It’s time to take you to the edge of your seat with these dozen TV picks.
From drama to documentary to factual entertainment, they are all examples of gripping TV that will have you hooked from first to last. And all are available to watch now.
The Midwich Cuckoos - Sky Max
Sky brings John Wyndham’s 1957 science fiction novel bang up to date with a fresh coat of dread and suspense in this new seven-part adaptation starring Keeley Hawes.
Hawes is a family therapist trying to make sense of what is happening in the middle class idyll of Midwich after all its women of child-bearing age mysteriously fall pregnant on the same night.
An ‘unnerving fable for our turbulent times’, this eerie tale of spooky alien children is keeping people awake all over again. Don’t have nightmares.
What they say: ‘Mysterious and special.’ The Spectator
After its successful return last month ITV has already commissioned a third series of Grace, its south coast crime drama starring John Simm.
Based on the best-selling series of Roy Grace books by Peter James, Simm is the supernatural-loving detective still fixated by the disappearance of his wife six years earlier (and with good reason, it turns out at the end of series two).
Adapted by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis, the even better news for fans is that there are 17 books in the Roy Grace series. This one could run and run …
What they say: ‘I held my breath and didn't realise it till my eyes started bulging.’ Daily Mail
The Bridge: Race to a Fortune - Channel 4
Channel 4’s reality challenge show The Bridge is back - but with everything turned up to 11.
The second series transfers the action from north Wales to the paradise islands of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. There’s double the drama - with two rival teams attempting to build a bridge over 1,000 feet of water in just 12 days - and double the prize money, with £200,000 up for grabs.
AJ Odudu presents with adventurer Aldo Kane overseeing the challenges. Beginning this week [7 June] on Channel 4, it’s as exhilarating to watch as it is exhausting to take part in.
What they say: ’The task remains the same - as does the propensity of contestants backstabbing to win.’ Daily Telegraph
Miss Scarlet and the Duke - Alibi
Turning typical gender norms of Victorian crime dramas on their head, Kate Phillips stars as the titular ‘Miss Scarlet’ who takes over the family business after the murder of her father, a police officer turned private eye.
She is joined in her sleuthing by ‘the Duke’, Scotland Yard inspector William Wellington (Stuart Martin) who is both her father’s old associate and her childhood friend (so there’s plenty of ‘will they, won’t they?’ to go with each week’s ‘whodunnit?’)
But it’s not easy being a professional woman in male-dominated Victorian London in the mystery drama that returns for a second series to Alibi next Tuesday [14 June].
What they say: ‘[Has] a lightness of touch, a beating heart and a liberating perspective … Like Moonlighting with gas lamps.’ Radio Times
The Staircase - Sky Atlantic
It’s a story with which many viewers will be familiar - the death of Kathleen Peterson and the subsequent trial for murder of her husband, Michael Petersen, who claimed to have found her dead at the bottom of the stairs.
Already the subject of an acclaimed documentary series, it would take a quite remarkable dramatisation to shed any more light on its subject. And yet The Staircase manages to do just that.
Toni Collette stars as Kathleen and Colin Firth as Michael, who said his wife had fallen down the stairs while drunk. If you’ve not watched the documentary - or even if you have - this eight-part drama makes for compulsive, shattering viewing.
What they say: ‘Practically fizzing with tension … riveting.’ The Guardian
DI Ray - ITV
Parminder Nagra stars as the eponymous DI Rachita Ray who is promoted to the homicide squad after she intervenes in a terrifying city centre stabbing.
But the killing of an Asian man in a so-called ‘culturally specific homicide’ is not what her new colleagues presume it to be in this gripping new police drama executive produced by Line of Duty creator, Jed Mercurio.
DI Ray is a story about organised crime and police corruption but it also shines a light on racism and sexism in the police and society at large.
What they say: ‘A fresh take on the genre … a unique crime drama exploring police prejudice.’ iNews
Exploration Volcano - Dave
Daredevil Chris Horsley dashes in the opposite direction to everyone else in the event of an erupting volcano, as he makes it his mission to seek out the most spectacular lava hotspots on Earth.
The photographer, adventurer and ‘extreme volcanologist adrenaline junkie’ gets up close and personal with eruptions from Iceland to Italy and from Congo to the Canary Islands.
But Horsley and his team aren’t just witnesses to what is happening, they are also helping to save lives too. A jaw-dropping spectacle for viewers watching safely at home.
What they say: ‘Chris Horsley loves volcanoes, whether they are dormant or literally blowing their top. He’s in his element.’ Mail on Sunday
Hunted - Channel 4
A fabulously elaborate game of hide and seek, Channel 4’s Hunted is thrilling TV that also casts a fascinating spotlight on the way we live now.
It returned for its sixth series this year with 11 new contestants trying to go undetected for 23 days in the hope of winning a share of the £100,000 prize. It came to a climax this week [6 June] with all episodes available to watch on All4.
On their trail were the Hunters, using every bit of surveillance technology that 2022 has to offer alongside with a network of officers on the ground ready to bring the runaways home.
What they say: ‘A worrying reminder of how traceable we are … Chilling.’ iNews
Das Boot - Sky Atlantic
Like Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 film of the same name, this Sky Original production is based on Lothar-Gunther Buchheim’s 1973 book Das Boot, but has very much chartered its own course and to great effect.
Returning to our screens for a third series last month [May] - and with a fourth already commissioned - Das Boot follows the lives of German submariners doing battle with the Allies under the Atlantic waves in World War Two.
The latest series sees the arrival of Ray Stevenson as a British naval commander whose son dies in a German submarine attack and dedicates his life to taking revenge on the U-boats responsible. Spectacular.
What they say: ‘Claustrophobic, clever and utterly thrilling.’ The Guardian
Midsomer Murders - ITV
Such is the feelgood appeal of Midsomer Murders - unusual in a show with such a high body count - that the edge of the seat that you find yourself on might be the one at the back of your sofa, not the front.
But wherever you sit while you watch it, the long-running ITV whodunnit is an evergreen classic, and so accomplished is Neil Dudgeon in the lead role that you could be forgiven for forgetting John Nettles was ever in it. Well, almost.
Now into its 22nd series, it was back last month [May] with The Scarecrow Murders - a particularly grisly episode - along with a lovingly crafted retrospective documentary, Midsomer Murders - 25 Years of Mayhem.
What they say: ‘As whimsical and wicked as ever.’ The Times
The Chernobyl Disaster - Channel 5
Channel 5 promised the ‘definitive look at the Chernobyl disaster timeline’ with this forensic exploration of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe.
Ben Fogle, who travelled to Ukraine for last year’s acclaimed C5 documentary about the disaster, returns to narrate this three-part series combining expert interviews with extraordinary archive footage.
Programme makers describe the documentary as a ‘story of cover ups, corruption, and a countdown to disaster which needs to be told now more than ever’.
What they say: ‘Sad and gripping.’ Radio Times
Nordic Murders - More4
Former prosecutor Karin Lossow helps solves crimes on the real-life Baltic Sea island of Usedom in this hit German crime drama which returned last month [May] for a third series on More4.
But Lossow is a crimebuster with a difference, having been jailed for killing her philandering husband with a gun she took from her police officer daughter.
Lossow now has a new partner-in-crime, homicide detective Ellen Norgaard, with each feature length episode focussing on a different mystery.
What they say: ‘Starkly beautiful … A classy German crime drama.’ Daily Mail