Among the detective dramas and high-stakes thrillers due to arrive on British television in the next year or so, there are a clutch of sci-fi, supernatural and horror shows also coming our way. April saw the release of Sky One original Intergalactic – the story of a wrongly imprisoned galactic pilot who breaks out of space jail with a gang of other high-security female prisoners – and Netflix has ordered fantasy novel adaptations Half Bad, Cuckoo Song, Lockwood & Co. and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – respectively, tales of witches, supernatural pacts, ghost-hunters, and a woman who jumps between bodies in her quest to solve a murder mystery. Coming to terrestrial TV, there’s Life After Life and The Three, stories about living multiple versions of the same life, and the miraculous child survivors of a mysterious plane crash.
On top of that, there’s plenty of true crime, thrillers, a new Sally Rooney adaptation for fans of Normal People, the screenwriting debuts of Candice Carty-Williams and Cash Carraway, plus Shane Meadows’ first period drama. Find out what’s coming from the UK in 2021 and beyond below.
We’ll keep this list updated with new commissions and as casting details and release dates are confirmed.
Anansi Boys (2022)
Following on the heels of Good Omens‘ surprise second series renewal by Amazon Prime Video came the announcement that the same team were to adapt Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys novel into a television series. It’s the story of Fat Charlie Nancy and his slippery brother Spider, sons of Mr Nancy, the folkloric spider god and trickster famed in West African and Caribbean mythology. Casting for the six-part series has yet to be announced.
Around the World in 80 Days (tbc)
Filming began in South Africa on this new eight-part adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel in February 2020, and was halted in March by Covid-19 with an episode and a half in the can, before resuming in early July, then finally wrapping in March 2021. The European-funded series will air on BBC One and stars David Tennant as Verne’s famous explorer Phileas Fogg. To satisfy a foolhardy wager, Fogg and his valet set off on a globe-circling journey, this time in the company of journalist Abigail Fix, played by The Crown’s Leonie Benesch. It’s been adapted by a team led by Life On Mars’ Ashley Pharoah.
World Productions, the makers of some of the best British drama around (Line Of Duty, Save Me, Jed Mercurio drama Bodyguard) are behind this four-part drama for ITV. Written by novelist Kevin Sampson, who was present at Hillsborough Stadium on the tragic day that ninety-six football fans died, it tells the real-life story of Anne Williams’ decades-long fight for justice for her teenage son and all the victims of the 1989 disaster. Maxine Peake stars in the lead role and Bruce Goodison directs. Peake was spotted filming the series in Liverpool back in late 2018 but there’s no sign yet of a release date.
Before We Die (May)
Adapted from the Swedish crime thriller of the same name (pictured above), Before We Die is the six-part story of a detective who discovers that her son is acting as an undercover informant in a brutal murder investigation. This English-language version is set in Bristol and stars Lesley Sharp, Vincent Regan and Patrick Gibson. The series aired on Channel 4 in May to lukewarm reviews.
Behind Her Eyes (Feb)
This six-part psychological thriller arrived in February, went straight into Netflix’s Top 10 and had an ending that left a real impression on viewers (spoilers in our discussion of it.) Adapted by Hannibal and The Punisher’s Steve Lightfoot from Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel, it’s the story of a woman who becomes involved in an unconventional love triangle that develops into a dark, twist-filled web of secrets. Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair, Beecham House) and The Luminaries’ Eve Hewson star.
Best Interests (tbc)
Jack Thorne (pictured), the busiest screenwriter in the UK is returning to BBC One fresh from His Dark Materials series two with a new original four-part drama partly inspired by the real-life Charlie Gard case. It’s about a young child with a life-threatening condition whose medical team judge it in her best interests that she be allowed to die, a decision her family can’t support and fight every step of the way. The commission was announced in July 2019 and filming was due to begin in 2020 before the pandemic took hold. As of June 2021, there were no recent updates about progress on this one.
Series two has already been ordered of new BBC One Belfast-set crime drama Bloodlands, which stars The Missing and Cold Feet‘s James Nesbitt. The thriller, from new writer Chris Brandon, revolved around a cold case that held personal significance for Nesbitt’s detective and dug up buried secrets for him and the people of Belfast. Susan Lynch, Michael Smiley, Ian McElhinney and Lisa Dwan were among the cast for series one.
But When We Dance (tbc)
Directed by Johnny Campbell (of In The Flesh and Dracula fame) and written by Esio Trot’s Paul Mayhew Archer, this one-off comedy-drama about two people with Parkinson’s disease was announced in late 2019 and will be coming to BBC One. Described as a touching and hilarious love story, it’s the story of Tony and Emma, a couple who first meet at a dance class for people with Parkinson’s. It promises to be a witty, heart-felt 90 minutes throwing a light on a much-diagnosed condition in the UK.
Call My Agent (tbc)
An English-language adaptation of the hit French comedy-drama following a Parisian talent agency is coming to the UK, and from the best possible choice of writer – WIA and Twenty Twelve writer John Morton. Filming took place in summer 2021 on the series, which is set to welcome a host of star cameos including Helena Bonham Carter, Kelly Macdonald and Jim Broadbent, all playing satirical versions of themselves. Jack Davenport leads the regular cast.
