The UK vs US TV debate reigns on, British TV was always held to the highest standard, but over the last 10/15 years, US TV quality has hit heights no one else has before. But the UK is creeping back up again and over the next few months and going into Autumn, there’s a raft of great TV to look forward to. Across the main networks and Cable and Satellite channels, we have comedy, drama and some great reality TV coming our way so we thought we’d preview some of it for you, including some shows airing over the next few weeks.
First up is Quacks, a comedy series debuting on BBC Two next Tuesday August 15th at 10pm. A bizarre premise for a show; a medical comedy about Victorian pioneering doctors. Well according to early previews, it looks set to be very popular. The BBC tell us, “The 1840s: a time when doctors were just as likely to kill their patients as cure them, when the medicine that we take for granted today was in its infancy, and when doctors experimented on themselves and each other. It’s an era when dentists numbed the pain with brandy, the insane were chained up, and the operating theatre was full of spectacle and showmanship where people would come to watch a surgeon beat his amputation speed record.” And the show boasts an impressive cast as well including Rory Kinnear who plays ambitious surgeon Robert, Mathew Bayton plays psychiatrist William, and Rupert Everett plays Hospital president Dr. Hendrick. The show has a very Blackadder feel to it, but stands on it’s own feet, and if the rest of series 1 is as funny as it’s debut episode, then we could have a long overdue comedy hit on our hands for the BBC.
Holliday Grainger, Tom Burke ‘Strike’ BBC
Debuting later in the year on BBC One is the long awaited adaptation of the J.K. Rowling Cormoran Strike Detective novels; Strike. Starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger as Comoran Strike and Robin Ellacott respectively, the show revolves around war veteran, Cormoran, who’s turned private detective, operating from a small London Denmark Street office. As someone who was wounded physically and emotionally, Strike helps solve cases which have eluded the police using his special insight and background working as a Special Investigation Branch investigator. The show has a premiere at the British Film Institute on 10th August, so we’ll know then what early previews are like.
‘The State’ Channel 4
Coming to Channel 4 on August 20th at 9pm is the dark and controversial four part drama ‘The State‘. “A compelling, fictional story based on extensive research, The State follows the experiences of four young British men and women who have left their lives behind to join ISIS in Raqqah, Syria. Jalal (Sam Otto – Collateral) is following in his older brother’s footsteps in deciding to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS, and has persuaded his best friend Ziyaad (Ryan McKen – Bancroft, NW) to accompany him. Single mother Shakira (Ony Uhiara –Law and Order) arrives in Syria with her nine-year-old son Isaac, determined to bring her skills as a junior doctor to the aid of the Islamic State; and teenager Ushna (Shavani Cameron – Youngers, Homeland) has left her family behind to fulfil what she sees as her religious duty after being radicalised on the internet.
As they experience more of the realities of life in Raqqah, witnessing horrific atrocities carried out by the regime and the bloody aftermath of air strikes, their journeys diverge – into disillusionment and despair on the one hand and increasing commitment to the Caliphate on the other.” This show will cause a lot of discussion and couldn’t be a more topical area to explore. But Channel 4 have such amazing history with shows like this, and it’s one of the most anticipated shows coming this way over the Summer.
Dark comedy, The End of the F***king World comes to E4 this Autumn. Based on the award winning Charles Forsman comics, the show follows ‘the dark and confusing lives of teen outsiders James (Alex Lawther – Black Mirror, The Imitation Game) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden – The Lobster, Ellen, Penny Dreadful) as they embark on a road trip to find Alyssa’s father, who left home when she was a child. James, 17, is pretty sure he’s a psychopath – emotionally detached, cold and disdainful, he’s decided he’s ready to graduate from killing animals. He thinks it might be interesting to kill something bigger…a human. And he’s got the perfect person in mind…
Alyssa, also 17, is new in school – cool and moody, she’s existential angst made flesh. But despite being popular at school, she still feels like she doesn’t belong. Spotting James one day at school, however, she thinks she may have found a soulmate…
When things come to a head at home between Alyssa, her mother and stepdad, she leaves and persuades James to join her in search of her real father. And so begins a journey of discovery that becomes progressively ominous as James’s urge to act on his sociopathic and violent inclinations increase while Alyssa, blinded by young love, remains wilfully ignorant of the consequences that lie at the end of the road. One night, however, the pair find themselves caught up in events that lead them down an ever more menacing and surreal path.’ The series is 8 30 minute episodes and will have a worldwide debut on netflix following it’s E4 debut and looks set to be the next Misfits.
Another anticipated show debuting this autumn is Sick Note on Sky Atlantic. Starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, comedy star Nick Frost, US icon Don Johnson and ex wild child but fantastic actress Lindsay Lohan, Sick Note see’s Grint’s character, Daniel Glass misdiagnosed with a fatal disease, yet when he realises how differently people treat him when they think he’s dying, he decides to hide the truth from those around him and his lies suddenly begin to spiral out of control. The show was so popular with Sky Execs that they recommissioned the show for a second season before the first season has even debuted, so make you sure check out Sick Note this autumn on Sky Atlantic.
