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20 crime TV shows you shouldn’t miss in 2021

2020 saw us all spending much more time at home than ever before, for fairly obvious reasons. 2021 promises to allow us a little more fresh air, but let’s be honest – vegetating at home comes with its benefits. Chief among them is the opportunity to watch the very best crime drama that the world of television has to offer.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the rolling lockdowns of 2020 would have steamrollered TV production and, to a certain degree, it has. Quality telly isn’t completely flattened, though. It’s just a little bruised and battered. We’ve still got plenty of alluring new crime TV shows waiting for us over the horizon…

New crime TV shows you shouldn’t miss in 2020:

Jenna Coleman and Tahar Rahim star in The Serpent, a new crime TV show coming to BBC One in January 2021

The Serpent

From the keyboards of Ripper Street writers Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay, The Serpent will tell the disturbing real-life story of Charles Sobhraj, the chief suspect in a series of grisly unsolved murders of attractive young female backpackers across Asia in the mid-1970s.

It stars A Prophet and The Looming Tower‘s charismatic French actor Tahar Rahim as Sobhraj and Victoria’s Jenna Coleman as his accomplice, Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

A portrait of a twisted sociopath and his devoted and equally twisted partner in crime, The Serpent could well be one of the darkest crime dramas of the year.

Where? BBC One
When? 1 January

Luke Evans stars in The Pembrokeshire Murders, one of ITV's best new TV dramas

The Pembrokeshire Murders

Welshman John Cooper killed four people in the mid-1980’s. He also committed dozens of armed robberies, rapes and sexual assaults. Towards the end of the decade, incredibly, he appeared as a contestant on the darts game show Bullseye.

For this three-part miniseries, the real-life ‘Bullseye Killer’ will be played by Shallow Grave’s Keith Allen. Hollywood star Luke Evans (The Hobbit) returns home, taking a rare TV part as DS Steve Wilkins, the man who eventually brought Cooper to justice.

The title’s a little uninspiring, but the star power alone means we’ll be tuning in.

Where? ITV1
When? 11 January

Richie Campbell and John Simm star in Grace, a brand new police drama coming to ITV1 in early 2021

Grace

Peter James’ Roy Grace novels are getting the telly treatment in 2021, with John Simm in the lead role. Grace will consist of two episodes, with each covering the action from the first two books, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.

The author was pretty pleased with the casting of the Life on Mars actor, so we’re hoping for a high quality adaptation of the Sussex-set stories. ‘John Simm actually looks like the Roy Grace of my imagination,’ James has since commented. ‘He’s inspired casting! With John in the lead, the brilliant scripting by Russell Lewis, and our wonderful production team, I’m confident that fans of my novels and of TV crime dramas in general will be in for a treat.’

Here’s hoping.

Where? ITV1
When? Early 2021, date tbc

new crime tv shows 2021

Unforgotten series 4

Cold case crime drama Unforgotten is back for a fourth series in 2021, with both leads Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar eager to get back into character as DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan and help create another unmissable six-part series.

Chris Lang is back on writing duties too and is made up to get another run of the popular show. ‘I am so delighted to have been asked to make a fourth series of Unforgotten,’ he said. ‘The reaction to series three was better than I could ever have expected and I can’t wait to discover what lies ahead for Cassie and Sunny and to create a whole new cast of characters for them to grapple with.’

Where? ITV1
When? TBC

Where? ITV1
When? Early 2021, date tbc

Tchéky Karyo and Fiona Shaw star in Baptiste, one of the best new crime TV shows coming in 2021

Baptiste series 2

Tchéky Karyo’s Julien Baptiste was a popular character from The Missing, so much so that he got his own spin-off show in 2019 – one which proved a hit with critics and viewers alike. For its return, Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve, Fleabag) joins the cast as a British ambassador whose entire family disappears on a skiing holiday in the Hungarian mountains.

Baptiste will attempt to solve the complicated case while, of course, dealing with his own battered private life. This time he’s forced to find ‘the missing’ in the middle of a traumatic family tragedy.

