Other highlights, revealed by Channel 4 at its winter launch, include Lindsay Duncan in The Rector's Wife, a drama in which she plays a woman who rebels against the confines of her life in a Cotswold parish. It co-stars Ronald Pickup as an archdeacon and Prunella Scales.
TV Operas will feature unexpected celebrities in specially commissioned one-hour operas, part of a long-term Channel 4 project to redefine the link between television and opera. The series will include Mike Ahearne, from ITV's Gladiators, in Warrior; The Flying Pickets, pop vocalists, in The Empress; and Rik Mayall, Gina Bellman and Edward Tudor Pole - the new host of The Crystal Maze - turn up in Horse Opera, composed by Stewart Copeland, formerly of The Police.
Tony Robinson, the Blackadder star, takes a new approach to archaeology in Time Team, in which a group of specialists are given three days to unlock some of the secrets of a significant British site. And Miriam Margolyes is reincarnated as Queen Victoria in Vivat Victoria] - a piece that considers the present fate of the Royal Family.
Among the American imports is NYPD Blue, written by Steve Bochco, the screenwriter behind Hill Street Blues. The series, set in New York, has attracted controversy in the US with its treatment of sexuality and language on network television. Oliver Reed is the latest living person to imagine himself dead for The Obituary Show and the feminist writer Erica Jong and the novelist Frederic Raphael consider 'bodyism' and 'rightism' as Bad Ideas Of The 20th Century.
Cutting Edge captures the plight of Graham Taylor, the sacked England soccer manager, in his final months at the head of the national football team.
Comedy includes the deadpan comic Jack Dee, returning for a second series of his show, while Mick McShane continues retelling Damon Runyon's Broadway Stories.
The Film On Four Premiere season includes Sir John Gielgud in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books and there will also be a Robert de Niro season, including the network television debuts of Mean Streets and Goodfellas.