BBC Studios has announced new shows for 2021 across BBC First, UKTV, BBC Earth and CBeebies.
Adaptations of three best-selling novels, all kinds of detectives investigating all kinds of crimes, glittering award ceremonies and comedy quiz shows and a whole month of Sir David Attenborough’s biggest titles will be coming to BBC channels early next year.
On BBC First, best-selling novels get a new lease of life on the small screen with adaptations of David Nicholls’ Us, Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing and Clara Salaman’s Too Close. Hilarious and heartbreaking, Us stars Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) as Douglas, who is blindsided when his wife Connie (Saskia Reeves) tells him she is not sure she wants to be married to him anymore. Douglas vows to prove to his wife that he is still the man she fell in love with and to repair his troubled relationship with his son Albie on a long-planned family grand tour of Europe. Elizabeth is Missing sees two-time Academy award winner Glenda Jackson play Maud, a woman determined to find out what has happened to her best friend Elizabeth before her dementia erases the clues. But her search to find Elizabeth unearths an altogether darker unsolved mystery – her sister’s disappearance. The role earned Jackson a BAFTA earlier this year. Emily Watson (Chernobyl) stars in psychological thriller Too Close which focuses on the compelling and dangerous relationship between forensic psychiatrist Dr Emma Robertson who is assigned to work with Connie Mortensen (Denise Gough) a woman accused of a heinous crime but who claims she can’t remember a thing.
From the team behind Doctor Foster comes Life which covers four interweaving stories about love, parenthood, loss and self-discovery among the occupants of four flats in one house. Cast includes Alison Steadman, Adrian Lester, Victoria Hamilton and Melissa Johns. Also on the slate is 15 Days which starts with a murder as four estranged siblings gather to scatter their mother’s ashes and read her will before flashing back 15 days to discover why the murder took place and who did it. The series stars Catherine Tyldesley (Coronation Street). A new series of the ever popular Call The Midwife also premieres in 2021.
Detectives returning to screens next year include Julien Baptiste Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) as he delves into Budapest’s corrupt underworld to find a British Ambassador’s missing family; Jim Worth (Tim Roth) returns in the final series of Tin Star as he and his family go back to Liverpool to confront their deadlist enemies in a battle to win freedom from their past. DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Basker) investigate another cold case in a fourth series of the BAFTA-winning Unforgotten and D I Neville Parker (Ralf Little) unravels more murder mysteries in the sun-soaked Caribbean as the smash-hit whodunnit Death in Paradise celebrates its 10th anniversary.
BBC First will also screen Academy Award winning filmmaker Steve McQueen’s acclaimed anthology series Small Axe Starring John Boyega (Star Wars) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther). Set from the late 1960s to the mid-80s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination.
Over on BBC Earth, the year kicks off with a whole month of Sir David Attenborough’s biggest titles screening at 7.30pm each evening (check). Titles include Climate Change: The Facts, Seven Worlds, One Planet, Blue Planet II, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth II, Dynasties and more. A look at the lives of people who have chosen to live off-grid are the focus of two popular returning series. Where The Wild Men Are: Revisted sees adventurer Ben Fogle revisit people who turned their backs on the rat-race to set up home in some of Earth’s most remote locations. Is life in the wild is still their ultimate dream? A new series of Life Below Zero provides an insight into the resilient characters and their day-to-day lives in Alaska.
On UKTV the laughs continue with a new series of comedy panel show Hypothetical with Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster posing increasingly absurd hypothetical situations to a panel of top comedians who must say how they would deal with them. The glamour and the glitz of the BAFTAs and Brits returns once more and new series of Who Do You Think You Are tells the fascinating family histories of Jodie Whittaker, David Walliams, Liz Carr and Ruth Jones.
Plucky international heroes Xuli, Kyan, Lars, Foz and their disco-grooving mentor Ubercorn are back to discover more about the world in a new series of Go-Jetters on CBeebies while Gem, Cook and Line meet the brand new captain of the Scarlett Squid in Swashbuckle.
Christina Carras, Head of Programming and Advertising Sales, BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand, said: “With such a diverse line-up of shows across our channels there really is something for everyone as we head into 2021. 2020 has been a tough year for television production so we’re doubly pleased to be able to bring together such a vibrant slate. Its great to see hugely popular established shows like Death in Paradise and Call the Midwife alongside completely new and surprising dramas, and talent that ranges from comedians like Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster to the legendary Sir David Attenborough.
Coming January 4×60
Full of humour and heartbreak, this miniseries stars Tom Hollander (Baptiste), Saskia Reeves (Luther) Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower) and Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing).
Connie and Douglas are set for a grand tour of Europe. It’s one last family holiday before their only son Albie leaves for university. But just days before departure, Connie announces she wants a divorce. They nonetheless continue with the trip in some of the world’s most beautiful cities – from Amsterdam and Paris, to Venice and Barcelona. Douglas sees this as a make-or-break chance to win Connie back and restore his troubled relationship with their teenage son. As love takes a detour, will Douglas get his marriage back on track?
