The best new TV for 2022: all the shows you’ll be talking about, from House of the Dragon to Derry Girls
From literary adaptations and scammer stories to the return of old favourites and a certain hotly anticipated fantasy spin-off, there’s plenty of TV to get excited about over the next 12 months. These are our picks for 2022...
This Is Going To Hurt
Adam Kay’s bestselling memoir about life as a junior NHS doctor on an obstetrics and gynaecology ward - the long hours, the terrifying responsibilities and the extortionate hospital parking charges - is getting a TV adaptation (scripted by Kay himself). Ben Whishaw is in the lead role, joined by the likes of Harriet Walter, Alex Jennings and newcomer Ambika Mod in a series that promises to be by turns riotously funny, indignant and heart-breaking.
House of the Dragon
A bunch of British character actors donning long, bleach-blonde wigs? It must be time for Game of Thrones’ Targaryen-focused spin-off, House of the Dragon. Based on George R.R. Martin’s most recent book Fire & Blood, it’s set 200 years before GoT kicked off and is expected to chart the epic power struggle that emerges after the death of King Viserys (Paddy Considine). Matt Smith plays the fantastically named Prince Daemon Targaryen, with Rhys Ifans, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy and Steve Toussaint also starring.
Sky Atlantic and Now
Fresh from Line of Duty’s blockbuster sixth series, Vicky McClure is back with another explosive thriller - and it has Jed Mercurio’s seal of approval, too. The LoD showrunner serves as exec producer on this drama from screenwriter Daniel Brierley, which focuses on the nerve-shredding work of the Met’s bomb disposal squad. McClure plays bomb squad ‘expo’ Lana Washington, with Adrian Lester’s Joel Nutkins as her right-hand man. Prepare to learn a load of new police jargon, and brace yourself for twists galore.
Conversations With Friends
The BBC’s pitch-perfect rendering of Normal People was an all-conquering hit that launched the careers of leads Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones into the stratosphere, so expectations are pretty high for this adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel. Newcomer Alison Oliver plays Frances, a student navigating complicated, intertwined relationships - with her best friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane), with older journalist Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and with her actor husband Nick (Joe Alwyn).
The latest TV project from acclaimed playwright and screenwriter James Graham is a crime drama partly inspired by real events, and set in his Nottinghamshire hometown, where two shocking murders threaten to reignite tensions that tore the community apart during the Miners’ Strike in the Seventies. David Morrissey and Robert Glenister play the police officers, one local, one from the Met, with Lesley Manville, Joanne Froggatt and Adeel Akhtar rounding out an impressive cast.
The spoon-licking Duke of Hastings might not be featuring in Lady Whistledown’s latest dispatches from the Ton (Regé-Jean Page has left the show, though his co-star Phoebe Dynevor is sticking around) but the second season of Shondaland’s period juggernaut will still be one of the biggest launches of 2022. This time, the focus is the eldest Bridgerton sibling, the caddish Anthony (Jonathan Bailey). Could he finally meet his match in the quick-witted Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley)?
Netflix, March 25
The Gilded Age
What do you get if you splice the soapy period drama DNA of Downton Abbey with the 19th century New York milieu of Edith Wharton’s novels? The latest series from Julian Fellowes, the chronicler extraordinaire of old-time aristos with a penchant for icy one-liners, that’s what. Louisa Jacobson (aka Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter) stars as orphaned Marian Brook, who is taken in by her upper class aunts (Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, in a stroke of brilliant casting). Will she stick with the old guard, hobnob with the nouveau riche or strike her own path entirely?
Sky Atlantic and Now, January 25
How’s this for a stellar on-screen partnership? Responsible for two of 2021’s best TV performances (in Time and Unforgotten respectively), Sean Bean and Nicola Walker will next star in this drama from Stefan Golaszewski, the creator of sit-coms Him and Her and Mum. They’ll play Ian and Emma, a couple navigating all the ups, downs, insecurities and complexities of a 30-year relationship.
I Hate Suzie
The first series of Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper’s bracing, brilliant and often brutal drama I Hate Suzie was one of the most thrillingly original TV series we’d seen in years, so thank god Suzie Pickles (Piper) will be back in 2022. Last time around, we saw former pop star turned actress Suzie reckon with the seismic fallout of an intimate photo hack, moving through the seven stages of grief. Plot details are scarce for now, but with this double act at the helm, round two is sure to be a winner.
Sky Atlantic and Now
The strange saga of fake heiress Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin) captivated our collective imagination when it broke a few years back. The infamous ‘Soho Grifter’ managed to con her way to a jet-set lifestyle (stints in five star hotels, jaunts to Morocco, cryotherapy sessions and swanky dinners) by pretending she had a multi-million dollar trust fund buried under layers of German bureaucracy. It’s a truly audacious story, and one that will soon become a Netflix mini-series courtesy of Shonda Rhimes, with Ozark’s Julia Garner starring as Delvey.
