DQ100 2023/24 – Part one

DQ100 2023/24 – Part one

April 5, 2023


In the first part of the DQ100 2023/24, DQ picks out a range of shows to tune in for and the actors, directors and writers making them, as well as some of the trends and trailblazers worth catching up with.


Siobhan Cullen
Television and theatre actor Cullen (The Dry, Origin) takes the lead in Irish drama Obituary, commissioned by US streamer Hulu and Ireland’s RTÉ. She plays Elvira Clancy, a 24-year-old who feels unfulfilled despite loving her job as an obituaries writer. When she ‘accidentally’ kills a town villain, she discovers an untapped bloodlust and begins using increasingly crafty methods to kill off the town’s unpleasant residents while making them look like accidents – until she falls for the paper’s suspicious new crime correspondent, who has a penchant for conspiracy theories.

Varun Dhawan
Dhawan will star in the Indian instalment of spy drama Citadel, a global event series with interconnected stories set in the wake of the destruction of the titular espionage agency, from the Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame) and Prime Video. It joins the US version starring Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Stanley Tucci, which launches on April 28, while an Italian series starring Matilda De Angelis and other local-language Citadel productions are also in the works. A huge star in India, Dhawan is known for award-winning turns in Hindi-language movies such as Dishoom and Badlapur.

Michela de Rossi
Italian actor de Rossi recently rubbed shoulders with Sopranos in feature-length prequel The Many Saints of Newark and has also had parts in series such as I Topi (The Rats), Django and upcoming Netflix series Briganti. She will now star in SBS Australia’s eight-part series While the Men are Away, which is described as a revisionist Second World War dramedy set in 1940s rural Australia. De Rossi plays Francesca, an Italian immigrant struggling to run her husband’s farm after he enlists – or does he?

Colin Morgan
The Northern Irish actor is best known for playing the title character in long-running BBC fantasy drama Merlin. He has also appeared in recent series such as Mammals, We Hunt Together, Three Families, Humans and The Fall. Morgan now returns to a leading role in Paramount+ drama The Killing Kind, in which he plays John Webster, a man previously accused of harassment and stalking who reappears in the life of his barrister (Emma Appleton) and threatens to unravel it.

Iwan Rheon
Having made his name as the wicked and cruel Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones, Welsh actor Rheon recently appeared in 2022’s well-received Welsh drama The Light in the Hall. This year he will star in two BBC projects. The first is Wolf, a crime drama based on the novels by Mo Hayder about a detective drawn into a terrifying game with a psychopath. He will also head the ensemble cast of Men Up, a feature-length drama based on the world’s first medical trials for the drug that became Viagra, held in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994. Rheon plays Meurig Jenkins, one of a group of men all suffering from impotency and given the chance to take part in a trial for an unknown drug that may hold the key to reigniting their spark.


Ginesta Guindal
Spanish director Guindal has shot episodes of breakout Netflix hit Élite, while also partnering with creator Leticia Dolera on HBO Max’s Vida Perfecta (Perfect Life). She is now linking up with Élite star Ester Expósito for La Isla Bonita, an irreverent dramedy set in Ibiza that aims to tackle challenges facing young people today, namely inequality, mental health and the environment. The story focuses on a group of friends from different walks of life who share a house on the Balearic island and must find new ways to fund their lifestyle.

Joakim Eliasson
Eliasson is on board to direct Åremorden (The Åre Murders), a Swedish series based on the crime novels by Viveca Sten. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful but bleak mountains of northern Sweden, the story concerns Stockholm police officer Hanna Ahlander, who takes refuge from personal and professional problems in the scenic village of Åre. But when a young woman disappears, Hanna is rapidly drawn into the investigation. Eliasson’s previous credits include thriller Heder (Honour) and crime drama Gåsmamman.

Sophie Deraspe
Deraspe’s 2018 film Antigone was chosen to represent Canada at the following year’s Academy Awards, before she helmed six-part series Bête Noire, which explores the impact of a mass shooting at a school. She also directed Motel Paradis, a series about a woman out to solve the mystery behind her sister’s disappearance. Her next television project is Les Affluents, a multilingual eco-thriller about a lawyer who, investigating her neighbour’s murder, uncovers a series of controversial mining practices.

Meenu Gaur
British-Indian filmmaker Gaur’s first feature as a writer-director, Zinda Bhaag, was selected as Pakistan’s entry for the Best Foreign Language film at the 2014 Academy Awards. She then went on to direct films including Jeewan Hathi, Pakistani crime miniseries Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam and an episode of the upcoming second season of British drama World on Fire. She will now shoot both episodes of the BBC’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation, two-parter Murder is Easy. Written by Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre, the 1950s-set story begins on a train to London where Luke Fitzwilliam meets Miss Pinkerton, who tells him that a killer is on the loose in the sleepy English village of Wychwood under Ashe. The villagers believe the deaths are mere accidents, but Miss Pinkerton knows otherwise – and when she’s later found dead on her way to Scotland Yard, Luke feels he must find the killer before they can strike again.

Azhur Saleem
A London Film School graduate who worked on 2021’s Doctor Who Flux, Saleem’s work will soon be seen in Prime Video’s Anansi Boys and ITV drama After the Flood. Based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby) who discovers his father was Anansi, trickster god of stories (Delroy Lindo), and that he has a brother, Spider (also Kirby), who is determined to make Charlie’s life more interesting and a lot more dangerous. Meanwhile, After the Flood is a mystery thriller set in a town hit by a devastating flood. When an unidentified man is found dead in a lift in an underground car park, police assume he became trapped as the waters rose. But as the investigation unfolds, PC Joanna Marshall (Sophie Rundle) becomes obsessed with discovering what really happened to him.


Jesper Harrie
To Cook a Bear, scripted by Harrie, is Disney+’s first Nordic original series. The six-part drama is based on the 19th century crime novel of the same name by Mikael Niemi, which focuses on a pastor and a runaway Sami boy who develop a relationship while investigating an unexpected murder mystery. Harrie is best known for his work on series including Fartblinda (Blinded), Bonusfamiljen (Bonus Family) and Solsidan.

Douglas Stuart
Stuart won the 2020 Booker Prize for his novel Shuggie Bain, the story of a mother-and-son relationship in 1980s Glasgow. He is now adapting it for the screen after the BBC commissioned his first television series. With themes of pride, sexuality, addiction and love, it follows Shuggie’s battle to care for his alcoholic mother while struggling to fit in and become the normal boy he desperately longs to be.

Felicity Packard
Packard made her name writing a host of Australian series such as Underbelly, Anzac Girls, Wolf Creek, Janet King and Pine Gap. For her latest project, Packard is lead writer on Scrublands, a Stan and Nine Network commission based on the novel by Chris Hammer. The story opens in an isolated country town, where a charismatic and dedicated young priest (Jay Ryan) calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners. One year later, investigative journalist Martin Scarsden (Luke Arnold) arrives in Riversend to write what should be a simple feature story on the anniversary of the tragedy. But when Martin’s instincts kick in and he digs beneath the surface, the previously accepted narrative begins to fall apart and he finds himself in a life-and-death race to uncover the truth.

Kwame Kwei-Armah
Playwright and Young Vic artistic director Kwei-Armah (Elmina’s Kitchen, Breaking) is behind Fash, an ITV series described as an unflinching, vital and deeply thought-provoking factual drama about the complex and conflicted relationship between two brothers and the institutional prejudices that tore them apart. The story focuses on Justin Fashanu, who became the first black British footballer to be sold for £1m and the first professional footballer to come out as gay. He later committed suicide at a time when he was completely estranged from his younger brother, fellow pro footballer John Fashanu.

Jakob Rørvik
A Norwegian dating series with a twist, Dates in Real Life marks the first television drama from filmmaker Rørvik (Thomas vs Thomas, Nothing Ever Really Ends). He writes and directs the six-part dramedy about the romantic adventures of Ida, a young Gen Z who has spent most of her social life in a virtual reality world. But when her online boyfriend declares he has a ‘real’ girlfriend, she becomes determined to find her own ‘physical’ partner in a world she has little experience in.


Inspector Singh
Unforgotten and The Kumars at No 42 star Sanjeev Bhaskar (pictured in Unforgotten) will take the lead in this detective drama commissioned by BritBox International. Based on the novels by Shamini Flint, the series introduces the iconoclastic, rule-breaking, unorthodox and incomparable Singh – Singapore’s top sleuth – as he is sent to Kuala Lumpur to investigate the seemingly cut-and-dried case against a famous Singaporean model on death row for murder. Each season promises to tackle a complex murder rooted in the DNA of a different Asian country.

This ITV drama stars another actor who shot to fame thanks to Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner (pictured), who plays notorious real-life jewel thief Joan Hannington. Set in the 1980s, the six-parter will trace Hannington’s rise from petty offender to highly talented diamond thief and criminal mastermind. Making full use of her sharp intelligence, charm and her talent for impersonation and performance, Hannington experiences ups and downs, heartache and joy as she strives to escape a violent marriage and create a better life for herself and her daughter. Hannington herself has spoken with writer Anna Symon to inform the drama.

Set in real time, this six-part BBC series written by Nick Leather (pictured) unfolds on a sleeper train travelling from Glasgow to London, while a government agency desperately tries to intervene in the rapidly escalating events onboard. Can two people who’ve never met, one on the train and one not, work together to save its passengers as the Heart of Britain service hurtles towards what might be its final destination?

