New year brings a brilliant 12 months of telly treats
It looks like it's going to be a brilliant 12 months on the small screen. Susan Griffin and Darragh McManus on the TV series that will be keeping us glued to our seats in 2015
For months now, casts and crews have been busy shooting the dramas and comedies that will be making you laugh and cry over the next year. From Sheridan Smith's gritty new drama and a steamy adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover to RTE big-hitter Charlie, here's a sneak peak at some of the series you'll be settling in front of the box for in 2015.
This is the big one, as far as it goes for new Irish shows coming in 2015. Aidan Gillen is a genuinely huge star of TV - with such iconic dramas The Wire, Game of Thrones, Queer as Folk, Love/Hate and others on his CV - and it's a something of a coup for RTE to have snared him in the role of Charles Haughey.
But it also makes sense: love him or loathe him, CJH was a larger-than-life figure in Irish politics for decades; it's appropriate that his tumultuous career should be played out on an expansive dramatic canvas.
Add a wealth of backing talent - Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Risteard Cooper among them - production values that look top-class, and the stranger-than-fiction story of Haughey himself, and you've got genuinely can't-miss television. It starts this Sunday.
Ordinary Lies, BBC One
All eyes will be on Michelle Keegan as she appears in her first project following her departure from Coronation Street. And what a gig to get. Written by Emmy and Bafta-winning Danny Brocklehurst, made by the team behind Happy Valley and Last Tango In Halifax, and starring the likes of Max Beesley, Jason Manford and Sally Lindsay, this darkly humorous series looks at how a simple lie can spiral out of control and change your life forever.
Back in May, it was announced that a second series of Broadchurch would go into production - not the most surprising news, given the show's phenomenal success, but what can we expect this time round? As with the first series, not much has been revealed, but we do know that David Tennant returns as Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman resumes her role as Ellie Miller, who we last saw reeling in the aftermath of the murder of local boy Danny Latimer. Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan return as Danny's grieving parents Beth and Mark, alongside Arthur Darvill as local vicar Paul Coates, while Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eve Myles and James D'Arcy will all pop up. Bar that, it's a guessing game.
Poldark, BBC One
Our own Aidan Turner came to the fore as a vampire in the supernatural comedy Being Human, and has gone on to star in The Hobbit movie trilogy. In 2015, his brooding looks are being put to good use as Ross Poldark, the titular character in an adaptation of Winston Graham's acclaimed sweeping saga set in 18th Century Cornwall. The eight-part series also stars Jack The Giant Slayer's Eleanor Tomlinson, whose star is rising, as well as Whitechapel's Phil Davis.
If you're looking for a little sun and sangria to brighten up early 2015 winter nights, then you'll be pleased to hear that a seventh series of award-winning comedy Benidorm soon returns, and runs into the New Year. It marks the return of Johnny Vegas (The Oracle) and Crissy Rock (Janey York) to the Solana resort. Also back by popular demand is Joan Collins as Solana's CEO, who will appear alongside show regulars Sherrie Hewson and Jake Canuso, as well as new faces Nadia Sawalha and John Challis. Word is there's trouble afoot when a number of the staff are demoted - but then it wouldn't be Benidorm without at least a spot of trouble, along with the tans.
Red Rock, TV3
Originally trailed as a soap, Red Rock appears to be quite a bit more than that. Airing twice-weekly from this month, it's less kitchen-sink drama, more crime/mystery serial with story-of-the-week and ongoing narrative arcs blended together.
The show, which takes places in a fictional Dublin fishing village, is centred on the local Garda station. And the heart of its story is a long-running feud between two local families: the Hennessys and Kielys.
The former basically run everything in town; the latter are fishermen turned small-time criminals. Both clans are led by powerful, strong-willed matriarchs. And both hate each other with an equal passion.
Cathy Belton and Denise McCormack head the cast, and as with Charlie, the production values look sumptuous (and worth the €7m annual budget). It's a bold, ambitious statement by TV3 - and Red Rock could turn out to be something quite special.
Lady Chatterley's Lover, BBC One
James Norton turned heads as the psychopathic Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley, and followed that up by playing a vicar in the period series Grantchester. His next project is a one-off drama based on the DH Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, which caused all sorts of controversy when it was first published in 1928. More than two decades after Sean Bean and Joely Richardson appeared in a rather risqué adaptation of the story, Norton stars as the paralysed and distant Lord Clifford Chatterley, while The Borgias' Holliday Grainger plays his sexually frustrated wife Constance, who finds solace in the arms of gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, played by Game Of Thrones' Richard Madden.
Banished, BBC Two
Shot in both Australia and the UK, Banished is written by the award-winning Jimmy McGovern, and looks set to be a truly epic piece of television. Set in 18th Century Australia, Him & Her's Russell Tovey stars alongside Ripper Street's MyAnna Buring and Green Wing's Julian Rhind-Tutt as a group of convicts sent to the former colonies, and explores the struggles they endure and the relationships they forge in order to survive. The trailer has already aired, and it's clear that no expense has been spared for this seven-part series.
The Trials Of Jimmy Rose, ITV
Ray Winstone takes a break from the big screen to play the lead in The Trials Of Jimmy Rose, the three-part drama currently filming in Manchester. It tells the story of an armed robber who, now in his mid-60s, has spent more time behind bars than with his wife Jackie, played by Amanda Redman, and his now grown-up children Jason and Julie, depicted by Downton Abbey's Tom Cullen and Silent Witness' Charlotte Randle. During his latest stint, Jimmy's family have moved on with their lives, but will he be able to put his criminal past behind him and regain their respect and love? Sounds like one to stay in for.
Indian Summers, Channel 4
Julie Walters stars in new 10-part period saga Indian Summers, set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of northern India. It's the summer of 1932 and India dreams of independence, while the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla, a 'little England' where every summer, the British power-brokers are posted to govern. At the heart of this society is Cynthia (Walters), a doyenne of the Royal Club, whose influence spreads throughout the community and is central to the drama that plays out during one summer that changes everything. One of Britain's best-loved actresses, anything Walters does is worth tuning in for.
Black Work, ITV
Is there anything Sheridan Smith can't do? Fresh from her success as the young Cilla Black, which will no doubt bring in a few gongs come awards season, the stage and screen actress is now starring in a police crime thriller called Black Work. Smith plays policewoman Jo Gillespie, whose world is thrown into turmoil when her husband Ryan (Kenny Doughty), an undercover policeman, is shot dead in mysterious circumstances. Jo sets out resolutely to discover who murdered him, and along the way is forced to confront difficult truths about her family life and marriage. It might mark a darker turn for Smith, but no doubt the plaudits will follow.
Barney Bunion, TG4
TG4 has built up a cracking repertoire of comedy over the years: CU Burn, Fear an Phoist, Rasaí na Gaillimhe, Paddy Whackery, Yu Ming is Ainm Dom: from slapstick to satire to surrealism, all tastes are catered for.
Barney Bunion looks like it's leaning more towards the surreal end of the spectrum. Married with one son, the eponymous Barney decides to make a new career as a PI, but doesn't have much of a clue - ahem - how to go about that.
The first episode mixes a story of a missing dog with a drugs seizure, and it all sounds like great fun.