While keeping up with the best new TV shows may not have been at the top of your new year’s resolutions list, the strong contenders coming to small screens this January and February and the icy weather may convince you otherwise. From Cynthia Nixon’s turn in Julian Fellowes’ latest period drama The Gilded Age, to Jamie Dornan’s action-packed performance in The Tourist, this season sees a stellar line-up of actors deliver knock-out performances that are not to be missed. Here’s our pick of the must-see new TV shows to catch over the coming weeks.
Best New TV Shows For January And February
Jamie Dornan returns to the small screen with this nail-biting drama that kicks off with an Alfred Hitchock meets Mad Max chase scene. Dornan stars as ‘The Man,’ an Irishman who wakes up in an Australian hospital with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The amnesia poses a particular problem for the nameless protagonist as ghouls from his past start to appear, and the pressure for him to uncover his true identity and the secrets of his past becomes even more urgent.
Slick, fast-paced and full of plenty of unexpected twists and turns, this is an action-packed series that will surely have you on the edge of your seat.
BBC iPlayer, Available now
Set to fill a Line of Duty-sized gap in the television line-up – having been produced by none other than Jed Mercurio himself – Trigger Point sees Vicky McClure star as Lana Washington, an ex-military bomb disposal operative. Traumatised and reckless as a result, Washington is pushed to the edge when a series of targeted terrorist attacks hit London one summer, and Washington and the team of ‘Expos’ must risk their lives to dispose of the treacherous homemade devices.
Joined by Adrian Lester of Hustle and Riviera fame as a fellow bomb disposal operative who served with Washington in Afghanistan, the show takes place over six nail-biting episodes, offering a unique glimpse into the world of counter-terrorism policing and promising to be a tense and addictive watch.
Downton Abbey and Bridgerton fans, rejoice — there’s a new period drama coming to the small screen. Acclaimed director Julian Fellowes has turned his attention from the grand estates of the English countryside to the grandeur of America’s Gilded Age, a period of immense economic change in the late 19th century which saw old traditions challenged by new fortunes and new systems of power.
The drama kicks off in 1882, when young ingenue Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) moves from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after the death of her father to live with her aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon), who are rooted in the old money class. Joined by friend and aspiring writer Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), Marian finds herself drawn into a social war between one of her aunts and their nouveau riche neighbours — the ruthless railroad tycoon George (Morgan Spector) and and his ambitious wife Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon). As the modern age comes knocking, all the players must fight for their place and decide how much change they’re willing to accept.
Sky Atlantic, 25 January
Actress Kristen Bell may have made her name in teen TV drama Veronica Mars, but her latest series is an entirely different genre (and comes with a much longer title). A sharp satire of modern psychological thrillers like The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window, the series stars Bell as a heartbroken alcoholic who spends all of her days sitting by the window, drinking wine and watching the world go by.
Then one day, her world is turned upside down when she witnesses a murder happen across the street — then again, was she just drunk on wine and dreaming up one of the scenes from her mystery novels? Drama, ludicrous scenes and some truly tense moments ensue, with the series promising to keep you guessing right up until the final moments.
Netflix, 28 January
After launching on American streaming platform HBO Max in December, Station Eleven was quickly heralded by many critics as the best new show of the year. UK audiences will soon be able to judge for themselves, with the haunting drama based on the 2014 best-selling novel by Emily St. John Mandel slated to cross the Atlantic this month.
Be warned — this show might hit a little close to home. The dystopian drama traces the impact of a novel flu strain that decimates the world, with multiple timelines taking the viewer into the before-times and the post-apocalyptic after. In this period, twenty years after the pandemic resulted in the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors are making their living as traveling performers. But as it turns out, a deadly virus isn’t the last of their woes, as a violent cult threatens to upturn their world again. Addictive, disturbing and yet simultaneously full of hope and beauty, this is not one to miss.
Sky Atlantic, January
An entirely new take on the coming-of-age dramedy genre, this new Amazon Prime series from Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights writer and Parenthood creator) follows a group of friends in their twenties, each of whom is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Together, the roommates strive to get (and keep) jobs, expand their friend group and fall in love.
