With the explosion in streaming, the choice for TV viewers has never been stronger, but the traditional broadcasters aren’t giving up quite yet.
They may not have the cash that some online services have, but they’re still doing what they can to deliver quality programming for audiences.
So the message is, the battle is far from over. Here are 20 TV titles from across the spectrum to watch out for in 2020.
(Transmission dates are given where known.)
All Creatures Great and Small (Channel 5)
The original BBC adaptation (pictured) was a huge hit in the 1970s and 1980s. The stories followed the lives of a group of vets in a Yorkshire village. Now the much-loved books are being filmed again, this time for Channel 5. The series is being made to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first of the books, If Only They Could Talk.
Avenue 5 (Sky One)
Armando Iannucci, who brought us Veep and The Thick of It, now explores space in Avenue 5. Set 40 years in the future it stars Hugh Laurie as the captain of a space cruise ship. The cast also includes Josh Gad and Nikki Amuka-Bird. A fire at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire destroyed one of the main sets during filming, but the series was still completed on schedule.
Expected 22 January.
The Bay (ITV)
Set in the coastal town of Morecambe, series two of the crime drama sees Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) continuing her police work still bruised from the events of series one. Armstrong who’s a family liaison officer is drawn into the events of a shocking murder. Daniel Ryan (Detective Inspector Tony Manning) and Lindsey Coulson (Penny Armstrong) also return for the new series.
The six-part series reunites writer Julian Fellowes with the team behind Downton Abbey. Set in the upper echelons of London society the story begins on the evening of the Battle of Waterloo. And explores how the consequences of that week’s events go on to resonate for decades. The cast includes Philip Glenister and Alice Eve.
Boys (Channel 4)
The series starts in 1981, and follows the experiences of three young men and their best friend Jill. As the years pass, their lives and those around them begin to be affected by Aids. Olly Alexander from music group Years & Years plays the drama’s central character Ritchie. It’s written by Russell T Davies, whose first big success was Channel Four’s Queer As Folk.
The Crown (Netflix)
The fourth series of the Royal drama sees Olivia Colman continuing to play Queen Elizabeth II. Significant new characters introduced during this series will include Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And relative newcomer Emma Corrin, who’ll play Lady Diana Spencer, later Princess of Wales after her wedding to Prince Charles.
Doctor Who (BBC One)
Jodie Whittaker returns for her second series as the Time Lord. And the pre-publicity is also promising the return of a number of classic Doctor Who villains. BBC One will have been delighted with the last series’ high viewing figures, but also concerned at the way they decreased throughout almost all the 10-episode run. This year’s series opening is certainly a step up in terms of pace and energy.
Goes out on 1 January.
Dracula (BBC One)
Co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss had huge success with their updated version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock. This time they’re bringing to the small screen a new take on Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story. The three-part series stars the relatively unknown Claes Bang in the title role. It’ll be broadcast over three consecutive nights.
Goes out on 1 January.
Killing Eve (BBC One)
The stylish female-led thriller has swiftly become a favourite with audiences and with awards bodies. In the past year its stars Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh have been honoured by Bafta, the Emmys and the Golden Globes. And the series’s creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has also been recognised for her work. Its success has made the third series one of the most anticipated of 2020.
Line of Duty (BBC One)
The series five finale was the most watched TV show of 2019, so expectation is naturally high for the sixth series of Jed Mercurio’s police drama. Few details are known at this stage, but it’s thought likely to continue the search for a corrupt, high level officer in the police force. All three of the show’s main cast – Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar will be returning. They’ll be joined by Kelly Macdonald as Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson.
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
For many, this Star Wars spinoff is the thing they’re most excited about on the new Disney streaming service. Although the series, which is already airing in the US, has the mysterious bounty hunter as its lead character, much attention has been focussed on another (slightly spoliery) appearance. With more Star Wars films on the way after The Rise of Skywalker, fans are also keen to see how this series might fit into the wider movie universe.
Expected 31 March.
Normal People (BBC Three)
Based on Sally Rooney’s award-winning novel, Normal People explores the complex relationship between two people from school to University. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Marianne and Paul Mescal plays Connall. The story will be told over 12 episodes, and has been filmed in Dublin, Sligo and Italy.
Noughts + Crosses (BBC One)
The TV adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s much-loved novel tells the story of two young people in love but who are divided by their colour. Sephy, a Cross , is from the black ruling class. Callum, a Nought, is a member of the white underclass. Newcomer Masali Baduza plays Sephy, and Jack Rowan plays Callum. Music star Stormzy will also appear as a newspaper editor called Kolawale.
This three-part drama follows the true story of Major Charles Ingram winning the top million pound prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionare? He was famously then accused of conspiring with a coughing audience member, along with his wife, to cheat his way to the jackpot. Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford star as Charles and Diana Ingram. Michael Sheen plays the quiz show’s host Chris Tarrant.
Salisbury (BBC Two)
The events of 2018 in Salisbury shocked the world. Dawn Sturgess died, and others including her boyfriend Charlie Rowley and police officer Nick Bailey were treated in hospital after coming into contact with the nerve agent Novichok in an attack that targeted former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It’s now been filmed as a three-part TV series that will focus on the effect the poisoning had on the local community.
Star Trek: Picard (Amazon Video)
Sir Patrick Stewart returns to the Star Trek universe, reprising the role of Jean-Luc Picard, who first appeared in the franchise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Few details have been released about the conspiracies and alien foes he might encounter. But he’ll be joined on screen by old favourites Jonathan Frakes as his one-time first officer Will Riker, Brent Spiner’s artificial life form Data, and Jeri Ryan’s former Borg Seven of Nine.
Out from 24 January.
Strike: Lethal White (BBC One)
The fourth and latest best-selling crime novel by JK Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) comes to the screen, with Tom Burke once again playing private detective Cormoran Strike and Holliday Grainger as his partner Robin Ellacott. This time they’re investigating a report of a child murder at the same time as trying to unravel a political mystery. Natasha O’Keefe and Kerr Logan also return as Strike’s ex-girlfriend Charlotte and Robin’s husband Matthew.
Succession (Sky Atlantic)
The story of the dysfunctional Roy family, trying to deal with the fallout as their ageing father Logan (Brian Cox) steps back from the media conglomerate they control has captivated viewers for two series now. It’s not been confirmed when the eagerly awaited third series will air, but filming is expected to begin in early 2020 for transmission in the summer.
A Suitable Boy (BBC One)
Adapted from Vikram Seth’s classic novel, A Suitable Boy is the story of a young student in North India in the early 1950s – a time when the country was also in its early days as an independent nation, and people were preparing to vote in its first democratic general election. The six-part series stars Ishaan Khatter and Tanta Maniktala.
Treadstone (Amazon Prime)
A spin off from the action-packed Jason Bourne movies, Treadstone was the mysterious organisation that covertly turned agents into almost superhuman assassins. The series follows a succession of sleeper agents who are awakened to perform deadly missions. It stars Jeremy Irvine, Tracy Ifeachor and Omar Metwally.
Available from 10 January.