Death in Paradise – Series 10
Coming January 8×60
The smash-hit whodunit returns, as D.I. Neville Parker attempts to solve a slew of mysterious murders in the sun-soaked Caribbean
The hugely popular comedy-drama is back for its tenth anniversary series with its usual combination of baffling murders, intriguing puzzles and famous guest stars. There are also some big surprises in store – starting with the shock return of D.S Florence Cassell. Can Florence help Neville embrace life on the island? New characters turn up on shore – including 18-year-old petty criminal Marlon Pryce, who quickly stirs up trouble. The arrival of twins is the least of JP’s challenges as Marlon, and work, tests him to his limits. Meanwhile, Selwyn finds himself in the firing line and Catherine faces grave danger following the death of a friend.
Coming 2021 6×60
In a house in Manchester divided into four flats, we are introduced to four interweaving stories about love, parenthood, loss and self-discovery. Gail (Alison Steadman) bumps into an old friend who makes a startling observation about Gail’s marriage to Henry (Peter Davison). The ordered life of Belle (Victoria Hamilton, reprising her role from Doctor Foster) is thrown into disarray by the hospitalisation of sister Ruth (Susannah Fielding), and the subsequent arrival of wayward niece Maya (Erin Kellyman). David (Adrian Lester) goes on holiday without his wife Kelly (Rachael Stirling) and has his head turned unexpectedly by Saira (Saira Choudhry). And heavily pregnant Hannah (Melissa Johns), recently coupled up with Liam (Joshua James), is surprised by her connection with Andy (Calvin Demba), the father of her unborn child, who has been away travelling for the duration of the pregnancy. These disruptive arrivals turn each person’s life upside down, setting off a chain of events which we will follow across the series.
Coming 2021 4×60
The series begins with the brutal murder of a young man, before cutting back to 15 days earlier when a group of troubled siblings reunite after their mother’s death. Following her funeral, tensions arise over who will inherit the farm and events spiral into the shocking demise of one of the four. Former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley plays daughter Sara, who harbours a deep affection for the farm and whose violent husband, Michael (David Caves) is having an affair.
Following her mother’s death, Sara is reunited with her three estranged siblings: Nia (Mali Tudno Jone) Gareth (Geraint Morgan) and Rhys (Tom Rhys Harries).
Call the Midwife – Series 10
Coming 2021 7×60
The return of the multi-award-winning drama. It’s 1966, and it’s a testing time for the midwives. But there’s excitement, too, as the women’s rights movement intensifies. With Trixie’s help, Sister Julienne is determined to steer Nonnatus House out of its financial quandary. Dr Turner deals with an array of difficult cases including a former soldier involved in nuclear test explosions. Meanwhile, Sister Monica Joan experiences a crisis of faith, and Sister Frances realises she needs to be a little less spiritual if she’s to really connect with the local women. There are some interesting challenges ahead, as well as great celebrations when England wins the World Cup.
Unforgotten – Series 4
Coming 2021 6×60
The BAFTA-winning hit returns, as Cassie and Sunny investigate a cold case with alarming links to the police force.
A corpse is discovered in a scrap yard, his features frozen in time. Four suspects emerge. All four have links to the law and attended the same police training course back in 1989. Since then their lives have gone in very different directions. Some have thrived and others have faltered. But exactly who is fighting for justice? Can the police force ever really be trusted? And will Cassie and Sunny find themselves on the wrong side of the law?
Baptiste – Series 2
Coming 2021 6×60
From award-winning producer Two Brothers Pictures, this six-part series follows retired detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) as he delves into Budapest’s corrupt underworld to find a British Ambassador’s family who go missing on a skiing holiday in the Hungarian mountains. Ambassador Emma Chambers, played by Fiona Shaw, is a character who is thrust into the crosshairs of Baptiste’s most complex case to date, as the detective navigates an untrustworthy Hungarian police force and international media interest as he hunts for her husband and two sons.
John Boyega (Star Wars) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther) lead the cast of a deeply personal drama.
The first television project from Academy Award and BAFTA- winner Steve McQueen, this series of films for television is based on the real-life experiences of London’s West Indian community. Set between 1969 and 1982, these standalone stories celebrate courage and community. From a group of activists taking on a seemingly hopeless battle against police persecution, to a teenager experiencing a blues party full of dance, danger and romance, they’re a powerful reminder of how brave individuals can spark change. Small Axe delivers a message our divided world needs to hear: even the most marginalised voices can challenge the most powerful.
Elizabeth is Missing
Coming 2021 1×90
Two-time Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson makes a triumphant return to the screen after 27 years, in this poignant and compelling mystery based on the bestselling novel by Emma Healey.
When her best friend Elizabeth goes missing, Maud is convinced something terrible has happened. But her search to find Elizabeth unearths an altogether darker unsolved mystery: her sister’s disappearance, long buried in the recesses of her memory. Can Maud discover the fate of both missing women before her dementia erases the clues and the answers are lost to her forever?
