The best TV shows airing in 2020

From the return of Marcella and Lucifer to new series with David Tennant, Keeley Hawes and more, here's the best of 2020's TV...

A Suitable Boy, Maan

While 2020 has been a strange year across the globe owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can at least be grateful that it is jam-packed with great programmes on TV and on-demand services to keep us occupied while we’ve been finding ourselves spending more time at home…

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Kicking off the brand-new decade, there are plenty of shows to get excited about: from new offerings like Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You and Keeley Hawes’s return to the force in ITV factual drama Honour, to some popular returning series, from Lucifer to Marcella and The Umbrella Academy.

Read on for our list of all the best TV to savour in 2020 – and beyond:

A Suitable Boy – BBC One

Serial adapter Andrew Davies (known for War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Sanditon, among others) takes on Vikram Seth’s classic novel A Suitable Boy. The lavish period drama is an epic family saga set in the 1950s in post-Partition India.

A Suitable Boy airs at 9pm on Sundays on BBC Onewatch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about A Suitable Boy

Lucifer series 5 – Netflix

Lucifer Teaser, @Netflix Twitter
Tom Ellis in Lucifer (Netflix)

Tom Ellis will return this summer in the popular and devillishly good drama, which is set to include a musical episode and a guest appearance from Debbie Gibson.

Lucifer season 5 arrives on Netflix on Friday 21 August

Lucifer season 5 theory could spell a dark ending for Deckerstar
Lucifer officially renewed for “final, final” sixth season

The Umbrella Academy season two – Netflix

Season two of Netflix‘s dark comedy superhero series recently landed on the platform after the success of the first outing last year.

Based on the comic books by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The IU, looks at the eclectic Hargreeves siblings – all of whom exhibited supernatural powers at birth and were adopted by an eccentric billionaire to form a crime-fighting family.

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Umbrella Academy season 2

The Mandalorian – Disney+

The Mandalorian (Disney)
The Mandalorian (Disney)
Disney

New streaming service Disney+ launched earlier in the year in the UK, and this brand-new Star Wars spin-off series from Jon Favreau is one of the shows to look forward to. Starring Game of Thrones’s Pedro Pascal as the titular Mandalorian, it’s set in the Star Wars universe between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

There’s a free seven-day Disney+ trial; the service costs £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year.

Find out more about The Mandalorian

Marcella series 3 – ITV

Annoying news for UK fans – Anna Friel is due to reprise her role as the troubled detective Marcella for a third series on ITV, but they’ll have to wait until September, while the rest of the world can tune in to Netflix from 14 June…

The new eight-part season will “delve further into the psychology” of Marcella and follow her new line of work as an undercover cop.

Find out more about Marcella series 3

There She Goes series 2 – BBC Two

There She Goes (BBC)
David Tennant, Edan Hayhurst, Miley Locke and Jessica Hynes in There She Goes (BBC)

Returning to our screens is There She Goes, the funny but highly emotional comedy drama about a couple (played by David Tennant and Jessica Hynes) whose daughter has severe learning difficulties that present regular challenges in their day-to-day life.

Creator Shaun Pye wanted to provide an honest portrayal of raising a child with a disability as his daughter was born with a chromosomal disorder.

There She Goes series 2 airs on Thursdays at 9:30pm on BBC Two – watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about There She Goes series 2

Mrs America – BBC Two

The letters ERA may not mean much to us, but in 1970s America the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment was a drama political crossroads.  Cate Blanchett stars as the influential conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly who opposed it, with Rose Byrne and Tracey Ullman playing feminists Gloria Steneim and Betty Friedan.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Mrs America

I May Destroy You – BBC One

Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You (BBC)
Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You (BBC)

Created by and starring Michaela Coel of Chewing Gum fame, I May Destroy You explores the question of sexual consent in today’s world, where gratification is only a dating app away.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is a biting and brave look at consent

13 Reasons Why season 4 – Netflix

13 Reasons Why - season 4
Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Netflix

The fourth and final series of the teen drama, on which Selena Gomez serves as an executive producer, will show the Liberty High School students preparing to graduate, while attempting to keep a lid of the secrets each of them are keeping after Bryce Walker’s murder…

Watch 13 Reasons Why season 4 now on Netflix

Find out more about 13 Reasons Why season 4

Normal People – BBC Three

Normal People
Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People (BBC)
BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu

Sally Rooney has adapted her critically acclaimed novel Normal People for BBC Three. The modern love story chronicles the romance between Marianne and Connell (Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal) – both from a small Irish town, but from very different backgrounds – whose relationship is tested at various junctures in their lives.

