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The Windermere Children

Available on BBC iPlayer

The Windermere Children

One of, if not the, most powerful dramas of January was The Windermere Children. The dramatisation, which aired on Holocaust Memorial Day, told the story of a group of young survivors of the Nazis' extermination camps who were taken to Windermere for a period of rehabilitation. It is "impossible" to get through the 90-minute drama without crying, according to The Independent, and The Times described the drama as "extraordinary" and praised the director's "masterstroke" decision to include some of the real concentration camp survivors, about whom some of the characters were based, five minutes before the end. Summing it up perfectly, RadioTimes.com said the moving drama will leave viewers "emotionally battered and yet profoundly grateful for the experience of having watched".

 

Deadwater Fell

Available on All 4

Deadwater Fell - couple in mourning clothes stood on a residential street

Over on Channel 4, Deadwater Fell - starring David Tennant and Cush Jumbo - tells the fictional story of a small community who are rocked by a terrible crime. The Guardian described the show as "basically Broadchurch in Scotland", a nod to one of Tennant's other thrilling ITV dramas which had people desperately trying to work out who the killer was. But they said Deadwater Fell is "more solidly engineered" than the ITV crime drama - which was set in the fictional Dorset town of Broadchurch - as well as being an "irresistible treat", despite its darkness. While it may be hard to take your eyes off the nail-biting events as they unfold on screen, The Independent admitted it is a "gruelling" watch at times. But it will certainly get people talking, as Den of Geek said the "elegantly constructed" first episode "invites us to think about the unthinkable".

 

Doctor Who

Available on BBC iPlayer

Cast of Doctor Who against time vortex background

You could be forgiven for thinking Doctor Who is always a big hitter with the reviewers, but that hasn't necessarily been the case of late. The Guardian claimed "the stakes have felt low" at times during the era of Who showrunner Chris Chibnall, but things appear to have changed for the better with latest episode, Fugitive of the Judoon, which they said was Doctor Who "at its most psychedelic and awesome, with 56 years of continuity thrown out the window". High praise indeed. The episode made Who history by introducing the first black Doctor in tour guide Ruth, who is another version of the Time Lord, which Digital Spy said made "Chibnall's best episode yet" go "light years beyond even that". If that wasn't enough, John Barrowman stepped away from judging ice skaters to reprise his role as Torchwood's Jack Harkness. 

 

White House Farm

Available on ITV Hub

Couple getting out of a car surrounded by press

Playing out real life crime in a drama always comes with a risk, particularly when many in the story are still alive, but ITV have received plaudits for this dramatisation. The Independent called the drama - which tells the story of Jeremy Bamber, who was convicted of shooting dead his parents, sister, and her twin sons, a crime he still denies - an "unshowy but quietly competent production", and said Cressida Bonas is "excellent" as Bamber's sister Sheila. Despite the tricky subject, the Evening Standard said White House Farm is "a very good drama indeed" and pointed out it has been "careful to avoid ghoulishness in its handling of one Britain’s most notorious murder cases", while the Radio Times praised the "perfect casting" of Freddie Fox as Bamber.

 

Top Gear

Available on BBC iPlayer

Presenters of Top Gear - Paddy McGuiness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris

The BBC motoring show feels like it has been around for longer than the MINI (it hasn't) and it's fair to say there have been mixed reviews since the presenting triple threat of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were in the driving seat. But if the first episode of the 28th series is anything to go by then Top Gear has been taken out of neutral and is setting a good pace again. RadioTimes.com went as far as saying it could be "the best that the BBC Two's motoring show has ever been" and said the current presenting trio, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, are proving to be "an unlikely but eminently watchable" threesome. The programme was dubbed "Woke Gear" by some when the trio joined forces last summer, but the Independent claims the co-hosts "are undoubtedly a better fit than their predecessors", but also said the format of the show "feels exhausted". Despite the trio's best efforts behind the wheel, could the finish line be approaching?