The new year is nearly upon us and it’s shaping up to be a hot one in TV land as more and more countries get in on the premium drama series act. Here, we round up 15 of the buzziest titles you’re set to hear much more about over the coming year, from Doctor Who to The Count of Monte Cristo to Netflix Italy’s pornography drama Supersex.
‘Doctor Who’ (BBC)
It’s back like you’ve never seen it before. The 40th season of Doctor Who, the outsized British sci-fi series that has been on and off screens for 50 years, will kick off next year with its first ever Black lead alongside a healthy budget boost coupled with several spin-offs. Anticipation surrounding the Doctor’s latest adventures rarely ramps down but there is extra bite with this one. Following his star breakout turn as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s Sex Education, Rwandan-Scottish star Gatwa is a popular choice to take the reins from Jodie Whittaker. Gatwa was brought to the show by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, the man who helmed the first rebooted season in 2005, and Davies’ arrival preceded that of Disney+ and His Dark Materials indie Bad Wolf as co-production partners, bringing with them editorial expertise and a rocketing budget. Davies’ creative muscle has attracted a wealth of interesting talent for the 14th rebooted season including Jonathan Groff, Miriam Margolyes and Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney. With the might of BBC marketing behind it, these factors promise to come together to make something special of the latest eight-part series. Getting Whovians and rookie fans alike in the mood, a trio of Christmas specials are currently playing on the BBC, bringing back old favorites David Tennant and Catherine Tate to adventures watched by millions of viewers per episode. This one will be a 2024 highlight in the ever-evolving world of the Doctor.
‘The Last Anniversary’ (Binge)
Nicole Kidman has gone back to Australia for her latest TV project, which is being produced for Colin From Accounts streamer Binge. The Last Anniversary is in production in Sydney with Teresa Palmer, Miranda Richardson and Danielle Macdonald starring in the light-hearted series, as we revealed last month. Kidman and production partner Per Saari first told Deadline about the project in 2019, but it has taken almost four years to enter production. Their indie Blossom Films, long-time collaborator Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories and Fifth Season are co-producing the project, which also benefits from New South Wales soft money. Samantha Strauss is writing and John Polson is directing the series, which is based on Liane Moriarty’s novel (Moriarty, you’ll remember, was also the author behind Kidman’s Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers and HBO hit Big Little Lies). The story follows Sophie Honeywell, who inherits a home on the mysterious Scribbly Gum Island, where a couple mysteriously went missing many decades before. Though she’s searching for love, the story develops into a dramedy with a family mystery at the core. It’s familiar-enough territory for fans of Moriarty’s previous hit shows but different enough to stand out on its own merits. Interest in Australia, both as an international production hub and a generator of premium drama and comedy, has been ratcheting up, so The Last Anniversary is certain to be on the radar when it launches.
‘The Count Of Monte Cristo’ (France Télévisions/Rai)
Billie August’s high-profile Count of Monte Cristo adaptation is one of the more prominent examples of the might of European broadcasters and production houses banding together to hopefully create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Mediawan and producer Carlo Degli Esposti have been preparing the prestige limited series for a while now and it has slowly grown in hype, with shooting about to wrap in Malta following a five-month production period. Sam Claflin will lead the Alexandre Dumas adaptation, joined by the likes of Jeremy Irons, Ana Girardot, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Blake Ritson, Karla-Simone Spence, Michele Riondino, Lino Guanciale, Gabriella Pession and Nicolas Maupas. Penned in the mid-19th century by The Three Musketeers writer, The Count of Monte Cristo follows a French 19-year-old first mate of a ship, who is falsely accused of treason, arrested, and imprisoned without trial in the Château d’If, a grim island fortress off Marseille. A fellow prisoner, Abbé Faria, correctly deduces that romantic rival Fernand Mondego, envious crewmate Danglars, and double-dealing magistrate De Villefort are responsible. Over the course of their long imprisonment, Faria educates Dantès and tells him of a cache of treasure he found. August has previously said he wants to modernize the adaptation while remaining faithful to Dumas’ legacy and the show comes with help from Mediawan’s €100M ($107M) financing pact with Entourage Ventures. It is proof of what can happen when European players team together and the results, seen on the French and Italian national broadcasters and likely many more platforms around the world, will be fascinating to see next year.
