As surely as the leaves start to change hue, telly starts to get good again. Our resident TV expert Hannah Dunleavy picks the programmes worth hibernating for.
OK, we’ve all managed to stumble through the barren wasteland that is summer TV. At least I hope we have. Someone take a headcount.
Things are about to get better though, as a riot (official term I just thought up) of new comedies and dramas hit the little screen. So much, in fact, that there’s not enough time to mention it all, let alone watch it.
Here’s my pick of the things most likely to make me finally commit to finding where in the name of Moses I put my remote control. You guys are free to watch whatever you like. No judgment. Unless it’s… you know what, no judgment.
5. Rillington Place
There’s some old-school serial killing heading your way this autumn, as ITV showcases the many poisonings of Mary Ann Cotton in Dark Angel, which stars the one from Downton who won a Golden Globe. ITV’s had the decency to sort out the quality of its drama in recent years, (I know, I can’t believe it either) so this will probably be OK. Which is all it needs to be.
Rillington Place, on the other hand (and the other channel) sets itself a much tougher task. Admittedly, there hasn’t been a Ghostbusters-style clamour to destroy the drama among fanboys who’ve had their childhoods ruined (hmm, what could possibly be different here?), but, in tackling ground already covered in 10 Rillington Place, the BBC has ensured their version of serial killer John Christie cannot just be OK, it has to either be brilliant or live in ignominy.
It’s got Tim Roth and Samantha Morton in it, so I’m hopeful it can be the former.
4. Black Mirror
Who’d have thought it? It’s the 21st century and two of the most interesting things on TV in recent years have been portmanteau series. This one (the other being Inside No 9) returns in October courtesy of Netflix, which outbid Channel 4 for the third series. Which Channel 4 was very disappointed about. Understandably.
Charlie Brooker’s modern day Twilight Zone is good, but gets upgraded to great because of two things. Number one: its ability to be uncannily (if quite broadly) prophetic about pig-fucking PMs and oddly coloured loudmouths wanting to rule the world. Number two: Its gloriously bejewelled cast, which went as far as pairing Jon Hamm with Rafe Spall. Can series three top that? Well, it’s got Kelly Macdonald in it. No, you shut up.
Netflix, 31 October
“The complete wonder of Westworld is that it takes two of the greatest cinema genres, westerns and Take A Look At How Shite The Future Could Be and smashes them together.”
3. Our Loved Boy
I know, I don’t think it sounds like something I’d watch either. There’s two inspired-by-real-life-crime/media-frenzy dramas coming this autumn; this, and Channel 4’s National Treasure. The latter draws inspiration from Operation Yewtree, something I can’t quite get behind, even if it does star Julie Walters.
Over at the Beeb, they’ve made Our Loved Boy – with Babou Ceesay and Wunmi Mosaku – about the aftermath of the killing of Damilola Taylor. Which sounds all sort of sad, right?
What gives me hope that it’ll be much more than that is that it appears to be following the pattern established by the peerless BBC real-life crime drama Five Daughters (about the 2005 Ipswich murders): co-operate with the families, never show the crime, focus tightly on the victim and their friends and family, and pack it with talent. It’s hard to see how this can fail.
Now at this point there really should be a link to the piece I’ve previously written about how staggeringly brilliant Getting On is, but much like my other great TV enthusiasm, Deadwood, I struggle to keep it below about 5,000 words. Which is ironic because you can actually do it in four: JUST. FUCKING. WATCH. IT.
I’m obviously most excited by the arrival of anything that comes with a writing or acting credit for Jo Brand. And in this comedy about social workers she gets both. As does Morwenna Banks. Plus Kevin Eldon’s in it. You know what to do.
Channel 4, No date more specific than ‘autumn’, I’m afraid
For the love of God, is it still not time for Westworld? It says something about the ooh-inducing prospect of HBO’s remake of Michael Crichton’s 70s classic, that the fact it stars Anthony Hopkins is only the fifth or sixth most enticing thing about it.
When all the clamour dies down about how so many childhoods are being ruined by this remaking of a… no, wait, scrub that.
The complete wonder of Westworld is that it takes two of the greatest cinema genres, westerns and Take A Look At How Shite The Future Could Be and smashes them together. And here it throws in some genuinely talented types like Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright.
But really, why listen to me, there’s a trailer. And if you don’t at some point find yourself saying, “Ooh, robots, oooh cowboys, ooooh robot cowboys, oooooh Ed Harris robot cowboys” then maybe you should consider it not for you. As well as the possibility you’re also a robot.
Sky Atlantic, Not soon enough (October)
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Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.