Autumn is often the most exciting season for new television, and it looks like 2020 won’t disappoint. (TV-wise, at least.) We’ve got period dramas (Bridgerton), fantasy (His Dark Materials), thrillers (The Sister), romantic comedies (Emily in Paris), the return of royalty (The Crown season 4), and so much more.
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the TV industry, with many productions forced to pause mid-shoot and other upcoming dramas facing serious delays. Still, despite it all, viewers still have plenty of great television to look forward to this year – projects which completed filming before the lockdown, and which are now getting ready to hit our screens.
We’ve already given you a heads up for the best TV shows of 2020 as a whole – but here are the shows which you can get ready to watch for the rest of the year, in autumn 2020 and beyond.
Roadkill (BBC One)
Air date: Sunday 18th October 2020
In this “major new political thriller”, Hugh Laurie stars as (fictional) Conservative politician Peter Laurence. The four-part drama, Roadkill, sees his public and private life falling apart; “As the personal revelations spiral, he is shamelessly untroubled by guilt or remorse, expertly walking a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda whilst others plot to bring him down. However events show just how hard it is, for both an individual and a country, to leave the past behind. With enemies so close to home, can Peter Laurence ever out-run his own secrets to win the ultimate prize?” Other cast includes Helen McCrory (of Peaky Blinders), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Westworld), and Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders, Normal People).
His Dark Materials (BBC One)
Air date: TBC, 2020
Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Amir Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda return for the second season of His Dark Materials, based on the series of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman. Now we’re moving on to the events of the second novel, The Subtle Knife, and the dual stories of Lyra Silvertongue and Will Parry are set to collide in a parallel universe as they pursue the truth about Dust.
The Crown (Netflix)
Air date: 15th November 2020
Filming for season four of The Crown just about scraped over the line before the lockdown began in March, with the second incarnation of the cast shooting their final scenes before handing on the baton to the new Queen (Imelda Staunton) and co. In season four, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Josh O’Connor will pick up the story in 1977 and take us through the ’80s, introducing us for the first time to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Air date: 23rd October 2020
Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, The Queen’s Gambit is billed as “a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius.” Anya Taylor-Joy stars as a young Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy who grew up in a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s. According to Netflix, Beth “discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquillisers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fuelled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.”
Call the Midwife (BBC One)
Air date: 25th December 2020
After a monumental effort to re-start filming, Call the Midwife will be back in 2020 with the Christmas special. It’s December 1965, and “nothing goes quite to plan” at Nonnatus House where our favourite characters are all hoping for a quiet and traditional Christmas. According to the BBC, “Sister Monica Joan is rushed to hospital, and Trixie is incensed to receive a subscription to a Marriage Bureau as a Christmas gift. Meanwhile, a surprise reunion for Shelagh involves her in a deeply moving birth, and the Circus arrives in Poplar, bringing new friendships, new experiences, and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane.” The only sadness is that the Christmas special will not include Jennifer Kirby (Nurse Val Dyer), who has left the show ahead of the new season.
Air date: Autumn 2020
Eight-part drama Industry follows a cohort of ambitious twenty-somethings as they join a top investment bank in London in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. These young graduates must chase after a limited number of permanent jobs in the cutthroat world of international finance.
Star Trek Discovery S3 (Netflix)
Air date: 15th October 2020 in the US, 16th October in the UK
Season three of Star Trek Discovery will pick up where the season two finale left off, as Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) entered a wormhole sending her 900 years into the future. How will she reunite with her crew? And how will the Discovery’s crew fare as they track down what’s left of The Federation – and come up against new threats?
The Mandalorian S2 (Disney Plus)
Air date: 30th October 2020
Pedro Pascal is back as The Mandalorian for a second season, alongside Baby Yoda (of course), Carl Weathers as bounty hunter boss Greef Karga, Gina Carano as ex-soldier Cara Dune and Giancarlo Esposito as the formidable Moff Gideon. The action revolves around a quest for the truth about The Child’s origins, and picks up (according to showrunner Jon Favreau) immediately after the events of season one.
Black Narcissus (BBC One)
Air date: December 2020
Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel about forbidden desire, religion and sexual repression has already been adapted once before, into the classic 1947 film Black Narcissus – and now the story is being told again in a new three-part BBC drama. Black Narcissus follows Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton), who leads the nuns of St Faiths to a remote spot high in the Himalayan mountains, where they set up a branch of their order in the palace of Mopu. There, Sister Clodagh is “increasingly attracted ” to the arrogant land agent, Mr Dean, as is the unstable Sister Ruth. The drama also stars the late Diana Rigg as Mother Dorothea, in one of her final screen appearances.
Air date: 25th December 2020
Netflix has commissioned a nice, proper period drama called Bridgerton, based on the romance novels of Julia Quinn. It’s the story of a well-to-do family in Regency-era high society London, and it has a star-studded ensemble cast including Nicola Coughlan (of Derry Girls fame), Regé-Jean Page, Phoebe Dynevor, Jonathan Bailey, Polly Walker – and Julie Andrews as the show’s narrator.
WandaVision (Disney Plus)
Air date: December 2020 (hopefully)
Elizabeth Olsen stars as Wanda Maximoff, the superhero known as Scarlet Witch because of her penchant for the colour red and her abilities to manipulate minds and matter. And Paul Bettany is expected to star as android hero The Vision (hence: “WandaVision“), although nobody is quite sure how it’ll work yet as he was killed in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel fans will be watching with interest.
Small Axe (BBC)
Air date: 15th November 2020
Small Axe is an anthology of TV movies from Oscar-winning writer and director Steve McQueen, with cast including Star Wars actor John Boyega and Line of Duty’s Rochenda Sandall. Set within the West Indian community, the five episodes will begin with Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech of 1968 and take us through to the mid-80s. The series title is drawn from a Jamaican proverb, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”, which means that relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful voices. The first two films in the series, “Mangrove” and “Lovers Rock”, have already been selected by Cannes Film Festival; and all of the five films will premiere on BBC One later this year.
Air date: 15th October 2020
In season three of Riviera, Julia Stiles’s Georgina is joined by cast newcomer Rupert Graves – who is set to play her “charismatic” new ally Gabriel. Georgina is in search of stolen artworks across the globe, and as Sky puts it, “Now a rising star in international art restitution, Georgina has reinvented herself as Georgina Ryland.”
The Undoing (Sky)
Air date: 26th October 2020
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant lead the cast of this tense drama about a woman called whose world starts to disintegrate when her husband goes missing – leaving behind a string of terrible revelations as questions are raised about his true identity. The Undoing is based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.
Tin Star (Sky)
Air date: November 2020
This will be the third and final season of Tin Star – and it’s also shifting location from the Canadian Rockies to the English city of Liverpool. Tim Roth, Genevieve O’Reilly and Abigail Lawrie return as the Worth family, who are back in the UK after two decades “to confront their menacing past”. But the secrets they hold are a threat to a group of dangerous criminals still operating in Liverpool, including crime boss Michael (Ian Hart).
The Sister (ITV)
Air date: TBC, 2020
Luther creator Neil Cross brings us a suspenseful new murder mystery titled The Sister, starring Russell Tovey as a man with a terrible secret who is trying to escape the (literal) ghosts of his past. As Cross himself put it, this is “a tale of psychological suspense, of guilt and ghosts and murder. Oh, and love. Always love. Our job is to make viewers want to sleep with the lights on.”
Check out what shows are on in the immediate future with our TV Guide.