Feel as though you've missed out on some small-screen gems this year, and hunting for some recommendations? Or just want to see if your favourite show made it onto our list? Then join us now as the countdown of RadioTimes.com's top 50 TV shows of the year continues.


Over five days, we're revealing our top picks as selected by our team of editorial experts. Today (29th December), we continue with 20-11 – featuring some of the year's most inventive and impactful small-screen entertainment.

Be sure to join us again tomorrow as we reveal which shows have made the top 10, including the show that's landed this year's much-coveted no. 1 spot.

20. Industry

Yasmin Kara-Hanani and Harper Stern in Industry season 2
BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO

Available on Sky and BBC iPlayer

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you what most of the characters in Industry are talking about 90 per cent of the time. The financial jargon peppered throughout might as well be ancient Greek or Shakespeare at its most convoluted, and yet, it remains one of the most addictive shows on the box.

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Regardless of whether it accurately depicts the world of high finance or not, what we’re presented with feels entirely lived in courtesy of a dynamic cast and the skyscraper high stakes that come with managing vast sums of money. It’s compelling, unexpected, sexy and dangerous. It’s Drama (with a capital D). There is never a dull moment in Industry. Abby Robinson, Drama Editor

19. Taskmaster

Channel 4

Available on All4

Is there a duck on my face? Did I meet these potatoes before? Which aircraft crashes more into mountains? All questions that make absolutely zero sense, except in the glorious world of Taskmaster. Alex Horne’s comedy game show cemented its reputation as the most reliably funny unscripted series on TV this year, with two seasons and two one-off specials that saw studio audiences return for the first time since the high-profile move to Channel 4.

Highlights included John Kearns throwing sand out of a trolley, Sophie Duker building an impenetrable tower of toilet roll, and a trouser-less Adrian Chiles crawling across concrete with an egg in his mouth (yes, really). We’re now well over halfway to Champion of Champion of Champions. Will the show run out of steam before it gets there? In the words of Chris Ramsey – no way!Christian Tobin, Production Editor

18. Sherwood


Available on Sky and BBC iPlayer

Exploring two murders that have taken place in a small former mining community in Nottinghamshire, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian St Clair (David Morrissey) is tasked with investigating what happened in this six-part BBC drama. Given the local collective distrust of the police – which dates back to the 1984 miner’s strike – it’s a hard task, and one that soon becomes tied up with "spy cops" and their lasting legacy in this part of the UK.

While Sherwood is a great example of deliberate steady pacing, the threat of a bow-and-arrow wielding murderer makes this an unmissably tense watch - which is also inspired by true events. Lesley Manville is undoubtedly one of the stars in this genre-defying series, and the exploration of how the historical strikes impacted her own relationship with her sister will linger with you long after watching. – Morgan Cormack, Drama Writer

17. Derry Girls

Derry Girls
Channel 4

Available on Sky and All4

After two seasons, two BAFTA nominations and three years of yearning from fans, Derry Girls returned with its third and final season earlier this year - and to quote our favourite ‘90s Northern Irish students, it was cracker.

Creator and writer Lisa McGee brought the comedy to a close with six episodes and a Good Friday Agreement special, which saw Erin and Orla fret about their joint 18th birthday party, set against the backdrop of the 1998 peace referendum. Packed with frenetic farce, musical moments (the Spice Girls episode was particularly inspired) and celebrity cameos from Liam Neeson to Chelsea Clinton, Derry Girls delivered a fitting farewell for its hectic teenage heroines and the wee English fella. (I’m still holding out for a Sister Michael spin-off, though.) – Lauren Morris, Entertainment and Factual Writer

16. Big Boys

Danny and Jack laugh on a bench
Channel 4

Available on All4

It’s rare that a writer delivers a critically acclaimed sitcom with depth, drama and delicious wit on their very first go, but Jack Rooke did exactly that with Channel 4’s Big Boys this year.

The comedy stars Derry Girls’ Dylan Llewellyn as a semi-fictionalised Rooke – a closeted teenager struggling to process his dad’s recent death whilst being thrown into fresher life at Brent University. If that’s not heavy enough, due to an administration error, Jack is moved into a disused shed on campus alongside mature 25-year-old student Danny (Jon Pointing).

