12 TV drama picks

Spring has properly sprung and there’s only a month to go until the summer solstice. Not that you’d know it by looking out of the window (at the time of writing and - according to the forecast - of reading).

There is an upside to the unseasonal chill (and rain) and that is it gives us every excuse to stay in and enjoy the warm front of excellent TV drama that has settled over the nation right now.

Here are 12 of the best, all of them available to watch now.

Mare of Easttown - Sky Atlantic

Mare of Easttown is a murder mystery that is also so much more than that, built around Kate Winslet’s mesmerising lead performance.

Winslet is the titular Mare, a detective in small-town America under pressure to solve the mystery of a missing woman while her personal life threatens to collapse all around her.

A tale of family and friendships that feels totally real, Mare of Easttown is also occasionally very funny despite the gloom. Not only that, Guy Pearce is in it.

What they say: ‘Kate Winslet triumphs in a moreish murder mystery … A defining performance in a perfectly conjured drama.’ The Guardian

Innocent - ITV

Three years after its first series, psychological drama Innocent returns to ITV with an all-new story and all-new cast.

Katherine Kelly plays Sally, a Keswick school teacher found guilty of killing a student with whom she was said to be having an affair but released from prison after five years when new evidence emerges.

Written by Chris Lang (Unforgotten) and Matt Arlidge, Innocent co-stars Jamie Bamber, Priyanga Burford and Shaun Dooley and aired over four nights on ITV.

What they say: ‘From the mighty pen of Chris Lang … If you’re one of the many viewers morning Unforgotten, this might help.’ Radio Times

Fargo - Channel 4

Few dramas reinvent themselves quite so consistently and successfully as Noah Hawley’s Fargo.

The anthology series inspired by the Coen brothers’ much-loved film of the same name is now into its fourth series and this time it’s a Godfather-like crime drama set in 1950s Kansas.

Starring Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman and Ben Whishaw, it’s quirky and compelling, sometimes very funny and occasionally spectacularly violent. So typically Fargo.

What they say: ‘Still as strong as ever, a sprawling gangland feud delivered with bravura filmmaking, skillfully played by a pitch-perfect cast.’ Empire

Promising Young Woman - Sky Cinema

Promising Young Woman became the first Sky Original film to win at the BAFTA Film Awards, awarded not just Outstanding British Film but the Original Screenplay prize for its writer/director Emerald Fennell.

A blackly comic revenge thriller, Carey Mulligan excels in this twist-filled pitch dark satire on gender politics.

One of 30 new Sky Original films coming to Sky Cinema this year (along with 30 new Sky Original documentaries), Promising Young Woman is an unsettling, surprising and hugely entertaining watch.

What they say: ‘Crackles and fizzes with style and wit … a masterly tale of vengeance.’ The Times

Murder, They Hope - Gold

Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson are back as the ‘north’s most underrated investigators’ in Gold’s comedy murder mystery series.

Murder, They Hope follows the success of previous instalments Murder on the Blackpool Express, Death on the Tyne and Dial M for Middlesbrough.

And Jason Cook’s spoof drama is packed full of fabulous guest appearances including Lee Mack, Paul Whitehouse, Adrian Scarborough and Jason Manford. One of them must have dunnit, surely?

What they say: ‘Back for more hilarious mysteries after becoming firm favourites across a trilogy of whodunnit spoofs.’ Radio Times

Too Close - ITV

ITV’s acclaimed psychological thriller Too Close begins with an unthinkable act as a mother deliberately drives her car off a bridge with two children strapped in the back.

Connie (Denise Gough) survives and it falls to forensic psychiatrist Dr Emma Robertson (Emily Watson) to untangle what could possibly have driven her to do it.

But as the story is revealed in flashback, Connie turns the tables on her interrogator and it becomes a gripping, cat-and-mouse two-hander played out by actresses at the very top of their game.

