Another year is upon us and 2023 is already packed with exciting and noteworthy new and retuning shows that we can’t wait to see.
- The Last of Us Monday 16th January Sky Atlantic – It’s quite possible that one of the first BIG dramas might be one of the year’s best. I’ll admit I’m not familiar with the game the series is based on and video games haven’t proven easy to adapt for television before (hello HALO) but, based on the exciting trailer alone, this looks like one worth checking out. The ten-part post-apocalyptic drama is based on the 2013 video game of the same name and follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. It will also feature Tommy (Gabriel Luna), Joel’s younger brother and a former soldier. Other key cast includes Merle Dandridge as Marlene, the head of the Fireflies, a resistance movement hoping to gain freedom from the military. Nico Parker, Anna Torv, Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett co-star. With an intriguing premise, big HBO budget, strong cast and coming from the writer of the incredibly powerful Chernobyl, I’m hoping this one lives up to the hype.
2) Nolly Thursday 2nd February ITVX
Three-part drama from Russell T Davies starring Helena-Bonham Carter as legendary actress Noele Garden who was the darling of the TV establishment until it turned on her and betrayed her. You can always bank on Russell T Davies to deliver the goods. This is particularly intriguing because it will allow Russell to write about a soap icon.
3) YOU Season 4 Part 1 Thursday February 9th Netflix –soap icon.
5) Unforgotten February ITV/ITVX – Admittedly, I’m not even the ending of this great crime drama’s fourth series. I adored the chemistry that Sanjeev Bhaskar shared with Nicola Walker. In an era where crime dramas can still lean on the OTT or the grotesque, Unforgotten, is a show about good coppers doing a methodical job to solve a crime. I have faith in writer Chris Lang that he has created another fascinating lead in DCI Jessica James played by Sinéad Keenan. Jess’s first case is the discovery of human remains in a newly renovated period property in Hammersmith, London. But how long have they been there and is this a murder dating back to the 1930’s or has the body been disposed of in more recent times? As the murder mystery unfolds, we’ll explore the lives of several central characters. Though it won’t be the same, it’ll just be good to have Unforgotten back.
6) The White House Plumbers March HBO/Sky Atlantic – Based in part on public records and the book Integrity by Egil “Bud” Krogh and Matthew Krogh, the five-part limited series The White House Plumbers will tell the true story of how Nixon’s own political saboteurs and Watergate masterminds, E. Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) and G. Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux), accidentally toppled the presidency they were trying to protect. Also stars Domhnall Gleeson and Lena Headey.
7) Yellowjackets March Paramount + – On paper, this show about a group of High Schoolers who survive a plane crash and end up having to survive in the wilderness before somehow returning home with the past never spoken about sounded utterly bonkers and silly. However, the scripts and the incredible cast made this one of the most genuinely exciting shows of 2021. The wait has been long, but I can’t wait to get back to the show because it feels genuinely unpredictable and unlike other puzzle box shows, I have faith there’s a plan here.
8) Best Interests BBC One – Jack Thorne has proven himself as a storyteller over and over. He’s also a key figure in making sure disability is represented well on screen. This four-part drama sounds fantastic with a core cast including Michael Sheen, Sharon Horgan, and Lisa McGrillis. It tells the story of a family driven apart by having to make choices no parent would ever want to make. Andrew and Nicci’s daughter, Marnie, has a life-threatening condition. The doctors believe it is in her best interests to be allowed to die, but her loving family disagree. And so begins a fight that will take them through every stage of a legal process, as they struggle to contemplate this huge decision. Who decides? And in whose best interests will it be? . The supporting cast includes Lisa McGrills, Noma Dumezweni, Pipa Haywood and Chizzy Akudolu. It sounds powerful and unmissable.
9) Better BBC One – As a huge fan of their Channel 4 series Humans, I’ve been eagerly awaited the next project from its writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley. The premise of this one sounds really interesting. The series is a redemption story set in Leeds, using the landscape of the city and surrounding countryside as a backdrop to what becomes an epic battle for one woman’s soul. After a family tragedy is narrowly averted, a corrupt police detective undergoes a painful moral awakening and decides to put right 20 years of wrongdoing – but satisfying her newfound conscience won’t be straightforward. She slowly realises that her redemption will only be complete once she brings down the powerful gangster she has worked for all this time, a man she helped rise to power, and has come to love like a brother. Leila Farzad and Andrew Buchan will lead the cast.
