Seventeen news series and seasons from the UK and Canada make their debuts in the US in May. (Can you believe it’s May already?!?)
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.
CountryFile Spring Diaries (UK)
John Craven and Keeley Donovan host this springtime chronicle of the British countryside in all its glory. With incredible imagery and stories, this popular British TV mainstay investigates what makes this time of year so special. CountryFile Spring Diaries premieres in North America on Wednesday, May 1, exclusively on BritBox as a “Now” title. (Video is from Series 3)
Set on a remote farm in Ireland, this new game show has one rule for the contestants as they test their nerve against three fiendish games: do not flinch. If they flinch, there are painful consequences for both them and the hosts, who have each chosen a player to represent them in the games. Flinch, a Netflix Global Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, May 3, exclusively on Netflix. (You can add it to your queue now.)
The Spanish Princess (UK-US)
Based on the novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse in Philippa Gregory‘s best-selling “Plantagenet and Tudor” book series, this historical drama — the follow-up series to The White Queen and The White Princess — follows Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope, Game of Thrones) as she arrives and maneuvers to survive in the 16th-century Tudor court. For more details, read this article. The Spanish Princess premieres in the US on Sunday, May 5, at 8 PM ET, on Starz.
Jared Harris (Mad Men), Stellan Skarsgård (River), and Emily Watson (Apple Tree Yard) lead the cast of this historical drama about one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history: the massive explosion and radiation leak at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union, on April 26, 1986. For more details, read this article. Chernobyl premieres in the US on Monday, May 6, at 9 PM ET, on HBO.
State of the Union (UK)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) star in this new short-form series about a couple attempting to repair their marriage through counseling. Before each weekly session, they meet at a pub where they delve into how they came together and how their marriage fell into disrepair. State of the Union premieres in the US on Monday, May 6, at 10 PM ET, on linear TV channel SundanceTV. For details about the show’s online-only “Digital Happy Hour” debut, read this article.
A Tale of Two Sisters (UK)
This documentary series examines the lives of some of the most iconic women in history and their lesser-known siblings, and how they impacted society and history as well as each others’ lives. A few of the sisters featured are Amelia and Muriel Earhart, Anne Frank and Eva Schloss, and Jackie Kennedy and Princess Lee Radziwill. A Tale of Two Sisters has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, May 6, at 6 AM ET, on Ovation TV. (Image courtesy of Ovation)
Mother’s Day (UK)
This historical drama focuses on two women in the aftermath of the IRA bomb attack in Warrington, England, on March 20, 1993. Wendy Parry (Anna Maxwell Martin, Motherland) is an Englishwoman whose 12-year-old son has been taken away from her. Dubliner Susan McHugh (Vicky McClure, Line of Duty) is so outraged by the killing that she resolves to bring thousands of her fellow citizens out to protest — a defining moment in the Northern Ireland peace process. Mother’s Day premieres in North America on Tuesday, May 7, exclusively on BritBox. (Photo by Steffan Hil © BBC, courtesy of BritBox)
My Dad Wrote a Porno (UK)
The hit British podcast of the same name comes to HBO by way of a comedy special that was taped before a live audience. The podcast features Jamie Morton reading from the “Belinda Blinked” series of “erotic” novels written by Rocky Flintstone, aka Jamie’s father, with Jamie’s friends James Cooper and Alice Levine providing hilarious commentary. In the special, the trio bring Rocky’s infamous “Lost Chapter” to TV after a sold-out world tour. My Dad Wrote a Porno premieres in the US on Saturday, May 11, at 10 PM ET, on HBO.
Line of Duty: Season 5 (UK)
This excellent crime thriller returns after two years with a new season and a new prime suspect played by Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire). The story opens with three cops getting killed during the hijack of a seized drugs transport. It looks to be a job that had help from inside the police, so anti-corruption unit AC-12 begins investigating. What DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston, In Plain Sight), DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure, Broadchurch), and Supt. Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar, Blood) find takes them further and further down the rabbit hole. Line of Duty: Season 5 premieres Monday, May 13, exclusively on Acorn TV.
