Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney+ – whatever your streaming service of choice, chances are it’s become something of a lifeline over the past year. Thanks to pandemic-induced lockdowns we’ve never watched so much TV. It’s a good job, then, that there’s never been so much great TV to watch – and 2021 looks set to take peak TV to the next level. From the big names hitting our small screens to the hard-hitting shows everyone is going to be talking about, here’s our guide to the best new TV series to watch in spring 2021.
It’s A Sin
After his too-close-to-home hit Years and Years struck a chord on BBC One in 2019, Russell T Davies is changing tack (and channels) with his latest series, It’s A Sin, which airs on Channel 4 in January. Following a group of young gay men who arrive in London just as the 1980s AIDs epidemic is striking the capital, the series centres on Ritchie, an 18-year-old aspiring actor played by Years & Years band member Olly Alexander. Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris and Keeley Hawes round off a starry cast in what is guaranteed to be a memorable watch.
Where to watch: Channel 4, 22 January
The White Tiger
Starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name, this intense drama directed by Ramin Bahrani explores the strict class system that dictates life in modern India. Following Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav), the son of a rickshaw driver who finds himself coming face-to-face with the corrupt upper classes, don’t expect an uplifting Slumdog Millionaire-style story. This is an unflinching look at the effects of inequality told in a tale already being tipped for Oscars.
Where to watch: Netflix, 22 January
Snowpiercer, Season 2
If you haven’t seen the first season of Netflix’s dystopian thriller Snowpiercer, we highly recommend you check it out before season two premieres at the end of January. But steel yourself – this isn’t an easy watch. Inspired by the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige and based on the 2013 Bong Joon-Ho film of the same name, Snowpiercer is set in a post-apocalyptic world where, after an attempt to solve climate change causes the world to freeze over, the last remnants of humanity are surviving on a perpetually moving train that’s 1,001 cars long. Taking in issues of class, wealth, privilege and authoritarianism, Snowpiercer doesn’t shy away from the visceral and, with Sean Bean joining the cast as the mysterious Mr Willford, season two looks to be every bit as epic.
Where to watch: Netflix, 26 January
We could all use something gentle, heart-warming and down-to-earth right now and that’s just what Netflix is delivering in Firefly Lane. Based on the novel by Kristin Hannah, the series stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke as childhood best friends whose relationship goes through the bumps of fall outs, jealousy, motherhood, careers, marriage and much more during the 30-year span over which the story is told. A perfect Sunday night watch.
Where to watch: Netflix, 3 February
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Looking for a little bit of superhero silliness but don’t have the time or energy to sit through two hours of Avengers? Disney+ has got you covered this year with a whole universe of new TV shows spun from its Marvel franchise. The first, WandaVision, debuted in mid-January to rave reviews while the second will see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier), respectively. Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp and Wyatt Russell will also join the cast as the heroes take on anarchist group, the Flag-Smashers.
Where to watch: Disney+, 19 March
Line of Duty, Season Six
The pandemic delayed the release of this hugely popular BBC police drama last year and, while the exact release date of season six is still to be announced, fans won’t have to wait much longer for the next series of Line of Duty. The storylines of series five may, admittedly, have been a little shaky, but with the familiar cast of AC-12 returning, with a new addition in Kelly Macdonald, we can’t wait to see what screenwriter Jed Mercurio comes up with next.
Where to watch: BBC One, February/March (TBC)
The Pursuit of Love
Created in collaboration with Amazon Prime, this adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s famous novel follows Linda Radlett (Lily James) and Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) as they set off across Europe in search of the perfect husband. Set between the two World Wars, the costuming and scenery are as much a draw here as Emily Mortimer’s exquisite writing and direction – and it helps that the supporting cast includes Dominic West and Andrew Scott.
Where to watch: BBC One, March (TBC)
The North Water
Colin Farrell will make his first small screen appearance since 2015’s True Detective this year – and it’s going to be available for all on the BBC. Farrell will join an all-star cast, including Jack O’Connell and Stephen Graham, in The North Water, a nail-biting adaptation of Ian McGuire’s novel of the same name. The series tells the tale of a group of morally ambiguous 1850s whalers (including Farrell’s murderous harpooner Drax) whose ship runs into trouble in the Arctic leaving them fighting for survival in a frozen wasteland.
Where to watch: BBC Two, April (TBC)