In Depth

Seven TV shows to watch out for in 2021

Long-awaited return of Fargo leads list of must-view new series hitting screens in the coming year

Viewing figures for TV and streaming services have surged this year as people worldwide tuned in during Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Bored Britons spent an average of 40% of their waking hours watching television at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to an Ofcom report released in August. The viewing boom saw hit shows such as Tiger King dominating conversations and social media.

So which programmes will we be talking about in 2021? Here are seven of the best new releases to watch in the coming year.

Fargo season four

Having been delayed in so-called “development hell” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many fans feared season four of the TV adaptation of 1996 black comedy film Fargo would never see the light of day. 

But now, more than three years after Ewan McGregor and David Thewlis lit up screens in the third season, the show has returned to US TV and will make its debut in the UK in 2021, though no exact date has been announced as yet. Like the previous three seasons, the new episodes are expected to be screened on Channel 4 for UK viewers.

This time around, the show - which features a new story and cast every season - stars Chris Rock and Jessie Buckley and takes place in the 1950s. According to Culture Whisper, writer/creator Noah Hawley “dives back in time” to examine “a Godfather-like schism between criminal gangs: an Italian-American crime family and the local black mafia”.

The Pursuit of Love

BBC One and Amazon Prime Video have teamed up for this adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s 1945 novel of the same name.

Starring Lily James and Emily Beecham, the drama follow best friends and cousins Linda and Fanny as they embark on a trip across Europe in the so-called Roaring Twenties to find romance.

According to Vogue, the show will remain faithful to the original plot of the novel, which will be told in three hour-long episodes.

The cast supporting James and Beecham is “equally good – with Dominic West and Dolly Wells appearing as Linda’s parents (whom Nancy Mitford based on her own rather severe mother and father) and Andrew-the-Hot-Priest-Scott as the Radletts’ wonderfully eccentric neighbour, Lord Merlin”, the magazine adds.

An exact release date has yet to be confirmed, but The Pursuit of Love will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

This is Going to Hurt

Former junior doctor Adam Kay has adapted his bestselling 2017 memoir This is Going to Hurt for an eight-part BBC2 series.

“Set on a labour ward, it follows the highs and lows of working as a junior doctor, all told with brutal honesty,” says Cosmopolitan. Ben Whishaw is confirmed to play the lead role, with the rest of the cast and the release date yet to be announced.

WandaVision

Marvel Studios’ eagerly anticipated series for Disney+ will arrive on 15 January. The series follows the adventures of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), and mixes classical TV tropes with those from the MCU.

According to Disney, the “two super-powered beings” live “idealised suburban lives” but “begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems”. Matt Shakman directs.

It’s a Sin

“Russell T. Davies is one of the great television writers, not only because of his creative scope but the motivation to show honest representations of LGBT groups (among others),” says Culture Whisper.

His latest offering, It’s A Sin, is a five-part journey into London’s gay community during the height of the Aids crisis in the 1980s. Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris and Keeley Hawes lead a star-studded cast in the new series, which lands on Channel 4 in the UK and US streamer HBO Max in early 2021.

Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo

Fresh off the back of her surprise hit Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the softly spoken master of organisation is back to share more of her domestic tips in Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.

In this outing, Kondo and her team will “set out to tidy one small town in America, sparking joy in big new ways”, Radio Times reports.

Announcing the show on her Instagram account, Kondo wrote: “I have joyful news to share… I’m working on a new show with @netflix and @alfredstreetindustries! My team and I have an ambitious goal: to tidy a small town deserving of joy and change. You can submit your town for consideration by visiting the link in my profile. I can’t wait to wait to hear what you’re imagining for your community!”

Netflix has yet to confirm a premiere date.

Sex Education season 3

The news that Sex Education is returning to Netflix for a third season should “come as no surprise”, after the comedy-drama made the streaming platform’s top ten most popular series list in both the UK and the US in 2019, says Digital Spy.

Fans can look forward to welcoming back the usual cast of “familiar faces”, including Asa Butterfield as socially awkward teenager Otis and Gillian Anderson as his sex therapist mum, along with a few new characters.

The newcomers include Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs, who plays the older and more successful brother of Headmaster Groff (Alistair Petrie) in the new series, expected to land early in 2021.

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