Poignant and heartwarming, the dramedy expands the anxieties of the twenties by seeing the world through the lens of those who feel especially confused by it. Starring newcomers Rick Glassman, Albert Rutecki, and Sue Ann Pien (all of whom identify as autistic), the series traces the setbacks and successes of each of the friends’ journeys towards independence.
Amazon Prime, 21 January
Ricky Gervais is back with the third and final season of his critically acclaimed comedy-drama series, which is set in the small fictitious down of Tambury and follows Tony (played by Gervais), a writer for a local newspaper whose life is turned upside down after his wife Lisa dies from cancer. Taking place over six episodes, this latest instalment promises to address several key points before the much-anticipated finale, including Tony’s potential budding romance with nurse Emma (Ashley Jensen) and his unresolved feelings following the death of his father (David Bradley).
But perhaps most importantly, the show will finally offer fans the chance to see whether Tony will allow himself a happy ending. While the series has followed his struggles as he grieves for his beloved wife, it has also showed the joy and hope he receives from making other people feel good, which quickly becomes his reason to live. Will this ending offer a new beginning for Tony? Watch to find out.
Netflix, 14 January
A compulsive watch, this new US-UK co-produced comedy drama created by former doctor turned celebrated author Adam Kay is based on his runaway hit memoir of the same name, which charts his time working on an NHS labour ward. Starring Ben Whishaw as the on-screen version of Adam, the series follows the young medic as he navigates a gruelling work schedule and climbs through the ranks of hospital hierarchy, all while struggling to maintain an attempt at a personal life and deal with unexpected political forces at play.
Offering an insightful look behind the curtain at life working for the NHS, Whishaw is joined by Harriet Walter and Alex Jennings in this touching, funny and often downright gruesome drama that’s sure to resonate even more with audiences post-pandemic.
BBC iPlayer, early 2022
While Lily James may not seem the obvious choice to play Pamela Anderson on the small screen, early reports are that the British star has more than captured the Baywatch babe in this captivating mini-series. Pam and Tommy tells the story of the blonde bombshell and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) as they meet, get married four days later and then are forced to deal with the fallout of their intimate honeymoon sex tape being leaked – the first-ever viral example of a celebrity scandal of this nature.
The show is executive produced by Seth Rogen, who also plays Rand Gauthier, the man who stole the sex tape. Anderson and Lee are not involved in the project themselves, and Anderson’s friend, Courtney Love, wrote a scathing post on social media branding the eight-part show ‘outrageous’ and saying the scandal destroyed her friend’s life. But one thing’s for sure – it’s a must-watch, if just to see James’s jaw-dropping transformation.
Disney+, 2 February
The world was gripped when news of the ‘fake heiress’ who scammed New York’s elite first broke – now Netflix is bringing out a new miniseries to tell the story of the con-artist, Anna Sorokin, who fooled the great and the good of Manhattan society into believing she was a wealthy socialite. Emmy Award-winning Julia Garner plays Sorokin, a Russian-born truck driver’s daughter who passed herself off as a glamorous German heiress called Anna Delver, before going on to defraud banks, top New York hotels and many of her rich friends.
Helmed by revolutionary producer Shonda Rhimes – the woman behind hits including Bridgerton and Scandal – the show is based on a New York Magazine story that went viral, with Veep’s Anna Chlumsky playing a character loosely based on the journalist who wrote the piece. Sharp, shocking and whip-smart, it makes for truly compelling viewing.
Netflix, 11 February
Following on from a string of hits including The Morning Show and Ted Lasso, Apple TV+ returns with a stellar new offering. Directed and produced by Ben Stiller, Severance follows a group of employees at Lumen Industries, a company that’s looking to take the concept of work-life balance to a whole new level with a specially crafted ‘severance’ program, used to separate their non-work memories from their work memories.
Adam Scott leads an all-star cast including Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken as he plays Mark, an employee with a dark past trying to put himself back together. With more than a touch of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind about it, this is an unsettling, thought-provoking drama that raises the question of just how far people will go to create personal boundaries – a topic that feels more relevant than ever in this new working-from-home world.
Apple TV+, 14 February