Living the Dream: Season 1 (UK)
Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) and Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey) star in this comedy-drama as Mal and Jen Pemberton, who with their two teen children leave Yorkshire for Florida, where Mal has bought an RV park sight unseen. More than cultures clash as they adjust to their new surroundings. Costarring Kim Fields (The Facts of Life), Kevin Nash (Magic Mike), and Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), Living the Dream premieres in the US on Tuesday, May 14, exclusively on BritBox.
Fleabag: Season 2 (UK)
Created, written by, and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Crashing), the first season of this wickedly sharp and dark-humored comedy-drama was one of the best new shows of 2016. The second (and possibly final) season finds the sex-addicted and issue-plagued Fleabag dealing with more family dramas and finding more trouble after some soul-searching. Featuring Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), and Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), Fleabag: Season 2 premieres in the US on Friday, May 17, exclusively on Prime Video. (You can add it to your watchlist now.)
White Gold: Season 2 (UK)
The new season of this comedy series opens in 1985, eight months after salesman Vincent (Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl) partnered up with gangster Ronnie (Lee Ross, The Driver) to force Walsh (Nigel Lindsay, Victoria) to turn his windows business over to them. Vincent’s attempts to keep the business afloat are complicated by a rival salesperson (Rachel Shenton, Hollyoaks) who’s swooping up all the best jobs. White Gold: Season 2, a Netflix Original Series, premieres in the US on Friday, May 17, exclusively on Netflix.
Mock the Week: Season 18 (UK)
From the producers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? comes the latest season of this weekly panel and stand-up comedy show hosted by Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain, during which two teams of comedians take a satirical swipe at the news and world events. Mock the Week: Season 18 premieres in North America shortly after its May 23rd UK debut exclusively on BritBox as a “Now” title. (Video is from an early season)
Pitching In (UK)
Larry Lamb (Gavin & Stacey) stars in this drama as Frank Hardcastle, a recent widower who’s thinking about selling his caravan park on the North Wales coast. But with the arrival of his children come schemes to save his business. Costarring Ifan Huw Dafydd (Requiem), Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart), and Caroline Sheen (Les Misérables), Pitching In, an Acorn TV Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, May 24, exclusively on Acorn TV. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Pure: Season 2 (Canada)
Based on true events of the Mennonite Mob, this drama almost didn’t get a second season, but here it is. In it former pastor Noah Funk (Ryan Robbins, Sanctuary) is separated from his family after fleeing the drug cartel. Turned away by the Mennonite community and given no choice by drug cartel boss Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez, Orphan Black), Noah’s wife, Anna (Alex Paxton-Beesley, Cardinal), joins the drug business her husband tried to bring down. Pure: Season 2 premieres in the US on Tuesday, May 28, at 10 PM ET, on WGN America.
Bad Blood: Season 2 (Canada)
The first season of this crime drama was one of my favorite new series of 2018. Season 2 opens five years after the death of the mob boss, with his former right-hand man, Declan (Kim Coates, Sons of Anarchy), the new king of the Montreal drug trade. At least until a new breed of mafiosos arrive from Italy to wrestle the city from his grasp. Costarring Anna Hopkins (Defiance) and Sharon Taylor (Bellevue), Bad Blood: Season 2, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, May 31, exclusively on Netflix.
Good Omens (UK)
One of the most highly-anticipated new series of 2019 is this fantasy comedy series based on the fabulous novel of the same name (one of my fave books) by Neil Gaiman and the late, great Terry Pratchett. David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) lead the ensemble cast as demon Crowley and angel Aziraphale, frenemies who try to prevent Armageddon and the end of the world. Good Omens premieres in the US on Friday, May 31, exclusively on Prime Video. (You can add it to your watchlist now.)
OTHER NATIONAL PREMIERES TO CONSIDER
Game of Thrones: The Last Watch (US)
As of this writing, there are only three episodes left in Game of Thrones. One week after the series ends, HBO debuts this two-hour documentary, which reveals the challenges of bringing the fantasy world of Westeros to life and provides personal reports from the cast and crew as they contend with extreme weather, punishing deadlines, and an ever-excited fandom hungry for spoilers. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch premieres in the US on Sunday, May 26, at 9 PM ET, on HBO. (Photo by Helen Sloane/HBO)
American Public Television is releasing the two British TV programs below in May. As always, check your local listings or contact the station that serves your area for air dates and times. To request one or both shows, contact your station’s Viewer Services department or APT.
