There’s a US election Spitting Image special on ITV on Saturday evening – and maybe a snarky laugh will be welcome, not least in the interests of offsetting nerves. But of course, nothing can match the grotesque absurdity of reality. Fix a strong drink and take your pick of channels on Tuesday evening for the final reckoning.
Tuesday 3 November, 11pm, BBC One; ITV; Sky News
Already worked your way through the 600-odd archive of Simpsons episodes on Disney+? The new season has arrived, and features cameos galore, including Billy Porter and Cate Blanchett, with music from John Legend and Weezer – plus the latest Treehouse of Horror in time for Halloween.
From Friday 6 November, Disney+
The remarkable story of influencer, self-styled girlboss and serial con artist Mariam Mola, whose scams targeted credit card companies, luxury boutiques and impressionable teenagers. How was she caught? And how did she reinvent herself?
Tuesday 3 November, BBC Three
It’s all kicking off in Cape Town: organised crime, weapons smuggling, terrorism, black rhinos and blood diamonds are all on the agenda in this sweaty new crime thriller, based on Deon Meyer’s sprawling novel. Suffice to say, the CIA-like Presidential Bureau of Intelligence struggles to keep up with this carnage.
Friday 6 November, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
A nautical reality challenge, stripped across the week. Two teams, including the likes of Tom Watson, Kimberly Wyatt and Denise Lewis are tasked with rowing the length of Britain. Andrew Flintoff and AJ Odudu keep an eye on their progress.
Monday 2 November, 9pm, ITV
After being shot while reporting from Saudi Arabia in 2004, Frank Gardner continued to work as the BBC’s security correspondent. Here, he discusses the realities of operating in such a demanding environment with a life-changing disability.
Thursday 5 November, 9pm, BBC Two
The historian helms a three-part special on the mythology (and out-and-out porkies) around royalty. Covering the Georgian regency and the Russian Revolution, the series opens with the French Revolution – revealing the “compassionate” design of the guillotine.
Friday 6 November, 9pm, BBC Two
This grisly series is the latest of Netflix’s investigative docs, here examining the 2002 murder of a high-society Argentinian sociologist, found dead in her bathtub. Her husband claimed it was a drowning accident – bullet wounds seemed to strongly suggest otherwise.
Thursday 5 November, Netflix
Filmed before Covid hit, the return of the Bafta-winning series about a Salford comprehensive is a poignant reminder of what kids are missing out on now – and the reality of everyday struggles back then. In this opening episode, teachers deal with a “black market” trade on sweets, and bring in bag searches after a pupil is spotted with a knife.
Tuesday 3 November, 9.15pm, Channel 4
After he disbanded the Jam in 1982, Paul Weller aimed to elevate pop music to an artform. This impressive doc features interviews with Weller and co, plus fans Billy Bragg and Martin Freeman.
Saturday 31 October, 9pm, Sky Arts
With this year marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this six-part podcast traces the harrowing killings in the small town of Srebrenica, featuring remarkable testimony from survivors, as well as analysis from academics on the campaign of ethnic cleansing undertaken by former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladić.
Weekly, widely available
Let it never be said that comic Harry Hill is no longer an eccentric or surprising figure. In this new eight-part podcast series, Hill takes us to a variety of different locations – from an office to a beach to a farm – and records half an hour’s worth of ambient sounds before interrupting with his “noise”. A mindfulness journey gone mad.
All episodes widely available now
Join presenter Anushka Asthana and the Guardian’s reporters for a daily deep dive into the world’s biggest stories and the paper’s most important investigations. Recent episodes have included analysis on the future of the green movement, a Black History Month special, and understanding the fight over trans rights.
Daily, the Guardian
This new series is knockout stuff: Maxine Peake narrates the stories of Joy Division and New Order, up to the release of 1983’s Blue Monday. There are insights from Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert and Peter Hook, plus fans including Damon Albarn and Johnny Marr.
Weekly, widely available
In 2014 journalist Ben Reiter boldly predicted that the worst team in Major League baseball, the Houston Astros, would win the World Series championship just three years later. Remarkably he was right – yet it emerged that the team’s victory was the result of cheating. Reiter looks at how he – and the rest of baseball – were fooled, in a compelling series.
Weekly, widely available
(Josephine Decker) 106 mins
The turbulent life of the horror writer Shirley Jackson (a devilishly good Elisabeth Moss) is reimagined vividly through the eyes of Rose (Odessa Young), who’s lodging with her husband at the house of Shirley and spouse Stanley (Michael Stuhlbarg). Shades of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? add bite to an engrossing, viperish tale of creativity and female agency.
In cinemas and Curzon Home Cinema
(Natalie Erika James) 89 mins
A wonderfully creepy first feature from James, using the psychological horror of dementia as a prop for an expertly paced haunted house chiller. Kay (Emily Mortimer) and daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) visit Kay’s mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) at her home, where a darkness is lurking.
In cinemas and digital
(Bassam Tariq) 90 mins
Riz Ahmed co-wrote and stars in this original story of a British-Pakistani rapper, Zed, whose last grab at fame is stymied when he is diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune illness. His ambivalence towards his parents and heritage surface in a film that tumbles together memory, dreams and hallucinations.
(Robert Zemeckis) 100 mins
Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale gets a high-spec US reboot, with added racial undertones. Jahzir Bruno is the boy in 60s Alabama turned into a mouse by Grand High Witch Anne Hathaway (chewing up the scenery); Octavia Spencer as his gran helps him get revenge.
On digital platforms
(Damilola Orimogunje) 76 mins
This year’s Film Africa festival (to 8 Nov) mixes live screenings in London with online features, including this one, a quietly affecting Nigerian drama about a new mother struggling with postpartum depression.
Writer-director Claire Oakley adds a forbidding air to the loneliness of an off-season Cornish caravan site in this unsettling chiller. Molly Windsor is Ruth, a teenager arriving at the resort to be with boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn). but are the Don’t Look Now suggestions of a red-haired, ghostly presence just her imagination, or real?
Saturday 31 October, 9.45pm, BBC Two