45 of the best TV shows to watch this autumn

From The Dublin Murders to The Crown, Red Rock to Ru Paul, here are this season’s best comedy, drama and reality series

The shows are listed in alphabetical order. Previews by Peter Crawley, Laura Slattery, Hannah J Davies, Phil Harrison, Luke Holland, Ellen E Jones and Graeme Virtue


Expected: December, Virgin Media One
Blood will have blood, they say, and so it follows that Sophie Petzal's excellent, brooding psychological drama is renewed for a second series. A year since he was arrested for the death of his ailing wife, Adrian Dunbar is back as Dr Jim Hogan, where his presence in the town sets in motion a sequence of events that will dredge up secrets and change lives forever. PC

Catherine the Great

Expected: Autumn, Sky Atlantic
You don't rule Russia for 34 years without doing some dirt. And, sure enough, Catherine the Great's story is tumultuous. As a woman who came to power in a coup in which her own husband was overthrown, Catherine didn't take any prisoners. And that extended to her unusually liberated private life, too; this drama explores her later years and particularly her affair with military leader Grigory Potemkin. Helen Mirren (who else?) portrays Catherine in her customarily magisterial style. PH


Expected: September 20th, Netflix
Gone are the days when TV viewers longed for cop shows to cut to the chase. Instead, Line of Duty has revealed a surprising appetite for head-spinningly intricate interrogation scenes. Criminal takes this trend to the next level: it contains literally nothing else. Set entirely within the confines of police interview rooms, the series nevertheless spans continents with stars including David Tennant, Hayley Atwell and Nina Hoss bringing agonisingly intense mental conflicts to life. PH



Expected: October, Virgin Media One

Mark O'Connor, the filmmaker behind Cardboard Gangsters and King of the Travellers, delivers a new six-part gangland drama series centred on a forbidden romance between star-crossed lovers among a new generation of hyper-violent criminals. Cue a spiral of double crossing, deceit and revenge. And you thought Romeo and Juliet had problems. PC

Defending the Guilty

Expected: September, BBC Two

Since Peter Moffat's Silk ended five years ago, homegrown legal shows have been thin on the ground – making this new series something of a novelty. Best known for penning the Channel 4 dark comedy Flowers, Will Sharpe leads this courtroom comedy, playing a young barrister mentored by Katherine Parkinson's more hardened attorney. His character – also named Will – is an ingenue who, like many a grad before him, quickly becomes rather disillusioned with the world of work. HJD


Expected: no date set, TG4
Inspired by the success of documentaries on Netflix, TG4 doubles down on a new series of the Irish-language format Finné. Presented by Orla O' Donnell, who steps across from her duties as an RTÉ correspondent, Finné concentrates on stirring Irish stories about suffering, injustice, redemption, resilience and strength. PC


Expected: October, BBC Two
It just wouldn't be autumn without an ambitious, cross-continental drama, and Giri/Haji promises to be just that. Set in Tokyo and London, this new eight-parter (whose name translates to Duty/Shame) follows a Japanese detective, Kenzo (played by Takehiro Hira), who travels halfway across the globe to London to search for his missing, estranged brother. With a cast from both countries, including Kelly Macdonald and Charlie Creed-Miles, and penned by Humans writer Joe Barton, expect a thriller that is as imaginative as it is international. HJD

Gold Digger

Expected: Late autumn, BBC One
From Mum to Wanderlust, the sub-genre of TV exploring the sexual and emotional lives of older people continues to grow. This Marnie Dickens drama is another worthy addition. After years of selfless domesticity, wealthy 60-year-old Julia begins a relationship with Benjamin, a skint copywriter 25 years her junior. Julia's family are suspicious about his motives but have secrets of their own. Do they really have her best interests at heart? Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes are the pan-generational lovers. PH

