Most anticipated TV dramas coming in 2021

From Line of Duty to Gentleman Jack, from Unforgotten to It's A Sin – there's a lot already on the TV agenda.

Kelly McDonald in Line of Duty

Astonishingly, despite the pandemic and everything that 2020 has thrown at the television industry, there are already a huge number of dramas lined up for 2021 – and it’s looking set to be a good year for TV.

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In the New Year, we’ll see the return of shows including Death in Paradise, Silent Witness, Call the Midwife and Line of Duty. We’ll also be treated to a ton of brand-new dramas, from The Pursuit of Love to Finding Alice.

So what exactly can we look forward to seeing on the telly? Have a read of these.

Death in Paradise series 10

Ralf Little, Josephine Jobert in Death in Paradise
BBC / Red Planet

Thursday, 7th January at 9pm on BBC One

It’s the tenth anniversary of Death in Paradise, and the show is pulling out all the stops. DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little), who took over as the show’s top detective last year, will be solving more murder mysteries – this time alongside DS Florence Cassell (Josephine Jobert), who is back on Saint Marie to pick up where she left off. She’s not the only familiar face to return: Sara Martins is back as DS Camille Bordey for a guest appearance, while Ben Miller will cameo (somehow or other) as the show’s original lead, DI Richard Poole. The cast also includes Tobi Bakare (as JP Hooper), Élizabeth Bourgine (Catherine), Tahj Miles (newcomer Marlon Pryce), and Don Warrington (the Commissioner) – as well as plenty of guest stars including Luke Pasqualino, Jason Manford, Kelvin Fletcher and Lia Williams.

All Creatures Great and Small series 2

All Creatures Great and Small cast
Channel 5

Autumn 2021 on Channel 5

Channel 5’s popular new version of All Creatures Great and Small will return for a second season – and after the 2020 Christmas special you’re going to want to find out what happens next. Nicholas Ralph stars as James Herriot, a newly-trained vet who has moved from Glasgow to the Yorkshire Dales to work for Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) in the village of Darrowby. The gentle drama also stars Rachel Shenton, Callum Woodhouse, Anna Madeley, and plenty of horses, cows and sheep.

Gentleman Jack series 2

Gentleman Jack filming begins
BBC

Later in 2021 on BBC One

The filming of Gentleman Jack season two was delayed by COVID, but the show is now set to hit our screens in 2021. Written by Sally Wainwright, the drama is based on the extraordinary life of  the “first modern lesbian” Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones. Sophie Rundle stars as Ann Walker, and after the romantic season one finale (in which they committed to each other with an unofficial marriage), fans are excited to see what happens next.

Your Honor

Your Honor
Showtime

Spring 2021 on Sky Atlantic

Your Honor is based on an Israeli series, Kvodo, and follows the story of Judge Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston) after his son kills another young man in a hit-and-run. The trouble is, the deceased man is the son of New Orleans crime boss Jimmy Baxter. This incident “leads to a high-stakes game of lies, deceit and impossible choices” as Desiato tries to protect his own son.

Unforgotten series 4

Unforgotten interrogation room

Early 2021 on ITV

Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar will reprise their respective roles as DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan in Unforgotten season four, after filming resumed in September 2020 following delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown. As with previous seasons, the series will focus on an historic and as-yet unsolved murder case: in this instance, the discovery of a football supporter’s dismembered body, 30 years after he went missing.

Too Close

Early 2021 on ITV

ITV’s Too Close starring Chernobyl star Emily Watson is a three-parter based on the novel by Clara Salaman (written under under the pseudonym Natalie Daniels). Watson plays a forensic psychiatrist, Emma Robinson, who is tasked with assessing a criminal suspect, Connie – but she soon falls prey to Connie’s manipulative nature. Olivier Award winner Denise Gough co-stars as Connie.

McDonald & Dodds series 2

McDonald & Dodds
ITV

Later in 2021 on ITV

McDonald & Dodds is returning for a second and potentially final season, which began production in the West Country in October 2020. Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins reprise their respective roles as ‘odd couple’ detective duo DCI McDonald, a former Met officer with lofty plans to scale the career ladder, and her new partner DS Dodds, whose quiet, Marple-esque brilliance surprises the ambitious McDonald.

Line of Duty series 6

Line of Duty
BBC

Later in 2021 on BBC One

Filming for Line of Duty season six finally wrapped in November 2020, after production (which initially kicked off at the start of the year) was delayed due to the pandemic and lockdown. However, it seems we’re now ‘sucking diesel,’ with AC-12 trio Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) all expected to return to our screens in early 2021.

