Watch, listen and be inspired by Calum Henderson's definitive list of what's hot right now and from the vault.
The Pursuit of Love (Amazon Prime Video)
If Nancy Mitford were around today she'd be massive on Twitter and Instagram, almost certainly have a podcast and The Pursuit of Love would probably be a reality TV series instead of a bestselling book. The new BBC adaptation of her 1945 novel can feel a bit like an interwar version of The Hills, with its intense emotional one-on-ones and set-piece lunches full of dramatic personalities falling out with each other.
This version – the first time the book has been adapted for TV since 2001 – was written and directed by Emily Mortimer, who also makes cameo appearances as "The Bolter", one of the most iconic absentee parents in literature. The story is told through the narration of The Bolter's daughter Fanny (Emily Beecham), who has been raised by her Aunt (Dolly Wells) and grew up spending Christmas holidays with another branch of the extended family, the Radletts, at their "large, ugly, north-facing" (that's the bad way for a house to face in the Northern Hemisphere) country estate.
This is where her cousin, best friend and the story's actual main character Linda (Lily James) lives, under the thumb of her father (Dominic West), an old-fashioned gent who loves fox hunting and loathes the idea of an educated woman. At the opposite end of the modernity spectrum is their neighbour Lord Merlin (Andrew Scott), a cultured aesthete, who cuts about in silk pyjamas.
For a lot of the first episode it all feels like a lot of big personalities in search of a storyline, but that's the whole idea – that feeling of Fanny and Linda on the cusp of adulthood, waiting impatiently for life to begin. And once Lord Merlin enters the mix (to the tune of T Rex's "Dandy in the Underworld") things certainly start to happen in this entertaining, modern update of what was, in its day, an entertaining, modern novel.
The Last Cruise (Neon, from Monday)
What was it like on board the Diamond Princess – the original Covid cruise – when it was struck by a still relatively unknown pandemic back in February 2020? HBO documentary The Last Cruise was made using footage shot by the passengers and crew themselves, giving an up-close and terrifying picture of a scenario straight out of a disaster movie – with more than 700 people infected on board, at one point the ship accounted for more than half the known cases outside China. As if it needed to be any more tense, the music is by Daniel Lopatin, the guy whose score helped make Uncut Gems such a nerve-wracking watch.
Smother (TVNZ OnDemand)
Remote, rugged coastal Ireland is the new remote, rugged coastal Scotland as far as TV thrillers are concerned. Smother, the new six-parter from Irish novelist and TV writer Kate O'Riordan, is set in picturesque County Clare, where a woman named Val is trying to piece together the events of the night before her husband was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Luckily for us, there was a family party that night, which means a large cast of potential suspects and a series of expertly paced twists, turns, red herrings and shock revelations await.
Cooking With Paris (Netflix, from Wednesday)
Almost two decades on from The Simple Life, hotel heiress Paris Hilton is enjoying something of a renaissance, having held on long enough for the tides of popular opinion to turn and for everybody to give up hating her and accept that she's actually quite a good laugh. Now she's back with a new Netflix series, Cooking With Paris, based on the weird cooking videos she's been doing on YouTube. As she has a culinary palate that's not exactly gourmet, the kitchen may be one area in which Hilton is actually kind of easy to relate to, even if famous guests don't usually drop in when any of us are making cheese on toast.
Movie of the Week: The Last Mercenary (Netflix)
Belgian martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme is back, baby, in this French action-comedy about a retired secret service agent turned ruthless mercenary, who returns home from the US to bash some heads together when his son (whom he's never met) gets falsely accused of drug trafficking. This movie leans heavily on the comedy side of action-comedy, making fun of its star's big reputation but, as well, it has all the roundhouse kicks to the face you could hope for.
From the Vault: Chariots of Fire (1981) (Disney Plus)
We're up to our necks in sporting excellence at the moment, but if you've made it this far and still can't get enough Olympics, there's always Chariots of Fire. The 1981 historical drama most well-known for its epic Vangelis theme tune is about the 1924 Olympic Games and two runners representing Great Britain – one a devout Catholic from Scotland who's running for the Lord, the other an English Jew who's running to overcome prejudice. One of them's probably going to win, right?
Podcast of the Week: This Is Love
Phoebe Judge is best known as the host of esoteric true-crime podcast Criminal and for having one of the most pleasant voices in the podcasting game. But as the light to Criminal's shade, she also hosts This Is Love, a podcast with a similar format but applied to stories about love instead.
There are your usual kinds of love stories, of it enduring against the odds and across decades, as in The Notebook. And then there's the ones that approach the topic through a different lens, like the one about the British bloke who really loves growing big veges.
Gerald Stratford, aged 72, joined Twitter to share photos of his gardening endeavours with close friends and family and unexpectedly saw himself turn into a viral sensation. His tweets captured hearts for two reasons: they're polite and gentle and the absolute antithesis of everything else that's happening on Twitter, and his veges are truly very impressive. He ends every tweet with the word "Cheers", which is the title of his episode.
Gerald's chat with Phoebe about the joy gardening brings him – and the joy his gardening brings others – might just be one of the loveliest interviews you'll ever hear.