Cash Carraway w/t (2022)
Inspired by writer Cash Carraway’s recent memoir Skint Estate, this new BBC drama will star This Country’s Daisy May Cooper as a working class single mum skewering stereotypes and exploring the brutal realities of austerity Britain. Creator Carraway assures viewers that it won’t be “a woeful tale of poverty porn,” but a love story between a mother who refuses to give in, and her 10-year-old daughter.
From Candice Carty-Williams (pictured above), writer of 2019 hit novel Queenie, comes a series celebrating contemporary Black British Music. Champion is the story of a highly personal rap battle between a South London brother and sister, former rap sensation and ex-con Bosco, and his former PA and younger sister Vita. Which of the Champion siblings will prosper?
From Alice Seabright, director of Netflix’s Sex Education comes six-part BBC One psychological thriller Chloe. It’s the story of Becky, who becomes so obsessed with the death of an estranged friend that she takes on a false identity to find out the true story. The cast (pictured above) was announced in April 2021 and includes Poldark‘s Jack Farthing, The Crown‘s Erin Doherty, The Serpent‘s Billy Howle and Gangs of London‘s Pippa Bennett-Warner.
Come Again (2022)
Robert Webb’s debut novel Come Again, which was published in April 2020, is being adapted for television. It was announced in May 2020 that Firebird Pictures Ltd is working on the screen version of the story by the writer-actor. Come Again is the first novel by Webb (Peep Show, Back, That Mitchell And Webb Look). It tells the story of Kate, a karate expert, computer genius widow mired in grief who gets an out-of-this-world chance to go back into her past and change the future. It’s part love story, part coming-of-age story, part spy thriller packed with action and 90s nostalgia.
Conversations with Friends (2022)
Following the enormous success of Normal People – the story of young Irish couple Marianne and Connor navigating love, sex, university, class, friendship and mental health – the BBC and Hulu are collaborating on an adaptation of author Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations with Friends. This one’s on a similar bent, as the story of a pair of young Irish students who get involved with an glamorous older, married couple. The cast looks excellent too, with Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke playing Nick and Melissa, newcomer Alison Oliver playing the lead Frances, and Utopia (US) and Loki‘s Sasha Lane as Frances’ friend Bobbi.
Filming began in April 2021 on Irvine Welsh crime thriller adaptation Crime, a Britbox exclusive due to arrive late this year. Welsh is adapting his novel for the screen in collaboration with Dean Cavanagh. Set in Edinburgh, it’s the story of Detective Inspector Lennox (played by Dougray Scott) and his investigation into the disappearance of a schoolgirl. Angela Griffin, Joanna Vanderham and Ken Stott also star. Broadchurch and Vigil (see below) director James Strong describes it as “a dark, visceral, shocking ride.”
Cuckoo Song (2022)
Based on the acclaimed young adult novel by author Frances Hardinge (The Lie Tree, Fly By Night), this six-part fantasy series is coming to Netflix. Among the writers are Doctor Who’s Sarah Dollard, Elizabeth is Missing’s Andrea Gibb and The Innocents’ Corinna Faith. It’s the story of two sisters – one human and one a monster – at war with each other, who have to reunite to reverse a supernatural pact gone wrong.
Danny Boy (May)
New BBC Two feature-length drama Danny Boy aired in May and told the story of real-life soldier Brian Wood, accused of war crimes in Iraq by human rights lawyer Phil Shiner. Ordeal by Innocence’s Anthony Boyle plays Wood, with the magnificent Toby Jones as Shiner, from a screenplay written by Murder and Party Animals’ Robert Jones. It’s currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Death Comes as the End (tbc)
With Agatha Christie adaptation The Pale Horse having completed Sarah Phelps’ quintet of adaptations for the BBC in 2020, it’s the turn of a different voice on a very different kind of Christie novel. That voice? Vanity Fair and Five Days screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes. And that novel? Death Comes As The End, a murder mystery set not in the early 20th century, but in ancient Egypt. The arrival of a new concubine sends ripples through an Egyptian priest’s family. The cast and air date have yet to be announced.
Italian-French-UK co-production Devils came to Sky Atlantic in February, a high-finance thriller based on Guido Maria Brera’s novel of the same name. It’s a story of a top investment firm, multi-million dollar deals, a mysterious death and a public scandal. Alessandro Borghi stars.
From Simon Burke, the creator of Sky weird-thriller Fortitude, eight-part historical family saga Domina is set in ancient Rome, beginning in the wake of Julius Caesar’s assassination. Based on real historical characters, it follows the ascendancy of Livia Drusilla through the Roman political ranks, as she strategizes her way to the top, driven by revenge.
Actor, rapper and screenwriter Riz Ahmed (pictured) was announced in 2018 as developing this ambitious nine-part series with BBC Two, but no updates have been released since. It was set to be a drama about three generations of a British Pakistani family set over the course of four decades. As soon as there’s any news on this one, we’ll include it here.
Everything I Know About Love (2022)
Novelist and journalist Dolly Alderton has turned screenwriter to adapt her own memoir Everything I Know About Love for the BBC. Described as “a generous, funny, warm-hearted and uplifting Sex & the City for Millennials, it’s the story of two young women Maggie and Birdy, who move to London and have to navigate relationships, flat-shares, heartache and friendship.
