20+ Shows You Don’t Want To Miss

Picking up on Berlinale Series Market hits, such as “Lost Boys & Fairies,” and teasing some of the big main competition swings at Series Mania – “Apples Never Fall,” “Rematch,” “So Long, Marianne” – the 2024 London TV Screenings are a powerhouse showcase of some of the biggest TV highlights of 2024, plus the trends shaping TV markets.  

To help you cut through the slates, here’s Variety’s picks of 20 shows that will whet buyers’ appetites.

“Apples Never Fall” (NBCUniversal Global TV Distribution)

One highlight for NBCU, hosting the first London TV Screenings showcase on Monday Feb. 26 evening, is “The Day of the Jackal,” starring Eddie Redmayne, produced by “Top Boy” showrunner Ronan Bennett and directed by Brian Kirk (“Game of Thrones”). Highest profile, however – given its cast and now status as the biggest swing in Series Mania main competition –  may be Peacock limited series “Apples Never Fall,” with Annette Bening as the matriarch of a seemingly picture-perfect family, where a darker past begins to resurface. Melanie March serves as showrunner, adapting a novel from “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty. Universal Intl. Studios’ Heyday Television produces; Peacock airs from March 14. 


Apples Never Fall
“Apples Never Fall” (Credit: Jasin Boland/PEACOCK)

“The Boy That Never Was” (Abacus Media Rights)

In Dublin, Harry thinks he glimpses in a crowd a six-year-old boy who he’s convinced is his son Dillon, disappeared in an earthquake in Morocco three years before. His obsession tears apart his marriage, exposing shameful secrets. A four-hour drama series commissioned by RTÉ from Subotica adapting  the Sunday Times best-selling debut novel by Irish author Karen Perry. iT IS directed by Hannah Quinn (“Vikings: Valhalla”).and starS Colin Morgan (“Belfast”). “A deeply atmospheric and masterfully crafted tale of love and loss that will chill you to the bone,” says Abacus Media Rights, whose strongly-selling crime dramas also feature Showmax buzz title “Catch Me a Killer” and “Scrublands.”   

The Boy That Never Was
Credit: Subotica

“Bring the Drama,” (Warner Bros. International Television Production)

Tutored by a real BBC casting director, Kelly Valentine Hendry (“Bridgerton”) eight aspiring actors recreate memorable scenes from iconic dramas aiming to score an agent. “‘Bring The Drama’ stands out as one we all think is not only brilliantly entertaining, but has a message to tell. This quotation from The Times sums it up well: ‘Jordan said that when you are working class it’s hard to try being an actor because you can’t afford to be out of work for most of the year.’ Spot on. Soaps give people from ordinary backgrounds opportunity. This show is doing the same,” says Andrew Zein at WBITP Formats, which is also launching its first gay relationship format, “Boys Like Boys,” which Zein hopes will be the first mainstream global gay dating show.    

Bring the Drama

“Conflict,” (Keshet Intl.)

Announced just last week, and one to watch out for. A big budget military/political thriller from Finland’s Backmann & Hoderhoff and XYZ Films for MTV Finland, “Conflict” has an international cast led by Vikings’ Peter Franzén, shot Narcos style half in English, half in Finnish, which looks “frighteningly real” as co-creator Aku Louhimies puts it, taking in the human drama as an enemy force invades a picturesque Finland, capturing 10,000 hostages, in an attempt to incite global conflict. The U.S. President urges Finland’s newly elected (and young and female) President to take decisive action. But how? 

Elsewhere, Keshet Intl. has premium docu-series “Earthbound,” narrated and co-produced by Orlando Bloom, “about ordinary people who have become extraordinary change-makers by turning environmental challenges into opportunities,” explains KI, and romantic drama “The Best Worse Thing,” a love story between two cancer patients from Israel’s Spiro, behind “When Heroes Fly,” and “False Flag 3.”


“The Country Doctor,” (Red Arrow Studios International)

One of two high-volume titles from Red Arrow Studios International produced by Filmpool for Germany’s SAT.1/Joyn, as sales companies sense ever greater market opportunities for longer-format series not only on free-to-air but also streaming services. In “The Country Doctor,” comprised by 60 half-hour episodes, Dr Sarah König finding a fresh start for herself and teenage daughter in a picturesque Bavarian village. In a second title, “Coastal Police” (80 x 30’), detective superintendent Harry Stein makes waves in his small coastal town. Pyjama Pictures produces for again for SAT.1/Joyn.

