Sex, Succession and sci-fi nightmares: the must-see TV of autumn 2021

More teenage hookups in Sex Education, a killer Olivia Colman and the long-awaited return of the Roy family … here is all the unmissable TV coming soon

Kevin Can F**k Himself

Annie Murphy moves straight from Schitt’s Creek to another swearily titled series, this time a bold meta-TV experiment. Part classic canned-laughter sitcom, part dark crime drama, Murphy stars as Allison, a sitcom character who constantly has to stomach her doofus husband’s sexist jokes. But the moment she’s away from him, the show morphs into a different beast, and she plots to bump Kevin off by any means necessary.
Amazon, 27 August.


Suranne Jones in Vigil.
Your next obsession … Suranne Jones in Vigil. Photograph: BBC

This thriller from the production company behind Line of Duty is likely to be your next BBC obsession. A man is found dead on the submarine HMS Vigil, and DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) must board the top-secret vessel for the most claustrophobic investigation of her life. The crew chalk it up to a suicide, she suspects foul play – and everyone is evading her questions. Martin Compston and Rose Leslie also star.
BBC One, 29 August.

The North Water

L to r, Jack O’Connell as Patrick Sumner and Stephen Graham as Captain Brownlee in The North Water.
Monstrous … Jack O’Connell and Stephen Graham in The North Water. Photograph: Nick Wall/BBC/See-Saw Films

Colin Farrell, Stephen Graham and Jack O’Connell lead this intense Arctic-set chiller based on Ian McGuire’s 2016 novel. Dr Patrick Sumner (O’Connell) leaves his military career in disgrace and finds himself on a whaling vessel with Farrell’s harpooner Henry Drax, whose monstrous nature matches their icy surroundings. There will be blubber.
BBC, 10 September.

The Morning Show

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon return in the Apple TV+ drama about Me Too-style revelations rocking a US TV network. After a jaw-dropping season one finale, will Alex Levy (Aniston) be forced to reveal her complicity in her longtime co-presenter Mitch’s (Steve Carell) serial sexual misconduct?
Apple TV+, 17 September.

Sex Education

Season two of Netflix’s hilarious teen-sex sensation ended with the horniest Shakespeare play in history, staged inside a giant vagina. How do you top that? Well, the third manages to ramp it up instantly: by opening with a mega montage of – what else? – intercourse.
Netflix, 17 September.


Based on Isaac Asimov’s book series of the 1940s and 50s, said to have influenced a little film franchise called Star Wars, Foundation finally hits our screens in Apple’s shiny adaptation starring Jared Harris. With a sprawling plot and huge budget, this tale of exiles rebuilding a troubled galactic empire is certain to dazzle, and perhaps disorientate, its viewers.
Apple TV+, 24 September.


Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham star in Help.
Blistering ... Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham in Help. Photograph: The Forge

Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham pair up for Jack Thorne’s heartbreaking feature-length drama about a Merseyside care home overrun with Covid. Graham plays Tony, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, and Comer is Sarah, who takes her first ever job at Bright Sky Homes and is soon forced to wear a binbag in place of PPE. A blistering account of a system failed by the government.
Channel 4, September.

Y: The Last Man

Humanity (in particular the “man” part) teeters on the brink in this postapocalyptic sci-fi series. Our plague-times hero is Yorick Brown, who finds that he is the last man on Earth – with only his pet monkey for company – following a mysterious episode that killed all mammals with a Y chromosome. Ben Schnetzer plays the lead role, with Diane Lane as his mother, in this long-awaited graphic novel adaptation.
Disney+, September.


Babou Ceesay as Wolfe.
Renegade … Babou Ceesay as Wolfe. Photograph: © Sky UK Limited

For fans of maverick leads and crime dramas that are both witty and gruesome, Paul Abbott’s new series starring Babou Ceesay as renegade forensic pathologist Wolfe Kinteh is certain to intrigue. Over six episodes, northern England’s foremost crime expert will break the rules while solving complex crimes, alongside the likes of Sherlock’s Amanda Abbington.
Sky Max, September.

Colin in Black & White

Colin Kaepernick
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick narrates his story.
Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

Sporting giant Colin Kaepernick joins forces with directing supremo Ava DuVernay for a new drama based on the former’s school days and early forays into activism. Taking us back to his pre-NFL life, it will follow Kaepernick as a black adoptee in a white family, grappling with notions of race and justice. The man himself provides narration.
Netflix, October.

