A Happy 2017 to you! Without further ado, let’s get to the shows that will help us ring in the new year and give us hours of fabulous British, Aussie, Kiwi, Canadian, and Irish TV entertainment.
Documentarian Richard Macer used his year of never-before-granted access to British Vogue to document the catwalk shows, photo shoots, and everything else that goes into producing the UK’s fashion bible. But with print vehicles closing their doors left and right because of social media (and falling ad revenue), Alexandra Shulman, who’s been BV‘s Editor-in-Chief for more than two decades, must bring the century-old magazine further into the digital age or risk its future. Inside British Vogue premieres Sunday, 1 January 2017, on Netflix.
Holmes, Watson & co are finally back, starting with “The Six Thatchers,” which is based on Conan Doyle‘s story “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” and returns us to modern-day London and the Moriarty strand that began in the Series 3 finale. Toby Jones (The Secret Agent) guest stars as Sherlock enemy Culverton Smith in “The Lying Detective” (based on “The Adventure of the Dying Detective”). And “The Final Problem” is the episode fans are both anticipating and dreading, as it is likely to be the last one for a l-o-n-g time, if it doesn’t close out the series altogether. Sherlock: Series 4 premieres in the US on Sunday, 1 January 2017, at 9 PM ET, on PBS. (Check your local listings.) (Photo courtesy of Todd Antony/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE)
Pothead slacker sitcoms aren’t my cup o’ tea, really, but I laughed in spite of myself during this one about the misadventures of four twenty-something mates — failed DJ Kent (Dylan Edwards, Pramface), tattoo artist Alison (Gwyneth Keyworth, Doctor Thorne), and Morpheus (Danny Kirrane, Trollied) and his sister Sarah (Rose Reynolds, Poldark), co-owners of bong shop Stoned Henge. The best bits involve Morpheus chatting with his spirit guide Sean Bean (Sean Bean!, pictured). Wasted premieres in the US on Sunday, 1 January 2017, on Hulu. (Photo courtesy of Channel 4)
The second season of this popular sitcom’s reboot finds Sharon (Pauline Quirke, Broadchurch), her sister Tracey (Linda Robson, Shine on Harvey Moon), and their friend Dorien (Lesley Joseph, Night & Day) carrying on in Chigwell, Essex, without their husbands and the keeping calm bit. Birds of a Feather: Series 11 premieres in the US on Monday, 2 January 2017, exclusively on Acorn TV. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 10 (aka The Artful Detective) (Canada)
Based on the characters from the “Murdoch Mysteries” novels by Maureen Jennings, this hit period whodunit series returns with nine new stories in which Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) continues to use cutting-edge techniques to solve crimes in turn-of-the-century Toronto. Murdoch Mysteries: Season 10 premieres in the US with Episodes 1 and 2 on Monday, 2 January 2017, exclusively on Acorn TV. (Under the title The Artful Detective, the tenth season has its broadcast premiere one week later, on 9 January 2017, at 7 PM ET, on Ovation.) (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Tom Hardy. Enough said, right? The star of Legend headlines this miniseries that he wrote with his dad Chips and Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders). It centers on James Keziah Delaney (Hardy), who returns to London from Africa in 1814 to find his father dead, his country at war, and his actions threatening the interests of his half-sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin, The Crimson Field) as well as Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce, Game of Thrones), chairman of the East India Company. Taboo premieres in the US on Tuesday, 10 January 2017, at 10 PM ET, on FX. (Image courtesy of FX)
The Investigator: A British Crime Story
Presented by Peabody Award-winning investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas, this true-crime documentary re-examines the disappearance of Carole Packman, a wife and mum who vanished without a trace in June 1985. Dorset Police closed the case after her husband was found guilty and imprisoned for her murder, despite there being no corpse, and reopened it after this program aired on ITV. The Investigator: A British Crime Story, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, 13 January 2017, exclusively on Netflix. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A veritable hit in the UK, with Series 2 already commissioned, the first season of this historical drama follows the early years in the reign of Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman, Doctor Who), from her ascension to the throne, through to the birth of her first child. Costarring Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne and Tom Hughes (The Game) as Prince Albert, Victoria: Series 1 premieres in the US on Sunday, 15 January 2017, at 9 PM ET, on PBS. (Photo courtesy of ITV Plc)
Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) returns to telly in this drama as Lenny Belardo, the Archbishop of New York who becomes Pope Pius XIII, the first American pope in history. Featuring an international cast that includes Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give), James Cromwell (Murder in the First), Javier Cámara (The Queen of Spain), Silvio Orlando (A Castle in Italy), and Ludivine Sagnier (Paris, je t’aime), The Young Pope: Season 1 premieres in the US on Sunday, 15 January 2017, at 9 PM ET, on HBO. (Image courtesy of Amazon)
One of my picks for best new program premieres of 2016, the second season of this Logie Awards Best Drama nominee finds Aussie widower George Turner (Erik Thomson) landing a new job, having his first date with a new love interest, and discovering Twitter. His dream home in Weld, the (fictional) coastal seaside community in New Zealand, can be his, but will he buy it? 800 Words: Series 2 premieres in the US with Episodes 1 and 2 on Monday, 16 January 2017, exclusively on Acorn TV. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Amazon premiered the first 44 episodes of this multiple-award-winning, primetime soap opera-crime drama (another of my 2016 best program picks) in the US nearly a year ago, then added Series 2’s 36 episodes this past summer after addicted fans like me went into withdrawal and began howling for them. In roughly two weeks the streaming giant is bringing to Prime Video subscribers what it’s calling Season 2, which opens with the shocking resolution to Episode 80’s cliffhanger. Red Rock: Season 2 premieres in the US on Tuesday, 17 January 2017, on Amazon Prime Video. (Image courtesy of Amazon)
This historical drama concerns the chaotic and violent struggle to control wealth and power in the North American fur trade during the late 18th century. It stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) as Declan Harp, an outlaw of Irish and Native American ancestry who tries to break the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly in Canada. Featuring Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle), Landon Liboiron (Hemlock Grove), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey), Jessica Matten (Blackstone), and Alun Armstrong (New Tricks), Frontier, a Netflix Global Original series (except Canada), premieres in the US on Friday, 20 January 2017, exclusively on Netflix. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
One of my favorite historian-author-TV-presenter documentarians is Lucy Worsley (Tea Fit for a Queen, Tales from the Royal Wardrobe), who’s back with a new three-part series about King Henry VIII’s six wives. In addition to her commentary about the ways in which the “Divorced,” “Beheaded, Died” and “Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” exerted their influence on the Tudor court, Worsley appears as a variety of (silent) royal servants to tell the queens’ stories. Secrets of the Six Wives premieres in the US on Sunday, 22 January 2017, at 10 PM ET, on PBS. (Photo courtesy of Laurence Cendrowicz / © Wall to Wall South Ltd)
Based on Kevin Brooks’ YA novel of the same name, this sci-fi thriller film stars Bill Milner (X-Men: First Class) as Tom, an average lad who awakens from a coma to discover fragments of his smartphone got embedded in his brain following a violent run-in with a group of thugs. Now he has superpowers, which he intends to use to avenge himself and best friend Lucy (Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones), who was also attacked by the gang. iBoy, a Netflix Original film, premieres in the US on Friday, 27 January 2017, exclusively on Netflix. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A triumph of nature documentary film-making, this Ultra Hi-Def sequel to Planet Earth is, in a word, stunning. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the series takes us further into “Islands,” “Mountains,” “Jungles,” “Deserts,” “Grasslands,” and “Cities” to give us even closer views of nature in all its glory. The utterly brilliant, must-watch Planet Earth II premieres in the US on Saturday, 28 January 2017, at 9 PM ET, on BBC America. (Photo by Tom Hugh-Jones, courtesy of BBC America)
Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution
In this feature-length adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed short story, Billy Howle (Cider with Rosie) plays Leonard Vole, a young chancer whom housekeeper Janet McIntyre (Monica Dolan, The Casual Vacancy) swears killed her rich mistress Emily French (Kim Cattrall, Sensitive Skin) for her money. Represented by solicitor John Mayhew (Toby Jones, Detectorists) and King’s Counsel Sir Charles Carter (David Haig, Penny Dreadful), Vole insists his chorus girl partner Romaine (Andrea Riseborough, Birdman) can exonerate him. Buy will she? Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution, an Acorn TV Original, has its US premiere on Monday, 30 January 2017, exclusively on Acorn TV.
The 1st of January is the public TV release date for the programs below. The actual premiere dates will vary from market to market, so check your local listings for details about air dates and times.