Where? BBC One
When? Early 2021, date tbc

Emily Watson and Denise Gough star in Too Close, one of the best new crime TV shows of 2021

Too Close

Breaking the Waves‘ Emily Watson will play forensic psychiatrist Dr Emma Robertson in this new miniseries written by author and actress Clara Salaman and based on the book by Natalie Daniels. Opposite her is the excellent Irish actress Denise Gough (Paula, Apple Tree Yard) as Connie Mortensen, a woman who stands accused of a shocking murder that she claims not to be able to remember. Let the mind games commence.

Where? ITV1
When? Early 2021, date tbc

Noel Clarke stars in Viewpoint, one of the new crime TV shows of 2021

Viewpoint

Noel Clarke (Adulthood) and Alexandra Roach (Killing Eve) are due to head up this interesting-sounding thriller about a police surveillance unit set up on a Manchester council estate.

It’s set to span five episodes and explore the nature of voyeurism and whether it’s possible to watch or spy on others objectively. Somewhat ironically, we’ll be watching.

Where? ITV1
When? Early 2021, date tbc

Kelly MacDonald stars in Line of Duty series 6, one of the best television dramas coming our way in 2021

Line of Duty series 6

The adventures of AC-12 return for another highly-anticipated series. Kelly MacDonald joins the cast as the high-profile guest star for this run. The Trainspotting and Boardwalk Empire star will appear as DCI Joanne Davidson, a senior investigating officer whose ‘unconventional conduct’ during a murder investigation is brought to the team’s attention.

Can Hastings and the crew get to the bottom of it all AND work out who the final ‘H’ character is…?

Where? BBC One
When? March

Martin Freeman will star in The Responder, a crime television drama coming in 2021

The Responder

The Responder will follow copper Chris, a night shift officer in Liverpool, played by Martin Freeman. Freeman proved a hit in ITV1’s 2019 series A Confession, so it’s no surprise to see The Office and Black Panther star back as a policeman in this new six-part series based on the experiences of real-life police officer Tony Schumacher.

The series is set in Liverpool, with each episode detailing the events on a dramatic night shift. Our response? It sounds good.

Where? BBC Two
When? tbc

new crime tv shows

Angela Black

Downton Abbey and Liar star Joanne Froggett is something of an ITV darling. A Golden Globe winner and three-time BAFTA nominee, she’s back with a new ‘Hitchcockian’ psychological thriller in 2021.

Yet another drama from the seemingly never-stopping conveyor belt of quality Harry and Jack Williams crime dramas (The Missing, Baptiste, Rellik, Liar), Froggett plays the titular character, a woman in an abusive relationship who finds out her violent husband’s darkest secrets. But can she trust the private investigator who comes to her with the information? Dutch actor Michiel Huisman (Nashville) and Samuel Adewunmi (The Hatton Garden Job) co-star.

Where? ITV1
When? tbc

Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins star in McDonald & Dodds, one 2021 crime drama that shouldn't be missed

McDonald & Dodds

The debut series of this Bath-set crimer was a low-key hit back in March 2020, so a second run was readily commissioned. Tala Gouveia’s ambitious ex-Met hotshot DCI McDonald and her quiet but brilliant sidekick DS Dodds, played by the always great Jason Watkins, return as the odd couple tasked with solving the trickiest murders that Somerset’s biggest city has to offer.

Appearing in the three feature-length episodes of this second season are Natalie Gumede (Doctor Who), Cold Feet’s John Thomson, Rupert Graves (Sherlock), Patsy Kensit and Rob Brydon.

Where? ITV1
When? Late 2021, date tbc

Brenda Blethyn stars in Vera series 11, coming to ITV in 2021

Vera series 11

Regardless of what’s going on in the world, you can always rely on the fact that Vera will be on TV somewhere. You needn’t scour ITV3 or ITV Hub for repeats in 2020 though, there’s a new series of the Brenda Blethyn-starring detective series to enjoy.

Two of the six feature-length episodes will air sometime in the year, with filming delays meaning the remaining 4 won’t be shot and ready until 2022.

Where? ITV1
When? Split across 2020 and 2021

Before We Die

Scandi Noir fans have something to look forward to in 2021 – provided they’re also Brizzle Noir fans too. Only this six-part British adaptation of the 2017 Swedish crime series of the same name will be set in Bristol.

Scott & Bailey and Clocking Off’s Lesley Sharp stars as a detective who discovers that her policeman son is working undercover in a dangerous crime gang to help solve a murder. The OA’s Patrick Gibson is her son, while Toni Gojanović (Success) and Vincent Regan (300) fill out the other main roles.

The original is top drawer stuff, so we’ve high hopes for this UK edition.

Where? Channel 4
When? tbc

Kate Winslet is to star in Mare of Easttown, a new crime drama coming to Sky Atlantic in 2021

Mare of Easttown

Out of the Furnace co-writer Brad Ingelsby and Warrior director Gavin O’Connor team up to bring some class to this HBO offering. The Hollywood credentials keep coming as the show’s lead is none other than Kate Winslet. The Oscar winner plays the Mare of the title, Mare Sheehan – a small town detective tasked with solving a murder on her Pennsylvania beat. As is so often the case with such things, she has to do so while patching up her own disastrous personal life.

Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart and Evan Peters help fill out the cast.

Where? Likely Sky Atlantic
When? tbc

The Following Events Are Based On A Pack of Lies is a brand new crime show coming to BBC One in 2021

The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies

This con-artist thriller, written by sister scribes Ginny and Penelope Skinner looks intriguing. It promises to tell the stories of two very different women who are brought together to seek revenge on the same grifter, in a fresh and funny way.

We’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves here, but we’re sensing Killing Eve vibes a little here. Specifics are scant, but some inspired casting could make this one of the must-sees of the year. Keep a lookout.

Where? BBC One
When? Late 2021

new crime tv shows

Karen Pirie

Val McDermid’s Karen Pirie novels are getting the small screen treatment in 2021. This first series, named after its protagonist, is set to be based on the series’ first book The Distant Echo and will be produced by the same team behind Line of Duty and Bodyguard.

There’s no word on casting as yet, but by all accounts… Val’s asked the action be shot in St Andrews and the actress cast must be able to really nail the Fife accent.

Where? ITV1
When? Late 2021

Olivia Colman will star in Landscapers, a brand new crime TV show coming to Sky Atlantic in 2021

Landscapers

This could be a biggy. Olivia Colman is set to star in this Sky and HBO collaboration which is set to tell the incredible and bleak true story of Christopher and Susan Edwards. The siblings killed their parents, buried their bodies in the back garden and cashed payments in their name for more than 15 years before being caught.

Giri/Haji star Will Sharpe will direct, with filming due to take place in early 2021 – so don’t expect this until the end of the year.

Where? Sky Atlantic
When? Late 2021

New crime TV show Sweetpea will air on Sky Atlantic in 2021

Sweetpea

C J Skuse fans, rejoice. The author’s book Sweetpea (‘The last person to call me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…’) has been adapted for television.

Pure writer Kirstie Swain is behind the ‘darkly comic’ project which is all about the breaking bad of a quiet girl-next-door type called Rhiannon. She unleashes the beast and lets her dark – ever-so-slightly murderous – side out. Definitely one to look out for.

Where? Sky Atlantic
When? tbc

Stephen Graham and Sean Bean will star in Time, a new crime TV show coming to BBC One in 2021

Time

Stephen Graham and Sean Bean starring in a new prison drama from Jimmy McGovern… What’s not to like about the sound of that, eh?

Where? BBC One
When? tbc

The Tourist is a brand new crime show coming to BBC One in 2021

The Tourist

As per usual, writing double act Harry and Jack Williams have been busy bunnies. Not only have they got a new series of Baptiste and Angela Black due out in 2021, they’ve also written a new six-parter that’s a little different to their usual fare.

The Tourist revolves around a Brit abroad, a man who wakes up in hospital with amnesia and no clue who he is or why half of Australia is after him. Suffice to say, given that a mysterious truck driver’s just driven him off a road in an attempt to kill him, the fella’s not going to like what finds out…

Where? BBC One
When? tbc

Have we missed any new crime TV shows that you’re looking forward to? Don’t keep it to yourself, let us know what you’ve got lined up to watch on the box next year in the comments below…

3 Comments

    I just love all the British crime shows! I hate that in America we are not guaranteed to see them all!

    Thank you for the list very useful easy to miss series, programming is so dire

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