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WHAT TO WATCH 23 TV shows to look forward to in 2023

As we see in 2023, I've pulled together a list of 23 TV shows to look forward to in the next 12 months including returning favourites Heartstopper, Succession, Unforgotten, World on Fire and Your Honor, plus final outings for Happy Valley and Top Boy and the long-awaited return of Big Brother and Waterloo Road to our screens.


In terms of brand new shows, there's a ton of new drama starring the likes of Andrew Buchan, Clarke Peters, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, Leila Farzad, Lily-Rose Depp, Michael Sheen, Ray BLK, Sharon Horgan and Sophie Rundle as well as new comedies starring the likes of Adjani Salmon, Gemma Arterton, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Katherine Parkinson and Youssef Kerkour and an intimate look at entertainer Robbie Williams for a new Netflix docuseries.


Here are 23 TV shows to look forward to in 2023...


1. Best Interests

BBC One


New BBC One drama Best Interests promises to be a compelling, thought-provoking fictional drama from writer Jack Thorne and is a story of a family driven apart by having to make choices no parent would ever want to make.


Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen play married couple Nicci and Andrew who have two daughters, Katie played by Alison Oliver and Marnie played by Niamh Moriarty.


Marnie has a life-threatening condition and the doctors believe it is in her best interests to be allowed to die, but her loving family disagree. And so begins a fight that will take them through every stage of a legal process, as they struggle to contemplate this huge decision. Who decides? And in whose best interests will it be?


Additional cast includes Noma Dumezweni as Samantha, Chizzy Akudolu as Mercy, Des McAleer as Eddie, Mat Fraser as Greg, Gary Beadle as Frank, Jack Morris as Tom, Pippa Haywood as Judge Spottiswood, Shane Zaza as Fred, Lucian Msamati as Derek and Lisa McGrillis as Brenda.



2. Better

BBC One


Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent’s new five-part thriller for BBC One Better stars Leila Farzad and Andrew Buchan and follows DI Lou Slack and her epic battle towards redemption, by bringing down Col McHugh, the man she has come to love like a brother and the man she has helped place at the head of Leeds criminal underworld. But while Col is a dangerous enemy to make, Lou’s biggest battle may yet be with herself.


19 years ago, when Lou was a young police officer at her lowest ebb and Col a low-ranking but ambitious newcomer to the Leeds underworld, their paths crossed, and they struck a deal that changed their lives forever.


The bargain allowed Col to become very rich and very powerful, and Lou to turn around her failing career. A complex but special bond between the pair was forged, and so began Lou’s gradual slide into corruption.


But now, when Lou’s family is brought to the brink of a tragedy, she must put right the wrongs that she has spent years rationalising and excusing, to have a second chance at a new, better life.



3. Big Brother

ITV2


Original reality TV format Big Brother first launched on Channel 4 in 2000 before moving to Channel 5 in 2011 and now after almost five years away from our screens it's being revived once more, this time on ITV2 and ITVX.


A new cast of carefully selected housemates, from all walks of life, will take up residence in the world’s most famous reality TV home for up to six weeks, with cameras capturing their every move, and the nation following every twist and turn.


The action will all play out under the roof of the iconic Big Brother house, which will be given its own contemporary new look ready for this reimagining of the show. Clever tasks, nail-biting nominations and live evictions will be back, with the public once again playing a crucial role, voting throughout the series and ultimately determining the winner, who will walk away with a life-changing cash prize.



4. Black Ops

BBC One


BBC One's new comedy-thriller Black Ops has been created by Gbemisola Ikumelo, Akemnji Ndifornyen and writing duo Joe Tucker and Lloyd Woolf.


It's the story of Dom and Kay, who join the Met Police in the hope of cleaning up their community but are unwittingly thrust into the murky world of deep-cover infiltration as they become part of a powerful criminal enterprise. But for Dom and Kay, it quickly becomes more of a fiasco than Donnie Brasco.



5. Champion

BBC One


New BBC One eight-part musical drama Champion is Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams' first TV project and tells the explosive story of what happens when fame collides with family. Described as a love letter to Black British music and set in south London, Champion promises to be a celebration of a sound that has long been the beating heart of our culture.


It follows Rap sensation Bosco Champion, played by Malcolm Kamulete who is ready to dominate the music industry once more. But when his dutiful younger sister Vita, played by newcomer Déja J Bowens, has her talent discovered by Bosco’s rival, Bulla, she steps out of her brother's shadow to become a performer in her own right.


A move which sets the Champion siblings against one another and tears apart the whole family in the process.


