All the exciting TV thrillers coming in 2021

Naomi Gordon
·10-min read
Photo credit: BBC One
Photo credit: BBC One

From Good Housekeeping

2021 will be bringing us plenty of spine-tingling thrillers to keep us entertained and on the edge of our sofa this year.

Here's a look at some of the nail-biting series set to launch on the BBC, ITV and Sky later this year, from adaptations of popular novels to brand-new stories, featuring stellar acting talent...

Bloodlands

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

James Nesbitt leads crime thriller Bloodlands from Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio, which concluded on Sunday, March 15th.

Nesbitt plays Police Service of Northern Ireland detective Tom Brannick who reinvestigates an infamous cold case. The drama unfolds when a car containing a possible suicide note is pulled from Strangford Lough, which puts Nesbitt on the hunt for a deadly assassin.

The thriller was written by Chris Brandon and directed by Pete Travis, with Mercurio serving as executive producer.

The BBC has confirmed that Bloodlands will return for season two, with Nesbitt reprising his role as DCI Brannick.

Bloodlands is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.

Because the Night

Photo credit: Dominik Bindl - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dominik Bindl - Getty Images

Russell Tovey stars in ITV's four-part murder story "which exposes the quiet terror of a man trying to escape his past".

The psychological thriller - from Luther creator Neil Cross - follows Tovey's Nathan as his world implodes when a face from his past appears on his doorstep. It's inspired by Cross's 2009 novel Burial.

Because the Night arrives on ITV later this year.

Too Close

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Chernobyl's Emily Watson will lead new psychological thriller from ITV called Too Close.

The BAFTA-winning actress will play a forensic psychiatrist, Dr Emma Robinson, who is assigned to work with Connie, played by award-winning theatre actress Denise Gough (Paula, Apple Tree Yard, Collette), a woman accused of a terrible crime who claims she can't remember anything.

As Emma gets dangerously close to Connie, the relationship between the two women gets murkier and more complex.

The series is written by actress and author Clara Salaman. Filming began in September 2020.

Too Close will air on ITV later this year.

Time

Photo credit: MATT SQUIRE - BBC
Photo credit: MATT SQUIRE - BBC


Award-winning actors Sean Bean and Stephen Graham will star in Jimmy McGovern’s Time for BBC One.

BBC's synopsis reads: "A visceral, emotional and high-stakes portrayal of life in a British prison; Mark Cobden (Sean Bean) is consumed by guilt after accidentally killing an innocent man. Accepting his four year sentence and separated from his family, he meets Eric McNally (Stephen Graham), a caring prison officer doing his best to protect those in his charge. However when one of the most dangerous inmates identifies his weakness, Eric faces an impossible choice; between his principles and his family."

Joining Sean and Stephen in the cast are Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley, The Other One), Sue Johnston (The Royle Family, Downton Abbey), Hannah Walters (This is England, Pirates of the Caribbean), David Calder (The World Is Not Enough, The Hatton Garden Job), Nadine Marshall (Small Axe, Sitting in Limbo), Michael Socha (This is England, Being Human) and Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk, Thirteen).

Time will air on BBC One later this year.

Ipcress File

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Ipcress File, the first in the Harry Palmer spy thriller series, is being adapted into a six part television series for ITV.

Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole takes on the iconic role of Harry Palmer alongside Bohemian Rhapsody's Lucy Boynton as Jean, and BAFTA award winning actor Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Birdbox) as Dalby.

Joining the cast tare Ashley Thomas (NYPD Blue, Top Boy, Salvation) as Maddox, Joshua James as Chico (Industry, Life, Absentia), David Dencik (McMafia, Face to Face, Chernobyl) as Colonel Stok and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Dublin Murders, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War) as Cathcart.

The Ipcress File is author Len Deighton's first spy novel introducing the British spy Harry Palmer, set in Berlin and London during the 1960s.

The series will air on ITV later this year.