The Country Doctor

The Country Doctor
Red Arrow Studios International

“A Cruel Love: The Ruth Ellis Story” (ITV Studios)

Either “After The Flood” or “Dead Hot,” both from Nicola Shindler’s ITV-backed Quay Street Productions, could feature as Variety Hot Picks, as could “Mr Bates vs The Post Office,” the biggest new drama in the U.K. since the BBC’s “Bodyguard” in 2018. Variety’s choice, however, is “A Cruel Love: The Ruth Ellis Story,” about the last woman to be hanged in the U.K., in 1955, “condemned to hang by a system which judged her for far more, than her crime,” says the logline.  A nightclub manageress and victim of domestic violence, Ellis is likely to receive more sympathy in “A Cruel Love.” The first-look photo of “Bohemian Rhapsody” star Lucy Boynton as Ellis was released last week.      

Ruth Ellls

A Cruel Love: The Ruth Ellis Story
Credit: ITV Studios

“Fake,” (Lionsgate)

Asher Keddie (“Nine Perfect Strangers”) plays a magazine features journalist who falls for a wealthy rancher (David Wenham, “Pieces of Her”), suppressing her instinct that things don’t add up. A tense and exhilarating story of deception – about the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves,” says Lionsgate, created by screenwriter Anya Beyersdorf with Emma Freeman (“The Newsreader”) for Paramount+ Australia. Buyers will no doubt be curious about the state of “Spartacus: House of Ashur,” announced one year ago by “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight.


Credit: Sarah Enticknap

“Fallaci,” (Paramount Television International Studios)

An origins story, of the journalistic vocation of Italy’s Oriana Fallaci, at her peak one of the most famous journalists in the world, interviews mercilessly world leaders or as a war correspondent, Here, in her later twenties, she hits Hollywood in the late 1950s,  eventually delivering “a ruthless and hilariously insightful portrait of U.S. society and the Hollywood star system,” Paramount anticipates. “Determined, intelligent, quick-tempered, proud, Italian (Florentine) to the core,” Fallaci, played by Miriam Leone (“1992”) is “a force of nature,” it adds.  Produced by Minerva Pictures with Paramount Television International Studios. A second highlight: Channel 5 thriller “Coma,” starring Jason Watkins (“The Catch”) as a good devoted family man who has one moment of madness, with which his life spirals out of control. 

Snowing in Hollywood

Francesco Marino/Paramount+

“Front Row,” (Banijay)

Banijay has one of the strongest scripted lineups at the Screenings such as second seasons of “Wolf Hall,” “Marie Antoinette” and “Rogue Heroes,” plus “This Town,” also from Steven Knight, but “Front Row” underscores its range, set to be highlighted in a three-part Bafta showcase of Factual, Scripted and Formats, ranging over much of Feb. 28. From Sarah Jessica Parker’s Pretty Matches Productions and Scenery,  a joint venture with Banijay Benelux, “Front Row” weighs in as a feature length premium documentary, which highlights the resilience of Ukrainian ballet dancers during wartime, where an unlikely friendship forms between a dancer and a front-line soldier. Directed by Miriam Guttmann, whose “Seeds of Deceit,” was selected  for Sundance in 2021.  

Front Row

Front Row
Credit: Scenery & Banijay Rights

“The Jetty,” (BBC Studios)

Fresh off last week’s new slate unveil, the two-day BBC Studios Showcase, running Monday and Tuesday in London TV Screening Week looks to live up to BBC Studios claim that this is the biggest single event in town. Highlights take in, in factual, seven-part “Asia,” for BBC One and iPlayer, framing its landscapes, wildlife and conservation efforts and billed by the BBC as a landmark series, plus ITVX cancel culture dramedy “Douglas is Cancelled” from Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat, with Hugh Bonneville and “Guardians of the Galaxy’s Karen Gillan. The most talked up show, however, may be crime thriller “The Jetty,” starring Jenna Coleman (“The Serpent”) as a rookie cop in Lancashire joining the dots between a holiday-home fire, a cold case and a sexual abuse crime. Cat Jones “Harlots” writes, Chile’s Marialy Rivas directs. Rivas has done some tremendously stylish films, such as “Young & Wild” and “Princesita.”It remains to be seen if that style shines through. 

