Best new movies and shows on BBC iPlayer in July 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

Summer Night Concert from Vienna (BBC Four, From July 3)

One of the televisual highlights of the summer is the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual Summer Night Concert, broadcast across Europe thanks to the European Broadcasting Union. Taking place as ever in the spectacular gardens of the Schönrunn Palace, former seat of the Hapsburgs, this year’s concert will see Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons making his debut behind the baton.

The programme itself is set to include a performance of Saint-Säens’s first cello concerto, with French cellist Gautier Capuçon as the soloist, along with music by Beethoven, Lysenko, Rossini, Dvorak, and Strauss II. It’s bound to be a beautiful and summery evening filled with some very fine music, which can then be enjoyed on iPlayer for thirty days throughout July.

Aids: the Unheard Tapes (BBC Two, From July 4)

This three-part documentary attempts to restage and give voice to the lives of people who lived and died through the 1980s AIDS crisis in Britain. This is done through playing authentic recordings of people talking about their experience with the disease, lip-synced by modern actors. These are coupled by the testimonies of their loved ones, carers, doctors, nurses—all against a fraught backdrop of hate and misunderstanding.

The series is narrated by Russell Tovey, and stands as authentic counterpoint to much of the fictionalised versions of events that are commonly seen in film and television. It promises to be an unflinching and harrowing depiction of an incredibly dark period in British history, but nonetheless an essential one to reflect on around Pride events and at any other time.

Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC Four, From July 6)

As BBC Four becomes an archive channel, many classic series are being shown on the channel before finding a new digital home on iPlayer. These have included Beeban Kidron’s magnificent adaptation of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, an essential drama in British queer cultural history.

This month’s offerings include Alan Bleasdale’s Liverpool-set drama Boys from the Blackstuff, originally broadcast in 1982. Starring Michael Angelis, Alan Igbon, and Bernard Hill, the drama remains an essential classic in the history of television and representations of working-class life. Keep an eye on the archive selection on iPlayer for this and plenty of other gems making a reappearance.

Top Picks: Movies

Dunkirk (BBC Two, From July 3)

After making a huge splash upon release in cinemas, it remains to be seen how well Christopher Nolan’s war epic will hold up on the small screen. Slotting neatly into BBC Two’s late spot, a regular haunt for classic war movies, Dunkirk takes the conventions of the genre and weaves together three different time frames to tell a new version of Operation Dynamo.

With time kept closely by Hans Zimmer’s swelling score, the film features some of Britain’s male acting heavyweights, from Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh to Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles. Between ropey science-fiction projects like Interstellar and Tenet, Nolan put a much-needed foot on the ground of reality with Dunkirk, and it is very much worth a watch.

Happy End (BBC Two, From July 4)

A sort-of sequel to Amour, this is Michael Haneke’s lightest film—a refreshing glass of champagne after a career of misery and torment. Watching the film this month is particularly bittersweet following the death of Jean-Louis Trintingnant, who plays the patriarch here as his dysfunctional family struggles to come together for dinner.

Isabelle Huppert is in particularly fine comedic form as Trintignant’s daughter, who has been given control of his construction company, along with a delightfully anachronistic appearance by British actor Toby Jones. The film will be available on iPlayer for 30 days, and is certainly a pleasant way to bid farewell to one of Europe’s greatest acting talents.

Dangerous Liaisons (BBC Four, From July 7)

Stephen Frears’s 1988 film is an adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s theatre play, in turn adapted from the 1782 novel Les liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. It features an extraordinary performance from Glenn Close as the Marquise de Merteuil, who was also Oscar-nominated for The Wife, broadcast here in a double bill with both films then available on iPlayer for thirty days.

Starring alongside Close are Michelle Pfeiffer, as a wife despoiled through a wager, and John Malkovich, who rather lacks the seductiveness required of portraying Valmont. Still, it’s a suitably seedy choice with which to celebrate Close’s career.