A psychological thriller set in the crossfire of the 1997 battle between world chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue, the six-part series is described as a high-pressure confrontation between man and machine. Based on a true story, the Arte France drama is directed by Yan England (True North) and boasts a cast that includes Christian Cooke (The Promise), Sarah Bolger (The Tudors), Trine Dyrholm (The Legacy), Aidan Quinn (Elementary), Tom Austen (The Royals), Luke Pasqualino (Skins) and Orion Lee (First Cow). Federation Studios is distributing.

Blue Cage
The first series coproduced under an agreement between US-based, Spanish-language producer Telemundo Global Studios and Turkey’s Inter Medya, this suspense drama follows Oğuz, who has lost his wife and resettled with his children in a coastal town where fate has him save a young woman by the name of Defne and bring her into his home. However, when she recovers her lost memory, Defne realises she was a con artist who must now remain in hiding. How long can Defne keep her secret safe, and what will Oğuz do when he finds out? The cast is led by Damla Sönmez and Caner Cindoruk.


Racquet sports
Anyone for tennis? Off the back of Netflix’s move into the sport with Break Point via its sports documentary strategy, two scripted efforts featuring balls and racquets will shortly be making their way to the screen. Prime Video’s Fifteen-Love (pictured) comes from writer Hania Elkington (The Innocents) and follows Justine Pearce (Ella Lily Hyland), a dynamic tennis prodigy who once had an intense rapport with her maverick coach Glenn Lapthorn (Aidan Turner). But five years after a devastating injury ended her professional career, she makes an explosive allegation against her former coach.
Meanwhile, Spanish-language series Las Pelotaris 1926 is inspired by the story of the first professional female athletes, looking at the challenges they had to face in a world dominated by men at the beginning of the last century. Chelo, Idoia and Itzi are famous Basque pelota players, successful athletes who draw huge crowds and pack fronton courts, but who feel the consequences of breaking moulds in a world where ambition and sexual freedom are denied to women.

Emma Moran
British television is home to an exciting group of unique voices, from Michaela Coel (This May Destroy You), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and Laurie Nunn (Sex Education) to Joe Barton (The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself), Abby Ajayi (Riches), Lucy Prebble (I Hate Suzie) and Ryan J Brown (Wreck). Now, Emma Moran can be added to that list. The Northern Irish writer is currently working on the second season of Disney+’ comedy Extraordinary, after the first season this year introduced her distinctive sense of humour and a new take on the superhero in this series about a woman trying to find her own superpower in a world where everybody has one.

Eco thrillers
As the world sweats about the effects of climate change, both now and in the future, television is dipping its toes into stories in which the environment turns against us. Renewed for a second season, Prime Video’s The Rig (pictured) follows the crew of an oil rig as they fight for survival after a strange fog cuts off all communication with the shore and leaves them stranded in the fierce waves of the North Sea.
International drama The Swarm is based on Frank Schätzing’s novel that depicts how humanity is forced to battle an unknown enemy – a collective consciousness that originates in the depths of the ocean – when it strikes back against man’s ruthless treatment of the world’s underwater habitats.
Mystery series Schnee (Snow), meanwhile, imagines what happens when nature attempts to heal the wounds of the past, as the secrets of a small mountain village are revealed when a melting glacier unveils a corpse.

The Last of Us
Video game adaptations have had a rocky history on the big and small screens, whether it’s Halo, Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil or Super Mario Bros. HBO drama The Last of Us (also pictured top) could lay claim to being the best yet, taking the hugely successful post-apocalyptic premise and successfully transferring it to television with a blend of action, nail-biting tension and deeply emotional scenes that put character front and centre. Set in 2023, 20 years into a pandemic that transforms people into hosts for fungal parasites and leads to the collapse of society, it follows hardened survivor Joel (Pedro Pascal), who is tasked with escorting teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the US.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, news reports and documentaries regularly record the plight of local people, whether they have tried to maintain their lives in the towns and cities of Ukraine against the backdrop of bombings or fled to neighbouring countries – or further afield. Now, a six-part anthology series backed by broadcasters in Sweden, Norway and Finland is set to dramatise the true stories of those who stayed in Kyiv.
Produced by Ukraine’s Film.UA and distributed by Germany’s Red Arrow Studios International, Those Who Stayed (pictured) will bring together established and emerging talent from across the country, with each episode written and directed by a different creator. Stories include an unhoused man who joins the Territorial Defences, where he finally feels seen; the unlikely hero ready to quit his job at a zoo, who ends up saving the animals; and a woman from Bucha forced to shelter in a tiny studio with her kids, a dog, her husband – and her ex.

tagged in: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,