His Dark Materials

Expected: October, BBC One

From steampunk airships hovering over an alternate-universe Oxford to physical manifestations of your soul in the surprisingly cute form of a daemon, this deluxe BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman's beloved trilogy of fantasy novels looks set to outclass the stalled 2007 movie version. It boasts a stacked cast – including Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda – and is led by Logan's poised mini-Wolverine Dafne Keen as plucky heroine Lyra. GV

Living With Yourself

Expected: October, Netflix
Paul Rudd – the seemingly unageing star of everything from Clueless to Ant-Man – stars in this new series, playing not one but two roles, as his character, George, undergoes an experimental new treatment to become a better person. Overseen by the likes of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, directors of 00s crowdpleaser Little Miss Sunshine, and written by former Daily Show writer Timothy Greenberg, expect it to land somewhere between Maniac and The Good Place. Aisling Bea – who recently wowed in Channel 4's This Way Up – also stars. HJD

Máthair Trump – The President’s Mother

Expected: no date set, TG4
Even the villains these days get their origin stories. So who doesn't want to hear the heart-warming tale of Mary Anne Macleod, the Scottish immigrant who made her way from the harsh life of the Hebrides to New York, where she married a property developer named Fred Trump, embarked on philanthropic causes and raised five children, the fourth of whom won't allow you a moment's peace? PC


Expected: October, BBC Two
Anna Maxwell Martin – last seen giving Superintendent Hastings an almighty tongue-lashing in series five of Line of Duty – reprises her altogether different role in this wonderfully shambolic comedy: as a perpetually struggling middle-class mother shunned by the PTA and entirely unsupported by her husband. Happily, Diane Morgan also returns as the mellow, completely hands-off mum Liz, while Sherlock's Tanya Moodie joins the fold as Meg, who causes a stir at the school gates. HJD


Expected: No date set, Virgin Media One
Gogglebox Ireland makers Kite Entertainment were out and about earlier this year casting OAP B&B, a six-part original format for Virgin Media Television. Kite, which also makes Ireland's Fittest Family for RTÉ, describes OAP B&B as a "social experiment" partly inspired by the housing crisis. In this series, young people who can't afford to live in cities owing to prohibitive rents move in with over-65s who have nice comfortable bedrooms to spare, the idea being that they pay their rent in the form of chores and company. At the end of a trial period, they decide whether or not they want to continue the arrangement beyond the life of the television show. LS

On the Edge

Expected: Autumn, Channel 4

Another triptych of human stories from up-and-coming screenwriters, as Channel 4's acclaimed anthology series returns for a second run. This time the theme is people "trying to find their place in the world", encompassing Adulting – about a girl with learning difficulties who gets into a potentially dangerous friendship with a young man (This Is England's Michael Socha) – plus mental health-themed family dramedy For You, and BBW, a coming-of-age story about a young British-Nigerian woman. HJD

Perpetual Grace LTD

Expected: no date set, TG4

This neo-noir series form the US follows James, a grafter played by Westworld actor Jimmi Simpson, as he attempts to prey upon benign Pastor Byron Brown. But this pastor is not all he seems. For a start, he is played by Ben Kingsley, well accustomed to playing saints and sinners. Here he uses religion to bilk hundreds out of their life savings. PC


Expected: October, BBC Two
Season two of Ryan Murphy's groundbreaking drama picks up two years on, with the HIV/Aids crisis ravaging New York City. Some – like House of Evangelista's Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) – choose activism; others – such as Elektra (Dominique Jackson) – choose escapism, and Pose is at its most magical when both elements combine in the ballroom. The early-90s was also when ball culture went pop, via Madonna's Vogue. But mainstream acceptance comes at what price? EEJ

Pulling with my Parents

Expected: Wednesdays, from September 25th, RTÉ2.
Derry-based production company Alleycats sought "singletons who trust their parents enough to select their next date" for this series, which RTÉ has told potential sponsors is "a return to basics" that will see the generation that "did dating the old-fashioned way" try to "crack the cupid conundrum for their kids". So in this six-part horror - sorry, factual - series, parents will "completely take over" the love lives of their children, "revamping" their social media profiles and offering "old-school solutions" to dating disasters, all while giving "blunt and honest advice" with the aim of lining them up a date. "Who knew a small ad in the Farmers Journal had such erotic potential!" enthuses RTÉ. LS

Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!

