While 2020 has been a strange year – to say the least – owing to the global coronavirus pandemic, we can at least be grateful that it is jam-packed with great programmes on TV and on-demand services to keep us occupied while we’ve been finding ourselves spending more time at home in front of the box…
Kicking off the brand-new decade, there are plenty of shows to get excited about: from new offerings like Billie Piper’s I Hate Suzie and Keeley Hawes’s return to the force in ITV factual drama Honour, to some popular returning series, from The Crown to Marcella and Lucifer.
Read on for our list of all the best TV to savour in 2020. And check out our best TV dramas for 2021 if you’re looking forward to future hits.
The Mandalorian season 2 – Disney+
Streaming service Disney+ launched earlier in the year in the UK, and we’re already being treated to a second series of this samurai/Western inspired Star Wars spin-off from Jon Favreau.
Starring Game of Thrones’s Pedro Pascal as the titular Mandalorian, it’s set in the Star Wars universe between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This new trailer shows off all sorts of explosive new battles and exciting adventures, so it looks like we’re in for a lot of fun when the show returns.
Bridgerton – Netflix
The drama will portray the romance novels of Julia Quinn, which revolve around a well-to-do family in Regency-era London – with Julie Andrews narrating.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina seasons 3 and 4 – Netflix
The supernatural series starring Kiernan Shipka as a teenage witch is back for not one but two helpings this year.
Roadkill – BBC One
Hugh Laurie (The Night Manager) plays a self-interested Conservative minister whose life — both public and private — is falling apart, but whose eye remains on the ultimate political prize as he attempts to out-run his past.
Riviera series 3 – Sky Atlantic
Julia Stiles returns as Georgina for eight more episodes of the hit drama based around the lush paradise that is the French coast.
The Haunting of Bly Manor
The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan is back for another revisionist take on a classic ghost story for Netflix, and this time he’s tackling the work of Henry James, particularly his 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw.
Life – BBC One
Life is an “epic story about seemingly “ordinary” people who turn out to be anything but” from the writer of Doctor Foster, Mike Bartlett. Set in a divided house in Manchester, it brings together four stories from different flats to tell a bigger tale about what happens when people step out of their own personal space and take a closer look into the lives of others.
Us – BBC One
Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, Us follows Douglas Petersen (Tom Hollander), a seemingly happily married man who’s meticulously planned a grand tour of Europe. However, his family holiday schemes hit a slight road bump: his wife Connie (Luther’s Saskia Reeves) tells him she wants to separate.
Honour – ITV
Honour is a new two-part factual drama based on the true story of 20-year-old Londoner Banaz Mahmod, who was murdered by her family for falling in love with the wrong man. Keeley Hawes will star as the lead detective on the case.
Des – ITV
David Tennant portrays Dennis Nilsen, a killer of at least 12 men across London in the 1980s and one of the UK’s most notorious mass murderers, in a three-part series on ITV.
Star Trek: Discovery
Series three of the space spin-off arrives, with episodes dropping the day after the US airing. Michael Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery ended up nearly a thousand years in the future at the end of season two – but what will they find there?
The Crown series 4 – Netflix
Netflix’s ongoing royal biopic series is back for a fourth run, with the second and final instalment of Olivia Colman’s stint in the role of Queen Elizabeth II.
Small Axe – BBC One
Oscar-winning writer and director Steve McQueen is bringing an anthology of hour-long stories about London’s West Indian community to BBC One, with Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and Star Wars’s John Boyega joining the starry cast.
Tin Star: Liverpool – Sky Atlantic
Sky’s thriller Tin Star returns for a third and final season – this time set in the UK as the Worth family “confront their menacing past” in Liverpool.
Strike: Lethal White – BBC One
Sleuthing double act Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) will be back on our screens for a new four-part adaptation of JK Rowling’s latest crime novel, Lethal White. The story begins when Strike receives a visit from Billy, a troubled young man asking the detective to investigate a crime he believes he witnessed as a child.
I Hate Suzie – Sky Atlantic and NOW TV
Doctor Who favourite Billie Piper reunited with Secret Diary of a Call Girl writer Lucy Prebble to co-create an original Sky drama about a star on the wane, whose world is turned upside-down after her phone is hacked and an image of her in a “compromising position” is leaked.
Lucifer series 5 – Netflix
Tom Ellis will return this summer in the popular and devillishly good drama, which is set to include a musical episode and a guest appearance from Debbie Gibson.
The Singapore Grip – ITV
The Singapore Grip, starring David Morrissey and Luke Treadaway, is a new drama from the makers of Poldark adapted from JG Farrell’s 1978 novel of the same name. The programme will follow a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion during the Second World War.
Ghosts series 2 – BBC One
The BBC’s dead funny (sorry) sitcom has been recommissioned for another series following a group of squabbling spirits haunting crumbling country pile Button House. From the team behind Horrible Histories, it stars Mathew Baynton, Charlotte Ritchie, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and more.
