What TV’s on at the BFI in January 2020? Including Spaced 21st anniversary reunion


It’s 2020 in BFI calendar-land, and normally we have the usual January Christmas hangover in its TV schedules. However, 2020 starts with a bang – and a lot of previews.

  • A Spaced reunion to celebrate its 21st anniversary, with Edgar Wright, Jessica Hynes, Julia Deakin, Katy Carmichael, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (work permitting)
  • A preview of two episodes of Inside No.9, with Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith
  • A preview of series three of This Country, with Daisy May Cooper, Charlie Cooper and Paul Chahidi
  • A preview of Baghdad Central, with Waleed Zuaiter, Bertie Carvel (schedule permitting) and July Namir
  • A season of Fay Weldon TV series, including Q&As with Weldon, Patricia Hodge (schedule permitting)
  • The one with the discussion of the only book-length analysis of Friends

Full details after the jump. Yes, this one.


Saturday 4 January

15:40 NFT2

Plays of Married Life: A Catching Complaint
ITV 1966. Dir Derek Bennett. With Derek Godfrey, Diana Fairfax, Hylda Baker, Tessa Wyatt. 70min

‘Unhappiness is a catching complaint, and misfortune is an insult to the fortunate. So let’s peck them to death, the sad ones. They can’t help it, but they ought to help it.’ Weldon’s first TV play had a terrific cast tell its tale of lives wasted in mismatched marriages.

+ Jubilee: Age of Hypocrisy
BBC 1977. Dir Valerie Hanson. With Gwen Watford, John Carson, Rosalind Boxall. 50min

Jubilee was a series of 13 plays reflecting life in Britain under the first 25 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Fay Weldon took 1964. ‘There’s good girls and there’s bad girls. But when good girls make a mistake, they’ve a right to a second chance. I don’t care what anyone says.’

Friday 10 January

18:15 NFT1

TV Preview: Inside No. 9 + Q&A with writer-actors Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and producer Adam Tandy

As Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s anthology of comic dramas returns for a fifth season, we preview two episodes and welcome the talented team behind them.

The Referee’s a W***er
BBC 2020. Dir Matt Lipsey. 30min

The beautiful game. The crunch-clash between United and Rovers in the last match of the season, all safely in the care of the four match officials. David Morrissey, Ralf Little, Dipo Ola and Steve Speirs join Shearsmith and Pemberton for a tale of promotion, relegation, corruption, and so, so much more.

+ The Stakeout
BBC 2020. Dir Guillem Morales. 30min

Two police officers have time to get to know each other on the night shift. But PC Thompson’s previous partner died in a brutal attack less than a month ago, the forensics have gone missing and PC Varney is beginning to ask a lot of awkward questions.

Tickets £15, concs £12 (Members pay £2 less)

Sunday 12 January

12:00-18:30 NFT1

Spaced 21st Anniversary + Q&A with director Edgar Wright, producer Nira Park and actors Jessica Hynes, Julia Deakin, Katy Carmichael, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (work permitting)
UK 1999, 2001. Dir Edgar Wright. With Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Nick Frost. 12x25min (TRT 300min)

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the hilarious TV show that followed the adventures of flatmates Daisy Steiner and Tim Bisley – a goldmine for all pop-culture fans. Across two series, Spaced pushed genre boundaries and helped put a new generation of acting, writing and directing talent on the map. For this special event we screen series 1, followed by a Q&A, and then series 2.

Tickets £20, concessions £16, (Members pay £2 less)

Monday 13 January

18:20 NFT1

Heart of the Country + Fay Weldon in conversation, hosted by Lord Melvyn Bragg
BBC 1987. Dir Brian Farnham. With Susan Penhaligon, Christian Bale, Rosalind Bennett, Jaqueline Tong. Ep1 60min. TRT 120min

Fay Weldon’s first original serial for television was this deceptively savage, four-part examination of survival in the Britain of the 1980s. Weldon later revised the story for a best-selling novel.

Following the screening, we’re pleased to welcome Fay Weldon to the BFI Southbank stage to talk about her work for television and her illustrious career, in conversation with Lord Melvyn Bragg.

