With 2015 soon to be a distant memory, I’ve picked out the 16 most exciting shows you can expect to see on the telly in 2016…
The A Word (BBC One)
Despite the very similar title, The A Word has nothing to do with The C Word, the brilliant BBC One drama starring Sheridan Smith. The A Word stars Christopher Eccleston (Fortitude), Lee Ingleby (Our Zoo), Morven Christie (Hollow), Greg McHugh (Fresh Meat) and Vinette Robinson (Black Work).
Written by Peter Bowker (Marvellous), the six-part series is the story of the Hughes family, who work and love and fight like every other family.
Then their youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don’t feel like every other family anymore. They realise that if their son is ever going to communicate, they are going to have to learn how to communicate themselves.
Starts late Spring
Benidorm (Series 8, ITV)
Eight series for any television series is rare. For a comedy, I’d argue it’s even rarer, so it’s a real credit to the team behind Benidorm including writer Derren Litten to have kept the show feeling fresh for all these years.
As we return to the Solana in Benidorm for the new series there are a host of new characters, including brand new family the Dawson’s, as well as some of our old favourites like Mateo (Jake Canuso), Les/Lesley (Tim Healy) and of course, Joyce Temple-Savage (Sherrie Hewson).
Having been lucky enough to get invited onto the set of Benidorm in the summer, I got the chance to see first hand the magic behind the show, so judging by what I saw, what I was told and the first two episodes (which I’ve seen), it looks like series 8 of Benidorm is going to be a hoot!
Keep an eye on here for lots of interviews in the coming weeks.
Starts Monday 11th January at 9pm
Chewing Gum (Series 2, E4)
Chewing Gum was undoubtedly the freshest, rudest and crudest thing on television in 2015, and I’m so pleased that E4 have already committed to a second series of Michaela Coel’s excellent sitcom!
In the series, Michaela plays Tracey Gordon, a religious Beyoncé-obsessed 24-year-old who is fast finding out that the more she learns about the world, the less she understands. What I loved about the first series, and what I hope will continue through the second, is just how confident it is.
From the writing to the performances, it seemed that nothing was off limits and right from the word go Chewing Gum was a sitcom that knew what it was, and didn’t attempt to fit in to a pre-existing mould.
I for one, can’t wait to see what Michaela will rustle up for series two!
Cold Feet (Series 6, ITV)
Cold Feet was easily one of television’s most important comedy dramas, after months of speculation, ITV finally confirmed that the series would indeed be returning, 13 years on from that final episode.
With all the original cast reuniting (apart from Helen Baxendale of course, whose character was killed off in the final series), including the original writer everything is pointing towards the new series being a huge success.
ITV are currently keeping quiet about any new cast members or indeed storylines but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we get some answers as the series is due to begin shooting in February 2016.
The Fall (Series 3, BBC Two)
Following two excellent series, and one hell of a cliffhanger at the end of series two, fans of the series will be pleased to hear that The Fall is returning for a third and final series.
Gillian Anderson will return as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan is expected to return as serial killer Paul Spector who at the end of the last series was shot and left bleeding in the arms of Stella.
The Fall has been one of the best drama series in recent years and I have every faith in Anderson and Dornan to deliver more exceptional performances that will once again have me at the edge of my seat. Whilst I’m sad that the series is coming to an end I can’t wait to see how the story will end.
Fresh Meat (Series 4, Channel 4)
Kicking off the year on Channel 4 is the fourth and final series of Fresh Meat, the series about a group of students living together whilst studying at the fictional Manchester Medlock University.
Whilst it’ll be sad to say goodbye to the brilliant characters and of course great cast; Jack Whitehall, Greg McHugh, Joe Thomas, Charlotte Ritchie, Kimberley Nixon and Zawe Ashton, I’ve seen the first episode and if it’s not the best series ever, it’s close!
Look out for my interview with the cast of Fresh Meat (minus Greg McHugh) early 2016.
Happy Valley (Series 2, BBC One)
When Happy Valley aired in 2014 it was one of the standout pieces of the year and took home the ‘Best Drama Series’ BAFTA at the 2015 BAFTA Television Awards.
Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, James Norton, George Costigan, Karl Davies and Charlie Murphy will all be returning for the new six-part series and will be joined by Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street), Shirley Henderson (Southcliffe), Amelia Bullmore (Scott & Bailey), Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey), Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter) and Con O’Neill (Cucumber).
Averaging 8 million viewers a week, the pressure is on to make sure the series is just as good, if not better, than the first. I was initially surprised that there would be a second series, as the story had been wrapped up nicely at the end of series one, but knowing how brilliant Sally Wainwright is as a writer and the amazing cast she has to work with I have every faith that Happy Valley will deliver yet again.
Inside No. 9 (Series 3, BBC Two)
After two successful series, Inside No. 9, the superb new anthology series from League of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith is returning for six more dark and twisted 30 minute stories.
Each week we’ll be treated to more half-hour stand alone stories, that blur the boundaries between the comedy and thriller genres. The only thing that connects each episode, apart from Pemberton and Shearsmith starring, is that they all take place in a location with the number 9, be that flat number nine, house number nine or as we saw in the last series, train carriage number nine.
I can’t wait to see what weird and wonderful stories Pemberton and Shearsmith will come up with next and of course what great guest stars they’ve secured for series three!
Line of Duty (Series 3, BBC Two)
In 2016, Line of Duty will finally return for a third series, and good news for fans of the Jed Mercurio series, Line of Duty has already been given a fourth series!
