23 TV shows written by women to look forward to

From Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack to Aisling Bea’s Happy AF – here are the best female-written dramas and comedies hitting our screens

Women's Words (BBC Pictures, Netflix)

Over the past week, RadioTimes.com has featured a portfolio of content to celebrate and elevate female screenwriters as part of our Women’s Words campaign – and here, to salute their talent, we have collated the best 23 dramas and comedies written by women to look out for on television in the next year.

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From returning big hitters like Fleabag and Victoria, to brand new stories Kaos and Adult Material – we’re in for a treat…

Gentleman Jack

Written by Sally Wainwright, BBC1, 2019

Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle in Gentleman Jack (BBC, EH)

The mastermind behind Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax returns with a new period drama starring Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, a 19th-century Yorkshire landowner often referred to as “the first modern lesbian” who wrote a four million-word diary and was subject to endless abuse for her sexuality.

Adult Material

Written by Lucy Kirkwood, Channel 4, 2019

Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith stars as a leading British porn star in this new drama examining the adult film industry and telling a story from the perspective of a woman who has been working in it for the past two decades. It promises to be a timely look at how porn’s influence on mainstream culture has affected our ideas of consent, and is penned by Lucy Kirkwood (The Smoke) who is also adapting her Olivier Award-winning stage play Chimerica for Channel 4.

Victoria

Written by Daisy Goodwin, ITV, early 2019

Jenna Coleman Victoria S2

This royal romp is back for a third series, with Jenna Coleman returning as the British monarch opposite Tom Hughes as Prince Albert. Goodwin bases the historical drama on the exceptionally detailed diary entries of the young queen, and the new episodes are set to kick off with events from 1848 – a time of great unrest in Britain.

RadioTimes.com has launched a new campaign – Women’s Words – celebrating female screenwriters and asking why there aren’t more women’s voices on British TV

Read more: www.radiotimes.com/womenswords

Women's Words, BBC Pictures

Kaos

Written by Charlie Covell, Netflix, 2019

Charlie Covell, Getty

The creator of The End of the F***ing World – returning to Channel 4 next autumn – has written a new, darkly comic Netflix series, Kaos, which is a modern reimagining of Greek mythology. The series promises to explore themes of gender politics and power… as well as life in the underworld.

Vera

Written by Ann Cleeves, ITV, 2019

Brenda Blethyn, ITV Pictures, SL

Ann Cleeves’s beloved detective Vera, played by Brenda Blethyn, is returning to ITV for a ninth series to solve a whole new set of cases. The writer’s own best-selling novels inspired not only this drama but also Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall, which also airs on ITV.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel 

Written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Amazon, later this year

Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino will deliver a second series of this fabulously funny show about a Jewish housewife in 1950s New York City who discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy. Emmy-winning Rachel Brosnahan is set to return in the titular role and, from the looks of the trailer, we’re in for a wild ride.

Doing Money

Written by Gwyneth Hughes, BBC2, later this year

Doing Money (BBC, EH)

Vanity Fair writer Gwyneth Hughes is back with Doing Money, a drama that tells a shocking true story of modern slavery in Britain. The one-off follows Ana, a young Romanian woman kidnapped in London, trafficked to Ireland and used as a sex slave in multiple brothels. The thriller promises to offer insight into the challenges of policing a vein of modern slavery that is hiding in plain sight.

Happy AF (W/T)

Written by Aisling Bea, Channel 4, 2019

Aisling Bea (Getty, EH)

Comedian Aisling Bea is the creator and star of this new off-beat comedy which follows Aine, a woman who is trying to piece her life back together after a “teeny little nervous breakdown”. Her sister Shona is played by Sharon Horgan, whose production company Merman is producing the series.

Mrs Wilson

Written by Anna Symon, BBC1, later this year

Mrs Wilson (BBC, EH)

This drama will delve into the story of Ruth Wilson’s real-life grandmother – played by the actress – who was unknowingly married to a spy with a secret second family. The Luther favourite is exec-producing the drama and will be joined by an all-star cast including Iain Glen, Keeley Hawes and Fiona Shaw.

Anna Symon has also written ITV’s Deep Water, adapted from the Windermere series of novels by Paula Daly and starring Anna Friel, Sinead Keenan and Rosalind Eleazar.

Pure

Written by Kirstie Swain, Channel 4, March 2019

Joe Cole (Getty Images)

Pure is an adaptation of Rose Cartwright’s acclaimed biography, and follows one young woman’s very real experience of an excruciating form of obsessive compulsive disorder, nicknamed ‘pure O’. It is a mental illness where obsessions take the form of intrusive, often sexual thoughts and “the compulsions are unseen mental rituals”. It stars newcomer Charly Clive in the lead role, alongside Black Mirror actor Joe Cole and is Swain’s first full series after writing episodes of Clique, Holby City and Doctors.

Orange is the New Black

Written by Jenji Kohan, Netflix, 2019

A seventh (and final!) series of Jenji Kohan’s hit female prison drama is on the way, meaning we’ll once again be peeking behind the bars of Litchfield Penitentiary. We can certainly expect to see more of lovers Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) in the award-winning show, as well as favourites Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Suzanne (Uzo Aduba), Red (Kate Mulgrew) and many more.

The Long Song

Written by Sarah Williams, BBC1, later this year 

The Long Song (BBC, EH)

This three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s best-selling novel is set in Jamaica in 1838, and told from the perspective of a young woman – played by Tamara Lawrance – who lived through the final years of slavery. The drama, which also stars Lenny Henry, looks at the injustices people inflict upon each other as well as the surprising ways their humanity can overrule their prejudices. Writer Sarah Williams previously adapted Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island for BBC1.

Sally4Ever

Written by Julia Davis, Sky Atlantic, 25th Oct 2018 

Sally4Ever (Sky, EH)

When it comes to daring and filthily funny comedy, Julia Davis – of Camping and Nighty Night fame – routinely delivers. This sitcom stars Peep Show’s Catherine Shepherd as Sally, an office worker who’s always played it safe in life – that is until she meets Davis’s Emma (a bohemian actress, singer, musician, poet, author and seductress) and ditches her banal boyfriend to embark on an intense lesbian affair.

Traitors

Written by Bash Doran, Channel 4, spring 2019

Keeley Hawes getty

A thriller set in the aftermath of the Second World War, Traitors (formerly entitled Jerusalem) stars Clique’s Emma Appleton as an ambitious 20-something woman who is tasked with spying on her own government. The starry ensemble cast also includes Keeley Hawes and Luke Treadaway. Writer Bash Doran is known for penning episodes of the period drama Boardwalk Empire and co-wrote Chris Pine’s new Netflix movie Outlaw King.

The ABC Murders

Written by Sarah Phelps, BBC1, Christmas 2018

ABC Murders (BBC, EH)

Nothing like a good old Agatha Christie adaptation to get you in a yuletide mood. Sarah Phelps – who brought us previous Christie dramas And Then There Were None, Ordeal by Innocence and The Witness for the Prosecution – is back with this 1930s-set classic which sees Poirot, played by John Malkovich, face a serial killer known only as A.B.C. Phelps has also written crime novel adaptation The Dublin Murders which will air on BBC1 next year.

Utopia

Written by Gillian Flynn, Amazon, 2019

Gillian Flynn (Getty, EH)

A remake of Dennis Kelly’s British drama Utopia is on the way from Gone Girl and Sharp Objects writer Gillian Flynn. It follows a group of young adults who meet on the internet and are hunted down by a dodgy deep state organisation after they stumble across the key to an international conspiracy.

Beecham House

Written by Gurinder Chadha, ITV, 2019

Tom Bateman (Getty, EH)

Set on the cusp of the 19th century in Delhi – just before the British ruled the region – Beecham House, a series penned by Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha, depicts the complicated lives of those living in the titular mansion. It stars Vanity Fair’s Tom Bateman as John Beecham, an enigmatic former soldier who buys the house to escape his old life and begin a new one with his family.

Fleabag

Written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, BBC3, 2019

Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s anti-heroine is back for a hotly anticipated second series. It’s been a long wait – thanks to its creator and star’s work on the most-hyped thriller of the year, Killing Eve – but Fleabag will return with Olivia Colman back as the evil godmother, and the addition of Sherlock actor Andrew Scott to the cast.

Derry Girls

Written by Lisa McGee, Channel 4, spring 2019 

Derry Girls Cast

Lisa McGee’s coming-of-age comedy set during the Irish troubles will be back for a second series. The show’s creator (who nominated up-and-comer Stacey Gregg as part of our Women’s Words campaign) writer told RadioTimes.com that she’s “toying” with covering the ceasefire and how it “actually unsettled people” in series two, as well as Bill Clinton’s 1995 visit to Derry.

The End

Written by Samantha Strauss, Sky Atlantic, 2019

The End, publicity still from Sky Atlantic Press team, BD

Australian writer Samantha Strauss’s new series stars Harry Potter favourite Harriet Walter and Mr Selfridge actress Frances O’Connor. The End follows one family’s struggle with euthanasia and tackles a key question of the modern age: how to die with dignity. Strauss is best known for creating the hit ABC teen drama series Dance Academy.

GLOW 

Written by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, Netflix, 2019

GLOW

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling will be back in the ring for a third series of Emmy-winning Glow on Netflix. Its lead stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Britney Young and Marc Maron are all expected to return for the new episodes, which look likely to be set in Las Vegas.

Gold Digger

Written by Marnie Dickens, BBC1, next year

Julia Ormond (Getty, EH)

Thirteen writer Marnie Dickens has penned a new noir drama that tells the story of a woman who falls in love with a much younger man, and the impact of their relationship on her already-fractured family. It stars Julia Ormond as the wealthy 60-year-old and Ben Barnes as her young lover, who is 26 years her junior.

The Expatriates

Written by Alice Bell, Amazon, 2019

Nicole Kidman (Getty, EH)
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Alice Bell is adapting Janice Y K Lee’s book into an Amazon series and Nicole Kidman is on board to executive produce. The story follows a close-knit group of women expats in Hong Kong. The series sees the friends “persevere through struggles with marriage, career, parenting and unimaginable loss” and is already being compared to Big Little Lies.

RadioTimes.com has launched a new campaign – Women’s Words – celebrating female screenwriters and asking why there aren’t more women’s voices on British TV

Read more: www.radiotimes.com/womenswords

Women's Words, BBC Pictures