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh)’s globe-trotting cat and mouse game is coming to an end: after notching up an impressive array of awards and supercharging Comer’s career, Killing Eve’s fourth series will be its last, helmed by writer Laura Neal. Expect one hell of a final showdown, and more outrageously brilliant outfits.
Murder plots, toxic rivalries and male strippers with mullets: the strange, often sordid story of musclebound dance troupe the Chippendales and their founder Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, has all this and more, bridging the gap between Eighties camp and the criminal underworld. It’s previously been explored in podcast Welcome to Your Fantasy and docu-series The Curse of the Chippendales, and is soon to receive the prestige telly treatment, with Kumail Nanjiani set to play Banerjee in an eight-part series.
Peter Morgan’s sumptuous royal saga has finally reached the Nineties, and having bid a fond farewell to Olivia Colman, Emma Corrin and co, it’s time for us to welcome a brand new cohort of on-screen royals. Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce will play the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, but with an episode reportedly focusing on the 1995 Panorama interview, it’s Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana and Dominic West’s Prince Charles that everyone will inevitably be talking about.
More than 15 years after he bowed out of the galaxy far, far away with the release of Revenge of the Sith, Ewan McGregor has dusted off his lightsaber to reprise his role as the legendary Jedi Knight in this long-awaited Star Wars spin-off series. He’ll be joined by his prequel co-stars Hayden Christensen as the young Darth Vader, Kenobi’s former apprentice, and Joel Edgerton as Owen Lars, Luke Skywalker’s uncle, along with new additions Indira Varma, Kumail Nanjiani and Rupert Friend.
Martin Compston and Tuppence Middleton lead this swish adaptation of Louise Candlish’s bestselling thriller. Fi (Middleton) arrives home one day to find that her possessions have gone and strangers are moving in; when she reaches out to her estranged husband (Compston), he seems to have disappeared. Stressed yet? The revelations have only just begun. Rupert Penry-Jones, Buket Komur and Weruche Opia also star.
Jamie Dornan’s nameless hero finds himself speeding through the Australian outback, pursued by a tanker hellbent on driving him off the road. When the chase ends, he wakes up in hospital with no memories, but figures from his past are still on his back. Line of Duty’s Shalom Brune-Franklin also stars in this off-beat thriller from Jack and Harry Williams.
Martin Freeman stars as Chris, a Merseyside police responder pushed to the limit by the pressures of life on the beat, in this sharply funny, brutally honest drama written by ex-officer Tony Schumacher, which unfolds over a series of night shifts. Adelayo Adedayo plays Rachel, the principled rookie officer assigned as his partner, with Ian Hart, MyAnna Buring and Rita Tushingham rounding out the cast.
Danny Boyle directs this series shining new light on the genesis of anarchy in the UK, adapted from Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’ memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol. The cast is packed with talented newcomers (Toby Wallace, Anson Boon, Louis Partridge and Paul Cook play the young Pistols) along with bleach-browed Maisie Williams as punk icon Jordan and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as impresario Malcolm McLaren.
Steven Knight’s Brummie gangland drama will come to an end with its sixth series (though a spin-off film is still in the works), which should take the Shelbys into the mid-30s, against the febrile backdrop of the rise of fascism. Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Sam Claflin will all be back, joined by reigning king of British telly Stephen Graham in an as-yet-undisclosed role.
Pam & Tommy
Thanks to some transformative prosthetics, Lily James and Sebastian Stan make an uncanny Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in this mini-series based on the Baywatch star and Motley Cru drummer’s turbulent romance, from their whirlwind marriage to their leaked sex tape, which was stolen from their home and distributed online in 1995. Director Craig Gillespie has form for bringing us revisionist spins on Nineties scandals - he previously helmed I, Tonya.
Disney+ , February 2
Life After Life
Ursula Todd (Thomasin McKenzie) lives out many different iterations of her life, reborn into an alternative version every time she dies in this adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s uniquely structured novel. A sense of deja vu helps her navigate the era between the two World Wars, including an encounter with Adolf Hitler. Fleabag’s Sian Clifford and Mare of Easttown’s James McArdle play her parents, with Jessica Brown Findlay and Jessica Hynes also starring.
The founder of biotech start-up Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes was declared the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes. Her company, valued at $9 billion, promised to revolutionise blood testing - except the tech didn’t work, and Holmes is currently facing multiple fraud charges. Amanda Seyfried will play her, complete with black roll neck, in this drama, based on the gripping podcast from ABC News.