Based on the “Agatha Raisin” mystery stories by M.C. Beaton, this delightful whodunit series stars Ashley Jensen (Catastrophe, pictured) as the eponymous amateur sleuth, who gets enmeshed in and works doggedly to solve murders by hanging, bludgeoning, and more, in the not-so-idyllic Cotswolds village of Carsely. (Further details are here.) Agatha Raisin: Series 1 is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Image courtesy of Acorn TV)
Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing
Badass mathematician and TED Talk speaker Hannah Fry (pictured) presents this (STEM education is cool!) documentary about the brief yet accomplished and now-celebrated life of Ada, Countess of Lovelace — the Victorian-era mathematician and computer pioneer who foresaw the digital age a century before it became a reality. Calculating Ada is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Photo courtesy of American Public Television)
Churchill’s Toy Shop
Military Defense 1, aka Churchill’s Toy Shop, was the secret research institute set up by the prime minister during World War II to quickly develop new weapons for defending Great Britain against a German invasion. Commissioned to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day, this documentary uses rare archival photos and interviews with some of the men who worked in MD1 or used their ingenious weapons in the field to tell the story of this fascinating but little-known aspect of the second world war. Churchill’s Toy Shop is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Photo courtesy of American Public Television)
The Coroner follows other BBC Daytime series, including Father Brown and WPC 56, in making its US debut on public TV stations. Set in South Devon, this light mystery drama stars Claire Goose (Waking the Dead) as Jane Kennedy, a solicitor who returns home to Lighthaven to be the coroner after another relationship failure. Matt Bardock (Casualty) costars as Davey Higgins, Jane’s childhood heart-breaker and the current Detective Sergeant for the local police, who partners with her in investigating sudden, violent, and unexplained deaths in the (fictional) seaside town. Contact the public TV station that serves your area about whether they will be airing the program, whose second series completed its run in December. (Image courtesy of Amazon)
God save the Queen! Following the public TV premiere of The Queen at 90 in December and debuting on broadcast television just a few months before Her Royal Majesty turns 91, this intriguing, feature-length documentary reveals the true story of how a young princess became a great queen. Featuring interviews with royal biographers, historians, and Queen Elizabeth herself, The Majestic Life of Queen Elizabeth II is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Image courtesy of American Public Television)
Mozart in London
And she’s back again! Lucy Worsley, that is. Here the historian and author (A Very British Murder), who’s no slouch when tickling the ivories, presents this wonderful documentary about “the pivotal year” that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his musically-gifted family spent in London — where the then-eight-year-old prodigy composed his first symphony in 1764. Mozart in London is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Photo courtesy of American Public Television)
Precision: The Measure of All Things
Another of my favorite edutainment presenters is Oxford University mathematics professor and author Marcus du Sautoy (The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms, The Music of the Primes). In episodes covering time and distance, mass and moles (i.e. the measurement of atoms, not the animals), and energy (light, heat, and electricity), the coolest geek on telly uses cutting-edge science, amusing anecdotes, and experiments from ancient and modern times to explore the ways in which systems of measurement have shaped the course of human history. Precision: The Measure of All Things is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Photo courtesy of American Public Television)
This feature-length documentary, the first to chronicle the lives of the British Royal Princes — Philip, Charles, William, Harry, and the young Prince George — features archival film and newsreels, as well as exclusive interviews with royal biographers, commentators, and other experts, to reveal the numerous ways the princes are groomed for royal duty and have served Queen Elizabeth II over the course of her historic 64-year reign. Princes of the Palace is confirmed for airing on the stations listed below. (Image courtesy of American Public Television)
Additional titles making their broadcast debuts on public TV stations starting in January 2017 include British drama Brief Encounters, hit New Zealander mystery series The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 3, Irish drama Clean Break, Australian crime/mystery drama Deep Water, Australian legal/political drama Janet King: Series 2, and British crime drama/thriller The Level. For details about them, check out the “British TV to Watch” articles for May 2016, August 2016, October 2016, November 2016, and December 2016. And to find out if these shows will be airing in your market, contact the public TV station that serves your area.
