My Grandparents’ War, Channel 4, November Marking the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, this fascinating set of standalone documentaries follows high-profile actors as they explore the roles their grandparents’ played in the conflict. They include Helena Bonham Carter, whose grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, facilitated the escape of thousands of Jews from occupied France; Mark Rylance, whose grandfathers were both Japanese PoWs; and Kristin Scott Thomas, whose paternal grandfather was a commanding officer of a Navy destroyer at Dunkirk.
The Novels that Shaped Our World, BBC Two, November This three-part series is the centrepiece of the BBC’s season celebrating 300 years of the English language novel. It examines the art form from three perspectives—empire and slavery, women’s voices and working-class experiences. The season also includes stand-alone films on Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave, in which comedian Greg Davies traces the novel’s Barnsley roots, and artist Gillian Wearing’s take on George Eliot with a soundtrack by Portishead.
The Irishman, Netflix, 27th November Martin Scorsese dipped his toe into the streaming world with his Bob Dylan documentary for Netflix, but here he brings his full cinematic vision to the small screen. This much-anticipated film is based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, which explored the life of mafia hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, and investigated the unsolved disappearance in 1975 of former union leader Jimmy Hoffa, known to have links with organised crime. Robert De Niro, above, and Al Pacino star as Sheeran and Hoffa respectively.