From Dublin Murders to The Crown - 23 of the best TV shows to watch this autumn
After a summer season of TV schedules replete with repeats and reruns, the arrival of autumn has never been more welcome. Aside from the reality shows which promise to chew up your evenings despite yourself (we’re looking at you Love Island, DWTS, Strictly et al), there’s a strong season ahead, particularly for drama. So, if escapism is what you’re craving, we have trawled the schedules to find 23 of the best TV shows to binge on as the nights close in...
RTE, expected October
One of the most promising offerings this season comes from RTE (in conjunction with the BBC). Adapted from crime writer Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels by the brilliant Sarah Phelps, it stars Killian Scott and Sarah Greene as troubled detectives investigating the murders of two young women. If the trailer is any indication, it could prove to be something of an Irish ‘True Detective’. As Mr Scott conceded recently, there is a ‘tonal similarity’ to the HBO hit.
State of the Union
BBC Two, September 8
Chris O’Dowd always makes for charming company, which is a relief because this bite-sized series (each episode is just ten minutes long) sees him in an intense two-hander with Rosamund Pike. They play a couple having marriage counselling and we meet them as they have their weekly pre-therapy debrief in a pub.
Sky One/NOW TV, September 13
Written by Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe, this intriguing eight-parter stars Mark Strong as a respected surgeon who, for various reasons, ends up manning an illegal clinic under Temple Tube station in London. O’Rowe adapted it from Norwegian series Valkyrien and describes it as having ‘black humour’ mixed with ‘emotional darkness’. The always fantastic Daniel Mays co-stars alongside Carice Van Houten.
Catherine the Great
Sky Atlantic/NOW TV, October 3
Helen Mirren has found her niche. This four-part drama sees her playing another royal, this time the Empress of Russia, the country’s longest ruling female leader. There may be some period-appropriate bodice-ripping as the focus is on the end of her reign and her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin, played by Jason Clarke.
American Horror Story: 1984
Sky/NOW TV, autumn
American Horror Story returns for its mysterious ninth series, AHS: 1984, which channels the slasher flicks of the time. Aside from the regular cast, Emma Roberts, Cody Fern, Billie Lourd, Gus Kenworthy and DeRon Horton play aerobics instructors who take up jobs as counsellors at a summer camp. What could possibly go wrong?
The Loudest Voice
Sky Atlantic, now
Based on Gabriel Sherman’s book The Loudest Voice in the Room, this seven-part series stars Russell Crowe (in a fat suit and bald cap) as the former head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, who was accused of sexual abuse by multiple women before his death in 2017.
Virgin Media Television, autumn
Lisa McGee is best known, of late, for her utterly genius Channel 4 comedy series Derry Girls, but her next project, which she wrote with her husband Toby Beer, will be a psychological thriller. So far, so intriguing. Set in Donegal, it centres on a young woman whose affair with a married man leads to a shocking death. Virgin tells us it’s a story of ‘lust, manipulation and betrayal’. We’re in.
Perpetual Grace LTD
TG4, September 18, 10.30pm
Ben Kingsley stars as a pastor who, along with his wife Lillian, have used religion to scam hundreds of parishioners out of their life savings. James, a young grifter, attempts to take them to task, but he gets a lot more than he bargained for. It already aired in the US to stellar reviews.
Netflix, September 20
The psychological interplay between detectives and suspects makes for high drama indeed and this procedural is set exclusively within the confines of the interview suite as it traverses 12 unique stories set in four different countries: France, Spain, Germany and the UK, and filmed in four languages. David Tennant and Hayley Atwell lead the cast.
Living With Yourself
Miles is a man who is fed up with life. When he undergoes a spa treatment promising to make him a better version of himself, however, he finds he has been replaced by said better version. Paul Rudd plays both versions while Irish actress and This Way Up writer and star Aisling Bea plays his wife, for whom he must now compete - against himself.
Netflix, September 27
The prolific Ryan Murphy’s new series takes a sly, satirical swipe at exactly what it takes to make a politician. Ben Platt plays Payton Hobart who, from the age of 7, knows he is going to be President of the United States. But first he must get through high school, become Student Body President, and earn his spot at Harvard. It boasts Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange among the supporting cast.
Virgin Media Television, October
Cardboard Gangsters writer and director Mark O’Connor has penned this Bray-based drama about a 16-year-old MMA fighter (played by newcomer Dane Whyte O’Hara) whose brother goes missing. As he tries to unravel what happened to him he gets sucked into criminal life.
His Dark Materials
BBC One, autumn
A slick new fantasy series from the BBC based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy may well give fans the (albeit small) screen version they deserve after the box office turkey that was The Golden Compass. The first series is based on the first novel, Northern Lights, and features James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Dafne Keen as the lead, Lyra, opposite Amir Wilson as Will.
Mr Mercedes (season 3)
The outstanding Brendan Gleeson will finally (it has been the length of an entire pregnancy since the season 2 finale) return as Bill Hodges in the series based on a trilogy of Stephen King novels.
War of the Worlds
BBC One, autumn
Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall star in this new miniseries based on the novel by HG Wells. Set in Edwardian England it also stars Robert Carlyle and Sherlock’s Rupert Graves. Surprisingly, it’s the first version set in England and not in contemporary times.
Amazon Prime Video, September 13
Those bemoaning the cancellation of BoJack Horseman will undoubtedly be interested in this new animation from the creators, although tonally it’s quite a departure - it follows a woman’s journey to unlock her past and solve the mystery of her father’s death. It’s also the first episodic TV show created using rotoscope animation.
Director Lauren Hissrich said, ‘The Witcher is its own complete thing, but truthfully, Game of Thrones opened a door, at least.’ She also said to expect a ‘magical horror show’. Henry Cavill stars as a mercenary monster hunter in the series based on the fantasy novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Crown (season 3)
Netflix, November 17
How can they possibly follow up on the Emmy-winning Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and the scandal-laden season 2? Two words: Olivia Colman. The Oscar-winner’s mere presence will undoubtedly raise the bar this season, which spans the years 1964 to 1976. However, showrunner Peter Morgan has revealed that the focus will shift from Prince Phillip (now Tobias Menzies) and Lizzy’s relationship to the breakdown of the marriage of Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter, in some top-notch casting) and Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels). The origins of the Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Camilla (Emerald Fennell) love story will also be front and centre.
The Righteous Gemstones
Sky Atlantic, October
Danny McBride targets the megachurches of the US in this comedy series about a televangelist family who combine their charitable work with a sideline in deviance and greed. Reviews have been largely positive in the US where it has already aired on HBO and you can’t go wrong with John Goodman among the cast.
Michael Smiley stars as a famous memorial photographer who investigates the murders of the people he has photographed. The six-part series, written by John Morton, is set in 1880s Ireland.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
BBC Three, October
Even if you have never watched an episode of the eleven glorious seasons (and two spin-offs) of this colourful reality show, it’s worth tuning in for the UK version, which features Belfast drag queen Blu Hydrangea among those vying for the title of ‘UK’s next drag superstar’.
BBC One, autumn
Julia Ormond stars as a 60-year-old woman who falls in love with a 34-year-old man (Ben Barnes) in this six-part series written and created by Marnie Dickens. It examines the impact of their relationship on her already fractured family and asks the question: is he really the gold digger everyone thinks he is?
Blood (season 2)
Virgin Media, autumn
The first series was a hit with viewers thanks to excellent writing, direction, production values and top-notch performances across the board. Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar returns for the second run which will focus on another female member of the family as they face the fallout from last season.