If you’re not watching TV, what are you doing? Box watching is what evenings were made for, weekends give you ample time for and holidays cry out for. Only fools scroll through channels wondering what to fill their time with; these days we have targeted watching and there are a handful of shows each year which are essential viewing.
What do you mean you went for a cycle on Sunday? No-one is going to excitedly discuss theories about the route you took and what it means. But your mates, colleagues and everyone from your barber to the cashier at Morrisons will probably natter on about all of these shows on this year.
What: If you know anything about growing up amid provincial boredom then this mockumentary, following the dim-witted shenanigans of two West Country cousins, will ring painfully true. Cringe comedy turned up to 11, the misadventures of Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe it may also remind you of watching The Office for the first time – if not for the awkward looks to camera, then then certainly for Kurtan, whose blonde curtains and brainless quotability evoke a modern day Gareth Keenan.
Who: Life mirroring art, Cirencester-born siblings Daisy May (Kerry) and Charlie (Kurtan) Cooper play the lead pair, who’ve based much of their material on what happened in their town growing up.
When: Right now on iPlayer.
What: The kind of series to get stuck into if you like superpowers but are sick of seeing superhero everything. It’s likely to be the breath of fresh air Deadpool was to 2016’s mutant output. Set in the X-Men world, it follows anti-hero David Haller, who believes he is mentally ill, but happens to be the most powerful mutant in the world. Noah Hawley (Fargo) steers the ship and as Haller doesn’t know what’s real or not, neither does the audience, making for far more entertaining viewing than saving the world (again).
Who: Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey, if your girlfriend needs convincing) is Haller while Rachel Keller (Fargo) is the female lead. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Rec) also features as Haller’s kooky AF friend Lenny.
When: Week beginning 6 February, FX
What: The fourth and last in Marvel’s Defenders street hero series, following Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Billionaire Danny Rand returns to NYC after a plane crash in Asia 15 years prior. Presumed dead, he’s actually been training to be a kung fu master with special powers and, when faced with a long-destined enemy, he unleashes his Iron Fist.
Who: Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones) as Iron Fist, Jessica Henwick (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Colleen Wing, David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings:Return of the King, 300) as Harold Meachum.
When: 17 March, Netflix (all 13 episodes will be available - prime bingeing)
What: Written by 12 Years a Slave’s John Ridley, Guerrilla sees a politically-active couple liberate a political prisoner and form a radical underground cell in London during the tumultuous Seventies. Their relationship and values are tested as they reach militant levels and come head-to-head with the true-life Black Power Desk counter-intelligence unit who worked to crush all black activism.
Who: Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Babou Ceesay (Eye In The Sky) play the couple, supported by Idris Elba(Luther) and Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful)
When: April, Sky Atlantic
Star Trek: Discovery
What: Set ten years before the original Star Trek series, the new one promises new crews, new villains, new heroes, new worlds and, judging by the teaser, amazing CGI. The lead will be female and referred to as ‘Number One’ rather than captain, as the story is told from a perspective other than the USS Discovery’s captain to differentiate itself from what’s gone before. All 13 episodes of the first season will be available for bingeing on, with the story told over the entire season rather than individual episode storylines.
Who: The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green is rumoured to be playing the lead, joined by Chris Obi (Snow White and the Huntsman, Ghost in the Shell), Shazad Latif (MI-5, Black Mirror), and Mary Chieffo (Miss Dial) as Klingons.
When: May, Netflix
What: If you can get past the ex-con main character calling himself Shadow Moon, this is set to be a dark and twisted sci-fi exploration of the power struggle between old and new gods that only exist because people believe in them. Based on Neil Gaiman’s award-winning book of the same name, the gods must battle for people’s belief in them to survive while Shadow gets caught in the middle.
Who: Ricky Whittle (who you probably last saw in Hollyoaks) plays Shadow Moon while Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean, Deadwood) is the mysterious Mr Wednesday. The writers behind Heroes bring their goods to the series too.
When: Spring, Amazon Prime
Catastrophe (Season 3)
What: The Emmy-nominated comedy about a slightly dysfunctional but hilarious couple is back for a third season, which writers/actors Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan promise is going to be zanier than ever. We pick up where we left the pair, back together after a break where they both behaved questionably but Sharon’s amateur move of throwing evidence of a one night stand in the bin in plain sight may lead to the end of the relationship.
Who: Delaney and Horan, obvs, but also the return of Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia) as Rob’s mum and Ashley Jenson (Extras) as Sharon’s somewhat batty friend. We’re also promised guest appearances in a non-cameo way.
When: Spring, Channel 4
Better Call Saul (Season 3)
What: Slippin’ Jimmy and his understated brilliance is back for a third season which is said to tie a lot more into it the series which fathered it - Breaking Bad. Expect Gus Fring to make a return, playing an important role in turning Jimmy to his drug law ways – where, of course, we first met him as Saul Goodman. We’re also hoping to see the emergence of Hank, given that Jimmy and Mike are heading into the drug crime world, but we’ll have to tune in to see.
