There is no better time to be settling down to some brilliant television than autumn, and as the weather starts to cool down and the nights draw in there is plenty to look forward to from your favourite actors and writers on various channels and streaming services in the months ahead.
We’ve been spoiled by great TV dramas in the last few years, with shows like The Last of Us, Succession, Yellowjackets and The Mandalorian keeping us gripped to our screens. This trend seems set to continue as we have found there is no shortage of binge-worthy material to come for those lazy days at home on the sofa.
Award-winning TV shows in 2023 included Bad Sisters, the Irish black comedy series that pipped Sherwood, The Responder and Somewhere Boy to a BAFTA earlier in the year.
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story won the BAFTA for best international drama, fending off competition from The Bear, Wednesday and Oussekine.
So what will be the shows on everyone’s lips when award season rolls around in 2024? We reckon we’ve picked out 10 of the very best TV dramas soon to be hitting your screens, all of which are worthy of your attention and might just turn out to be your new favourite shows.
1. The Tourist (BBC, release date TBC)
The BBC’s biggest drama of 2022, The Tourist, is coming back for a second season as Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan reprises his role as a man trying to rediscover his identity after losing his memory in a car crash.
Dumplin’ star Danielle Macdonald returns alongside Dornan in her role as former police officer Helen Chambers, and together Elliot and Helen seek to unearth lost remnants of Elliot’s history as they travel across Ireland.
The first series was a huge hit, with 12 million people watching the show in the first 30 days following its release, and the second series is likely to be just as popular when it airs in late 2023 or early 2024. While the first series was set in the Australian outback, season two takes the cast much closer to Jamie Dornan’s hometown of Holywood in County Down, Northern Ireland, and the 41-year-old actor said he relished the chance to work in Ireland. He told RTE News: “I probably shouldn’t say this, but it is just more craic in Ireland. I like to have fun at work – I think you do your best work when you’re relaxed. And there’s nothing more relaxing than being around people who understand your humour, understand your accent, and fall in line with your sort of ethos. And for me, obviously, because I’m from there, it only happens on that island.”
2. Bodies (Netflix, October 19th 2023)
If you love crime drama, the forthcoming Netflix series Bodies, starring Stephen Graham, Shira Haas and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, might just be about to set a new bar for quality writing and thrilling, suspenseful production in the genre when it arrives on Netflix on October 19th 2023.
The series follows the story of four different detectives who all work in London but – crucially – in four different periods of time. These four detectives all discover the body of the same murder victim in the city’s Whitechapel area, with the body appearing there in 1890, 1941, 2023 and 2053. The grisly discoveries turn out to be linked by a mysterious conspiracy spanning more than a century and a half, and across the course of eight episodes DC Hillinghead, DS Whiteman, DS Hasan and DC Maplewood grapple with the truth behind the bodies. Based on a DC comic and graphic novel of the same name, Bodies is an unmissable crime thriller from Paul Tomalin, who worked as a story editor on Shameless, and promises to be one of the most talked-about shows of the year.
3. The Lovers (Sky Atlantic/Now TV, September 7th 2023)
What happens when a posh political TV presenter and a potty-mouthed supermarket worker with no interest in current affairs decide to have an affair? You can find out by watching Johnny Flynn and Roisin Gallagher in Sky Atlantic’s new romantic comedy drama, The Lovers, which offers a reminder that some of the most extraordinary relationships can emerge when people who have apparently very little in common happen to fall for one another.
Indeed, the differences between Janet (Roisin Gallagher) and Seamus (Johnny Flynn) and the difficulties and clashes they lead to are what make their relationship so fascinating and as you watch you will be reminded of times in your life when people appeared out of nowhere (Seamus literally drops over a garden wall and into Janet’s life in The Lovers) and changed the way you see the world forever. Johnny Flynn is no stranger to brilliantly hilarious romantic dramas, having starred as Dylan Witter in Netflix’s Lovesick, and Roisin Gallagher made her name in BritBox comedy drama The Dry, which premiered in 2022. Expect big things from both of them when The Lovers arrives on screens everywhere.
4. Hot Flush (BBC, release date TBC)
The story of how to form a rock band is one that has been told countless times, typically involving ambitious young people desperately seeking to forge their identities through music and leave a mark on the world. So what happens when five women who have to deal with grown-up children, demanding jobs, disappointing husbands and the menopause try to start a band?
That is the story at the heart of six-part drama Hot Flush, the new BBC series from BAFTA-winning writer of Happy Valley, Sally Wainwright (pictured above), who chose West Yorkshire’s Hebden Bridge as the setting for a show all about how music brings the characters together, bonds them in unexpected ways, and reveals secrets about them that might have otherwise remained hidden from view.
Sally Wainwright said of the series: “I’ve been wanting to write a series like this for a long time. It’s a celebration of women of a certain age, and all the life-stuff they suddenly find themselves negotiating/dealing with. The show is also my own personal homage to Rock Follies of ‘77, and the feisty Little Ladies who woke me up to what I wanted to do with my life when I was 13.”
5. Lessons in Chemistry (Apple TV+, October 13th 2023)
Capturing the style and atmosphere of 1950s America with beautiful cinematography is forthcoming Apple TV+ production Lessons in Chemistry, starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson alongside Lewis Pullman (Top Gun: Maverick) and Aja Naomi King (A Girl From Mogadishu). Based on the novel of the same name by Bonnie Garmus, which was dubbed “the Catch-22 of early feminism” by Stephen King, Lessons in Chemistry follows the plight of Elizabeth Zott, a pregnant scientist who decides to host her own TV cooking show after being fired from the lab by sexist managers.
