Netflix sensation Squid Games recently became the platform’s most-watched show, clocking more than 111 million viewers. Meanwhile, Foundation, the retelling of Isaac Asimov’s seminal science-fiction series, reportedly costs Apple TV+ as much as a blockbuster movie every two episodes.
Television has changed a great deal over the last few decades – from The Wire and Breaking Bad to the lockdown phenomenon Tiger King – and the medium continues to up the stakes, attracting big-name stars and massive funding.
Here, in honour of next month’s World Television Day (21 November), is our rundown of some of the best new shows coming to TV screens next year.
1. Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon (HBO)
Game of Thrones is one of the most successful television series of recent times. HBO’s highly-anticipated prequel will look to capitalise on the original’s popularity while forging its own path.
Set 200 years before the events of the original, House of the Dragon tells the story of the civil war inside the Targaryen clan.
Led by the kind and decent King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine, Dead Man’s Shoes), trouble is likely to come in the guise of his younger brother and heir to the throne, Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith.
Daemon and his sister, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), are both dragonriders of pure Valyrian blood and yet, while she is the king’s first-born child, as a woman, Rhaenyra is not heir to her father’s throne.
Keep an eye out too for Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, a politically acute and potentially dangerous woman who is the daughter of Rhys Ifans’ Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King.
2. Lord of the Rings (Amazon)
Peter Jackson’s beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life on film in the early 2000s. The films garnered a total of 30 Oscar nominations and won 17.
Another prequel series, Amazon’s journey to Middle Earth will take place millennia before the events of The Hobbit. The Second Age of Middle Earth spans almost three and a half thousand years and is the period in which Sauron created the One Ring.
Expected to run for at least five series, and at a cost of over $1 billion, Amazon Studios report that the series will begin “in a time of relative peace” and follow characters both old and new “as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.
“From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor […] these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”
Among the familiar characters set to return is Galadriel. The younger version of the “Lady” of the woods of Lothlórien, will be played by Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud). Lord Elrond is also slated to make an appearance.
3. Brideshead Revisited (HBO, BBC)
Evelyn Waugh’s classic tale of Charles Ryder’s seduction by the charms of Brideshead Castle is being made into a limited series by HBO, with the BBC due to air next year.
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman) will take on the role of Ryder, whose friendship with Sebastian and the aristocratic Flytes, as well as his arrival at their palatial mansion, forms the backbone of the story.
Despite being set between the 1920s and 1940s, Waugh has previously said of the story that it is a “souvenir” of the second world war. It was written between December 1943 and June 1944 while the author was invalided following a parachuting accident.
The book has previously been filmed for television in 1981 and was released as a film in 2008.
This time around, Garfield’s Ryder will be joined by Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) as Sebastian Flyte and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Sebastian’s sister, Julia.
Lord and Lady Marchmain will be played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter) and Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings) respectively.
4. The Devil in the White City (Hulu)
In development since way back in 2003, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have long-held the rights to The Devil in the White City.
Originally intending to make a feature film, the pair are now said to be executive producing a mini-series based on the real-life thriller by Erik Larson, for streaming service Hulu.
Subtitled Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, the book tells the story of two men. One, architect Daniel Burnham, is Director of Works for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The other is H.H. Holmes, a murderer and America’s first serial killer, who used the influx of visitors to the city to cover his crimes.
Originally intending to play Holmes, DiCaprio’s move to producer has left the role free. Rumours suggest Robert Pattinson, soon to be seen as the titular star of The Batman, could be in the running.
5. Time Bandits (Apple TV+)
Apple TV+ announced a series based on Terry Gilliam’s 1981 fantasy adventure Time Bandits back in 2019.
Recent names attached to the project include Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok, who is said to be in line to direct the pilot episode. Original director Terry Gilliam will also executive-produce the series.
The plot of the original film follows a young boy who meets a band of time-travelling adventurers who are using a stolen map to meet – and steal from – historical figures including Napoleon and Robin Hood.