After what felt like 28 solid weeks of compulsory Love Island viewing (actually, it was eight, but it certainly felt interminable), you might have toyed with the idea of picking up your social life again. Perhaps your fingers have hovered over the ‘send’ button on Whatsapp, weighing up the pros and cons of reconnecting with all the friends you abandoned in favour of watching Instagram models and personal trainers engage in small talk on sun loungers. If that's the case, can we recommend that you maybe… don’t bother? Because this autumn’s crop of new TV shows looks so good, you’ll barely have time to leave the sofa.
While summer is always a period of televisual limbo (why schedule anything decent when everyone's out photographing their Aperol spritzes?), longer, darker evenings mean a new crop of series to get stuck into. To aid us in our hibernation efforts, the latter half of 2018 promises lavish period pieces, gripping thrillers and big budget dramas. From Emma Stone’s Netflix debut to the stylish thriller that’s already caused a buzz across the Atlantic, this is our edit of the shows you need to be watching this season. Goodbye, social life. It was nice knowing you for a while.
The best new TV shows for autumn 2018
The Little Drummer Girl
Two years after The Night Manager served as Tom Hiddleston's extended Bond audition, another John Le Carré novel, 1983's The Little Drummer Girl, is getting the big-budget miniseries treatment. The magnetic Florence Pugh gets a long-overdue lead TV role as Charlie, a young actress who gets caught up in a high stakes espionage plot when she becomes involved with an Israeli intelligence officer (played by Big Little Lies' Alexander Skarsgard).
BBC One; expected later this autumn
Black Earth Rising
Expect big things from Black Earth Rising. A cinematic thriller with a labyrinthine plot that explores the legacy of international war crimes and the West's relationship with Africa, it also marks the first partnership between the BBC and Netflix. Chewing Gum's Michaela Coel plays Kate Ashby, a young woman who was rescued from the Rwandan genocide as a child and adopted by a hotshot British barrister. When Kate's mother (The Crown's Harriet Walter) takes on a case involving an African militia leader, she becomes embroiled in a deeply person - and potentially perilous - quest for justice.
BBC Two; expected later this autumn
Whatever the current mania for re-making the entire '90s entertainment back catalogue might have you thinking, BBC's Bodyguard has nothing to do with the Whitney Houston movie. Rather, it's the latest series from Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio, a stylish thriller which stars Keeley Hawes as a divisive Home Secretary and Game of Thrones's Richard Madden as the war veteran assigned as her new protection officer, despite his distaste for her political beliefs.
BBC One; August 26th
A flurry of eye-brow raising headlines branding Wanderlust the 'most controversial' and 'most explicit' BBC drama to date has surely only served to raise anticipation for this new six-part series. Toni Collette stars as Joy, a therapist struggling to keep the spark alive in her marriage after an accident causes her to reassess the relationship. Potentially Ofcom-bothering sex scenes aside, it looks set to explore big questions about family, love and monogamy.
BBC One; expected later this autumn
Hold the rousing rendition of One Day More: the BBC's new version of Victor Hugo's sprawling epic tale has been adapted (by Andrew 'Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice,' Davies, no less) straight from the book, meaning there'll be no singing the songs of angry men. What the series will have in common with the recent movie musical, though, is an impressive cast. Lily Collins will play struggling single mother Fantine, The Affair's Dominic West is troubled hero Jean Valjean and David Oyelowo is his nemesis Inspector Javert. Plus, a handful of The Crown's new royals will be joining in, too: Olivia Colman plays the villainous Madame Thernardier and Josh O'Connor (the show's new Prince Charles) takes the Eddie Redmayne role as student revolutionary Marius.
BBC One; expected later this winter
Emma Stone's Netflix debut also doubles up as a Superbad reunion. In Maniac, which has been adapted from a hit Norwegian series and directed by True Detective's Cary Fukunaga, she re-unites with her former co-star Jonah Hill. This time, the pair play strangers who take part in a pharmaceutical trial, testing out a wonder drug which promises to repair the mind entirely, be it from mental illness or heartbreak – until the side effects kick in, dragging participants into another dimension entirely.
Netflix; September 21st
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
If there's currently a Riverdale shaped hole in your viewing schedule (no judgement here), steel yourself for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix's reboot of the '90s teen classic. Don't expect much of the cosy comedy and talking cats that characterized the Melissa Joan Hart show, though: it's been reimagined as a dark coming of age story, with horror classics like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist cited as influences. Didn't see that coming, did you? Kiernan Shipka (aka Mad Men's Sally Draper) stars, plus it's set in the town along from Archie and co, leaving the door open for a crossover episode further down the line…
Netflix; October 26th
How could Phoebe Waller Bridge top a hit like 2016's Fleabag? By stepping behind the camera to direct and produce Killing Eve, a new series that marries the pitch black humour of her debut with all the pacy, high-octane thrills of a spy drama. Based on a series of novels by Luke Jennings, it stars Grey's Anatomy's Sandra Oh as Eve, a bored, deskbound MI5 analyst who is suddenly tasked with bringing down Villanelle, a vicious but undeniably glamorous Russian assassin played by Jodie Comer. Soon, the two very different women are locked in mutual obsession, taking turns to trap one another in cat and mouse mind games.
BBC One and BBC Three; expected in September
Autumn wouldn't be autumn without the promise of a new period drama to schedule our Sunday evenings around. Stepping up to fill the old Downton slot is ITV's lavish new adaptation of Vanity Fair, Thackeray's sweeping satirical novel. The seven-part series follows the machinations of devious social climber Becky Sharp (played by rising star Olivia Cooke), a brash anti-heroine who's an anomaly in the ranks of simpering bonnet-clad women that tend to populate classic novels.
ITV; expected September
Ever had an inkling that you're a bit… different? Special, maybe? Potentially a long-lost member of Russia's royal dynasty? While we try to confine our own royal wish fulfillment to repeat viewings of The Princess Diaries, Amazon's intriguing new anthology series The Romanoffs tells the stories of people scattered around the world who have one deeply-held conviction in common: that they're the descendants of Russia's ill-fated Romanov dynasty. With showrunner Matthew Weiner at the helm, the show's cast has become a mini Mad Men reunion, featuring Christina Hendricks, John Slattery and costume designer Janie Bryant.
Amazon Prime; October 12th