For the shortest month of the year, we certainly have a lot of British and Canadian TV premieres in the US. Let the bingeing begin!
For updates about shows from the UK, Canada, and Ireland added to US channels and streaming services throughout the month, see the British TV Viewing Guide. For details about shows from Australia and New Zealand, visit The Down Under TV Place.
Canned Laughter (UK)
In this one-off comedy short presented in two acts, Rowan Atkinson (Maigret, see below) plays three roles: Robert Box (an early incarnation of his Mr. Bean character), Box’s boss Mr. Marshall, and wannabe standup comic Dave Perry. Canned Laughter premieres in the US on Thursday, February 1, exclusively on BritBox.
Not The Nine O’Clock News (UK)
BritBox curates the best episodes of this BBC Two comedy sketch show that aired opposite the actual Nine O’ Clock News program on BBC One. Sketches satirize the news of the day, parody songs, and spoof television formats. Not the Nine O’Clock News premieres in the US on Thursday, February 1, exclusively on BritBox.
Strike Back: Season 5 (aka Strike Back: Retribution) (UK/US)
Following the events in last season‘s finale that decimated Section 20, the new season finds the secret special forces branch resurrected and now led by Col. Adeena Donovan (Nina Sosanya, Marcella). She recruits Sgt. Daniel “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown, X Company, see below), who teams up with Sgt. Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson, City Homicide), Capt. Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee, Dominion), and LCpl. Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata, Neighbours) in his first S20 mission: to recapture terrorist group leader Omair Idrisi (Don Hany, East West 101). Strike Back: Season 5 premieres in the US on Friday, February 2, at 9 PM ET, on Cinemax.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK)
Radical. Controversial. Magical. That’s how Russell T. Davies’ modern adaptation of the classic Shakespeare love story has been described. (Your take on it remains to be seen.) Starring Maxine Peake (The Village) as Titania, Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones) as Oberon, Matt Lucas (Doctor Who) as Bottom, and John Hannah (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Theseus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream premieres in the US on Friday, February 9, exclusively on BritBox.
Against The Law (UK)
Based on a true story, this biopic drama stars Daniel Mays (Line of Duty) as Peter Wildeblood, a journalist whose homosexuality was a crime in 1950s Britain. Under pressure from the authorities, his lover, Eddie McNally (newcomer Richard Gadd), turned Queen’s evidence against him in the infamous Montagu Trial, which led to Wildeblood being imprisoned. Featuring Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Richard Dillane (The Last Post), Charlie Creed-Miles (The Frankenstein Chronicles, see below), and David Robb (Downton Abbey), Against the Law premieres in the US on Wednesday, February 14, exclusively on BritBox.
Cardinal: Season 2 (Canada)
Adapted from the novel Black Fly Season by Giles Blunt, the sophomore season of this Canuck noir crime drama finds Det. John Cardinal (Billy Campbell, The Killing) and his partner Det. Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse, Revenge) involved in a case in which a young woman has a gunshot wound to her head but no memory of the incident. Cardinal: Season 2 premieres in the US on Friday, February 16, exclusively on Hulu.
Little Boy Blue (UK)
Based on an actual crime that sent shock waves across Britain, this four-part drama centers on the devastation wreaked on a community following the senseless murder of a young boy amid a wave of gang violence in Liverpool in the mid-2000s. It stars Stephen Graham (Taboo) as the detective in charge of the case, and Sinead Keenan (Being Human) and Brían F. O’Byrne (Prime Suspect) as the victim’s parents. Written by BAFTA winner Jeff Pope (The Moorside), Little Boy Blue premieres in the US on Saturday, February 17, exclusively on BritBox.
X Company: Season 1 (Canada)
Inspired by the true story of Camp X, a top secret Allied spy training facility in Lake Ontario during World War II, this drama follows the stories of five young and highly-skilled Canadian, American, and British recruits as they are trained to conduct one risky mission after another in Europe to help Allied forces. Starring Jack Laskey (Endeavour), Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black), Warren Brown (Luther), Connor Price (Being Human), and Dustin Milligan (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency). X Company: Season 1 premieres in the US on Monday, February 19, at 10 PM ET, on Ovation TV.
