Christmas might be done and dusted but it's not time for the January blues just yet – throughout this week, join as we celebrate all that was great and good in television in 2022 with our annual countdown of the TV shows of the year.


Over the next five days, we'll be revealing our top 50 shows, as selected by our team of editorial experts. Today (27th December), we continue our countdown with 40-31 – expect superheroes, sci-fi and Sambas...

Be sure to join us again tomorrow and throughout the week as we disclose our full list, including the show that's landed this year's much-coveted no. 1 spot.

40. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Tatiana Maslany in Marvel's She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

Available on Disney Plus

Created by Jessica Gao and starring the inimitable Tatiana Maslany, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is exactly the breath of fresh air that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had been needing. Unafraid to poke fun at the MCU's many colourful characters as franchise formulas, Maslany's central lawyer character Jennifer Walters awkwardly breaks the fourth wall on a regular basis.

Once she's imbued with the powers of a Hulk, her life gets torn in two, and she ends up straddling between the legal profession and the spandex-laden superhero scene. Hilarity ensues and cameos abound, including a certain legal crossover that'll leave you laughing and longing for more. – Rob Leane, Gaming Editor

39. Doctor Who

The Doctor and Yaz looking to the sky.
James Pardon/BBC Studios

Available on BBC iPlayer

All eyes are now on Doctor Who's exciting future, with David Tennant returning for a 60th anniversary trilogy ahead of Ncuti Gatwa taking control of the TARDIS from Christmas 2023. Before this year dematerialises though, it's worth paying tribute to the era just gone – Jodie Whittaker's ebullient Thirteenth Doctor bowed out with three final specials. While Easter episode Legend of the Sea Devils was sadly underwhelming, 2022 also delivered two of the very best episodes to emerge from Chris Chibnall's time in charge of the legendary BBC sci-fi series.

Kicking off the year was Eve of the Daleks, a smart, sharp and funny time-loop thriller that solidified Thirteen, Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) as an iconic trio – one we would've happily spent more time with – while regeneration epic The Power of the Doctor was the ultimate fan-pleasing extravaganza, offering up classic Doctors, returning companions (even breaking a Guinness World Record in the process!), plenty of spectacle and a brilliant (final?) showcase for Sacha Dhawan's superb Master.

Tag, David and Ncuti, you're it – but Jodie absolutely went out in triumphant style. – Morgan Jeffery, Executive Editor

38. Strictly Come Dancing

Hamza winning Strictly

Available on BBC iPlayer
Another year gone, another sequin-heavy season of Strictly Come Dancing over. Strictly 2022 will forever go down in history and our hearts as the year which launched little-known wildlife presenter and cameraman Hamza Yassin to national treasure status, but it had so much more than that to give. Thrills and spills on the dance floor, friendly clashes from the judges and a string of flawless looks from Motsi Mabuse that simply never missed, not to mention Claudia Winkleman's continued reign as the undisputed queen of live TV – this year had it all. Helen Skelton's revenge dance to Mein Herr from Cabaret alone was worth the licence fee. – Minnie Wright, News Editor

37. Chloe

Erin Doherty as Becky in Chloe

Available on Sky and BBC iPlayer

Chloe kicked off 2022 with a tantalising dose of intrigue when it aired on the BBC early in the year. It followed Becky Green (Erin Doherty), a young woman consumed with comparing her life to the more glamorous ones of others portrayed on Instagram and obsessed with that of her estranged childhood best friend, Chloe (Poppy Gilbert) – and even more so once the title character mysteriously goes missing.

The thriller cemented Doherty – who got her first big acting break playing Princess Anne in Netflix's The Crown – as a star for her deft, multi-dimensional portrayal of a girl grappling with her sense of self against the backdrop of a social media-saturated society. Highly watchable and well cast, it delivered a worthy build-up to a satisfying end. – Minnie Wright, News Editor

36. The English

Emily Blunt as Cornelia Locke in The English.
Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios

Available on Sky and BBC iPlayer

One of the most visually striking westerns you're ever likely to see, The English is well worth watching if you haven't already had the pleasure. Pleasure might not be the best word for it, though, as the show does go to some surprisingly dark places at times (contrasting with the bright, beautiful landscapes of the frontier). Holding it all together are Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer, who play an unlikely duo that is forced to work together in America's old west. To say much about their backstories would spoil many of the show's surprises, but suffice it to say that there is deep character drama here, as well as some much-needed levity. A beautifully shot, underrated show that we'd really recommend. – Rob Leane, Gaming Editor

35. Abbott Elementary

Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph in Abbott Elementary.