It also stars Ray BLK, Nadine Marshall, Ray Fearon, Jo Martin, Kerim Hassan, Adeyinka Akinrinade, Tom Forbes, Genesis Lynea, Karl Collins, Francis Lovehall, Corey Weekes and Rachel Adedeji.



6. The Diplomat

Early 2023 on Alibi


Following recent success with Annika and Traces, Alibi's newest original drama The Diplomat stars Sophie Rundle as Laura Simmonds and opens with the unexplained death of a young British barman working on a yacht in Barcelona's notorious marina.


Laura, together with her Barcelona Consul colleague and friend Alba Ortiz, played by Serena Manteghi, fight to protect British nationals who find themselves in trouble in the Catalan city. Mixing the roles of lawyer, counsellor and cop, Laura and Alba's diplomatic skills are stretched to the limit by the stream of cases that walk through the Consul's doors.


While the Spanish police believe that the death was a tragic accident, Laura supports the boy's grieving father Colin Sutherland, played by Danny Sapani, who is convinced something more sinister took place that night.


As new evidence emerges and a murder enquiry is opened, Laura and Alba find links between the barman's death, organised crime and the British security services. Laura's quest for justice places her in real jeopardy, as she threatens to expose secrets that the British and Spanish will go to any lengths to keep hidden.



7. Dreaming Whilst Black

BBC Three


Following a successful pilot in 2021, BBC Three have confirmed that a full series of Dreaming Whilst Black is on the way and will be produced by Big Deal Films and A24.


The pilot for Dreaming Whilst Black adapted from the hugely popular web series co-written by Adjani Salmon and Ali Hughes, garnered a deluge of critical acclaim and a string of award wins and nominations for the creator, star and co-writer Salmon.


Loosely inspired by real-life events, Dreaming Whilst Black follows aspiring filmmaker Kwabena, played by Adjani Salmon, in and out of reality as he tries to make it in “Babylon.” The problem is he’s broke, Black and born into a Jamaican family who wishes he was an accountant.



8. Funny Woman

Thursday 9th February on Sky Max


Based on Nick Hornby’s bestselling novel, Funny Girl, Gemma Arterton stars as Barbara Parker, the force of nature who takes London by storm in this new comedy for Sky Comedy about a young woman from Blackpool finding her comic voice in the male-dominated world of the 1960s sitcom.


It’s the height of the swinging 60s and Barbara Parker has just been crowned Miss Blackpool, but there’s got to be more to life than being a beauty queen in a seaside town, right? She wants to be… someone. The bright lights of London are calling, and our determined hero sets off to find out who that someone is.


The London she encounters is not as quite as swinging as the one she’d read about and seen on TV. However, after a series of setbacks Barbara finds herself in unfamiliar territory - an audition for a TV comedy show.


Barbara’s uncompromising northern wit proves to be the X factor that the show has been missing. She gets the part and becomes part of a ground-breaking new sitcom that will have an impact on British comedy for decades to come.


Being a woman in a largely male environment has its own challenges, but as Barbara ‘finds her funny’ she re-defines the prevailing attitude to funny women and in the process, reinvents herself.




9. Happy Valley

New Year's Day at 9pm on BBC One


After almost 7 years of waiting, Sally Wainwright's magnificent masterpiece Happy Valley is back for six final episodes as Sarah Lancashire returns in her iconic role of Sergeant Catherine Cawood.


Series three begins with Catherine discovering the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, it sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton.


Her grandson, Ryan, played by Rhys Connah, is now sixteen and has ideas of his own about the kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father, leaving Catherine’s sister Clare, played by Siobhan Finneran, caught in the middle.


In another part of the valley, a local pharmacist gets in over his head when a neighbour is arrested.



10. Heartstopper

Netflix


Coming-of-age series Heartstopper, based on Alice Oseman's graphic novels of the same name is returning for a second series, with a third already confirmed.


It tells a story about life, love and everything in between. Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.


Series one covered the first two volumes of the graphic novel, as we watched rugby-loving Nick and gentle Charlie’s friendship blossom into the most wholesome unexpected relationship, as they make snow angels and kiss in the rain.


Charlie, Nick and their circle of friends had to navigate the ever-relatable journey of self-discovery and acceptance, supporting each other as they learn to find their most authentic selves.


New cast members for series two include Bel Priestley as Naomi, Ash Self as Felix and Thibault De Montalembert as Stephane alongside returning favourites Chetna Pandya as Coach Singh, Fisayo Akinade as Mr Ajayi. Alan Turkington as Mr Lange and Olivia Colman as Sarah Nelson.



