Plunkett on TV: Autumn is a season of quality and variety on TV
You’ve probably noticed the nights have started to close in. If it wasn’t for the nation’s new-found enthusiasm for Halloween we’d already be counting down the days to Christmas.
Despair not, because it is also the time of year when broadcasters roll out their big guns for the autumn season (although, from ITV’s Liar to Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off via Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic, the schedules have hardly been bare).
With listings magazines preparing their ‘ones to watch’ for the months ahead, here’s my take on the quality and variety on offer on commercial television this autumn.
Pull up a chair, switch off your phone and buy the best bottle of wine with a few quid off you can find in your favourite supermarket. No spoilers!
1. Hatton Garden (ITV)
Jeff Pope’s four-part dramatisation of the most audacious British crime of the decade will star Timothy Spall, Kenneth Canham and David Hayman as members of the elderly gang of career criminals responsible for the Hatton Garden jewellery heist.
2. Sick Note (Sky 1)
Star-studded black comedy starring Rupert Grint, Nick Frost, Lindsay Lohan (really) and Don Johnson (seriously) about a put-upon insurance rep whose life is transformed after he is diagnosed with cancer.
3. Freedom: George Michael (Channel 4)
George Michael was working on a programme for Channel 4 before his death on Christmas Day last year. The documentary, narrated by the singer himself, has been reworked as an extraordinary tribute to the artist with contributions from superstar friends including Kate Moss.
4. Zapped (Dave)
The Inbetweeners star James Buckley returns for a second series of fantasy comedy in which he plays a man transported to a parallel world and the bizarre backwater town of Munty. There he will clash with ‘orcs, lizardmen, psychopathic Fairies, hipster blood-suckers and worst of all, actors’. Co-stars Sharon Rooney and Paul Kaye.
5. Timewasters (ITV2)
Keenly-awaited six-part comedy follows the fortunes of a struggling four-piece south London jazz band who find themselves back in the 1920s via the unlikely time-travelling machine of a urine-soaked lift in a dilapidated block of flats. Co-stars Kevin Eldon as John Logie Baird.
6. Dinnerladies Diaries (Gold)
The three-part documentary series will pay tribute to the late Victoria wood with an intimate look into the making of her BBC1 sitcom, Dinnerladies. Based on her personal diaries, notebooks, photos and backstage footage, it will also features interviews with cast and friends celebrating the sitcom on its 20th anniversary.
7. Bounty Hunters (Sky 1)
Jack Whitehall and Rosie Perez star as a mismatched dynamic duo - he’s an uptight Brit trying to sort out the family’s cash-strapped antiques business, and she’s a hard as nails New York bounty hunter. Somehow they end up together on a comedy adventure taking them all around the world (and back again).
8. GameFace (E4)
Roisin Conaty’s self-penned sitcom GameFace comes to E4 three years after it aired as a ‘comedy blap’ on All4. Conaty plays an aspiring actress whose work, family, and love life never quite work out the way she hoped. Stars Father Ted’s Pauline McLynn as her mum.
9. The Frankenstein Chronicles (ITV Encore)
Sean Bean returns as no ordinary mere mortal in a second series of the terrifying re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Set in 1830s London, the six-part series co-stars Laurence Fox, Ed Stoppard, Maeve Dermody and Richie Campbell.
10. The Tunnel: Vengeance (Sky Atlantic)
Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane star in the third and final series of the crime thriller which began as an adaptation of Nordic noir The Bridge before becoming a returning hit series in its own right.
11. Trigger Happy TV (All4)
It’s 13 years since Trigger Happy TV was last on Channel 4 and now it’s back on All4. And no, it’s not all going to be Dom Joly screaming ‘Hello!’ into an oversized mobile phone, promising to target some of the most frustrating, peculiar, prominent aspects of modern life and give them a surreal twist’.
12. The Secrets In My Family (W)
Aled Jones fronts the series in which families will be helped to find the relatives they never knew they had and solve long lost mysteries going back generations. However, the answers they find may not be the ones they were looking for. The six-part series is made with Ancestry, the leader in family history and consumer genomics.
13. I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (ITV)
The mother (or daddy) of all reality shows is back for a 17th series. Other reality shows have come and gone I’m A Celebrity endures rather better than Paul Burrell in a tunnel full of bugs. The undisputed kings of live TV, Ant and Dec, will be back to put the celebrities through their paces, kangaroos’ balls ’n’ all
14. Curb Your Enthusiasm (Sky Atlantic)
Six years since the last series, Larry David returns in the much-anticipated (and long-awaited) ninth series of the HBO show, one of the most influential and critically acclaimed comedies of recent years.