There are so many strong British dramas on TV at the moment that it’s frightening.
BBC and ITV are fighting tooth and nail in the battle of viewing figures, meaning a lot of quality broadcasts coming out. But with so much out there you might end up missing a series due to the sheer volume of content on offer.
So, with me being Film Night’s resident British TV Drama Correspondent (I’ve just made that up) here’s six shows that you need to be watching over spring.
Line of Duty
Put simply, the best thing on television right now.
Ok, you’re three episodes behind, but don’t sweat. Get on iPlayer and catch up, immediately! Line of Duty returned for its third installment at the end of March with an almighty bang.
The main character and case changes each series but the premise remains; focusing on the police anti-corruption unit AC-12 and their work looking into potentially corrupt police work.
AC-12 unit made up of Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Craig Parkinson have all returned and our new case focuses on Sgt. Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays). For now, I will say no more other than get watching this.
The first episode is sensational television; a tense 20 minute interrogation scene with AC-12 and Mays is a sensational watch.
I’m a huge fan of the show having watched Line of Duty since the first series (the ending of which still makes me sad) and this is definitely my favourite series on TV right now.
Catch Line of Duty on Thursday nights at 9PM on BBC 2.
It is based on the family of Nick Johnson (Adrian Lester) and Maya Cobbina (Sophie Okondeo). Cobbina is a lawyer fighting to prove the innocence of American prisoner Rudy Jones (Dennis Haysbert) who is on death row. After Cobbina lands a new role, we find out that her husband and his past is not what it seems.
I’ve read a lot of articles online talking about this milestone of a predominantly black cast being aired on a primetime BBC show, but race is not what makes Undercover so good to watch, it’s the engaging story and brilliant acting from Lester and Okondeo.
Maybe the BBC are trying to be more diverse, but race is not central to the plot of this show, so let’s leave it that way and just enjoy this thrilling six-parter.
Watch BBC 1 drama Undercover at 9PM on Sunday.
This eight-part ITV noir crime series sees the wonderfully talented Anna Friel return to our screens as Detective Sergent Marcella Backland.
Troubled Marcella left the police force seven years ago following the break-up of her marriage, but makes her return after she is contacted by a senior detective (Ray Panthaki) when an unsolved serial killer seems to have become active again after an 11 year hiatus.
It comes from writer of The Bridge Hans Rosenfeldt and there is undoubtedly a Nordic feel to the show. Other sub plots are engaging and look to become more vital the further we get into this series.
If this show passes you by or you don’t have access to ITV then good news, the show will be available worldwide on Netflix once it has aired.
Catch ITV’s Marcella on Monday nights at 9PM.
The A Word
Talking about and coming to terms with an illness or disability is never easy, and The A Word portrays this beautifully.
This highly watchable drama looks at how five-year-old Joe Hughes (Max Vento) is diagnosed with autism. His parents Alison and Lee Hughes (played by Morven Christie and Lee Ingleby) are oblivious to their child’s unique mannerisms and just love him for his individual ways.
Alison’s brother Eddie (Greg McHugh), his wife Nicola (Vinette Robinson), who are going through their own relationship issues, and Joe’s granddad Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) know that all isn’t quite what it seems with Joe, but their attempts to intervene are straight batted by his parents.
But it isn’t just about autism; Joe lives in a highly dysfunctional family in a quiet, picturesque Lake District village where someone’s business is everyone’s business.
Joe’s niche is his unbelievable knowledge on music, so each episode is filled with an awesome and eclectic soundtrack. The acting is superb; you feel like you’re sat in the living rooms listening to the arguments unfold and you have no right to be there.
The A Word challenges ideas and perceptions we have about illness, and anything with Christopher Eccleston is always worth a watch.
The A Word is shown on Tuesday at 9PM on BBC 1.
Another ITV upcoming three-part series is based on the true story of Colin Howell and Hazel Buchanan.
Set in 1991 in Northern Ireland, Howell (James Nesbitt) and Buchanan (Genevieve O’Reilly) have an affair and subsequently plot to murder their spouses. Their bodies were found in what looked to be an apparent suicide pact, but 19 years later Howell comes clean.
As a big James Nesbitt fan I am looking forward to seeing him star in this gritty series. True story dramas usually make fascinating watches, and from the trailer, this one looks to be fantastic.
The Secret will be coming soon to ITV.
Scott & Bailey
Both are members of the Manchester Metropolitan Police Major Incident Team (or MIT as they call it down the station).
They return for a three-show series and face what has been described as their “darkest case yet”. Although the show is in its fifth series, it’s a show you can watch without having to know much of the backstory, but it will most likely be referenced at points.
Jones was brilliant in BBC’s Doctor Foster, which has also been recommissioned for a second series, and I am looking forward to a return of Manchester’s finest crime fighters.
Scott & Bailey will air on ITV on Wednesday 13th April at 9 PM.