As we venture deeper into autumn, we can expect more and more period dramas to start appearing on our screens. This year, October is no exception. From a reimagining of the French Revolution to Cold War stories about the space race and a chess prodigy, there are plenty of new TV shows to give you your historical fix. But there are also star-studded shows like Sky’s The Undoing, featuring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, for those wanting a dose of modern drama. This is our round up of the best television to watch this month.
An adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s revered 1932 dystopian novel, Brave New World centres on Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne, who live in ‘New London’. In this futuristic version of the capital, social order is maintained through the prohibition of monogamy and money, and the use of a legal drug called Soma which keeps citizens happy and peaceful. But Bernard and Lenina are desperate to experience something new, so they travel to the ‘Savage Lands’ where they meet John The Savage – a character who travels back to New London with them and disrupts the peace, making them question everything they know…
Available from 2 October on Now TV
Lily Collins stars in this romantic comedy TV series from the creator of Sex and The City, Darren Star. After landing her dream job in Paris, Emily Cooper leaves her home in Chicago to pursue a new life in the French capital. But the real star of this story about an American in Paris is actually the wardrobe – at the helm of the costume department is Patricia Field, who led costume design for Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, so expect plenty of sartorial delights.
Available from 2 October on Netflix
Based on the bestseller by Tom Wolfe, this National Geographic TV series tells the story of NASA’s legendary Mercury 7 missions. Set in 1959, US fighter pilots are recruited to become America’s first astronauts and help the US beat the Russians in the space race. Once selected, they become instant celebrities, entering into a competition that will either see them immortalised, or dead. This eight-part series is set to be a tale of real-life heroism, but also a story about scientific innovation and human determination when united by a common purpose.
Available from 9 October on Disney Plus
This reimagining of the French Revolution takes us back to 1787, when the future inventor of the guillotine discovers a deadly disease causing the aristocracy to murder commoners. That disease is called ‘Blue Blood’ and, although it isn’t quite understood yet, the working class knows that it needs to be eradicated. This is job undertaken by the Brotherhood, a group which revolts against the totalitarian monarchy at the time and members of the aristocracy who benefit from it. The fact that the script is in French offers an added element of authenticity to this bloody period drama.
Available from 16 October on Netflix; netflix.com
It’s the 1950s, and a young orphan named Beth is displaying an incredible talent for chess. But this is a male dominated world and Beth has developed an addiction to the tranquillisers that are used to sedate the children in her orphanage – a problem which follows her into adulthood. Despite this, the prodigy is determined to conquer the world of professional chess. Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, Emma’s Anna Taylor-Joy takes the lead role in this story of how one girl overcame the odds.
Available 23 October on Netflix; netflix.com
Grace Frazer has the perfect life – a devoted husband, a young son attending one of New York’s top schools and a successful career as a therapist. But when her husband goes missing and leaves a string of tragedies in his wake, including a murdered young mother, Grace must try to assimilate the man she knew with the facts she sees before her. As she dismantles one life and tries to create another with her child, Grace must navigate a very public disaster. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant star.
Available from 26 October on Sky Atlantic; sky.com
Hugh Laurie plays Conservative politician Peter Laurence in this new thriller from the BBC. Self-made, charismatic and a force to be reckoned with, Peter is a major player on the political scene until his enemies begin to pick his public and private life apart. But as the revelations spiral, Peter is untroubled by remorse. Instead, all he cares about is his own agenda, regardless of whoever that might bring down. Laurie is the master of playing compelling, morally ambiguous characters – Roadkill shows him once again at his finest.
Coming to the BBC this October; bbc.co.uk
From the creator of Luther comes this dark new supernatural series. Russell Tovey stars as Nathan, a man who has tried for years to atone for a terrible secret and who is still haunted by the ghost of it. 10 years into his marriage, he is visited by Bob, an unwelcome figure from his past who imparts some shocking news. This triggers Nathan to make a series of catastrophic decisions in the hope of possible redemption in this suspenseful psychological thriller.
Coming to ITV this October; itv.com