HomeUKThe 30 shows to look forward to this autumn 2020

The 30 shows to look forward to this autumn 2020

Drama

This pitch-black superhero comedy wants to have its cape and eat it, as Karl Urban’s grizzled vigilante wages guerrilla war against craven corporate crusaders, notably the high-flying Homelander (Antony Starr). Season one was a bloodbath; season two promises even more gore.
Amazon Prime Video, 4 September

As his work on Pulling and Utopia proved, Dennis Kelly has never lacked ambition. But The Third Day – which features a live theatrical element from renowned company Punchdrunk as well as conventional TV chapters – seems strikingly bold. Starring Jude Law, Naomie Harris and Emily Watson, it’s the story of new arrivals on a remote island that’s full of mysteries.
Sky Atlantic, 15 September



Going cuckoo … Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched. Photograph: Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Nurse Ratched became a counter-cultural anti-hero as a result of the iffy mental healthcare strategies showcased in Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This drama, created by Ryan Murphy and starring Sarah Paulson, gives her an origin story at last: one full of moral ambiguity and dark experiments.
Netflix, 18 September

A scruffy cabal of comics fans unearth a talismanic graphic novel and get entangled in a conspiracy in this stylish-looking remake of the Channel 4 drama. US showrunner and Gone Girl novelist Gillian Flynn pitches it as “The Goonies meets Marathon Man”, which sounds pretty good.
Amazon Prime Video, 25 September

Brian Masters’s book Killing for Company recounted the story of real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who murdered at least 12 men between 1978 and 1983. This drama brings the book to life: starring David Tennant as Nilsen, Jason Watkins as Masters and Daniel Mays as arresting officer DCI Peter Jay, it evokes both the crimes and the era that spawned them.
ITV, September

Life

A return to the fraught, paranoid universe of Doctor Foster as Mike Bartlett’s drama homes in on Gemma Foster’s neighbour Anna Baker. As Doctor Foster concluded, Anna (Victoria Hamilton) split up with her husband and moved away. But where did she go? And did her old life follow her there? Adrian Lester also stars.
BBC One, early autumn

Us

David Nicholls’s novel tracking the disintegration and possible redemption of a family is adapted for television with Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves in the starring roles. The Peterson family go on holiday together despite Douglas and his wife Connie’s ailing relationship. But could their passion be rekindled under duress?
BBC, early autumn

This provocative four-part drama stars Hayley Squires as a porn star and mum-of-three who has risen to the top of the UK adult film industry. Written by Lucy Kirkwood – who adapted her globetrotting play Chimerica for C4 last year – it will examine how porn affects societal ideas about consent.
Channel 4, October

Brave New World.



Aldous time … Brave New World. Photograph: USA Network/Steve Schofield

Brave New World

Huxley’s prophetic (if rather stodgy) 1932 novel gets a screen revamp that presents London as a behaviourally conditioned paradise where everyone has nifty contact lenses, guzzles happy pills and takes part in mass orgies. As a wary US incomer, Alden Ehrenreich (star of the recent Han Solo prequel) has a bad feeling about this.
Sky One, October

For all its cutting-edge production processes, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series felt like a fun throwback, with Mando and Baby Yoda getting into various scrapes-of-the-week on backwater planets. Will season two – which adds Rosario Dawson to the mix – lean more into serialisation?
Disney+, October

The Sister

As the creator of Luther, Neil Cross knows how to ramp up the tension and slather on the melodrama. In his latest dark mystery, Russell Tovey stars as Nathan, a well-meaning, unassuming man with a big secret. Nathan has buried a difficult past, but a visit from an old associate threatens to unleash chaos.
ITV, October

Prepare for A-list chemistry as Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman star in this drama created by Big Little Lies showrunner David E Kelley. Kidman is high-flying New York therapist Grace Fraser, married to Grant’s oncologist Jonathan and seemingly the possessor of a perfect life. But is Jonathan all he seems?
Sky Atlantic, 26 October

Peter Morgan’s royal saga reaches the 80s. Which, of course, means the arrival of a pair of insurgent alpha-females in the shape of Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson). Will the Queen of Hearts and the Iron Lady win the favour of Olivia Colman’s increasingly starchy monarch?
Netflix, 15 November

Season two of the BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman’s formidable fantasy trilogy had a Covid setback: as lockdown loomed, producers took a not-so-subtle knife to a standalone episode spotlighting James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel. But young Lyra (Dafne Keen) is back and determined to keep fighting.
BBC One, late autumn

Industry

Lena Dunham relocated to the UK to direct this drama following the adventures of some of the smaller fish in the large, scary pond of international finance. As a group of graduates jostle for position at an investment bank, the hyper-competitive culture takes its toll. “Think The Wolf of Wall Street meets Melrose Place,” says Dunham.
BBC Two, late autumn

Hugh Laurie in Roadkill.



