TV: The best TV drama shows to watch this autumn from The Crown to Des
PUBLISHED: 12:10 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:46 03 September 2020
As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, here are 15 TV dramas coming to a small screen near you soon this autumn - prepare for a season of true crime, tortured detectives, romance, political intrigue, terrible secrets and action!
It’s likely that television was one of your saviours throughout lockdown, but if you’ve abandoned the box for outdoor activities, now may be the time to get back on the sofa.
As the leaves start to drop, so do a whole host of TV series for the autumn, and there are some crackers to cosy up with as the nights draw in.
From psychopathic nurses to serial killers, friendly vets to corrupt politicians, period dramas to royalty, autumn is filled with reasons to switch on the box.
15 of the best TV shows coming in Autumn 2020
1) Ratched, Netflix, September 18
American Horror Story Ryan Murphy takes on an iconic, formidable fictional character, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s nurse Mildred Ratched. The drama gives us Nurse Ratched’s ‘origin story’, the reason why she became such a terrifying villain. Played by Sarah Paulson, this is bound to be a drama to ease us into Halloween. Netflix says: “In 1947, Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but the wheels are always turning and as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smouldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born.” Personally, this reminds me of a district nurse my Mum despised and called – to her face – Nurse Ratched (she may realise what Mum meant, now!).
2) Roadkill, BBC One, launch date TBC
The brilliant Hugh Laurie will be starring as the narcissistic Conservative minister Peter Laurence (fictional, of course) in a brand new political thriller by David “The Hours” Hare which also stars Peaky Blinders’ Helen McCrory. The four-part drama will watch Laurence as his career falls apart as personal revelations are revealed to a hungry media. Untroubled by guilt, Peter tries to out-run his enemies and his past as he eyes the ultimate political prize. According to the producers, Laurence walks “…a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda whilst others plot to bring him down. However events show just how hard it is, for both an individual and a country, to leave the past behind.”
3) Bridgerton, Netflix, launch date TBC
Brought to the screen by superstar showrunner Shonda Rhimes (who signed a $150 million deal with Netflix in 2017), this is Rhimes’ first show for the streamer. Based on a beloved book series by Julia Quinn, it features a joyfully race-blind cast in a romance set during England’s early 1800s Regency period. The Bridgerton series focuses on the romantic entanglements of the eight Bridgerton children, Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth. The family is rich and the children have a habit of falling in love with, how can we put it, ‘difficult’ people. A stellar cast (Adjoa Andoh, Lorraine Ashbourne, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Nicola Coughlan, Ben Miller, Martins Imhangbe and…Julie Andrews are amongst a handful of the stars involved).
4) All Creatures Great and Small, Channel 5, now airing
Just mention this show and I can hear the music in my Mum and Dad’s old front room in the 1980s. Based on a series of books by Yorkshire vet James Herriot, this is the kind of gentle television you can lose yourself in completely. Nicholas Ralph plays James in the show alongside a cast which includes Samuel West, Anna Madeley, Callum Woodhouse and Rachel Shenton. Prepare for a nostalgic trip back to Skeldale to meet Siegfried Farnon, Helen and Audrey the housekeeper. And then there are the animals…will Tricki-Woo be back?
5) Des, ITV, September 14
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dennis Nilsen killed 15 number of men and boys in his flat, preying on the vulnerable and young. Aware of his attraction to men but unable to admit it, he had enlisted in the army and become a butcher in the Army Catering Corps: it served him well during his five-year killing spree. His crimes were discovered when a neighbour in his block of flats called drain specialists to deal with a blockage – they found rotting human remains that had been flushed down Nilsen’s toilet. There will be three episodes told through the stories of three different men: Nilsen himself, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, and biographer Brian Masters. Tennant is joined in the cast by Daniel Mays, Jason Watkins, Ron Cook and Faye McKeever.
6) Adult Material, Channel 4, date TBC
This show will see Hayley Squires play lead character Jolene Dollar, a mother of three and the breadwinner of the family. Her money is earned in the adult industry but one day, when she meets a woman almost the same age as one of her daughters on the set of a pornographic film, everything begins to change. Channel 4 said the four part series “…delves inside the porn industry from the perspective of a woman who has been working in it her entire adult life and has seen it grow from an illegitimate backroom enterprise to a mainstream and highly profitable arm of the telecommunications industry. Adult Material will interrogate what’s real, what’s fake, what’s up for sale and the impact that these things have on the individuals involved.” Also stars Kerry Godliman, Siena Kelly, Julian Ovenden, and Rupert Everett.