This one needs to be on your radar: Giri/Haji creator Joe Barton has written an eight-part action thriller starring I May Destroy You and Gangs of London‘s Paapa Essiedu. It’s the story of a man recruited into an organisation formed to stop global catastrophes, who ends up reliving the same day again and again. Strike‘s Tom Burke, The Bodyguard‘s Anjli Mohindra and Jonathan Creek‘s Caroline Quentin co-star.
Finding Alice (January)
Keeley Hawes stars as a woman who discovers a host of unsettling secrets when her partner Harry unexpectedly dies when they finally move into their newly built dream house. A black comedy that aired on ITV in early 2021, Finding Alice also stars Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers, and was written by The Durrells’ Simon Nye.
Four Lives (tbc)
Previously titled The Barking Murders, Four Lives is a three-part BBC drama based on real-life killer Stephen Port, and the aftermath of the four murders he committed. Port raped and murdered four men between 2014 and 2015, using Grindr to attract his victims. Jeff Pope, who previously penned The Moorside and Little Boy Blue, is the writer, with Neil McKay directing. Sheridan Smith and Jamie Winstone will star alongside Stephen Merchant as Port. In this Entertainment Focus interview from April 2020, actor Michael Jibson confirmed the drama was currently postponed due to the ongoing real-life criminal case.
Ginger Snaps (2022)
It’s 20 years since the release of Ginger Snaps, the first in a trilogy of now-cult horror films, and, according to Sid Gentle Films, high time for a live-action TV adaptation. The darkly comic feminist werewolf movie will be adapted for a TV co-production by Anna Ssemuyaba, who has previous written for Sky’s Guerilla, Channel 4’s Adult Material and ITV’s Unsaid Stories, and from by the co-producers of Killing Eve and Orphan Black.
From Endeavour creator Russell Lewis come two feature-length adaptations of Peter James’ crime novel series about a Brighton-based Detective Superintendent. Life on Mars’ John Simm plays unorthodox investigator Roy Grace, who’s haunted by the disappearance of his wife, in two-hour versions of Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead. The first film, which aired in May, revolves around a cold case and a groom who goes mysteriously missing just days before his wedding, and the second film will air later in 2021. Reviews were good so catch up on ITV Hub if you missed it.
Half Bad (tbc)
Based on Sally Green’s celebrated book trilogy of the same name, Half Bad will be an eight-part one-hour Netflix fantasy drama. It’s about a 16-year-old boy who has spent his life surveilled for signs that he may follow in the footsteps of his father – the world’s most feared witch. Giri/Haji creator Joe Barton is writing the series, with Andy Serkis among the producers. We. Can’t. Wait.
Harlan Coben’s Stay Close (tbc)
Thriller writer Harlan Coban is currently part of the way into a five-year deal with Netflix to adapt 14 of his novels, and Stay Close is the latest adaptation from writer Danny Brocklehurst and RED Productions, the team that brought us The Stranger. Like The Stranger, Stay Close will star Richard Armitage and move the book setting from the US to the UK. It’s the story of three characters whose dark secrets threaten to destroy their lives. James Nesbitt and Cush Jumbo also star.
Hollington Drive (tbc)
If you’ve seen writer Sophie Petzal’s Irish thriller Blood starring Adrian Dunbar, you’ll want to tune in for this. Coming to ITV, it’s a four-part thriller about two grown-up sisters who become entangled in a tense mystery when their children are involved in the disappearance of a 10-year-old local boy. Expect twists, turns, and sharp writing. The cast looks great too, led by Rachel Stirling and Anna Maxwell-Martin (pictured above).
Inside Man (tbc)
The latest BBC One drama from former Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat is a four-part crime thriller entitled Inside Man. The twisting story is about a death row inmate in the US and a woman who’s trapped in a cellar under an English vicarage, whose lives interlink “in the most unexpected way”. The cast (pictured above) looks excellent and includes plenty of Moffat’s past collaborators in David Tennant, Dracula‘s Dolly Wells and Lydia West, and Mr Stanley Tucci.
Sky One’s Intergalactic is an original, British space-set drama about a galactic pilot who’s falsely imprisoned, then breaks free with a gang of other high-security female prisoners. It stars The Tunnel‘s Savannah Steyn in the lead role, with Parminder Nagra, Eleanor Tomlinson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Natasha O’Keeffe, Thomas Turgoose and Craig Parkinson, so lots of great British talent in the cast. The first series aired in Spring 2021 and is available to stream on NOW.
It’s a Sin (January)
This 1980s-set drama (previously titled The Boys) comes from acclaimed screenwriter Russell T. Davies (A Very English Scandal, Doctor Who) and tackles the impact of AIDS on the lives of three young men across a period of ten years. It’s the story of “the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.” It was one of the dramas of the year, with a fantastic cast including Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Omari Douglas, Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry, Tracy Ann Oberman and Shaun Dooley.
Karen Pirie (tbc)
A new detective is on her way to ITV in the form of Karen Pirie, the creation of novelist Val McDermid who’s also the literary source of ITV’s popular Wire in the Blood forensic pathology series. The new crime drama comes adapted from the first in McDermid’s five-book series The Distant Echo by Harlots and Save Me Too’s Emer Kenny. It’s about a young Scottish detective working in St. Andrews who is tasked with reopening cold cases. The first involves the 25-year-old death of a teenager whose unsolved murder has become the subject of a true crime podcast. It’s being made by Bodyguard and Line of Duty‘s World Productions.