10) The Crowded Room AppleTV+ – Little is known about this upcoming ten-part drama but Apple TV+ proved itself as the most reliable streamer of the year last year and there’s a lot of their 2023 slate that looks interesting. The Control Room will explore inspirational stories of those who have struggled, and learned to successfully live with, mental illness. Fresh off her career-best performance in The Dropout, Amanda Seyfried will star as a clinical psychologist faced with the most challenging case of her career, who is also trying to balance her life as a single mother. Spiderman’s Tom Holland will also co-star.
11) The Gallow’s Pole BBC One – This one was announced a while ago, and I can only hope we’ll see it in 2023. It’s a period piece, which admittedly I’m not always the biggest fan of, but this interests me for two reasons. Firstly, it’s from creator of This is England and The Virtues Shane Meadows and secondly, it’s his first project for the BBC. He’s such a fascinating showrunner who brings humanity and realism to anything he touches. I’m intrigued to see how he applies those to his next piece. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers and fictionalises the remarkable true story of the rise and fall of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners. Set against the backdrop of the coming industrial revolution in eighteenth-century Yorkshire, the compelling drama follows the enigmatic David Hartley, as he assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a revolutionary criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history. Michael Socha, Thomas Turgoose, George MacKay, Tom Burke, Sophie McShera, Cara Theobold, Yusra Warsama, Eve Burley, Nicole Barber Lane, Samuel Edward-Cook, Anthony Welsh, Joe Sproulle, Adam Fogerty, Fine Time Fontayne are confirmed to sta
12) Girls5eva 2023 Netflix – This is without a doubt TV’s funniest comedy that nobody is watching. Centering around a girl group who reforms in their thirties when their only hit is sampled by a prominent rapper, Girls5eva is sharp-witted, full of charm, and some of the best comedic performances seen in years. Hidden away on US streamer Peacock, the show has thankfully been picked up by Netflix who have given it a third season and also gained the rights to show the first two seasons. Though I’m not always the biggest fan of Netflix, I’m glad this gem of a comedy has been given the opportunity to have the eyeballs on it that is so deserving of. I just hope it becomes the mega-hit it deserves to be.
13) The Idol HBO/Sky Atlantic – There isn’t a season of Euphoria this year. The cast is too busy, however, its creator Sam Levinson has a new show coming to HBO. Set against the backdrop of the music industry, and co-created by The Weeknd, and starring Lilly Rose Depp, the series looks to include all of the excesses we’ve come to expect from Levinson’s other HBO series, I just hope it also includes the depth.
14) The Last Thing He Told Me Apple TV + – I’ll admit this is here because I really like one of its stars Angourie Rice. I’ve been waiting for her TV project after her fantastic performance in Mare of Easttown. This miniseries stars Jennifer Garner as a woman who forges an unexpected bond with her stepdaughter whilst she searches for her husband who recently went missing. Angourie Rice co-stars alongside Nikolai Coster-Waldau and Aisha Tyler. I’m hoping this human drama will be another for Apple.
15) Malpractice 2023 ITV – ITV has a couple of medical dramas coming this year. Maternal, about a group of female medics returning to the profession after years away raising their families, will arrive in January, but it’s Malpacrtice that interests me more. Niamh Algar stars in this drama as Dr Lucinda Edwards whose nightmare shift ends in the death of an opioid overdose victim, Edith Owusu. Despite the support of her medical supervisor, Dr Leo Harris, played by James Purefoy, Edith’s grieving father Sir Anthony Owusu, played by Brian Bovell demands an enquiry into Lucinda’s actions on the fateful night. Leading the medical investigation are Dr Norma Callahan played by Helen Behan and Lucinda’s former colleague, Dr George Adjei, played by Jordan Kouamé While George feels this was an unavoidable tragedy, Norma is suspicious of Lucinda’s behaviour and decisions in the lead-up to Edith’s death. The Five-part series also stars Hannah Walters and is written by Grace Ofori-Attah.
16) Mrs American Pie AppleTV+ – I appreciate there’s a slight Apple bias here, but their output has been so reliable of late it doesn’t feel too much of gamble to include their shows. This ten-part comedy stars Kristin Wig as a woman trying to break into Palm Beach’s high society. Alison Janney has joined the cast which is based on the novel by Juliet McDaniel. The two female leads are enough for me to excited to be about this one.
