Written by Julia Raeside


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It’s spring: blossom is blooming, the sun is (mostly) shining, baby animals are frolicking, and Julia Raeside is tucked up in her living room watching some corking telly. Join her.

Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Photo: BBC.

As the crocuses bask in the early spring sunshine and little lambs gambol delightfully in the fields, I’m celebrating the season of new life and blossoming hope with the curtains shut, watching Mad Men and Game of Thrones.

I’d go outside if I could, obviously, but my digi box memory is bulging already and I only have the one pair of eyes. And the new season’s TV has barely even begun.

Firstly this month, I am clenched in excited anticipation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on BBC Two, an adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s historical, supernatural novel about two men living in a fictional version of London during the 19th century. It stars Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel as the titular characters and depicts England as a country split by the belief and lack of belief in magic. Nineteenth-century London and York are gloriously rendered in a beautiful palette of greys and browns and Carvel’s nostrils alone convey more motivation and purpose than any other complete actor working in Britain today. It almost feels like it should be on nearer Christmas, but I’m glad we don’t have to wait that long.

Dominic West and Ruth Wilson star in award-winning series The Affair, airing on Sky Atlantic.

Dominic West and Ruth Wilson star in award-winning series The Affair, on Sky Atlantic.

I’m also very excited about The Affair finally coming to Sky Atlantic after it won all the Golden Globes (well two, for best drama series and best actress for Ruth Wilson) this year. It’s about Dominic West’s happily married schoolteacher and Wilson’s student and part-time waitress meeting in Long Island and getting up to extra-marital shenanigans for various reasons that become obvious as the show goes on. You get to see the story told from each of their perspectives and the two leads have absolutely brilliant chemistry together, never mind considerable skill in the slow, meticulous reveal of their characters’ true motivations. It’s completely engrossing and 10 episodes of tautly written perfection.

Zawe Ashton in Not Safe For Work. Photo: Channel 4.

Zawe Ashton in Not Safe For Work. Photo: Channel 4.

Fresh Meat’s awesome Zawe Ashton stars in new comedy-drama series Not Safe For Work, airing later on in May on Channel 4. It’s about a 30-something civil servant, Katherine, who is recently divorced and then forced to move offices from London to Northampton following public sector cuts. She and her dysfunctional colleagues struggle with their new surroundings and chaotic personal lives in this very modern-feeling, acidic look at lives lost to office dronery. Simultaneously funny and full of despair.

You should also watch Sheridan Smith stack up another row of shiny awards nominations in The C Word on BBC One. She plays her late friend Lisa Lynch who suffered from breast cancer and used social media, and eventually her book of the same name, to talk about her illness. Smith’s ability to emotionally burrow inside a character’s heart is always gripping to witness and this one will undoubtedly require a big hankie, so be prepared.

Sheridan Smith as Lisa Lynch with Paul Nicholls as her husband Pete in BBC drama The C Word. Photo: Stuart Wood/BBC.

Sheridan Smith as Lisa Lynch with Paul Nicholls as her husband Pete in The C Word. Photo: Stuart Wood/BBC.

Finally, on 23 May, all pop fans will be fixing their gaze on Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. Short of actually going to Vienna, the BBC’s coverage is always the best way to drink in the hours and hours of harmonic nuttiness. Our entry, Electro Velvet’s Still in Love With You might just be daft enough to score some points this year, but we won’t win because most of Europe hates us. Last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst, will be hosting the backstage coverage and no doubt reprising her lost Bond theme, Rise Like a Phoenix, with the usual understated pyrotechnics and demure delivery. If there is a better television spectacle than Eurovision, I’ve yet to find it. It makes me happier than a gambolling lamb, which I imagine I could see out of my window if I could be bothered to open the curtains.


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Written by Julia Raeside

Julia loves TV and writes about it for the Guardian and other people. She also enjoys talking on the radio which she mostly does for the BBC.