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Brilliant BBC dramas we can't wait to watch in 2023

Including BBC's award-winning drama Time, which is returning with an all-female cast

By Naomi Gordon, Katie Frost and Emma Henderson
new bbc drama
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Line of Duty, Everything I Know About Love, Normal People, This is Going to Hurt – it's fair to say we're a nation who love a good TV drama, especially when the BBC are behind the camera. But what about new BBC dramas coming out in 2023?

Well, it was a stellar start to the year following the release of the third and final season of Sally Wainwright's BAFTA-winning Happy Valley starring Sarah Lancashire as the iconic Sergeant Catherine Cawood. The six-part series, which also saw the return of James Norton and Siobhan Finneran, received rave reviews from both viewers and critics.

And there's plenty more on offer this spring. Our Girl's Michelle Keegan stars in BBC period drama Ten Pound Poms and director Shane Meadows has adapted Benjamin Myers' classic novel The Gallows Pole for the small screen.

The BBC has also announced major new crime drama Wolf, adapted from the acclaimed Jack Caffery novels and starring Humans actor Ukweli Roach. Plus there is good news for fans of Jamie Dornan's dark drama The Tourist and political thriller Vigil starring Suranne Jones – they have been renewed for a second season.

And Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams will make her TV writing debut with original drama series, Champion, which tells the explosive story of what happens when fame collides with family.

From true crime thrillers, lavish period dramas and the return of old favourites, we've rounded up the best TV shows from the BBC in 2023. Find out more about each show now below and prepare to never leave your sofa again...

1

The Gallows Pole

bbc drama 2023
BBC/Element Pictures

Release date: 31 May

Shane Meadows (This Is England) is turning his hand to his first ever BBC period drama, adapting Benjamin Myers' classic novel based on the true story of the Yorkshire Cragg Vale Coiners.

The BBC say: "Set against the backdrop of the coming industrial revolution in eighteenth century Yorkshire, the compelling drama follows the enigmatic David Hartley, as he assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a revolutionary criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history."

It stars Michael Socha, Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera, Cara Theobold, 1917’s George MacKay and Peaky Blinders star Samuel Edward-Cook.

The six-part series for the BBC has been filmed in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

2

Time

bbc drama 2023
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images//Getty Images

Release date: TBC

Fans of the BBC's award-winning drama Time will be pleased to know its returning for a three-part mini series. But this time, it will feature an all-female cast.

The story portrays life in British women’s prison, and is told through the lens of three inmates, with very different lives. The series will be led by Game of Thrones and The Last of Us actor Bella Ramsey, Doctor Who's Jodie Whittaker and The Long Song's Tamara Lawrance.

Happy Valley's Siobhan Finneran will be returning to her role from series one as Marie-Louise, a prison chaplain, and former confidante to Sean Bean's inmate Mark Cobden.

The BBC’s synopsis reads: "Arriving at Carlingford Prison on the same day, Kelsey (Bella), Orla (Jodie) and Abi (Tamara) are thrown together to face an unfamiliar world. But even with the ever-present threat of violence within its walls, they discover that an unexpected sense of community, and a shared understanding, still might be possible."

Time’s first series averaged 11.6 million viewers across its three-part run, and won the 2022 BAFTA Television award for best mini-series.

Filming in Liverpool is set to begin soon.

3

The Way

bbc drama 2023
Tibrina Hobson//Getty Images

Release date: TBC

Directed and co-created by Welsh actor Michael Sheen, this three-part series The Way, is no ordinary story for Sheen, as it’s told through the prism of his hometown, Port Talbot.

Described as an “emotional and darkly humorous story” it follows the Driscoll family who are faced with navigating the terrifying prospect of leaving the country they’ve always called home.

The story maps the social and political chaos of today’s world by imagining a civil uprising which begins in the small industrial town, and sees plenty of hardships and cruelty along the way.

The Way has been created for the BBC by Sheen, writer James Graham and documentarian Adam Curtis (The Power Of Nightmares and Can't Get You Out of My Head), and filming in Port Talbot is due to start later this year.

Director of drama at the BBC Lindsay Salt said: “The Way is a brave new drama that is both deeply grounded in its authenticity yet packed with imaginative spirit, as we follow the incredible journey of one family.

The cast is yet to be announced.

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4

This Town

bbc drama 2023
Getty Images

Release date: TBC

Michelle Dockery stars alongside Nicholas Pinnock (Marcella) and David Dawson (My Policeman, The Last Kingdom) in This Town, the new drama from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

The six-part series follows an extended family and four young people with a love for ska and two-tone music, which was popular in Coventry and Birmingham in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Knight says: "This is a project very close to my heart. It’s about an era I lived through and know well and it involves characters who I feel I grew up with. It’s a love letter to Birmingham and Coventry but I hope people from all over the world will relate to it."

