To stave off possible boredom while at home, every week Marhaba delves into the wonderful world of popular culture to find the best new TV series, movies, books, and music.


What to Watch, Read and Listen To

The festive season is here, after what has been a difficult year for most of us. Get in the mood with The Great British Baking Show: Holidays on Netflix, starting 4 December. Known as The Great British Bake Off in the UK, the show is a welcome relief for viewers across the world. Season 3 of the holiday version is reassuringly the same, with steely-eyed Paul Hollywood and the effortlessly chic Prue Leith setting festive challenges to previous contestants, members of Status Quo, and five cast members from the cult Netflix show Derry Girls. Will anyone get the famous Paul Hollywood handshake? Tune in to find out!


Mank debuts on Netflix on 4 December and is a biographical drama about the life of screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz as he scrambles to finish writing Citizen Kane while trying to deal with Orson Welles during production and the film’s release. Gary Oldman plays Mankiewicz, with Tom Burke as the legendary Orson Wells, who co-wrote, directed, produced AND starred in the classic 1941 film, considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Co-stars in Mank include Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Charles Dance and Bill Nye. Mank has received favourable reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes stating ‘Mank peers behind the scenes of Citizen Kane to tell an old Hollywood story that could end up being a classic in its own right.’


What to Watch, Read and Listen ToA brand new YA dramatic thriller from the international bestselling author Karen M McManus centres around one of the most intriguing and sometimes secretive aspects of our lives: our family. In The Cousins, out at the beginning of December, the Storys are an influential family on the East Coast. Three cousins are invited to spend the summer with their grandmother, who they have never met. They are compelled to go by their parents, who have been dishinherited and want to get back in favour. However, right from the outset this will be a summer to remember, as the house of secrets starts to fall around them.


Want something positive, upbeat and generally just absolutely perfect for the season? Gary Barlow, of Take That fame, has a new solo album out, chock full of energetic tunes to get you going and make you feel good about yourself – you deserve it! The first single from Music Played By Humans is the latin swing number Elita, featuring smooth crooner Michael Bublé and Colombian sensation Sebastián Yatra, and is Barlow’s first solo hit since 2013. Other collaborations include James Corden, Beverly Knight, Alesha Dixon, and longtime friend Barry Manilow playing piano on You Make the Sun Shine. The big band music Barlow fell in love with as a child has been given a contemporary reinvention, although it could easily be the soundtrack from a mid 20th century movie or a special edition of Strictly Come Dancing. This is a great new direction for Barlow’s solo music and ultimately, really good fun to listen to!

Author: Sarah Palmer

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