Best TV shows airing in 2020

From the return of The Crown and Marcella to another helping of The Mandalorian, here's the best of 2020's TV...

The Mandalorian season 2

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…

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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.

Episodes of The Mandalorian season 2 are released weekly on Disney+

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.

Bridgerton Simon and Daphne
Bridgerton – Simon and Daphne (Netflix)

Bridgerton will land on Netflix on Friday 25 December

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina seasons 3 and 4 – Netflix

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Netflix

The supernatural series starring Kiernan Shipka as a teenage witch is back for not one but two helpings this year.

Season 4 arrives on Netflix on 31 December

Watch season 3 now on Netflix

Roadkill – BBC One

Hugh Laurie
Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Roadkill

Riviera series 3 – Sky Atlantic

Riviera

Julia Stiles returns as Georgina for eight more episodes of the hit drama based around the lush paradise that is the French coast.

 Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about Riviera series 3

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.

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Haunting of Bly Manor

Life – BBC One

Peter Davison plays Henry in Life
Alison Steadman and Peter Davison in Life (BBC)

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Life

Us – BBC One

Us
Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves in Us
BBC

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Us

Honour – ITV

Keeley Hawes stars in Honour on ITV
Keeley Hawes in Honour (ITV)
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.

Watch now on ITV Hub

Find out more about Honour

Des – ITV

David Tennant in Des (ITV) DES EPISODE 1 Pictured: DAVID TENNANT as Des. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 1573044
David Tennant in Des (ITV)
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.

Watch now on ITV Hub

Find out more about Des

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?

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about Star Trek: Discovery

The Crown series 4 – Netflix

Olivia Colman in The Crown
Olivia Colman in The Crown

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.

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Crown series 4

Small Axe – BBC One

18809675-high_res-small-axe
BBC

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Small Axe

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.

Tin Star: Liverpool airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic – catch up now on NOW TV

Find out more about Tin Star series 3

Strike: Lethal White – BBC One

Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike (BBC, EH)
BBC

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Strike: Lethal White

I Hate Suzie – Sky Atlantic and NOW TV

Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie
Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie

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.

Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about I Hate Suzie

Lucifer series 5 – Netflix

Lucifer Teaser, @Netflix Twitter
Tom Ellis in Lucifer (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.

Watch now on Netflix

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The Singapore Grip – ITV

GettyImages-1128316790

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.

Watch now on ITV Hub

Find out more about The Singapore Grip

Ghosts series 2 – BBC One

Programme Name: Ghosts - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Thomas Thorne (MAT BAYNTON) - (C) Button Hall Productions - Photographer: Mark Johnson

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. 

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Ghosts series 2

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about A Suitable Boy

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.

Watch now on All 4

Find out more about Adult Material

All Creatures Great and Small – Channel 5

All Creatures Great and Small' cast members Rebecca Smith, Christopher Timothy, Lynda Bellingham and Oliver Wilson. January 1988. (Getty Images)

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. 

Watch now on My5

Find out more about All Creatures Great and Small

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.

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Umbrella Academy season 2

WandaVision – Disney+

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.

Find out more about WandaVision

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Mrs America

I May Destroy You – BBC One

Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You (BBC)
Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You (BBC)

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is a biting and brave look at consent

13 Reasons Why season 4 – Netflix

13 Reasons Why - season 4
Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
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…

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about 13 Reasons Why season 4

Normal People – BBC Three

Normal People
Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People (BBC)
BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu

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.

Watch now on BBC Three

Will there be a Normal People season 2?
Normal People ending explained: How BBC Three TV series’ finale differs from the book
More on Normal People

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.

Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about Little Birds

The Salisbury Poisonings – BBC Two

Anne-Marie Duff plays Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings
Anne-Marie Duff plays Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings

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”.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about The Salisbury Poisonings

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Disney+

Winter soldier and the falcon

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.

Find out more about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Disney+ delays release of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series

The Luminaries – BBC Two

The Luminaries

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.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about The Luminaries

Gangs of London – Sky Atlantic/NOW TV

Joe Cole in Gangs of London
Sope Dirisu and Joe Cole in Gangs of London
Sky

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.

Watch now on NOW TV

Find out more about Gangs of London

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)…

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about The Politician season 2

After Life series 2 – Netflix

Ricky Gervais – After Life
Ricky Gervais in After Life (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.

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about series 2 of After Life
More on After Life

Killing Eve series 3 – BBC

Killing Eve
Kim Bodnia, Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw in Killing Eve (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…

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Find out more about Killing Eve series 3
Killing Eve recap – what happened at the end of season two?

Ozark series 3 – Netflix

Sofia Hublitz, Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Skylar Gaertner in Ozark (Netflix)
Sofia Hublitz, Laura Linney, Jason Bateman and Skylar Gaertner in Ozark (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…

Watch now on Netflix

Find out more about Ozark series 3
Ozark to return for one final 14-episode season on Netflix

The Last Kingdom