Expected: November, Netflix
Can anything stop the Fab Five? The reboot of not especially old, not particularly lamented makeover show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was perhaps the biggest surprise TV hit of … 2018?! Yes, it was somehow only last year that Tan, Antoni and the rest first strode expertly on to Netflix, but with four seasons already released and a second trip abroad coming next, they've rapidly become fixtures on the entertainment landscape – and in danger of over-saturation. The new foreign jaunt is also set to be a bigger test than sorting out buttoned-down men and weary women in the deep south or midwest of the US, or indeed the New South Wales farmer who was the focus of previous overseas adventure Yass, Australia! The four episodes in Japan will heighten the tension between worldviews that's always been a key part of the Queer Eye magic, bringing us the gang's first full-on culture clash. The Five themselves confidently claim that their normal mix of directness and tenderness has dissipated any thoughts of international insensitivity, with emotional pay-offs such as two old Japanese male friends breaking their deep-seated reluctance to hug forming a more intense version of the show's regular road to personal redemption. JS

Raised by the Village

Expected: Sundays, from September 29th, RTÉ One
After a pilot episode in 2018, Raised by the Village returns for a four-part series to tell the story of eight city families who need help with parenting and are taking "drastic steps" to get it, according to RTÉ. That's right, they're moving their "troublesome teens" to the countryside where they can be "raised by the village". Under the guidance of child psychotherapist Stella O'Malley, the teens "will get a dose of teenage life, Irish village style", but what will their behaviour be like after an agricultural intervention? The show is made for RTÉ by production company Waka TV and is actually the Irish version of an international format owned by Amsterdam-based Endemol Shine. LS

Red Rock

Expected: No date set, Virgin Media One

All good things must come to an end, and that includes Ireland's sharpest soap opera, a gratifying international hit whose production was assailed by a spate of bad luck. Like Deadwood without the multi-year wait, it has been given the opportunity to conclude with two special episodes, in which the coastal town experiences a calamitous event, determining which of its characters will make it out alive. PC

Rhythm + Flow

Expected: October, Netflix
Everyone except Simon Cowell should be wildly excited about Cardi B's return to reality television. She first broke through as the "shmoney"-loving upstart in Love & Hip Hop: New York and now she's a judge in this 10-part hip-hop talent search, alongside TI and Chance the Rapper. Netflix looks set to innovate the competition format in other respects, too – without live shows, how will the viewers vote? EEJ

The Righteous Gemstones

Expected: October, Sky Atlantic

Danny McBride's latest HBO comedy promises to do for the large adult sons of US southern megachurches what Succession has done for transatlantic media heirs: that is, rip them to shreds for our viewing pleasure. McBride (Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals) writes and stars, but he's far from the only colourful gemstone. John Goodman is stern patriarch Eli, while Walton Goggins sparkles as Christian rocker-turned-pulpit preacher Baby Billy Freeman. EEJ

Rob Delaney Special

Expected: November, Amazon Prime Video
In a belated effort to catch up with Netflix, Amazon spent August launching a raft of comedy specials showcasing standup talent from both the US and UK. Having also signed Rob Delaney – Catastrophe co-creator, mercurial tweeter and breakout star of Deadpool 2 – the megacorp streaming service cannily gets the best of both worlds: a bawdy but empathetic Yank who has lived long enough in London to be an astute observer of our sceptred isle. GV

