levels of innuendo, it’s the show that keeps on giving – and gets more divine by the year

It can’t have escaped your notice that everything is awful at the moment. In times like those we seem to be stuck in, reaching for a comfort blanket of some kind is understandable. For me, that means TV. The Goldbergs, The Last Leg, anything starring otters … and most of all, RuPaul’s Drag Race.

It’s staggering to realise that, with this weekend’s grand finale, Drag Race will conclude its ninth series – especially as UK viewers have only just got (legal) access to new episodes via Netflix. The delay hasn’t stopped them keeping up: around the globe, this series has steadily gone from camp curio to the best reality show around, hands down.

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- Dan Martin

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Late-night hosts blast Trumpcare: 'Needless suffering for low and middle-income people'

23 June 2017 8:41 AM, PDT

Comics, including Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, addressed the long-awaited release of the Gop’s healthcare legislation, which they crafted in secret

Late-night hosts took aim at the Senate healthcare bill finally released on Thursday after weeks of closed-door meetings, in which a group of Gop senators, orchestrated by majority leader Mitch McConnell, crafted the bill in secret.

Seth Meyers of NBC began: “Senate Republicans finally unveiled a draft of their healthcare bill today after weeks of secret closed-door meetings, and now they want to rush it to the floor for a vote as early as next week.

Related: Senate Republicans release healthcare bill that will affect coverage for millions

Related: Late-night on Philando Castile's death: 'When I watched the video, it broke me'

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- Jake Nevins

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Even better this time round: The Crystal Maze, Twin Peaks and our golden age of TV reboots

23 June 2017 7:46 AM, PDT

The revival fever that is also behind the return of Blind Date and The Price Is Right isn’t just about nostalgia. Here’s why TV is really taking us all back in time

“Hello! This must feel like deja vu. But that’s television for you. Same thing. Slightly different faces.”

Thus did Richard Ayoade open Channel 4’s reboot of its cult 1990s hit The Crystal Maze. The new presenter, as brilliantly deadpan and subtly destabilising a presence as the original host Richard O’Brien, gave a brief explanation of the game for newcomers: “I will lead five contestants round the maze at an artificially accelerated pace in order to give the illusion of jeopardy. There will be fiendish games, fistfuls of crystals and an ungainly scramble for gold tokens in that dome.”

Related: Why the new Twin Peaks is way better than the original

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- Lucy Mangan

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Sam Taylor-Johnson: 'Every door that was slammed in my face, I've kicked down'

23 June 2017 6:21 AM, PDT

Fifty Shades of Grey earned half a billion dollars, but fights with the writer meant Taylor-Johnson paid a high personal price. Now she just wants to direct something so good people will forget she ever made it

Sam Taylor-Johnson perches in a sun-dappled corner of a Los Angeles hotel terrace and asks the waiter for an oatmeal cookie. He brings a plate of chocolate ones – there’s no oatmeal. They look delicious, but she sends them back. “I just fancied oatmeal.” Taylor-Johnson clearly knows exactly what she wants.

The director was last in the headlines two years ago, when her film of El James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey ravished the global box office, raking in more than half a billion dollars for Universal Studios. A triumphant collaboration, you might think – except that director and author repeatedly clashed over how to transfer page to screen.

Related: Love, lust, a midlife crisis: Naomi Watts TV drama lays bare female desire

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- Rory Carroll

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Wonder women: how this summer's TV passes the Bechdel test

23 June 2017 5:45 AM, PDT

Shows such as Orange is the New Black, Glow and Claws allow their female characters to do more than just play the girlfriend, signaling important progress

Glow, Netflix’s new series about a troupe of female wrestlers in the 80s, opens with a dig at the lack of roles for women in the entertainment business. Alison Brie’s Ruth is at an audition, delivering a barnstorming speech about saving the company her father built. The casting director stops proceedings as Ruth wipes away tears. “You’re reading the man’s part,” the director says. Ruth pulls herself together and starts again: “Sorry to interrupt, your wife’s on line two.”

In this very first scene, Glow sets out a blueprint. It’s an insider joke: the audience can tell from the off that this is not going to be the kind of story where female characters are reduced to playing the love interest.

Related: Glow review – a riotous portrayal of the piledriving world of women’s wrestling

Related: Niecy Nash: 'They want you to be the sassy neighbor or the sassy friend'

Related: A riot in real time: how Orange is the New Black is changing the rules

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- Rebecca Nicholson

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Firefly to Futurama: the cancelled TV shows you are still angry about

23 June 2017 5:19 AM, PDT

Our writers nominated My So-Called Life and Utopia as the best shows killed before their time. Now, our readers share theirs

After our writers listed the best TV programmes cut down in their prime by foolish and short-sighted network bosses, our readers responded in kind.

Some of these shows lasted a few years, only to be cancelled just as they were beginning to make sense of their various narrative strands.

Police Squad! In Color.

Cancelled after a measly six episodes, it remains an utter joy, not just for its relentless stream of jokes but the absolutely straight face with which it was played by Leslie Nielsen and Alan North.

Great premise. Angels, flesh-eating ghosts and teenage shit. Dark, unsettling and beautifully comic. Leads all excellent and there was something special and sparkly about Daniel Kaluuya from the off.

Then there was Carnivàle which ran for just two seasons 2003-2005 – first episode set a record for an original series – four more series were planned running from post depression America to the after effects of Hiroshima – too strong for the powers that were and so the show was cancelled. Check out Carnivàle and the American grotesque (2015).

Trevor's World of Sport. Fabulously witty writing from Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins

Outcasts. First serious Sci-Fi attempt on the BBC in god knows how long, featuring a doomed Earth, religious cultists, and unknown alien presence, racism, and many other interesting plot threads and what did they do?

Well they changed the timeslot and even air date every bloody week and then cancelled it due to low viewers.

Almost Human - Karl Urban as an amputee cop with a robot partner (Michael Ealy). Featured Mackenzie Crook as a tech boffin.

Second Chance - Rob Kazinsky as a genetically "reborn" younger version of a murdered corrupt ex-sheriff.

Farscape. Great show that was supposed to run for five series but got binned at the end of series four. Fan complaints got a "miniseries" made to tie up the loose ends but it was a bit crap. A really good, weird, grown-up scfi show. With evil Muppets in it (it was made by Jim Henson's son)..

'The Hour', which BBC cancelled in 2012, had huge potential and an excellent cast. Never understood why it stopped after 2 very good 'seasons' (awful Americanism). Romola Garia, Ben Wilshire, Dominic West....it stood out as outstanding, thoughtful television.

Futurama. Better than the Simpsons and canned at exactly the wrong moment when the audience was about to be allowed the technology to start paying for it

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- James Walsh and Guardian readers

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The best TV this week: Preacher returns to its comic roots

23 June 2017 4:00 AM, PDT

The superhero man of God is back on Amazon Prime, while the baffled tech millionaires of Loaded reach the end of their run on Channel 4

Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy hit the road in season two of this barmy comic-book adaptation. With special powers and a cavalier willingness to use them, what can go wrong? Expect exploding cops, visitations from the past and future, and a boy called Arseface.

From 26 June, Amazon Prime

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- The Guide

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