Best TV shows of the year 2022, 10-1: Our no. 1 series revealed
Our countdown of the year's very best small-screen entertainment concludes – which series has won the top spot?
It's almost time to wave goodbye to 2022, but before we do, it's time for one last salute to the very best television of the year.
This was another extraordinarily strong year for small-screen entertainment, with more players than ever across streaming and linear broadcasting stepping up to offer us gripping thrillers, mind-blowing sci-fi and fantasy, laugh-a-minute comedies and, increasingly, shows that defy easy categorisation and live in the space between traditional genres.
There's an argument to be made for any of the series in this year's top 10 to have nabbed the top spot (and trust that RadioTimes.com's team of editorial experts had those debates!) but there can only be one winner... and it's a deserving one. Read on for the final part of our countdown.
(To read our full top 50, follow the links below.)
- Best TV shows of the year 2022, 20-11: The Rings of Power, Derry Girls and more
- Best TV shows of the year 2022, 30-21: Heartstopper, The Traitors and more
- Best TV shows of the year 2022, 40-31: Doctor Who, The Sandman and more
- Best TV shows of the year 2022, 50-41: The Crown, Wednesday and more
Available on Disney Plus
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In one of the most welcome surprises of 2022, Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy crafted a character-driven, politically-charged epic that showed the cost of rebellion in greater depth and nuance than we’ve ever seen in that galaxy far, far away. The series smartly dedicates just as much of its attention to the various branches of the Empire too, presenting the very human side of the authoritarian machine.
It's exactly the kind of patient and long-form storytelling that blockbuster franchises should be exploring with their TV spin-offs, fleshing out fan-favourite characters like Mon Mothma and Cassian Andor in a way that adds to their legacy and doesn’t just cash in on it. For Star Wars fans who have struggled with the varying quality of output since Disney’s Lucasfilm acquisition 10 years ago, Andor ultimately offers something they weren’t expecting – hope. – Christian Tobin, Production Editor
9. The Lazarus Project
On the surface, Joe Barton’s superior sci-fi is about a secret organisation that can turn back time to prevent global catastrophes. But it’s really not about that at all. It’s about memory, the importance of shared experience, the tiny moments that shape entire lives, and the lengths people would go to for those they care about. And it’s a high-adrenaline action thriller to boot.
Paapa Essiedu is, as ever, excellent as the new Lazarus recruit whose ultimate mission puts him in the firing line from all sides. There’s also sterling work from Anjli Mohindra, Rudi Dharmalingam and Tom Burke in a supporting cast of characters with shifting moralities that force the viewer to question their own allegiances. At eight episodes long, the series could have run for another eight and it still would have had plenty of story to tell. Bring on season 2! – Christian Tobin, Production Editor
Available on Netflix
One of Netflix’s crowning achievements, the operatic family crime drama Ozark came to a brutal and ruthless conclusion that was utterly in keeping with the show’s modus operandi. Laura Linney once again offered a chilling performance as the utterly ruthless Wendy Byrde, while Julia Garner further cemented her Ruth Langmore into the pantheon of iconic television characters.
The final stretch centred primarily on the existing core characters and offered them the chance to potentially change and move away from darkness, but often shows that we are doomed to repeat our own vicious cycles. Once again, Ozark hit home the enticing pull of wealth and influence, with a darkly memorable conclusion which may upset some but feels perfectly fitting for its pitch black world. – Lewis Knight, Trends Editor (SEO)
7. The Tourist
Available on Sky and BBC iPlayer
From that gripping yet quirkily comical opening scene, The Tourist – and its leading man Jamie Dornan – was onto a winner. Intrigue in abundance, superb pacing and actual jokes(!) set Harry and Jack Williams's thriller apart from the pack when it came to the year in drama. While Dornan carried the title role with dexterity and Shalom Brune-Franklin cemented herself as a star, it was the spectacular Danielle Macdonald's turn as Constable Helen Chambers which was the heart of the series. Watch it (or watch it again) before season 2 arrives – who knows what it might bring. – Minnie Wright, News Editor
6. Bad Sisters
Available on Apple TV+
A show about a group of sisters plotting to kill their brother-in-law sounds like a grim old watch, but Sharon Horgan’s adaptation of Flemish series Clan was the most fun I’ve had with any show in a long time.