A four-part true crime series about ‘Mansfield Murderers’ Susan and Christopher Edwards is on its way to Sky Atlantic and HBO. Alexander Payne (Sideways) was set to direct, but departed the project in October 2020 following what’s being reported as a scheduling conflict after Covid-19 pushed production back. The Edwards killed Susan’s parents and buried them in their garden, then spent over a decade draining their bank accounts before being discovered in 2014. Olivia Colman will star as Susan Edwards, from a script written by Colman’s producer husband Ed Sinclair. Giri/Haji and Flowers’ Will Sharpe replaces Payne as the director.
Life After Life (tbc)
Kate Atkinson’s 2013 novel Life After Life is a masterpiece of imaginative fiction, so it’s no surprise that BBC One is currently preparing a TV adaptation. It’s the story of Ursula, a woman with the extraordinary power to keep being continually reborn into new and alternative versions of her life after she dies. Seemingly insignificant changes to people and circumstances set her on new courses every time – can she alter the course of history? Playwright Bash Doran (Traitors) has adapted the novel and filming began in April 2021 with a cast including Sian Clifford, James McArdle and lead Thomasin McKenzie.
Lockwood & Co (tbc)
Attack the Block’s Joe Cornish is writing and directing this Netflix adaptation of Jonathan Stroud’s supernatural adventure series about a ghost-hunting detective agency run by two teenage boys and a psychic girl. It’s set in London and was only announced in December 2020, so don’t expect to see it arrive on the streaming service for a little while yet.
Magpie Murders (2022)
One of a slate of original drama commissions for UK streamer Britbox, Anthony Horowitz will adapt for screen his own murder mystery novel Magpie Murders, the first of his Susan Ryeland series. Lesley Manville will play literary editor Ryeland (Manville), with Spall playing her client’s fictional 1950s detective Atticus Pünd. A dream cast for this six-part thriller.
Another Britbox commission that shows the UK streamer is serious about making a splash in quality original drama, Marlow will be an eight-part thriller from Southcliffe and Red Riding’s Tony Grisoni, starring The Crown’s Claire Foy. It’s a modern-day crime fable based around two warring families “amid the unsettling and indelible landscape of the Thames Estuary,” or as Foy’s revenge-seeking character Evie Wyatt calls it, the Edgelands.
From Stefan Golaszewski, the creator of excellent comedy-drama Mum (pictured above) and comedy Him & Her, comes four-part drama Marriage. Not much is known about the show yet, but we can expect it to examine “in intimate detail the fears, frustrations and salvation of marriage and the comfort that can only be found in togetherness.”
My Name is Leon (tbc)
Filming began in March 2021 on a feature-length adaptation of Kit de Waal’s novel My Name is Leon, the 1980s-set story of a nine-year-old biracial boy forced to cope with his mother’s breakdown. Writer-director Shola Amoo is adapting the screenplay, with Kibwe Tavares directing, and Malachi Kirby and Monica Dolan among the cast.
My Name is Lizzie (tbc)
This four-part Channel 4 drama, based on real events, will star The Virtues and Raised by Wolves’ Niamh Algar as an undercover police officer used in a honeytrap search for a killer in the 1990s. Written by The Tunnel’s Emilia di Girolamo, it promises to take viewers behind the scenes on one of the UK’s most controversial police investigations. It was only announced in late 2020, so don’t expect it for a little while.
No Return (tbc)
Filming is due to begin in summer 2021 on ITV’s No Return, a Manchester-based four-part drama from Danny Brocklehurst (The Stranger, Shameless). It stars Sheridan Smith (pictured above) as the mother of a 16-year-old boy accused of a serious crime while on a family holiday in Turkey. Secrets unfurl as the family fights an alien legal system to free their son and get to the truth.
Attn: crime fans. Alibi has commissioned darkly witty six-part thriller Ragdoll, to be adapted from the novel of the same name by Daniel Cole. It’s a Jo Nesbo-ish crime drama about a grotesque murder in which six victims have been sewn into the shape of a single body. Detectives Rose, Baxter and Edmunds are on the case, charged with protecting the killer’s next set of advertised victims. The Irregulars’ Henry Lloyd Hughes, Lucy Hale and Thalissa Teixeira will star.
Ralph and Katie (tbc)
This six-part half hour is a spin-off from BBC One’s hit family drama The A Word, following the married lives of the titular characters, both of whom have Down’s Syndrome. The original series creator Peter Bowker is writing the show, which stars Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy, alongside new and emerging disabled talent.
Red Rose (tbc)
A contemporary teen horror series is on its way to BBC Three and Netflix, written by Michael and Paul Clarkson (The Haunting Of Hill House, pictured). Red Rose will be an eight-part series about the relationship between teenagers and their online lives. It’s the story of Rochelle, a Bolton teen who downloads a mysterious app that sets in motion a series of terrifying events. Ultimately, say the Clarksons, “it’s the story of friendship told through the prism of a classic horror-thriller.”