‘Alice & Jack’ (Channel 4)
Channel 4 has been looking for star power recently, greenlighting Sam Heughan-starrer The Couple Next Door and, shortly afterwards, Alice & Jack helmed by Domhnall Gleeson and Andrea Riseborough. But Alice & Jack is no big-budget caper. Instead, it’s an understated series about two unlucky lovers whose paths keep crossing over many years. Also starring Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood and This Way Up‘s Aisling Bea, the idea behind Alice & Jack was a passion project of creator Victor Levin’s for years, and in Riseborough and Gleeson — who have worked together several times — he found his muses. Speaking to Deadline recently, exec producer Richard Yee said the creative team behind Alice & Jack wanted to approach the project “more like a film than a TV series.” With a sale to PBS Masterpiece in the U.S. already done and dusted, international interest won’t be hard to come by, and this one looks set to make a splash on a UK network that has in recent times tended to opt for quality over quantity in the scripted space.
‘Playing Nice’ (ITV)
Late last month, Deadline brought you the news that ITV was taking on one of its biggest dramas yet, a Studiocanal-produced adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestseller Playing Nice, starring man-of-the-moment James Norton. Norton helms alongside Niamh Algar, James McArdle and Jessica Brown Findlay. Norton, a BAFTA nominee who is regularly touted as the next Bond, also serves as executive producer on Playing Nice through his Banijay-backed production outfit Rabbit Track Pictures. In Playing Nice, two couples discover that their toddlers were switched at birth in a hospital mix-up. Set against the sweeping backdrop of Cornwall, they face an agonizing dilemma: do they keep the sons they have raised and loved, or reclaim their biological child? ITV has been supercharging its drama content of late with millions of extra funding as it focuses its efforts on one-year-old streamer ITVX, and Playing Nice joins the likes of fantasy epic The Winter King and Jason Isaacs-starrer Archie. Snapping up best-of-British IP (Delaney also penned the source material for BBC/HBO’s The Girl Before) could be a smart tactic to beef up the ITVX library and Playing Nice looks sure to dominate ITV’s offering next year.
‘Day Of The Jackal’ (Sky/Peacock)
Good IP is gold dust and Sky has landed itself a big score in its Day of the Jackal remake, which is produced by Universal International Studios’ Carnival Films and co-commissioned by Peacock. Producers have landed Eddie Redmayne as lead, a huge draw for a show that could be crucial to the potential success of its co-commissioners in 2024, and he is joined by Lashana Lynch. Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 classic follows a professional assassin hired by a French paramilitary dissident to kill French President Charles de Gaulle in 1962. The series is based on the Forsyth novel and the 1973 film adaptation from Universal Pictures, but has been reimagined as a contemporary story set amidst the current turbulent geo-political landscape and will delve deeper into the chameleon-like ‘anti-hero.’ The producers’ choice of writer, Top Boy’s Ronan Bennett, speaks for itself, and storied producer Gareth Neame has called it a “re-imagining of Forsyth’s revered thriller in the complex world in which we live today.” Redmayne and Lynch look set to combine for what promises to be a star-studded adaptation for Sky and Peacock platforms seeking out a wave of originals that will cut through.
‘Supersex’ (Netflix Italy)
TV shows and movies about pornography come around every so often and creators have to think very carefully about tone in order to pull them off. Netflix Italy has bet big on the upcoming Supersex, which is inspired by the true life story of European pornstar Rocco Siffredi and is produced by The Apartment and Banijay’s Groenlandia. What we’ve seen so far has been impressive. Clips of Supersex at recent confabs have been well received and, along with an upcoming adaptation of The Leopard, Supersex is definitely being given a fair bit of Netflix Italy’s marketing might as the streamer looks to supercharge content from southern Europe. Alessandro Borghi leads Supersex as Rocco, telling a tale that the logline describes as “unpublished aspects of the pornstar, a profound story that runs through his life since childhood.” “Supersex is the story of a man who takes seven episodes and 350 minutes to say ‘I love you,’ to accept that the demon in his body is compatible with love,” says creator and writer Francesca Manieri. And if that doesn’t draw you in, it’s hard to know what will.
‘This Town’ (BBC)
Prolific screenwriter Steven Knight churns out projects like butter. In This Town, the Peaky Blinders creator is attempting what could be his most personal work yet, and he is promising big things. Produced by regular Knight collaborator Kudos, This Town, filmed in Knight’s native Birmingham, tells the story of an extended family and four young people who are drawn into the world of ska and two-tone music, which exploded from the grass roots of Coventry and Birmingham in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, uniting Black, white and Asian youths. Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery leads with respected, under-the-radar Brits such as Nicholas Pinnock (Marcella) and David Dawson (My Policeman) joining her. Universal Music Group’s Mercury Studios is co-producer and will “bring in an exciting range of high profile musical artists to help lay the backdrop for Knight’s incredible story,” according to the BBC — a crucial element of any Knight bonanza. He has previously described the project as one “very close to my heart,” quite the quote for someone who seems to land greenlights on an almost monthly basis. Projects on Knight’s current to-do list include Disney+’s A Thousand Blows, Star Wars: New Jedi Order and a second season of the BBC’s SAS Rogue Heroes. The closeness of This Town to its creator could just set this one apart from the others.
An adaptation of a Jilly Cooper novel starring Danny Dyer may not have been what Disney’s C-suite had in mind when they first plotted a global streaming service but here we are. Alongside Sally Wainwright’s Renegade Nell and CJ Sansom adaptation Shardlake, Rivals is being positioned by Disney+ as one of its biggest international launches of the coming year. Produced by ITV Studios-backed Happy Prince and set in the fictional upper-class county of Rutshire, Rivals dives headfirst into the cutthroat world of independent television in 1986 when a long-standing rivalry between two powerful men is about to boil over: ex-Olympian, Member of Parliament and notorious womanizer Rupert Campbell-Black and his neighbor Tony Baddingham, controller of the independent TV franchise Corinium Television. The show also stars David Tennant, Aidan Turner and Alex Hassell amongst a top-rate British cast and is testament to the local nature of Disney+’s chosen subjects. This one should be fun.
‘Safe Harbor’ (Videoland/Streamz)
It’s Peaky Blinders meets Game of Thrones as Charlie Murphy, Alfie Allen and Jack Gleeson team up to play the leads in Europe-U.S. crime drama Safe Harbor. One of the most interesting international co-production set-ups of recent times, the show is from Ozark co-creator Mark Williams, who is making the show on mainland Europe along with a host of top producers. Williams teamed with Femke Wolting from Submarine and Germany’s Night Train Media on the project, which allowed it to receive funding in Submarine’s home country of the Netherlands. Dutch streamer Videoland is the anchor commissioner, with Belgium’s Streamz also boarding — a real sign of the times production structure. Shooting has begun in Rotterdam, with second block filming early next year set to include shoots in Belgium and Ireland. A top-level Irish actor is being sought to play a patriarch mob boss figure, so more big news is coming. The series follows gifted hacker Tobias (Allen) and his ambitious best friend Marco (Martijn Lakemeier), who want to become tech billionaires, only to be plucked from obscurity and plunged headfirst into the heart of the Irish mob. Leading the family’s operations in The Netherlands are Sloane (Murphy) and her brother Farrell (Gleeson), who enlist their services to hack into the security system of Rotterdam harbour — Europe’s largest shipping port — to secure the undetected deliveries of drug shipments. Production sources are billing it as both an edge-of-the-seat thriller and a character-based story, with a twisty plot line. Fish-out-of-water drug smuggling, crime bosses and family-based story arcs… remind anyone of Ozark? (That’s a very good thing, by the way.)
‘Dope Girls’ (BBC)
It could be argued having three BBC dramas in our list is overkill but just look at what the UK pubcaster is promising for 2024. When we broke the news of Dope Girls back in March, people were crying out for more Peaky Blinders-style programs, following the conclusion of the Steven Knight-created mob drama. Dope Girls could be the answer. The story is set in London’s Soho in the early 20th century and will follow Kate Galloway, a single mother who establishes a nightclub amidst the hedonistic uproar of post-World War One London, embracing a life of criminal activities with the dedicated aim of providing for her daughter Evie. Undercover cops, rival gangs and dazzling dancers complete the spectacle. Add in Mare of Easttown‘s Julianne Nicholson, who has landed the lead role of Kate, plus Eliza Scanlen, Umi Myers, Eilidh Fisher and Geraldine James and you’ve got all the ingredients for a female-led Peaky Blinders-style gangster drama. Polly Stenham and Alex Warren are writing the six-parter, which is inspired by Marek Kohn’s non-fiction book Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground, and Doctor Who indie Bad Wolf is producing. Shooting began towards the end of this year. Bad Wolf’s parent, Sony Pictures Television, is an associate producer and has international sales rights, so you can expect this one to start shopping any day now. “Dope Girls is quintessentially Bad Wolf,” said company co-founder Jane Tranter. With a track record including His Dark Materials, The Winter King and Industry, that can only be great news.
Applause Entertainment’s Gandhi (working title) series biopic has been in the works since 2022, and we hear it has now entered production. Shoots have been set for South Africa, India and the UK to chronicle the various stages of Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi’s life. Billed as a South Asian answer to Netflix’s just-ended royals drama The Crown, the show is directed by Scam 1992 helmer Hansal Mehta and stars Pratik Gandhi (no relation) in the title role. The scripts are being adapted from Gandhi Before India and Gandhi – The Years that Changed the World, a pair of biographies from Indian historian and journalist Ramachandra Guha that are considered among the most complete ever written about the man. The series will follow the iconic figure’s earliest days through to his actions as a lawyer in South Africa and on to the independence struggle in India, telling the lesser known stories of his life that played an important role in shaping him into a Mahatma (a revered person in South East Asia). It will also tell the stories of his compatriots and contemporaries in India’s freedom movement. As per the usual business model at Sameer Nair’s Applause, it has been funded internally and will be shopped to streamers upon completion. There’s no guarantee it’ll launch in 2024 but this is one to watch.