The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door.
Creepy? ... The Shrink Next Door. Photograph: Beth Dubber/Courtesy of Apple

Podcasts have become hot TV property in the past few years, but few pod-to-show adaptations have lived up to the hype (see: Homecoming on Amazon; Netflix’s Dirty John). Could Apple buck the trend with its darkly comic new show about a creepy psychiatrist, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd in 80s specs?
Apple TV+, 12 November.

My Name is Leon

Kit de Waal’s powerful novel about brothers separated by adoption comes to TV, with Christopher Eccleston, Lenny Henry and Small Axe’s Malachi Kirby among its cast. Set in 80s Birmingham, the one-off drama tells the story of nine-year-old Leon, a mixed-race boy who remains in care while his younger, white brother is adopted.
BBC, November.


Buckle up for more billionaires behaving badly as the TV megahit returns for a third series. Is Brian Cox’s brutal, troubled patriarch Logan Roy about to let son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) bring him down? Or is there an epic power struggle yet to come?
Sky Atlantic/Now, date to be confirmed.

Alma’s Not Normal

Siobhan Finneran, Sophie Willan, Lorraine Ashbourne and Nick Asbury in Alma’s Not Normal.
Siobhan Finneran, Sophie Willan, Lorraine Ashbourne and Nick Asbury in Alma’s Not Normal. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Expectation TV

Sophie Willan’s comedy was among the best of 2020 despite only consisting of a single pilot episode, drawing on the writer’s experience of childhood trauma, the care system, familial drug addiction and sex work. Now it’s back for a full series, with Willan playing the title character and Siobhan Finneran as her mum.
BBC Two, tbc.

Scenes from a Marriage

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain lead HBO’s update of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 Swedish miniseries, whose approach to chronology would influence the likes of Richard Linklater. Expect a forensic, artistic study of heartbreak from a story spanning five years in the lives of psychology professor John and tech exec Mira.
Sky Atlantic/Now, tbc.

The Tower

Gemma Whelan of Game of Thrones and The End of The F***ing World takes on her first primetime lead role in this new drama from Homeland writer Patrick Harbinson, based on a series of novels by ex-police officer Kate London. Whelan plays a detective investigating two unexplained deaths at a London tower block and the subsequent disappearance of a police officer.
ITV, tbc.

The Fall of the House of Maxwell

Ghislaine, Robert and Elizabeth Maxwell.
Tycoon life … Ghislaine, Robert and Elizabeth Maxwell. Photograph: Steve Wood/Rex/Shutterstock

Before Ghislaine Maxwell’s name became indelibly linked with the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, she was a society figure and philanthropist who had grown up in the shadow of her parents. This major documentary from Colin Barr – maker of the Emmy-winning drama Maxwell, about the last days of her media tycoon father Robert – considers over half a century of insalubrious family history, complete with testimonies and unseen archive footage.
BBC Two, tbc.

Stath Lets Flats

Expect more lettings-themed anarchy in series three of Jamie Demetriou’s Bafta-winning comedy. Hapless estate agent Stath has been ousted from his family business, Michael & Eagle, and has a baby on the way with colleague Carole (Katy Wix). Will his fortunes be revived after the death of boss Julian?
Channel 4, tbc.

Ridley Road

Tom Varey as Jack Morris, and Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein in Ridley Road.
Right moves … Tom Varey and Agnes O’Casey in Ridley Road. Photograph: Ben Blackall/BBC/Red Productions

A Jewish woman infiltrates a neo-Nazi group in 60s London in this new four-parter based on a book by Jo Bloom and adapted by Sarah Solemani. Rory Kinnear, Rita Tushingham and Eddie Marsan star in the prescient drama.
BBC One, tbc.


Olivia Colman and David Thewlis star as the couple behind the Mansfield murders in this dark retelling of one of the most bizarre true crimes of recent times. Susan and Christopher Edwards killed her parents, buried them in their back garden – then spent years siphoning off their money, mainly to splurge on autographs of Hollywood stars including Gary Cooper. They weren’t found out for 15 years. Written by Ed Sinclair, Colman’s husband.
Sky Atlantic/Now, tbc.


Hannah J Davies and Kate Abbott

The GuardianTramp

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