Available on Disney Plus

Mockumentary sitcom Abbott Elementary launched on Disney Plus in the UK this year and received critical acclaim, becoming one of most decorated new comedies of 2022 at the Emmys. Creator and star Quinta Brunson plays Janine Teagues, a dedicated, upbeat teacher reminiscent of Parks and Rec’s Lesley Knope, determined to help her students at her predominantly Black Philadelphia state school.

This heart-warming crowd pleaser hits all the notes of a classic sitcom, showcasing its hilarious, outgoing characters whilst effectively critiquing the US school system. Bolstered by its charismatic cast (including the dynamic Sheryl Lee Ralph and Parent Trap legend Lisa Ann Walter), Abbot Elementary is a masterclass from breakout talent Brunson in making a sitcom with a message. – Lauren Morris, Entertainment and Factual Writer

34. Karen Pirie

Lauren Lyle as DS Karen Pirie.

Available on ITVX and BritBox

On paper, Karen Pirie might've read like a run-of-the-mill TV crime drama – a young woman murdered, a group of friends somehow linked to the crime, old secrets buried, and a dogged police officer looking to unearth the truth. In actuality, it was anything but. Fronting this superbly-executed thriller was Lauren Lyle, a revelation in the title role, who brought an irresistible spark and charm to Karen.

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Emer Kenny's scripts meanwhile were shot through with wit, energy and emotion. Refusing to play to genre tropes, this adaptation added to the source material (Val McDermid's 2003 novel The Distant Echo) the idea of a true crime podcast exploring the killing of Rosie Duff, which it used as a framing device to comment on the depiction and exploitation of violence against women.

There might be a great many crime shows and whodunnits populating the airwaves, but the scintillating Karen Pirie absolutely stood out from the crowd. – Morgan Jeffery, Executive Editor

33. The Sandman

Tom Sturridge and Vanesu Samunyai (aka Kyo Ra) in The Sandman

Available on Netflix

For decades, comic book fans have agreed that a faithful live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman would be impossible to pull off – and yet, here it is. The prolific fantasy author teamed with screenwriter Allan Heinberg to make full use of the streaming gold rush, taking 11 episodes to adapt the first three volumes of his seminal source material.

The end product is bursting with the same untempered creativity that made the comics so revolutionary, introducing earth-shattering concepts in every episode. Some out-of-the-box casting choices add to the fun, with breakout star Tom Sturridge doing admirable work in the demanding role of Lord Morpheus; a god-like figure, imprisoned for a century by occultists, who seeks to restore his power when finally freed. – David Craig, Drama Writer

32. Euphoria

Zendaya as a teary Rue Bennett in Euphoria
Eddy Chen/HBO

Available on Sky and NOW

Has any other show this year been this meme-able? After a long wait for its second season (thanks, COVID) the supremely stylish and no-holds-barred teen drama Euphoria returned with a killer soundtrack, stunning cinematography and whip-smart dialogue. That’s without mentioning the performances, with lead Zendaya offering career-best work as Rue’s addiction issues reach a terrifying new low.

Meanwhile, Sydney Sweeney’s Cassie unravels in hilarious and heartbreaking fashion, and the despicable Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane) is awarded his own unexpectedly heartbreaking origin story that had many reevaluating his character and where it leaves his relationship with the ever-nasty Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). Event television you can’t stop quoting. B***h, we’re definitely not joking. – Lewis Knight, Trends Editor (SEO)

31. Inside Man

David Tennant as Harry Watling in Inside Man.
BBC/Hartswood/Paul Stephenson

Available on BBC iPlayer

It was greeted with a mixed reception when it aired on BBC One in the autumn, but those who accused Inside Man of being far-fetched were rather missing the point – the series at its heart was about the extreme lengths that a man would go to to protect his son and the fun was in watching events grow increasingly hysterical as vicar Harry Watling (David Tennant) did all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

Was Steven Moffat's four-part thriller absurd? Absolutely, gloriously so. No mere humdrum crime drama, this was a blackly comic depiction of one man's life collapsing around his ears and Tennant – one of our most charismatic, likeable stars – was perfect casting as a man of virtue forced to consider compromising his morals to hold on to his life and family. Surrounding him too was an incomparable supporting cast, with Stanley Tucci particularly superb as the "death row detective" Jefferson Grieff and the series also delivering not one but two breakout stars with Atkins Estimond as the deranged Dillon Kempton and Louis Oliver as Harry's unfortunate son Ben. – Morgan Jeffery, Executive Editor

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


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