Grand Tory … Hugh Laurie in Roadkill. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/BBC/The Forge

Roadkill

In portraying a Conservative cabinet minister as narcissistic, self-interested and morally bankrupt, Hugh Laurie looks likely to stretch credulity to breaking point in this David Hare thriller. Laurie is Peter Laurence, a fearsome political operator whose ambition is matched only by the number of skeletons rattling around in his closet.
BBC One, TBC

Small Axe

This anthology series created by artist-director Steve McQueen has acquired extra resonance in the wake of this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Across five hour-long episodes spanning three decades, it explores aspects of the black British experience and boasts a stellar cast including John Boyega and Letitia Wright.
BBC One, TBC

Comedy

Comedy



Composite: The Guide

Maisie Williams gets in touch with her inner Hanna for this rambunctious new four-part comedy co-starring Mawaan Rizwan and Taheen Modal. She plays Kim, a teen raised in isolation by her prepper mum (Sian Clifford), who enters the real world and promptly gets embroiled in a gangster plot after meeting two hapless brothers in a pub.
Sky One, 2 September

When a Canadian single mother considers having another child, it throws her entire London life into chaos. Katherine Ryan wrote and stars in this six-part comedy that looks like it might have some of the chaotic culture-clash energy (and profanity) of reigning champ Catastrophe.
Netflix, 11 September

The cash-strapped couple at the heart of this cheerful comedy from the Horrible Histories crew still haven’t managed to sell their haunted pile. After the unfortunate discovery of a plague pit in the basement, Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) saw an offer from a hotel chain withdrawn. Will they now make peace with their ghostly guests?
BBC One, September

Taskmaster.



Games of thrones … Greg Davies and Alex Horne in Taskmaster. Photograph: UKTV/Avalon

Alex Horne’s absurd, much-loved challenge comedy finds a new home after nine gloriously daft seasons on Dave. But since it isn’t broke, Channel 4 would be well advised not to fix it. Happily, Horne and co-host Greg Davies have promised “the same amount of personal and professional humiliation” as before.
Channel 4, October

Better latex than never: BritBox’s first original commission revives ITV’s abrasive puppet revue after a 24-year furlough. There will be rubbery ringers for Johnson, Cummings, Trump et al, but, considering the shamelessness of our stunted political class, will any of the satirical jabs actually land?
Britbox, later in autumn

Spaced buds Nick Frost and Simon Pegg re-team for this spooky new eight-part sitcom (which they co-wrote and produced). It looks to be channelling some Most Haunted naffness, with Frost as a bumbling paranormal investigator whose team stumbles on a vast conspiracy.
Amazon Prime Video, later in autumn

This comedy from Succession writer Jon Brown centres around four shut-ins – notably Alexa Davies’s caustic Meg – who avoid real life by hacking their way through an online fantasy game where cows routinely get set alight. Season two will see more bickering and bonding, all via bluetooth headsets.
E4, TBC

Maxxx



Take it to the … Maxxx. Photograph: Robert Parfitt/Channel 4

You may already have glimpsed this celebrity-spoofing sitcom created by Handmaid’s Tale star O-T Fagbenle. He goes pleasingly OTT as a washed-up pop star desperate to reclaim his fame. (Episode one screened in April but the online box set was pulled to bolster E4’s autumn lineup.)
Channel 4, TBC

Entertainment and factual

Factual



Composite: The Guide

An extraordinary true-crime documentary examining the intertwined worlds of crime writer Michelle McNamara and Joseph James DeAngelo, AKA the Golden State Killer. Without McNamara’s tireless investigative work, it’s debatable whether DeAngelo would have been found. Tragically, however, she didn’t live to see her work come to fruition.
Sky Crime, 30 August

A chance to compare the ever-evolving haircuts of one of Britain’s leading documentary-makers and, also, a map of the last quarter century. During lockdown Theroux took the opportunity to look back on his career, and the result is this four-part reflection on the stories he’s told and what they mean.
BBC Two, 6 September

Mindful Escapes: Breathe, Release, Restore

And … relax. If you’ve tried any guided mindfulness apps recently you’ll have a head start on this co-production with meditation app Headspace, in which former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe calmly narrates over soothing footage of global ecosystems borrowed from the BBC’s peerless Natural History Unit.
BBC Four, 7 September

The Great British Bake Off



The winner bakes it all … The Great British Bake Off. Photograph: TorriPhoto/Getty/Stockphoto

There were already going to be big changes in the GBBO tent this year, with baked potato fan Matt Lucas taking over from Sandi Toksvig as host. But the usual May filming start date was also pushed back to July, so the 11th series will require a little more time in the oven.
Channel 4, September

As well as working on their fancy footwork the various celebrities taking part in this year’s edition of the sociable sequin-fest will also have to strictly observe hygiene protocols. The BBC have confirmed a “slightly shortened” run for 2020 but four new “best of …” specials will take up the slack.
BBC One, October

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