The Jetty

The Jetty
Credit: Firebird Pictures

“Kaiser Karl,” (Disney+)

Produced by Gaumont and one of Disney+ highest-profile shows from Europe, plumbing the private tragedies and contradictions of Karl Lagerfeld – so discreet in his private life, but so needy of professional recognition and controversy, and his romantic tragedy and rivalry with Yves Saint Laurent to become France’s top couturier. Daniel Brühl(“Captain America,” “Inglorious Basterds”) plays the fashion icon, a top-notch French cast Théodore Pellerin, Arnaud Valois, Alex Lutz, Agnès Jaoui – co-stars. Also in Disney+’s line-up: “Renegade Nell,” penned by “Happy Valley’s” Sally Wainwright, about a woman framed for murder who becomes the most feared highwayman in 18th century Britain.   

Kaiser Karl

Kaiser Karl
Photo: Jerome

“Lost Boys & Fairies” (All3Media International)

Set in Cardiff, this tender – and possibly tear-jerking – drama shows a longtime gay couple, happy with their life and finally getting ready to adopt a child. Or so they think, as this big step will force at least one of them – seemingly fearless drag artist Gabriel (Sion Daniel Young, joined by Fra Fee as Andy) – to revisit painful memories that marked his childhood following his mother’s passing. The very same ones he already tried his best to forget. Produced by Duck Soup Films for BBC One (in association with All3Media International) and spotlighted at Berlinale Series Market earlier this month, it’s created by Daf James, taking on all the biggest themes in his first script: love, redemption and parenting. The joy of queer culture permeates the show that somehow finds humor in heartbreak and proves that Modern Family was missing one thing after all: Songs.  

Lost Boys Fairies

Lost Boys & Fairies
Credit: Simon Ridgway

“Master Sapiens: The Men Behind the Artists,” (Newen Connect)

A Planete+, C8 and Pernel Media premium doc feature over-turning multiple stereotypes about humankind’s ancestors 21,000 years ago when the Lascaux Caves painting were made. For example, Cro-Magnons were dark skinned and lived in huts, not caves, and had a virtuosity in cave painting which could not be reproduced today, one expert says. Dazzling in its visuals using 3D techniques to immerse viewers in the caves, an intellectual and artistic treat. Written by Nathalie Laville, directed by Laville and Jacques Plaisant. Newen Connect will present a strong non-English-language scripted lineup at its showcase on Tuesday. 

Master Sapiens: The Men Behind the Artists

“Maxima,” (Beta Film)

One of Europe’s most active production-distribution super indies, unleashing multiple Berlinale Series Market and Series Mania announcements out of the Berlin Festival, Beta Film will unveil sneak peek details of “Rise of the Raven,” produced by Robert Lantos (“Sunshine,” “The Sweet Hereafter”) and announced as one of the most epic European productions ever. Beta will also be making a big push on sumptuous Dutch royal family drama “Maxima,” from Millstreet Films, the story of Maxima, Queen of the Netherlands, from her childhood in Argentina to her life in New York and later her love story, not without its problems, with Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. 

“Nightsleeper,” (Fremantle)

Echoing Alfred Hitchcock, it’s all about “Strangers on a Train” once again – except this time, the train is much faster and they are stuck on it, awaiting instructions from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Abby (Alexandra Roach) is doing her best to bring them back home, as a massive cyberattack threatens to paralyze London. Luckily, ex-cop Joe (“Peaky Blinders” star Joe Cole) is also around. Or maybe it’s not luck at all? Produced by Euston Films and set to premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, this thriller promises many twists and turns, going off the rails in the most unexpected moments. “When we were developing the show, we got all these experts in one room and asked: ‘How do you hack a train?’ An hour later, they said: ‘We could easily do it now, between ourselves’,” writer Nick Leather told Variety in November. “We will do for trains what ‘Jaws’ did for sharks.”

Courtesy of Fremantle

“Paris 2024: A New Revolution” (Off the Fence)

Framed as a wake-up call in the build-up to the 2024 Summer Paralympics, this doc feature, produced by Harder ThanYou Think and Ventureland, features blind filmmaker Sheridan O’Donnell as he embarks on a global quest to empower and unite the voices of the disabled community, the synopsis runs. “With unprecedented access to the Paralympics, the team at Harder Than You Think are building on the success of Netflix’s ‘Rising Phoenix’ and creating groundbreaking content that is sparking conversations around disability and inclusion that reach far beyond the sporting arena,” says Off the Fence’s Dylan Casella.  