The Frankenstein Chronicles: Seasons 1 & 2 (UK)
A&E picked up this series in 2015 but, for some reason, never aired it. Anyhoo, this re-imagining of Mary Shelley‘s Gothic horror novel Frankenstein is a very dark period crime drama-fantasy series (one of my favorite UK TV premieres of 2015). It stars Sean Bean (Sean Bean! Broken) as Inspector John Marlott, a river police officer who, in Season 1, finds the body of a young child, only to learn later that the corpse is actually an amalgam of body parts from multiple children. Season 2 finds Marlott a, um, changed man hellbent on revenge. The Frankenstein Chronicles: Season 1 & Season 2, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Tuesday, February 20, exclusively on Netflix.
Ackley Bridge: Series 1 (UK)
This contemporary, character-driven drama revolves around the pupils, teachers, and parents of a multicultural school in the (fictional) West Yorkshire town of Ackley Bridge, as their lives collide following the merger of two segregated schools in a predominantly White and Asian community. With storylines that explore prejudice, cultural issues, and other challenges in a school environment, Ackley Bridge: Series 1 premieres in the US on Monday, February 26, exclusively on Acorn TV.
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway: Series 15 (UK)
Ant & Dec, the UK’s favorite comedic hosting duo, just won the inaugural Bruce Forsyth Entertainment award at the 2018 NTA Awards for this BAFTA-winning variety show. If you haven’t heard of them or the show before, you have now, and soon you’ll be able to check out the hilarious comedy sketches, exciting challenges, and celebrity guests for yourself. (The video is from Series 13.) Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway premieres in the US on Monday, February 26, exclusively on BritBox.
James Norton (Grantchester) stars in this crime thriller as Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history. He’s spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past — building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance, The Knick). But when his family’s past returns to threaten them, Alex is forced to confront his values to protect those he loves. Inspired by former BBC World correspondent Misha Glenny’s best-selling book of the same name, McMafia premieres in the US on Monday, February 26, at 10 PM ET, on AMC.
Shoot the Messenger: Season 1 (Canada)
Elyse Levesque (Cedar Cove) stars in this political and crime drama as Daisy Channing, a young Toronto journalist who witnesses an apparent gang-related murder while working on her first murder case. She then becomes embroiled in a web of urban gangs, the political class, corporate power brokers, and the police. Costarring Alex Kingston (Doctor Who), Lucas Bryant (Haven), and Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue), and featuring Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest), Shoot the Messenger premieres in the US on Monday, February 26, at 10 PM ET, on WGN.
Derren Brown: The Push (aka Pushed to the Edge)
“It’s extraordinary what some people will do just to follow the crowd.” So says “psychological illusionist” Derren Brown (remember him from Sherlock?), who, in this one-off reality-documentary program, investigates the powers of social compliance by conducting various experiments. The most disturbing one uses extreme social compliance techniques to convince a person to push another human being off the roof of a building to their death. Derren Brown: The Push, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Tuesday, February 27, exclusively on Netflix.
Maigret: Season 1
In his first lead dramatic role, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) stars as Chief Inspector Jules Maigret, the pipe-smoking lead detective for the French national police in Paris. Set in the City of Light in the 1950s, the first season includes two stories, adapted from the novels Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret’s Dead Man by Belgian author Georges Simenon. Featuring Shaun Dingwall (Touching Evil), Leo Staar (Call the Midwife), Lucy Cohu (Ripper Street), and Mark Heap (Upstart Crow), Maigret: Season 1 premieres in the US on Wednesday, February 28, exclusively on BritBox.
The series below begin their US or broadcast premieres on public TV stations starting in February. Air dates and times vary by market, so check your local listings or contact the station that serves your area for details. If your station isn’t on the list(s) for the show(s) you’d like to see, contact its Viewer Services department or American Public Television.
