12 TV picks: February drama

It might have the shortest number of days but there is surely no denying that February feels like the longest month.

While January benefits from the warm afterglow of the Christmas holidays and March sees welcome proof of the arrival of spring, February - with due respect to Valentine’s Day - is basically a stopgap.

So what better way to fill the (still) long winter nights than these 12 top drawer dramas, all available to watch now.

The Gilded Age - Sky Atlantic

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is back with another epic drama, this time set in the boom years of 1880s New York City - otherwise known as the Gilded Age.

Cynthia Nixon, Christine Baranski and newcomer Louisa Jacobson lead the ensemble cast in a tale of old money Manhattan families at war with their new monied rivals.

A feast for the eyes and ears, it’s just as much fun as you would expect from the ‘patron saint of period drama’.

What they say: ‘Full of lavish sets and extravagant costumes, it makes for terrific television. Harnesses the best of Fellowes' writing and applies it to American history … A Downton-esque delight.’ Radio Times

Trigger Point - ITV

It’s wise to expect the unexpected in this explosive new Sunday night drama from Line of Duty executive producer, Jed Mercurio.

Vicky McClure stars as ‘expo’ Lana Washington - a member of the Metropolitan Police bomb disposal squad - called out to investigate a potential bomb factory on a London housing estate.

But when tragedy strikes this high-octane thriller takes on a wider and more terrifying scope. An absolute blast.

What they say: ‘Packed with evisceratingly tense moments … [This] stress-inducing bomb squad thriller is vying for Line of Duty’s crown.’ London Evening Standard.

Screw - Channel 4

Channel 4 goes inside with the ‘uncensored, terrifying and often darkly funny reality’ of life in prison, told through the eyes of the people who work there.

Nina Sosanya (Teachers) is veteran prison officer Leigh Henry and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Derry Girls) is new recruit Rose working on the male C-wing of fictional Long Marsh prison.

The two women could hardly be more different except each of them carries secrets which could end their careers and even their lives. An engrossing, grimly funny watch.

What they say: ‘Impeccably observed … a warm, witty welcome to hell.’ The Guardian

The Teacher - Channel 5

Sheridan Smith stars as a teacher accused of inappropriate sexual activity with a 15-year-old pupil in this psychological mystery thriller stripped across four nights beginning on Monday [31 January].

Smith is Bradford schoolteacher Jenna Garvey whose blossoming career is blighted by a chaotic private life, alcohol problems and blackouts.

When she is arrested for having sex with a pupil Jenna has no memory of what happened but is convinced of her guilt. Except it turns out that it’s far more complicated than that.

What they say: ‘Sheridan Smith is superb [and] so winning as Jenna you’ll be rooting for her tonight and over the next three nights.’ Radio Times

Discovery of Witches - Sky Max

Expect an epic conclusion to Sky Original supernatural drama Discovery of Witches, which comes to end with this third series currently airing on Sky Max.

Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer star in the hit fantasy adaptation of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

A tale of magic, time travel, conflict and star-crossed vampire/witch romance, it is bewitching escapism at its best.

What they say: ‘Delivers what fans have been waiting for. By the time the credits roll they’ll be smiles and possibly a few tears … Fangs for the memories.’ Radio Times

The Bay - ITV

Crime drama The Bay returned for a third series with a new detective at its heart but with its winning mix of murder mystery and family drama still very much intact.

Marsha Thomason (Cobra) is Morecambe CID’s new family liaison officer, DS Jenn Townsend, taking over from Lisa Armstrong, played by Morven Christie, who announced her departure from the show after series two.

The new series, airing on Wednesday nights on ITV, begins with the death of a young boxer and Townsend under pressure not only to make an immediate impression on her new colleagues but with her own family struggling to adapt to their new surroundings.

What they say: ‘New officer makes a fine start on the beat.’ The Times

Pretty Hard Cases - Alibi

Meredith MacNeill and Orange Is the New Black’s Adrienne C Moore star in this Canadian police comedy drama as a pair of mismatched cops who are better at solving crimes than they are at getting along with one another.

Teaming up after a chance meeting at a takedown when they both realise they are after the same target, these very different detectives both excel at their jobs.

But they also have traumatic personal lives in which they grapple with dysfunctional families and tumultuous romance.

What they say: ‘There hasn't been anything like it, a fascinating hybrid of cop show, comedy and socially aware big-city drama … Very entertaining.’ Globe and Mail

Yellowjackets - Sky Atlantic

Yellowjackets combines several genres into a single winning mix - a coming of age drama, a gripping survival story and an outrageous cannibal gorefest. And did we mention that it is also very funny?

The action is split between a plane crash in 1996 which leaves a high school football team stranded in the Canadian wilderness, and the terrible fallout 25 years later of the horrific things the survivors did to make it out alive.

And it has a cast to die for - appropriately enough - including Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci. A pulpy delight.

What they say: ‘Gruesome, gripping and blackly comic, this tightly-plotted mystery-horror is meaty in all the right (and wrong) ways.’ Empire

The Good Karma Hospital - ITV

The fabulously escapist drama about a medical facility in southern India is the perfect sun-blessed tonic for these long winter nights.

Just back for a fourth series on ITV, Amrita Acharia returns as Dr Ruby Walker, the junior doctor who started it all off back in 2017 when she quit the UK for a fresh start abroad, joining fellow expat Dr Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman) and Neil Morrissey as local bar owner Greg.

The first part of a two-hour Sunday night drama double header on ITV - followed by Trigger Point - The Good Karma Hospital is a proper feelgood treat

What they say: ‘A sun-kissed mix of drama, comedy and gobsmackingly beautiful scenery.’ iNews

Landscapers - Sky Atlantic

The extraordinary story of a seemingly everyday couple who end up involved in a double murder, Landscapers is true life crime drama as you have never seen it before.

Olivia Colman and David Thewlis star as Susan and Christopher Edwards, a librarian and accountant convicted in 2014 of murdering her parents, burying their bodies in the back garden and concealing the deaths for the next 15 years.

And while Landscapers is remarkable for the story it tells, it is also about the way it tells it - surreal, playful and never less than totally compelling.

What they say: ‘A rich, generous, clever, multi-textured thing … Olivia Colman and David Thewlis stun as killer couple on the run.’ The Guardian

Dark Woods - More4

The latest overseas crime drama from Channel 4’s Walter Presents, Dark Woods was inspired by real-life unsolved crimes in 1980s Germany and tells the story of a brother who has been searching for his missing sister for more than 30 years.

A high-ranking Hamburg police re-opens his sister’s case after his retirement and discovers evidence supporting horrific suspicions that she may have been the victim of a serial killer.

Written by International Emmy Award-winning writer Stefan Kolditz (Generation War), Dark Woods was a multiple award-winner in its home territory

What they say: ‘A drama that gives up its secrets slowly but rewardingly.’ The Guardian

Murdoch Mysteries - Alibi

There is no other crime drama quite like Murdoch Mysteries, which has just returned for its 15th season and UK premiere on Alibi.

Set in Toronto at the beginning of the 20th century, Yannick Bisson stars as William Murdoch, a detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques way ahead of his time to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.

The series has featured real-life characters including Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle and Queen Victoria, and a long list of guest stars including William Shatner and comedian Colin Mochrie, who appeared after joking on Twitter that he was the only Canadian actor never to have been on the show.

What they say: ‘Head-scratching mysteries, nail-biting action, zany antics [and] steamy romance.’ HuffPost

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