Great escapes: Our pick of the best new TV dramas and documentaries for autumn

Dominic West in SAS Rogue Heroes. Picture: BBC
Dominic West in SAS Rogue Heroes. Picture: BBC

AUTUMN is officially upon us bringing with it time-honoured traditions, from grumbling that “the nights are fair drawing in” to shrieking like a banshee whenever someone ill-advisedly turns on the “big light” before the living room curtains have been safely drawn for the evening.

Then there is the desire to hunker down, coorie-in and enjoy some decent telly. But what to watch? Here, we list the best TV shows to look out for in the coming weeks.

SAS Rogue Heroes

Coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer this autumn

The trio of Connor Swindells, Jack O’Connell and Alfie Allen lead the cast of a major new drama series from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

SAS Rogue Heroes, which also stars Sofia Boutella and Dominic West, is described by Knight as “a war story like no other” and “true to the spirit of this legendary brigade of misfits and adventurers”.

Swindells – whose past roles include Sex Education and Vigil – plays Perthshire-born David Stirling, a maverick young officer who, while recuperating in a Cairo hospital in 1941 after a training exercise gone awry, coins an ambitious plan.

Forged from his belief that traditional commando units don’t work, he seeks permission to recruit the toughest, boldest and brightest soldiers to embark upon elite undercover operations behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

The Devil’s Hour

Coming to Prime Video on October 28

Former Doctor Who Peter Capaldi plays a “reclusive nomad, driven by a murderous obsession” in this creepy psychological thriller co-starring Jessica Raine, Nikesh Patel, Meera Syal, Alex Ferns and Phil Dunster.

According to superstition, scary and unexplainable events can occur between 3am and 4am. The Devil’s Hour chronicles a woman who wakes up with chilling visions at exactly 3.33am each morning and finds herself connected to a string of brutal killings.

Paisley-born screenwriter Steven Moffat, whose latest BBC drama Inside Man begins on Monday, is among the executive producers for this Amazon Original series. Moffat’s other award-winning TV credits include Doctor Who, Sherlock, Jekyll and Dracula.

The Larkins

Coming to STV next month

Many of us have happy memories of sitting down on Sunday evenings in the 1990s to watch the original The Darling Buds of May. This ITV reboot, which began last year, has already won a loyal following among viewers.

The second series of the cosy comedy drama based on the much-beloved novel by HE Bates sees Bradley Walsh return as wheeler dealer with a heart-of-gold, Pop Larkin, and Joanna Scanlan as his wife Ma.

A new arrival in the village sets stirs romantic interest. Primrose Larkin (Lydia Page) has finished school and intends to take the journalistic world by storm. Well, until the aptly named Reverend Ian Candy (Maxim Ays) catches her eye.

Other newcomers include out-of-town family, the Jerebohms – played by Morgana Robinson and Julian Rhind Tutt – who have barely made their introductions before they are at war with Ma and Pop.

I Hate Suzie Too

Coming to Sky Atlantic and Now later in 2022

Billie Piper steps back into her role as Suzie Pickles, a former teenage pop star and TV actress who finds herself at the centre of a tabloid and internet storm after her mobile phone is hacked and compromising photographs leaked.

The second series will see our favourite anti-heroine starting over with a new agent, a new publicist and a new job – strutting her stuff for “likes” on the bizarre-sounding Dance Crazee, a reality TV competition that has the Saturday night audience hooked.

The goal? To win the hearts of the public and stay on the show long enough to finance her life as a single mother. Meanwhile, Suzie’s ex-husband Cob (Daniel Ings) is still smarting from their acrimonious split, and she must mend fences with estranged best friend Naomi (Leila Farzad).

Blockbuster

Coming to Netflix on November 3

Remember the not-so-dim-and-distant past when finding something decent to watch hinged on four terrestrial TV channels or schlepping to the nearest video shop? Prepare for some joyful nostalgia with this sweet-sounding Netflix comedy.

Randall Park – known for his roles in Fresh Off The Boat, WandaVision and Young Rock – plays Timmy Yoon, “an analogue dreamer living in a 5G world” who discovers that he is operating the last Blockbuster movie rental store in America.