17) The Reckoning *Working Title* BBC One – This is a controversial one. It has been held back and it’s going to be one that sparks debate and conversation around whether it should even exist, and if it does whether the BBC is the right place for it, but it’s coming. This factual drama will trace the life of Jimmy Savile, a man who rose from working-class origins to become one of the biggest stars of British television, but in death has become one of the most reviled figures of modern history. The story will look at Savile through his early years in the dance halls of northern England, his career with the BBC, to his twilight years when, in failing health and with his fame in decline, he sought to dispel the growing rumours about his life and the legacy he would leave behind. Steve Coogan is set to play Savile. Whatever your feelings on the subject I’m sure you’ll be watching.
18) Severance Apple TV+ – There’s a reason this drama was consistently named as the best show of 2021. Incredibly inventive, unique and sparking theories and conversation like some of the best shows before it. Yes, I still have no clue what Lumon Industries does and what those numbers mean the refiners are filing away, but I found the first season so engrossing and I can’t wait to be back in that world again. My excitement for the second was already huge but it went stratospheric with the announcement of the new cast joining for season two. Game of Thrones’s Gwendoline Christie and Unbelievable and Nurse Jackie star Merritt Wever are joining the team, along with Bob Balaban, Alia Shawkat, and Trapped star, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. Just incredible!
19) The Sixth Commandment *Working Title* BBC One – True-crime drama from acclaimed writer Sarah Phelps which tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar, and a charismatic young student, Ben Field, who bonded over their love of books and involvement with the Church of England, set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory. It also focuses on how suspicions around Ben’s relationship with Peter’s deeply religious neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, also targeted by Field, unlocked a series of stunning revelations, culminating in a headline-grabbing trial. Sarah Phelps has proven herself time and again to be a master in this genre adapting Agatha Christie classics and this has an incredible cast to match the calibre of the writer and the story. The cast includes Timothy Spall, Anne Reid, Éanna Hardwicke, Annabel Scholey, Sheila Hancock, Ben Bailey Smith, Conor MacNeill, Adrian Rawlins and Amanda Root.
20) Succession Spring Sky Atlantic – I can’t quite believe I made it through a year without The Roy family. Succession is one of the best shows on television and I’m beyond excited to be back with my favourite despicable humans. The ending of the third season was incredible and I can’t wait to see what happens next. It’s not spring yet, is it?
21) Time Bandits Apple TV+ – Everything Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi touch is worth watching. They have co-written this adaptation of the classic 1980’s film with Lisa Kudrow confirmed to star. I’m willing to bet this will have the heart and charm the pair bring to each of their projects.
22) Top Boy Netflix – Consistently one of the most powerfully brutal shows on television, Top Boy will come to an end this year and I can’t wait to see how it wraps up. It’s safe to predict more bloodshed and heartbreak but I’m ready for Top Boy to go down as one of the best British dramas in recent memory.
23) Truelove Channel 4 – The End of the F**king World was one of the most inventive, visually exciting, and memorable comedy dramas Channel 4 has ever produced. Truelove is co-created by The End of the F**king world’s Charlie Covell and written by Humans writer Iain Weatherby. If that weren’t impressive pedigree enough, the show stars Julie Walters and Clarke Peters from The Wire! Need I say more? The synopsis reads: With a core cast in their late 60s and 70s, Truelove breaks the rules for older characters on screen and flips ageist tropes on their head in a series which promises thrilling twists and turns, irreverent humour and passionate romance. The series centres around Phil played Julie Walters. Phil is an ex-senior police chief enjoying a comfortable if boring retirement, and Ken played by Clarke Peters, a divorcee and ex-special forces vet who feels similarly at sea. Phil and Ken were teenage sweethearts and despite life having moved on, they have never quite managed to forget each other. Cut to a friend’s funeral many years later where Phil and Ken, along with a gang of old friends, are reunited. At the wake, with nostalgia and booze flowing in equal measure, talk soon takes a meditative turn and the group discuss what an ‘ideal’ death might look like. Our gang make a drunken pact: rather than let each other suffer a slow and dreadful decline, they will step in and engineer a dignified death. In short, they will help each other die when the time is right. Because that, they all agree, is a sign of Truelove. Sue Johnston, Phil Davis, Peter Egan, Karl Johnson, Fiona Button and Kiran Sonia Sawar co-star. There’s so much to like about this without even seeing it.
There is so much to look forward to this year, I already feel slightly spoiled. It’s also fair to assume that some of these might not pan out but that others I’ve decided not to mention could become the biggest hits of the year. I can’t wait!!