Hitler’s Holocaust Railways (UK)
In this hour-long documentary, Chris Tarrant (Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways) explores the darkest chapter in the history of the railways: their role in the Nazi Holocaust of WWII. As Tarrant travels to three countries and examines the Nazis’ scheme to build the world’s most powerful railway, he also meets with Holocaust survivors to hear their stories. Hitler’s Holocaust Railways is confirmed for airing on the public TV stations and regional networks listed below beginning May 1.
A Tale of Two Sisters: Season 2 (UK)
Narrated by Rachel Stirling (Detectorists), this documentary series returns to public television with four episodes that put complicated sibling relationships in the spotlight. The pairs of sisters featured in Season 2 include Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret (pictured), Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor, Anne and Mary Boleyn, and Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst. A Tale of Two Sisters: Season 2 is confirmed for airing on the public TV stations and regional networks listed below beginning May 15. (Photo courtesy of APT)
NON-PREMIERE TITLES TO BE ADDED TO STREAMING SERVICES
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Acorn TV and the Acorn TV channel on Amazon.
Caligula with Mary Beard (UK)
In this hour-long documentary, classicist and historian Professor Mary Beard (The Fires of Vesuvius) embarks on an investigative journey to explore the life of one of Rome’s most notorious rulers: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka Caligula. Caligula with Mary Beard begins streaming Monday, May 6.
Rome: Empire Without Limit (UK)
This documentary series finds Professor Mary Beard drawing on her immense scholarship, unique viewpoints, and myth-busting approach to history to give her definitive take on the Roman Empire. Over four episodes, she examines its legacy and takes viewers to the most telling sites and the most revealing artifacts. Rome: Empire Without Limit begins streaming Monday, May 6.
A Voyage Round My Father (UK)
The winner of the 1982 International Emmy® Award for Best Drama, this telefilm by John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey) provides a portrait of a difficult but enduring love between a father and son in mid-20th-century Britain. Starring Laurence Olivier (Rebecca) as the cantakerous patriarch and Alan Bates (Gosford Park) as his devoted son, A Voyage Round My Father begins streaming Monday, May 6.
Rumpole of the Bailey: Series 6 & 7 (UK)
This popular series follows the misadventures of Old Bailey defense barrister Horace Rumpole (Leo McKern, Reilly: Ace of Spies), who contends with politics in chambers, unhelpful judges in court, and his wife’s disapproval at home, all while working on behalf of often-ungrateful clients. Rumpole of the Bailey: Series 6 & 7, the show’s final seasons, begin streaming Monday, May 13.
Kingdom: Series 1-3 (Complete) (UK)
Stephen Fry (Jeeves & Wooster) stars in this Norfolk-set comedy-drama series as Peter Kingdom, a solicitor whose life is under the shadow of his brother’s mysterious disappearance. Stories center on Kingdom’s dysfunctional family, the people he works with, and the town’s residents. Kingdom: Series 1-3 begins streaming Monday, May 20.
Wide Sargasso Sea (UK)
Based on Jean Rhys’ novel of the same name, a prequel to Jane Eyre, this telefilm stars Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Rafe Spall (Harry Price: Ghost Hunter) as Antoinette Cosway and Edward Rochester — she a Creole heiress in Jamaica and he an Englishman who arrives at the island nation to stake out his fortune. After marrying, all is bliss with the newlyweds… until paranoid fear and betrayal lead to tragedy. Wide Sargasso Sea begins streaming Monday, May 20.
All in Good Faith: Series 1-3 (Complete) (UK)
Richard Briers (Monarch of the Glen) stars in this Britcom as Revered Phillip Lambe, who decides to move his family from his wealthy Oxfordshire parish to one in Edendale, an urban town in the Midlands. He is determined to do new things in his new parish, while also being faced with tough new challenges. All in Good Faith: Series 1-3 begins streaming Monday, May 27.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on BritBox and the BritBox channel on Amazon.
