Best new movies and shows on BBC iPlayer in April 2022

Every month BBC iPlayer offers a plethora of new movies and TV shows to watch. Critic Lillian Crawford picks six of the best titles to check out in the coming weeks.

Top Picks: TV

All the World’s A Screen: Shakespeare on Film (BBC Four, April 3)

This documentary being screened on BBC Four is an exhaustive account of the history of Shakespeare’s plays in cinema, ranging from Laurence Olivier’s classic big screen takes on Henry V and Hamlet to adaptations by Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, and Franco Zeffirelli. By taking an international approach, the documentary explores the boundary-less nature of the words of the Bard.

Screening as part of BBC Four’s Arena strand, the documentary promises to navigate between independent and arthouse takes as well as oblique takes and modern settings. It will be available on iPlayer for 30 days following broadcast, with a host of other Shakespearean programmes on there too.

The Witchfinder (BBC Two, available now)

A new comedy series set during the witch craze of the 17th century, The Witchfinder is now available in its entirety on iPlayer as it continues to be broadcast on BBC Two during April. It’s the latest creation of writers Rob and Neil Gibbons, whose other recent works includes the revival of Alan Partridge as a daytime TV host in This Time with Alan Partridge.

The series stars some of the best actors currently working in British comedy, including Tim Key upgraded to a lead role for the first time, and the hilarious Daisy May Cooper, best known for This Country, alongside the likes of Jessica Hynes and Daniel Rigby. Key plays a struggling witchfinder in Norfolk who accuses Cooper of witchcraft, with plenty of comedic antics bound to follow.

Art That Made Us (BBC Two, April 7)

This new documentary series debuts on BBC Two from April 7 with the whole series available on iPlayer following the first episode. The aim is to retell the story of the British isles through the medium of historic art as recalled by a host of contemporary artists and creatives. This first episode begins in the Dark Ages and sees sculptor Anthony Gormley examine the Spong Man, a clay figure from a 5th-century cremation urn, and a performance of Welsh poetry by Michael Sheen.

The rest of the series will see ceramacist Emma Bridgewater discuss an anti-slavery medallion crafted by Josiah Wedgwood, David Baddiel discuss Philip Larkin’s Going, Going, and Richard Coles on the Lindisfarne Gospels amongst others. It’s part of a drive to make history and culture documentaries more mainstream since BBC Four has now become more of an archive channel.

Top Picks: Movies

Calamity Jane (BBC Two, April 2)

A glorious Technicolor answer to MGM’s Annie Get Your Gun, Warner Bros’ Calamity Jane is a rip-roaring musical Western featuring banger after banger. Rolling in with “The Deadwood Stage” and its chants of “Whip crack away!”, the sublime Doris Day navigates the complex gender presentation of the title gunslinger, in a town that struggles to understand her masculine behaviour. And when she sets eyes on a beautiful showgirl, the film becomes a startlingly progressive look at female queerness.

The film is screening in celebration of the centenary of Day’s birth, with Move Over Darling also screening on April 3 and both will be available on iPlay for thirty days. Calamity Jane is truly Day’s film, and few sequences are more sublime than her performance of “Secret Love” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Much Ado About Nothing (BBC Four, April 3)

Filmed in Stratford-upon-Avon, Roy Alexander Weise directs this new Royal Shakespeare Company production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved romantic comedies. Translating the story to an Afro-Futurist world, this is a truly original take on the classic play screening as part of the new BBC Arts Sunday Night Performances on BBC Four following the success of Erica Whyman’s The Winter’s Tale in Spring 2021.

The film will be available on iPlayer after broadcast, and features a remarkable original score by Nigerian-born British guitarist Femi Temowo. It also features the great Micharl Joel Bartelle in the cast, recently seen proving his quizzing chops on the BBC quiz show University Challenge, the final of which is being broadcast on April 4 on BBC Two.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (BBC Three, April 4)

The second feature directed by Desiree Akhavan, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a moving takedown of the horrors and dangers of gay conversion therapy—a film which feels all the more prescient in the UK today. Set in 1993, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cameron, a teenager caught in an intimate moment with a female classmate that sees her sent straight to God’s Promise, an evangelical centre for gay youths.

As Cameron and her new friends navigate the terrifying mentality of those who believe homosexuality is a sin that can be changed, there are beautiful moments of release that drive the film in an optimistic direction. After broadcast on BBC Three it will be available on iPlayer for the next 12 months.