Ridley Road

Photo credit: BBC One
Photo credit: BBC One

BBC One's Ridley Road is a political thriller from writer Sarah Solemani, adapted from Jo Bloom's critically-acclaimed novel of the same title.

The series is set against the backdrop of a swinging sixties London we haven’t seen: an East End world where far right fascism is on the rise. Newcomer Aggi O’Casey plays Vivien, a young Jewish woman who follows her lover into danger and finds herself going undercover within a Neo-Nazi organisation in London in the 1960s.

Actress and writer Solemani told the BBC: "Britain’s relationship with fascism is closer and more alive than we like to think. Luckily, so is our rich heritage of fighting it. Jo Bloom’s gripping book revealed a darker side of sixties London and the staggering contribution the Jewish community made in the battle against racism. I am thrilled to be working with Red [Production Company] and the BBC to bring this little-known slice of British history to the screen."

Ridley Road will air on BBC One later this year.

Your Honour

Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Bryan Cranston plays a judge forced into criminality to protect his son in new legal thriller based in the award-winning Israeli series Kvodo.

The drama - from Undercover and Silk creator Peter Moffatt - follows Bryan's New Orleans judge who is forced to confront his own deepest convictions when his son is involved in a hit and run that embroils an organised crime family.

As a storm of vengeance, lies and deceit threatens to engulf the entire city, Michael Desiato faces a series of increasingly impossible choices and discovers just how far an honest man will go to save his son's life.

Your Honour is airing now on Sky Atlantic and available to stream on NOW TV.

Before We Die

Photo credit: Innan vi dör
Photo credit: Innan vi dör

Adapted from the hit Swedish crime thriller of the same title, Channel 4's remake follows a detective who discovers that her son is acting as an undercover informant in a murder investigation.

The UK version is set in Bristol and stars Scott & Bailey's Lesley Sharp, Vincent Regan, Patrick Gibson.

Before We Die will launch on Channel 4 later this year.

Behind Her Eyes

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Based on the best-selling novel by Sarah Pinborough, Netflix's thriller follows The Night Manager's Simona Brown as Louise, a single mother who has an affair with her psychiatrist boss David (Vanity Fair's Tom Bateman).

Her life takes a strange turn when she later befriends his wife Adele (The Luminaries star Eve Hewson), and she finds herself caught in a web of secrets and lies where nothing is what it seems.

Also starring Robert Aramayo, Behind Her Eyes is produced by Left Bank Pictures (The Crown) and written by Steve Lightfoot and Angela LaManna.

Behind Her Eyes is available to stream on Netflix now.

Death Comes as the End

Photo credit: Agatha Christie's Death Comes as End
Photo credit: Agatha Christie's Death Comes as End

Vanity Fair screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes is adapting Agatha Christie's novel set in Ancient Egypt in the early 20th Century and about a young woman who suspects her priest father may be tied up in the death of a concubine.

The cast has yet to be announced.

Death Comes as the End will air on BBC One later this year.

Devils

Photo credit: Sky Atlantic
Photo credit: Sky Atlantic

Based on Guido Maria Brera’s novel of the same name, this Sky Atlantic financial thriller centres on a group of traders a large investment bank who discover a worldwide financial conspiracy. What follows is a mysterious death and a very public scandal.

Patrick Dempsey and Alessandro Borghi star in this Italian-French-UK co-production.

Devils is airing on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV now.

Vigil

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Suranne Jones plays DCI Amy Silver in BBC One's upcoming thriller which follows the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board a Trident nuclear submarine bringing the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services.

DCI Amy leads an investigation on land and at sea into a conspiracy that threatens the very heart of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

The cast also includes Anjli Mohindra, Martin Compston, Paterson Joseph, Connor Swindells, Adam James, and Gary Lewis.

Vigil is written and created by Bafta-nominated writer Tom Edge (Judy, The Crown, Strike) with episodes by Ed Macdonald (The End Of The F***ing World) and Chandni Lakhani (Dublin Murders).