Mr. Bean (UK)
Created by Rowan Atkinson (Maigret), this classic comedy series follows the madcap and quirky Mr. Bean (Atkinson) as he tries to extricate himself from embarrassing situations. Thing is, he always ends up getting in more trouble. Mr. Bean begins streaming Friday, May 3.
The Thin Blue Line (UK)
Set in a fictional London suburb, this classic Britcom follows the Gasforth police force as it does its (incompetent) best to protect the area. Insp. Raymond Fowler (Rowan Atkinson, Johnny English) leads the uniformed cops in an old-fashioned crusade against crime while at the mercy of constant ridiculing by the smug, ambitious, and patronizing DI Grim (David Haig, Killing Eve). The Thin Blue Line begins streaming Friday, May 3.
The Royal: Seasons 4-5 (UK)
In this spinoff of the popular British show Heartbeat, a dedicated staff of doctors and nurses cares for patients at the fictional St. Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in the seaside town of Elsinby. Robert Daws (Coronation Street) stars as Dr. Gordon Ormerod, who with his team navigates medical issues and the moral dilemmas that arise. The Royal: Seasons 4-5 begins streaming Friday, May 10.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Hulu.
Both of the shows below are American productions, but with either the lead actors or most of the cast being British, you might want to check them out if you haven’t already.
Preacher: Season 3 (US)
Based on the “Preacher” comic books by Garth Ennis and the late Steve Dillon, the penultimate season of this supernatural dramedy opens with former preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, Fleming) and vampire sidekick Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun, Misfits) hightailing it to Jesse’s hometown of Angelville to get his voodoo-practicing grandma to bring his dead lover, Tulip (Ruth Negga, Love/Hate), back to life. This is easy compared to what comes afterward. Preacher: Season 3 begins streaming Tuesday, May 21.
The Terror: Season 1 (US)
The first season of this horror anthology series is based on the novel The Terror by Dan Simmons, which itself was inspired by the ill-fated voyage of two British polar expedition ships out to find the Northwest Passage in the 1840s. Starring Jared Harris (The Crown), Tobias Menzies (Outlander), Paul Ready (Bodyguard), Ian Hart (The Last Kingdom), and Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones), The Terror: Season 1 begins streaming Wednesday, May 29.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Netflix.
Outlander: Seasons 1 & 2 (UK-US)
Based on Diana Gabaldon‘s “Outlander” historical time travel novels, this megahit sci-fi-action-adventure-romance drama stars Caitriona Balfe (Now You See Me) and Sam Heughan (Doctors) as Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser — she a married English nurse in 1945, he a Scottish warrior in 1743 — who fall in love after she is transported to his time upon touching the standing stones at Craigh na Dun in the Highlands. Costarring Tobias Menzies (The Crown), Outlander: Seasons 1 & 2 begin streaming Monday, May 27.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Prime Video.
The Durrells in Corfu: Season 3 (UK)
Based on Gerald Durrell’s memoirs, The Corfu Trilogy, the penultimate season of this hit dramedy finds Louisa (Keeley Hawes, The Missing) and her children dealing with the death of a relative, the arrival of a new family on Corfu, and more relationship ups and downs. The Durrells in Corfu: Season 3 becomes a Prime Video offering on Friday, May 17.
Poldark: Season 4 (UK)
Based on Winston Graham‘s “Poldark Saga” novels, the penultimate season of this historical drama finds Cornwall locals rioting over food shortages, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing, Blandings) being challenged in the elections, and Ross (Aidan Turner, And Then There Were None) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson, Ordeal by Innocence) discussing their future. Poldark: Season 4 becomes a Prime Video offering on Friday, May 17.
Did you miss any of the new shows from previous days, weeks, or months? Check out the British TV Viewing Guide 2019 Archives to find out.
For details about the May premieres of shows from Australia and New Zealand, visit The Down Under TV Place. For those about the debuts of original-language, English-subtitled programs from Europe, visit The Euro TV Place.
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