It won’t have escaped your attention that the nights are getting colder, and the one TV show that may have been keeping you warm has ended for another year. autumn is upon us. With leaves crunching underfoot and rain lashing the windows, it’s time to hunker down indoors, pop the heating on (if the thermostat police allow it) and sink into a more-ish TV boxset.
To that end we’ve recommended 27 cosy, comforting shows to hopefully fill the James Herriot-shaped hole in your life. Pour yourself a warming drink and happy viewing:
Only Murders In The Building
Comedy veterans Steve Martin and Martin Short join forces with their neighbour Selena Gomez to investigate a suspicious death in their Upper West Side apartment building – and make their own true-crime podcast about it. Part-parody, part-generation gap sitcom, part-mystery thriller, it’s silly, soothingly addictive and crackles with chemistry.
(Amazon Prime Video/Apple TV)
Midsomer Murders creator Antony Horowitz also wrote this criminally underrated period policier, set during and directly after the Second World War. Michael Kitchen is fedora-clad DCS Christopher Foyle, a tenacious widower tracking down profiteers and killers on the Home Front. With eight series to sink into, it’s like Morse relocated to 1940s Hastings.
Life After Life
This adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s novel flew under many radars, partly because it aired on BBC Two rather than the flagship channel like it deserved. Thomasin McKenzie is terrific as a woman born in 1910 who experiences an endless cycle of reincarnation. Like Groundhog Day remade as a period drama, it’s gorgeously realised and emotionally potent.
Drops Of God
A drama about wine, based on a Japanese manga comic? It might sound random but this is one of the most intriguing, intoxicating series around. Think The Queen’s Gambit with high-end plonk instead of chess. Who knew that elite wine-tasting could be this tense?
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
Hugh Laurie adapted this Agatha Christie romp – a snappy three-parter you’ll devour in a weekend. Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton team up to investigate a dying stranger’s last words. Cue a giddy screwball comedy meets gripping crime drama. Look out for Emma Thompson, Paul Whitehouse, Jim Broadbent and Laurie himself in supporting roles.
Adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel, this charming period romcom is a British remix of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Gemma Arterton is downright captivating as Barbara Parker, a Blackpool beauty queen who hero-worships Lucille Ball and longs to break into the sexist world of Sixties sitcom. David Threlfall and Rupert Everett are a hoot in supporting roles.
(Amazon Prime Video)
Sweet without being sickly, this wittily eccentric Noughties comedy-drama starred Britain’s own Anna Friel. Pie-maker Ned has the magical ability to bring things back to life with a single touch. After resurrecting his childhood sweetheart, he uses his gifts to help solve murders. Think Randall & Hopkirk Deceased meets a fairy tale romcom.
Perhaps the most quintessentially autumnal of US dramas, this beloved mother-and-daughter drama is all orange leaves, big coats and warm hugs. Single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her teen offspring Rory (Alexis Bledel) navigate love and life in quirky smalltown Connecticut. Diner food, sparky dialogue and homespun philosophy follows.
This gently undemanding drama, based on Robyn Carr’s bestselling romances, is the televisual equivalent of lighting a fire or donning chunky knitwear. Following a tragedy, Los Angeles nurse Mel moves upstate to the titular remote town to make a fresh start. A heartwarming fish-out-of-water story, set amid handsome scenery. Pure comfort-viewing.
For All Mankind
It begins with that familiar footage of the first manned moon landing - except the astronaut doesn’t say “One small step…”, he speaks Russian. From Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D Moore, this enjoyably epic series offers an alt-history by reimagining a Cold War space race where the Americans lost.
If you were busy watching Call The Midwife on Sunday evenings when The Durrells first aired, it rewards revisiting. Keeley Hawes is the widowed matriarch of an unruly English brood in Corfu. Add romance, humour and a houseful of animals. The result is TV paradise.
Another Anthony Horowitz creation, this pleasing puzzle box is a whodunit within a whodunit. When a bestselling crime author is murdered, his publisher (Lesley Manville) turns sleuth to solve the crime and complete his unfinished novel. Dual time frames, Suffolk scenery and ingenious twists make for a beguiling meta-mystery.
Halt & Catch Fire
Mad Men for IT geeks, anyone? Critically acclaimed but bafflingly underwatched, this cult classic portrays the tech boom of the Eighties through the rise of a Dallas computing company. Rich with period detail, relatable characters and nimble wit, it’s a rare show that improved with each of its four seasons. Its authentic retro gadgetry is also hilariously huge.