While Big Boys tackles important themes, from mental health to grief, it does so with heartfelt humour and ultimately becomes a touching ode to an odd-couple dynamic rarely seen on screen – the friendship between an outrageously straight, party-mad lad with a secret struggle, and a shy, sensitive gay teen still figuring himself out. – Lauren Morris, Entertainment and Factual Writer

15. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Rings of Power
Matt Grace/Prime Video

Available on Prime Video

The Lord of the Rings fans had been hyping up/worrying about The Rings of Power ever since it was first announced that Amazon was picking up the rights to (some parts of) J R R Tolkien's Middle-earth. The resultant show was stunning on a visual level, with its much-reported massive budget being well spent on fantastical locations, luscious landscapes, gorgeous costumes and... well... Lenny Henry.

While the prototype-hobbit storyline may have overstayed its lukewarm welcome, there was lots to love elsewhere, including winning performances from Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, Robert Aramayo as Elrond, and Owain Arthur as Durin. Although the show waited a long time to reveal all its cards, the final few episodes were thrilling enough to leave us wanting more. – Rob Leane, Gaming Editor

14. The Bear

Carmen and Richie in a standoff
Disney Plus

Available on Disney Plus

The Bear arrived on our screens after Boiling Point, which could have dulled its shine - but Christopher Storer’s comedy-drama burned brighter than anything I’ve watched in a long time.

At the forefront of its brilliance is Jeremy Allen White who gives one hell of a lead performance as Carmy, a talented young chef who is haunted by his brother’s suicide. It’s not a role for the faint of heart – White (and the audience) are barely given a moment’s respite – but he doesn’t put a foot wrong and will surely sweep the board during awards season.

The Bear’s attention to detail is also staggering. The food would look at home in an episode of Rick Stein's Long Weekends and there isn’t anything about the kitchen at the heart of it that doesn’t feel authentic. It’s a simple concept beautifully executed, with Storer’s passion for this project present at every turn. The Bear is an instant classic. – Abby Robinson, Drama Editor

13. Only Murders in the Building

Available on Disney Plus

Everyone’s favourite podcasting trio returned this year for a second season of the acclaimed Disney Plus series – and it didn’t disappoint.

As well as finding themselves at the centre of a murder plot, Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) also had to figure out the real identity of Bunny Folger’s killer, while battling various issues in their own lives. The refreshing thing about this series is the fact that it seamlessly blends in elements of reality – sexuality, family and workplace harassment – all while never failing to make you laugh

Throughout its 10 joyous episodes in season 2, you’ll be reeling with suspicion, theories, and shock when, like any good murder mystery, the culprit is finally revealed. Most interestingly, though, you may or may not be left rethinking your own relationship with true crime content after watching. – Morgan Cormack, Drama Writer

12. The Capture

DCI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) in The Capture
BBC/Heyday/NBC Universal

Available on BBC iPlayer

Few shows in recent years have done a better job of tapping into modern day paranoia than Ben Chanan’s The Capture – and the second season ramped up the tension even further.

Bigger, better and packed with more twists and turns than the first run, the new season followed Security Minister Isaac Turner (Paapa Essiedu) as he found himself the victim of a complex conspiracy theory that brought him into contact with the shady intelligence practice known as 'correction'.

Although aspects of the plot might seem like science fiction at times, part of the show’s power comes from just how relevant its exploration of deep-fake technology and video tampering is, making it very much a show that speaks to current fears and anxieties. Together with the consistently engaging performances and the gripping way in which the story unfolds, it ensured this was another must-watch season of TV. – Patrick Cremona, Writer

11. Better Call Saul

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman
Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Available on Netflix

Vince Gilligan had a tough job on his hands when it came to crafting the final run of Better Caul Saul – just how was it possible to cap off an outstanding prequel to a show that was already considered one of the best of all time? That the closing stretch not only lived up to those lofty expectations but perhaps even surpassed them is a testament to just how brilliant a TV writer he is.

The show arguably peaked in the early episodes of the season’s second half, but the remaining outings made for a superb coda – and the finale itself was as close to pitch perfect as you could reasonably ask for. Across the whole series, Bob Odenkirk and especially Rhea Seehorn gave consistently memorable performances, and in Tony Dalton’s Lalo Salamanca there was a villain for the ages, too. – Patrick Cremona, Writer

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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