Best new movies and shows on BBC iPlayer in June 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

Abigail’s Party (BBC Four, From June 1)

In 1977 the British director Mike Leigh created an entry for the BBC’s “Play For Today” strand starring his then-wife Alison Steadman which continues to resonate as a biting and hilarious piece of social satire. Set in the suburbs of Essex, the play follows not the title party of Abigail, but a gathering of two couples, plus the unseen Abigail’s mother, Sue. The scintillating wit of Leigh’s script starts to give way to farce in a thoroughly English take on the comedy of manners format perfected in America by playwrights like Edward Albee in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

The screening of the TV play on BBC Four is followed by the documentary Drama Out of Crisis: A Celebration of Play For Today which traces the history of the television anthology format which commissioned Abigail’s Party, along with many other gems from the 1970s and 1980s. It’s startling just how relevant Leigh’s observations remain today, with all-time great comic performances and lines, especially from Alison Steadman’s Beverly.

Conversations With Friends (BBC Three, available now)

Following the successful adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People by BBC Three, Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham return to the author as directors of a 12-part adaptation of her first novel, Conversations With Friends. The series features some impressive talent in its line-up, including American Honey star Sasha Lane, and Jemima Kirke who recently played headmistress Hope Haddon in series 3 of Sex Education.

Conversations With Friends may struggle to match the praise given to the channel’s version of Normal People which perfectly captured the experience of fraught desire between two young adults around their time at Trinity College Dublin. The whole series is being broadcast on the reestablished BBC Three channel and is available in its entirety on iPlayer now.

Everything I Know About Love (BBC One, From June 7)

Another popular book adaptation is coming to iPlayer this month, this time from Dolly Alderton and her bestselling memoir Everything I Know About Love. Like Sally Rooney’s novels, it frankly discusses the turbulence of Alderton’s life in her 20s, with Emma Appleton and Bel Powley as the lead characters Maggie and Birdy. It looks to be a frank and realistic portrayal of female friendship in 2010s London.

The series is being broadcast on BBC One from June 7, with all seven episodes made available on that date. Perfect, fun viewing to remind us of the value of socialising and being with friends seems to be returning to some form of normality post-COVID.

Top Picks: Movies

Brooklyn (BBC Two, From June 2)

Based on the 2009 novel by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn is a beautiful depiction of a young woman emigrating to 1950s New York from Ireland in search of work. The film stars Saoirse Ronan in the lead role as Ellis Lacey undergoing a conflict in allegiance to her new home and her old one, with pitch-perfect supporting performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, and Jim Broadbent. It is also a stunning recreation of 50s America, from the streets of NYC to the heyday of Coney Island.

Ranked 48th on the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, the film was also very well-received in awards season, including nominations for the Best Picture and Best Actress Academy Awards. The film will be available after broadcast on iPlayer for 30 days.

Cat People (BBC Four, From June 2)

For BBC Four’s regular double feature, this month will see two horror classics paired together and made available on iPlayer. The first film is Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 masterpiece Cat People, which tells the story of Irena Dubrovna played by Simone Simon, a Serbian fashion illustrator who becomes convinced that she is descended from an ancient tribe of being who metamorphose into panthers when they are sexually aroused. It also features one of the greatest examples of a jump scare in the history of cinema.

Cat People is being paired with another Tourneur horror staple, I Walked With a Zombie from the following year, loosely inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Both films are available on iPlayer indefinitely so you have plenty of time to watch them both. Just maybe don’t watch them at night…

Pride (BBC Two, From June 3)

In celebration of Pride Month, BBC Two is screening the heartwarming 2014 film Pride directed by Matthew Warchus. The film tells the real story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who worked tirelessly during the 1980s to raise money for families affected by the British miners’ strike of 1984 which developed into the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners Campaign. Upon its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, it won the prestigious Queer Palm for best film featuring LGBT+ subject matter.

Pride is a beautiful celebration of pride and sexuality, featuring particularly moving turns from Ben Schnetzer and Dominic West. The film will be available after its broadcast on iPlayer throughout Pride Month for 30 days.