11. The Idol

Sky Atlantic


Lily-Rose Depp stars in one of the most highly anticipated new dramas of 2023, The Idol from the sick and twisted minds of Sam Levinson and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye.


Set against the backdrop of the music industry, the six-part drama centres on a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult, who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop idol.




12. Nolly

Thursday 2nd February on ITVX


A new drama from Russell T Davies? Yes, please! Nolly is a three-part drama which comes 40 years after Noele Gordon’s shock sacking from Crossroads. It promises to explore the all-powerful reign and fall from grace, of the inimitable Noele Gordon, TV legend and Queen of the Midlands, the darling of the establishment until it turned on her and betrayed her.


Helena Bonham Carter takes on the title role alongside Augustus Prew as Tony Adams, Nolly’s Crossroads co-star, devoted friend, confidante, and her occasional chauffeur, Mark Gatiss playing inimitable entertainer Larry Grayson, who also shared a close and enduring friendship with Gordon and Richard Lintern as Ronnie Allen, who played Crossroads’ suave hotel manager David Hunter.


Noele, or Nolly to her friends, was a legend in her own lifetime. As flame-haired widow Meg Richardson in the long-running soap opera Crossroads, she was one of the most famous people in Britain.


Then in 1981, at the height of the show’s success and the peak of Nolly’s fame, she was axed without ceremony, without warning and with no explanation. With the boss’s words “all good things must come to an end” ringing in her ears, Noele Gordon found herself thrown out of the show that was her life for over 18 years.


Nolly promises to bring the true Noele Gordon once more into the spotlight. The Queen of the Midlands, a star who could be tough, haughty and imperious, grandly sweeping into rehearsals from her Rolls Royce, but also a hard-working actress who was fiercely loyal and loved by cast and crew alike.


And at last, the biggest question of all can be answered – why was she sacked? Nolly promises to reveal the truth, the consequences, and the legacy of that terrible day.




13. Succession

Spring on Sky Atlantic


Jesse Armstrong's hit series Succession returns with ten brand new episodes that continue to explore themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox and his four grown children, Kendall, Siobhan, Roman and Connor, played by Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Alan Ruck.


In the fourth season, the sale of media conglomerate Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson, played by Alexander Skarsgård, moves ever closer. The prospect of this seismic sale provokes existential angst and familial division among the Roys as they anticipate what their lives will look like once the deal is complete.


A power struggle ensues as the family weighs up a future where their cultural and political weight is severely curtailed.




14. Significant Other

ITVX


New ITVX comedy drama Significant Other explores the unromantic romance of two people, Anna and Sam, played by Katherine Parkinson and Youssef Kerkour, whose drastic, but fateful, first meeting turns their lives around.


It promises to be a beautifully unconventional love story told through a comedic lens, exploring the depths of love, disappointment, and the surprises that life still has to offer. Anna and Sam are two lonely neighbours in their mid-40s, who embark on a hesitant, obstacle-filled relationship after drastic life events bring them together.


These are not your conventional soulmates; Anna, who has given up on love, is defensive and closed off, and Sam, a newly separated father-of-two, is reactive and emotionally vulnerable. But as this strange love story unfolds with wryly observed wit and warmth, could these deeply flawed individuals – both at a time in their lives when change is difficult and rarely expected – influence each other for the better?


Kéllé Bryan stars as Sam’s wife Shelley, the mother of their two children, whose entire world is her family and the real estate job she loves. And further casting includes Mark Heap as Ray, Ben Bailey Smith as Damien, Sue Vincent as Gina, Shaun Williamson as Johnny, Olivia Poulet as Cathy and Will Ash as Paul.



15. Then You Run

February on Sky Max


New Sky Max drama Then You Run has been adapted from Zoran Drvenkar's international bestseller, You by The Capture writer Ben Chanan and follows Tara O’Rourke and her closest friends as they go in search of her long-lost mother after Tara kills her estranged father in a drug-fueled rage.


Leah McNamara, Vivian Oparah,  Yasmin Monet Prince and newcomer Isidora Fairhurst take on the roles of four friends whose dreams of the perfect summer holiday spiral into a dark and perilous adventure after they inadvertently cross paths with some of the most dangerous people in Europe.   


It follows a close-knit group of rebellious London teenagers on a getaway in Rotterdam, but after the estranged father of Tara is discovered dead, they find themselves on the run across Europe with three kilos of heroin and a host of deadly criminals snapping at their heels.