There are three strands to its brilliance: Horgan’s acerbic wit, a string of top-tier performances and a TV villain from Claes Bang that every audience member instantly despises with every fibre of their being. On paper, the premise is deranged but a millisecond spent in John Paul’s company and I was willing them to do their worst, the absurd rendered plausible.
5. This is Going to Hurt
BBC One kicked off the year with a comedy-drama that appeared to epitomise the life of a junior doctor fairly well: stressful from the get-go with both elements of comic relief and utter, heart-wrenching devastation. I’m, of course, talking about This is Going to Hurt – the seven-part series based on Adam Kay’s memoir of the same name.
While being transported to the obstetrics and gynaecology ward of an NHS hospital in the mid-2000s made for anxious viewing most of the time, Ben Whishaw’s electric performance as the dry-witted, obnoxious but damaged Adam was simply mesmerising. Throw in Ambika Mod, who proved herself to be 2022’s breakout star, and a series of frank and sometimes upsetting scenarios, and you have a daring drama that hits home just how tough it can be in the medical profession. Although considering the number of skin-tearing C-sections that feature, pregnant women may want to give this one a miss – doctor’s orders. – Lauren Morris, Entertainment and Factual Writer
4. The Responder
Martin Freeman overcame his considerable fame and decidedly un-Scouse background to effectively disappear into perhaps his most challenging role to date. Facing intense pressure with every night on the beat and a home life in tatters, Liverpudlian policeman Chris Carson is already on the brink when drawn into a cocaine theft that threatens what little he has left.
You might think you’ve had enough of police dramas – I certainly did – but The Responder proves there’s life in the genre when done right. Creator Tony Schumacher makes excellent use of his personal experience in the force and in the region to inform this utterly compelling piece of work, which stunningly exposes scenarios in which the system fails its most vulnerable. – David Craig, Drama Writer
3. The White Lotus
After Mike White’s picturesque whodunnit became an unexpected phenomenon last year, few dared hope that the follow-up would be able to top it – but arguably, it did just that. Taking the baton from a viral moment in season 1, this instalment in the anthology series honed in on sex and desire, examining the complex viewpoints of its core characters in fascinating detail.
The show might have got off to a slower start this time around, but it steadily gained momentum until the finale came hurtling towards us like a bullet train. All those weeks of simmering tension boiled over in a tense 75 minutes, permeated with an unbearable sense of dread as White gradually revealed which tourist had taken their final vacation.
Among a stellar ensemble cast, Aubrey Plaza, Tom Hollander, Meghann Fahy, Jennifer Coolidge and relative unknown Adam DiMarco proved standouts. – David Craig, Drama Writer
2. House of the Dragon
Well, didn’t this show prove us all wrong? So many went into House of the Dragon with very low expectations after the Game of Thrones finale landed like the dampest of squibs. Then this show came roaring out of the gate, with a hugely impressive premiere which immediately cleansed fans’ palates.
What followed were 10 expertly crafted episodes leaning into what Thrones always did best – the politicking, the backstabbing, hushed conversations in darkened rooms. The frequent time jumps may have been too much for some, but no one could accuse the show of having 'filler' – everything was crucial to the story and these characters. The show’s cast is an embarrassment of riches, with stars like Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke and especially Paddy Considine lighting up the screen. As this season’s closing moments set up a killer second act, it’s fair to say the fire is back in Westeros. – James Hibbs, Drama Writer
Available on Apple TV+
Severance puts a whole new spin on how to achieve the perfect work-life balance.
The Apple TV+ drama manages to be both escapist and a possible window into the future, courtesy of our tech overlords, which makes for a uniquely singular viewing experience.
More than any other title this year, Severance was master of the slow burn, teasing its audience with tantalising yet unsettling breadcrumbs, every episode better than the last as it crept towards one of the most compelling TV finales in recent memory.
Dan Erickson and his writers’ room also showcased an extraordinary flair for tonal acrobatics, delivering bone-chilling horror, intense intrigue, deadpan comedy and even goofball humour, with many moments playing on your mind long after.
While the first season of Severance arrived with little to no fanfare, the same cannot be said for the now hotly-anticipated season 2. – Abby Robinson, Drama Editor