Are We There Yet? Ireland (UK)
In this reality TV series, Coronation Street star Charlie Lawson and former Emmerdale actor Daniel Coll embark on an epic 10-day, 1500-mile road trip across Ireland in a Land Rover — with no cash. In order to pay for food and accommodations, they cook, sing, do Irish step dancing, and engage in other fundraising tactics. Whether they raise enough money or end up sleeping in the jeep, the pair are joined by celebrity guests and meet some great characters as they explore the amazing Irish countryside and attractions alongside local guides and experts. Are We There Yet? Ireland is confirmed for airing on the following public TV stations and regional networks:
DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and his sidekick DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) (pictured R-L) investigate more murders and dastardly deeds in Midsomer, the picturesque and deadliest (fictional) county in England, before Tom turns over the reins of Causton CID to his cousin, DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon). Among the numeous guest stars this season are Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Sonya Cassidy (The Paradise), Richard Harrington (Hinterland), Danny Webb (Scott & Bailey), James Fox (1864), Daniela Denby-Ashe (North & South), Peter Egan (Downton Abbey), and Ronni Ancona (Last Tango in Halifax). Midsomer Murders: Season 13 is confirmed for airing on the public TV stations and regional networks listed below. (Photo courtesy of American Public Television)
NON-PREMIERE PROGRAMS ADDED TO PROGRAMMING SCHEDULES
Doctor Findlay: Series 1 (UK)
Based on A. J. Cronin‘s stories about the fictional medical hero, Dr. Finlay, this popular mid-1990s series on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre chronicles life in the Scottish town of Tannochbrae as people come to terms with post-war problems. Among them is Dr. Finlay (David Rintoul, Injustice), who finds civilian life in rural Scotland as turbulent as his days in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the war. Doctor Findlay: Series 1 begins streaming Monday, February 5. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
The Joy of… (UK)
This collection of BBC Four documentaries makes topics in the realm of mathematics accessible and fun. In The Joy of Stats, winner of the prestigious Grierson Award for Best Science/Natural History Programme of 2011, the late academic Hans Rosling explores the remarkable power that statistics have to change our understanding of the world. Renowned statistician David Spiegelhalter uses wit, wisdom, animation, and graphics to reveal the mysteries of probability in The Joy of Chance (aka Tails You Win: The Science of Chance). Computer scientist Dave Cliff relates the fascinating story of the quest for certainty and the fundamentals of sound reasoning in The Joy of Logic. And in The Joy of Data, badass mathematician Dr. Hannah Fry (pictured, Calculating Ada) spreads her infectious enthusiasm about what data is and how it is captured, stored, shared, and made sense of. Titles in The Joy of… collection begin streaming Monday, February 12. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
In this 2016 BBC Two documentary, actor David Hayman (pictured, Trial & Retribution) surveys the state of the multinational, multi-billion-dollar Scotch whisky industry and examines the threats to its world dominance. Part and parcel of the tale are the culture, craftsmanship, identity, land, science, and marketing of Scotch whiskey, as well as its ties to great historical events. Scotch: The Story of Whiskey begins streaming Monday, February 19.
Doctor Zhivago (UK)
Two-time Oscar® nominee Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) plays Lara in this adaptation of Boris Pasternak‘s novel of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, Part 1 follows Lara’s relationships with Victor Komarovsky (Sam Neill, Tutankhamun), Pasha Antipov (later Strelnikov) (Kris Marshall, Death in Paradise), and Doctor Yury Zhivago (Hans Matheson, The Tudors). In Part 2, set during the Russian Civil War, Lara and Yury surrender to their passions, but their love story has a heartbreaking ending. Doctor Zhivago begins streaming Thursday, February 8.