‘Concordia’ (ZDF, MBC, France Télévisions)
Former Game of Thrones executive producer Frank Doelger’s last show, The Swarm, was among the biggest selling new dramas of 2023. His latest, six-part drama Concordia, looks to have the chops to repeat the success as a truly international project, tapping into the buzz topic of 2023: AI. The series is set in a seemingly utopian community powered by an AI. However, as cities around the world line up to replicate it, the secret behind its creation threatens to destroy it. International Emmy-winner Christiane Paul (Counterpart, In July) stars as the visionary behind the new utopia. Steven Sowah (For Jojo, Before We Grow Old ) plays her son Noah, the ambassador in charge of expanding the experiment; Ruth Bradley (Ted Lasso, Humans) is Thea, an external investigator, who joins up with Isabelle, played by Nanna Blondell (Black Widow, House of the Dragon), to uncover how the utopia was created. The English-language show is for Germany’s ZDF, the Middle East’s MBC and France Télévisions, and was shot in various locations in Rome, northern Italy and Germany, with Doelger’s Intaglio Films, a joint venture between German powerhouses Beta Film and ZDF Studios, producing. Nicholas Racz (The Burial Society, The Real Thing) and Mike Walden (The Frankenstein Chronicles, U Want Me 2 Kill Him) are co-creators alongside Doelger, and are writing alongside Isla van Tricht — there’s certainly no ChatGPT bot behind the scripts on this one.
‘The Bay Of Spies’ (Poland’s TVP)
Polish TV probably doesn’t get spotlighted enough and we felt it high time we changed that. In step The Bay of Spies, a high-end World War Two series for national broadcaster TVP set to air next year, which could set international distribution circles alight. Filming has just wrapped on the show, which is set in 1940s Gdynia and directed by Michał Rogalski, winner of the Screenplay Award at the World Film Festival in Montreal for his film Summer Solstice. Based on true events, The Bay of Spies follows Franz Neumann, a young Nazi Abwehr officer, who discovers that his real father was Polish. Using this information to his advantage, Franz becomes a spy for the Allies with the code name Got. His task is to obtain information about the activities of the German Navy, the Kriegsmarine and report back to the allies. The show has “everything you need in a series,” according to TVP’s Head of Global Distribution, and will act as a “tribute to the architects and engineers who built the city of Gdynia before the war.” World War Two fare has been a little dry on TV in recent years and this could be just the show to lead some sort of revival on a channel that has landed itself in a fair bit of trouble recently after the incoming government shut down its news service due to propaganda concerns.
‘Scar / Cicatriz’ (RTVE & Prime Video Spain, Telekom Srbija, Canal+ Poland)
How about this for a set up: Scar (Cicatriz) is a Spanish-Mexican-Adriatic Europe drama series with commissioning broadcasters from Spain, Serbia and Poland. The eight-part series will be an adaptation of the bestselling novel from Juan Gómez-Juardo, with writers whose credits include Money Heist, Vis a Vis and Top Boy. The story follows Simon, a young man set to make billions by selling his ground-breaking algorithm whose lack of social skills leads him to meet a mysterious Ukrainian woman, Irina, on a dating app. She travels thousands of miles to be with him in Spain, but brings with her a dark secret and the desire for revenge. Milena Radulovic (Besa, Superdeep) and Spanish actor Juanlu González (Valeria, La Caza. Guadiana) play the leads, with Maciej Stuhr (The Secret of the Village) portraying a ruthless tech tycoon who wants to wrest Simon’s revolutionary app from his grasp. Filming began in November in Bilbao, Spain, with further location shooting set for Servia. Spain’s Plano a Plano is co-producing with buzzy Mexican production house Dopamine and with the collaboration of Asacha Media Group and Serbia-based Adrenalin in association with Spanish pubcaster RTVE, Prime Video Spain, Telekom Srbija and Canal+ Poland, which boarded last week. An intriguing storyline, excellent auspices and top quality producers from across the globe suggest this will be less ‘Europudding’ co-pro and more nouveau high-end TV. “From the perspective of the co-production business, Scar is a new success story involving such diverse territories and players for the first time,” said Dopamine CEO Fidela Navarro. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing projects on the market right now.