Late Autumn on BBC One will see ‘Gunpowder’ debut. The three part dramatisation of the infamous Gunpowder plot to blow up the houses of Parliament, led by guy Fawkes is the latest BBC historical drama. ‘Starring Kit Harington (Game of Thrones John Snow) as Robert Catesby (the 30 year-old Warwickshire gentleman who was the driving force behind the gunpowder plot), alongside Peter Mullan as Father Garnet, Mark Gatiss as the Spymaster Robert Cecil, and Liv Tyler as Ann Vaux.
They are joined by Edward Holcroft (Kingsman) as Thomas Wintour, Catesby’s friend and co-conspirator, with Shaun Dooley (Broadchurch) as Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of The Tower and Cecil’s right-hand man. Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) takes on the role of Guy Fawkes.
Robert Emms (Happy Valley) will play Father John Gerard, the firebrand young priest who joins with the plotters, whilst Derek Riddell (The Missing) is King James, the subject of the plot itself. Sian Webber (EastEnders) plays the devout and fearless Lady Dorothy Dibdale, with David Bamber (Tina And Bobby) appearing as Cecil’s great rival The Earl of Northumberland, and Kevin Eldon (The Halcyon) as Sir Joseph Hawksworth, Justice of the Peace. The acclaimed Spanish actor Pedro Casablanc will play the Constable of Castile.’ The show will be 3 x 60 minute episodes and will debut in November, a very apt month considering.
Late Autumn will see Collateral come to BBC Two. A four part high octane thriller, Collateral stars Carey Mulligan, John Simm, Billie Piper & Nicola Walker and revolves around the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man in modern day London. Following the format of many BBC shows from before, the show follows a “real time” format in the sense that the show is set over the course of four days, and the drama explores the spiraling repercussions surrounding the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. Refusing to accept this is a random act of senseless violence, tough and single-minded Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie (Mulligan) is determined to discover if there is a darker truth.
Another BBC thriller coming your way is Rellik. ‘Rellik (killer spelled backwards) is a structural conceit which turns the serial killer story on its head. The perpetrator is caught before the drama moves backwards in time to the very beginning – the crime itself and ultimately the killer. The search for the killer provides the backbone of the story but the damaged and disfigured Met detective, Gabriel Markham, played by Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones, Fortitude), is at its centre. Enigmatic, unrelenting and charismatic, Gabriel is propelled in an obsessive hunt for a serial killer who left a mark on him both physically and mentally. Gabriel’s partner is Elaine, played by Jodi Balfour (The Crown, Bomb Girls, Quarry). She is a bright and intense detective, eager to please.’ This show looks like it could be huge, it’s a crime thriller (always popular with viewers), it has a serial killer, another popular trope, and it involves a twist on the usual storytelling format which always intrigues viewers, so I anticipate this show could be huge.
Alison Steadman, John Cleese – Edith, BBC
Comedy legends John Cleese (Fawlty Towers, Will & Grace) and Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey, Orphan Black) return to the BBC in new sitcom, Edith which is coming to BBC One. ‘For Edith (Alison Steadman), life is pretty good. She’s been a widow for some years now, but her children live locally and drop by regularly, and she enjoys daily visits from Phil (John Cleese), an old boyfriend who now lives across the road. Phil dreams of marrying Edith, and the pair of them upping sticks and moving abroad to the sunshine. But after months of turning him down, on the happy day Edith finally says “yes”, there’s a knock on the door – and there on the step, with a large suitcase, is her 50 year old son Roger (Jason Watkins). He announces that he’s left his wife, his kids and his good job at the bank, and come home in an attempt to find his lost happiness again. And in a blink, to Edith’s dismay and Phil’s fury, all dreams are on hold.’ This show could be great if it utilities it’s stars best qualities, and comedy timing and physical comedy comes easy to Cleese and Steadman so I’ll be watching when Edith debuts and cross my fingers this isn’t another BBC comedy flop.
Returning favourites this autumn will see Jenna Coleman reprise her role of Queen Victoria in ITVs second series of ‘Victoria‘, Channel 4 brings us the third series of it’s hit reality thriller, ‘Hunted‘, ‘Black Mirror‘ sees it’s fourth series and second series on Netflix following it’s critically acclaimed debut on Netflix last year. We’ll also get series 4 of the Greg Davies comedy Man Down coming this autumn on Channel 4, and following it’s triumphant return to ITV last year, we’ll get series 7 of Cold Feet. Not forgetting the fifth and final series of ‘Episodes‘ coming to BBC Two before the end of the year, the very much anticipated fourth series of Peaky Blinders coming to BBC Two, the third and final series of Mackenzie Crook comedy Detectorists will come to BBC Four. ITV will bring us the third series of Nicola Walker cold-case thriller Forgotten, as well as Anna Friel detective series Marcella returning for a second series.
We’ve only touched on a fraction of the great new shows coming to UK TV this Autumn, as well as a number of returning shows, so get your favourite shows marked now and prepare to not leave the house from now until 2018 😉