Britain on the Box
From gripping dramas to enthralling comedy, Britain is often the star of the show on the small screen and 2020 promises to be no different. Expect exciting new launches and the return of fan favourites, sandwiched between an array of captivating mini-series, explosive crime dramas and programming featuring some of the biggest names in the business. Here’s the best of Britain on the box…
Cillian Murphy will reprise his role as Birmingham gangster Tommy Shelby, when hit drama Peaky Blinders makes its return. Season six is set to film in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham in 2020, with the Shelby clan fighting enemies on all sides. Fans of the gritty drama can visit the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, a firm favourite with creator and writer Steven Knight, as scenes from all seasons to date have been shot there. The open-air living museum explores life since the Industrial Revolution, providing a number of backdrops for the show’s 20th-century setting. Alternatively, take a guided tour of key filming locations in and around Liverpool or drop into the city’s themed Peaky Blinder’s Bar in the renowned Cains Brewery Village, for a sparkling array of wines, spirits, cocktails and live music throughout the week. Set over two floors in a former warehouse in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, the bar’s Victorian features and themed décor make it a firm favourite with TV fans.
After a hugely successful first season, Sex Education returns to Netflix in 2020, following the antics of Moordale Secondary School students and their efforts to establish a school sex clinic. Gillian Anderson will return to her role as Jean, alongside Asa Butterfield and Emma Mackey, for season two, with scenes shot in England and Wales. The former University of South Wales campus in Caerleon, near Newport, doubles up as the school – a town that also houses a wealth of archaeological treasures including the National Roman Legion Museum and the Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths. Other locations in Monmouthshire, including Tintern, and England’s picturesque Wye Valley have also been used for filming.
His Dark Materials
Broadly based on Philip Pullman’s set of enthralling novels, His Dark Materials first aired on the BBC in November 2019. The first novel in the trilogy, Northern Lights, has been adapted in the first series and co-produced with HBO, while filming for the second series is already underway. The pick of an all-star cast includes James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, alongside Dafne Kean as Lyra and Ruth Wilson as the villainous Mrs Coulter. In addition to Cardiff’s Wolf Studios, filming also took place amid the scenic beauty of the Brecon Beacons and at the Welsh National Temple of Peace and Health. Eagle-eyed TV fans may also recognise parts of Oxford, including The Bridge of Sighs and the city’s botanic gardens.
All Creatures Great and Small
Based on the collection of stories from James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small is making its return to the small screen in 2020, thirty years on from its last showing. Detailing the heart-warming and humorous adventures of a young Yorkshire vet, the show initially ran on the BBC from 1978 through to 1990. In partnership with American broadcaster PBS, Channel 5 are bringing the television drama back to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first book’s publication. Set against the striking backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, Nicholas Ralph debuts as the much-loved vet and is joined by British stars Callum Woodhouse, Anna Madeley, Rachel Shenton and Dame Diana Rigg.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows’ Belgravia will explore life among the higher levels of 1840s London society when it airs on ITV in early 2020. The historical period drama, based on his 2016 book of the same name, features an all-star British cast including Tamsin Greig, Harriet Walter, Philip Glenister and Alice Eve. Scenes were shot in Northumberland, home to Roman remains at Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland National Park and a stunning stretch of heritage coastline, as well as other locations including London, Bath and Edinburgh. Discover the Georgian beauty of Bath with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage city, or head to the Scottish capital, which houses a number of historical sites, including Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Around the World in 80 Days
Bringing French writer Jules Verne’s 1873 book to life once more, 2020’s Around the World in 80 Days will star Doctor Who’s David Tenant in the lead role. Set to premiere towards the end of the year, the tale will follow the Scottish actor as he portrays Londoner Phileas Fogg, who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime alongside his French valet Passepartout to circumnavigate the globe for a huge wager. The eight-part adaptation will be produced by London’s Slim Film + Television and Paris-based Federation Entertainment, with distribution channels in France, Germany, Italy and Australia.
Call the Midwife
Returning for an incredible ninth season, the BBC’s long-running drama Call the Midwife will show in the UK in spring 2020, and then on PBS in the US shortly after. A Christmas special for 2019 is also penned, with seasons 10 and 11 of creator Heidi Thomas’ masterpiece set to air by 2022. The festive special will see the midwives heading to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, a string of idyllic islands that are renowned for bird watching and wildlife, striking coastlines and an abundance of exciting adventure sports. Season nine will see the cast return to the East End of London in the mid-1960s, set against a backdrop of vast social change.
