IN television’s hall of fame there is a spot on the wall waiting to be filled. It is between The Sopranos and The Wire, both dramas widely regarded as gold standard.

For its many admirers the place belongs to Succession, Jesse Armstrong’s viciously funny drama about a warring family that is certainly nothing to do with the Murdochs, or the Trumps, or any other dynasty with very expensive lawyers on speed dial, honest guv.

Yet Succession has only two series to its name, compared to six for David Chase’s sublime New Jersey mob opera, and five for David Simon’s Dickens in modern day Baltimore masterpiece.

Is it not presumptuous to award a spot this early to something that is essentially just another reworking of King Lear with knobs on?

How long can Logan keep dangling the same carrot of the CEO job in front of his warring brats before the story gets old?

There is a lot riding, then, on the third series, which finally begins tonight on Sky Atlantic after months of Covid delays.

Series two ended (spoilers ahead) with Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), son and rightful heir (according to him) to media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox), standing up to dad.

Chosen by Logan to be the fall guy for a #MeToo scandal, Kendall turned the tables at a press conference and put daddy dearest in the dock instead.

The new series opens the same day with the choosing of sides by Logan’s aptly named daughter Shiv (Sarah Snook), son Roman (Kieran Culkin), Gerri, the apple of Roman’s eye (don’t ask), cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), who is either a complete idiot, or the one who could beat them all to the prize of taking over Waystar Royco, and various other lieutenants/whipping boys.

The action shuttles from regional airports to Manhattan as the family fight over who can buy the best attack dogs in law and PR.

Writer and creator Armstrong cut his teeth on The Thick of It. As in that political satire, the swearing in Succession has been raised to an art form.

Characters are brutal towards each other, but since they are all such horrible people with zip in the way of redeeming qualities we do not care if the worst happens to them. It’s gladiators v gladiators out there, not lions v Christians.

Just as in The Thick of It, the cast are so comfortable with each other, and the writing so slick, the drama moves like a well-oiled farce.

The actors don’t need to fight over the juiciest lines because there are enough for everybody. Where other comedy-dramas might have a miserly handful of zingers, the multiple Emmy-winning Succession throws them around like confetti.

In an ensemble as good as this, it should be difficult to choose a favourite, but who are we ******* kidding here? Brian Cox’s swearmaster-in-chief commands every scene he is in.

Logan, one of the most fascinating TV characters in years, is a charming psychopath who long ago wearied of the charming part of the deal.

He is, as cousin Greg likes to say, “all killer, no filler”, a man who has clawed his way out of poverty in Scotland (see panel below), a modern day robber baron who thinks tough love is the only kind that will equip his children to survive in this rotten world (that he has done much to create).

Courtesy of Cox, Logan can make Daniel Day-Lewis’s oilman in There Will Be Blood look like Santa.

The third series opener could have been a stop-start affair aiming to pick up new viewers who have heard the buzz about Succession and fancy seeing what the fuss is about.

That Armstrong gives it the pace of a runaway train is a promising sign that he is not short of ideas about where to take the story and is in a hurry to get there. Dare we hope there could be a fourth series?

Meanwhile, Cox is clearly having a ball with raging bull Logan and yes, Succession still has the classiest score in town.

Cue the piano ...

Sky Atlantic, 9pm tonight