The Moonstone (UK)
Adapted from the Wilkie Collins novel of the same name, this mystery miniseries revolves around the theft of and subsequent search for the titular gem, a diamond that was once the crowning glory of an Indian temple god and is said to bring disaster to all who possess it. Starring Joshua Silver (Shakespeare’s Globe: A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and John Thomson (Cold Feet), The Moonstone begins streaming Saturday, February 10.
Lost In Austen (UK)
This gem of a miniseries stars Jemima Rooper (Trauma) as Amanda Price, a Jane Austen fan in modern-day London who goes through a portal in her bathroom, shown to her by Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton, Tess of the D’urbervilles) from Pride & Prejudice, and exits into the Bennet family home. She has just entered the plot of the novel’s story and will disastrously change the course of the story’s events. Costarring Hugh Bonnevile (Downton Abbey) and Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Lost in Austen begins streaming Sunday, February 11.
Christopher and His Kind (UK)
Based on Christopher Isherwood’s critically acclaimed memoir, this telefilm adaptation stars Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Isherwood and Douglas Booth (The Pillars of the Earth, see below) as his lover Heinz Neddermayer. The story is told across multiple time lines and gives a fascinating glimpse into the decadent and politically unstable world of 1930s Berlin. Christopher and His Kind begins streaming Monday, February 12.
A vibrant, fun tale of love and life set in the hidden, decadent world of bohemian London in the 1890s, this adaptation of Sarah Waters‘ best-selling debut novel tells the coming-of-age story of Nan Astley (Rachael Stirling, Detectorists), who falls in love and begins a relationship with Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes, The Durrells in Corfu), a male impersonator and music hall star. Tipping The Velvet begins streaming Tuesday, February 13. (Photo L-R: Jodhi May as Florence Banner, Keeley Hawes as Kitty Butler, Rachael Stirling as Nan Astley, and Anna Chancellor as Diana Lethaby — Courtesy of BritBox)
Before Rowan Atkinson, multiple-award winner Michael Gambon (pictured, Harry Potter, The Singing Detective) played the famed French detective, offering a superbly understated performance as the sardonic but compassionate Commissaire who, with his unique brand of cool appraisal, never fails to get straight to the heart of the crime. The complete Maigret begins streaming Wednesday, February 28. (Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock, courtesy of BritBox)
The Artful Detective: Season 11 (Canada)
Based on characters in the “Murdoch Mystery” novels by Maureen Jennings, the new season of this hit series finds Det. Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) framed and jailed for murder. His constables were ambushed and gunned down, Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) was last seen with a gun to his head, and the corrupt politician and his cronies kidnapped Ogden (Helene Joy). Murdoch must prove his innocence from behind bars, as Det. Llewellyn Watts (Daniel Maslany) helps covertly to solve the case. The Artful Detective: Season 11 has its US broadcast premiere on Saturday, February 3, at 10 PM ET, on Ovation TV.
The Pillars of the Earth (UK)
Adapted from Ken Follett‘s #1 New York Times best-seller of the same name (a must-read), this Golden Globes®-nominated miniseries (a must-watch) revolves around the construction of a cathedral in the (fictional) town of Kingsbridge in 12th-century England. Leading the cast of this epic drama are Ian McShane (American Gods), Rufus Sewell (Victoria), Matthew Macfadyen (Howards End), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Sarah Parish (Bancroft), and Natalia Wörner (Berlin Station). The Pillars of the Earth starts Thursday, February 1.
World Without End (UK)
This sequel to The Pillars of the Earth is adapted from the second novel in Ken Follett’s “Kingsbridge” series, also a best-seller. Set 150 years after the events in Pillars, this miniseries follows the lives of Kingsbridge citizens at the onset of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. Key cast members include Ben Chaplin (Apple Tree Yard), Charlotte Riley (Press), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Mr. Selfridge), Rupert Evans (The Village), Tom Weston-Jones (Dickensian), Tom Cullen (Knightfall), Miranda Richardson (Girlfriends), and Peter Firth (Victoria). World Without End starts Thursday, February 1.
Did you miss any of the new shows from previous months? Check the British TV Viewing Guide 2018 Archives to find out.
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