Swimming and lifeguard

Hugh Montgomery picks the best TV shows this month, from Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford in the Western series 1923 to Michelle Yeoh in the fantasy prequel The Witcher: Blood Origin.

 1 Riches


Sounds familiar: a super-rich family squabbles over its patriarch’s business empire. Except that, whereas Succession focused on a group of white Americans, this new series focuses on a black British clan. Sarah Niles (Ted Lasso) and Deborah Ayorinde (Them) are among the glammed-up cast members, and the trailer suggests that there will be plenty of great outfits and delicious melodrama.

Riches premieres on Amazon Prime in the United States on December 2nd, and on ITVX in the United Kingdom on December 22nd.

2 Three Pines


Alfred Molina, who played the villainous Doctor Octopus in the Spiderman films, is the latest celebrated actor to play a TV detective in this new series based on Canadian author Louise Penny’s novels about Quebec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. In the first eight episodes, Ganache investigates a murder in the titular small town, which leads to revelations about police corruption in the area as well as the cases of a series of missing indigenous girls. 

3 George and Tammy 

Jessica Chastain, who won an Oscar for playing televangelist Tammy Faye, will now be hoping for an Emmy for playing another Tammy in this bio-drama about country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The six-episode miniseries, starring Michael Shannon as Jones, will explore their turbulent seven-year relationship, during which they created some of the genre’s most enduring classics while struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

4 Kindred


Octavia E Butler is one of the greatest science-fiction writers of all time, so it’s exciting to see this adaptation of perhaps her most famous novel come to fruition. The “speculative fantasy” plot revolves around Dana, a young black woman living in Los Angeles who finds herself time travelling between the present and the horrors of a Maryland plantation in 1815. Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, the Whale) and Janicza Bravo (Zola), as well as brilliant scriptwriter/playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, are both involved in the production, which bodes extremely well for what promises to be difficult but rewarding viewing.

5 A Spy Among Friends 


Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis star in this true-life spy drama based on Ben Macintyre’s book about the friendship of Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce): two MI6 agents in the post-war period whose friendship was complicated, to say the least, when Elliott discovered that Philby – “the man I trusted most,” as Elliott says in the trailer – was a double agent working for the KGB. Furthermore, Elliott was tasked with extracting a taped confession from Philby. One to make your nerves jangle. 

5 A Spy Among Friends 

Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis star in this real-life spy drama based on Ben Macintyre’s book about the friendship of Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce): two MI6 agents in the post-war period whose friendship was complicated, to say the least, when Elliott discovered that Philby – “the man I trusted most,” as Elliott says in the trailer – was in fact a double agent working for the KGB. Furthermore, Elliott was the man tasked with extracting a taped confession from Philby. One to jangle the nerves. 

7 Strike: Troubled Blood


Tom Burke (as private detective Cormoran Strike) and Holliday Grainger (as his business partner Robin Ellacott) return to investigate another tricky case in this latest adaptation of J K Rowling’s crime novels, written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This time, it begins in Cornwall, where Strike is visiting his aunt and is approached by a woman who tells him about her mother’s disappearance 40 years ago. As always, the guest cast is impressive, with Linda Bassett, Kenneth Cranham, Cherie Lunghi, and Burke’s mother, Anna Calder-Marshall.

8. 1923

Few people in television are more powerful than Taylor Sheridan, the writer and showrunner who is quickly building an empire of shows led by his soapy modern Western drama Yellowstone, which has been enormously popular with US audiences even if it hasn’t charmed critics or award voters in the same way. That could change with this Yellowstone prequel series, which stars this year’s most impressive star pairing, Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, as the heads of the same Dutton family in the early twentieth century, as they try to maintain the prosperity of their Montana ranch in the face of rival ranchers and changes in cattle farming.

9 I Hate Suzie Too


Back in 2020, Billie Piper’s performance as the titular character, a frazzled actress dealing with the fallout from a photo leak, was a tour-de-force performance, complementing a brilliantly sharp and witty script by award-winning playwright and Succession writer Lucy Prebble. So it’s great to see it return for this three-part sequel, in which Suzie hopes to advance her career by appearing on a dancing reality TV show – but nothing goes smoothly. Douglas Hodge (The Great) and Omari Douglas (It’s a Sin) are among those who appear this time.

10 The Witcher: Blood Origin

This prequel series to Netflix hit The Witcher, set 1,200 years before the original series, is a Christmas treat for fantasy fans, and it fortuitously stars the wonderful Michelle Yeoh, who may soon be an Oscar winner thanks to her performance in dazzling multiverse drama Everything Everywhere All At Once. Scian, the last in a line of so-called sword-elves (she can do cool things with a blade), is on a mission to find a stolen sacred sword in this film. Expect Yeoh to use her action skills and lots of bone-crunching violence, so make sure you’ve fully digested your Christmas dinner before you begin your binge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *