James Carroll: Drama we’re watching this autumn
Here’s some TV drama we’re watching this autumn. With more choice than ever before, this list is far from comprehensive. Nine in ten people watched TV every week last year in the UK, for an average of 3 hours and 23 minutes per day. As viewers we have the ability to search far and wide for the shows we might like, whether from UK broadcasters, foreign channels or international SVODs. And TV drama still makes up around a fifth of our viewing (about the same as entertainment and slightly more than documentaries). What will you be watching over the coming months?
A troubled war veteran is assigned to protect a controversial politician who may be the target of a terror plot. If you’re not already watching this thriller penned by Jed Mercurio and starring Keely Hawes and Richard Madden, where have you been? There are twists, surprises and a will-he-won’t-he ambiguity familiar to fans of Homeland’s Brody storyline. Bodyguard moves along at a blistering pace, hammering through a series’ worth of plot in the first two episodes. Explosions, car chases and a Bond-like tense opening 20 minutes.
What’s next for Marty Byrd and family? Created by Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge), Jason Bateman stars as Marty Byrde, a financial planner who relocates his family from Chicago to a summer resort community after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong. Worth catching up on Season 1 if you haven’t already seen it.
VANITY FAIR (Mammoth Screen for ITV)
Sunday 2 September at 9pm
Rising Hollywood star Olivia Cooke is Becky Sharp in ITV’s adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Cooke is joined by a star-studded cast including Claudia Jessie as Amelia, Tom Bateman as Captain Rawdon Crawley, Charlie Rowe as George Osborne, Johnny Flynn as William Dobbin, Martin Clunes as Sir Pitt Crawley, Frances de La Tour as Miss Matilda Crawley, Suranne Jones as Miss Pinkerton and Michael Palin as Thackeray himself.
PRESS (Lookout Point for BBC One
Thursday 6 September at 9pm
Doctor Foster and King Charles III writer Mike Bartlett is back on TV with this drama about the offices of two fictional newspapers, the Herald and the Post, tracking the personal and professional lives of reporters, editors and CEOs. Continuing the trend of more screen time for the media: recent examples include HBO’s Succession which has slowly developed a loyal following in America, and last year’s feature film The Post starring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham.
BLACK EARTH RISING (Drama Republic for BBC Two)
Monday 10 September at 9pm
New war crimes thriller starring Michaela Coel who gave this year’s incredible MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Also featuring John Goodman and Harriet Walter. Six parts tackling the prosecution of international war crimes and the West’s relationship with Africa from the Bafta-winning writer Hugo Blick.
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES (Bad Wolf for Sky One)
Friday 14 September at 9pm
An intriguing book-to-screen adaptation of Deborah Harness’ novel in which historian Diana finds herself immersed in a world of vampires, daemons, witches and forbidden love. She comes across an ancient manuscript forcing her to acknowledge her own magical heritage. Starring Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode.
DOCTOR WHO Season 11 (BBC Studios for BBC One)
Of course, Doctor Who is back this autumn, with Jodie Whittaker at the 13th and first female Doctor. This series has been described as ‘dark’ and ‘squelchy’. Who knows what that means but worth watching something that has been scripted by writers entirely new to the show, with the exception of Chris Chibnall.
HOUSE OF CARDS Season 6 (Media Rights Capital for Netflix)
Friday 2 November
It’s Claire’s turn. Might need to refresh by watching the last few episodes of Season 5. The series is now competing with a chaos-filled political reality in America. What will Claire’s America look like?
KILLING EVE (Sid Gentle Films for BBC One)
LUTHER Season 5 (BBC Studios for BBC One)
Idris Elba returns as the brilliant but emotionally impulsive detective who is tormented by the dark side of humanity while hunting down murderers. Four episodes and there have been rumours of a return for some familiar characters.
THE BISEXUAL (Hootenanny/Sister Pictures for Channel 4)
Date to be confirmed
Fresh from winning the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, Desiree Akhavan (The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Appropriate Behaviour) co-writes (with long-term collaborator Cecilia Frugiuele), directs and stars in The Bisexual, a new comedy drama which offers a raw, funny and unapologetic take on the ‘last taboo’ —bisexuality— and the prejudices, shame and comic misconceptions that surround it. Also with Maxine Peake as Akhavan’s ex and Brian Gleeson as her new wingman. Looks really interesting.
THE WIRE Season 4 (Blown Deadline Productions for HBO)
Okay, so this one isn’t new. But I’m onto Season 4 of 5. Having already had the death of one character completely ruined in advance, please do not spoil any other twists for me! I’m racing to the end. It should be a rule that everyone must watch one old TV series alongside their current fare. When it’s all over, I’m dreading sitting here waiting for the re-up that will never come.
Images via Netflix, Sister Pictures and HBO.