Here’s all the great TV you can look forward to this autumn…

From Downton to Doctor Who, Fresh Meat to Fargo, there's plenty of television to get excited about come September

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The sun may be shining (well, some of the time), but summer is a dreary time for television. Spend an evening in front of the box during July and August and you’ll find yourself confronted with a choice between Love Your Garden and How to Get a Council House. Thank goodness for Wednesdays and our Great British dose of baking.

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But there’s an end in sight. As summer draws to a close, you can console yourself with this delectable smorgasbord of the TV greats we know and love – plus some exciting new entries to fill our autumn evenings.

[NB. While we’re currently expecting these programmes to hit screens this autumn, as always, the schedules are subject to change.]

DRAMA

Downton Abbey

Returning The Crawley household is about to dust off the furniture and fling open the doors one last time as Downton Abbey’s final series kicks off this autumn. But before Lord Grantham & co bid their final farewell (on our TV screens, at least. There’s already talk of a movie), there are plenty of questions to be answered. Will Lady Mary find love again? Will Lady Edith ever be happy? Will Branson be back to tend the pigs? And who will have the final, zinging one-liner – Violet or Isobel? Tune into ITV for all the answers (and all the tears) this autumn. 

Doctor Who

Returning Oooo-eee-oooo. Yes, it’s not long before those familiar Tardis tones are transmitted and we. can’t. wait. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return for more adventures in space and time and they’re joined by plenty of famous faces as Maisie Williams, Rufus Hound, Rebecca Front and Reece Shearsmith have all signed up to guest star in the upcoming ninth series. Oh, and keep an eye out for reappearances from Michelle Gomez as the Master and Ingrid Oliver as Osgood when the series returns on 19th September.

Doc Martin

Returning This autumn we’ll ease our post-summer blues with a visit to the Cornish coast as Martin Clunes’ curmudgeonly GP returns to screens for a seventh series. Although life is hardly rosy for our Doc, after wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) packed her bags for Spain, taking their toddler son with her. “The Doc has some serious work to do if he is going to persuade Louisa to come back,” warns Clunes.

River

New A new six-part series from Abi Morgan, creator of The Hour, tells the tale of brilliant police officer John River (Stellan Skarsgard) whose “genius and fault-line is the fragility of his mind”. He’s a tortured soul, going about his work haunted by murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest. A star-studded cast is in place to prop up this drama, including Last Tango’s Nicola Walker, Eddie Marsan (Strange and Norrell), Utopia’s Adeel Akhta and Lesley Manville (Another Year). With the makers of Broadchurch behind this drama, we’re expecting big things. 

Homeland

Returning The last time we saw Carrie, her career at the CIA was in tatters, she’d finally snogged Quinn (only for him to depart on what looked worryingly like a suicide mission) and she had a tiny baby to compete with her boundless ambition. But this fifth series introduces a two-year time jump and when we encounter Miss Mathison, she’s in Berlin working as head of security for a German philanthropist, and has a new boyfriend – Jonas – played by Alexander Feyling. (Poor Quinn). Although by the look of the first trailer, her mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is hellbent on luring her back to the CIA. 

The Returned

Returning It’s been so long since this chilling French zombie drama aired, you’d probably forgotten all about its second series. Well, it exists and is headed for our screens this autumn, hopefully providing some answers to that underwhelming finale back in summer 2013. Known in France as Les Revenants, the supernatural series picks up six months after the deceased gathered outside the Helping Hand shelter before escorting Simon, Julie, Victor, Camille or Claire back into the mountains. Not a peep’s been heard from them since, but the appearance of a mysterious man named Berg could provide some answers…

Capital 

New Pete Bowker reunites his award-winning Marvellous co-stars Toby Jones and Gemma Jones for this new series – an adaptation of John Lanchester’s bestselling novel of the same name. Set on a single street in south London, the drama follows its multi-millionaire residents who find themselves the subjects of an anonymous hate campaign. With Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey), Adeel Akhtar (Utopia), Rachael Stirling (Detectorists) and Robert Emms (Atlantis) also among the cast, this three-parter packs some serious star power – fingers crossed it’s as marvellous as Marvellous.

Cuffs

New Ashley Walters (Top Boy) and Sherlock’s Amanda Abbington lead the cast of this new cop drama, written by Prisoners’ Wives creator Julie Geary. Described as “fresh, authentic and visceral”, it promises to be as character-led as it is procedural, showcasing the boys in blue on the front line as they get their “cuffs” at the ready. Rounding out the team of coppers are Peter Sullivan (The Borgias), Eleanor Matsuura (Utopia), Paul Ready (Ripper Street), Alex Carter (Hollyoaks) and newcomer Jacob Ifan.

Fargo

Returning It’s Fargo, but not as you know it. Gone are Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, replaced by Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons and Nick Offerman. Last year’s first series acted as a sequel to the Coen brothers’ film, but this second offering serves as a prequel, set in 1979 and following the early days of policeman Lou Solverson (now played by Wilson instead of Keith Carradine). Throughout series one, Carradine’s elder Solverson kept referring to dangerous events that took place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota which is – handily – where we find ourselves this time around.

Unforgotten

New Another year, another cold case drama. This one stars Sanjeev Bhaskar (The Kumars) and Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) as a couple of cops digging up the details of a murder committed 39 years previously. With their secret in danger of emerging, the suspects – there are four of them, including Trevor Eve and Tom Courtenay – find their lives beginning to unravel as the past refuses to stay buried. Six episodes will take us to all corners of the UK as policemen Sunny and Cassie dig up the dirt.

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Don’t miss the biggest stars in TV appearing at the Radio Times festival from 24th-27th September. Buy your tickets here.