As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, many of us will be preparing to spend cosy evenings in, and looking for new forms of entertainment.

The good news is that autumn is usually when we see the return of some of our favourite hard-hitting TV drama series – as well as the release of many new ones.

So, to save you from flicking through the various channels and streaming platforms looking for something to watch, we’ve pulled together a list of 14 must-see TV drama series for autumn 2022.

From the brand new BBC Two show Crossfire to the return of season five of the popular Netflix drama, The Crown, hopefully there’s something for everyone.

1. Karen Pirie (ITV)

Karen Pirie is a three-part drama series based on the popular novel series by author Val McDermid. Played by Lauren Lyle, Karen is a young Scottish detective who’s assigned to reopen the unsolved murder case of teenager Rosie Duff, after it becomes the subject of a popular true-crime podcast.

Working in a male-dominated environment, DS Pirie must resurface the evidence from the case and discover whether the original three male suspects know more than they’re letting on.

Brought to us by the same producers of Line of Duty and The Bodyguard, you can expect brilliant acting and filming, and an engrossing storyline. 

The series officially ended on 3rd October and viewers are already calling for a second season!

First aired: 25th September 2022. Available on ITV Hub.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Amazon Prime)

Costing a whopping $715 million, Rings of Power is thought to have become the most expensive TV show ever made. It’s an epic fantasy series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings – but it isn’t a direct adaptation of any specific work of fiction.

Instead, it draws on several of his novels – including The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The History of Middle Earth, and Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales – and is set during the Second Age of Middle-Earth, thousands of years before the Fellowship and the rings of power were created.

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is the central protagonist of the show, among a mixed cast of new and familiar characters. 

Episode one begins with the aftermath of Morgoth’s destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor. Led by Galadriel, the elves set sail to Middle Earth to defeat Morgoth’s orcs and restore peace.

Available on Amazon Prime.

3. The Pact, Series Two (BBC)

In the first BBC series of The Pact, five friends work in a brewery and become bound by the unexplained death of their abusive boss, Jack – plunging them into a fragile pact of silence. A web of lies ensues and viewers are left gripped as the question remains: who dunnit?

Now, the explosive return of a second series will introduce us to new characters… 

Social worker Christine (Rakie Ayola) and her three children are trying to rebuild their lives after the recent tragic loss of their son and brother Liam.

With daughter Megan due to be married, the family are focused on the upcoming wedding – until they’re confronted by a stranger named Connor (Jordan Wilks) and their loyalties are tested.

Release date: 24th October 2022. Coming to BBC iPlayer.

4. Riches (ITVX and Prime Video)

The Richards family are brash, wealthy, and super-successful. Stephen Richards is the head of a cosmetics empire, Fair & Glory – and one of the UK’s most successful businessmen.

For Stephen, his glamorous second-wife Claudia (Sarah Niles), and adult children Alesha (Adeyinka Akinrinade), Gus (Ola Orebiyi), and Wanda (Nneka Okoye), there’s never a dull moment as they enjoy spending their hard-earned cash.

But one day, Stephen has a stroke and passes away suddenly, bringing the family’s world crashing down around them. 

When Stephen’s two estranged children from his first marriage arrive on the scene, secrets and lies begin to rise to the surface, and his multi-million-pound company hangs in the balance.

Release date: Autumn TBC. Coming to ITVX and Prime Video.

5. The Suspect (ITV)

Poldark star, Aidan Turner, plays clinical psychologist, Joseph O’Loughlin, in the nail-biting TV thriller, The Suspect.

Joseph appears to have it all; a devoted wife and daughter, a beautiful house, and an impeccable career. But when the police call him in to help investigate whether a young woman, Catherine (Tara Lee), was murdered or died by suicide, he ends up becoming the prime suspect. Is Joe responsible for Catherine’s death? Or is the real killer closer than he thinks?

This deeply engaging five-part series is a must-see if you enjoy psychological thrillers.

First aired: 29th August 2022. Available to watch on ITV Hub.

6. The Crown, Season Five (Netflix)

Everyone’s favourite royal drama series, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II, is back for a fifth season. 

At the end of season four, the Royal Family were celebrating Christmas in 1990 – but things were fraught with tension. Charles was still in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles and Diana was becoming increasingly isolated as the pair became desperate to divorce.

Season five will reportedly cover the period between the early to mid-1990s and the early 2000s, during which there were three royal divorces (Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson; Princess Anne and Mark Philips; and Princess Diana and Prince Charles). Though, of course, the biggest and most tragic event was Diana’s fatal car crash in 1997.

The entire cast of The Crown will be replaced for seasons five and six to reflect the ageing characters. Among the new cast are Imelda Staunton (Queen Elizabeth II), Lesley Manville (Princess Margaret), Jonathan Pryce (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), and Dominic West (Prince Charles).

Release date: 9th November 2022. Coming to Netflix.

7. Ridley (ITV)

After 25 years in the police force, DI Ridley was nudged out of his role as he struggled to come to terms with the unbearable loss of his wife and daughter in a house fire. 

However, 18 months later, Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar is back, after he’s lured in to work on a complex case.