It’s A Sin

It's a Sin
Channel 4

Friday, 22nd January at 9pm on Channel 4

Russell T Davies’ latest creation It’s A Sin takes place in 1980s London, following a group of young gay men who arrive in the capital just as the AIDS crisis strikes. Pop singer Olly Alexander from the band Years & Years plays Ritchie, an 18-year-old who harbours hopes of becoming an actor. The cast also includes the likes of Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris, and Keeley Hawes as Ritchie’s mother.

The Mallorca Files

The Mallorca Files

Early 2021 on BBC One

Set in the titular sunny Spanish island, season one of The Mallorca Files was an instant hit for BBC Daytime, as viewers watching in the middle of a bleak winter found themselves transported – and not to mention gripped by the predictable but still enjoyable will-they-won’t-they ‘odd couple’ at the heart of the show: uptight Brit, DC Miranda Blake (Elen Rhys), and her laid-back German counterpart Max Winter (Julian Looman).

Shetland series 6

Douglas Henshall in Shetland on BBC One

Later in 2021 on BBC One

Shetland season six will see Douglas Henshall reprise his lead role as DI Jimmy Perez in the dark detective drama set on the Scottish Islands. Inspired by the novels by Ann Cleeves and co-starring Alison O’Donnell as DS Alison ‘Tosh’ Macintosh, the new season will likely see Perez tackle another large-scale investigation. Last season was a deep-dive into a human trafficking case, which later saw Perez’s hopes for romance dashed.

Vera series 11

Brenda Blethyn in Vera on ITV

Later in 2021 on ITV

Brenda Blethyn is returning as DCI Vera Stanhope in the ITV detective drama Vera, set as ever against the wild backdrop of Northumberland. Filming for Vera’s 11th series was scheduled to take place in autumn 2020, meaning we can expect two episodes later in 2021. Adapted from crime author Ann Cleeves’ novels, the new season will see the titular detective tackle four more investigations.

Doc Martin series 10

Doc Martin

Later in 2021 on ITV

Martin Clunes will be hanging up his stethoscope in the tenth and final Doc Martin series, in which he will return one last time as the titular grumpy London GP. Back in season one, Martin was forced to up-sticks to the fictional seaside village of Portwenn, where his poor bedside manner and his insecurities over his secret fear of blood initially saw him branded an “arrogant t****r”. However, he’s since mellowed (just a little) and started a family.

The Pursuit of Love

Pursuit of Love

Later in 2021 on BBC One and Amazon

BBC One and Amazon’s glamorous adaptation The Pursuit of Love, based on the classic novel of the same name by Nancy Mitford, is destined to captivate the nation come the New Year. Cinderella star Lily James plays the central role, feminist Linda Radlett, who alongside her best friend Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham), sets out on a riotous trip around Europe in-between the two world wars. Also starring are Dominic West and Fleabag’s Andrew Scott.

The Syndicate series 4

Later in 2021 on BBC One

Strictly Come Dancing finalist Joe Sugg makes his acting debut in the fourth season of The Syndicate, which began filming – despite COVID – in August 2020 in Yorkshire and Monaco. The shoot wrapped in November and is set to arrive on our screen in spring 2021. As in past instalments, the fourth season will feature a new group of colleagues who make a collective gambling bet. Neil Morrissey, Grey’s Anatomy’s Liberty Hobbs, and Emily Head also star.

Call the Midwife series 10

Call the Midwife 2020 Christmas special

Later in 2021 on BBC One

Against all the odds, Call the Midwife is returning for a Christmas Day special, before a planned tenth season (with seven hour-long episodes instead of the usual eight) later in 2021. Following on from Christmas 1965, season ten will be set in 1966, and feature England’s World Cup win as a major storyline. The period drama will also once again include an ensemble cast, and return to Nonnatus House in Poplar.

Staged series 2

Staged series 2
BBC/GCB Films/Infinity Hill/Simon Ridgeway/Paul Stephenson

Airing Mondays and Tuesdays at 9:45pm on BBC One, full series available now on BBC iPlayer

Lockdown’s breakout television hit Staged returns for a second season. Good Omens co-stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen are back playing exaggerated and comic versions of themselves, and while season one focussed mainly on their attempts to rehearse for a play over Zoom, this time around they’re  grappling with the ‘new normal’ of virtual Hollywood. Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz joins the cast as agent Tom.

The Serpent

The Serpent
BBC

Airing Sundays at 9pm on BBC One, full series available on BBC iPlayer

BBC One’s latest true crime drama The Serpent stars Tahar Rahim as the real-life French serial killer Charles Sobhraj (nicknamed “The Serpent” and “The Bikini Killer”) and presents the incredible story of how, through a series of coincidences involving a junior Dutch diplomat, his spate of killings during the mid-1970s was brought to an end. Also starring Jenna Coleman, Ellie Bamber, and Billy Howle.