What they say: ‘A sharp, involving psychological thriller … rakes over a full suite of middle class anxieties, from sex and class to parenting and race.’ Independent

Domina - Sky Atlantic

New Sky drama Domina focuses on the life of the first Roman Empress, Livia Drusilla, telling the story of the power struggles of Ancient Rome from a female perspective.

Kasia Smutniak is Livia, wife and advisor to the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar in the eight-part series that also features Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Christine Bottomley (The End of the F***ing World), Matthew McNulty (Misfits) and Isabella Rossellini.

Writer Simon Burke (Fortitude, Strike Back) said it was a ‘political drama about the first royal family …. but told from the point of view of the wives, the daughters, the mothers, the sisters and the mistresses at a time when policy came to be made in the bedroom and not the Senate of Rome’.

What they say: ‘A great cast, a big budget and it’s full of carnage and backstabbing. What’s not to like?’ The Guardian

Ackley Bridge - Channel 4

The Yorkshire set school drama offers a frank and funny account of life at a newly-formed academy created by the merger of two schools, one predominantly Asian and one predominantly white.

Ackley Bridge began opened its doors for the first time in 2017 and has just finished its fourth run on Channel 4 with a new set of pupils in a new half-hour, teatime slot.

Created by Ayub Khan-Din (East Is East), Ackley Bridge is a big-hearted drama with an intelligent take on real-life issues, and is one of Channel 4’s highest-skewing dramas among younger viewers.

What they say: ‘There is a verve to the direction and a confidence in the moments of humour - drug-dealing pupils stealing alpacas must be a first - the series cuts to the bone of matters.’ The Times

Coroner - More4

The first series of this hit Canadian drama about the personal and professional life of a crime-fighting coroner in Toronto has just begun on More4.

Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan) is the recently widowed new coroner exposing the truth behind mysterious deaths with the help of homicide detective Donovan McAvoy (Roger Cross).

The procedural drama is based on the books by MR Hall and recently finished its third series on Sky Witness.

What they say: ‘Jenny’s anxiety and personal issues are compelling … one of the most interesting female characters on TV right now.’ Tell-Tale TV

Intergalactic - Sky One

Sky One’s new sci-fi drama Intergalactic is set in 2143 and has been created by award winning showrunner Julie Gearey (Secret Diary of a Call Girl).

Savannah Steyn stars as a wrongly convicted cop who finds herself at the centre of a mutiny on board a prison ship en route to a distant penal colony.

A dystopian road movie set in space, Intergalactic co-stars Eleanor Tomlinson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Natasha O’Keefe and Parminder Nagra. An out of this world ride.

What they say: ‘Big and bold, sassy and zizzy … great fun.’ The Guardian

Finding Alice - ITV

ITV’s darkly funny mystery drama stars Keeley Hawes as a grieving widow struggling to stop her life from falling apart.

Made by the team behind ITV’s The Durrells, all sorts of secrets and lies come to light after Alice finds her husband dead at the bottom of the stairs in their dream new home.

Co-starring Joanna Lumley, Nigel Havers, Kenneth Cranham and Isabella Pappas as Alice’s teenage daughter, Charlotte, Finding Alice will return for a second series when all those unanswered questions will be resolved. Probably.

What they say: ‘Keeley Hawes gives a masterful performance in ITV’s darkly comic interesting and ambitious drama.’ Radio Times

Intruder - Channel 5

Intruder tells the story of a middle class couple whose one awful decision means their lives will never be the same again.

Elaine Cassidy and Tom Meeten are the unhappy couple hosting a dinner party when their house is broken into and one of the burglars ends up dead.

Their attempts to cover up the truth of what happened captures the attention of a family liaison officer, played by Sally Lindsay, and their nightmare is only just beginning.

What they say: ‘A homegrown ‘can they get away with it?’ drama … explores the dark and devastating aftermath of an attempted burglary at a luxurious home on the coast.’ Radio Times

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