In the last few years, original British dramas like Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Misfits have become international hits with considerable fandoms. Hypable’s Harri Sargeant takes a look at new upcoming dramas that could match the popularity and quality of their predecessors.
As American broadcasters have announced their fall line-ups over the last few weeks, it looks like we are in for another turbulent year of television. From the controversial Elementary and jumping-on-the-bandwagon Beauty and The Beast to the eagerly anticipated Revolution and dare-we-get-our-hopes-up Arrow, it looks like the United States will be treating the world to a massive range of new dramas and comedies of varying quality. In recent weeks we have been bombarded with announcements, teasers and promos in an effort to court loyal viewers a couple of months early.
Over here in Britain though, we do things a bit differently. Instead of a big, glitzy ceremony and months of speculation, our channels simply commission a series quietly when they are presented with something that interests them. It may be a more artistically credible approach to green-lighting drama, but it can make it difficult to choose what you intend to watch. As an ambassador and passionate fan of the dramatic works of my home country (nearly all of the fandoms I cover for Hypable are British-made television shows), I try my best to stay informed about the sluggish trickle of announcements. For those of you who don’t live in the U.K. or miss the muted announcements – and it’s all too easy to do so – I’ve collated a list of upcoming British dramas that you should look out for. Here’s hoping that it will help you find something to watch when you get a craving for tea, Union Jacks and miserable weather.
Wizards vs. Aliens
“Tom Clarke is a seemingly ordinary boy who loves football. He lives with his dad Michael and grandmother Ursula in an ordinary house in an ordinary street – but there’s something different about Tom. He has an astonishing secret – his family are Wizards! When the alien Nekross arrive on Earth hungry for magic, there’s big, big trouble in store for all wizardkind.
“With the help of his friend and science super-brain Benny, Tom must stop them – but will these two unlikely heroes succeed, or will the Nekross devour all the magic on Earth with disastrous results for the whole planet?”
It sounds like a ludicrous concept, but this new children’s drama is the creation of Russell T. Davies, the man the world has to thank for bringing Doctor Who back to our screens and cementing its place in the psyche of a whole new generation. While Wizards vs. Aliens seems more Sarah Jane Adventures than Torchwood, don’t let the family-friendly premise put you off. Rusty is a master of genre-bending television, and WvsA could become essential viewing for all ages.
Due to air in autumn 2012.
Watch if you like: Doctor Who
Bert and Dickie
“Thrown together just five weeks before the final of the 1948 London Olympics, Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell not only pushed physical and emotional limits, but also rose above distinctions of birth and class to become Olympic gold medallists.
“Bert and Dickie’s personal battle reflects a much greater struggle as London prepares to host the Olympic Games. In 1948, just three years after the end of the Second World War, London is half-destroyed. But, determined not to “let the Games die”, the British Olympic Committee convinces Prime Minister Attlee that the Olympics could help bring the country back together – and the Austerity Olympics are born.”
The name of star Matt Smith is enough to ensure that this television movie is universally popular, with the actor taking a break from traversing time and space as The Doctor to star alongside Sam Hoare in a touching period drama about two unlikely heroes. The drama carefully coincides with the start of this year’s London Olympics, and is sure to be a feel-good affair to get even the laziest couch potato in the mood for a hundred meter sprint.
No U.K. air date has yet been set.
Watch if you like: Christopher and His Kind, Downton Abbey
“When a young girl goes missing on her way to the Mayday parade, the small community in which she lives looks to one another for answers.
“But beneath the picture-postcard idyll lies a sinister other world and the dark woods teem with myth.
“As the community reels from Hattie’s disappearance, the drama follows the mass hysteria and ensuing search from the point of view of the central characters, each of whom fears that someone they know is responsible. As they keep silent, their suspicions intensify over the course of the five episodes.”
From the makers of Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, and Hustle comes a unique take on the mystery genre starring Spooks alumni Peter Firth. Mayday is my most anticipated new drama of the year, and the most likely to reach fandom stardom. Combining crime and fairytale lore, this fascinating concept mash-up is definitely one to watch.
Due to air July 1.
Watch if you like: Once Upon A Time, Life On Mars
Me and Mrs. Jones
“Created and written by Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling (Green Wing, Campus), directed by Nick Hurran (Outside Edge, Doctor Who) and produced by Serena Cullen (Rules Of Love), the series follows the increasingly complex life of Mrs. Jones (Alexander) as she balances love, affection, sex and motherhood between an ex-husband, one grown-up son, two young daughters and male admirers with a 20-year age gap.”
Featuring the dream-team pairing of Misfits star Robert Sheehan and Sherlock maker Hartswood Films, Me and Mrs. Jones has all the makings of a comedy classic. Expect to see the high production values of Sherlock coupled with Sheehan’s trademark one liners and dry wit in what could be this year’s funniest series.
No U.K. air date has yet been set.
Watch if you like: Misfits, Coupling
“Derek Noakes is a tender, innocent man whose love for his job and the people he cares for shines through.
“He’s 49, adores animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop and Britain’s Got Talent – but his main hobby is autograph hunting.
“Derek works in a retirement home with his mate and landlord, Dougie. Derek cares deeply for old people because they’re kind and funny and tell him stories about the olden days.
“Hannah is a care worker at the home and is Derek’s best friend. She’s smart, witty and hard-working, but unlucky in love, and, like Derek, always puts other people first.”
Commissioned for a full series after the spectacular success of an initial one-off episode, the latest offering from the controversial creator of The Office and Extras shows a more sensitive side to Ricky Gervais without losing any of his boundary-pushing humour. Derek is a character you can really root for, and the show’s awkward humour and surprising poignancy will undoubtedly make for compelling viewing.
Due to air in early 2013.
Watch if you like: Life’s Too Short
Will you be looking out for any of these new shows?