7) Honour, ITV, date TBC
Based on the real life “honour killing” of Banaz Mahmod, Keeley Hawes (of Bodyguard fame) is set to star as a detective in the brand new two part ITV drama.
The horrific death of London 20-year-old Iraqi Kurdish Muslim Mahmod sent shockwaves through Britain as it hit the headlines in 2006. Arranged by her father and uncle after she left her abusive husband and fell in love with another man - Rahmat Sulemani - the dramatic retelling of her “honour killing” is sure to be a harrowing watch.When it was announced by ITV, Honour faced a backlash for what Banaz’s sister called “the angle they chose to go with”. Will this feedback be factored in?
8) The Singapore Grip (ITV), September 13
Adapted from Booker Prize winner JG Farrell’s novel by Oscar-winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton, this new drama has a star-studded cast including Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey, Elizabeth Tan, Jane Horrocks, Colm Meaney and Charles Dance. The six-part drama follows a British family living in 1940s Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion.
9) Young Wallander, Netflix, September 3
Six-part Netflix drama Young Wallander is based on the best selling Kurt Wallander novels by Henning Mankell, which were previously adapted for the BBC with Kenneth Branagh taking the lead role. This new series not only sees Wallander as a young man, but also, confusingly, it sees him set in modern day Sweden. Get your head around THAT one. Wallander is, of course, one of that breed of miserable police officers who spend their lives questioning their career – but it will be interesting to see how Adam Palsson turns into Branagh.
10) The Crown, Netflix, date TBC
To be fair, Netflix hasn’t confirmed that a fourth series of The Crown will arrive this year but filming for the next season ended in March as the cast handed over the baton to the new queen (Imelda Staunton). The action will begin in 1977 and take us through the 1980s when we get to meet Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson! What an amazing bit of casting!) AND Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).
11) Small Axe, BBC, TBC
Small Axe marks the 50th anniversary of the march of 150 protesters of West Indian, African and South Asian heritage in Notting Hill, West London who marched to local police stations in protest of police harassment in their communities, including the Mangrove restaurant. This anthology of five TV movies from Oscar-winning writer and director Steve McQueen, with cast including Star Wars actor John Boyega and Line of Duty’s Rochenda Sandall will begin with Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech of 1968 and take us through to the mid-80s.
12) The Undoing, Sky, date TBC
Grace Frazer (Nicole Kidman) is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. She’s a successful therapist, has a devoted husband (Hugh Grant) and young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. Overnight a chasm opens in her life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.
13) The Sister, ITV, date TBC
Luther creator Neil Cross brings us a suspenseful new murder mystery titled The Sister, starring Russell Tovey as a man with a terrible secret he hoped would stay buried. Russell Tovey said: “The Sister is going to challenge me as an actor more than I’ve ever been challenged before. As a web of lies, that he thought was dead and buried, comes back to haunt Nathan, he sinks deeper and deeper into the horror of the event that happened ten years ago.” Cross added: “Our job is to make viewers want to sleep with the lights on.”
14) The Third Day, Sky Atlantic, September 15
Jude Law, Naomie Harris, Katherine Waterston, Emily Watson and Paddy Considine star in The Third Day, a unique story told three separate but interconnected parts: Summer, Autumn and Winter. ‘Summer’ sees Sam (Law), drawn to a mysterious island off the British coast. Isolated from the mainland, Sam is unable to leave the idyllic and dangerously enchanting world he has discovered, and the secretive rituals of its inhabitants bring him to grapple with experiences of loss hidden in his past through a distorted lens of the present. As boundaries between fantasy and reality fragment, his quest to unlock the truth leads the islanders to reveal a shocking secret.
15) Us, BBC, date TBC
Douglas Petersen (Tom Hollander) is blindsided when his wife Connie (Saskia Reeves) tells him that she’s not sure she wants to be married to him anymore. Agreeing to still go on their planned family grand tour of Europe, Douglas vows to win back the love of his wife and repair his troubled relationship with their son Albie (Tom Taylor). Reflecting David Nicholls’ signature mix of humour and heartbreak, Us brings the Petersens’ poignant and often hilarious story to life, taking viewers with them on their once-in-a-lifetime journey through some of the most beautiful cities in the world. It may be the only way most of us get to see said cities for a while, too.
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