Marcella series 3

Marcella (ITV, EH)

Early 2021 on ITV

Following on from last season’s shock cliffhanger, Marcella season three will see Emmy-winner Anna Friel return as the titular police detective with dissociative identity disorder (meaning she suffers from violent black outs). The Belfast-set show last aired over two years ago, and will finally return for UK viewers in January 2021.

The Great

The Great
Channel 4

Airing Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4

Elle Fanning plays a teenage Catherine the Great in the anachronistic Hulu and Channel 4 series The Great, which plays fast and loose with historical details. Fanning leads The Great cast alongside Nicholas Hoult as her on-screen husband, Emperor Peter, played as an idiotic philanderer; in real life he was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by his wife, Catherine, who went on to become Russia’s longest-reigning female ruler.

Grace

Grace (John Simm) - ITV
ITV

Later in 2021 on ITV

Adapted from the bestselling Roy Grace novels by Peter James, ITV crime drama Grace stars Life on Mars actor John Simm as the titular Detective Superintendent. Troubled Roy is obsessed with the disappearance of his much-loved wife, and his difficulties at home begin to impact his already unorthodox approach to police work. Filming began in Brighton in September 2020, with a 2021 airdate expected.

The Bay series 2

The Bay

Wednesday 20th January at 9pm on ITV

The Bay season two sees Morven Christie return as police family liaison officer DS Lisa Armstrong, after the show was renewed back in May 2020. The new season will see Lisa initially reduced to doing menial admin tasks, after the series one finale saw her suspended from the force after revealing she’d slept with key suspect Sean (Jonas Armstrong) prior to the investigation. However, a new case involving a shock murder may bring her back onto the front line…

The Pembrokeshire Murders (ITV)

The Pembrokeshire Murders
ITV

Monday 11th January at 9pm on ITV

New true crime drama The Pembrokeshire Murders stars Hobbit actor Luke Evans as the real-life Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who decides to reopen two unsolved double murders from the 1980s and, in doing so, finds a link to a burglar about to be released from his prison sentence. The tense three-parter is based on the book Catching the Bullseye Killer, which DCS Wilkins wrote alongside journalist Jonathan Hill.

Back series 2

Back series 2
Channel 4

Thursday, 21st January at 10pm on Channel 4

Peep Show co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb reunite for a second season of Back, the darkly funny comedy series about a man whose manipulative, long-lost former foster brother returns and wreaks havoc on his life. In season one, Stephen (Mitchell), already insecure, becomes even more paranoid after he’s confronted by cuckoo-in-the-nest Andrew (Webb, who gives his character an Iago-esque spin).

Finding Alice

Finding Alice
ITV

Sunday, 17th January at 9pm on ITV

Filming for the upcoming Keeley Hawes drama Finding Alice started all the way back in January 2020, but had to be put on hold due to the national lockdown, before resuming in the autumn. In the series, Hawes plays Alice, a grieving widow stuck in the brand new house she and her late husband purchased, and who slowly discovers that he wasn’t at all who she thought he was. Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers also star.

Innocent series 2

ITV's Innocent stars Katherine Kelly
Getty

Early 2021 on ITV

Chris Lang’s Innocent is getting a second run; but with an entirely new cast and storyline, centred around the premise that our protagonist is either guilt or innocent of a crime they’ve been accused of. In season two, Katherine Kelly leads as Sally, a hard-working teacher accused of having an affair with her 16-year-old pupil, Matty Taylor. When he’s stabbed to death, suspicion initially falls on her, and her reputation is ruined.

Other shows set to air in 2021…

There are so many more shows to mention! Here’s a taste of some more dramas to expect in 2021:

  • Intruder (Channel 5)
  • Viewpoint (ITV)
  • A Teacher (BBC Two)
  • Vigil (BBC)
  • Bulletproof: South Africa (Sky)
  • ZeroZeroZero (Sky)
  • Silent Witness (BBC)
  • Breeders season 2 (Sky)
  • The North Water (BBC)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days (BBC)
  • Britannia season 3 (Sky)
  • Bloodlands (BBC)
  • The Drowning (Channel 5)
  • Inventing Anna (Netflix)
  • The Beast Must Die (BritBox)
  • Bloods (Sky)
  • Ridley Road (BBC)
  • Four Lives (BBC)
  • Cobra season 2 (Sky)
  • Grantchester season 6 (ITV)
  • Behind her Eyes (Netflix)
  • Temple season 2 (Sky)
  • Time (BBC)
  • Top Boy season 4 (Netflix)
  • Baptiste season 2 (BBC)
  • Domina (Sky)
  • Angela Black (ITV)
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Wondering what’s on TV this week? Check out what else is on with our TV guide.