10 TV family-themed picks

Our selection of family-themed picks for this week cover the full emotional spectrum, get that time in front of the telly reserved now. 

1. Isolation Stories (ITV)

We live in extraordinary times and ITV's Isolation Stories is an extraordinary drama, both in its subject matter and execution.

Acclaimed writer and producer Jeff Pope's anthology offers four different snapshots of life under lockdown, with family inevitably playing a big part, including a heavily pregnant mum-to-be, a son in isolation with his dad who has dementia, and a grandfather stopping off outside the window of his son-in-law's house.

Sheridan Smith, David Threlfall, Eddie Marsan, Angela Griffin, Darren Boyd and Robert Glenister (with his son Tom) star in the fast turnaround series that was made in just a month, with programme makers working remotely under the government's strict isolation rules.

Isolation Stories began on ITV on Monday [4 May] and is stripped across four nights this week.

What they say: 'Depicts life during the UK’s lockdown period, with tales that are by turns funny, poignant, and heartrending.' Radio Times

2. This Is Our Family (Sky Atlantic)

Film-makers spent three years in the company of four families for this landmark Sky Atlantic series.

Each of their stories across those three years is told in a single, one-hour programme, fast-forwarding through the events of their lives in the style of the acclaimed film, Boyhood.

And what remarkable programmes they are, each family tackling challenges that between them embrace the universal themes that impact on us all, of births, marriages and deaths.

What they say: 'Exceptional ... ordinary lives make for extraordinary TV.' The Guardian


3. My Grandparents' War (Channel 4)

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, four actors - Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Rylance, Carey Mulligan and Kristin Scott Thomas - explore their grandparents' astonishing wartime stories.

Each episode is full of insight and revelation, not just about the stars' grandparents but about the many other people who shared their history, a story told through photos, films and personal diaries.

There was universal acclaim for this documentary series which is fascinating, inspiring, but most of all, humbling.

What they say: 'Extraordinary ... a poignant tribute to the war stories of a silent generation.' Daily Telegraph

4. Long Lost Family (ITV)

The award-winning family reunion series returns soon to ITV, with the bulk of the production work having been finished just before lockdown.

It will be the 11th series of the show, fronted by Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall, since it began on ITV in 2011.

During that time it has reunited hundreds of family members, often providing a last chance for people to get in touch with long lost relatives and in the process unearthing stories that are heartwarming and heartwrenching. Hankies at the ready, everyone.

What they say: 'Long Lost Family offers cathartic balm in a world of psychic stress.’ Daily Telegraph

5. Modern Family (Sky One)

Farewell then, Modern Family, the much-loved and critically acclaimed sitcom which comes to an end on Sky One with the first of a two-part finale on Friday.

Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan's mockumentary has won more awards than we have space for during the course of its 11 series run stretching back to 2009.

And for fans who are going to miss it, there's no shortage of episodes to catch up with on-demand on Sky. But for now it's all about that finale. It's going to be emotional.

What they say: 'It's vintage Modern Family - the potentially sugar-sweet stories undercut by acid sarcasm and some nicely barbed wit. We wouldn't have them any other way.' Radio Times

6. Emma Willis: Delivering Babies/Meet the Babies (W)

She is familiar to millions of viewers as presenter of shows such as The Voice, Big Brother and The Circle but for W's Delivering Babies, Emma Willis underwent a life-changing experience when she trained to be a maternity care ward assistant.

It was an emotional journey both for viewers and for Emma, who spent two years training with the busy midwife team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex.

She then returned in a subsequent series, Meet the Babies, to catch up with some of the families whose children she had helped deliver.

What they say: 'The presenter's hard work on a maternity ward pays off.' iNews

7. Secrets of the Royal Palaces (Channel 5)

And so to the biggest family of all, the royal family, the focus of this Channel 5 documentary series.

Secrets of the Royal Palaces goes behind the scenes to reveal what life is like in the real, working homes of the Queen and her family, including tales of the Queen's very own cashpoint and private bar in Buckingham Palace.

The Secrets of the Royals ... strand also turns its attention to the royal jewels, royal kitchens, royal doctors and royal traditions, just part of a whole raft of royal-related documentaries on Channel 5.

What they say: 'The first episode in the series explores Buckingham Palace, before giving a glimpse inside the other royal residencies, including Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Clarence House.' The Sun

8. One Born Every Minute (Channel 4)

Few shows put viewers through the emotional wringer quite like One Born Every Minute, the ground-breaking documentary series that feels as fresh watching it on catch-up today as it did when it first aired in 2010.

The fly on the wall maternity ward series was one of the first to use the 'fixed rig' multi camera technique, and it was also one of the most successful.

Over 11 series across eight years it documented the births of more than 250 babies in more than 100 episodes, many of which are available to watch on-demand on All4.

What they say: 'The greatest drama remains real life' Daily Telegraph

9. My Famous Babysitter (W)

This four-part series used familiar faces to offer an unusual and entertaining insight into family life in 21st century Britain.

Celebrity babysitters Rachel Riley, Professor Green, Anita Rani and Georgia Toffolo took turns to babysit for a range of different families with viewers able to watch exactly how well (and occasionally less well) they did.

A chaperone and psychologist were on hand throughout, with parents, children - and celebrities - offering their brutally honest verdict at the end of it all.

What they say: 'Made In Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo was left stumped when she was asked to cook a frozen pizza.' Daily Mail

10. Family Guy (ITV2)

No collection of shows around the theme of family would be complete without Family Guy, the continuing animated adventures of the Griffin clan who 'put the fun in dysfunctional'.

Seth MacFarlane's much-loved creation is now into its 18th series, beginning on Fox in the US all the way back in 1999, and has aired in the UK on ITV2 since 2015 (with lots of episodes available on demand on the ITV Hub).

We'd be interested to see how the Griffin family would deal with lockdown. If it carries on long enough, maybe we will.

What they say: 'Family Guy pushes the creative envelope in loopy directions once thought unimaginable.' Variety


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