The best television in October 2020—Third Day on Sky Atlantic and BBC's Life

Plus novelist JG Farrell's story comes on screen in ITV's The Singapore Grip
September 1, 2020

Third Day, Sky Atlantic, 15th September

Covid-19 has forced changes on this ambitious collaboration between playwright Dennis Kelly and the immersive theatre company Punchdrunk. Originally designed as a theatrical production, and now filmed for television, the first part is about a bereaved father (Jude Law) drawn onto the Essex island of Osea, where locals are planning a pagan music festival. There are echoes of The Wicker Man from Kelly, a specialist in what he calls “nasty little plays.”

The Singapore Grip, ITV, September

Novelist JG Farrell’s Empire trilogy, which examines British rule in Ireland (Troubles), India (The Siege of Krishnapur) and in its third volume Singapore during the Second World War, has never seemed more relevant. This handsome six-part adaptation by Christopher Hampton boasts Charles Dance and Jane Horrocks in the cast. It begins in 1939 with company chairman Walter Blackett (David Morrissey) fixed on finding a husband for his daughter and dealing with worker unrest. But war is coming.

Life, BBC One, September

In 2015, 10m people restlessly awaited each new appointment with Doctor Foster, Mike Bartlett’s adultery thriller. He followed it up with an overblown second series but here he’s returned to an interesting minor character—Victoria Hamilton’s Anna, who bowed out of the series after Foster herself slept with her husband. She’s built a new life in a house divided into four flats. Four intertwining stories star Alison Steadman, Peter Davison and Adrian Lester, as well as the brilliant, underrated Hamilton herself.