20 TV shows to look out for in 2022, from House of Dragon to Mr and Mrs Smith

·8-min read
Box clever: (clockwise from top left) ‘The Afterparty’, ‘Call My Agent UK’, ‘This is Going to Hurt’, ‘The Gilded Age’  (Getty/iStock)
Box clever: (clockwise from top left) ‘The Afterparty’, ‘Call My Agent UK’, ‘This is Going to Hurt’, ‘The Gilded Age’ (Getty/iStock)

Social media addiction! Health scandals! Moneyed misery! The television of 2022 is certainly reflective of the modern issues of the day.

But there’s plenty of escapism in the schedules, too. From whodunit comedy The Afterparty and spy thriller The Ipcress File, to prestige period drama The Gilded Age and big-budget fantasy Lord of the Rings, there’s a huge choice of television coming up in the next year.

Here’s our pick of the top 20 brand new series to look out for…

This is Going to Hurt on BBC One

The only glimpse we’ve had of this series so far is a photograph of Ben Whishaw, looking pretty fed up, in a blood-spattered shirt. So far, so junior doctor. The actor stars as young medic Adam Kay in the drama, an adaptation of the real junior doctor’s medical memoirs, which have been read by millions worldwide. His book was both hilarious and horrifying, covering everything from extracting foreign objects from rectums to the politics of the NHS – so we can surely expect much of the same from this seven-part series.

The Afterparty on Apple TV+

Jamie Demetriou, Tiffany Haddish, Dave Franco and Ilana Glazer are just some of the stars under scrutiny in this new whodunit with a twist. A celebrity has been murdered at his high-school reunion afterparty. As it turns out, a lot of people at the event had many reasons to hate the guy, meaning there are plenty of suspects. In each of the eight episodes, a different character recounts the night’s events from their perspective. Think The Affair, but with jokes.

The Ipcress File on ITV

Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole is swapping 1920s Birmingham for 1960s Berlin in this new TV adaptation of the classic Len Deighton espionage novel, as he takes on the iconic role of spy Harry Palmer. Set at the height of the Cold War, the drama follows Palmer, a working-class British sergeant in Germany who ends up becoming a secret agent to avoid a stint in military jail for dodgy dealings. Lucy Boynton is his assistant and love interest Jean Courtney and Tom Hollander stars as British Intelligence officer Major Dalby.

As We See It on Amazon Prime

Trailblazing coming-of-age drama ‘As We See It’ (Ali Goldstein/Amazon)
Trailblazing coming-of-age drama ‘As We See It’ (Ali Goldstein/Amazon)

In a TV first, all three leads in this coming-of-age comedy-drama – Rick Glassman, Albert Rutecki and Sue Ann Pien – identify as being on the autism spectrum. The show follows their characters, a group of roommates, as they encounter setbacks and triumphs in the worlds of work, friendship and romance.

Anatomy of a Scandal on Netflix

Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley is back with a new drama delving into the lives of the elite – but this time the action is set in Britain, rather than California. Anatomy of a Scandal is an adaptation of the 2017 book of the same name, following the ripple effects of a rape accusation. Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery and Rupert Friend lead the starry cast.

Call My Agent on Amazon Prime

The original French comedy, set in a Parisian talent agency, was a smash hit with viewers around the world. Now, a UK version has been masterminded by John Morton, the creator of the note-perfect BBC parody W1A. Lydia Leonard is playing the equivalent of Camille Cottin’s no-nonsense agent Andréa Martel. As with the French show, this one will have rolling guest stars featuring as the demanding clientele: Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West are among those confirmed to star.

Lord of the Rings on Amazon Prime

The most expensive TV series of all time finally arrives in 2022. With a budget of $465m, expectations are pretty high for the fantasy drama, set in JRR Tolkien’s fantasy world thousands of years before the events of the films. It will star Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Joseph Mawle, Lenny Henry, Peter Mullan and Saint Maud star Morfydd Clark.

Pam & Tommy on Disney+

Lily James and Sebastian Stan in ‘Pam & Tommy’ (Hulu)
Lily James and Sebastian Stan in ‘Pam & Tommy’ (Hulu)

The story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s infamous sex tape – “the first ever viral video” – is being dramatised in this much-hyped Hulu show. It’s been all over the press since pictures were published of Lily James’s extreme transformation for the role of the Baywatch icon. She stars opposite Sebastian Stan as the Mötley Crüe drummer.