Brie Larson took on executive production duties as well as starring in the series, demonstrating her commitment to the project, and the result is a sumptuous drama that brings to life Garmus’ brilliant debut novel, written when she was 65. If you love the doo-wop and swing music of the 1950s and all the mid-century aesthetics that come with it, you’ll enjoy feasting your eyes and ears on Lessons in Chemistry, which comes with powerful messages about feminism and equality.
6. The Woman In The Wall (BBC, September 10th, 2023)
Ruth Wilson MBE and Daryl McCormack star in The Woman In The Wall, a six-part gothic thriller all about the experiences of a woman called Lorna Brady (Wilson) who wakes up one morning and makes the grisly discovery of the dead body of an unknown woman in her house. To make matters more intriguing, Lorna Brady finds herself unable to confidently deny that she did not murder the woman, given that she experiences extreme bouts of sleepwalking ever since she was incarcerated in the infamous Kilkinure Convent.
Detective Colman Akande (McCormack) heads up an investigation into Lorna Brady regarding an unrelated matter, adding another layer of drama to this mesmerising and thought-provoking series that combines a gripping plot with moments of dry, dark humour, all set against a backdrop of stunning Irish countryside. If you enjoyed Ruth Wilson’s performance as the protagonist in Jane Eyre or as Alice Morgan in the BBC psychological crime drama Luther, you can look forward to another superb performance in The Woman In The Wall.
7. Boiling Point (BBC, October 2023)
If you happened to catch the BAFTA-nominated 2021 film Boiling Point, which starred Stephen Graham as the head chef battling his demons while desperately trying to cope with the strains of life in a busy restaurant kitchen, you will be excited to hear that a four-part spin-off series is coming to the BBC in October.
The film was a stunning piece of cinematography, all filmed in a single take to give viewers a real sense of the non-stop drama and relentless demands faced by kitchen and restaurant staff. Visits from safety inspectors and the ridiculous demands of the restaurant’s customers push chef Andy (Stephen Graham) and his team to the limits of what they can handle, driving them to some destructive coping mechanisms.
In the series, the plot’s focus moves from head chef Andy to sous-chef Carly, who is running her own London restaurant. Played by Vinette Robinson, Carly is attempting to establish her restaurant in the food and drink scene in Dalston, but she and her team are up against it with the hospitality industry facing a crisis.
8. Love & Death (ITVX, September 7th, 2023)
Love & Death is a true-crime miniseries set in Texas in the late 1970s. It stars Elizabeth Olsen (known for her role as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in the Marvel cinematic universe) as a suburban housewife called Candy Montgomery who has an affair with Allan Gore, a member of her Methodist church group played by the superb Jesse Plemons.
When Gore’s wife is found murdered with an axe, Candy Montgomery is deemed a suspect and must go in front of a jury. This fascinating crime thriller is based on a true story and it received widespread critical acclaim following its release in the United States earlier this year. Indeed, Plemons was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and Olsen was praised for her sensitive portrayal of Candy Montgomery. With David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies) on writing duties, you can be assured that Love & Death will be well worth a watch when it arrives in the UK.
9. Three Little Birds (ITV, October 2023)
Three Little Birds is a post-Windrush drama written by much-loved British comedian Lenny Henry, who took inspiration from the story of his mother’s life to create a moving series that celebrates community and multiculturalism without shying away from the challenges immigrants to Britain have faced through the decades.
The series focuses on two sisters, Leah (Rochelle Neil) and Chantrelle (Saffron Coomber), and their companion Hosanna (Yazmin Belo), who board a cruise ship to travel from their home district of St Anne’s in Jamaica to Great Britain, where they plan to build a new life. Their journey of discovery in Britain begins in London’s Notting Hill and then takes them to the Midlands as they encounter a society in which women and people of colour are disadvantaged and discriminated against.
Lenny Henry told the Radio Times: “We wanted to write a show that was about our parents and grandparents, because we see so many people and cultures getting lionised on British television and, inspired by Steve McQueen’s Small Axe and various shows like that, I really wanted to tell the story from my perspective using the stories of my family.”
10. Boat Story (BBC, release date TBC)
If you enjoyed the British comedy-drama series Fleabag (and given that it won a BAFTA, six Emmys and a Golden Globe, it’s safe to say plenty of you did!) then you’ll be pleased to hear that the production company behind it are back with a new series called Boat Story.
Daisy Haggard (Ally from Breeders) and Paterson Joseph (Peep Show’s Alan Johnson) star as Janet and Samuel, who happen upon a large amount of cocaine aboard a shipwrecked boat and decide to try and sell the drugs and split the profits between them. Their plot leads them into all sorts of compromising scenarios involving the police, gangsters and even masked hitmen as Janet and Samuel try to strike it rich.
BBC commissioning editor Tommy Bulfin described the series, saying: “Boat Story is a hugely entertaining and fiendishly clever thriller that I know will have the nation desperate to know what’s coming next. And I cannot think of a more perfect cast to bring these fantastic characters to life – you’ll just have to wait and see which ones you can trust!”