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7 December 2021

The best TV of 2021

The best TV of the year, from Succession to It's A Sin.

By Rachel Cooke

The New Statesman TV critic Rachel Cooke chooses her top ten shows of the year.

Succession (Sky HBO)
Roy story: Jesse Armstrong’s media monsters make their comeback, and every single line fizzes and pops.

Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution (BBC Two)
The Alien vs Predator remake that induced a disturbing nostalgia for snow-washed jeans and rising taxes.

Help (Channel 4)
The hard-to-watch but very necessary film by Jack Thorne about a care home during Covid, starring Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer.

The White Lotus (Sky Atlantic/HBO)
Mike White’s blissful, satirical hotel drama. Think Agatha Christie with tiki torches and a rolling prescription for Xanax.

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Hemingway (BBC Four)
Book me on the next train to Pamplona!
A masterclass in biography from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

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Time (BBC One)
Has Sean Bean ever been better?
Jimmy McGovern’s exquisite prison drama was a huge word-of-mouth hit for the BBC.

Gods of Snooker (BBC Two)
Back to the Eighties with Alex and Jimmy and Steve: the Nijinskys of the baize in all their frilly-shirted glory.

Motherland (BBC Two)
Nit infestations and mini Babybels, catchment areas and divorce lawyers: still the funniest, most lacerating show on television.

Mare of Easttown (Sky Atlantic/HBO)
The Peyton Place reboot from hell. An utterly bleak, pitch-perfect Rust Belt crime story starring Kate Winslet.

It’s a Sin (Channel 4)
Closet encounters: Russell T Davies’s gorgeous, soapy drama had as much to say about the nature of shame as about the Aids epidemic.