Bridgerton

Regency London is the setting for this high society battle of wits and beauties based on the best-selling historical romances of American novelist Julia Quinn. Young Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), eldest daughter of the well-liked Bridgerton family, hits the debutante season on the hunt for true love. Enter dashing and rebellious Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), aka the Duke of Hastings, who catches Daphne’s eye in an Elizabeth/Darcy sort of a way. Unfortunately Daphne also catches the eye (and the pen) of the mysterious Lady Whistledown, who publishes a high society scandal sheet, and so the stage is set for Daphne’s battle – knuckle under and succumb to social pressure or follow her heart on the path to true love.

December 25, Netflix

His Dark Materials

The BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of Philip Pullman’s much-loved series of novels has returned for a second eight-part series. Sticking (fairly) faithfully to the books, season two finds Lyra (Dafne Keen) in Cittàgazze, the dusty, deserted city she entered through a portal at the end of season one. There she finally hooks up with companion-to-be Will Parry (Amir Wilson), who has stepped through a similar portal in his own world – modern-day Oxford – in an effort to escape the police and the mysterious figures threatening him and his mother and asking questions about his soldier father Colonel John Parry. We haven’t really met him yet but – spoiler alert – he’ll soon pop up in the form of Sherlock and Fleabag star Andrew Scott, though he’s known in Lyra’s world as the explorer Stanislaus Grumman.

Sundays, BBC One

The Good Lord Bird

Based on the best-selling 2013 novel by African-American author James McBride, this miniseries from US channel Showtime tells the story of young slave Henry Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson) and his part in the events which led up to the American Civil War. Known as Onion, Henry falls in with the abolitionist John Brown (a heavily-bearded Ethan Hawke), the man who led a slave uprising in the late 1850s known to history as Bleeding Kansas. A timely drama given the subject matter and one with an interesting group of collaborators – Hawke, who’s billed as co-creator, has assembled a typically disparate crew of actors, producers and directors which includes rapper Daveed Diggs, horror impresario Jason Blum, Albert Hughes (who, with twin brother Allen, directed Menace II Society and Dead Presidents), and trailblazing film-maker Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi Arabian woman to direct a feature film.

November 18, Sky Atlantic

Black Narcissus

Gemma Arterton stars alongside Alessandro Nivola, Jim Broadbent, Gina McKee and, in her last screen appearance, Diana Rigg in this three-part take on Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel. It’s best known for the 1947 adaptation by the inimitable team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger which starred Glasgow-born Deborah Kerr and bagged two Oscars. Here it’s Arterton who takes on the role of Sister Clodagh, the Anglican nun who finds her Himalayan mission growing increasingly dark, troubling and sexually-charged thanks to the presence of local administrator Mr Dean (Nivola). The screenplay is by novelist Amanda Coe and it’s directed by Charlotte Bruus Christensen, whose work as a cinematographer includes the Thomas Vinterberg pair The Hunt and Far From The Madding Crowd as well as John Krasinski’s menacing horror A Quiet Place.

December, BBC One

Small Axe

Created and directed by Steve McQueen, Turner Prize-winning artist turned Oscar-winning film-maker, this five-part anthology series takes as its subject the experience of being black in the United Kingdom between the late 1960s and early 1980s. It kicks off with Mangrove, the story of the group of black activists who became known as the Mangrove Nine when they were tried for inciting a riot after an anti-racism protest in 1970. One of the number was Darcus Howe, later a noted broadcaster and critical commentator. He’s played by Malachi Kirby, who took the role of Kunta Kinte in the 2016 remake of Roots. Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes and Scottish actor Jack Lowden also feature but headline billing goes to Star Wars actor John Boyega who plays campaigning policeman Leroy Morgan in Red, White And Blue, the third film in the series.

November 15, BBC One

We Are Who We Are

Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated director Luca Guadagnino makes his small screen debut with this eight-part coming-of-age story about two American teenagers living on a military base in Italy in 2016. Best known for his films with Tilda Swinton – he’s made four to date, including a remake of Dario Argento’s cult horror Suspiria – Guadagnino is a close and sensitive observer of relationships and intimacy. Here Jack Dylan Glazer plays 14-year-old Fraser Wilson, who has moved to Italy with his soldier parents Sarah (Chloë Sevigny) and Maggie (Alice Braga) and who befriends Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón), who’s struggling with her gender identity and has an alter ego in which she’s a boy called Harper.

November 23, BBC Three

The Valhalla Murders

If you’re already missing your Scandi Noir fix then check out this dark Icelandic puzzler. It kicks off with what at first seems like a routine case for ambitious detective Kata Gunnarsdottir (Nina Dogg Filippusdottir): the discovery of the body of a drug dealer, stabbed through the eye and left in Reykjavik’s picturesque Old Harbour district. But thing starts to take a turn for the serpentine with the arrival of another body, killed in exactly the same fashion. When Kata is joined on the case by Arnar Bodvarrson (Bjorn Thors), an Icelandic detective working in Oslo, the pair soon find their enquiries concentrating on a nearby boy’s home – Valhalla.

November 21, BBC Four

Trickster

Intriguing Canadian drama following the adventures of small-time drug dealer Jared (Joel Oulette), an indigenous teenager in British Columbia whose already complicated life – hard-partying mother, painkiller-addicted father – takes a turn for the supernatural when strange things start to happen. Visions, talking ravens, that kind of thing. The trickster of the title is the trickster of folk lore – who just happens to be Jared’s real father. But it’s when he makes that discovery that his problems really begin. It’s based on a novel by Eden Robinson, herself a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations among whom the drama is set.

November 23, Syfy

Detention

Based on the acclaimed computer game of the same name, which in turn resulted in a 2019 spin-off film, this Taiwanese series begins in the 1990s and then moves back in time to take in the period known as the White Terror, which lasted from 1947 until the lifting of martial law in 1987. The setting is a high school where new girl Yunxiang Liu (Lingwei Lee) wanders into a forbidden area and encounters the ghost of former student Ruixin Fang (Ning Han). Arm yourself with a little historical knowledge – isn’t Wikipedia a wonderful thing? – and enjoy the ride. One for fans of J-horror films and the darker end of the anime spectrum.

December 5, Netflix

The Crown

Season four of the ongoing dramatisation of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the arrival onto the scene of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher. The series picks up in 1977, with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and runs through to 1990, a period in which Diana married both well and badly and the controversial British Prime Minister faced down the miners and the IRA. Relative unknown Emma Corrin plays Diana, while the plum job of portraying the Iron Lady falls to X-Files star Gillian Anderson. Freddie Fox is Mark Thatcher and Emerald Fennell is Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall and the woman Princess Diana was referring to when she made her “there were three of us in this marriage” comment in Martin Bashir’s now-infamous Panorama interview.

November 15, Netflix