Leading the hunt against Tara and her childhood friends, reckless Stink, sharp Ruth  and loyal Nessi is Tara’s uncle Reagan, a notorious gangster haunted by his past who will stop at nothing to track down his missing cache of drugs.


But Reagan isn’t the only person they should fear because all the while a terrifying and mythical serial killer known only as ‘The Traveller’ draws closer, on a collision course with them all.



16. Three Little Birds

ITVX


New ITVX drama Three Little Birds has been devised by Sir Lenny Henry and is inspired by his mother’s stories about leaving Jamaica in the 1950s for Great Britain, which became her lifelong home and where she raised her family.


It's the story of a group of young friends finding their way to Birmingham after they journey over from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation and stars Rochelle Neil, Yazmin Belo and Saffron Coomber.


The drama narrates the adventures of gregarious sisters Leah and Chantrelle, who hail from St Anne’s district in Jamaica, and their virtuous, bible-loving acquaintance, Hosanna as they board a cruise ship heading for a new life in Great Britain.


They are an effervescent mix of forceful personalities and have very different reasons for leaving their family and friends behind in Jamaica. Unquestionably, they are embarking on a voyage of discovery, as the ladies leave the Caribbean island in search of new horizons and beginnings.


At the instigation of their older brother Aston, who asks if they’ll visit him in Britain and bring him a potential wife from back home, Leah and Chantrelle put his unusual proposition to Hosanna who is prepared to give up her job as a trainee nurse and embark upon the journey ‘to the mother country.’


On arriving in London’s Notting Hill they quickly realise the capital is not the home for them and flee to the Midlands. The road ahead is not a smooth one for our trio, and although we learn some shocking truths about the lives they left behind in Jamaica, we will also cheer them on to succeed, as they overcome the obstacles of racism and integration and build a life in Britain.



17. Top Boy

Netflix


When Top Boy came to an end on Channel 4 in 2013 after two series, there was no hope for a third series, until rapper Drake stumbled across the series on YouTube and agreed to fund a new series which was sold to Netflix.


This year, as Top Boy returns for its third and final season, we know that joining Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson, Simbi Ajikawo, Jasmine Jobson, Saffron Hocking and Araloyin Oshunremi as new characters will be Barry Keoghan and Brian Gleeson.


Why did Sully do what he did at the end of season two and what will this mean for his friendship with Dushane? And how will Top Boy end?




18. Truelove

Channel 4


Julie Walters and Clarke Peters are to star together in Channel 4's new drama Truelove, written by Iain Weatherby, co-created by him and Charlie Covell and produced by Clerkenwell Films, the team behind The End Of The F***ing World.


With a core cast in their late 60s and 70s, Truelove breaks the rules for older characters on screen and flips ageist tropes on their head in a series which promises thrilling twists and turns, irreverent humour and passionate romance.


Julie Walters plays ex-senior police chief Phil who is enjoying a comfortable if boring retirement with Clarke Peters playing divorcee and ex-special forces vet Ken, who feels similarly at sea.


Phil and Ken were teenage sweethearts and despite life having moved on, they have never quite managed to forget each other.


Cut to a friend’s funeral many years later where Phil and Ken, along with a gang of old friends, are reunited. At the wake, with nostalgia and booze flowing in equal measure, talk soon takes a meditative turn and the group discuss what an ‘ideal’ death might look like.


They make a drunken pact: rather than let each other suffer a slow and dreadful decline, they will step in and engineer a dignified death. In short, they will help each other die when the time is right. Because that, they all agree, is a sign of Truelove. But what starts out as a fanciful idea soon morphs into a shocking reality….


Starring alongside Julie Walters and Clarke Peters will be Sue Johnston, Phil Davis, Peter Egan, Karl Johnson, Fiona Button and Kiran Sonia Sawar.



19. Unforgotten

ITV1


Sinéad Keenan joins the fifth series of ITV's hit drama Unforgotten as new DCI Jessica James, starring alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar who returns as DI Sunny Khan.


The new series opens with the clock ticking down to DCI James’s first day in her new job with an unforeseen and devastating introduction to her family life. Determined to make a good first impression with her new colleagues, will Jess be in the right frame of mind to deliver and inspire the team?


And inevitably how will the ghost of much-loved former colleague Cassie Stuart haunt her? After all, Cassie will be big shoes for her to fill. Does she have the resolve, professionalism and spirit to live up to her much-admired and respected predecessor?


Jess’s first case is the discovery of human remains in a newly renovated period property in Hammersmith, London. But how long have they been there and is this a murder dating back to the 1930s or has the body been disposed of in more recent times?


