Best BBC dramas to look forward to in 2021/2022

Fans of Happy Valley will be thrilled to know that after over half a decade away from our screens, the BBC drama is returning for a third and final series. It joins a host of exciting new dramas winging their way to the BBC in the next year – perfect news as the nights draw in and we increasingly spend evenings snuggled down in front of the TV.

happy valley
BBC

Sarah Lancashire will return to her role as Sergeant Catherine Cawood in the new series of Happy Valley, while James Norton again plays her nemesis, the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce.

The BBC synopsis says ‘When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir it sparks a chain of events that unwittingly leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce.

‘Her grandson Ryan is now sixteen and still living with Catherine, but he has ideas of his own about what kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father.

‘Still battling the seemingly never-ending problem of drugs in the valley and those who supply them, Catherine is on the cusp of retirement.’

Happy Valley is just one of the new TV dramas the BBC have rustled up for us in the coming months. Here are a few more upcoming TV shows to get excited about…

THEN BARBARA MET ALAN

Then Barbara Met Alan
BBC

This is a brilliant drama is inspired by a true story, exploring the battle for disabled civil rights in Britain in the 1990s. Then Barbara Met Alan has been written by multiple Bafta winner Jack Thorne, who is the mind behind Harry Potter And The Cursed Child and His Dark Materials.

The plot features two disabled cabaret performers, Barbara Lisicki (played by Years and Years actor Ruth Madeley) and Alan Holdsworth, who met at a gig in 1989. They become part of the Direct Action Network (DAN), whose protests brought the campaign for disabled rights into the spotlight.

Release date: TBC

THE TOURIST

BBC

Need a new thriller in your life? You’re in luck. The Tourist is a six-part TV show starring 50 Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan as the ‘The Man’, who is desperately searching for his identity. The show is set in the Australian outback, where a British man (Dornan) finds himself being pursued by a tank truck trying to drive him off the road.

The official synopsis reads: ‘An epic cat and mouse chase unfolds and the man later wakes up in hospital, hurt, but somehow alive. Except… he has no idea who he is.’ We’re hooked.

The Tourist will also star Line of Duty‘s Shalom Brune-Franklin as a waitress who gets caught up in ‘The Man’s’ journey.

Release date: TBC, but at some point during winter 2021.

A VERY BRITISH SCANDAL

a very british scandal
BBC

Claire Foy became a household name for her turn as the Queen in Netflix drama The Crown. Now she’s turning her hand to a member of the British aristocracy, playing Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll, in BBC drama A Very British Scandal.

The drama, comprising of three one-hour episodes, focuses on the notorious divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, revealing the social and political climate of post-war Britain. In particular, it explores attitudes towards women, and the way in which Margaret, who was famed for her charisma and beauty, was vilified at the time.

Release date: TBC, BBC One

THE SPLIT

BBC Drama The Split cast
BBC

This is the third and final series of The Split, and according the BBC is the “most dramatic and heartbreaking series to date”.  The Split is set in the fast-paced, complex world of London’s high-end divorce circuit and follows the lives of the three Defoe sisters, Hannah (Nicola Walker), Nina (Annabel Scholey) and Rose (Fiona Button).

In the new series, we’ll see the return of Christie, the catalyst of Hannah and Nathan’s marriage breakdown, and watch the formerly solid couple unravel as they try to come to an amicable separation agreement. The show, which marks creator Abi Morgan’s directorial debut, also promises a “shocking revelation” that “dramatically changes the stakes”. We can’t wait!

Release date: TBC, BBC One

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

Anyone who spent last year swooning over the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People will be thrilled to know that another of her novels, Conversations With Friends, is getting the same treatment, with a 12-part series scheduled for BBC Three. The plot follows young friends Bobbi and Frances as their lives and loves become intertwined with an older couple, Melissa and Nick, eventually leading to devastating results.

Release date: TBC, BBC Three

BBC Drama Marie Antoinette
BBC

MARIE ANTOINETTE

Fans of historical drama rejoice – BBC Two has a gift in store for you. Created and written by Deborah Davis, who was behind brilliant film The Favourite, Marie Antoinette tells the story of the incredibly modern and avant-garde young queen who was barely 14 years old when she left Austria to marry the Dauphin of France. Known for her extravagant tastes and pastimes, Marie Antoinette also endured great hardship, suffering enormous pressure to produce a male heir. She was eventually being executed after the French Revolution, aged just 37. This BBC drama promises to be a fascinating delve into her life.

Release date: TBC, BBC Two

SAS Rogue Heroes
BBC

SAS: ROGUE HEROES

A major new drama series from Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders, SAS: Rogue Heroes tells the story of how the world’s greatest Special Forces unit, the SAS, was formed under extraordinary circumstances in the darkest days of World War Two.

“It has been a privilege to work on a project which tells the story of a renegade band of soldiers who used wit and imagination as much as firepower to halt the march of Fascism across North Africa during the darkest days of World War 2,” Knight said.

“This is a war story like no other, told in a way that is at once inspired by the facts and true to the spirit of this legendary brigade of misfits and adventurers.”

Release date: 2022, BBC One

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE

Based on Dolly Alderton’s best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love, this seven-part BBC One series will give an unflinching account of surviving your twenties. The central story revolves around two childhood best friends, Maggie and Birdy, and it set in a 2012 London house-share, with flashbacks to suburban adolescence in the early noughties. It features bad dates, heartaches and humiliations, asking the central question: can platonic love survive romantic love as we grow up?

Release date: 2022, BBC One

BBC drama This Is Going To Hurt
BBC

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

If you’re one of the few people left who hasn’t read Adam Kay’s memoir, This Is Going To Hurt, then here’s the lowdown: it’s the diary of a junior doctor, equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. Now, the best-selling book has been made into a BBC drama that we just can’t wait to watch (and we’ve been twiddling our thumbs for a while – the BBC announced the drama in July 2018, but due to Covid filming only wrapped earlier this year).

Ben Whishaw stars as Adam, wending his way through the ranks of hospital hierarchy  – junior enough to suffer the crippling hours, but senior enough to face a constant barrage of terrifying responsibilities. Adam is clinging to his personal life as he is increasingly overwhelmed by stresses at work: the 97-hour weeks, the life and death decisions, and all the while knowing the hospital parking meter is earning more than him.

Release date: TBC, BBC Two

KILLING EVE

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh will return to our screens as Villanelle and Eve for the fourth and – we hate to say it – final instalment of Killing Eve in 2022. Continuing the show’s tradition of having a new lead writer on board for every season, this time it’s Laura Neal stepping into the shoes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Emerald Fennell. If Laura’s work on Sex Education is anything to go by, we’re in for another treat.

Release date: 2022, BBC One

BRITNEY

This new BBC Three drama is based on a sellout show, and is the true story of an extraordinary friendship amidst the reality of living with a brain tumour diagnosis (the tumour is fondly named Britney after the one and only icon).

Charly and Ellen have been friends since school. Ten years on, Charly is leaving New York and a dubious career in Broadway leafleting to visit Ellen back in their home village, but Ellen soon discovers that Charly isn’t planning on moving back permanently, crushing the dream they’d always shared of living in London together. Now at odds and no longer as inseparable as they’d imagined, Charly discovers that her mysterious lack of periods is a result of something much bigger and scarier. Their world is suddenly tipped upside down as they fight to make sure their friendship rom-com has a happy ending.

Release date: November 30, 2021, BBC Three

READ MORE: Our Christmas TV guide for 2021