What we’re watching

BPS Recommends returns; your new lockdown guide to great films that you can stream for free on platforms like BBC iplayer, BFI, Channel 4 and of course films on the TV. Here we’re sharing our top picks for Biopics and Musicals, and what’s on our watch list.


The film world can never seem to get enough of biographical films, and neither can we! Here is our pick of films about people from the past.

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

PG | 1h 51min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. A true feel-good film with an all-star cast.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg

Available until 24th January on BBC iPlayer
Watch the Florence Foster Jenkins Trailer

The Happy Prince (2018)

15 | 1h 45min | Biography, Drama

The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde, a person who observes his own failure with ironic distance and regards the difficulties that beset his life with detachment and humor.

★★★★ ‘ . . . Everett is near-flawless, and his film is a superb showcase for an actor whose celebrity has at times overshadowed his talent.’ Andrew Lowry, Empire

Director: Rupert Everett
Stars: Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Rupert Everett

Available until 10:35PM, 17th January on BBC iPlayer
Watch The Happy Prince Trailer

The Invisible Woman (2013)

12A | 1h 51min | Biography, Drama, History

At the height of his career, Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) meets a younger woman who becomes his secret lover until his death. The world is full of Dickens, but this adaptation of Claire Tolamin’s book about his relationship with Nelly Turnan, introduces us, for the first time on screen, to this mysterious, forgotten affair.

Director: Ralph Fiennes
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas

Available until 25th January on BBC iPlayer

Mrs. Brown (1997)

PG | 1h 41min | Biography, Drama, History

When Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert dies, she finds solace in her trusted servant, Mr. John Brown, but their relationship also brings scandal and turmoil. One of the more dramatised on this list, but with such a wonderful cast list and rave reviews, we thought it would be a shame not to let you know it was on.

Director: John Madden
Stars: Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Geoffrey Palmer 

Watch on Wednesday 13th January, BBC 4, 9PM and afterwards on BBC iPlayer

The King’s Speech (2010)

12A | 1h 58min | Biography, Drama, History

Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay; need we say more? ‘The King’s Speech’ is the story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

Available until 10:50PM, 15th January on BBC iPlayer
Watch ‘The King’s Speech’ Trailer


What better way to lift our spirits than to watch people singing and dancing their worries away, and possibly join in with a song or two?

High Society (1956)

U 1h 51min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

With socialite Tracy Lord about to remarry, her ex-husband – with the help of a sympathetic reporter – has 48 hours to convince her that she really still loves him. This is ‘The Philadelphia Story’ with a touch of 1950s Hollywood glamour, songs such as ‘True Love’, ‘Well, did you Evah’ and appearances from Louis Armstrong. Our Marketing & Publicity Assistant, Connie, has this down as one of her favourite films of all time, so why not give it a go?

Director: Charles Walters
Stars: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra

Available until 22nd January on BBC iPlayer

Watch the ‘High Society’ Trailer

Calamity Jane (1953)

U | 1h 41min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

The story of Calamity Jane, her saloon, and her romance with Wild Bill Hickok. A joyous whip-crackin’ western musical starring one of the biggest stars of the 1950s.

Director: David Butler
Stars: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie

Available until 25th January on BBC iPlayer
Watch the Calamity Jane Trailer

La La Land (2016)

12A | 2h 8min | Comedy, Drama, Music

A multi-award-winning modern classic and a toe-tapping crowd pleaser.

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt

Available until 24th January on BBC iPlayer

What we’re watching

Shoplifters (2018)

15 | 2h 1min | Crime, Drama

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.


Director: Hirokazu Koreeda (as Kore-eda Hirokazu)
Stars: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki

Available on Channel4 on Demand until 14th January.

The Wife (2017)

R | 1h 39min | Drama 

A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm to see her husband receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Based on the novel The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.

Director: Björn Runge
Stars: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons

Watch on Friday 8th January, BBC 2, 9PM and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

Wild Card

The Death of Stalin (2017)

R | 1h 47min | Comedy, Drama, History 

Moscow, 1953. After being in power for nearly thirty years, Soviet dictator Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin takes ill and quickly dies. Now the members of the Council of Ministers scramble for power. An satirical black comedy from the creator of ‘The Thick of It’.

Director: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor

Available until 20th January on BBC iPlayer.
Watch ‘The Death of Stalin’ Trailer.

Start watching

With so many great films, it’s about time we start watching, if we want to get through the list. Follow Big Picture Show on Facebook and Twitter for regular film recommendations and be sure to subscribe to the Live & Local blog for updates across the organisation.

Let us know which films you’ll be watching in the comments and don’t forget to tell us what you think of them.

Streaming Films Online

Many of the films on BBC iPlayer and 4oD offer subtitles and audio description.
For a handy guide on getting setting up and using BBC iPlayer on your smart TV click here.

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