A Suitable Boy – BBC One
Serial adapter Andrew Davies (known for War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Sanditon, among others) takes on Vikram Seth’s classic novel A Suitable Boy. The lavish period drama is an epic family saga set in the 1950s in post-Partition India.
Adult Material – Channel 4
Hayley Squires stars as a leading British porn star in a drama examining the adult film industry. It promises to be a timely look at how porn’s influence on mainstream culture has affected society’s ideas of consent. Sheridan Smith was originally attached to the project but dropped out due to a scheduling conflict.
All Creatures Great and Small – Channel 5
Channel 5 has teamed up with US broadcaster PBS for a six-part remake of the iconic comedy drama based on James Herriott’s memoirs, tying in with the 50th anniversary of the publication of his books.
The Umbrella Academy season two – Netflix
Season two of Netflix‘s dark comedy superhero series recently landed on the platform after the success of the first outing last year.
Based on the comic books by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The IU, looks at the eclectic Hargreeves siblings – all of whom exhibited supernatural powers at birth and were adopted by an eccentric billionaire to form a crime-fighting family.
WandaVision – Disney+
As well as The Mandalorian, Marvel series WandaVision is one of Disney+‘s most anticipated original shows, with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their MCU roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision respectively – with the latter seemingly brought back following his death in Avengers: Infinity War.
Mrs America – BBC Two
The letters ERA may not mean much to us, but in 1970s America the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment was a drama political crossroads. Cate Blanchett stars as the influential conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly who opposed it, with Rose Byrne and Tracey Ullman playing feminists Gloria Steneim and Betty Friedan.
I May Destroy You – BBC One
Created by and starring Michaela Coel of Chewing Gum fame, I May Destroy You explores the question of sexual consent in today’s world, where gratification is only a dating app away.
13 Reasons Why season 4 – Netflix
The fourth and final series of the teen drama, on which Selena Gomez serves as an executive producer, will show the Liberty High School students preparing to graduate, while attempting to keep a lid of the secrets each of them are keeping after Bryce Walker’s murder…
Normal People – BBC Three
Sally Rooney has adapted her critically acclaimed novel Normal People for BBC Three. The modern love story chronicles the romance between Marianne and Connell (Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal) – both from a small Irish town, but from very different backgrounds – whose relationship is tested at various junctures in their lives.
Little Birds – Sky Atlantic
Inspired by Anais Nin’s collection of erotic short stories, Juno Temple stars as an American debutante who travels to 1950s Tangier in the hopes of finding a more unconventional life.
The Salisbury Poisonings – BBC Two
The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil sent shockwaves around the world – but at the epicentre of the story was the city of Salisbury. This two-part drama starring Anne-Marie Duff will tell the story “of how ordinary people reacted to a crisis on their doorstep, displaying extraordinary heroism as their city became the focus of an unprecedented national emergency”.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Disney+
Avengers-adjacent superheroes Bucky Barnes (AKA The Winter Soldier) and Sam “Falcon” Wilson are to lead their own Disney+ TV show. The six-part series is being written by Malcolm Spellman (Empire), with Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) set to direct – and it’s expected to follow on from the events of Avengers: Endgame.
The Luminaries – BBC Two
Casino Royale’s Eva Green is starring in the TV adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries. The drama promises to be “an epic story of love, murder and revenge” and is set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island during the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.
Gangs of London – Sky Atlantic/NOW TV
Peaky Blinders’s Joe Cole heads up Sky’s violent new crime saga, in which the city of London is torn apart by the power struggles of international gangs attempting to take control on the capital.
The Politician season 2 – Netflix
The second run of Ryan Murphy’s hit drama follows Payton Hobar (Ben Platt) four years after the events of season one as he runs for Senate in New York against complacent Democratic candidate Senator Standish (Judith Light)…
After Life series 2 – Netflix
Ricky Gervais is back in this bittersweet comedy as a widower who, after contemplating suicide, decides instead to take his misery out on the rest of the world by saying and doing whatever he likes…
The second outing sees him still mourning his late wife, even as he works hard to be a better person – and Gervais has said that it “might resonate even more” in these challenging times.
Killing Eve series 3 – BBC
Cat-and-mouse drama Killing Eve is back with a new female showrunner at the helm: Suzanne Heathcote, who has previously written two episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, takes over from Call the Midwife actress Emerald Fennell, who penned series season two (with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge having written the first series and who continues to be an executive producer on the show).
If you’ve seen the series three trailer, you’ll know, of course, that despite having been left for dead by Villanelle (Jodie Comer), Eve (Sandra Oh) is very much still alive and hiding in plain sight…
Ozark series 3 – Netflix
Long-awaited third season of the hit drama about a financial planner (Jason Bateman) who finds himself at the whim of a Mexican drug cartel. Showrunner Chris Mundy has said that the new season will see Ruth Langmore (Julie Garner) trying her best to get closer to the Byrdes, and that it will see Marty further descend into darkness…