Speaking about the next two series of Line of Duty, writer Jed Mercurio has said:
“I can promise two explosive new cases for AC-12, new guest stars as police officers investigated for corruption, further twists and turns from the loose ends of series two, and maybe even some surprise reappearances…”
Martin Compton, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar will all return and this time will be joined by new cast members Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs), Will Mellor (Broadchurch), Arsher Ali (The Missing) and Leanne Best (Fortitude), who join the series as Sergeant Danny Waldron, PC Rod Kennedy, PC Harinderpal ‘Hari’ Bains and WPC Jackie Brickyard.
Lucky Man (Sky 1)
Lucky Man is legendary comic book writer Stan Lee’s first-ever UK TV drama, starring James Nesbitt, Amara Karan, Eve Best. Darren Boyd, Omid Djalili and Steven Mackintosh.
Lucky Man is a thrilling, action-packed crime drama about fate, gambling, superstition and the consequences of our actions.
Troubled cop Harry Clayton, played by James Nesbitt is brilliant at his job but a compulsive gambler in danger of losing the thing he values the most, his family. Then, one night at the casino, just as he is approaching rock bottom, Harry meets the beautiful and enigmatic Eve, who gives him a mysterious bracelet said to endow the wearer with immense luck.
With luck on his side he sets himself against the city’s dark forces. But will it be enough to save him and his family?
Murder In Successville (Series 2, BBC Three)
If there’s one show in 2015 that proved that BBC Three should stay put, it was Murder In Successville, and bringing it back for a second series was simply a no brainer!
Murder In Successville is a clever comedy/murder mystery hybrid that sees DI Sleet (Tom Davis) partnered with a different celebrity sidekick each week, who has to solve a murder that has been committed in the fictitious Successville.
In the first series, Dermot O’Leary, Louis Smith, Jamie Laing, Deborah Meaden, Kimberly Wyatt and Greg James all signed up for the challenge, and we’re yet to find out who will rise to the challenge of helping DI Sleet this time around!
I guess the best thing to come out of BBC Three’s move online is that programmes will now have to also be shown in late night slots on BBC One and BBC Two, meaning that shows such as Murder In Successville, could potentially reach a new and larger audience.
Orange Is The New Black (Season 4, Netflix)
If you’re one of the many holding out for ITV to bring back Bad Girls, Orange Is The New Black on Netflix is perfect for you!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, I’m sure you’ve already seen the first three series, if not they’re all available to binge watch now on Netflix!
Set in a women’s prison, Orange Is The New Black follows inmate Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who is forced to question everything she believes and form unexpected new alliances with a group of eccentric and outspoken inmates who keep getting better and better and the seasons go on.
It’s loud, it’s fresh and it’s diverse, and I can’t wait for the fourth season!
Peter Kay’s Car Share (Series 2, BBC One)
The runaway success at the I Talk Telly Awards 2015, Peter Kay recently confirmed that Peter Kay’s Car Share will be returning and they’ll start filming the second series in May/June 2016 with Peter Kay and co-star Sian Gibson both returning.
Originally premiering on BBC iPlayer in its entirety, Car Share stars Peter Kay as assistant manager John Redmond, and Sian Gibson as promotions rep Kayleigh Kitson. The series follows what happens when two Supermarket employees are forced into a car share scheme that sees them commute together to and from work.
What I loved was seeing their friendship blossom as the series went on, and with Kayleigh moving away at the end of Series 2 I’m keeping everything crossed that she somehow finds her way back to sharing a car with John!
Sherlock (Series 4, BBC One)
Whilst New Year’s Day sees a new one-off Sherlock special, set in 1895, the real excitement begins later on in the year, as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return for three brand new episodes!
The last series saw Sherlock’s life change a lot, he returned from the dead, his best friend John Watson married Mary Morstan and he met his match in Charles Augustus Magnussen. After the briefest of exiles, Sherlock came back only to face one of his biggest mysteries yet. Why is Moriarty’s face being broadcast on every television in the land?
As with anything Sherlock related, exact storyline details and guest stars for Series 4 are being kept under wraps but as filming begins in Spring 2016, I’m sure we’ll begin to know a lot more then!
Top Gear (BBC Two)
Following last year’s ‘fracas’ with a producer, Jeremy Clarkson was let go from Top Gear and took Richard Hammond and James May with him and the trio will return with a new car show exclusively for Amazon.
Back on BBC Two, Chris Evans landed white possibly his dream job and will host a new-look Top Gear in May (5th May is rumoured, although that’s a Thursday). Will it be live? Will there be a female co-host? Will there be any co-hosts?
These are all questions that as of yet we don’t have any definite answers to (there are some rumours out there) but I’m sure as we approach that all important launch in May things will become a whole lot clearer.
Starts May (Possibly 5th)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2, Netflix)
When the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt first aired on Netflix, I inhaled the whole lot in just one sitting and have been waiting for Season 2 ever since!
Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the series centres around Kimmy Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper, who escapes from a doomsday cult and starts life over again in New York City, trying her hardest to shake off her “Indiana Mole Woman” label.
She ends up living in New York with Titus Andromedon, played by Tituss Burgess, a larger-than-life black gay singer/wannabe actor, who starts off in the series working as a robot in Times Square and as the series goes on, continues his quest for stardom.
The series really did tick all the boxes you want from a comedy; fresh, funny and full of great characters! I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for Kimmy when Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns in 2016!