Thursday 16 January

18:15 NFT1

TV Preview: Baghdad Central + Q&A with actors Waleed Zuaiter, Bertie Carvel (schedule permitting) and July Namir, writer Stephen Butchard, director Alice Troughton and exec producer Kate Harwood
Channel 4-Euston Films 2020. Dirs Alice Troughton, Ben A Williams. With Waleed Zuaiter, July Namir, Bertie Carvel. Ep1 60min

Channel 4’s new six-part crime series Baghdad Central is written and created by BAFTA-nominated writer Stephen Butchard (The Last Kingdom) and based on the novel by Elliott Colla.

October 2003; Baghdad has been occupied by American forces for six months and chaos reigns. Iraqi ex-policeman Muhsin al-Khafaji (Zuaiter) has lost everything and is battling to keep himself and his sick daughter safe. Frank Temple (Carvel), an ex-British Police Officer who has tried to rebuild the Iraqi Police Force from the ground up, recruits Khafaji to give his own operation some much-needed local credibility, but unknown to Temple, Khafaji is compelled by his own, secret reasons to risk everything by collaborating with the occupying forces…

Monday 20 January

18:30 BFI Reuben Library

New Writings: Friends: A Reading of the Sitcom
TRT 80min

We celebrate the only book-length analysis of Friends to-date, which looks at why this sitcom has become such a seminal success. The book’s authors Simone Knox (University of Reading) and Kai Hanno Schwind (Kristiania University College) join us to ask questions such as how does this TV series continue to engage viewers around the world a quarter century after its first broadcast?

Tickets £6.50

Tuesday 21 January

18:10 NFT1

TV Preview: This Country + Q&A with actors Daisy May Cooper, Charlie Cooper and Paul Chahidi, producer Simon Mayhew-Archer and director Tom George
BBC Studios 2020. Dir Tom George. With Daisy May Cooper, Charlie Cooper, Paul Chahidi. Eps 1 + 2 48min

Join us for a preview of the first two episodes of series three of this BAFTA-winning comedy. Taking the mockumentary format to new heights, This Country has made the nation fall in love with the tragicomic antics of cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe and their life experiences in a typical Cotswolds village. Exploring the boredom and frustrations of young people in rural Britain, the show’s immense honesty and eye for detail has been justly critically acclaimed, as well as being achingly funny.

Saturday 25 January

14:20 NFT2

The Cloning of Joanna May + Q&A with actor Patricia Hodge (work permitting)
ITV 1992. Dir Philip Saville. With Patricia Hodge, Brian Cox, Peter Capaldi, James Purefoy. Parts 1&2 160min

Fay Weldon’s futuristic fable tells the story of Joanna May, a woman in her 40s who’s still obsessively in love with her estranged husband Carl, the director of a nuclear energy corporation. Carl, however, remains consumed by jealousy and bitterness after discovering her brief affair, and when Joanna unexpectedly visits him she discovers he’s used genetic engineering to clone three younger versions of her. This production reunited director Philip Saville, star Patricia Hodge and screenwriter Ted Whitehead from Weldon’s earlier The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

Tuesday 28 January

18:20 NFT3

Leap in the Dark: Watching Me, Watching You
BBC 1980. Dir Colin Goodman. With Jennie Linden, Rula Lenska, Keith Barron. 30min

Leap in the Dark was an anthology series themed around supernatural experiences. In Fay Weldon’s atmospheric tale, a ghostly presence casts a shadow over a couple’s love.

+ Time for Murder: Bright Smiler
ITV 1985. Dir David Carson. With Jane Asher, Janet Suzman, Alison Skilbeck. 60min

When successful Hollywood screenwriter Avon (Suzman) returns to England and visits a spa, she’s paired with Sonia (Asher), a constantly smiling masseuse whose cheerful demeanour hides a simmering, murderous intent.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 2 December from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 3 December from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 10 December from 11.30am


Members: £10.50
Member concs: £8.20
Non-members: £12.50
Non-member concs: £10.20
Under 16s: £6

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Concessionary prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.

As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.