Autumn's television gold: 30 of the best

Holly Williams selects the juiciest offerings from a bumper harvest of one-off TV dramas, series and sitcoms

SCI-FI

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

BBC1, 23 November

Not only do we get three doctors, all at once – the outgoing Matt Smith, the past David Tennant, and John Hurt as some kind of mystery, filling-the-gap doctor – but also Daleks, zygons and Billie Piper, so pleasing card-carrying Whovian geeks, and making it worth the casual fan tuning in. Or buying a ticket: these celebrations are so large, they’ll also be shown on cinema screens, in 3D. Many happy returns, Mr Time Lord.

See also: Downton Abbey Christmas Special, the only “event telly” rival, ITV, 25 Dec

THRILLER

Legacy

BBC2, late October

Paula Milne follows The Politician’s Husband with this Seventies Cold War thriller. A one-off drama, based on the novel by Alan Judd and directed by Pete Travis. Charlie Cox plays a young British spy tangling with Soviet diplomats, forbidden lovers and international intelligence. With Romola Garai, Andrew Scott and Simon Russell Beale.

See also: Lucan, also set in the Seventies, with Rory Kinnear in the title role. ITV, winter

COMEDY

Hello Ladies

Sky Atlantic, late October

Stephen Merchant cuts the ties with Ricky Gervais in his first solo sitcom, loosely based on his stand-up show. Merchant’s bumbling Englishman attempts to romance the ladies of LA to predictably cringe-worthy effect. From the team behind the US version of The Office.

See also: London Irish, sitcom about hard-drinking Irish ex-pats, starring comedian Ardal O’Hanlon. Channel 4, from 24 Sept

DRAMA

Masters of Sex

Channel 4, early October

A classy-looking drama, even as it cheekily explores the “smut vs science” debate that real-life 1950s researchers faced when they began examining sexual responses. Made by Showtime in the US, shown on Channel 4, it stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, with the pilot directed by John Madden. A promising blend of genuinely interesting plot material, will-they, won’t-they romances, sumptuous period detail, nookie (for research, natch), and squirmingly retro sexual-scientific measuring devices.

 See also: Quirke, detective drama also set in 1950, based on John Banville’s novels and starring Gabriel Byrne. BBC1, autumn

"Classy looking drama", Masters of Sex

FANTASY

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Channel 4, from 27 September

This US spin-off from The Avengers movie starts here a mere three days after it premieres stateside. The series follows a team of government agents, assembled to contain super-powered forces: the Marvel Comics-like organisation S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division). Created by Joss Whedon in a welcome return to the small screen, it has a decent shot at expanding into a TV saga what made the movie such a critical and box-office smash.

See also: Orphan Black, superior sci-fi by BBC America. BBC3, from Friday

COMEDY

The Wrong Mans

BBC2, late September

Spoofing action-filled, big budget American TV series, The Wrong Mans is both sitcom and thriller. Created by and starring James Corden and Matthew Bayton, as a luckless duo working for Berkshire County Council whose blue-collar lives are turned upside down by a chance phone call. Mistaken identities prompt comic mishap as they are drawn into a murky world of international espionage. The supporting cast includes Dawn French, Sarah Solemani, Rebecca Front, Dougray Scott, Emilia Fox, Nick Moran, Stephen Campbell Moore and Tom Basden - the very Best of British.

See also: The ultimate office losers, The IT Crowd, in a one-off 45-minute special. Channel 4, 27 September

The Wrong Mans, created by James Corden and Matthew Bayton

DRAMA

The 7.39

BBC1, winter

This two-part romantic drama is penned by David (One Day) Nicholls – who promises “a love story for grown-ups”. Two strangers on a train (that’d be the 7.39 to Waterloo) strike up a regular conversation… you can see where it’s going, but with David Morrissey and Sheridan Smith as our bored commuters – not to mention poor old Olivia Colman as his wife – we reckon this will chug along nicely. Hankies at the ready!

See also: Melting hearts with its tale of pension-aged passion, Last Tango in Halifax is back for a second series. BBC1, autumn

THRILLER

The Tunnel

Sky Atlantic, late October

Très neat: this 10-part drama about the death of a French politician investigated by cops from Folkestone and Calais is a co-production by Britain’s Sky Atlantic and France’s Canal+. It’s an adaptation of the hit collaborative Scandinavian drama The Bridge – the road/railtrack from Sweden to Denmark being the scandi equivalent of the Channel tunnel. Expect simmering national stereotypes as the British and French police, led by Stephen Dillane and, oh là là, Clémence Poésy, discover they’re gonna have to work together.

See also: The Blacklist, for a less likely collaboration: James Spader is a criminal working with the FBI. Sky Living, early Oct

DOCUMENTARY

The Fried Chicken Shop

Channel 4, from tomorrow

Last year, the nation was gripped by a documentary about a fried chicken shop in Clapham, south London. Channel 4 capitalises on this with a full series featuring the hard-working staff and their customers. Here’s hoping life at the Rooster Spot will be as finger-lickin’ good as before.

See also: Bouncers, another look at Britain’s night workers. Channel 4, from Thursday

Chicken shop staff including Harris, Zahid, Bilal and Imran

DRAMA

The Escape Artist

BBC1, late October

David Tennant is a junior barrister whose skill at wriggling people out of tight legal corners has earned him the nickname “the escape artist”. But will his talent for getting nasty characters off the hook come back to haunt him? Course it will. Co-starring Sophie Okonedo and Ashley Jensen.

See also: The Great Train Robbery, a two-part drama about a notorious crime and its consequences. BBC1, autumn

FANTASY

Dracula

Sky Living, October

Bram Stoker’s vampire yarn gets its latest incarnation. Jonathan Rhys Meyer, with sex appeal and menace in equal measure,  plays the Count. Dracula descends on Victorian London, posing as an American entrepreneur while in search a bite to eat. May deviate from the source, but with glossy production values.

See also: True Blood, biting back with season 6. Fox, from 30 Sept

DRAMA

Sherlock

BBC1, winter

He’s back – after cheating death with that nasty Reichenbach fall, as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original. The wait has been agonising, but soon the nation will swoon again for Benedict Cumberbatch’s brainiac, coat-swishing Holmes, and his sidekick Watson (Martin Freeman), in the third series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s hugely popular reboot.

See also: Agatha Christie’s Poirot. ITV, Oct

COMEDY

Ambassadors

BBC2, early November

David Mitchell and Robert Webb reunite as a newly arrived British ambassador and his jaded deputy at the British embassy of Tazbekistan. Their scramble to win business contracts from an under-resourced office in a country not noted for its human rights record  should have satirical bite. Keeley Hawes and Tom Hollander also feature.

See also: More painfully ineffectual politicking - Veep, Season 2. Sky Atlantic, Oct

FANTASY

Atlantis

BBC1, late September

Jason lands at the mysterious ancient city of Atlantis, befriends Hercules and Pythagoras, and fights the Minotaur and Medusa. Greek myths for a new generation: swords, sandals, CGI and Juliet Stevenson. 

See also: Moonfleet, more children’s drama, with added smuggling. Sky1, Christmas

DRAMA

Breathless

ITV, October

A gynaecological ward in 1961 is a hotbed of secrets, thwarted ambition and a handy lightning rod for the sexual revolution and its attendant social issues. Stars Jack Davenport, Iain Glen and Zoe Boyle.

See also: Book in with Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe for The Young Doctor’s Notebook. Sky Arts, Nov

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence