20 new TV shows to watch this autumn, starting this week

Including Succession series 3, a Limerick crime drama, and Peter Jackson’s Beatles doc

The Great British Bake Off

Tuesday, September 21st, 8pm, Channel 4
We'd never have made it through lockdown without plenty of cakes, buns, pastries and petit fours to keep our flagging spirits up, so anyone who says Bake Off has no societal value should just shut their cakehole. For the show's return the big tent has again been turned into a Covid bubble where guests can forget about the pandemic and focus on creating elaborate confections under the expert eyes of the show's judges, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood; Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas are our hosts. Better stock up on home-baking ingredients – I have a feeling supermarkets are going to run short.

Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Tuesday, September 21st, 9pm, Sky Max and Now TV
It was the greatest rock-and-pop quiz show ever aired on TV – even better than The Lyrics Board – so many a music fan shed a tear when it finally reached its run-off groove, in 2015. But you can't keep a good panel show down, and Sky has revived the format, this time with the comedian Greg Davies in the chair, and team captains Noel Fielding and Daisy May Cooper leading a rolling roster of famous guests in trying to top the pop-knowledge hit parade. On Fielding's panel this week are the comedian Nish Kumar and the series' regular guest, the comedian Jamali Maddix. Cooper's team will feature the singers Anne Marie and Little Mix's Jade Thirlwell.


Thursday, September 23rd, 9pm, Channel 4
We're in for a surfeit of Greg Davies this week, with Taskmaster returning two days after Buzzcocks. Series 12 sees a new group of guests ready to take on some of the most bizarre and confusing tasks known to celebritydom, including "strike the soldier with your throwing paint" and "sit on a cake". Guests Alan Davies, Desiree Burch, Guz Khan, Morgana Robinson and Victoria Coren Mitchell reckon they're brave enough to tackle the tasks – but are they made of stern enough stuff?


Monday, September 27th, RTÉ One
During the lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021, older people had to confine themselves to their homes while younger people retained some freedom to move about. Ken Wardrop's documentary records the responses of older people as they were made to isolate themselves, unable to receive visitors, separated from their grandchildren and close family. Wardrop's own mother, Ethel, was confined in a nursing home, so he understands the feeling of being so close yet so far from loved ones. He meets some extraordinary characters whose resilience and stoicism in the face of a pandemic are inspiring.


Murder Island

Tuesday, October 5th, Channel 4

Not to be confused with Love Island, where contestants gather at a tropical paradise in their skimpiest swimwear and try to pair up, this new Channel 4 series brings contestants to a windswept Scottish island where they will have to don their detective hats, divide into teams of two, and try to solve a murder mystery devised by crime writer extraordinaire Ian Rankin, creator of Inspector Rebus. The amateur sleuths will have help from forensic experts, criminal profilers and the armchair detectives at home. With a murder to solve, and the clock running down, I’m afraid there won’t be much time for snogging or sitting around in a hot tub.

Among the Stars

Wednesday, October 6th, Disney+
Not a show about hanging out with famous people, this docuseries follows the scientists and astronauts of Nasa as they prepare for a mission. We're promised a peek inside the inner workings of the space agency and an insight into what it takes to get a crew to outer space. The focus is on the final flight for Capt Chris Cassidy, and the team of engineers, flight controllers and specialists who work together to help the crew complete the mission.


Wednesday, October 6th, Sky Max and Now TV
Sky's comedy series set in the fictional northern English town of Hawley – it's like a Geordie Young Offenders – returns for a third series set in the petty-criminal world of Vinnie O'Neill and his crew of ne'er-do-wells. Vinnie (Joe Gilgun) is out of prison after his arrest at the end of series two, but his nemesis, PC Carl Slater (John Weaver), now promoted to detective, is watching him like a hawk. Can Vinnie revive his shady business without getting his collar felt again? The cast includes the Irish actors Bronagh Gallagher, Damien Molony and Aaron Heffernan.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Friday, October 15th, Amazon Prime Video
Fans of the hit 1997 horror movie, based on the novel by Lois Duncan, will eagerly await this new series, in which a group of teenagers are haunted by a dark secret – and stalked by a killer who knows what they're trying to hide. Only this time there are more secrets to uncover, and the tension is stretched out over an entire series. Bingeing won't help, either, because Amazon is only releasing four episodes to start with, then one a week until the explosive finale, on November 12th.


Monday, October 18th, Sky Atlantic and Now TV
Succession has proved to be a big hit, and probably a big driver of subscriptions for Sky, and it's easy to see why. We've loved stories of rich and dysfunctional families since before even Dallas and Dynasty, and this saga of conflict, greed and betrayal doesn't let up on the drama, cruelty, plot twists and knife twists, while the top-notch cast – including Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Alexander Skarsgard and Adrien Brody – makes the ongoing story of the Roy family seem all too real. Any similarity to real-life powerbroking clans is, I'm sure, purely intentional. Season three begins with Logan Roy (Cox) rallying his familial, political and financial forces after a corporate ambush by his errant son Kendall.


Friday, October 15th, Netflix
The hit series about a smooth-talking psycho who worms his way into women's lives returns for a third series, and it may be getting a bit too twisty and turny for comfort. Series two ended with a big shocker, and it'll be interesting to see where the series goes from there. Penn Badgley returns as the ultimate coercive controller, looking to insert himself into the life of a new victim, but having a bit of trouble leaving the old lives behind. "The episodes are f**king bonkers and the performances are insanely good," tweeted You's showrunner, Sera Gamble, so expect things to get crazier than ever. Could Joe turn out to be the prey and not the predator in this iteration? Nothing is ruled out.

