Sci-fi writer Philip K Dick rivals Jane Austen and Stephen King in his book-to-screen ratio: the movies Blade Runner, Minority Report and the hit series The Man in the High Castle were all based on his work. This anthology series adapts 10 stories, with a starry mix of lead actors from Steve Buscemi and Joanna Scanlan to Bryan Cranston and Benedict Wong.
Strictly Come Dancing
Has new judge Shirley “queen of Latin” Ballas got what it takes to replace “Ten from Len” Goodman? And can anyone possibly top Ed Balls? The race for the 15th glitterball trophy is on. Sparkle squad at the ready.
The Child in Time
With movies of two Ian McEwan novels imminent – On Chesil Beach and The Children Act – TV gets in first with a version of the 1987 book about a children’s writer, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose child disappears in a supermarket. The story, though, is less interested in whodunnit than what such a loss can do. Fans of the original will be keen to see how TV deals with two key elements of the novel: a spoof handbook on childcare and a disgraced politician who has regressed to a strange infantile state.
David Simon is back to the dizzy heights of The Wire with this 70s-set epic about New York’s burgeoning porn trade around Times Square. From the loquacious, dolled up pimps to the enterprising women on the sidewalks, every character is fully fleshed out. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Candy, a sex worker who becomes fascinated by the possibilities inherent in making blue movies. James Franco plays brothers Vincent – who runs 42nd Street’s most popular boozer – and Frankie, a good-for-nothing gambler who embroils his twin in his illicit antics. As the seedy world of massage parlours and masturbation booths spins out into big-business pornography, everyone becomes complicit and no one emerges unscathed. And as we’ve come to expect from Simon, this is eight hours of thoughtful, political and utterly compelling television.
- 26 September, Sky Atlantic
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The world has been a poorer place without Larry David in it. Sure, his HBO movie Clear History had its charms, and his Broadway show Fish in the Dark was well received. But it’s Curb Your Enthusiasm that will stand as his masterwork. Little is known about the new series, but if it’s anything like its predecessors, it’ll go to some dark places and have an absolute blast there. Undoubtedly the television highlight of the entire autumn.
David Fincher’s 1979-set drama follows two FBI agents, played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, who specialise in interviewing serial killers to try and understand how their minds are miswired. But as the Silence of the Lambs showed, murderers are often clever at messing with their interrogators’ heads too. In a statement of high confidence, Netflix has commissioned the second series before showing the first.
Stranger Things 2
Eleven’s baby-doll dress and Winona’s bumper ouija board inspired 2016’s best Halloween costumes, but this year the streets will be bare of trick or treaters – the world will be far too busy gorging on the latest scares from the Demogorgon and the Upside Down taking over the town of Hawkins, Indiana. But will our walkie-talkie wearing, Ghostbusters-loving gang be able to stop the monster for good?
Given the BBC’s talent for period dramas, it seems absurd that more attention hasn’t been paid to Guy Fawkes over the years. That all changes with Gunpowder, a gritty exploration of the gunpowder plot starring Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler. And playing Robert Catesby – the mastermind behind the plot – is Kit Harington, who just happens to be Catesby’s direct descendant.
The Biggest Little Railway in the World
Could model railways be TV’s next big thing? You may well be sceptical, but Love Productions has a great track record, having turned patisserie into big business with the Great British Bake Off. Here, teams compete to construct a miniature network through 72 miles of Scottish landscape. Can presenter Dick Strawbridge become the Mary Berry of tiny trains?
George Michael: Freedom
In September 2016, Channel 4 announced a documentary featuring “unique access” to the life and archive of George Michael, for an “intimate” film that would be narrated by the singer himself. Three months later, Michael was dead and the film as billed was dropped, but previously unseen footage and new insights are still anticipated.
Blue Planet II
The first series of Blue Planet premiered on 12 September 2001, and its soothing footage of marine life inadvertently proved to be a necessary balm in a tough time. God knows we need something like that now, which is why Blue Planet II can’t come soon enough. Like last year’s Planet Earth II, the series promises more of the same but better, photographed with breathtaking panache.
The Handmaid’s Tale has made Margaret Atwood a hot TV name, which should draw viewers in their droves to this adaptation of her novel that dramatised a notorious 1843 case in Canada in which domestic servants were accused of murder. The director is the admirable Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol).
She’s Gotta Have It
The long-awaited television adaptation of Spike Lee’s breakout 1986 movie about sexual liberation. Based on its trailer, the series may or may not have ditched the black-and-white photography that first made the film such a standout. However, Lee himself is singlehandedly directing the entire series, so you can guarantee a fair degree of punchiness.
The Boy With the Topknot
Sathnam Sanghera’s 2009 memoir The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton was a bracing mix of 1980s nostalgia and gut-thump emotional heft. Adapted by Mick Ford and starring Sacha Dhawan, Anupam Kher and Deepti Naval, this promises to be a warm but unflinching examination of mental illness.
Anticipation is raised high by the creative talent involved in this BBC-Starz adaptation of EM Forster’s 1910 novel about the interlocking romances and scandals of three families. A cast including Hayley Atwell and Joe Bannister performs an adaptation by Kenneth Lonergan, writer-director of the astounding Manchester by the Sea.
Controversially denied Bafta awards – perhaps for being deemed too American or too digital – the House of Windsor epic was loved by critics and Netflix viewers. This second series, reaching 1963-64, is the last outing for Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith’s Duke of Edinburgh. This run reportedly focuses on marital tensions between Liz and Phil – and on Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon – which should cue some useful ratings-boosting newspaper outrage.
Netflix has shown some flair for true-crime documentary series in the past, but none of them sound quite like Wormwood. The Thin Blue Line’s Errol Morris conducts a series of interviews about the death of a biochemist in 1953 and its possible connections with the CIA’s LSD experiments. These are then intercut with a scripted drama that branches out from the interviews, starring Peter Sarsgaard. This could be a true original. Read the full review.
The League of Gentlemen
Time has been kind to the League of Gentlemen. In the 12 years since the feature spin-off the League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, its constituent members have gone on to greater and more impressive things. And yet it’s this series – packed full of horrifying characters and morbid turns – that remains their high point. The three reunion specials set to air this autumn will undoubtedly be unsettling, but they’ll just as undoubtedly be brilliant. Hello, Dave?
Writer-producer Jeff Pope has become the star of fact-based drama with shows including Little Boy Blue and The Moorside. Now he takes on the extraordinary true-crime tale of the gang of veteran robbers who raided London’s diamond district in April 2015. The heist has already been the subject of one indifferent movie, with another on the way, but Pope’s near-infallibility in this genre – and stars including Timothy Spall and Kenneth Cranham – suggest this will be the ultimate version.
At this point, Black Mirror is a genre all of its own. There will be technology that goes wrong, there will be overwrought screaming, then there’ll be an unshiftable sense of sadness. The last series was a mixed bag, offering both instant bulletproof classics such as San Junipero and slightly by-the-numbers fare such as Shut Up and Dance. The new run is one of the most highly anticipated shows of the year, and, with an episode directed by Jodie Foster, its ambition remains unmatched.