Culture

The Rings of Power, the Clintons’ heroes and Planet Sex: the must-see TV of autumn 2022

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

After a few years on the ropes, Amazon is roaring back into the TV game by making the loudest noise imaginable. The Rings of Power is not only set in one of the most beloved literary worlds in all of history – JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth – but it is reportedly also the most expensive television programme ever made. It had better be good, for everyone’s sake.
Amazon Prime Video, 2 September.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

For the past 11 years, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared has been one of the most unsettling places on the internet. A Sesame Street-style kids’ show parody, packed with songs and puppets, episodes get gradually creepier until the point that you are essentially watching a horror movie. The series will soon make its television debut on Channel 4. If the trailer is any indication, it will be gloriously horrifying.
Channel 4, September.

Gutsy

After her genius cameo in the closing moments of Derry Girls, Chelsea Clinton returns with her mum, Hillary, to rub shoulders with even more legendary women. The mother-daughter duo go on a road trip to meet their heroes, from Kim Kardashian to Wanda Sykes, Goldie Hawn, Gloria Steinem and Mrs Chimpanzee herself, Dame Jane Goodall.
Apple TV+, 9 September.

This England

Ophelia Lovibond and Kenneth Branagh as Carrie and Boris Johnson in This England.
Disconcerting … Ophelia Lovibond and Kenneth Branagh as Carrie and Boris Johnson in This England. Photograph: Phil Fisk/Sky UK Ltd

Already the cause of some chatter, thanks to the disconcerting casting of Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson, This England is Michael Winterbottom’s drama about the Covid crisis. It might still be too early to get a definitive take on such a world-stopping catastrophe, but you can guarantee people will be talking about this one.
Sky, 21 September.

Crossfire

What would you do if you were in your hotel room alone and gunmen started firing by the pool where your partner and children are? If you’re Keeley Hawes’s Jo (a former cop, of course) you dash straight down there to try to save them all – but not everyone will make it out. A breathless thriller written by Apple Tree Yard author Louise Doughty, this looks likely to be a mainstream smash in the Bodyguard vein.
BBC, September.

Industry

The hungry, noisy, filthy Industry returns for a second series. Its first run was touted as the gen-Z This Life for the ease with which it depicted a flood of ambitious young people getting crushed beneath the wheels of commerce. Expect more of the same this time around, plus even more sex.
BBC, September.

Jungle

Still from Jungle – a small boy in a corridor.
Warm welcome? … Jungle. Photograph: Delroy Matty/Prime Video

While all the world’s focus is on The Lord of the Rings, Amazon has the breathing space to quietly drop something much more exciting. Jungle is a six-part drama about inner-city London, told through the eyes of the grime and drill scene. It’ll get trounced by Tolkien, but those who love it will love it absolutely.
Amazon Prime Video, September.

The Horne Section

Although Taskmaster remains a juggernaut for Channel 4, its creator Alex Horne has decided to stretch his wings. The Horne Section is the name of Horne’s (real-life) band – the one that performs all the music for Taskmaster – and this will be a scripted comedy following their exploits. It has been described as “a unique blend of talkshow and sitcom, music and mayhem”, and that should be all you really need to convince you.
Channel 4, September.

The White Lotus

The White Lotus was a word-of-mouth hit in 2021, thanks to its exemplary cast, intricate plotting and a payoff involving a graphic bodily function. Although intended as a standalone, commercial success meant that another series was inevitable. This one sees a brand new cast (including Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza and Tom Hollander) in a brand new setting (Sicily), but hopefully it maintains the original’s relentless pace.
Sky, October.

The Crown

Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown.
Back with a new cast … Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown. Photograph: Netflix

Even though the real-life royal family seems dead set on matching fiction when it comes to jaw-dropping headlines, the Netflix mainstay is back this year with a brand new cast. Imelda Staunton is the Queen, Dominic West is Prince Charles, Elizabeth Debicki is Diana, Princess of Wales and, in a casting engineered purely to make you feel ancient, Jonny Lee Miller is John Major.
Netflix, November.

The Bear

One of the shows of the year, The Bear is the story of a fine-dining chef who returns to Chicago to run the family sandwich shop after his brother’s suicide. It’s sexy, it’s stressful, it stars the internet’s new boyfriend Jeremy Allen White. You’ll be hearing about The Bear everywhere, and for once the hype is justified.
Disney+, tbc.

Mammals

James Corden has become a divisive figure, but there’s no denying his dramatic chops in this romcom-cum-mystery from Jez Butterworth (of Jerusalem fame) that also co-stars Sally Hawkins, Tom Jones and a whopping great whale.
Amazon Prime Video, tbc.

The Idol

The Idol is a lot of things. It is creator Sam Levinson’s official follow-up to the controversial teen smash Euphoria. It is Lily-Rose Depp’s first starring role in a TV series. It is a show about a cult that envelops a rising pop star. But more than anything, if the teaser trailer is to be believed, it is likely to be an absurdly hectic flurry and sex and drugs and wealth and sleaze. Probably the most polarising show of the year.
Sky, tbc.

Somewhere Boy

An 18-year-old who has been locked inside his house by his tyrannical, deceitful father, with only old movies for company, is forced to venture out into the world he has been told is swarming with monsters. How will he cope out there? A heart-rending tale from the team behind The End of the F**king World.
Channel 4, tbc.

The English

Emily Blunt in The English
Sweet revenge … Emily Blunt in The English. Photograph: Diego Lopez Calvin/BBC/PA

Hugo Blick has been keeping a low profile since the monumental Black Earth Rising came out four years ago. But now he has finally surfaced with a follow-up; The English, a western starring Emily Blunt as a British 1890s frontierswoman hellbent on seeking revenge for the death of her son.
BBC, tbc.

Wednesday

The Addams Family franchise has fallen into a bit of a rut, thanks to a handful of duff animated movies, but Wednesday looks as if it will return the family’s prestige. A show about the student years of Wednesday Addams, the whole series has been directed by none other than Tim Burton. And Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to play Morticia Addams, a role she was surely born to play.
Netflix, tbc.

Inside Man

The ever industrious David Tennant returns in Inside Man, an incredibly ambitious sounding new series by Steven Moffat, about a prisoner on death row in the US crossing paths with a woman trapped in a cellar in the English countryside. Stanley Tucci and Dolly Wells round out the cast.
BBC, tbc.

Planet Sex

Produced and presented by Cara Delevingne, this six-part documentary is described as “a very personal exploration and deep-dive into the biggest questions about human sexuality”. Essentially, it sounds like Delevingne will visit a bunch of research labs and do sex experiments on herself. You will already know if this is something you want to watch.
BBC Three, tbc.

Riches

Stellar … Riches.
Stellar … Deborah Ayorinde, CJ Beckford (background) and Sarah Niles in Riches. Photograph: David Hindley/Prime Video

Billed as a Black Succession, ITV’s new drama is about the secrets of a hyper-wealthy family that spill out after the patriarch suffers a stroke. Riches promises to be glossy and opulent, and features a stellar cast in Hugh Quarshie, Sarah Niles and Nneka Okoye.
ITV, late 2022.

Litvinenko

After his eerily uncanny performance as Dennis Nilsen two years ago, David Tennant seems to have become ITV’s go-to guy for playing notorious real-life figures. His latest is Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer who drank a green tea poisoned with polonium … then solved his own murder case before he died in November 2006. Lupin’s George Kay writes and, if recent form is anything to go by, this will be unmissable.
ITV, late 2022.

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