There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful this January – or, at least, excuses never to leave the sofa. Blandings is a new take on PG Wodehouse, with the simply splendid Timothy Spall attempting to supplant Hugh Laurie as our favourite upper class English Wodehousian bumbler. What ho! Catch it on BBC1 from 14 January. Also looking back to the 1930s, if rather more seriously, is a new Stephen Poliakoff drama, Dancing on the Edge, about a black jazz band which gets caught up in a murder case (BBC2).
On Sky Atlantic this month, new strand "Common Ground" is formed of 10 short films, set in south London, with casts including Jessica Hynes, Charles Dance, and Johnny Vegas. January also brings David Tennant's return to the small screen in Spies of Warsaw, as a soldier turned spy; it begins on Wednesday on BBC4 and concludes the following week. Tennant crops up again on BBC2, in the spring, in The Politician's Husband alongside Emily Mortimer; penned by Paula Milne, it's a companion piece to her Nineties drama The Politician's Wife.
February looks set to be darkly comic, with the return of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror on Channel 4, while the brilliantly odd funnyman Kevin Eldon finally gets his own show on BBC2, called It's Kevin.
Then drama weighs in: Channel 4 has Run, a four-parter about the interconnected lives of "people facing impossible choices", starring Olivia Colman, Katie Leung and Jaime Winstone. On ITV in February, Lightfields – a follow-up to Marchlands – is a ghost story about a house haunted by a young girl. BBC1 gets starry with Mary & Martha, about an unlikely friendship between an American and a British woman (Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn) who have both lost sons to malaria. And raising the stakes further on the Beeb is film director Jane Campion (The Piano). Her long-awaited Top of the Lake, about the disappearance of a 12-year-old – yes, yet more child death – stars Holly Hunter and Elizabeth Moss, and should air on BBC2 in March.
Ms Moss will also be lighting up screens again in series six of Mad Men, on Sky Atlantic in the spring. Other popular returning series on the channel include Game of Thrones in April, plus Veep and the seriously strange comedy This is Jinsy in June. Plus, look out for Idris Elba (also to be seen in the third series of Luther on BBC1), making his directorial debut in the prestigious "Playhouse Presents" strand, with Pavement Psychologist, about a successful businesswoman who befriends a homeless man. And in terms of eagerly anticipated returns, BBC1's Sherlock is back, with some questions to answer – though you'll probably have to wait till the autumn for this.
Three new (and remarkably similarly titled) comedies are set to air in 2013: The Wrong Mans is a comedy thriller written by and starring James Corden and Mathew Baynton on BBC2 in spring. Our Men is a comedy drama set in a British embassy in the fictional Tazbekistan, written by and starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb on BBC2 in summer. And Man Down is a sitcom about a hopeless teacher, written by and starring Greg Davies on Channel 4 in the autumn.
If that all sounds a bit "blokey", fear not – funny women will be making their mark on the comedy schedules again in 2013: returning to Sky Atlantic in January – virtually the same time it airs in the US, hurrah! – is the second series of Lena Dunham's brilliant comedy Girls. And, if you're after a British version, keep an eye out for Drifters, a female Inbetweeners spin-off, coming to Channel 4 in this autumn.
Face to watch
Sharon Rooney makes her TV debut in My Mad Fat Diary – an E4 comic adaptation of Rae Earl's teenage diary about growing up in the Nineties (from 14 Jan) – but there's already a buzz around her. Aged 24, she cut her teeth as a stand-up in her native Glasgow but screen success surely beckons now.Reuse content