Filming in the Birmingham area is underway.

5

Champion

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Release date: TBC BBC and Netflix

Candice Carty-Williams, author of bestselling novel Queenie, will make her TV writing debut with original drama, Champion.

The series will tell the explosive story of what happens when fame collides with family.

BBC's synopsis reads: "Rap sensation Bosco Champion is home from prison, and ready to dominate the music industry once more. But when his dutiful younger sister Vita’s own talent is discovered by Bosco’s rival, Bulla, she steps out of her brother's shadow to become a performer in her own right, setting the Champion siblings against one another and tearing apart the whole family in the process."

Candice Carty-Williams said in a statement: "Champion is a celebration of Black music and of a Black family, however fragmented that family might be, and I can’t wait for the world to see their story. Since I knew what music was, I’ve loved grime and UK rap and neo-soul, to the point of obsession, and to bring to BBC One and iPlayer in the U.K. and Netflix globally a series that gives these genres of music life and texture is my dream, as is working with some of the best producers and songwriters making music today to create original tracks for the show."

Déja J Bowens joins the cast in her exciting TV debut alongside Malcolm Kamulete (Top Boy, Ill Manors), music sensation Ray BLK (also her TV debut), Nadine Marshall (Sherwood, Small Axe), Ray Fearon (His Dark Materials, Beauty and the Beast) and Jo Martin (Doctor Who, Top Boy).

6

Boiling Point

bbc drama 2023
Vertigo

Release date: TBC

Boiling Point the film was realesed last November and blew the minds of viewers as it was filmed on one take. Yes you read that correctly, one take, meaning even the process of filming lived up to its high pressure name.

The film showed the realities of the pressure of a busy night of service in the kitchen and front of house, and it was well mosly well recieved, although some chefs felt it was playing up a stereotype that many are trying to more away from. Viewers loved the performance from Steven Graham, who played the stressed head chef Andy and was about to lose it all, as well as Izuka Hoyle who won a Bafta in November for her performance.

After its sucess, it's due to return to BBC One as a new five part series, with many of irs original cast, including Graham. It will be set six months after the end of the film, and will instead foucs on sous chef Carly (played by Vinette Robinson), where she will now head chef of her own restaurant.

Filming started in early 2023.

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7

Shuggie Bain

bbc drama 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

American Scottish author, Douglas Stuart (pictured), won the 2020 Booker Prizer award in 2020 with his gritty novel, Shuggie Bain.

The book follow Shuggie Bain who lives on a Glaswegian council estate in the 1980s, where he struggles to fit in, and his mother has a similar struggle with alcholism, so much so that Shuggie starts to care for her. The story was inspired by Stuart's own life, growing up in Glasgow during the Thatcher years.

There's yet to be an announcement on the cast, but we do know it will be filmed in Scotland.

8

Boarders

bbc drama 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC BBC3 and iPlayer

Boarders, a brand new coming of age comedy drama created by BAFTA nominated Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Timewasters), has been commissioned for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.

The six-part series follows the lives of five underprivileged black students from inner-city London who win scholarships to an elite boarding school.

BBC says: "Stepping out of the urban metropolis and into a world they can only describe as something out of Harry Potter, our leads will experience the highs and lows of boarding school: learning about themselves, their identity and what life on the other side looks like - which they discover is nothing like life in zone 3."

Creator and Lead Writer, Daniel Lawrence Taylor, said in a statement: "As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow momentum, and the world is becoming more aware of black struggles in white institutions, a show like Boarders has never been more relevant or ripe for comedy. Working with Studio Lambert and the BBC has been an absolute joy, and I’ve also bagged myself some of the most exciting Black British voices to help me bring this show to the screen."

9

Best Interests

bbc dramas 2023
Getty Images

Release date: TBC

Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan will star opposite Michael Sheen in BAFTA-winning writer Jack Thorne's emotive and thought-provoking drama Best Interests.

BBC's synopsis reads: "This is a story of a family driven apart by having to make choices no parent would ever want to make. Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen (Good Omens, Quiz) play married couple Nicci and Andrew, they have two daughters, Katie played by Alison Oliver (Conversation with Friends) and Marnie played by Niamh Moriarty.

"Marnie has a life-threatening condition. The doctors believe it is in her best interests to be allowed to die, but her loving family disagree. And so begins a fight that will take them through every stage of a legal process, as they struggle to contemplate this huge decision. Who decides? And in whose best interests will it be?"

Sharon Horgan said: "Best Interests broke me when I first read the script and then again after talking with Jack about it. Covid seems to have shone a closer light on the desperate inequalities that exist for our disabled community so this felt very timely. It’s a big subject but it’s in Jack Thorne and Michael Keillor’s safe hands. I’m thrilled to be working on this story with a super talented cast, the wonderful Michael Sheen and Noma Dumezweni, and my gorgeous daughters; Alison Oliver and Niamh Moriarty."