Watch the whole series now on BBC Three

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Normal People ending explained: How BBC Three TV series’ finale differs from the book
More on Normal People

The Salisbury Poisonings – BBC Two

Anne-Marie Duff plays Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings
Anne-Marie Duff plays Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings

The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil sent shockwaves around the world – but at the epicentre of the story was the city of Salisbury. This two-part drama starring Anne-Marie Duff will tell the story “of how ordinary people reacted to a crisis on their doorstep, displaying extraordinary heroism as their city became the focus of an unprecedented national emergency”.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about The Salisbury Poisonings

The Luminaries – BBC Two

The Luminaries

Casino Royale’s Eva Green is starring in the TV adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries. The drama promises to be “an epic story of love, murder and revenge” and is set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island during the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about The Luminaries

Gangs of London – Sky Atlantic/NOW TV

Joe Cole in Gangs of London
Sope Dirisu and Joe Cole in Gangs of London
Sky

Peaky Blinders’s Joe Cole heads up Sky’s violent new crime saga, in which the city of London is torn apart by the power struggles of international gangs attempting to take control on the capital.

Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about Gangs of London

The Politician season 2 – Netflix

The second run of Ryan Murphy’s hit drama follows Payton Hobar (Ben Platt) four years after the events of season one as he runs for Senate in New York against complacent Democratic candidate Senator Standish (Judith Light)…

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Politician season 2

After Life series 2 – Netflix

Ricky Gervais – After Life
Ricky Gervais in After Life (Netflix)

Ricky Gervais is back in this bittersweet comedy as a widower who, after contemplating suicide, decides instead to take his misery out on the rest of the world by saying and doing whatever he likes…

The second outing sees him still mourning his late wife, even as he works hard to be a better person – and Gervais has said that it “might resonate even more” in these challenging times.

After Life series 2 is available to watch now on Netflix

Find out more about series 2 of After Life
More on After Life

The Singapore Grip – ITV

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The Singapore Grip, starring David Morrissey and Luke Treadaway, is a new drama from the makers of Poldark adapted from JG Farrell’s 1978 novel of the same name. The programme will follow a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion during the Second World War.

Find out more about The Singapore Grip

Killing Eve series 3 – BBC

Killing Eve
Kim Bodnia, Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw in Killing Eve (BBC)

Cat-and-mouse drama Killing Eve is back with a new female showrunner at the helm: Suzanne Heathcote, who has previously written two episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, takes over from Call the Midwife actress Emerald Fennell, who penned series season two (with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge having written the first series and who continues to be an executive producer on the show).

If you’ve seen the series three trailer, you’ll know, of course, that despite having been left for dead by Villanelle (Jodie Comer), Eve (Sandra Oh) is very much still alive and hiding in plain sight…

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Killing Eve series 3
Killing Eve recap – what happened at the end of season two?

Ozark series 3 – Netflix

Sofia Hublitz, Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Skylar Gaertner in Ozark (Netflix)
Sofia Hublitz, Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Skylar Gaertner in Ozark (Netflix)

Long-awaited third season of the hit drama about a financial planner (Jason Bateman) who finds himself at the whim of a Mexican drug cartel. Showrunner Chris Mundy has said that the new season will see Ruth Langmore (Julie Garner) trying her best to be get closer to the Byrdes, and that it will see Marty further descend into darkness…

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about Ozark series 3
Ozark to return for one final 14-episode season on Netflix

The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom
Alexander Dreymon in The Last Kingdom (Netflix)

The Last Kingdom, which has won a loyal army of fans, is based on the Saxon Stories novels by Sharpe creator Bernard Cornwell. Set in the 9th-century AD, the show tells the story of rugged hero Uhtred son of Uhtred, a Saxon boy who is brought up by Danes, after they capture him and decide to raise him as their own. Of course this leads to split loyalties and Uhtred is eventually accused of killing his adoptive father, forcing him to flee to another kingdom.

Watch The Last Kingdom season four on Netflix

The Last Kingdom season four: cast, trailer and plot
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Alex Rider – Amazon Prime Video

alex_rider_amazon_prime
Otto Farrant as Alex Rider

Amazon Prime Video is streaming a brand-new eight-episode thriller based on Point Blanc, the second book in the popular long-running series of spy novels by Anthony Horowitz, with Otto Farrant as the title character.

