There’s plenty of reasons to look forward to the end of summer, from Tim Walker’s spectacular exhibition at the V&A to Margaret Atwood’s epic sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, titled The Testaments. As cultural offerings go, however, it’s hard to top this season’s major TV dramas. Read on for every programme worth staying in for this autumn.
In case you thought the market for Jane Austen remakes was saturated, Emmy and BAFTA-winner Andrew Davies has adapted Jane Austen’s final (and incomplete) novel Sanditon for ITV – and it’s brilliant. Premiering on August 25, it takes place in the fictional seaside village of the title, where the young heroine Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) has been invited to visit for the summer. Awaiting her at the makeshift spa retreat? The handsome, mysterious Sidney Parker (Theo James) and a host of other residents who may or may not be trustworthy.
On ITV from 25 August 2019
Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning article in ProPublica and starring Emmy winners Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as well as Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever, Netflix’s Unbelievable is guaranteed to be one of the most heavily discussed series of the year. The drama chronicles the heartbreaking true story of Marie Adler, whose account of being raped in her own home was doubted by police. Inadvertently working to prove her story? Detectives Grace Rasmussen (Collette) and Karen Duvall (Wever), who notice a pattern that leads them back to Marie while looking into a series of assaults hundreds of miles apart.
On Netflix from 13 September 2019
Ryan Murphy’s first drama for Netflix satirises the nature of American politics through the life of wealthy high schooler Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), who is determined to become President of the United States at all costs. Before he gets to the White House, however, he has to become class president at his Santa Barbara school – with stiff competition from his ruthless peer, played by Lucy Boynton. Starring as Payton’s adopted mother, a wealthy Californian socialite? Gwyneth Paltrow, of course.
On Netflix from 27 September 2019
The third instalment of the lavish royal drama premieres on 17 November – with an entirely different cast, including Academy Award winner (and national treasure) Olivia Colman as Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II as she attempts to navigate the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter will appear as the eternally stylish Princess Margaret, whose controversial (and deeply tumultuous) marriage to Vogue photographer Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels) will be central to the action.
On Netflix from 17 November 2019
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel
If you have yet to watch Amy Sherman-Palladino’s The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, do so immediately. Like Gilmore Girls, it’s the television equivalent of taking a long, hot bath. The third series will follow Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) as she heads off on tour with Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), bringing her comedy act to the masses across America – and beyond to Europe. Following behind her as always is Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) with the same deadpan wit – while Midge’s parents Rose and Abe (Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub) keep watch over Manhattan.
On Netflix from 6 December 2019
None other than Drake is serving as executive producer for the third season of Top Boy – revealing the first trailer for the series during his O2 performance during the Assassination Vacation tour. While the first two series ran on Channel 4, this one will drop on Netflix in full at some point this autumn – with 10 episodes rather than the usual four. Ashley Walters will return as dealer Dushane, as will Kane “Kano” Robinson as ex-con Sully, with Little Simz, Dave, and rising star Michael Ward round out the cast.
Due on Netflix in autumn 2019
World On Fire
Set during the first year of World War II, World On Fire homes in on the lives of everyday citizens across Britain, France, and Germany. Among the star-studded cast are Helen Hunt, Sean Bean, and Lesley Manville. The BBC still has yet to confirm who will take on each part, but the main roles include a beautiful American correspondent who thrives on adrenaline; a factory worker in Manchester desperate to seize the opportunities presented by the conflict; and a translator working to smuggle his Polish lover out of Nazi-occupied Warsaw.
Due on BBC One in autumn 2019
Catherine The Great
Dame Helen Mirren lends her talents to the role of yet another female monarch for Sky Atlantic’s latest historical drama, Catherine the Great. The four-part series about the 18th-century Empress of Russia will highlight her long-term affair with the statesman Grigory Potemkin – and spotlight the Imperial court, home to enough political scandals and romantic intrigue to give the Palace of Versailles a run for its money. Best of all? Philip Martin, who directed Mirren in Prime Suspect, and Nigel Williams, who wrote Elizabeth I for her, are both involved in the project.
Due on Sky Atlantic in autumn 2019
The Morning Show
With a plot that nods to the Good Morning, America scandal, Apple TV+’s The Morning Show stars Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell as Alex Levy and Mitch Kessler, America’s favourite television co-hosts – that is, until Mitch is suddenly fired in the wake of harassment claims. Enter Reese Witherspoon as fiery local news anchor Bradley Jackson, who network executives are hoping will take over from Alex. With a reported budget of $15 million an episode – more than the final series of Game of Thrones – it’s setting records before it’s even premiered.
Due on AppleTV+ in autumn 2019