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

Expected: October, BBC Three
Start your engines, and may the best (British) woman or man win: the hotly anticipated UK version of the show that brought drag to the mainstream arrives on screens this autumn, with Ru, Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and Alan Carr joined by a range of guest judges, among them Lorraine Kelly and Geri Horner. And, of course, the 10 all-important queens, whose "charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent" will be put to the test. While there have been about 100 series of US Drag Race, this is a format that's still liable to put a smile on your face. HJD

State of the Union

Expected: September 8th, BBC Two
Hi, infidelity! Nick Hornby turns his hand to bite-size content with this new 10-part series about a long-term couple – Rosamund Pike and Chris O'Dowd – who have hit a crisis point. Each 10-minute episode takes place in the pub as the two fortify themselves before their regular marriage therapy session, offering an evolving weekly snapshot of a relationship in freefall. Directed by Stephen Frears, it has already screened on Sundance TV to admiring reviews. GV

Sticks and Stones

Expected: Late autumn, Virgin Media
The new three-parter from Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett stars relative newcomer Ken Nwosu as Reading-based middle manager Thomas Benson. After badly bungling a pitch meeting, Thomas is determined to win back the client but feels undermined by his team. Is someone really out to get him? And can Bartlett create the same paranoid intensity from workplace bullying as he did with a betrayal in the home? EEJ

Strictly Come Dancing

Expected: September 7th, BBC One
The not-all-singing-but-definitely-all-dancing TV mainstay returns for a whopping 17th series. From the Strictly curse that sees partners cha cha cha away from their real-life spouses, to an often random mix of contestants (see Ed Balls, Ann Widdecombe, and, this year, someone named Viscountess Emma Weymouth), it's reliably repetitive. Even so, it's always rather fun, too – something that the likes of Made in Chelsea jester Jamie Laing, Radio 1 DJ Dev and Drag Race's Michelle Visage are likely to appreciate. HJD


Expected: September 13th, Sky One
TV is full of troubled, rogue cops who don't play by the rules. But how about a rogue surgeon? This berserk new drama sees Mark Strong playing Daniel Milton, a medic whose desperation to find a cure for his wife's life-threatening illness leads him into a terrifying world of (literally) underground medicine. Beneath Temple station in London, he finds a network of illicit clinics offering dubious experimental treatments. But what might immersion in this dark realm cost him? PH

The Crown

Expected: November 17th, Netflix

Like some ermine-clad superhero, this third season of Netflix's all-conquering royal drama sees Claire Foy's Queen Elizabeth II enter a palatial phone box and rematerialise as Olivia Colman. We've reached the 60s – but will the decade swing for Liz and Phil (who has undergone a transformation of his own and is now portrayed by Tobias Menzies)? Expect moon landings, awkward interactions with pop culture and the arrival of Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. PH

The Deuce

Expected: September 9th, Sky Atlantic
The third and final season of David "The Wire" Simon's study of the New York sex trade takes another time jump to the 1980s. That means the final phase of Times Square's transformation from sketchy red light district to tourist trap, pornography's VHS revolution and, of course, an updated wardrobe. Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is looking swish with her slicked-back bob, but the hair-metal era won't be kind to everyone. EEJ

The Dublin Murders

Expected: Autumn, RTÉ/BBC One

Based on the first two Dublin murder squad books (In the Woods and The Likeness) by bestselling author Tana French, Dublin Murders has been adapted for the screen by Sarah Phelps, best known for her re-imaginings of the Agatha Christie oeuvre. Killian Scott (Love/Hate, Ripper Street, Strike) and Sarah Greene (Rebellion, Rosie, Normal People) play the central detective duo in the eight-part series from the BBC, RTÉ and US network Starz. Readers of French's books probably shouldn't be too confident they already know how this "dark psychological mystery" will pan out – Phelps changed the story of Christie's Ordeal by Innocence for her version and has played it loose with some others. LS

