October streaming guide: From This England to White Lotus

Kenneth Branagh transforms into former UK PM Boris Johnson in one of the most anticipated new series streaming this month, with other offerings including season two of hit satire The White Lotus and a host of scary shows leading up to Halloween.

Oct 04, 2022, updated Oct 06, 2022
Kenneth Branagh plays Boris Johnson in the six-part series 'This England'. Photo: Phil Fisk / Sky TV

Kenneth Branagh plays Boris Johnson in the six-part series 'This England'. Photo: Phil Fisk / Sky TV

This England (screening now, BBC First and Binge)

For some, it might be too soon to see former UK prime minister Boris Johnson immortalised on screen in an original TV series, but this new show offers a chance to see what went on at 10 Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billed as a dramatisation based on real events, This England is a six-part series about the British Government’s handling of the emerging health crisis in the early months of 2020.

Casting Irish actor and director Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) in the lead is a masterstroke, as he carefully transforms into the former prime minister, mirroring his booming voice, his mannerisms and his flair for quoting Shakespeare, not to mention pulling off the necessary transformational prosthetics.

In an interview with the UK’s New Statesman, British director and co-writer Michael Winterbottom explained why he had a sense of urgency about making the series.

“There was this shared experience,” he said. “Think about all the dramas that revisit and rehash the Second World War endlessly. Here’s a chance to engage with something which has that certain uniqueness – but engage with it now, as soon as possible after it happened, as opposed to trying to re-create a war story from 70 years ago.”

As for how to portray Johnson, Winterbottom said: “We weren’t trying to do a comedy or make fun of him… we tried to imagine his life from that point of view. At the same time, he’s also about to have a baby. He’s also divorcing his wife. He’s also got problems in his relationships with his four children from his wife – and he almost dies.”

There’s also Partygate to tackle, the PM contracting COVID-19, the tens of thousands of Brits who died during those months before the lockdown, and a window on the hospital system with its doctors and nurses navigating an unprecedented health crisis.

Sidney (Apple TV+)

This documentary looks at the life and career of legendary US actor Sidney Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963 for Lilies of the Field.

Sidney  includes candid interviews with Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford and Lenny Kravitz.

Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+)

Hocus Pocus was a family favourite back in 1993 and this sequel is hotting up to be Halloween’s best movie for kids and tweens.

The film, which had its global premiere in New York last week, stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as 17th-century sisters who are ready to bewitch us all… 29 years after the original. Midler took to Instagram on September 23, simply to say: “Hello sailors, my name’s Winifred, what’s yours?”

Passport to Freedom (Stan)

A change of pace here… this mini-series is based on the true story of Aracy de Carvalho, a young clerk at the Brazilian consulate in Hamburg who risked her life and saved dozens from jail or death at the hands of the Nazis.

For two years, she secretly issued passports to Jews without the dreaded “J” stamp, which not only wouldn’t allow them to travel, but would have sent them to concentration camps.


Shipwreck Hunters Australia (Disney+, October 5)

For those fascinated by what lies beneath our treacherous coastline, a team of divers, underwater filmmakers and expert maritime archaeologists take us on a search for long-lost shipwrecks.

In each episode the team embarks on an epic expedition to a remote location off the vast coast of Western Australia.

Werewolf by Night (Disney+, October 7)

Now begins some scary Halloween black-and-white filmmaking where a bunch of monster hunters embark on a deadly competition for a powerful relic.

Werewolf by Night is inspired by horror movies in general, and critics are loving it. Empire Online describes the MCU original series a “love letter to monsters and their humanity”.


Luckiest Girl Alive (Netflix, October 7)

Starring Mila Kunis (That ’70s Show) and Connie Britton (The White Lotus, Promising Young Woman), this mystery thriller is based on a 2015 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name.

Kunis plays a writer living in New York who watches a true-crime documentary that leads to her life unravelling as she’s forced to confront her own high-school history.

Memory (Prime Video, October 7)

Liam Neeson ­– star of films such as the Taken thrillers, The Ice Road and The Marksman ­–­ can never be in too many action movies, and Memory is testament to the Irish actor still having a lot of life left in him.

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He plays a hitman with a conscience in the film, which centres on a cross-border prostitution ring and also starts Australian actor Guy Pearce. Neeson has another six films in pre-production after wrapping this one.

Monster High – The Movie (Paramount+, October 9)

Based on the Mattel franchise about the children of famous monsters and creatures, this follows Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris, Just Beyond), who was born half-human and half-werewolf, after she arrives at her new school, Monster High.

“She quickly makes friends with her classmates Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot, Dispatches from Elsewhere) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen, Grey’s Anatomy), and for the first time in her life, Clawdeen feels like she has finally found a place where she fits in and can truly be herself, despite keeping her human half a secret,” says Paramount+’s official synopsis.

“When a devious plan to destroy Monster High threatens to reveal her real identity, Clawdeen must learn to embrace her true monster heart and find a way to save the day.”

The Curse of Bridge Hollow (Netflix, October 14)

For those who want to get into the spooky season festivities but can’t handle the nightmares, this film is the new best friend for parents.

It’s all about a family who move to a new town and dig up an ancient spirit, who transforms all the front-yard Halloween zombies into real zombies. A father-and-daughter duo team up for the battle to save the town.

The Vow (Binge, October 18)

You can do a quick catch up on The Vow part one on Binge before diving into part two of this six-part documentary series.

Set against the backdrop of the federal trial of the US v Keith Raniere (co-founder and leader of the sex cult Nxivm), The Vow part two offers an exclusive view into Raniere’s innermost circle, including NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman.

Senorita 89 (Stan, October 19)

This series is set in 1980s Mexico and follows Concepción (Ilse Salas), the matriarch of the most important (fictional) beauty contest in the country.

Together with a team of expert make-up artists, trainers and even surgeons, she welcomes 32 finalists to her estate, La Encantada. There, they will endure three months of arduous training until they reach the Miss Mexico pageant.


Selling in the City (Lifesyle/Binge, October 19)

Offering a fresh take on high-end renovation shows, this series is targeted towards a “more millennial crowd”. Interior designer Rosie Morley and landscape expert Paddy Milne turn inner-city townhouses, apartments and villas in saleable real estate.

Wild Child (Foxtel, October 21)

Much has been made of Hollywood heart-throb Johnny Depp’s life this year, with some very unflattering videos and testimony emerging amid his high-profile defamation case against former partner Amber Heard. This documentary takes a closer look at the Pirates of the Caribbean star who has long worn the “wild child” tag like a badge of honour.

The White Lotus (Foxtel, October 30)

Mike White’s award-winning anthology series returns for a second series, though this time the action takes place in Italy and, sadly, doesn’t star Australian actor Murray Bartlett as the unhinged resort manager.

Bartlett departed in dramatic style at the end of the first series, but we’ve still got Jennifer Coolidge back as needy guest Tanya McQuoid.

This article was first published on The New Daily.

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