Television in 2018 got off to a flying start with our New Year cover star James Norton leading the cast of BBC1’s explosive (and expensive) global corruption drama, McMafia.
The small-screen treats continue apace. From high-concept drama to hard-hitting documentary, via westerns and a real life political scandal, it looks set to be another bumper year.
The finest actors – from Sarah Lancashire to Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Stone, Lennie James, John Simm and Ruth Wilson – all have intriguing new television projects.
But will any of these shows rival the inventive comedy of Netflix’s The Good Place? Is there a drama to match the excruciating pertinence of The Handmaids Tale or the oddball intensity of Twin Peaks: The Return? And can any documentary compare with Blue Planet 2? Read on…
Jack Thorne returns to Channel 4 following 2016’s National Treasure with another topical political drama, featuring the sublime Sarah Lancashire as a social worker alongside rising-star Wunmi Mosaku and top theatre actor Paapa Essiedu. The complex story of the abduction of a young black girl who was all set to be adopted by a white family, and the fallout from the traumatic event – in the media, the family and the wider community – will be expertly handled by one of the greatest British writers of recent times. Catch episode one on Wednesday 10th January.
The most important series of 2018 is surely this four-part BBC2 documentary focusing on the reality of living in poverty in the UK. Made by the team behind 2016’s multi-award-winning Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, in which refugees from Syria and Afghanistan filmed their own journeys, we can expect a no-holds-barred look at the big issues of our age – inequality of wealth, inequality of opportunity, inequality of housing – filmed from within.
Benedict Cumberbatch cuts a dash as wealthy, privileged playboy Patrick Melrose in Sky Atlantic’s adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s novels. Damaged by childhood abuse, prone to substance abuse, and armed with a caustic wit, if we thought Sherlock was prone to extremes, wait until Melrose gets going. We may see a side of Cumberbatch we’ve not witnessed before in this five-part series scripted by One Day writer David Nicholls.
A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL
Two words to warm the heart in a cold winter: Hugh Grant. The actor returns to television for the first time since The Changeling in 1994. Written by Russell T Davies, directed by Stephen Frears, and co-starring Ben Whishaw, this true-life tale of sex, lies, politics and murder, with Grant playing former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, has quality written all over it. “I was 16 and saw it unfold on the news. It’s probably the first gay story I ever heard,” writer Davies has said. Coming soon to BBC2…
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS / MANIAC
With the Coen Brothers at the helm, and James Franco and Zoe Kazan reunited following David Simon’s excellent The Deuce, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is an intriguing six-part anthology western. Maniac is similarly leftfield – featuring Emma Stone in a story of fantasy dream lives within a psychiatric hospital. Both shows come to Netflix in 2018.
Two detectives who don’t trust each other, forced to work together, united by a case involving government secrecy about some big news – that the end of the world is actually nigh! Inspired by David Bowie’s Five Years, written by Luther scribe Neil Cross, and starring Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn, this massive new BBC1 drama series starts January 6 on BBC1…
Ruth Wilson, one of our finest actors, stars as her own grandmother in this semi-autobiographical story about a woman who discovers that her late husband led a double life and had a second family. “I am so excited to bring to the small screen the extraordinary lives of my grandparents,” says Wilson, most recently seen in Sky Atlantic’s The Affair…
Coming to Sky Atlantic in February, this drama is written by and stars the brilliant Lennie James. He plays a working class geezer accused of abducting his daughter, while Suranne Jones plays the missing teenage girl’s high flying mother. If that’s not enough, it’s made by the team behind Line of Duty and Stephen Graham is among the co-stars.
Carey Mulligan, Billie Piper and John Simm lead the cast in a heavyweight drama from playwright David Hare. A state of the nation drama set over four days, this series – in which Mulligan plays the police officer investigating an apparently random act of violence – could be 2018’s State of Play. Coming to BBC2 in February.
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.