The explosion in streaming content in recent years means there’s now too much great TV for even the most dedicated of viewers to keep up with.
And while some might not even consider 2023 to have been a vintage year, it still brought us the final series of Happy Valley and Succession. There were also new instalments of shows such as The Bear and Slow Horses and new favourites such as The Last of Us.
So which shows will be competing for our attention next year? Here, in strictly alphabetical order, are 24 shows to look out for in 2024.
Blue Lights: Series Two (BBC One)
It’s always difficult doing something fresh with such a much-explored genre as the police drama. Series one of Blue Lights rose to the challenge admirably, following a group of Police Service of Northern Ireland recruits in their first few months of the job, in what turned out to be a tense, compelling, and moving drama. Most of the original cast will be returning for series two’s six episodes.
(Transmission date to be confirmed)
Joanne Froggatt stars as an NHS doctor helping to deal with Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic. It’s based on a personal memoir written by doctor-writer Rachel Clarke, who’s adapted it for TV alongside former junior hospital doctors Prasanna Puwanarajah and Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio.
Coma (Channel 5)
Coma (working title) explores the issue of anti-social behaviour, and the unintended consequences of it. Jason Watkins plays Simon, whose neighbourhood is plagued by a group of terrorising teenagers. Things come to a head in an unforeseen way when he confronts the teenagers’ leader.
The Day of the Jackal (Sky Atlantic)
Frederick Forsyth’s classic novel has, of course, been adapted before. This latest incarnation stars Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as the Jackal opposite Bond star Lashana Lynch. And while its makers promise it stays true to the DNA of the original story, they also say their intention is to boldly reimagine it for the 21st Century.
Doctor Who (BBC One)
After Ncuti Gatwa’s first full-length episode on Christmas Day, he and new companion Ruby Sunday (played by Millie Gibson) will soon be off for new adventures in their first full series. Guest actors will include RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinx Monsoon and Bafta winner Lenny Rush. Returning showrunner Russell T Davies has hinted that in one of the Doctor’s new adventures will involve The Beatles.
Domino Day (BBC Three)
Siena Kelly plays the titular character in this supernatural drama. Like millions, Domino Day is a regular user of dating apps. But instead of using them to find a partner, she’s a witch with a desperate need to feed on the energy of others. She’s also being hunted in turn by a coven of witches who consider her a dangerous outcast.
Gladiators (BBC One)
Long before Russell Crowe strutted his stuff in the Colosseum, ITV’s Gladiators provided essential Saturday night viewing for millions. Now, the high-powered game where contestants compete in testing physical tasks against lycra-clad Gladiators has been revived by the BBC. The producers are promising new games alongside some old favourites.
House of the Dragon Series 2 (Sky Atlantic)
Despite the considerable number of dragons featured in the first series, House of the Dragon didn’t quite set the TV world alight to the same extent as its predecessor Game of Thrones. However, George R R Martin is known for creating complex stories that unfold over time, and so interest will still be high in the second series of the fantasy series adapted from Martin’s book Fire & Blood and which stars Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy.
Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner plays Joan, a mother trapped in a marriage to a violent criminal. But when an opportunity arises, she starts a new life for herself in a series inspired by the true story of notorious jewel thief Joan Hannington.
Mr and Mrs Smith (Prime Video)
The original Mr and Mrs Smith is as well known for being a box office hit as for being the start of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s romance back in 2005. This new TV version seems Donald Glover and Maya Erskine taking on the roles of two assassins who are married to each other, and who discover that they’ve both been hired to kill their partner.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office (ITV1)
The Post Office scandal is one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in modern history, with hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and postmistresses wrongly accused of theft, fraud, and false accounting. Some ended up going to prison. But the real culprit was Horizon, a defective IT system. Exactly who knew what and when is still being examined in an inquiry and a police investigation. This dramatisation led by Toby Jones tells the story of a group of those accused forming a group that fought back against injustice.
One Day (Netflix)
David Nicholls’s best seller has already had a 2011 film adaptation starring in Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. This new 14-part TV adaptation stars Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall as Emma and Dexter – two friends who meet at university. The story follows their journey by examining where they are on the same day (15 July) of each successive year.
This psychological thriller stars Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, a young man hired by a wealthy businessman to try to persuade his son Dickie (Johnny Flynn) to return home from Italy. But Ripley has other motives in a story that becomes darker and darker, with themes of jealousy and betrayal coming to the surface. It’s based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr Ripley, and was adapted in 1999 for cinema in a film starring Matt Damon and Jude Law.
The roguish Rupert Campbell-Black (Alex Hassell) became one of author Jilly Cooper’s most famous characters after his introduction in the book Riders. This sequel to that story sees Rupert becoming involved in the TV business, where he comes up against David Tennant’s formidable and ruthless Tony Baddingham. The cast also includes Aidan Turner as TV presenter Declan O’Hara, and Danny Dyer as millionaire businessman Freddie Jones.
Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be executed by the state, and was hanged at Holloway Prison in 1955. The model and nightclub hostess had been in an abusive relationship when she shot dead her partner David Blakely. The drama, which stars Lucy Boynton as Ellis, will show her life in the years leading up to her death, as well as the efforts of her hard working lawyer John Bickford, played by Toby Jones.
Slow Horses series 4 (Apple TV+)
This will be the fourth outing for the series of spy stories that couldn’t be further from the world of James Bond. It’s broadly based on Mick Herron’s fifth Slow Horses novel Spook Street. As always at the centre of the story are the group of MI5 agents exiled to Slough House, because they’re regarded as, frankly, pretty rubbish by the rest of the service. If it closely follows the book, Jack Lowden’s River Cartwright will face up to difficult family issues. While we’ll see a new side to Gary Oldman’s flatulent Jackson Lamb.
The Penguin (Sky Atlantic tbc)
A spin-off from the Robert Pattinson film The Batman, this centres on Colin Farrell as the Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot. It’s expected to follow the villain’s dramatic rise to power in the criminal underworld of Gotham City. It also starts Cristin Milioti as Sofia Falcone, a rival to the Penguin in Gotham.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Sky Atlantic)
Based on the novel by Heather Morris, The Tatooist tells the real-life story of Lali (Jonah Hauer-King) who at Auschwitz-Birkeneau is made to work tattooing identification numbers onto prisoners’ arms. When he meets Gita (Anna Próchniak) the two fall in love, forging an unbreakable bond as they vow to survive together. It also stars Harvey Keitel and Melanie Lynskey.
The Tourist (BBC One)
New Year’s Day is when the BBC often likes to launch its biggest dramas. This year it’s the return of The Tourist. The first series saw Jamie Dornan waking up in an Australian hospital suffering from amnesia. This second series is set in Ireland and looks set to explore more of Elliot’s (Jamie Dornan) past. It also stars Danielle Macdonald as Helen.
The Traitors (BBC One)
Hosted by Claudia Winkleman, the Traitors became one of the most talked about shows on TV when the first series aired at the end of 2022. The reality competition where contestants competed in a series of missions, while trying to avoid being eliminated by the traitors among them, kept audiences guessing until the end. This time around, a new group of 22 strangers will hoping to win £120,000.
Trigger Point (ITV1)
Vicky McClure reprises her role as Lana ‘Wash’ Washington, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s bomb disposal squad. The first series in 2022 was one of ITV’s biggest hits of the year. This time around she and the team have to deal with a sophisticated terror attack in the heart of the city of London.
True Detective: Night Country (Sky Atlantic)
True Detective has earned a reputation for deep, emotional and complex storytelling, even if it’s had uneven success since its first series in 2014. This instalment is set in Ennis, Alaska where eight men who run a research station disappear. Two detectives are brought in to try solve the case Liz Danvers (Oscar winner Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis).
Truelove (Channel 4)
Truelove features an ensemble cast including Lindsay Duncan, Clarke Peters, Sue Johnston and Peter Egan. And is about a group friends who promise each other that if any of them suffers “a dreadful decline” they’ll ensure they receive a more dignified death as a sign of “Truelove”. But, as ever, events don’t quite go to plan.
Wallace & Gromit (BBC One)
It’s 15 years since Wallace & Gromit’s Christmas Day adventure A Matter of Loaf and Death became the most watched programme of that year. This as-yet-untitled new instalment sees Wallace inventing a “smart gnome” which quickly develops a mind of its own. It seems likely that, once again, Gromit will have to come to Wallace’s rescue. Nothing has been officially confirmed on the broadcast date, but it seems inevitable that it will be one 2024’s Christmas Day highlights.
Could there be any other as yet unannounced gems for audiences in 2024?
It’s been two-and-a-half years since series six of Line Of Duty. With there be a seventh in 2024 (or 2025, or 2026?) Should there even be a seventh?
In a recent GQ interview, the police corruption drama’s creator Jed Mercurio said: “We’d all love to do more. We all love working together. But there’s no news. We’re still figuring out if we should do more and what that would be if we do it.”
With the last finale being watched by more than 16.5m viewers, it’s clear that the BBC would love another series of the show. As it also would with one of Mercurio’s other creations – Bodyguard.
Elsewhere, while most would agree that James Bond belongs on the big screen, could any unveiling of Daniel Craig’s successor as 007 happen on the small screen?
With Amazon now co-owners of the Bond franchise, whenever the franchise does move forward, whether next year, the year after that, or whenever, there could well be a huge temptation to reveal the next 007 exclusively on their Prime Video platform.
And the most watched pieces of television of the 2024 might be something that hasn’t even been mentioned above. If there’s a strong showing from the home nations in the European Football Championships in June and July, the last stages could see tens of millions tuning in.
England and Scotland have already earned their places at the tournament, with Wales potentially joining them. A final between any two of the three countries could see record breaking viewing figures.