In Review

TV shows to watch out for in 2020

The best series heading for the small screen in the year ahead

Christmas has been and gone, but sitting down in front of the television and eating large amounts of food is here to stay.

Fortunately, 2020 has plenty of small screen entertainment to offer. Here’s what promises to be the best of it:

Belgravia

The six-part drama will follow the upper echelons of high society life in 19th-century London.

With Julian Fellowes, the writer and executive producer behind Downton Abbey, at the helm, the show has fans of period drama on tenterhooks.

Add a big-name cast to the mix and expectations shoot even higher: Tamsin Greig, Harriet Walter, Alice Eve and Philip Glenister all feature in Fellowes’ big return to ITV.

“When the Trenchards accept an invitation to the now legendary ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond on the fateful evening of the Battle of Waterloo, it sets in motion a series of events that will have consequences for decades,” the ITV synopsis explains. “Secrets unravel behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode.”

Killing Eve - season three

Jodie Comer’s psychopathic Villanelle will return to the BBC in 2020, with plenty of questions that need answering after a dramatic end to season two.

The last series ended with a bang, as Villanelle shot Eve (Sandra Oh) after the MI6 agent refused to run away with her.

Season three will see if Eve survives and, if so, will explore the fallout between her and Villanelle.

Though a release date has not yet been announced, the expectation is that it will follow a similar schedule to series two, which dropped in full on BBC iPlayer in mid-June 2019.

The Elephant Man

The 1980 film The Elephant Man is considered a classic, was nominated for eight Oscars and won the Bafta for best film – no pressure on the cast and crew of the 2020 BBC adaptation then.

Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton will depict the tragic Joseph Merrick, branching out from playing the teenage Jonathan Byers for three seasons in the hit Netflix sci-fi show.

“I’m extremely excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to take on the portrayal of Joseph Merrick in the BBC’s adaption of The Elephant Man,” Heaton said.

The show will tell the story of Merrick, dubbed “the Elephant Man” for his physical deformities and who was exhibited at freak shows in the 19th century.

The mini-series will air on BBC One, with a release date not yet scheduled.

This is Going to Hurt

Adam Kay’s bestselling memoir based on his experiences as an NHS junior doctor is set to become an eight-part BBC Two show.

Kay will adapt This is Going to Hurt for the BBC, and says he is “beyond delighted to now be able to share my story with a far wider audience and make the viewers of BBC Two laugh, cry and vomit”.

Executive producer Naomi de Pear says she hopes the show’s portrayal of the stark reality of life on the NHS frontline will be a “a call to arms”.

The Luminaries

BBC Two will air this adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s 2013 Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Luminaries.

Catton is adapting the novel for TV herself, and will tell “an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes” in the 19th-century gold rush in New Zealand, says the official synopsis.

Casino Royale and Penny Dreadful star Eva Green is set to star as brothel madam Lydia Wells in the adaptation. The six-part series also stars Eve Hewson (Robin Hood, Bridge of Spies) as Anna Wetherell, and Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts) as Emery Staines.

Normal People

Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel about two teenagers growing up in Ireland is set to come to BBC Three in 2020.

Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and winner of 2019’s British Book Awards, the hype for the novel is unquestioned – and the 12-part TV drama looks likely to follow suit.

Rising stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal will play the love-struck leads, and director Lenny Abrahamson is confident they will “bring alive the profound and beautiful relationship at the centre of the story”.

The Singapore Grip

Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey and Charles Dance will star in this ITV adaptation of J.G. Farrell’s 1978 novel about a British family living in Singapore during the Second World War at the time of the Japanese invasion.

Damien Timmer, the man behind Poldark, Victoria and Endeavour, is executive producer on the show, while Oscar-winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton (Atonement) has adapted the novel into a six-part series.

“Matthew Webb, our bespectacled protagonist, an idealistic innocent abroad, lands in the middle of all this, to find himself fiercely pursued by two beautiful women,” said Hampton. “His story, with its tumultuous backdrop, is told in a style with echoes of Tolstoy and Evelyn Waugh, but still, unmistakably, the unique voice of Jim Farrell.”

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