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10

Murder is Easy

bbc dramas 2023
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The BBC has announced it is adapting Agatha Christie's novel, Murder is Easy, in a co-commission with BritBox International.

Set in 1954, the story follows a man going by the name of Luke Fitzwilliam, who is told by a woman called Miss Pinkerton that a killer is on the loose in the sleepy English village of Wychwood under Ashe.

The villagers believe the deaths are accidents, but Miss Pinkerton knows otherwise - and when she's found dead on her way to Scotland Yard, Luke feels he must find the killer before they can act again.

Filming for the two-part drama will take place this summer, so there may be a bit of wait before this adaptation hits screens. Casting details have not yet been released.

11

Wolf

bbc dramas 2023
James Pardon

Release date: TBC

Ukweli Roach will lead BBC One's six-part crime drama Wolf, adapted from the acclaimed Jack Caffery crime novels by Mo Hayder.

BBC says: "DI Jack Caffery is a young man searching for himself. Obsessed with the neighbour he believes murdered his ten year-old brother in the nineties, Jack finds himself trying to right the wrongs of others, but at what cost? In an isolated house in Monmouthshire, the wealthy Anchor-Ferrers family find themselves the victims of a psychopath’s cruel games, trapped and terrorised. When the two narratives collide, it’s a thrilling, nail-biting and deeply disturbing race against time."

The cast also includes Sacha Dhawan (Doctor Who, Marvel’s Iron Fist), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones, Riviera), Sian Reese-Williams (Hidden, Line of Duty) and Juliet Stevenson.

12

Boat Story

bbc dramas 2023
Matt Squire

Release date: TBC

The production company behind The Tourist and Fleabag are working on this action thriller, which stars Daisy Haggard as Janet and Paterson Joseph as Samuel.

It follows the duo as they find a haul of cocaine on a shipwrecked boat and decide to sell it and split the cash. Before long, they find themselves mixed up with the police, masked hitmen, and a gangster known as ‘The Tailor’, played by Tcheky Karyo (Baptiste, The Missing).

Tommy Bulfin, BBC Commissioning Editor, says: "Boat Story is a hugely entertaining and fiendishly clever thriller that I know will have the nation desperate to know what’s coming next. And I cannot think of a more perfect cast to bring these fantastic characters to life – you’ll just have to wait and see which ones you can trust!"

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13

World on Fire

bbc dramas 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

The BBC has confirmed filming has begun on series two of BBC’s hit drama World On Fire.

Telling the story of World War Two through the eyes of ordinary people whose lives have been thrown into chaos, the six new episodes are written by series creator Peter Bowker, Rachel Bennette and Matt Jones.

BBC says: "World On Fire series two will take viewers from the streets of Britain into occupied France, Nazi Germany, and to the sands of the North African desert, where British troops struggle alongside Indian Sappers and Australian Diggers to adapt to a very different kind of combat."

Returning cast include Lesley Manville as Robina, Jonah Hauer-King as Harry, Julia Brown as Lois, and Zofia Wichlacz as Kasia, with Blake Harrison as Stan, Eugénie Derouand as Henriette, Eryk Biedunkiewicz as Jan, and Cel Spellman as Joe.

Joining the the cast for series two are Mark Bonnar (Guilt, Line of Duty) as Sir James Danemere, Ahad Raza Mir (Resident Evil, Hum Tum) as Rajib, and Gregg Sulkin (Runaways, Pretty Smart) as David. Filming started in the summer of 2022.

14

The Tourist

bbc dramas 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

Jamie Dornan will be returning as 'The Man' in BBC One and HBO's dark comedy thriller The Tourist for a second season, from The Missing writers Jack and Harry Williams.

The series set Down Under followed Dornan's enigmatic character as he recovered from a car accident and seemingly suffered from amnesia. Along the way he met officer Helen Chambers, played by Danielle Macdonald, and a waitress named Luci, Line of Duty's Shalom Brune-Franklin.

BBC's Chief Content Office Charlotte Moore said in a statement: "In its first 30 days, 12 million people watched The Tourist – that's twice as big as the largest show, Stay Close, on Netflix. The power that the BBC has to reach millions of people is far greater than we perhaps realise."

The Tourist is expected to be released towards the end of 2023 or early 2024.

15

Vigil

bbc dramas 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

Suranne Jones will be reprising her role as DCI Amy Silva in submarine thriller Vigil.

The series followed Silva as she boarded the eponymous nuclear-powered vessel to investigate a suspicious death on board. Once underwater, Silva was met with resistance and subterfuge from members of the Royal Navy and MI5, who attempted to sabotage her case.