From Empire to Succession, the complicated family lives of the super-wealthy are a continued source of fascination on screen. ITV has ordered drama Riches from writer Abby Ajayi to mine that seam. The six-part drama revolves around successful businessman Stephen Richards, a specialist in cosmetics for black women, who’s on a winning streak until a dramatic event forces his grown-up children from two marriages to gather together and decide what happens next.
Ridley Road (tbc)
Four-part BBC One thriller Ridley Road is adapted from Jo Bloom’s 2014 novel of the same name by screenwriter-actor Sarah Solemani (Him & Her, No Offence). It’s the story of the fight against fascism in 1960s London. According to Solemani, the novel reveals “a darker side of Sixties London and the staggering contribution the Jewish community made in the battle against racism.” Newcomer Aggi O’Casey is joined by Eddie Marsan, Rory Kinnear, Samantha Spiro and more.
Sherlock and Fleabag’s Andrew Scott will play Tom Ripley in a new TV adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith five-strong novel series for Showtime and Sky Atlantic. The first season will restage events as depicted in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley, when a young grifter in 1960s New York is hired by a wealthy man to convince his wayward, hedonist son – played by Emma and Beast’s Johnny Flynn – to return home from Italy. Steven Zaillian (The Night Of, Schindler’s List) will write and direct.
Rogue Heroes (tbc)
A major new drama is on its way to BBC One, from Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders and Taboo. The six-part drama is based on Ben Macintyre’s SAS: Rogue Heroes book, which charts the creation of the famed Special Forces unit. Knight has written the adaptation, which will tell a tale “celebrating the glory, action and camaraderie at the heart of this story” while delving into the psychology of the officers and men who formed the SAS in WWII. With real-life events given Knight’s visionary treatment, this one promises to be a spectacle with real depth. Jack O’Connell and Alfie Allen are among the cast (pictured above.)
Inspired by his real-life experience as a civilian prison worker, writer Rob Williams (Killing Eve) is bringing a six-part prison drama to Channel 4. Screw promises to show “the uncensored, terrifying and often darkly funny reality of life as a prison officer in an all-male prison in 21st century Britain.” The story focuses on veteran officer Leigh, who’s trying to keep her past buried, and mouthy new recruit Rose. The cast includes Nina Sosanya, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell and Stephen Wight.
A new six-part crime drama is coming to BBC One from acclaimed playwright James Graham, the writer behind Quiz and Brexit: The Uncivil War. Set in post-industrial Nottinghamshire, where the drama was filmed, Sherwood is fictional but inspired in part by real events and tells the story of two murders that lead to one of the largest manhunts in British history. Two police officers have to set aside their differences to find the killer, against a socio-political backdrop of community divisions riven during the 1980s Miners’ Strikes. Lesley Manville, David Morrissey and Joanne Froggatt star.
The Tunnel’s writer Ben Richards has teamed up with World Productions (the folks behind Bodyguard and Line of Duty) on six-part series Showtrial. Coming to BBC One, it’s a legal drama that questions the role class, money and power play in justice being done. The story treats the disappearance of a young working class student and the subsequent arrest and trial of the accused, “the arrogant daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur.” Filming began in April 2021, and you can read more about the cast here.
Nicôle Lecky’s one-woman Royal Court stage show is getting the Fleabag treatment and being turned into a six-part BBC Three series. It’s the musical story of a would-be singer and rapper thrown out of home who moves in with a young woman who inducts her into the life of social media influencing and sex work.
From Kirstie Swain, the screenwriter of Channel 4’s Pure comes a new eight-part series adapted from C.J. Skuse’s 2017 novel of the same name. It’s the story of a young woman who seems unremarkable on the surface and works as an editorial assistant in a British seaside town. Unfulfilled by her job, she turns to darker pursuits outside of work, because who would ever suspect her? The comedy-drama is coming to Sky Atlantic and no casting has yet been announced. Read our interview with Kirstie Swain about Pure, mental illness in TV drama and more.
If you saw His Dark Materials on BBC One, then you know Welsh-based Bad Wolf Productions are capable of great things on a grand scale. In 2019, ITV commissioned them to make six-part thriller Tenacity, from a screenplay by Flightplan’s Peter A. Dowling, based on the J.S. Law novel of the same name. It’s about a body discovered on a British nuclear submarine, investigated by military detective Danielle Lewis. Think assassins, high-stakes action and a momentous threat to national security. The cast is tba.
The Amazing Mr Blunden (December)
Following on from Sky’s beautiful festive family film Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse with another, this time written and directed by Mark Gatiss. The Amazing Mr Blunden comes adapted from Antonia Barber’s novel ‘The Ghosts’ and its original 1972 film adaptation. The 90-minute feature will star Gatiss, Simon Callow and Tamsin Grieg, and tells the story of two London teenagers whose mum moves them to a haunted country house where they get involved with a thrilling story of strange visitors, time travel and wicked would-be murderers…
The Baby (tbc)
The Baby is a darkly comic horror on its way to Sky Atlantic. The eight-episode first season was co-created by screenwriter Siân Robins-Grace (Kaos, Sex Education) and Gangs of London production manager Lucy Gaymer. It’s being billed as a provocative, dark and funny story about a woman in her late thirties who’s unexpectedly landed with a baby that takes over her world. The cast includes The Duchess‘ Michelle de Swarte (pictured), who’ll star alongside Amira Ghazalla and Amber Grappy.