Paris 2024: A New Revolution

Paris 2024: A New Revolution

“Paris Has Fallen” (Studiocanal)

Studiocanal’s biggest production of 2024, and one of the big swings at the whole Screenings, Urban Myth Films’ reprise of Gerald Butler’s “Has Fallen” action thriller franchise but in an eight-hour series. In it, French protection officer Vincent Taleb finds himself working with street-smart MI6 operative Zara Taylor battling to protect the French Minister of Defence from a terrorist group led by the heinous Jacob Pearce. “War of the Worlds” creator-writer Howard Overman writes; “No Man’s Land’s’” Oded Ruskin lead directs. Urban Myth Films, Studiocanal, Millennium & Butler’s G-Base produce the Canal+ Creation Originale as action thrillers, the driver of movie sales, now consolidate as a major small-screen play. Also on Studiocanal’s slate – and underscoring its TV breadth, Thomas Vinterberg’s “Families Like Oura,” an epic family drama, Denmark-based Zentropa’s biggest series to date, from Oscar winner “Another Round” producers Sisse Graum Jørgensen and Kasper Dissing.

Paris Has Fallen

Paris Has Fallen
Credit: Simon Ridgway, 2023

“Red Eye,” (Sony Pictures Television)

Described as an action-packed thriller, starring Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”) and Jing Lusi (“Crazy Rich Americans”) in the role of police officer Hana Li who escorts Dr. Matthew Nolan (Armitage) when he is renditioned to China from the U.K. When inexplicable deaths occur onboard the red eye flight raise, Li forms an unlikely alliance with Head of MI5 Madeleine Delaney and journalist Jess Li, her sister to uncover a wider global conspiracy. Produced for ITVX by SPT co-owned Bad Wolf (“His Dark Materials,” “Doctor Who”) which is also behind a second major SPT title at the London TV Screenings: “Dope Girls,” billed as an epic crime drama.  

Red Eye

Red Eye

“Samber,” (Federation Studios)

How is scripted trending? Virginie Mouseler asked at The Wit’s Fresh TV Fiction Mipcom showcase.  Fictionalized true crime series were up 39%, Sept. 2022 – Aug. 2023, compared to a year earlier. When it comes to just out or soon-to-release true crime, the public enemy No. 1 may be serial killers and rapists but the police and other authorities did too little to crack down on crime, she said, showing a clip from miniseries thriller “Samber.” Here, late ’80s Northern France, women are being sexually assaulted along the same road by the Samber River. It takes more than 30 years to catch a man. Also on Federation Studios’ slate, the English-language fiction “Rematch,” inspired by Gary Kasparov’s second match with Deep Blue, which has scored a coveted Series Mania main competition berth. Oscar nominated Yan England (“Henry”) directs. 


© What’s Up Films

“So Long, Marianne,” (Cineflix Rights)

About to descend on SeriesMania in March, where it will bow in the main competition, this take on Leonard Cohen’s romance with Marianne Ihlen is bound to provoke discussions – after all, Nick Broomfield already explored their complicated relationship in 2019 doc “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love.” Now, “Hereditary” and “Oppenheimer” actor Alex Wolff will star as the celebrated Canadian singer, with Thea Sofie Loch Næss taking on Norway’s Ihlen, who inspired many of his famous tunes – including the one already referenced in the title. Anna Torv and Noah Taylor are featured as well in this love story, set in the 1960s – the real-life couple met on Greek island Hydra, where an artistic community was flourishing at that time – and co-produced by Norway’s NRK and Canada’s Crave Norway. Øystein Karlsen showruns.

“Thou Shalt Not Steal,” (DCD Rights)

It’s time to hit the road in this sun-drenched drama, set in Central and South Australia all the way back in the 1980s. Desperate to find the truth behind a family secret, young Aboriginal delinquent Robyn finally escapes from detention and ends up teaming up with awkward teenager Gidge. The unlikely duo – forced together by circumstances, not by choice – leaves Gidge’s small desert community behind and sets out on a dangerous yet life-changing journey across the outback, followed by a sex worker, whose taxi Robyn just stole, and Gidge’s overbearing father Robert. Noah Taylor (recently spotted in “A Small Light” and “Foundation”), Miranda Otto, Sherry-Lee Watson and Will McDonald (both seen in “Heartbreak High”) star. A Ludo Studio/Since1788 Production for Stan, with production funding from Screen Australia and in association with South Australian Film Corporation & Screen Territory.

Thou Shalt Not Steal



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