Timmy and his loyal staff (which includes Brooklyn Nine-Nine alumna Melissa Fumero) face an uphill struggle as they battle to stay relevant and convince customers that their old-school business offers something that the big streaming corporations can’t provide: a human connection.

Shantaram

Coming to Apple TV+ on October 14

The international bestselling 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts will finally make the leap to the small screen with Sons of Anarchy leading man Charlie Hunnam playing a fugitive looking to disappear within the busy and bustling streets of Mumbai.

Shantaram author Roberts based the semi-autobiographical work on his time spent in the Indian city, then known as Bombay, between 1981 and 1987. While some characters have been disguised or blended, many of the key events remain authentic.

The 12-part Apple TV+ series centres on Lin Ford, a convicted bank robber and heroin addict, who has escaped from prison. He craves freedom and a simple life but finds that plan swiftly derailed when he falls for an enigmatic and intriguing woman.

Ralph & Katie

Coming to BBC One next month

The brainchild of Peter Bowker, creator of The A Word, this six-part comedy drama follows the first year of marriage for newlyweds Ralph and Katie. Viewers saw the young couple, who have Down’s syndrome, celebrate their dream wedding in series three of The A Word.

Leon Harrop (Brassic, No Offence, The Street) and Sarah Gordy (The Long Call, Strike, Call The Midwife) reprise their roles for the spin-off, leading a cast that includes Gogglebox narrator Craig Cash, Sam Retford (Ackley Bridge) and Jamie Marie Leary (River City and Traces).

Showrunner Bowker has described his latest project as “a natural step forwards from the ongoing ambition of The A Word to increase representation and diversity both on and off screen”.

The production of Ralph & Katie saw Bowker work with five of the UK’s best emerging deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers – Genevieve Barr, Annalisa Dinnella, Amy Trigg, Lizzie Watson and Tom Wentworth – as well as Bafta-winning director Jordan Hogg, who has cerebral palsy.

Britain’s Secret Islands

Coming to Sky History from October 10

A whistle-stop tour of archaeological sites and historic wonders around the British Isles – from mysterious standing stones to crumbling castles – forms the heart of this four-part series.

On the itinerary is a visit to a Viking fire festival in Shetland, as well as charting the story of Norse invaders to the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast and recreating the journeys of ancient seafarers across the Hebrides.

The programme will attempt to land a drone on remote Rockall – which was formally incorporated into the UK in 1972 – and recount how half a century ago the peaked summit of the uninhabitable granite islet was blasted off for a navigation beacon in Operation Tophat.

The Rig

Coming to Prime Video later in 2022

Picture the scene: an oil rig in the North Sea where, as the crew prepares to return to the mainland, an eerie and strange fog sweeps in. Communications go down and all hell breaks loose. Set on the fictional Kinloch Bravo platform, the six-part sci-fi thriller was shot at Port of Leith in Edinburgh.

Created by Scottish writer David Macpherson, the impressive cast – dubbed “the Scottish Avengers” – includes Mark Bonnar and Emun Elliott from Guilt, as well as Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen and Line of Duty’s Martin Compston.

Macpherson, who grew up in Alness on the Cromarty Firth, describes The Rig as “playing with a lot of big ideas about where we are nowadays in the world and where we might be going”.

The Crown

Coming to Netflix in November

There has been – perhaps unsurprisingly – a huge surge of interest in Netflix’s The Crown following the death of the Queen. The hit show, chronicling the life and reign of the monarch, has seen an 800 per cent rise in UK viewers, with huge numbers also watching in the US, France and Australia.

Series five of Peter Morgan’s award-winning drama will depict the early-to-mid 1990s, with Imelda Staunton taking on the role of the Queen, previously played by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman.

Jonathan Pryce, meanwhile, is set to follow in the footsteps of Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies by portraying Prince Philip. Also joining the cast for the latest run are Lesley Manville, Dominic West, Elizabeth Debicki, Jonny Lee Miller and Olivia Williams.