10 summer TV picks

The weather might not necessarily suggest it but summer is here. It is! We’ve checked the calendar and everything.

So here are 10 TV shows perfect to watch over the summer months. They take us from Blackpool to Hawaii, from homespun nostalgia to extraordinary opulence, and from bright young things to grumpy, ahem, older ones.

Love Island: Australia - ITV2

There’s no homegrown version of ITV’s reality TV phenomenon but until its return viewers can go down under to enjoy its Antipodean version instead.

Love Island: Australia has all the elements familiar to anyone who has seen the ITV2 original - fights, frolics, heartache, heartburn (probably) and in the midst of all this, a little bit (or quite a lot) of love, actually.

Improbably attractive singletons in remarkably beautiful locations in outrageously glorious weather. Summer starts here.

What they say: ‘Fun and juicy [and] a little messier and more brash than the UK version.’ Independent 

Devon and Cornwall - Channel 4

As delightful and uncomplicated as its title suggests, this Channel 4 documentary series is pure laid-back escapism.

Narrated by north Devon resident John Nettles, the second series takes viewers on a wild swim off the shores of Looe, to a Bodmin Moor cider-maker who is readying a 100-year celebration and to Exmoor farmers preparing their native ponies for show.

Capturing the people and the landscape of the south-west in all its glory, Devon and Cornwall is gentle, laid back stuff, and all the better for it. A slow TV treat. 

What they say: ‘A series to sit back, relax and escape into.’ Cornwall Live


Magnum PI - Sky One 

It’s Magnum PI but not as you might remember it, a reboot of the Tom Selleck crime action drama that retains lots of elements of the original while bringing it bang up to date.

Jay Hernandez is Navy SEAL turned private eye Thomas Magnum, busting crimes with his trusted ally, Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) replacing John Hillerman’s Jonathan Higgins from the original.

It’s a sun-drenched Hawaiian treat, and all takes place in the same universe as two other rebooted shows from the ‘80s, Hawaii Five-O and MacGyver.

What they say: ‘If you want to remake a beloved older show and bring it into the modern, multicultural era without betraying what people loved about the first version, you could do a lot worse than this’ Vulture 

Bargain Loving Brits in Blackpool - Channel 5 

This warm-heated documentary follows people pursuing the high life on a low budget in Lancashire’s legendary seaside resort, Blackpool.

A spin-off of Channel 5’s long-running Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun (the sun does also shine in Blackpool), it is once again narrated by Cold Feet’s John Thomson.

Featuring both holiday makers and people who have made the town their home, it’s as British (and enjoyable) as a stick of rock.

What they say: ‘An affectionate take on bold, brassy, brilliant Blackpool.’ Daily Mirror 

Benidorm - ITV

‘I love the fact we have fat people in Speedos and saggy people - we have real people,’ writer Derren Litten once said of his ITV sitcom, Benidorm. ‘I think that’s what offended the critics.’

But if it wasn’t some critics’ darling then viewers adored it, as its 74 episodes across 10 series (series seven is currently airing on ITV) will attest. 

Based around the winning concept of following a group of holidaymakers who return to the same hotel each year, Benidorm’s all-star cast included Steve Pemberton, Siobhan Finneran, Tim Healy, Janine Duvitski and Johnny Vegas.

What they say: ‘Stands out for its mix of humour, drama and pathos … crisp dialogue and Dickensian array of characters. A nailed-on celebration of Britishness.’ iNews

Sun, Sea and Brides To Be - W

It’s a complicated business organising a wedding but it can be even trickier (not to mention expensive) if you decide to get married in the sun.

But every year thousands of British couples tie the knot abroad and Sun, Sea and Brides To Be captures just a few of them in this documentary about a group of wedding planners in Cyprus.

What could possibly go wrong?

What they say: ‘I used to do this job. Worst thing I had to deal with was the police turning up at the church to arrest the groom and best man.’ Mumsnet


Celebrity Ex on the Beach - MTV 

Celebrity Ex on the Beach is the celebrity spin-off of MTV reality show Ex on the Beach, which began in the UK in 2011.

Not a sequel to Sun, Sea and Brides To Be - it just sounds like it - the show features a bunch of single people on holiday hoping to find a relationship (or something like it).

Their dreams are rudely interrupted, however, when their former partners start turning up. Or, as one promo memorably put it: ‘They were told they were going to find love, but instead they found their exes.’ 

What they say: ‘Let's be honest, it wouldn't hurt to have some of the hottest reality singles to ogle, are we right?’ Heat 

Doc Martin - ITV

It’s been 16 years - 16! - since Martin Clunes’ grumpy GP Dr Martin Bamford first turned up in the fictional Cornish seaside village of Portwenn. 

Nine series later - with hopes high for a tenth - ITV’s Doc Martin remains a feelgood delight. 

Lots is made about locations becoming characters in their own right and in Doc Martin this is absolutely right, each episode feeling like a one-hour mini-break in beautiful Cornwall (where it was credited with boosting tourism by a third).

What they say: ‘Pitched exactly in the right spot between recognisable Cornishness and sanitised TV fantasy … I bleddy love it, now more than ever.’ Guardian 

Richard E Grant’s Hotel Secrets - Sky Atlantic 

Richard E Grant takes us on a whistlestop tour around some of the world’s most expensive hotels.

From Las Vegas to London, Miami to Venice, Paris to Tokyo, it’s a funny, fascinating, jaw-dropper of a trip.

The Oscar-nominated actor is the perfect travelling companion and - just like viewers at home - sometimes can’t quite believe what he’s seeing (and where he’s staying).

What they say: ‘There is something irresistibly childlike about Richard E Grant’s amusement at his surroundings … All I can say is: watch it.’ Independent 

Cruising with Jane McDonald - Channel 5 

It’s the show which won Channel 5 its first Bafta, Jane McDonald travelling the ocean waves on some of the world’s largest and most luxurious cruise ships.

The singer travelled on 38 cruises and took more than 100 flights for the show, which she presented along with another Channel 5 series, Holidaying with Jane McDonald. 

Her stint on the two shows ended this year, to be replaced by comedian Susan Calman. But her travelogues are a reminder of times gone by and times soon to return (we hope).

What they say: ‘An ode to the leisurely holiday mode.’ Guardian 

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