MORE PROGRAMS ADDED TO STREAMING SERVICES
This 13-part miniseries, a PBS Masterpiece Theatre classic based on the semi-autobiographical novel by English author H.E. Bates (My Uncle Silas), follows provincial heiress Lydia Aspen (Mel Martin, The Darling Buds of May) and the four men who fall in love with the beautiful, brazen, and impulsive young woman. Costarring Christopher Blake (The Mill on the Floss), Peter Davison (The Last Detective), and Jeremy Irons (Brideshead Revisited), Love for Lydia, which was rescheduled from last month, begins streaming Monday, 2 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
The Care of Time
Adapted from Eric Ambler‘s final novel, this film stars Michael Brandon (Episodes) as Robert Halliday, who is coerced into helping international fixer Karlis Zander (the late, great Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) edit a Russian terrorist’s memoirs and ghostwrite an exposé of modern terrorists. The plot thickens when Halliday discovers Zander’s personal perils. The Care of Time begins streaming Monday, 9 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
Ladies of Letters: Season 1
If you’ve never seen this Britcom on public television, here’s your chance to stream it. Based on the “Ladies of Letters” series of books by Carole Hayman and Lou Wakefield, which spawned the iconic BBC Radio 4 comedy program starring Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) and Prunella Scales (Fawlty Towers), this television adaptation stars Maureen Lipman (Plebs) and Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax) as two British widows whose letters to each other are more than the sharing of stories and events from their lives; they’re matters of one-upmanship. Ladies of Letters: Season 1 begins streaming Monday, 9 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
This BAFTA Award-winning miniseries dramatizes the true story of Welsh solicitor Herbert Rouse Armstrong (Michael Kitchen, Foyle’s War), who was convicted and sent to the gallows for the murder of his wife Catherine (Sarah Miles, Agatha Christie’s Poirot) and the attempted murder of colleague Oswald Martin (David Thewlis, Harry Potter films) in 1922. Dandelion Dead begins streaming Monday, 16 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
The Road to 1984
James Fox (The Remains of the Day) stars in this biopic as English author George Orwell, whose classic dystopian novel 1984 gave us the character and concept of Big Brother. Chronicling Orwell’s passions and career, and the ways in which political turmoil and the atom bomb inspired his vision for 1864, The Road to 1984 begins streaming Friday, 20 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
Lloyd & Hill
Inspired by the characters created by Jill McGown in the “Lloyd & Hill Mysteries” book series, this film stars Philip Glenister (The Level) and Michelle Collins (Coronation Street) as former lovers and detectives Chief Inspector Danny Lloyd and Inspector Judy Hill, who investigate the death of a 15-year-old schoolgirl found strangled and deserted in a public park. Lloyd & Hill begins streaming Monday, 23 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
Where the Heart Is: Series 8
Leslie Dunlop (Emmerdale) leads the ensemble cast of this long-running and warmhearted UK drama that follows a group of dedicated nurses and their families in the fictional Yorkshire town of Skelthwaite. Where the Heart Is: Series 8 begins streaming Monday, 23 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
Well, now, here’s a classic from the ’80s. This British sketch comedy series introduced viewers to a new troupe of bright, young talents who would go on to stardom. Featuring Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter films), Ben Elton (Upstart Crow creator), Stephen Fry (Bones), Hugh Laurie (The Night Manager), Siobhan Redmond (Taggart), and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks), Alfresco begins streaming Monday, 30 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
The Last Days of Chez Nous (Australia)
Family dynamics and relationships in all their messiness is the stuff of this award-winning drama. Starring Kerry Fox (The Crimson Field) as Vicki, Lisa Harrow (The Ruth Rendell Mysteries) as Vicki’s older sister Beth, and Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) as Beth’s French husband and later Vicki’s lover, The Last Days of Chez Nous begins streaming Monday, 30 January 2017, on Acorn TV.
(All images in this section courtesy of Acorn TV)
The penultimate season of this excellent period crime drama finds our heroes facing personal and professional challenges in 1897 Whitechapel. Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) has a new life with daughter Mathida by the sea; Drake (Jerome Flynn) has Reid’s old job as head inspector; and Jackson has his hands full trying to save Susan (MyAnna Buring) from the gallows. But things don’t go as planned, the season finale has tragedy written all over it, and we have to wait for the fifth and final series to see how their stories end. Ripper Street: Series 4 begins streaming Saturday, 28 January 2017, on Netflix. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
For updates about January 2017 program offerings, see the British TV Viewing Guide.