The End of the F***ing World

Expected: November, Channel 4

Was James (Alex Lawther) actually killed by police shooters in the series one finale, leaving Alyssa (Jessica Barden) to face justice alone? That's how Charles Forsman's original graphic novel ended, but since this show about two runaway teen psychos is back for more 90s indie flick-inspired mayhem, we're guessing screenwriter Charlie Covell has made some changes. Now their dark dalliance can continue in these short-but not-too-sweet episodes. EEJ

The Good Place

Expected: September 27th, Netflix

Each season of America's cleverest sitcom has had a radical creative decision behind it. Usually that's been an upending of the reality in which these characters swap brainy one-liners. In the fourth run, however, the twist is that this really is the end: creator Michael Schur decided some time ago that somewhere around 50 episodes would be enough. A showrunner calmly calling time on their own project is a rare blessing in an era of brutal cancellations, caused by the disruptive arrival of streaming – as fans of The OA recently found out, Netflix is not the infinitely generous space it once seemed to be – and the subsequent backlash from traditional media companies setting up their own, exclusive online platforms. Artistically, it makes sense for The Good Place, too, since the genius of the series has always been its willingness to very nearly disappear up itself: it's avoided it, but every further metaphysical tangle is a gamble. Sticking the landing when your whole routine has been triple comic somersaults won't be easy. Schur's fans will trust him to do it, though – especially since, as the show has evolved, it's revolved more and more around an old-fashioned love triangle, the sort of set-up satisfying finales have always been made of. JS

The Light

Expected: Autumn, Channel 4
It is loosely the third and final part of a state-of-the-nation trilogy preceded by National Treasure and Kiri. But this Jack Thorne drama will also stand alone as a story of beleaguered community life in small-town Britain. After a controversial construction project goes tragically wrong, furious locals seek justice. Sarah Lancashire stars as Polly, a woman whose family is both implicated in the causes of the disaster and torn apart by its aftermath. PH

The Loudest Voice

Expected: September 5th, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
It might be hard work finding a hero to root for in this new drama, which stars an almost unrecognisable Russell Crowe as TV executive Roger Ailes. For the fortunately uninitiated, Ailes was a fake news-pioneering, hard-right provocateur who resigned from Fox News in 2016 after allegations of sexual harassment and was memorably described in Rolling Stone magazine as "one of the worst Americans ever". Can Crowe humanise this self-consciously divisive figure? PH

The Mandalorian

Expected: Late autumn, Disney+
Disney launch their streaming platform Disney+ with this flagship series, hoping the lure of a galaxy far, far away will be enough to convince punters to cough up for yet another monthly subscription (the app's UK release date is still TBC but with the US/Aus/NZ and Netherlands going live in November it's sure to be soon). The Force, at least, appears strong: it's helmed by Iron Man and Lion King director Jon Favreau, counts Pedro Pascal, UFC hardnut Gina Carano and Werner Herzog among its cast, and has a budget in the region of latter-season Game of Thrones. LH

The Politician

Expected: September 27th, Netflix
Back to school for Ryan Murphy, who has most recently given us Pose but whose TV breakthrough came courtesy of the cheesily charming Glee. With shades of Reese Witherspoon's brilliantly grotesque turn in 1999 film Election, The Politician examines the darkly comical will to power of Payton Hobar (Ben Platt), an ambitious student whose lifelong dream of being US president must survive the savage politics of his high school. A starry cast also includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange. PH

The Rotunda

Expected: Thursdays, from September 12th, RTÉ2

The observational series on Europe's oldest maternity hospital returns for an eight-part run - its debut in 2018 was hailed by Irish Times television critic Peter Crawley as "life-affirming in its mingling of non-nonsense midwifery, a mother's agonies of labour, the comic subplot of bewildered new fatherhood, and the smothering encouragement of overbearing families", as well as sombre in its portrayal of a couple whose baby has a fatal heart defect. The series, which won the award for Best Factual Entertainment at the Celtic Media Festival, is made for RTÉ by Scratch Films and distributed internationally under the does-what-it-says title 24 Hour Baby Hospital. LS