Vigil will launch on BBC One later this year.

Chloe

Photo credit: Sam Taylor/Netflix
Photo credit: Sam Taylor/Netflix

Sex Education [above pictured] director Alice Seabright is the creator, writer and director of BBC One's six-part thriller exploring obsession, identity, grief, and truth.

BBC's synopsis reads: "Becky thinks Chloe has the perfect life. Years after Chloe abandoned her when they were teenagers, Becky still obsessively watches Chloe’s life through her picture-perfect social media. But when Chloe dies suddenly, Becky’s need to find out how and why leads her to assume a new identity and infiltrate the enviable lives of Chloe’s closest friends.

"Who was Chloe? What happened to her? And why does Becky think Chloe was trying to send her a message before she died? Through her alter-ego Sasha, Becky becomes a powerful, transgressive heroine, trapped in a dangerous web of lies, only some of which are her own."

Chloe will air on BBC One later this year.

Viewpoint

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Noel Clarke (Bulletproof, Star Trek Into Darkness) plays surveillance detective DC Martin King in gripping ITV drama Viewpoint.

Inspired by the paranoid hinterland of Rear Window and The Lives Of Others, the crime series follows Clarke's detective as he sets up his observation post in the home of single mum and secret voyeur, Zoe Sterling, played by Alexandra Roach (No Offence, Black Mirror).

Zoe's windows command a panoramic view of Westbury Square, and more importantly provides a direct sightline into the home of missing primary school teacher, Gemma Hillman, played by Amy Wren (Tutankhamun, The Last Kingdom); the home she shares with boyfriend and prime suspect in her disappearance, Greg Sullivan, played by Fehinti Balogun (Informer).

Joining the cast are Coronation Street's Catherine Tyldesley, Bronagh Waugh (The Fall, Unforgotten), Sarah Niles (Trust Me, Catastrophe), Shannon Murray (Get Even, EastEnders), and Phil Davis (Whitechapel, Poldark).

Viewpoint will air on ITV later this year.

Innocent

Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images

Katherine Kelly takes the lead in ITV crime drama Innocent, a follow-up to Lee Ingleby's original series in 2018.

Criminal's Kelly will play Sally Wright, a schoolteacher who finds herself at the centre of a scandal when she's accused of having an affair with one of her students, 16-year-old Matty Taylor.

The case becomes even more complex when Matty is found dead, having been stabbed by a broken beer bottle, and those involved in the investigation start to suspect that Sally was involved. In spite of having no criminal record, no history of violence and vehemently protesting her innocence and the fact she couldn't be placed at the remote beauty spot on the day Matty was found murdered, Sally was convicted by a majority verdict and sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail. She's now aiming to clear her name.

The cast also includes Jamie Bamber (Marcella), Nadia Albina (Years and Years), Amy-Leigh Hickman (Our Girl), Priyanga Burford (Press), Shaun Dooley (The Stranger), Lucy Black (Gentleman Jack), Michael Yare (Game of Thrones), Andrew Tiernan (Prime Suspect), Poppy Miller (Line of Duty), Janine Wood (Silent Witness), Laura Rollins (Doctors) and Michael Stevenson (Casualty).

Innocent airs on ITV this spring.

Stay Close

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Harlan Coban recently signed a five-year deal with Netflix to adapt 14 of his crime thriller novels, and following The Stranger (which proceeded compelling drama Safe) Stay Close is next up for adaptation. The Stranger's Richard Armitage will lead, playing one of three characters whose dark secrets threaten to destroy their lives.

The cast also includes Cush Jumbo and James Nesbitt.

Stay Close will launch on Netflix later this year.

Hollington Drive

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Blood screenwriter Sophie Petzal is behind ITV's four-part evocative thriller, which follows two grown-up sisters who become embroiled in a tense mystery when their children are involved in the disappearance of a 10-year-old local boy.

The series promises a plot thick with secrets, lies, twists and turns.

Hollington Drive will launch on ITV later this year.

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