The Birth of Daniel F Harris (tbc)
With a similar premise to Sky One’s Two Weeks to Live, but a psychological drama instead of a knockabout comedy, this Channel 4 drama by Urban Myths‘ (pictured above) Pete Jackson is the story of a young man raised in isolation from society after his mother’s death, by a father who told him the outside world is filled with monsters. When the boy turns eighteen, he enters the world to find the person responsible for his mother’s death. Read more about it here.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton (tbc)
Adapted by Sara Collins from her own Costa Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a four part murder mystery set in Georgian London. It follows the title character, born on a Jamaican slave plantation and transported as a ‘gift’ by the man who enslaved her to the home of a wealthy London couple who meet a grim fate. Was Frannie really responsible? Or is she being used?
The Devil’s Hour (tbc)
Peter Capaldi and Jessica Raine lead the cast of a new six-part “mind-bending” Amazon Prime Video thriller from writer Tom Moran, produced by Steven Moffat. It’s the story of Lucy (Raine) who suffers from terrifying visions every night at precisely the same time (the titular devil’s hour), and who becomes entangled with a series of brutal murders. Capaldi, pictured above, plays “a reclusive nomad driven by a murderous obsession”, which all sounds rather fun.
The Elephant Man (tbc)
The story of Victorian Joseph Merrick was memorably brought to the screen by David Lynch in 1980, and has since been retold on stage (notably starring Bradley Cooper in the lead role). This two-part BBC drama stars Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton (pictured) and is written by Moorside’s Neil McKay. The biopic will tell the story of Merrick’s life from the start to the end and promises to “explore the man behind the myth”. Filming was due to take place in Wales in late 2018, but there’s been no news about this one since so it’s a bit of a question mark.
The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies (tbc)
In this original six-part BBC One thriller, screenwriters Penelope and Ginny Skinner (pictured above) tell the story of two very different women, both of whom are being conned by the same man. Alice and Caroline have Rob in common, a celebrated ecopreneur who may well be trying to destroy them both. Inspired to fight against society’s glorification of the predator, The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies was commissioned in August 2020, so it’ll be a little while before we see it.
The Gallows Pole (2022)
You’re going to want to look out for this one. Director Shane Meadows (This is England, The Virtues), whose TV work usually airs on Channel 4, is making his BBC drama debut with an adaptation of Benjamin Myers’ acclaimed novel The Gallows Pole. It’s a true historical story about Yorkshire legend David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners, who became the biggest fraudsters in British history. Meadows describes himself as buzzing about making his first period drama, produced by Element Pictures. The cast led by Michael Socha, with George McKay, Thomas Turgoose and Tom Burke, promises a real roster of the best young British talent.
The Girl Before (tbc)
This BBC-HBO Max co-production boasts a great cast in Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Loki, Black Mirror – pictured above – Belle) and David Oyelowo (Selma, Les Misérables), and a hit psychological thriller as its source material. It’s to be a four-part limited series created by JP Delaney (one of Tony Strong’s pseudonyms), adapted from his novel of the same name. It’s about a woman given the chance to move into a stunning home on the condition that she obeys an exacting set of rules, and presumably things get murder-y from then on in.
The Irregulars (March)
The modern version. The Robert Downey Jr version. The gnome version. The version where Watson is Lucy Liu. Just when you thought the world had no more Sherlock Holmes to give, along comes The Irregulars on Netflix. Written by My Mad Fat Diary‘s Tom Bidwell, this version focuses on the Baker Street gang of teens used as a resource by a sinister version of Dr John Watson, and a Sherlock Holmes whose best days are long behind him. It’s supernatural and horror-tinged, and unfortunately only lasted one season before being cancelled, but did manage to wrap up satisfactorily so don’t let the early ending put you off.
The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe (tbc)
Power, love, loyalty and politics all come to play in Dan Sefton’s (Trust Me) BBC adaptation of Keith Badman’s 2010 book The Final Years Of Marilyn Monroe. Narrowing the time-frame (as the working title suggests) Sefton’s drama will take in the final six months of Monroe’s life until her death in 1962 at the age of 36. We first heard about this one back in April 2019, but since then there’s been no news about casting or filming.
The Midwich Cuckoos (2022)
John Wyndham’s classic 1957 sci-fi is getting a modern TV adaptation courtesy of The Night Manager and Hanna writer David Farr. The eight part series will update the novel to the present day and set the action in a commuter town south of London, where the local women all mysteriously fall pregnant at the same time and give birth to a cohort of very unusual children. The most famous adaptation to date was 1965 cult favourite Village of the Damned (pictured above). Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley will star.
The North Water (September)
Film director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years, Lean On Pete) has adapted and directed Ian Maguire’s novel The North Water into a four-part BBC Two drama with an excellent cast. Colin Farrell, Stephen Graham (pictured above), Tom Courtenay, Peter Mullan and Jack O’Connell are all on board – literally so as the series is set on a whaling ship in the Arctic in the 1850s. It’s the story of a disgraced ex-army surgeon who joins a whaling expedition and finds himself “on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath” and in a struggle to survive. Filming took place on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in late 2019.