Ridley works alongside his former protegee, DI Carol Farman (Bronagh Waugh) to unravel a challenging murder case, which begins with the death of a sheep farmer. But, it’s not long before things take a dark and unexpected turn…

Series one is four episodes long, and though each two-hour episode explores a different crime, Ridley’s grief is a key theme throughout.

First aired: 28th August 2022. Available to watch on ITV Hub.

8. The English (BBC Two and Amazon Prime)

This November, BBC and Amazon Studios will bring brand new Western, The English, to our screens. 

Emily Blunt stars as Cornelia Locke; an aristocratic English woman who sets off on a dangerous mission to 1890s Wyoming, looking for revenge on the man who she believes murdered her son.

Accompanying her as a guide is Pawnee scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), who also has his own agenda. Along the way, they face terrifying obstacles that reach far beyond their physical and psychological limits.

Once in Wyoming, Cornelia and Eli learn about a series of gruesome, unsolved murders; revealing the full extent of their shared history and bringing into focus the reality of the futures they must live.

Release date: 10 November 2022. Coming to BBC Two and Prime Video.

9. Crossfire (BBC)

If you’re looking for TV drama that’s moving, intimate, and relatable while keeping you on the edge of your seat, you might want to check out Crossfire.

Keely Hawes (Jo) is on holiday with her husband and children in the Canary Islands when gunmen open fire in a terrifying attack on their resort. Heaven turns to hell, as the family fights for their lives in an unimaginable tale of survival and resilience.

It’s difficult not to be glued to the screen as hearts are broken, secrets are revealed, and split-second decisions are made about life and death.

First aired: 20th September 2022. Available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

10. Funny Woman (Sky Max)

Funny Woman tells the story of Barbara Parker (Gemma Arterton) who works in a rock factory in 1960s Blackpool, and dreams of becoming a superstar in the world of comedy.

Set in a time when comedy roles were near enough off-limits for women, Barbara’s journey to finding her comic voice is amusing, emotional, and raw. She uses her Northern wit and fights against sexist attitudes to eventually land herself a role in a TV sitcom.

Funny Woman is a reminder that you should never give up on your dreams, regardless of the obstacles you may have to overcome to get there.

Release date: October TBC. Coming to Sky Max.

11. The Capture, Series Two (BBC)

The Capture is a British, mystery thriller which taps into anxieties about digital intelligence and surveillance culture.

In the first series, a British solder (Callum Turner) is charged with kidnapping and murdering barrister Hannah Roberts – which he denies – after CCTV evidence pins him to the crime. As DI Rachel Carey investigates, the young soldier attempts to clear his name.

Season two of this riveting series catapulted back onto our screens at the end of August and saw DI Carey become further embroiled in the bewildering world of deep fake technology. This time, computer scientist, Eddison Yao has been murdered – but the identity of his assailant is deleted from live CCTV feeds.

Tense, multi-layered, and chilling, The Capture, will leave you questioning everything you believe is true.

First aired: 28th August 2022. Available on BBC iPlayer.

12. Somewhere Boy (Channel 4)

When Danny (Lewis Gribben) was a baby, his mother was killed in a car crash and his father (Rory Keenan), overcome with grief, locked him away in a remote house. 

But one day, after discovering it’s all a lie, 18-year-old Danny is forced to take his first nervous steps outside and start finding his place in a world he never knew existed.

Intriguing and powerful, Somewhere Boy takes inspiration from true events and has been described as a ‘rich and strange fairytale for our times’.

You can check out the exclusive clip below for a sneak peek of what’s to come…

Release date: 16th October 2022. Coming to Channel 4.

13. Inside Man (BBC)

A local vicar, a maths teacher, a journalist, and a prisoner awaiting death row thousands of miles away in the US…

David Tennant, Stanley Tucci, Dolly Wells, and Lydia West star in Inside Man; a disturbing yet witty story in which the lives of four different people cross in an unexpected way, leading one of them to commit murder.

Captivating from the offset, this uncompromising drama promises plenty of incredible acting and awkward, uneasy moments, as it explores the idea that anyone can be a murderer when they come up against an impossible situation.

First aired: 26th September 2022. Available on BBC iPlayer.

14. The Rig (Amazon Prime)

Martin Compston stars in this action-packed horror-thriller series, set on the Kinlock Bravo oil rig off the Scottish Coast. 

The waters here are dangerous enough – yet things become a whole lot worse when a mysterious fog rolls in as Compston and his crew are set to return to the mainland. Then, when tremors hit the rig, the crew loses communication with the outside world. 

As they try to work out what’s driving this unknown force, imaginations run wild, patience wears thin, and trust begins to crumble.

Release date: Autumn TBC. Coming to Amazon Prime.

While there isn’t yet a trailer for The Rig, you might want to have a watch of this behind-the-scenes video where Martin Compston and co-star Emily Hampshire chat about the show.

Final thoughts…

We hope that at least some of these unmissable TV drama series have piqued your interest. Often, when it’s dark and chilly outside, there’s nothing better than snuggling up with an immersive TV show, film, or book.

If you enjoy reading, you might also want to check out our autumn booklist

Or for film ideas, why not check out our articles; 18 movies everyone should see and 15 of the best feel-good films to curl up with?