2022 was a massive year for TV, but that is set to be surpassed in 2023. Expect dystopian sci-fi, true-life crime, surprising revivals and a big birthday celebration.
it’s all you need to know about the year ahead in TV as we preview the top shows coming soon.
The Last of Us (Sky Atlantic)
The line “From the makers of Chernobyl” should be enough to interest most right-minded viewers, but this post-apocalyptic drama already has an in-built fanbase thanks to its success as a video game.
The setting is the US, but two decades after modern civilisation has been destroyed. Joel (Pedro Pascal) is a hardened survivor tasked with the job of smuggling 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of a doom-laden quarantine zone. But the stakes are set to rise, turning their trip across America into a heart-rending quest to stay alive.
With a script by Russell T Davies and a star in the form of Helena Bonham Carter, this three-part drama about the sacking of actress Noele Gordon from Crossroads promises to be a classy affair.
It’s set to tell the story of Gordon’s fall from grace after 18 years playing the role of Meg Richardson on the Midlands-based motel-set soap, with the series described as “a love letter to a legend of television”. And we won’t have long to wait, with January set to be the date it’ll land on ITV’s revamped streaming service.
Doctor Who (BBC1)
There aren’t many shows that manage to reach a 60-year milestone, so all the stops are being pulled out as the Doctor marks this big birthday in November.
For starters, we have the Time Lord’s new face (or should that be old face?), with David Tennant back on screen. And he’ll be joined by returning companion Catherine Tate (as Donna Noble), as well as Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney and How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris. Then, for 2023’s festive season, we get the debut of Ncuti Gatwa, who’s taking Corrie’s Millie Gibson along with him for new adventures in time and space.
Big Brother (ITV2)
The all-seeing eye is back. Yes, five years on from Big Brother's final outing on Channel 5, Big Brother is returning, though now it’s a case of, “You are live on ITV2, please do not swear”.
Read more: Roman Kemp wants to host Big Brother
Emma Willis has already ruled herself out as the presenter of this revival, though ITV has promised that the format itself will feature such familiar elements as the housemates’ shopping tasks, plus the usual rounds of nominations and — of course — those dramatic evictions determined by public vote.
The Power (Amazon Prime Video)
Naomi Alderman’s 2016 sci-fi novel, upon which this series is based, became a bestseller worldwide and was even named by former US president Barack Obama as one of his favourite books of the year. So, it was only ever a matter of time before its narrative thrills were brought to the screen.
The premise is undeniably startling, as teenage girls across the globe develop the ability to electrocute people at will. And we’re talking here about jolts from fingertips that can kill. Soon enough, nearly every woman on the planet can do it. But where will this shift in the power balance lead? Alice Eve, Toni Collette and John Leguizamo star.
Beyond Paradise (BBC1)
Death in Paradise gets its very first spin-off, as we rejoin one-time series lead Kris Marshall, whose alter-ego Humphrey Goodman is now living in the UK with partner Martha (Sally Bretton).
But if Humph has hopes of the quiet life in rural England, then they’re going to be dashed, as it seems as though murder has followed him home from Saint Marie. As with its progenitor, there will be a case each week to be solved – no doubt with a gathering of the suspects and a big reveal in the final ten minutes.
Neighbours (Amazon Freevee)
It may have had a star-studded finale packed with familiar faces including Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, but this hasn’t prevented Amazon Freevee from reviving Neighbours for a new run in 2023.
Returning to Erinsborough will be Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy), Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy), Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) and Ryan Moloney (Toadfish Rebecci). And reports are that the streamer will be dropping episodes each day, so fans will still get their same regular soap fix.
Watch the cast of Neighbours announce the revival
Three Little Birds (ITVX)
Lenny Henry has been enjoying a career renaissance (a “Len-aissance”, if you will) with roles in both The Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power and The Witcher: Blood Origin. But next, he’s on scriptwriting duties for a life-affirming drama inspired by his mother’s stories about leaving Jamaica in the 1950s for Great Britain.