Anatomy of a Scandal
David E. Kelley (of Big Little Lies and The Undoing fame) has adapted Sarah Vaughan’s 2018 novel for Netflix, in collaboration with former House of Cards showrunner Melissa James Gibson. Sienna Miller stars as the wife of a politician (Rupert Friend) accused of sexual assault, with Michelle Dockery as a hotshot prosecution barrister.
The Ipcress File
Joe Cole takes on the role of reluctant spy Harry Palmer (an anti-Bond previously brought to life on screen by Michael Caine in a string of iconic Sixties films) in this re-imagining of Len Deighton’s bestseller, charting an undercover Cold War mission that spans from Swinging London to East Berlin to Beirut’s back alleys. Tom Hollander, Lucy Boynton and Ashley Thomas also star.
Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan will attempt to unravel knotty questions about gender politics in the #MeToo era in their Channel 4 dramedy, about an indie filmmaker (Solemani) drafted in to rescue a problematic movie produced by Coogan’s on-the-verge-of-being-cancelled character. Wanda Sykes, Sienna Miller and Lolly Adefope also star, with cameos from the likes of Paul Rudd.
Lord of the Rings
Set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, Amazon’s long-awaited, as yet untitled spin-off series (reportedly one of the most expensive TV projects ever) will take fans back to Middle Earth’s Second Age, as the reemergence of an evil power threatens to shatter peace. The sprawling cast includes Lenny Henry, Peter Mullan and fast rising star Morfydd Clark as Galadriel.
Amazon, September 2
Our favourite girl gang (plus token wee English fella) are back for the third and (sob) final series of Lisa McGee’s brilliant coming-of-age comedy, probably the only show set against the backdrop of the Troubles to feature the contention that “Protestants hate Abba.” Plot details are scarce so far, but we can assure you that everyone from Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney) to Granda Joe (Ian McElhinney) will be returning for the last hurrah. Cracker.
The Devil’s Hour
Lucy (Jessica Raine) is woken up by horrifying visions every night at precisely 3.33am, the devil’s hour; her son is withdrawn and her house seems haunted. When her name is linked to a spate of brutal killings, it seems she is on the verge of finally getting some answers. Peter Capaldi plays the reclusive prime suspect in the manhunt led by Nikesh Patel’s detective in this mind-bending new series produced by Steven Moffat.
Marvel’s first ever Muslim superhero is getting her own spin-off series. 16-year-old Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani in her first screen role, is a huge Avengers fan, but is struggling to find her place in the world - until she suddenly acquires superpowers to rival those of her heroes.
Uma Thurman takes the lead in this adaptation of hit Israeli series False Flag, playing a famous businesswoman whose 21-year-old son is abducted from a fancy New York hotel. Footage of the kidnapping goes viral, and soon four British citizens staying in the hotel become the prime suspects - but were they simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The Undeclared War
This new drama from seven-time Bafta winner Peter Kosminsky (director of Wolf Hall, and writer of The Government Inspector) is set in the run-up to a UK general election in the near future, following a group of GCHQ analysts attempting to fend off a cyber attack on the electoral system. Kominsky’s frequent collaborator Mark Rylance plays a Cold War veteran brought back from retirement, alongside Simon Pegg, Adrian Lester and newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown.
Catherine Tate is in writer-director-star multi-hyphenate mode for her first Netflix project. She’ll play multiple characters in this mockumentary-style series, in which a film crew turns up to document life at inside a (fictional) women’s prison, introducing us to inmates and staff at HMP Woldsley.
The Essex Serpent
Sarah Perry’s novel, an absorbing spin on Victorian gothic, is getting a starry adaptation courtesy of Apple TV+, with Claire Danes cast as Cora, a widow who swaps London for a small Essex village and becomes captivated by the local legend of a strange creature known as the Essex Serpent. Tom Hiddleston plays vicar Will Ransome, who has little truck with such superstitions; Frank Dillane, Clémence Poésy, Hayley Squires and Jamael Westman also star.
The Crown standout Erin Doherty steps into the lead role in this intriguing, fresh thriller about the perils of being extremely online. She plays Becky, a thwarted twenty-something still obsessing over every post on her former friend Chloe’s picture-perfect Instagram account. When Chloe dies suddenly, the obsession darkens; soon Becky is infiltrating her friendship group, using a glossy alter ego, to find out what happened.
A family trip to Turkey turns nightmarish when their teenage son Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is arrested after an incident at a beach party in this four-part drama from Danny Brocklehurst. Sheridan Smith and Michael Jibson stars as his parents, contending with the complexities of a foreign legal system and intrusive media coverage as they desperately lobby for their child’s freedom.