Rose Leslie starred as Kirsten Longacre, a fellow police officer and former love interest of Silva's in the drama, and fans will be hoping for her return too. More details are set to be released soon.

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16

The Woman in the Wall

bbc dramas 2023
Shane Anthony Sinclair//Getty Images

Release date: TBC

The BBC and Showtime are teaming up to create The Woman in the Wall, a six-part gothic thriller starring Ruth Wilson and Daryl McCormack.

The new drama, which Wilson will also executive produce, will explore the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals – the inhumane institutions known as "The Magdalene Laundries".

The BBC synopsis explains: "Lorna Brady (Wilson) is a woman from the small, fictional town of Kilkinure, who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house. Chillingly, Lorna has no idea who the dead woman is or if she herself might be responsible for the apparent murder…"

Speaking about the role, Wilson said: "Lorna Brady is a complex and fascinating character and I’m thrilled to help bring her to life. In The Woman in the Wall Joe has created both an enthralling gothic thriller and a moving examination of the legacy of The Magdalene Laundries. It’s a privilege to bring this story to screens."

17

Sherwood

bbc dramas 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

BBC crime drama Sherwood will return for a second series.

The drama was inspired by two real-life Nottinghamshire murders and the subsequent man hunt of Robert Boyer and Terry Rodgers in 2004.

"I've been so deeply moved by the response to Sherwood," writer James Graham said in a statement. "These stories come from my home, and I want to specifically express gratitude to my community for whom I know these subjects can be difficult, but – I hope – important ones to explore."The East Midlands and former Red Wall areas like it are never just one thing, politically or culturally, and it's been the honour of my life to give voice and character to a place I love. It's a county of great stories and legends, past and present, and I can't wait to show audiences more."

The series stars Lesley Manville, Liar's Joanne Froggatt, David Morrissey, Robert Glenister, Philip Jackson, and Lorraine Ashbourne and — despite being based on true events — is a fictional dramatic portrayal.

18

Michaela Coel's new project

bbc dramas 2023
Getty Images

Release date: TBC

Another BBC production is in the works with the award-winning creator of I May Destroy You, Michael Coel.

While we don't have any specific details just yet, Piers Wenger, head of BBC drama commissioning, has said that another project is being planned with the "unequalled" star and that "more news about that to follow in due course".

Wenger revealed more details in an interview with Deadline, sharing what Coel's upcoming BBC series might entail and links it might have to her previous projects:

"It’s truly in Michaela’s head and it’s not for me to second guess that too much at this point. It’s at relatively early stages, but I wanted to let the fans of I May Destroy You know that there is a new show coming along."

Adding: "What relationship that show will have with the original series, [is for Michaela to decide]. There’s a relationship between Chewing Gum and I May Destroy You. There’s a through line to her thinking. I suspect there may be elements [of I May Destroy You] but it’s really too early to say anything specific."

We could not be more excited to see what the star has in store for us next...

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19

Wahala

bbc dramas 2023
BBC

Release date: TBC

Nikki May's novel Wahala is being adapted to screen by BAFTA-nominated Rocks writer Theresa Ikoko (pictured here).

The story will follow three thirty-something Anglo-Nigerian friends living in London, trying to navigate a world that 'mixes roast dinners with jollof rice.'

The official BBC synopsis says: "Simi, Ronke and Boo have been best friends for years, sharing every aspect of their careers, family lives and relationships with one another. But when the beautiful, charismatic and super wealthy Isobel infiltrates their friendship group, mounting tensions, unravelling bonds and unearthed secrets have shocking and tragic consequences."

Ikoko has described the series as "Big Little Lies meets Girlfriends meets Peckham!" She also adds that it will be a great celebration of Nigerian British culture, for which she proudly bears the flag.

20

Ten Pound Pots

michelle keegan, ten pound proms
BBC

Michelle Keegan and Warren Brown leads BBC One's original drama, Ten Pound Poms.

The series, from BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst, follows a group of Brits as they leave dreary post-war Britain in 1956 to embark on a life-altering adventure on the other side of the world.

The BBC says: "For only a tenner, they have been promised a better house, better job prospects and a better quality of life by the sea in sun-soaked Australia. But life down under isn’t exactly the idyllic dream the new arrivals have been promised. Struggling with their new identity as immigrants, we follow their triumphs and pitfalls as they adapt to a new life in a new country far from Britain and familiarity."

Michelle plays Kate (Michelle Keegan), a young nurse who arrives without her fiancé and will do whatever it takes to try and rewrite her devastating past. Faye Marsay and Warren Brown play a couple trying to make the best of the situation for their family, but the poor living conditions at the migrant hostel and local attitudes towards immigrants test them in ways they couldn’t have imagined.

Ten Pound Poms is on BBC One weekly from Sunday 14 May and is available to watch on iPlayer.

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