The six episodes will chart the adventures of sociable siblings Leah and Chantrelle, who hail from St Anne’s district in Jamaica, and their Bible-loving friend, Hosanna, as they board a cruise ship with the intention of embarking on a new life in the UK. “For me, it’s a lifelong dream come true,” says Henry of the project.
Rising stars Rochelle Neil (The Nevers, Guilt), Yazmin Belo (What Just Happened) and Saffron Coomber (Tracey Beaker Returns, Eastenders) have been cast as the leads
Secret Invasion (Disney+)
Samuel L Jackson makes the leap from film to TV as Marvel's Nick Fury deals with a faction of shapeshifting aliens, the Skrulls, who have managed to infiltrate all aspects of life on our planet.
Joining him will be Ben Mendelsohn as Skrull sect leader Talos, who first encountered the former SHIELD supremo during the events depicted in the Captain Marvel movie. Here, we’re promised some revelations about Fury’s past, with Jackson having teased that the series allows him to “explore something other than the badassery of who Nick Fury is”. Olivia Colman will also make her MCU debut as Special Agent Sonya Falsworth.
Waterloo Road (BBC1)
Listen out for the bell as we’re back in class this January for a new term at Waterloo Road. It’s been away since 2015 but will return with a bang when what begins as a peaceful protest turns into a full-on school riot!
It’s the start of an eventful year that will see teachers and pupils addressing such topics as the cost-of-living crisis, teen homelessness and mental health. Old faces including actors Angela Griffin (Kim Campbell) and Adam Thomas (Donte Charles) are making a comeback, while new additions include Corrie alumni Kym Marsh and Rachel Leskovac.
Bank heist dramas aren’t anything new, but Netflix is playing with our preconceptions with this subversive new thriller starring Giancarlo Esposito, Paz Vega and Tati Gabrielle. The eight episodes can be watched in any order the viewer chooses, as different perspectives are foregrounded in each instalment.
This non-linear approach to storytelling will allow us to take different tacks when it comes to peeling back the layers of corruption and greed at the heart of the series. And you can judge for yourself as to whether this narrative experiment has been a success when Kaleidoscope drops on 1 January.
Everyone Else Burns (Channel 4)
A new coming-of-age comedy with an unusual concept, in that the Mancunian clan at its heart are members of a puritanical Christian sect.
Simon Bird, who’s well used to navigating fraught family dynamics in Friday Night Dinner (albeit in a Jewish household), gets top billing, with support coming from Kate O’Flynn, Amy James-Kelly and Alastair Roberts. We’re promised subversive humour and a biting exploration of the balancing act between faith and identity.
Real-life husband and wife Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes play partners on screen as they bring to life the bizarre tale of Labour cabinet minister John Stonehouse who, in 1974, faked his own death and left his wife Barbara behind in order to start a new life in Australia.
Tracing the exposure of Stonehouse’s lie is writer John Preston, who previously penned A Very English Scandal, a non-fiction account of the Jeremy Thorpe affair that became a TV mini-series starring Hugh Grant. Expect a similar mix of period detail and stranger-than-fiction surprises.
In a somewhat surprising move, the BBC is bringing this test of brains and brawn back to these shores for the first time since ITV aired the format in 2002.
It’s been revealed that this new version of the global hit will be “uniquely BBC”, though the concept does remain familiar, with 20 people selected from across the UK marooned in a tropical locale. After being divided into separate tribes, the participants will go head to head in challenges that test both the grey matter and strength. Eliminations result in a whittling of numbers until one victor takes a cash prize. Whether viewers will find themselves caught up in the action remains to be seen…
Rehearsals begin in February for what feels like a risky revival. Why? Well, despite Kelsey Grammer reprising the role of the highly strung shrink, he’ll be without his former sparring partners. John Mahoney (who played patriarch Martin) died in 2018, while David Hyde Pierce turned down the opportunity to bring Frasier’s brother Niles back.
Instead, Grammer has revealed that this will be “an entirely new life” for Frasier, who’ll be living alone in a fresh location. Given that the original Frasier ploughed its own furrow following the end of Cheers, we just hope that this new continuation experiences similar success. There’s no air date yet, but late 2023 is when it’s expected.