As the murder mystery unfolds, we’ll explore the lives of several central characters Jay, played by Rhys Yates, Bele with Martina Laird in the role, Tony played by Ian McElhinney and Max Rinehart as Karol, who on the face of it appear seemingly unconnected to the victim. Hayley Mills will also play Tony’s wife, Emma.


DI Khan’s loyal and hard-working cold case investigations team are also back together for the series with Jordan Long as DS Murray Boulting and Carolina Main as DC Fran Lingley reprising their roles. Returning to the series are Georgia Mackenzie as pathologist Dr Leanne Balcombe, Michelle Bonnard as Sunny’s partner, Sal and Pippa Nixon as DC Kaz Willets.



20. Untitled Robbie Williams Documentary

Netflix


Netflix's new multi-part series about British pop superstar Robbie Williams promises to be an unfiltered, in-depth examination of a global icon and natural-born-entertainer who had to navigate the highs and lows of being in the limelight for more than 30 years.


It will cover Robbie navigating media scrutiny throughout his career, adulation and addiction, professional and personal break-ups, reunions, recovery, and the impact they have had on his mental health.


Featuring 25 years' worth of intimate, never-before-seen archive, and exclusive access to Robbie; this definitive series is a no-holds-barred look at the entertainer and will reveal a more nuanced and multifaceted character.



21. Waterloo Road

Tuesday 3rd January at 8pm on BBC One


The hit drama returns to BBC One this January for the first time since 2015 with seven brand new episodes. As a new school year begins, a peaceful protest turns into a school riot and the events of the day will have huge ramifications for everyone involved.


Across the term, Waterloo Road’s teachers and parents are going to have to learn on their feet as they try to navigate the ever-changing social landscape, from teen homelessness to the cost of living, being LGBTQ+, racism, sexism, mental health and everything else facing young teens today.


Amongst the chaos, the students, faculty and parents still make time for friendships, fun, and a few romances. The pupils have a lot to contend with this term, but they will learn to lean on one another to survive the year and try to stay out of detention as much as possible.


Riots, scandals, fractured families and challenging kids, for Headteacher Kim Campbell, played by returning cast member Angela Griffin, and her team, fire-fighting is a way of life. Who said education was easy?


Returning alongside Angela Griffin are Adam Thomas as Donte Charles and Katie Griffiths as Chlo Charles who will be joined by Scarlett Thomas as their daughter Izzy and Elijah Blue Slater as their son Tommy.


The rest of the cast also includes Kym Marsh as the school canteen worker and mother of two pupils, Nicky Walters, Vincent Jerome and James Baxter as joint Deputy Heads Lindon King and Joe Casey as well as Sonia Ibrahim as the school's social worker Jamilah Omar, Shauna Shim as music teacher Valerie Chambers, Neil Fitzmaurice as the school’s history teacher Neil Guthrie, Katherine Pearce as early-career teacher Amy Spratt and Rachel Leskovac as Head of English Coral Walker.




22. World on Fire

BBC One


The first series of Peter Bowker's World on Fire ended in November 2019 and after averaging 6.7m viewers (30-day consolidation) per episode a second series was announced at the end of the show's final episode with a simple 'World on Fire will return' graphic.


Now over three years later, we're a little closer to knowing when exactly it will return as it was confirmed in July that filming was underway and a number of new images were released. Set in October 1940, lone pilots are sent to destroy German bombers prowling the skies above Manchester as the Northern Blitz begins and the true reality of war arrivee in Britain.


The six new episodes will tell the story of World War Two through the eyes of ordinary people whose lives have been thrown into chaos, taking viewers from the streets of Britain into occupied France, Nazi Germany, and to the sands of the North African desert, where British troops struggle alongside Indian Sappers and Australian Diggers to adapt to a very different kind of combat.

Returning cast includes Lesley Manville as Robina, Jonah Hauer-King as Harry, Julia Brown as Lois, and Zofia Wichlacz as Kasia, with Blake Harrison as Stan, Eugénie Derouand as Henriette, Eryk Biedunkiewicz as Jan, and Cel Spellman as Joe.


Joining for series two are Mark Bonnar as Sir James Danemere, Ahad Raza Mir as Rajib, and Gregg Sulkin as David.



23. Your Honor

Sky Atlantic


Bryan Cranston returns to our screens this year as Michael Desiato in the second season of Your Honor as some will seek salvation in response to the tremendous loss they suffered, while others will seek revenge and they will all be pursued by their enemies at every turn.


Ultimately, the question remains: How far are you willing to go to protect what matters most to you?




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