The Dropout on Disney+

Elizabeth Holmes, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, was at the centre of the hit podcast The Dropout. Now, that podcast is being adapted into a TV drama starring Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried. It will chronicle how the disgraced Theranos founder claimed she had invented a blood testing technology that would revolutionise healthcare – only for it to all turn out to be a scam.

Mr and Mrs Smith on Amazon Prime

Donald Glover is the co-creator and star of this adaptation of the 2005 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie Mr and Mrs Smith. The action-comedy revolves around a bored suburban married couple who discover each other are assassins when they are assigned to kill one another. Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge had been cast to star opposite Glover, but exited the project over creative differences.

Brideshead Revisited on BBC One

Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino is adapting Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel for the small screen, with an army of stars playing the lead roles. Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes and Joe Alwyn are just some of the actors who will appear in this story of a young British man who gets entangled with an aristocratic family after visiting their ancestral home.

House of Dragon on Sky Atlantic

Blonde ambition: Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen (HBO)
Blonde ambition: Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen (HBO)

The first of many planned Game of Thrones sequels, prequels and spinoffs, House of Dragon is set two centuries before the original series and it focuses on tensions within the Targaryen household. Starring Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke and Rhys Ifans, the show is being adapted from events in George RR Martin’s book Fire and Blood.

The Staircase on HBO Max

The hit true-crime documentary of the same name is now being adapted into a fictional series, starring Colin Firth, Toni Collette and Parker Posey. It centres on Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of murdering his wife in 2001. Peterson claimed that his partner, Kathleen, died falling down the stairs – but police suspected he set up the scene to look like an accident.

Trigger Point on ITV

Going by the promotional pictures released so far, it is hard to tell this new thriller apart from the BBC’s smash hit Line of Duty. Essentially, it’s Vicky McClure, looking very worried indeed, in a police vest. If you look close enough, though, there are important differences. This time she is playing an ex-military bomb disposal operative and there’s no charismatic Irishman talking about how his life mission is to catch bent coppers.

SAS: Rogue Heroes on BBC One

Sex Education favourite Connor Swindells is leading the cast of SAS: Rogue Heroes, a drama about the formation of the special forces from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Much of it was shot in the Sahara desert in 50-degree heat. “Sand everywhere,” Swindells recently told The Independent. “Sand in your ears, sand in your eyes, sand in your bum. You couldn’t escape it. I never want to go to Camber Sands ever again. It was a real endurance test, a long old slog, but fantastic.”

Marriage on BBC One

This four-parter is set to be an unflinching portrait of a marriage starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, as they navigate the tumultuous highs and lows of their 30-year partnership. Both actors have excelled at bringing grit and realism to their roles – Walker in cold-case thriller Unforgotten and Bean in prison drama Time – so it’s definitely one to look forward to.

Mood on BBC Three

‘Mood’ started out as a one-woman play with Nicôle Lecky as Sasha (BBC/Bonafide)
‘Mood’ started out as a one-woman play with Nicôle Lecky as Sasha (BBC/Bonafide)

Two of BBC Three’s best offerings started out as small, female-led plays, most notably Fleabag and Britney. Could Nicôle Lecky’s musical drama Mood have the same success? It follows the young star as a wannabe singer and rapper who faces the temptations and dangers of the darker elements of social media and online sex work.

Chloe on BBC One

Sex Education director Alice Seabright has created this new mystery thriller that deals with themes of obsession, deceit, identity and grief. It follows Becky (The Crown’s Erin Doherty), a young woman working as a temp and living with her mother who develops an unhealthy fixation with the picture-perfect life that Chloe (Poppy Gilbert) projects on her Instagram account.

Anne on ITV

Maxine Peake stars in this drama as the real-life mother, Anne Williams, who campaigned endlessly for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, in which 97 Liverpool football fans died, including her young son Kevin. The four-parter also features Stephen Walters (Little Boy Blue) as Anne’s husband Steve.

The Gilded Age on Sky Atlantic

Downton Abbey fans, get ready, as Julian Fellowes is back with another prestige period drama. This time, the action takes place in 1880s New York, where old-money, aristocratic families clash with wealthy newcomers who are amassing vast fortunes from the railway, coal and copper industries. Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon and Carrie Coon star.