Tin Star Series 3
Coming 2021 6×60
Starring Tim Roth (The Hateful Eight), Genevieve O’Reilly (Star Wars) and Abigail Lawrie (The Man With the Iron Heart), the show’s final season picks up after Jack and Angela revealed the truth to their daughter Anna. Thousands of miles away from the Rocky vista of Canadian town, Little Big Bear, Jack, Angela and Anna return to the UK twenty years after leaving to confront the sinister truth they ran from. The secrets they hold threaten a group of dangerous criminals who are still operating in the city. Jack, Angela and Anna will stop at nothing to defeat their common enemy. Ian Hart (Boardwalk Empire), Tanya Moodie (Sherlock), Joanne Whalley (The White Princess) and Kerrie Hayes (The Mill) have joined the cast for the final season.
Coming 2021 3×60
Too Close focuses on the compelling and dangerous relationship between forensic psychiatrist Dr Emma Robertson (Emily Watson) who is assigned to work with Connie Mortensen (Denise Gough) a woman accused of a heinous crime but who claims she can’t remember a thing.
Dr Robertson has worked with her fair share of high security patients but when she is sent to assess Connie for trial the two women become dangerously close. Connie has a searing insight into Emma’s deepest insecurities and starts to brutally exploit them. Their sessions become a complex psychological game with confusing undercurrents. But as Emma tries to uncover the truth and learn what triggered Connie’s despicable behaviour, it seems that her attempts to see justice done may destroy her instead.
Sir David Attenborough Month
Join BBC Earth the whole month of January as we look at some of Sir David Attenborough’s best work. Titles include his call to action Climate Change: The Facts, Seven Worlds One Planet, Blue Planet II, Frozen Planet, Planet arth II, Dynasties and more.
Life Below Zero: Series 7
From January 16 20×60
Follow the further icy adventures of Life Below Zero’s resilient characters as the series charts their day-to-day lives in Alaska.
In an increasingly unpredictable Arctic climate, they must quickly adapt to the changing landscape in their quest for freedom and survival. Sue is preparing herself for an increasingly uncertain future. Jessie and his dog team are getting ready for their second 1,000-mile Iditarod sled race. Meanwhile, unusual weather conditions are hampering the Hailstones’ harvest of vital resources. Andy continues to teach Denise essential bush survival skills. And Ricko shows his children the importance of carrying on the Athabaskan way of life.
Where the Wild Men Are: Revisited Series 2
Coming 2021 6×60
Adventurer Ben Fogle revisits people around the world who turned their backs on the rat-race to set up home in some of Earth’s most remote locations.
How have things panned out for the former war correspondent who became a grizzly bear guide in the Canadian wilderness? Or the former city fat cat turned jungle Tarzan in the swamplands of Georgia, USA? And what about the man whose tragic accident prompted a move to Australia’s notorious Tornado Alley? Ben finds out what’s changed for these compelling characters as he learns about the challenges they’ve faced since he first spent time with them. Is life in the wild still their ultimate dream?
Hypothetical – Series 3
Coming 2021 8×60
Hypothetical is Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster’s new comedy panel show where top comedians are posed increasingly absurd hypothetical situations and scored on how well they would deal with them. Over three rounds, two teams of celebrities must think on their feet as they are faced with a series of wildly fictional scenarios and interrogated on their approach to each one. Josh poses the questions and interrogates the guests’ methods, while James, the arbiter of all Hypotheticals, deals with the guests’ quibbles and queries and doles out the points.
Who Do You Think You Are – Series 17
Coming 2021 4×60
The BAFTA award-winning genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? returns with another star-studded line-up.The celebrities set to unravel their family history in this four-part series include: Jodie Whittaker, who faces some fraught family history; David Walliams, who uncovers a relative’s traumatic experience during WWI and learns that entertaining runs in the family; Liz Carr, who investigates an ancestor’s role in an attempted murder; and Ruth Jones, who unearths a family connection to the origins of the National Health Service.
Go Jetters New Episodes
Weekdays at 4.15pm from January 4
Go Jetters go bigger as our plucky international heroes Xuli, Kyan, Lars and Foz, together with their disco-grooving mentor Ubercorn, discover lots more about our world. And we learn much more about each of the Go Jetters too. Travelling from the top of the planet to the very bottom, their action-packed adventures take them to truly incredible places. And there’s a good chance Grandmaster Glitch has got there first to cause his usual chaos! Back at the high-tech Go Jet Academy, there are previously unseen areas to explore and extra gadgets to reveal – including zippy new hovering bikes – and we meet Tala, a cadet with a secret.
Swashbuckle Series 6
Weekdays at 5.40pm from January 4
In this new series of Swashbuckle, Gem, Cook and Line meet the brand new captain of the Scarlett Squid, Captain Hey Ho.