The British are coming! The British are coming! Actually, they — British actors — are already here, and more are joining or returning to the ranks of Hollywood and appearing in American TV shows debuting in the next few months.
Already screening is the latest US-series-with-a-Brit-TV-star, Fargo, the critically-acclaimed dark comedy-drama starring Martin Freeman in his first role as an American (complete with Minnesotan accent, dunchano), the timid and henpecked Lester Nygaard.
Ditto Black Box, the “problematic” (New York Daily News) and “ridiculous and woeful” (The Hollywood Reporter) drama starring Kelly Reilly (who was terrific in all four series of Above Suspicion) as Dr. Catherine Black, a superstar neurologist who hides her bipolar disorder and devil-may-care attitude about taking her meds, and Vanessa Redgrave (Mrs. Dalloway) as her psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hartramph.
More of these shows are headed our way, kicked off by those premiering during the May sweeps and Summer 2014 TV season, including…
24: Live Another Day — Monday, 5 May, 8 PM ET on Fox
The countdown has begun. Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) surfaces seven days from today. He is still a fugitive from justice, now in exile and on the run from the CIA in London. For Jack, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose as he risks everything to avert another global disaster.
British TV actors to look for in this action thriller include: Stephen Fry (Kingdom) as British Prime Minister Alastair Davies; Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) as the widow-of-a-notorious-terrorist British national Margot Al-Harazi; Colin Salmon (Arrow) as General Coburn; Duncan Pow (Holby City) as Captain Greg Denovo; and Giles Matthey (True Blood) as CIA computer tech Jordan Reed.
Crossbones — Friday, 30 May, 10 PM ET on NBC
Following the success of Dracula, NBC is bringing another period drama to US telly, only this time it’s an action/adventure series about pirates — namely, the infamous Blackbeard (John Malcovich), who reigns supreme over thieves, outlaws, and other miscreants in the “devil’s dominion” of 1700s New Providence. (It’s not better in the Bahamas, then.)
Written by Bristol native Neil Cross, who gave us the hit detective drama Luther, Crossbones costars fellow Brits Richard Coyle (Coupling) as undercover spy and would-be assassin Tom Lowe; Claire Foy (Upstairs, Downstairs) as Kate, the governor’s daughter, a Blackbeard pirate, and Lowe’s love interest; Tracy Ifeachor (Doctor Who) as Nenna, another Blackbeard loyalist; and Julian Sands (24) as aristocrat-turned-privateer and governor of Jamaica William Jagger.
The Night Shift — Tuesday, 27 May at 10 PM ET on NBC
You can forget the Alamo and day jobs for a few hours this summer when The Night Shift, set at San Antonio Memorial Hospital, screens on the Peacock Network. The medical drama follows the doctors and other hospital staff who work the overnight shift, one being T.C. Callhan, played by Irish actor Eoin Macken (Merlin). Callhan is an adrenaline junkie who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and now fights to save lives while waging a war against hospital management.
The Leftovers — Sunday, 15 June at 10 PM ET on HBO
It appears that the Rapture has happened and some folks didn’t make the cut. This is their story. (Da dum.) Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers follows the members of a New York suburban community as they try to make sense of why certain people have abruptly vanished into thin air. One such resident is Matt Jamison, played by Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), a former reverend who is now the editor and self-publisher of a tabloid newspaper.
Dominion — Thursday, 19 June at 9 PM ET on Syfy
It’s been 25 years since “The Extinction War” of Legion, when Archangel Gabriel and his evil band of brothers waged war against Archangel Michael and humanity. What had been the city of Las Vegas is now Vega, a fortified refuge for human survivors whose chief administrator is the powerful, ruthless, and cunning Secretary of Commerce David Whele, played by Anthony Head (Merlin).
Other British cast members include Tom Wisdom (Mile High) as Archangel Michael; Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones) as Claire Rysen, the daughter and successor to the Lord Of The City; Luke Allen-Gale (Monroe) as Whele’s son William, the leader of the Church of The Savior; Shivani Ghai (EastEnders) as Arika, a diplomat; and Rosalind Halstead (Nearly Famous) as the powerful Senate consul Becca Thorn.
The Last Ship — Sunday, 22 June at 9 PM ET on TNT
A virus has caused a global pandemic and wiped out 80% of the population. What’s a lone, deadly-virus-free navy crew to do? Find a cure and save the world, of course. Costarring in the post-apocalyptic drama are Brits Rhona Mitra (The Practice) and and Sam Spruell (Snow White and the Huntsman) as paleomicrobiologists Dr. Rachel Scott and Dr. Quincy Tophet.
Rush — Thursday, 17 July at 9 PM ET on USA
Hunky Tom Ellis (Miranda) stars as the titular Dr. William P. Rush, a brilliant and hard-partying “medical fixer.” Rush provides hush-hush on-call medical assistance to those within L.A.’s elite who can’t afford any tarnishing of image, but who can afford his handsome, cash-only fees.
Legends — Wednesday, 20 August at 9 PM on TNT
Speaking of hunky, the brilliant Sean Bean returns to telly after his BAFTA-nominated role as the cross-dressing Simon/Tracie in Accused. In the crime drama Legends, based on the Robert Littell novel Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation, Bean stars as Martin Odum, an undercover FBI agent whose knack for transforming himself into other people for assignments leads to an identity crisis of the worst kind — one that leaves him wondering if he is actually who he believes himself to be.
Gracepoint, the Fox remake of the hit Brit mystery Broadchurch, which stars Scotsman David Tennant as Emmett Carver (DI Alec Hardy’s American doppelganger), will debut later this year or next during the Fox 2014/2105 season.
And currently filming is Intruders, a new BBC America drama based on the Michael Marshall novel about a secret society that takes over humans in order to achieve immortality. Amongst the cast are Brit TV stars John Simm (Life on Mars) and James Frain (The Tudors). The release date has not yet been announced.
For British TV series making their American TV premieres, check out our British TV Viewing Guide.