The Offenders (tbc)
From co-creator of The Office and writer-director of fab wrestling film Fighting with my Family, Stephen Merchant (pictured above, and soon to be seen playing killer Stephen Port in ITV true crime drama Four Lives) and Mayans M.C.’s Elgin James is a six-part one-hour comedy The Offenders. A BBC One-Amazon Studios co-production, it follows seven strangers forced together to complete a Community Payback sentence in Bristol. Merchant is joined by Christopher Walken, Darren Boyd and Eleanor Tomlinson in the cast.
The Pembrokeshire Murders (January)
This three-part ITV true crime drama stars Luke Evans as Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who, in 2006, reopened and solved a cold case from the 1980s using new forensic DNA evidence and, bizarrely, an episode of darts-based quiz show Bullseye. Keith Allen plays John Cooper, the man in Wilkins’ sights.
The Pursuit of Love (May)
Emily Mortimer wrote and directed this glorious BBC One adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s 1945 comic romance about an aristocratic family in the interwar period (loosely based on Mitford’s own family, which gained notoriety through her popular novels and her sisters’ scandalous connections to the British Union of Fascists and Adolf Hitler). Downton Abbey‘s Lily James plays lead Linda Radlett in the three-part series.
The Red Zone (tbc)
Sports writers Barney Ronay and Jonathan Liew are behind this six-part half-hour comedy “about football, but also not about football,” which is coming to Netflix in 2021. Director Sam Mendes is executive producing through his Neal Street Productions company. Only announced in late 2020, no casting has yet been confirmed for this one.
The Responder (tbc)
Filming begain in May 2021 on this BBC Two five-part series from new screenwriter and former police officer Tony Schumacher, who’s been mentored by Jimmy McGovern as part of a BBC Writers Room initiative. The Responder will star The Hobbit and Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman as officer Chris, who works a series of night shifts in Liverpool, alongside his rookie new partner Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo). The series is described as funny, tragic, and showing the realities of policing in Britain.
The Rig (tbc)
In November 2020, Amazon Prime Video green-lit this six-episode supernatural thriller from Line of Duty and Bodyguard director John Strickland, written by David Macpherson. It’s due to film in Scotland and is set onboard the Kishorn Bravo oil rig in the North Sea. The crew finds itself marooned on the rig by a mysterious fog that cuts off communication with the outside world. Line of Duty‘s Martin Compston, Owen Teale and Rochenda Sandall will star, alongside Iain Glen, Mark Bonnar and more (see above.) Filming has concluded so the wait shouldn’t be too long for this one.
The Serpent (January)
Ripper Street writer Richard Warlow scripted this eight-part BBC drama about serial killer Charles Sobhraj, Interpol’s most wanted man in the 1970s for the robbery and murder of multiple young Western travellers across South Asia. Tom Shankland (Les Miserables, The City & The City) directs, and A Prophet and The Looming Tower‘s Tahar Rahim played the lead role of Sobhraj, with Jenna Coleman as his girlfriend/accomplice Marie-Andree Leclerc. Read more about the true story that inspired the series here.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (tbc)
Now this sounds like a bit of alright. Adapted from Stuart Turton’s novel of the same name, it’s a seven-part murder mystery coming to Netflix. The story’s a high-concept thriller about a woman trying to solve a murder who keeps waking up in somebody else’s body every time she gets close to the answer. Sophie Petzal (The Last Kingdom, Blood) is adapting it, and the announcement only arrived in late 2020, so don’t expect it for a little while yet. Casting is tba.
The Three (tbc)
Another BBC drama commission based on a book series, The Three, “an international thriller with a supernatural twist”, was announced in late 2017 but there’s been no news since then. The premise of Sarah Lotz’ trilogy sees four planes crash on the same day in four different countries, leaving three children as the miraculous survivors… Wolf Hall’s Peter Straughan was attached as adapting this eight-part drama but as yet, it’s still to appear on his IMDb credits. We’ll keep you posted if more arrives.
The Tourist (tbc)
Producer-writers Harry and Jack Williams (Fleabag, Baptiste, The Missing, Liar) are back with a six-part BBC-HBO Max drama set and filmed in South Australia. The Tourist is an outback noir about a British man pursued through the Australian outback by a tank truck. When the man awakens in a hospital with no memory of who he is or how he got there, his search for answers takes him to some unsettling places. Chris Sweeney (Back to Life) directs, with The Fall‘s Jamie Dornan leading the cast.
The Tower (tbc)
Three-part detective drama The Tower is coming to ITV, starring Game of Thrones‘ Gemma Whelan, Peaky Blinders‘ Emmett Scanlan and Kate & Koji‘s Jimmy Akingbola and The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s Tahirah Sharif. It’s adapted by Homeland‘s Patrick Harbinson from former Met Police officer Kate London’s novel Post-Mortem, and follows the investigation into two deaths and two disappearances from a London tower block.