The best period drama of the past decade, masterfully adapted from Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels. Mark Rylance is mercurial as Thomas Crowell, Damian Lewis makes a monstrous Henry VIII and Claire Foy breaks hearts as Anne Boleyn. There are only six episodes, each with the depth of a feature film. Eke them out and savour some grown-up TV.
Sarah Lancashire crossed the Atlantic to play trailblazing TV chef Julia Child in this HBO bio-drama. She not only nails the Californian accent but comedically proves a match for Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce as her husband. Sparkling fun and full of sly social commentary. The second season arrives soon, so it’s the ideal time to catch up. Bon appetit.
Our own Richard Armitage and Rhys Ifans star in this classy espionage thriller about CIA operatives in contemporary Germany. Tense, moody, full of spycraft and absorbingly played by its high-calibre ensemble cast. For period intrigue in the Brandenburg city, try accomplished neo-noir Babylon Berlin on Sky/Now.
This campus gem sees Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh appointed as the first female head of the failing English department at a New England university. Can she turn the faculty’s fortunes around, while navigating her crush on a colleague and parenting her handful of an adopted daughter? Wryly satirical and highly watchable.
A huge hit in its native Australia, this period newsroom drama is about to return, so binge the debut series now. Anna Torv and Sam Reid navigate a minefield of office politics as TV journalists in 1980s Melbourne. With real-life events woven into the narrative, it’s a nostalgic, stylishly soapy pleasure.
Knives Out creator Rian Johnson’s crime caper was conceived as a homage to Columbo and it’s equally redolent of cosy afternoons. Natasha Lyonne has a hoot as a Las Vegas waitress on the run from organised crime, getting into scrapes and solving murders as she goes, thanks to her uncanny abilities as a “human lie detector”.
Set in occupied Korea and hostile Japan, this dynastic drama will remind viewers of classics like The Forsyte Saga. Adapted from Min Jin Lee’s novel, it’s a multi-generational tale of war, politics, romance, family and identity, handsomely shot and set to a sweeping score. The sort of TV that rarely gets made anymore. Ideal to immerse yourself in.
Antiques often make for blissful viewing, whether it’s factual fare like Antiques Roadshow and The Repair Shop, or this Eighties comedy-drama. Before he became a baddie-for-hire, Ian McShane as shone as the roguish antiques dealer getting into scrapes around Constable country. Our hero also broke the fourth wall 30 years before Fleabag.
“A woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough.” A decade before scoring a critical hit with The White Lotus, writer Mike White created this bafflingly underrated HBO comedy. Laura Dern is a self-destructive executive who has an awakening in rehab. It’s much more fun than it sounds and Dern won a Golden Globe for her dazzling turn.
US networks excel at warm workplace comedies (see also Superstore on ITVX) and this Emmy-winning mockumentary is another. Following the flawed but devoted teachers at an underfunded Philadelphia school, it has a high gag rate and huge heart. Production of season three is delayed due to the writer’s strike, so there’s time to catch up with the first two.
Last Tango In Halifax
Missing your Sally Wainwright fix since Happy Valley hung up its handcuffs? Time to rediscover her BAFTA-winning drama, based on her mother’s second marriage. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid are widowed 70somethings rekindling the romance that fate denied them decades ago. With Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire as their respective daughters, it’s a total treat.
My Brilliant Friend
The best HBO drama that too many people aren’t watching. Based on Elena Ferrante’s beloved Neapolitan novels, this coming-of-age masterpiece charts the fluctuating friendship between Lenù and Lila from their infancy in post-war Naples through to adulthood. Three sublime seasons await, with the fourth and final one on the way.
Colin From Accounts
This refreshing Australian romcom has been one of the year’s most unexpected delights. Real-life husband-and-wife Patrick Brammall and Harriet Dyer play Sydney strangers brought together by an injured dog called Colin. Cue eight hilarious, hugely charming episodes. A cockle-warmer of a comedy.
(Amazon Prime Video)
This spy thriller set at the General Directorate of External Security has been hailed as the best French drama ever. Oui, even better than the adored Spiral. Based on real-life events and accounts from former spooks, it’s all codenames, deep cover and nihilistic Gallic cool. Once you’ve started, you won’t stop until five series (and a lot of shrugging) later.