Watch Alex Rider now on Amazon Prime Video

Find out more about Alex Rider

Best Interests – BBC One

BAFTA-winning screenwriter Jack Thorne pens a brand-new four-part drama series, following a couple who must fight for their daughter’s survival — even if they don’t know whose best interests that might fulfil.

Find out more about Best Interests

Sitting in Limbo – BBC One

BRITAIN-JAMAICA-COMMONWEALTH-SUMMIT-IMMIGRATION-WINDRUSH

Novelist Stephen S Thompson has based this drama on the real-life story of his brother Anthony Bryan and the Windrush immigration scandal. Anthony had lived in the UK since he was eight years old – but when he decided to obtain a passport and visit his mother in Jamaica, he learnt that there was no record of him as a British citizen.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Sitting in Limbo

Brooklyn Nine-Nine series 7 – E4

NYPD’s 99th police department is back once again to solve crime, catch bad guys and get up to all sorts of antics in their free time.

Watch now on All 4

Find out more about Brooklyn Nine-Nine series 7

The North Water – BBC Two

Jack O'Connell in The North Water - now filming for BBC Two - TNW_NW_2709_EP1_5519_Edit

Set in the late 1850s and adapted from Ian McGuire’s novel, the four-part series will depict the harrowing exploits of a whaling vessel called Volunteer and its passengers, namely the ship’s doctor Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell) and the unhinged harpooner Henry Drax (Colin Farrell). Filmed on a ship, the series also stars Line of Duty and The Irishman star Stephen Graham, as the Volunteer’s captain.

Find out more about The North Water

Honour – ITV

(Getty)

Honour is a new two-part factual drama based on the true story of 20-year-old Londoner Banaz Mahmod, who was murdered by her family for falling in love with the wrong man. Keeley Hawes will star as the lead detective on the case.

Find out more about Honour

I Know This Much Is True – Sky Atlantic/NOW TV

In this harrowing serial drama based on the bestselling novel by Wally Lamb, Mark Ruffalo plays identical twin brothers in an epic story of betrayal and forgiveness, set against the backdrop of 20th century America.

 Watch now on NOW TV

Homeland series 8 – Channel 4

The eighth and final season of Homeland, starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, brings an end to the long-running, ever-twisting political thriller.

Watch now on All 4

Find out more about Homeland series 8

Belgravia – ITV

Tamsin Greig and Alice Eve in ITV's Belgravia
Tamsin Greig and Alice Eve in ITV’s Belgravia

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has adapted his novel Belgravia into a six-parter starring Tamsin Greig, Alice Eve and Harriet Walter. The 19th century-set drama revolves around the Trenchard family, who attend a ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, sparking a series of events that will have consequences for decades to come in London’s wealthiest neighbourhood.

Find out more about Belgravia

The Trip to Greece – Sky One and NOW TV

Programme Name: The Trip - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. Episode 4) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan - (C) Revolution Films - Photographer: Ciro Meggiolaro

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan pack their suitcases once again, this time for a tour around the Greek islands. Expect plenty of moussaka, tzatziki, feta and bickering… 

Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about The Trip to Greece

Succession series 3 – Sky Atlantic and NOW TV

Succession

The Roy family is returning for another series following the shock plot-twist at the end of season two. Expect more twists, back-stabbing, exotic locations, and sumptuous clothes.

Find out more about Succession series 3

Homecoming season 2 – Amazon Prime Video

The chilling and intriguing thriller based on a hit podcast of the same name, is coming back for a second series on Amazon – and while Julia Roberts starred in season one, season two has a new lead actor – in the form of Janelle Monáe.

Watch now Amazon Prime Video

Find out more about Homecoming season 2

Outlander series 5 – Amazon Prime Video

Outlander Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe were auditioned together in what is known as a 'chemistry read' (STARZ)

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe reprise their roles as the beloved Jamie and Claire in a fifth series of Outlander, which sees the pair facing new challenges, adversaries and adventures as the show delves into American history and continues the story of the Frasers settling in the New World.

Watch now on Amazon Prime Video

Find out more about Outlander series 5

The English Game – Netflix

The English Game, Netflix
The English Game (Netflix)

Former Line of Duty star Craig Parkinson, Edward Holcroft and Kevin Guthrie all star in Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’s latest series about the history of football, exploring “how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport”.

Watch on Netflix

Find out more about The English Game

The Nest – BBC One