Who: The same cast as before (Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn and Jonathon Banks) plus (hopefully) Giancarlo Espositi as Gus and Dean Norris as Hank.
When: Spring, Netflix
What: Four 30-something friends achieve what we all dream of - sell a gaming company and become billionaires overnight. But it’s not all fun and er, games, when you make a ton of cash as the four navigate their way past the impact money has on their life-long friendships, their ambitions, that weird British thing about hating successful people and also a thing called “millionaire’s guilt” in this comedy-drama.
Who: Written by Jon Brown (Fresh Meat) and centering around Jim Howick (The Aliens), Samuel Anderson (Doctor Who), Jonny Sweet (Babylon) and Nick Helm (Uncle).
When: June, Channel 4
Twin Peaks (Season 3)
What: The Nineties cult classic finally returns and gets up to speed with the times. Set in the present day, David Lynch’s pie-loving, hard-of-hearing detective is back though all we know he’s doing is eating a donut. The new season is packed with 271 cast members and we pick up the case 25 years later, weird spooky stuff and all.
When: Summer, Sky Atlantic
Game of Thrones (Season 7)
What: The series that needs no introduction will be heading back to our screens before its (possible) final season next year. While we only have seven episodes instead of the usual 10 to get lost in, we can expect them to be jampacked. Khaleesi is on her way to mess up Cersei, who might have gone mad. Meanwhile the Starks are kicking ass and taking names in the North (even though Sansa might be preggers) and Jon Snow, who knows nothing may be closer to knowing he’s got a shot at The Iron Throne. Winter has definitely arrived and so have the White Walkers. Here’s hoping they bring some answers, for the summer has been long and full of questions.
Who: All the usuals, plus new faces including Conor McGregor (yeah, the UFC guy) as a soldier and Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones’ dad).
When: Summer, Sky Atlantic
Stranger Things (Season 2)
What: Stranger Things turned our TV watching Upside Down this year and it’s probably going to do it again. Set one year further down the line, Will is back and desperate to return to normal even though he’s still suffering slug-related consequences from hanging out way too close to the demogorgon. Eleven is supposed to return in some capacity, but we don’t know how yet. Plus this season is one episode longer than the last (nine), which means we may be able to fit in some #justiceforBarb. Though the producers have said it will be darker than the last, so maybe not.
Who: The original cast (minus Barb), plus new faces including Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) and Paul Reiser (Aliens).
When: Late Summer, Netflix
What: Nope, not the X-Factor of the Wizard of Oz, but a 10-part thriller based in the Canadian Rockies. Jim Worth, an expat British cop with a dark past takes on a crooked oil corporation whose arrival in the town brings with it a wave of organised crime, drugs and prostitution. When a member of Worth’s family turns up dead, he goes out for revenge, ensuring a lot of violence and depraved behaviour.
Who: Written by Rowan Joffe (28 Weeks Later) and starring Tim Roth (The Hateful Eight and also soon to be Twin Peaks) as the cop and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as the head of the oil company.
When: Late summer, Sky Atlantic
Peaky Blinders (Season 4)
What: In case you forgot quite where we got to at the end of season three, we were left with an almighty cliffhanger which saw Tommy Shelby turn in his entire family to the coppers just when they thought they’d got a big payout and were free to live their lives. The details of the next season have been kept quiet - and they haven’t even started filming yet - but we’re sure to see Tommy orchestrate a much bigger plan to gain the love and trust of his nearest and dearest. It’s just a question of whether or not it will be enough.
Who: All the regulars, plus Esther Smith and Cherrelle Skeete (both currently in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
When: Late 2017, BBC Two
What: A Netflix original psychological thriller where an apparently terrible therapist begins to have intimate and dangerous relationships with the people in her patients’ lives. We don’t have much more than that, but given it’s in collaboration with Universal Television (Netflix also put out Master of None) you can expect good things. Though we’re still not sure why it’s called Gypsy.
Who: Oscar-winner Naomi Watts plays the lead while the first two episodes are directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (50 Shades of Grey, although don’t let that put you off).
When: TBC 2017, Netflix
What: Remember that Mexican drug lord who escaped from jail twice? You know, the one who consistently makes it onto Forbes billionaires lists as one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, and is responsible for bringing in a quarter of all drugs into the US? The most notorious cartel leader since Escobar? Met up with Sean Penn? Yeah, you’re going to want to watch this “boundary-breaking” series based on his insane life, not least because Netflix may have to pay El Chapo himself to use his name...
Who: We’re not sure but presumably not Sean Penn…
When: TBC 2017, Netflix