The Undeclared War (2022)
Channel 4 has teamed up with Peacock to commission this six-part cyber thriller written by Wolf Hall’s Peter Kosminsky. It’s set in 2024, as a team of GCHQ cyber specialists secretly work to fend off a cyber attack on the UK electoral system. There’s an impressive cast, from Mark Rylance (pictured above in Bridge of Spies), to Adrian Lester, Alex Jennings, Simon Pegg, Maisie Richardson-Sellers and newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown. The commission was only announced in April 2021, so we can expect to see this one next year.
Three Families (May)
This drama based on real-life abortion stories set in Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK where pregnancy termination remains illegal – aired on BBC One in May 2021. Written by Vanity Fair‘s Gwyneth Hughes, who travelled to Northern Ireland to meet the families who inspired the drama, Three Families was produced by the makers of hard-hitting Three Girls and explores the experience of families and loved ones whose lives have been affected by the law in Northern Ireland. It’s currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Three-part prison drama Time is the latest from legendary British screenwriter Jimmy McGovern (Cracker, Accused, Broken), and stars Sean Bean and Stephen Graham. The four-part drama aired in June 2021 and followed the story of Bean’s character Mark, a former teacher in his 50s who finds himself in prison for the first time, and Graham’s character Eric, a prison officer targeted by a dangerously connected inmate. It’s currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Tom Jones (tbc)
Praise for 2018’s Vanity Fair adaptation, scheduled opposite Bodyguard in 2018, was drowned out somewhat by the hit political thriller, but there was plenty of it, and deservingly so. Good news then, that ITV has brought screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes back to tackle another classic novel – Henry Fielding’s 1749 book Tom Jones. Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed Albert Finney-starring 1963 film, and the raucous 1997 version with Max Beasley, expect rollicking fun. The last update we had in November 2019 confirmed that Hughes was mid-writing, but news has been thin on the ground since then.
Too Close (April)
Emily Watson (Chernobyl, Apple Tree Yard, Breaking the Waves) stars in this meaty psychological three-part ITV thriller. Based on the novel of the same name written by Natalie Daniels (the pseudonym of actor-writer Clara Salaman, who’s also behind the screenplay), it’s about a forensic psychiatrist treating a patient who’s committed a heinous crime that she says she doesn’t remember. The two women become locked in a dark struggle of influence and manipulation. Watson stars opposite Denise Gough (pictured above).
Trigger Point (tbc)
Line of Duty‘s Vicky McClure plays bomb disposal expert Lana Washington in this new ITV thriller from the Jed Mercurio stable. Written by Daniel Brierley and executive produced by Mercurio, it’s the story of a front-line bomb disposal pro whose squad is pushed to the limits tackling a terrorist threat to London. Six episodes are on their way, and likely to arrive in early 2022.
With a working title of Vigil, a new six-part thriller filmed in Scotland is on its way from the makers of Bodyguard and Line of Duty. Created by Strike‘s Tom Edge, it’s the story of the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on board a Trident nuclear submarine that brings the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services. It stars Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans, Anjli Mohindra, Martin Compston, Paterson Joseph and more.
This five-part ITV thriller from Rillington Place and Manhunt writer Ed Whitmore and Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer aired in April 2021 (well, most of it did. The final episode was pulled from the schedules and made available as streaming-only following a series of sexual harassment complaints made about its star, Noel Clarke). It was the story of a police surveillance investigation in Manchester following the disappearance of a primary school teacher in the vein of Rear Window and The Lives of Others.
This BBC series, described as “Big Little Lies meets Girlfriends meets Peckham” is adapted from Nikki May’s as-yet-unpublished novel of the same name. It’s about Simi, Ronke and Boo, three 30-something Anglo-Nigerian women living in London whose friendship is shaken by the arrival of the beautiful, charismatic Isobel, with tragic consequences.
White Stork (2022)
Formerly known as Spadehead, White Stork is a 10-episode political drama coming to Netflix courtesy of Eleven, the British production compnay behind Sex Education. Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, The Night Manager – pictured above) stars as James Cooper, whose secret past is unearthed when he’s vetted in preparation for a parliamentary election. It was creted by Jericho and Meadowlands‘ Christopher Dunlop, with Taboo‘s Kristoffer Nyholm directing.
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (tbc)
Hugh Laurie (pictured above in BBC political drama Roadkill) has adapted Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel as a Britbox original. It’s the story of a vicar’s son and socialite duo played by Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton, who become amateur detectives and set out to solve a crime when they discover a dying man asking the titular question. Production began in June 2021, with a very fine British comedy cast.
From the creators of Shameless comes six-part crime drama Wolfe, which stars Guerilla‘s Babou Ceesay (pictured above) as an expert forensic pathologist and university professor described as “half genius, half liability”. With a complicated home life and a varied work team including a child prodigy, Wolfe uses his unusual expertise to solve a case of the week. Amanda Abbington, Natalia Tena, Naomi Yang, Adam Long and Shaniqua Okwok co-star.
We might expect the working title of this one to change to avoid confusion with the Netflix stalker story of the same name, but as it stands, You will be an eight-part thriller coming to Sky. Filming started in June 2021 in the UK and Morocco on this adaptation of the Zoran Drvenkar novel, which tells the story of Tara O’Rourke, a woman on the run across Europe after committing a deadly crime. She’s pursued by a dangerous gangster and a serial killer known only as ‘The Traveller’. The Capture (pictured above) writer-director Ben Chanan has written the adaptation.