Your ultimate autumn TV viewing guide

·6-min read
 (Autumn TV)
(Autumn TV)

The autumn TV schedules will inevitably be dominated by the early arrival of two fantasy blockbusters, battling to outpace one another for budget, star wattage and audience devotion. In the blue corner is the long-awaited TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman which is already with us, splitting viewers squarely down the middle between those who worship every frame of the author’s dreamscape and those baffled by its innate WTF-ness. In the red is House of The Dragon, the massively hyped Game of Thrones prequel. For viewers struggling with theses fantasy leviathans, there is a whole range of fayre from across the spectrum of drama as the nights close in and telly heats up.

Industry, BBC1

The first season of Industry was an out of the box, instant London classic, a This Life du nos jours, with the law replaced by The City, introducing us to the bits of the financial industry in the Square Mile you won’t see on a Merrill Lynch job spec. Five graduates step up to the plate at Pierpoint corporate bank. For S2, Harper, Yasmin and Robin are no longer the new kids, fighting for survival. The direct clash between their neuroses and ambitions are about to get even more hardcore, in a series pretty much built on sex, drugs and the floating exchange rate. Unmissable.

date tbc

Industry (BBC / Bad Wolf / HBO)
Industry (BBC / Bad Wolf / HBO)

This England, Sky Atlantic

Kenneth Brannagh’s astonishing physical transformation into Boris Johnson is the trailer-bait that has travelled far and wide online for this five-part political and personal drama. Director Michael Winterbottom has previous form in translating comic civic leaders into compelling TV leads, though Johnson comes with more weight than his previous subject, cultural savant Tony Wilson. Concentrating on the PM’s handling of the pandemic, expect a tour de force backstage glance into the Downing Street rose garden fiasco with Cummings and a more fleshed out interpretation of what it means to be “besieged by cake” than Sue Gray would muster. It will be absolute talking point TV.

September tbc

This England (Phil Fisk/ Sky UK Ltd)
This England (Phil Fisk/ Sky UK Ltd)

Crossfire, BBC1

The first original drama from Louise Doughty, previously responsible for the brilliant adaptation of Apple Tree Yard, stars reliable screen ace Keeley Hawes. Resort dramas are now officially a TV thing, post White Lotus and, um, The Resort (watch both as a matter of some urgency if you haven’t yet), and Ms Hawes and her cohort are whisked to Gran Canaria. Holiday’s are relaxing times, right? Not when the resort is under siege from a group of rogue, mysterious and highly-toxic gunmen. Set the dial for extreme tension as ordinary holidaymakers melt under extraordinary circumstances.

date tbc

Crossfire (BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)
Crossfire (BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

American Gigolo, Paramount+

It was the moodily lit, beautiful film that turned Richard Gere briefly into the most famous (and most desirable) man on the planet. Back in the early Eighties, AG interrogated the louche mind of the male sex worker in Los Angeles. It inaugurated Giorgio Armani as the name-to-drop Italian designer of the decade. Now fleshed out to a series with a contemporaneous update, Walking Dead and Marvel alumnus Jon Bernthal steps into the spendy slip-ons of escort Julian Kaye. Expect flesh, flash cars and a sudden explosion in interest in the Blondie classic, Call Me.

September 10

American Gigolo (Warrick Page/SHOWTIME)
American Gigolo (Warrick Page/SHOWTIME)

Gangs of London, Sky Atlantic

One year has passed since the death of (massive season one spoiler alert) Sean Wallace and recriminations are due. Let’s face it, we didn’t come to the first smash-hit season of Gangs of London for the plotlines, which are rudimentary street vengeance tales, we came for painterly ultra-violence, scary showdowns and a surprisingly complex playing hand of characters. Paapa Essiedu returns as Alexander and there are fabulous supporting turns from Sope Dirisu, Asif Raza, Valene Kane and Michelle Fairley. They all make London’s criminal underworld look as cinematic as it feels terrifying.

date tbc

Ralph and Katie, BBC1

In all the talk of diversity and inclusion in arts and entertainment, disability is frequently the last on the list. Hats off, then, to Peter Bowker who follows his incredibly moving three-series hit, The A Word, with a fresh new spin-off featuring lead characters with Down’s Syndrome, Ralph (Leon Harrop) and Katie (Sarah Gordy) Wilson. Filmed between Manchester and the Lake District, the drama follows their life as newly-weds. Some of the obstacles they have to negotiate will feel able-bodied familiar, some eye-opening new. Like The A Word, it’s all delivered directly from the heart, with a careful eye on the fine line between sentimentality and sincerity. Bravo, all.

date tbc

Ralph and Katie (BBC1)
Ralph and Katie (BBC1)

The Crown, Netflix

The dependable royal soap opera feels like it has been returning to the autumn schedules since day dot now, but with a refreshed line-up stepping into the key roles, let’s think of it as a mid-match reboot as we head to the end of this epic saga. Particular attention will be on Imelda Staunton — a regal presence in herself — taking over from Olivia Colman as the Queen. The Night Manager’s Elizabeth Debicki plays Diana as her marriage falls to pieces, Dominic West her fumbling foil as Charles. Only one more to go after this season. Hold steady.

November tbc

 (Netflix)
(Netflix)

The Suspect, ITV1

Dashing Poldark star Aidan Turner returns as Doctor Joe O’Loughlin, recently sequestered to assist in a murder inquiry. Doctor Joe has not long been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a condition Turner did a lot of research to bring plausibly to life. The drama kicks off when it appears our trusty Doc may actually be a little better informed about the story of the murder than he’s initially letting on. Could the investigating medical officer — gasp — be responsible for the corpse?

date tbc

The Suspect (ITV)
The Suspect (ITV)

I Hate Suzie Too, Sky Atlantic

Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble’s deftly observed black comedy centring on the domestic life of a TV star gone awry explores new territory for season two. The first season cleverly ruminated on what happens when a set of compromised pictures of the star leaked online. What rights to privacy can a second-tier star, inviting the press into her home for promo, expect in return? For S2, Suzie Pickles takes the reality TV dollar, further devaluing her brand in a deeply competitive fame market. Anyone who remembers Lisa Kudrow’s peerless reality spoof The Comeback will appreciate this is a very rich seam to mine for material when it comes to what the TV industry does with, and to, its fading stars.

date tbc

I Hate Suzie Too (Sky Atlantic)
I Hate Suzie Too (Sky Atlantic)

House of the Dragon, Sky Atlantic

The big one. Game of Thrones was an era-defining success for the HBO network, revitalising it’s key brand values of quality over commerce in the world of swords and sorcery. House of the Dragon is the hugely hyped prequel, an extended rollercoaster ride through the establishment of the House Tagaryen. Once again taking George RR Martin’s twisting bloodthirsty narratives as source material, Matt Smith and the venerable Paddy Considine step into the lead roles. What more filth and depravity does Westeros have to offer? Plenty, it would seem. This is just the beginning of Star Wars-esque franchise domination. (see full feature on p.15)

August 22, 2am