A veteran detective (James Nesbitt) arrives at a mortuary for what he believes is a routine ID check, only to realise that the young woman in question is his estranged daughter. The post-mortem suggests she died by suicide, but he refuses to accept the verdict, and starts retracing her final days. Nesbitt is joined by an impressive supporting cast including Niamh Algar, Anne-Marie Duff, Richard E. Grant, Sacha Dhawan, Antonia Thomas and Joely Richardson.
SAS: Rogue Heroes
Steven Knight’s post-Peaky Blinders project is a new drama tracing the origins of the Special Air Service, which was formed during some of the darkest moments of World War Two. Sex Education’s Connor Swindells stars alongside Jack O’Connell, Alfie Allen, Sofia Boutella and Dominic West.
Spy novelist Mick Herron has been hailed as the heir to John le Carré; now the first book in his Jackson Lamb series is becoming a TV show, starring Gary Oldman in the lead role. It’s about a group of spies sidelined to Slough House, an MI5 dumping ground, after making career-ending mistakes, and the supporting cast - Olivia Cooke, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Lowden and Rosalind Eleazar - is pretty top notch too.
Sally Wainwright’s gruelling and gripping police drama will be back for its third and final series. When Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood, now on the verge of retiring from the police force, finds the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, she’s drawn into a case that will lead her back to her old nemesis Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).
Still grieving his dad’s death, the shy, closeted Jack (Derry Girls’ Dylan Llewellyn) is thrown together with his new university roommate, laddy mature student Danny (Jon Pointing), during Freshers week in this semi-autobiographical series from writer and comedian Jack Rooke (who also narrates). They’re an unlikely pair, yet that doesn’t stop them from bonding through the madness of their first year.
Fleishman is in Trouble
Celebrity profiler extraordinaire turned author Taffy Brodesser-Akner has added yet another string to her bow, adapting her brilliant novel of divorce, Upper East Side style, for the small screen. Jesse Eisenberg will star as Toby Fleishman, her newly-separated, dating app-fixated protagonist, with Lizzy Caplan playing the Brodesser-Akner-esque narrator Libby, an old college friend of Toby’s who interviews stars for men’s magazines. We’ll be wearing our most obnoxiously ‘live, laugh, love’-style yoga merch in honour when it debuts (if you know, you know).
Then Barbara Met Alan
Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr tell the story of Barbara Lisicki (Ruth Madeley) and Alan Holdsworth (Arthur Hughes), two disabled cabaret performers who met in 1989 and would become the driving forces behind the Direct Action Network, the group that revolutionised the campaign for disabled rights in the UK with their high-profile protests and civil disobedience.
Gemma Arterton leads this adaptation of Nick Hornby novel Funny Girl as Barbara Parker, a former Miss Blackpool who decides to leave the northern pageant circuit behind and take a shot at making it in London, trading on her sharp wit to become a sit-com star. Rupert Everett and David Threlfall also star.
Sky Max and Now
Everything I Know About Love
Inspired by Dolly Alderton’s all-conquering millennial memoir, Everything I Know About Love is a love letter to female friendship, following childhood best pals Maggie (Emma Appleton) and Birdy (Bel Powley) as they navigate bad dates and London flatshares in their twenties, while flashing back to their early Noughties adolescence (and if the book is anything to go by, their adventures in MSN-based romance).
My Name Is Leon
Set in 1980s Birmingham, this feature-length adaptation of Kit De Waal’s novel follows Leon, a mixed-race nine-year-old, who vies to bring his family back together after he is taken into care and separated from his baby brother, who is white. Newcomer Cole Martin plays Leon, joined by Malachi Kirby, Monica Dolan, Christopher Eccleston and Lenny Henry, with the Bush Theatre’s artistic director Lynette Linton making her TV directorial debut.
The Midwich Cuckoos
Nothing ever really happens in the sleepy commuter town of Midwich - until one late summer’s day, when everyone in its environs suddenly falls unconscious. Nine months later, every woman of child-bearing age gives birth to a baby; as the children grow up, it becomes clear that they are unlike their parents in almost every way. Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley lead this modern-day spin on John Wyndham’s sci-fi classic.
Sky Max and Now
A prisoner on death row, a vicar in a sleepy English town and a maths teacher trapped in a cellar - how could these disparate characters be connected? We’ll have to wait for the latest thriller from Steven Moffat to find out. David Tennant, Dolly Wells, Stanley Tucci and It’s A Sin breakout star Lydia West make up the cast.
Swapping a galaxy far, far away for the Marvel universe, Oscar Isaac takes on the role of Moon Knight aka Marc Spector, a former CIA operative and vigilante who has dissociative identity disorder - and also happens to be the earth-bound avatar of an Egyptian god. Ethan Hawke will play the main antagonist, and there’s already feverish speculation about whether Mahershala Ali will make his debut as Blade in the series too.