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Five things to watch this May – from the return of 'Bridgerton' to Benedict Cumberbatch's new thriller

bridgerton nicola coughlan as penelope featherington in episode 302 of bridgerton cr laurence cendrowicznetflix copy2023
Your TV watchlist for May is hereLaurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

Is May the happiest month? Not one but two bank holidays, the smell of spring finally in the air, warmer climes, lighter evenings and, of course, a healthy dose of excellent television to entrance and enthral.

One show that definitely got the blossoming serotonin memo is Bridgerton, which returns for its eagerly anticipated and much-hyped third season on 16 May, with Bazaar’s cover star Nicola Coughlan taking centre stage.

There’s an outlandish true story told in vibrant 1970s hues thanks to Apple TV+’s The Big Cigar and a head-scratchingly surreal, yet wholly compelling sci-fi, courtesy of the small-screen adaptation of Blake Crouch’s novel, Dark Matter. Abi Morgan returns to television screenplays with the unique thriller Eric, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the powerful World War Two love story, The Tattooist of Auschwitz debuts on Sky Atlantic.

Bridgerton

Can it really be more than two years since we last caught up with the escapades of the ‘ton? Though Shondaland served us a delicious amuse bouche in Queen Charlotte last year, it is the romantic adventures of Lady Whistledown et al that we have all been eagerly awaiting. Finally, the first part of season three will air this month, with its second instalment following in June. This time, our wallflower and perennial – dare we say, professional – observer, Penelope Featherington, steps into the starring role, for a will-they-won’t-they love story with her lifelong crush, Colin Bridgerton. Expect pop music set to strings, lashings of bosom-heaving romance and a bucket load of wisteria. Spring is here at last.

Bridgerton Season 3 is streaming on Netflix from 16 May

Dark Matter

a couple of people standing on a beach looking at the sunset
Apple

Starring Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly, Dark Matter is an absorbing and surreal adventure based on the hugely popular novel of the same name by Blake Crouch. It takes a fascinating and fast-paced journey through different versions of the same reality when a physicist (Edgerton) is mysteriously abducted into an alternate version of his own existence. The result is a race against time to save his family from a most unlikely villain: himself. Trippy and ridiculously compelling, this is a thriller with a wonderfully addictive sci-fi twist.

Dark Matter is streaming on AppleTV+ from 8 May

Eric

a person in a suit in a room with a desk and microphones
Netflix

From one of Britain’s most exciting screenwriters, Abi Morgan – the brains behind The Hour, Shame and Suffragette – comes a unique and exciting new limited series. Eric stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent, the creator of a hugely popular children’s TV show, whose life is turned upside down by the sudden disappearance of his son, Edgar. As he struggles to come to turns with his loss, he becomes fixated on a character created by his son, a blue monster called Eric, who soon becomes his delusional companion in solving the mystery of his son’s vanishing. Set in 1980s New York, this is a smart and unusual show that will both grip and charm you.

Eric is streaming on Netflix from 30 May

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

jonah hauer king as lali sokolov meets anna proacutechniak as gita furman for the first time
Martin Mlaka / Sky UK

Based on the bestselling book by Heather Morris, this six-part limited series is the heart-breaking yet beautifully hopeful tale of Lali, whose job was to ink identification numbers onto the arms of his fellow prisoners in Auschwitz. It is while doing so that he falls in love with Gita, beginning a love affair that will transcend the horrors of their surroundings. Told between the 1940s and early noughties, it features Harvey Keitel as an older Lali and Melanie Lynskey embodying a fictitious version of the author herself, leading a cast packed with impressive performances from established stars and new talent. Fans of the book can rest easy; this powerful and emotional story has been brought to life with thoughtful reverence.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is on Sky Atlantic and NowTV from 2 May

The Big Cigar

a man and a woman
Apple

Some stories are so outlandish, they have to be true. Such is the case with The Big Cigar, the incredible true story of The Black Panthers’ founder Huey P. Newton’s madcap escape from the states (and the prying of the FBI) all the way to Cuba, thanks to the help of the famous Hollywood film producer Bert Schneider and a fake movie plot. It’s wild, intriguing and replete with sumptuous 1970s details and a great cast, from Tiffany Boone and André Holland to Alessandro Nivola and Moses Ingram.

The Big Cigar is streaming on AppleTV+ from 17 May

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