The English Game
Another work from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, The English Game will tackle the origins of football when it airs globally on Netflix in 2020. Set in the late 19th century, the period drama will look into how the sport crossed class lines on its way to becoming the phenomenon that it is today. Kingsman’s Edward Holcroft, Line of Duty’s Craig Parkinson and Game of Throne’s Charlotte Hope star in the drama, filmed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and model village of Saltaire, near Bradford. Fans of the beautiful game can discover more at Manchester’s National Football Museum or by taking a stadium tour at one of the Premier League’s leading clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom will return alongside Cara Delevingne in season two of the Victorian fantasy Carnival Row, with Eric Oleson taking over as showrunner for this next instalment. Filming got underway in September 2019 and the series is set to premiere on Amazon in late 2020. It revolves around a rising population of mythological creatures and their struggles to coexist with humans as they lose their exotic homelands.
The Elephant Man
Telling the tragic story of Joseph Merrick, a man with severe physical deformities who was paraded as part of a ‘freak show’ in Victorian England, The Elephant Man will debut on the BBC in early 2020. The two-part biopic from the makers of The Missing will star Stranger Things actor Charlie Heaton and was filmed predominantly in Wales. It chronicles Merrick’s rise from a working-class Leicestershire family to being well-known among London’s elite after forming a friendship with prominent surgeon Sir Frederick Treves.
Set in the heart of the Cotswolds countryside in the early 1950s and based on the stories of G.K. Chesterton, Father Brown is set to return to the BBC for an eighth season in early 2020. Harry Potter actor Mark Williams stars as a crime-busting Roman Catholic priest in the hit period drama, while regular filming has taken place in the scenic Gloucestershire village of Blockley, with several other villages also making an appearance. Stow-on-the-Wold’s Donnington Brewery will also feature in season eight as regulars Emer Kenny, Sorcha Cusack, John Burton and Jack Deam reprise their roles.
Exploring the birth of multicultural Britain, creator Riz Ahmed’s Englistan will follow three generations of a British Pakistani family when it airs on BBC Two in 2020. The Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star dives into how the Latifs pursue their dreams against a backdrop of societal change, in this original series produced by the BBC and Left Handed Films.
With its all-star British cast, Oscar and Bafta-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen’s new anthology drama series Small Axe will explore life in London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s. Filmed on location in west London and starring Star Wars’ John Boyega and Avengers: Infinity War’s Letitia Wright, the series will tell five separate stories over six hour-long episodes when it airs on the BBC. Amazon is co-producing in the USA, with Lost in Space actor Shaun Parkes, Line of Duty’s Rochenda Sandall and The Crown’s Alex Jennings also set for starring roles. Visitors to the west part of the capital can pick from the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the V&A and the Museum of Brands for a healthy dose of British culture related to the show.
Shaun Evans marks his return as Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse in season seven of Endeavour, alongside Roger Allam as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. Set in 1970, the new season will again feature Oxfordshire’s picturesque countryside as well as an array of Oxford’s iconic landmarks. Set to air on ITV in early 2020 and on PBS in the USA later in the year, notable past filming locations have included Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries and Christ Church College, the Bridge of Sighs and the city’s Sheldonian Theatre. Fans of the show can venture to the village of Woodstock to discover Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
From the diaries of Regency landowner and industrialist Anne Lister comes the second season of Gentleman Jack, once again set in 1830s Halifax. Developed by HBO and the BBC, the historical drama created by Sally Wainwright stars Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, with filming shot across vast swathes of Yorkshire. Visit Lister’s former home at Shibden Hall, discover Georgian life at Fairfax House in York and explore the outdoor grounds and gardens at Bramham Park (by appointment only), a striking Queen Anne house and landscape.
Developed by Stephen Wright, the man behind Peaky Blinders, and co-created by actor Tom Hardy and his scriptwriter father, Chips Hardy, dark period drama Taboo is set to grace our screens with a second series in 2020. Eight new episodes will see Hardy return as James Keziah Delaney, following on from his efforts to rebuild his life after a stint in Africa and save what is left of his father’s shipping empire. Set in London in 1814, the first series featured several London locations, as well as the splendour of Hertfordshire’s Hatfield House – the house and gardens of which are due to reopen on 4 April 2020. Those wanting to get closer to the show, which is set to air on the BBC and on FX in the USA, can discover the striking Georgian architecture of the Church of St Mary’s the Virgin in Wanstead, or sample one of the many restaurants and bars around St Katharine Dock and Wapping Docks.
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