The Witcher

Expected: December, Netflix
In a grim, feudal realm of might and magic, brooding but hunky monster-hunter Geralt (Henry Cavill, rocking a killer white wig) roams the blighted landscape looking for trouble on his faithful nag Roach. Based on a series of best-selling Polish fantasy novels (and already adapted into a hugely successful video game franchise), The Witcher seems purposefully designed to scratch that Game of Thrones itch, promising down-and-dirty combat and even murkier politicking. GV

Top Boy

Expected: September 13th, Netflix
Perma-sad rapper and London fan Drake was the driving force behind this reboot of the cult black British drama starring former So Solid Crew man Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson, better known as grime veteran Kano. As it returns, Dushane (Walters) is back and ready to reclaim his place as the kingpin of the Summerhouse estate, but a host of newbies (played by the likes of up-and-comer Michael Ward, who appeared in Stormzy's Gang Signs and Prayer short, and rap heavyweight Dave) aren't going to make things easy for him or Sully (Robinson). HJD


Expected: September 27th, Amazon Prime Video

The groundbreaking dramedy is well placed to deal with its enforced #MeToo casting change: even before his dismissal, Jeffrey Tambor had become less and less important in an ensemble piece with a bold, open-hearted diversity beyond its headline-grabbing title role. Tenderly observed as Tambor's portrayal of transgender matriarch Maura was, in the five years since Transparent debuted, the casting of a cis man has in any case looked more and more retrograde. No House of Cards-style collapse is likely here, then, as the show kills Maura off and puts its secret weapon, Judith Light, literally centre stage. Rendering the feature-length "movie" finale as a musical ought to create the perfect conduit for Transparent's ongoing obsessions: grief, trauma, Jewish culture, how those three interact, and how they affect the unhappy adults' endless search for identity. That the Pfefferman family are staging a show within a show, a theatrical production about themselves, rather than just breaking into song during their ordinary lives, will offer plenty of scope for ruthless introspection – another Transparent calling card. More straightforwardly, perhaps the current vogue for film musicals taps into a desire among audiences to sing our way through dark times. We could find worse heroines in 2019 than Light as the viperish, brittle, defiant Shelly, a woman grabbing at life hard before it's too late. JS


Expected: no date set, TG4
TG4's GAA talent show Underdogs returns for another series in which fledgling footballers are assembled to make a team that can credibly compete with the best in the country. (Except Dublin.) This year's management team includes former Kerry's Mickey Ned O' Sullivan, Donegal's Kevin Cassidy and Cork's Valerie Mulcahy. PC


Expected: September 13th, Amazon Prime Video
Rotoscoping animation has been around for a while – remember Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly? – but this sci-fi series from the BoJack Horseman team is the first time the trippy technique has been used for episodic television. Undone's plot is equally mind-bending: a car accident leaves Alma (Rosa Salazar) with a new understanding of time, which she uses to find out the truth about her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). EEJ

War of the Worlds

Expected: Autumn, BBC One
The adaptation of HG Wells's sci-fi classic should finally arrive this autumn after multiple delays caused by problems with the show's CGI. This tale of alien invasion famously caused panic when it was first broadcast on the radio in 1938, and while this apparently faithful retelling of the story should be received more calmly, it's hard to tell at the moment. Rafe Spall, Eleanor Tomlinson and Robert Carlyle star. PH

World on Fire

Expected: Autumn, BBC One
It wouldn't be autumn without a lavish BBC wartime epic. Written by Peter Bowker and starring Helen Hunt and Sean Bean, World on Fire is a nuanced people's history of the second world war, telling stories from all sides of the conflict. There's a Mancunian factory worker for whom the war opens up unimagined possibilities, an English translator trying to smuggle his Polish lover out of Warsaw, and a German family hiding their disabled daughter from the Nazis. PH