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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Gwilym Mumford

The Guide #111: Ten TV shows to get you through winter

Paapa Essiedu in The Lazarus Project, David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in the Crown.
Paapa Essiedu in The Lazarus Project, David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in the Crown. Photograph: SKy Alamy and Netflix

British summer time is over, the daylight hours are dwindling and we seem to be getting a new and horrendous storm every week. Clearly then it’s hibernation season, when trips outside – or even away from the sofa – are to be kept to an absolute minimum, and the “play next” button is to be bashed liberally.

Thankfully, despite a worrying, strikes-induced dry spell for TV in recent months, November and December is looking pretty stuffed for intriguing new shows. Here are 10 to burn through over the coming weeks (for the purposes of today’s newsletter I’ve looked at UK release dates, but for global schedules and platforms check out …

For All Mankind

For All Mankind.
For All Mankind. Photograph: Apple TV+

This speculative history drama imagining what would have happened if the Soviets had won the space race is one of the best shows on TV that no one talks about. Season four moves the action to 1996 where tensions are hotting up at an international base on Mars. Worth watching alone for the great opening sequences at the start of every season, reeling through news stories in the show’s alternative reality (“John Lennon survives assassination … Ted Kennedy elected president”).

Available on Apple TV+ from 10 Nov

The Curse

A new Nathan Fielder comedy? Co-created by Benny Safdie? Starring Emma Stone? Not sure anything else on this list can quite match that top billing. In The Curse Fielder and Stone play a home-improvement-show-hosting couple whose lives are upturned when a child curses them. If it’s a fifth as full-on as Fielder’s last series, The Rehearsal, it will be very full-on indeed!

Paramount+ from 11 Nov

A Murder at the End of the World

Netflix’s decision to cancel The OA, TV’s most mysterious show, before its mysteries had actually been resolved was a truly maddening commissioning decision. Here, as a crumb of solace for those still in mourning, comes a new show from its creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij: a chilly whodunnit starring Emma Corrin as a celeb sleuth trying to get to the bottom of a suspicious death at a tech retreat.

Disney+ from 14 Nov

The Lazarus Project

The first series of this sci-fi thriller could best be described as elevated trash: its premise – secret agent is stuck in a perpetual six-month time loop – was high-concept and silly, but the talent involved (Giri/Haji’s Joe Barton on showrunning duties, Paapa Essiedu in the starring role, Vinette Robinson, Tom Burke and Caroline Quentin ably supporting) was serious. It returns this month for season two with the stakes upped again, as time itself is in danger of collapsing.

Sky and Now from 15 Nov

The Crown

The final season of Peter Morgan’s royal drama has an awful lot to cram in before its 2005 termination point. Diana’s death and its aftermath will obviously take up a lot of room, but there’s the emergence of Tony Blair, the deaths of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, and Charles’s marriage to Camilla to tick off as well. For maximum impact it’s being released in two chunks: the first four (Diana-focused) episodes arrive this month; the remaining six follow on 14 December.

Netflix from 16 Nov

Squid Game: The Challenge

Squid Game: The Challenge.
Squid Game: The Challenge. Photograph: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Fans of sadistic spins on grandmother’s footsteps will have to wait until next year at least for season two of hit drama Squid Game. But here comes a gameshow version that, while a fair bit less bloody, hardly sounds a stroll in the park: three contestants needed medical treatment during its making. Still, a $4.56m prize pot should make all the suffering worthwhile for its lucky winner – and raise the stakes sufficiently for those of us watching from the sofa.

Netflix from 22 Nov

Doctor Who specials

It’s a big year for the Who-niverse, as TV’s longest-running sci-fi series celebrates its 60th. Marking the anniversary, and leading up for a new series starring Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor, are a trio of specials starring one of the show’s most loved Timelord/Companion combos: David Tennant and Catherine Tate. How and why they’re back together remains a bit of a mystery, but with Russell T Davies back on showrunning duties, the reveal should hopefully be a satisfying one.

BBC One and iPlayer from 25 Nov

Slow Horses

At a time when so many shows have years-long gaps between series (see The White Lotus, which won’t be back until 2025!), it’s hard to resist the like-clockwork charms of this Gary Oldman-starring spy drama, which keeps churning out tightly plotted, frequently funny fare at a steady click (this is its third series in 18 months). Let’s gloss over that extremely ropey Mick Jagger theme tune for now, eh?

Apple TV+ from 29 Nov

Boat Story

Fraternal writing duo Harry and Jack Williams have carved out a solid niche in taut, glowering British thrillers (The Missing, One of Us, The Tourist). Boat Story looks thrilling alright, but otherwise seems a bit of a departure: a big, broad crime caper about two strangers who stumble upon a literal boatload of cash, and have to deal with the ugly consequences. The cast is a perfect one for this sort of comedy/drama hybrid: Back to Life’s Daisy Haggard, Paterson “Johnson from Peep Show” Joseph and Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It, After Love).

BBC One and iPlayer TBC

Platform 7

Jasmine Jobson’s performance (as conflicted dealer Jaq) was the best thing about Top Boy’s recent final season, so it really is time for her to get a shot at a juicy leading role. Here, right on cue, is one: she stars in this supernatural-tinged psychological thriller adapted from Louise Doughty’s bestseller, about a woman questioning everything after witnessing a traumatic incident at a train station.

ITV and ITVX from 7 Dec

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