Colin in Black & White

Friday, October 29th, Netflix
In 2016 the NFL star Colin Kaepernick started a revolution when he refused to stand for the American anthem before a game in protest at the United States' systemic racism. Subsequently, players began taking the knee during The Star-Spangled Banner, an act that had an enraged President Trump reaching for his dog whistle. The protests may have damaged Kaepernick's football career – his contract wasn't renewed, and he accused the NFL of colluding to keep him out of the league – but they have sealed his legendary status. This new series charts Kaepernick's coming of age as a black adopted child of a white family, and the difficulties he overcame to become an American-football superstar. Jaden Michael plays the young Colin, with Kaepernick himself narrating.

Last Singer Standing

October, RTÉ One
Nicky Byrne hosts a new Saturday-night talent show, a karaoke-style contest in which would-be singing stars compete for a €25,000 prize. Not sure how the format for this one differs from those of The Voice and The X Factor, but suffice to say it will showcase the talents of a whole new bunch of unknowns as they try to stay the course to the bitter end. Of course, it's more about the judges: Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud, the American former boyband star Joey Fatone, and the singer and actor Samantha Mumba.

Callan Kicks the Years

October, RTÉ
Oliver Callan is able to take off RTÉ stars, TDs and US presidents with uncanny accuracy. This new series sees him take on a whole new bunch of famous figures, all from Irish history. Callan will re-create key historical events – presumably he'll get all the voices right – and a bunch of contemporary figures, all played by Callan, will give their reactions. So we'll be getting a crash course in Irish history along with a masterclass in mickey-taking.


October, Sky Atlantic
This new four-part drama stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as a mild-mannered married couple, Susan and Christopher Edwards, who turn out to have a lot more than skeletons in their closet. When Susan's parents are discovered buried in the couple's back garden, the subsequent investigation slowly reveals the fantasy world Susan and Christopher have built for themselves over the years, which can no longer support the growing weight of their guilt.

Ridley Road

October, BBC One
Set among the Jewish community in London in 1962, this drama series, based on the novel by Jo Bloom, exposes the darker side of swinging London, as fascism and anti-Semitism are on the rise, resulting in pitched battles on the streets of the city. Agnes O'Casey plays Vivien Epstein, a Jewish hairdresser who goes undercover among the neo-Nazis, putting herself in mortal danger. Eddie Marsan, Rory Kinnear and Tamzin Outhwaite also star.

The Great Eircom Bust-Out

October, RTÉ

In 1999 Telecom Éireann, Ireland's national phone-service provider, floated on the stock exchange, sparking a goldrush among ordinary punters keen to snap up shares and get rich more quickly than you can dial the speaking clock. This documentary tells the sorry story of a failed flotation that led to many citizen investors being left hanging on the line as their shares plummeted in value. It's a glimpse into an Ireland at the cusp of a technological and communications revolution, and at the height of Celtic Tiger hubris.

The Outlaws

October, BBC One
Stephen Merchant's new crime comedy was originally titled The Offenders, but maybe the producers didn't want to invite comparisons with the fab Cork-made series The Young Offenders. The story revolves around a motley collection of people who got on the wrong side of the law in Bristol, and now have to do community service as part of their sentence. They start off as complete strangers, but soon they're all rallying behind one of the group, who has been targeted by the city's most notorious crime gang. Locals in the city must have done a double take when they clocked the American actor Christopher Walken among the cast shooting scenes in the city – Merchant obviously still has a bit of pull in Hollywood.

Hidden Assets

November, RTÉ One
Dublin isn't the only town to get a crime series on RTÉ this season. Hidden Assets, set in Limerick, stars Angeline Ball, Cathy Belton, Wouter Hendrickx and Michael Ironside in a hard-hitting drama that will put it up to Kin. An Irish-Belgian coproduction, it features Hendrickx as a Belgian cop who is trying to unravel the links between a wealthy Limerick family, a stash of stolen diamonds and a series of bombings in Belgium. The action moves between Limerick and Antwerp – the diamond-dealing capital of the world – as the policeman joins forces with a Criminal Assets Bureau investigator (Ball) to prevent another atrocity in Antwerp.

The Shrink Next Door

Friday, November 12th, Apple TV+

Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd team up for this dark comedy series about a hapless guy whose life is taken over by an unscrupulous psychiatrist. Ferrell was fab in the recent Netflix comedy film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, opposite Rachel McAdam, while Rudd has been doing his Ant-man thing as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this team-up has lots of cringe comedy potential.

The Beatles: Get Back

Thursday, November 25th, Disney+
You won't believe this, but The Beatles were at one time tipped to star in a film version of The Lord of the Rings. Then JRR Tolkien threw that idea into the Mount Doom of movie pitches. Now the Fab Four are matched up with the LotR director Peter Jackson for this new documentary, following them as they teeter on the brink of breaking up, and play their first live gig in years, on the rooftop of Apple Records. Jackson has taken footage from the band's final days and worked his magic to create an entertaining glimpse into the group as they work on their last album, showing them laughing, joking and – most importantly – demonstrating the incredible talent that made them such an unstoppable musical force.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist