DQ100 2023/24 – Part two

DQ100 2023/24 – Part two

July 6, 2023


In the second 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.


Arthur Hughes
When Barbara Met Alan and Help star Hughes is saddling up for Shardlake, a Disney+ adaptation of CJ Sansom’s Tudor mystery novels. He plays Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer with an acute sense of justice and one of the few honest men in a world beset with scheming and plots. Despite Shardlake’s unwavering loyalty to his boss Thomas Cromwell and the Crown, his position in 16th century English society is unfavoured due to his appearance – as a person living with scoliosis during the Tudor period, he suffers the indignity of being abused as a ‘crookback’ wherever he turns. The series, based on the first novel in Sansom’s series, sees Shardlake called to investigate the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery in the remote town of Scarnsea. Hughes, who became the first disabled actor at the Royal Shakespeare Company to play Richard III, has also starred in The Innocents.

Wunmi Mosaku
ITV and BritBox’s darkly comic thriller Passenger found its leading actor in Mosaku, who is best known for roles in Loki, Damilola: Our Loved Boy, Lovecraft Country, We Own This City, Guerrilla, Temple and Luther. In Passenger, she plays former Metropolitan Police detective Riya Ajunwa, who starts to investigate a series of strange happenings and increasingly horrific crimes unfolding in the small village where she lives. As she attempts to convince the short-sighted residents that all is not as it seems, Riya is drawn into a universe unlike anything she has ever seen.

Dina Shihabi
Following roles in Daredevil, Altered Carbon, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Archive 81, Saudi Arabian actor Shihabi heads an international cast in Showtime series Ghosts of Beirut, a four-part miniseries based on the real-life manhunt for Imad Mughniyeh, the elusive Lebanese terrorist who outwitted his adversaries in the CIA and Mossad for more than two decades. Shihabi plays Lena in the series, which uses US, Israeli and Lebanese perspectives to trace Mughniyeh’s origins from the Shiite slums of South Beirut to his masterminding of the concept of suicide bombers, a deadly tactic that led to his swift rise as the world’s most dangerous terrorist.

Richard Rankin
Nordic streamer Viaplay picked Rankin to lead its first UK drama commission – a reimagining of Rebus, based on the iconic character from the novels written by Sir Ian Rankin (no relation). The new story is set in contemporary Scotland and stars Rankin as police detective John Rebus, who finds himself at a psychological crossroads in his late 30s. At odds with a job increasingly driven by corporate technocrats, involved in a toxic affair he knows he needs to end, and all but supplanted in his daughter’s life by his ex-wife’s wealthy new husband, Rebus begins to wonder if he still has a role to play – either as a family man or a police officer. In a world of divisive politics and national discord, does the law still have meaning, or is everyone reverting to an older set of rules? And if so, why shouldn’t Rebus do so too? Scottish actor Rankin has previously had a starring role in Outlander alongside appearances in Trust Me, The Last Kingdom, The Replacement and Thirteen.

Rose Ayling-Ellis
Ayling-Ellis has more than 100 episodes of BBC soap EastEnders to her name, as well as a role in Stephen Poliakoff’s Summer of Rockets, but she became a household name in 2021 when she became the first deaf contestant to win Strictly Come Dancing. She will now star in ITV crime drama Code of Silence, written by Catherine Moulton and produced by Mammoth Screen. Ayling-Ellis plays a deaf catering worker who is called on to lip-read the conversations of dangerous criminals, plunging her into a police investigation that threatens to spill over into her private life when she becomes drawn to one of the main suspects.


Joelle Mae David
The founder of Bluebird Pictures, David began in documentaries before moving to narrative storytelling, writing and directing stories that subvert negative stereotypes of marginalised groups in society across a range of genres. She has worked on series such as The Split, Harlots and The Innocents, and also shot episodes of web series Dreaming Whilst Black. She is now lead director on Queenie, Channel 4’s upcoming adaptation of Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel about a 25-year-old Jamaican-British woman living in South London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. After a messy break-up with her long-term boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places, and begins to realise she has to face the past head-on before she can rebuild.

Alon Zingman
Zingman has been attached to two of Israel’s biggest series of the past decade in crime drama Manayek and family drama Shtisel. His latest project sees him direct highly anticipated series Red Skies, which was renewed for a second season before the first aired in mid-June. Based on the novel by a former Israeli intelligence officer, Red Skies goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of two friends who are forced to choose sides in a story about friendship, love and conflicting loyalties. Notably, the Reshet 13 series has been declared the biggest drama ever produced by an Israeli network.

Goran Kapetanović
Bosnian-Swedish director Kapetanović’s recent television credits include Swedish thriller Caliphate, crime thriller Darkness: Those Who Kill and true crime series Knutby. He is now partnering with writers Alex Haridi and Lotta Eriksson for Stenbeck, a biographical drama about controversial businessman Jan Stenbeck, produced by FLX for broadcaster SVT and expected to air in 2025. The five-part series will follow Stenbeck as he reluctantly takes over the family business and turns it into a pioneering media empire that changes Sweden and the world – but Stenbeck also makes enemies and pays a high price for his success.

Glendyn Ivin
Australian director Ivin is one of the country’s leading filmmakers, having recently helmed series such as The Cry and Safe Harbour. He now directs all seven episodes of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, a Prime Video drama based on Holly Ringland’s debut novel of the same name. The show focuses on the titular Alice, whose violent childhood casts a dark shadow over her adult life. After a family tragedy in which she loses both her abusive father and beloved mother in a mysterious fire, nine-year-old Alice is taken to live with her grandmother June on a flower farm, where she learns that there are secrets within secrets about her and her family’s past.

Michael Sheen
On screen, Welsh star Sheen will be seen this year in the second season of fantasy drama Good Omens, plus recently released BBC miniseries Best Interests, in which he and Sharon Horgan play the parents of two girls, one of whom has a life-threatening condition and whom doctors believe should be allowed to die, leading to a huge legal process to determine what should happen next. But behind the camera, Sheen is making his TV directorial debut with three-part The Way, which tells the story of an ordinary family caught up in an extraordinary chain of events that ripple out from their hometown. After civil unrest, the Driscolls are forced to escape the country they’ve always called home and leave their lives behind – but will they be overwhelmed by their past?


Georgia Lester
Sex Education and Skins writer Lester is behind Kidnapped (working title), a BBC factual drama based on the true story of Chloe Ayling, a British model who was abducted in Italy in 2017 after travelling there for a photo shoot. The writer has worked with Ayling to dramatise her ordeal, including the terrifying kidnap, her time spent in captivity and the court case that later put her kidnappers in jail. The six-part series, produced by BBC Studios for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer, will also explore the headlines that accused Ayling of faking her own kidnapping, putting her at the centre of a media storm.

Mae Martin
Canadian Martin might be best known as a stand-up comic and as the creator and star of bittersweet comedy Feel Good, but they’re entering the world of thrillers for their latest project, Netflix’s Tall Pines. Martin is the creator, co-showrunner and star of the limited series, which is set in a bucolic but sinister town and explores the insidious underbelly of the “troubled teen industry” and the eternal struggle between one generation and the next. Martin describes it as “an insane roller coaster and so different from anything I’ve done before.”

Oskar Soderlund
Soderlund is attached to write and showrun A Most Wanted Man, a series based on John le Carré’s novel of the same name. The Snabba Cash and Greyzone screenwriter will set the espionage thriller against a modern European backdrop, updating the story of a Muslim illegal immigrant who draws the attention of a idealistic human rights lawyer determined to save him from deportation, and intelligence services who believe he is a threat.

Tig Terera
Rising talent Terera’s first series, Swift Street, is pitched as a fast, funny and gritty Australian family crime drama, set in bustling inner-city Melbourne where the rich and poor collide. It’s here that street-smart 21-year-old Elsie must team up with her jaded, old-school hustler father Robert to get him out of debt and save him from a merciless crime boss who wants her money back. The pair embark on a series of hectic scrapes and near misses as Elsie commits to help Robert hustle for the money. But with an unhinged gang of debt collectors on the trail, the duo must carry out a series of increasingly serious crimes, against a ticking clock while fumbling through their dysfunctional relationship.

Camilla Whitehill
Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan and It’s A Sin’s Lydia West will head the cast of Whitehill’s Channel 4 comedy Big Mood, which is described as a vivacious and rebellious portrayal of female friendship when infiltrated by the complexities of a serious mental illness. The six-part series will explore the messy pitfalls and idiosyncrasies of navigating adulthood through wicked humour, daft anecdotes and unsettling truths, as best friends Maggie and Eddie (Coughlan and West) begin to question whether their friendship is in either of their best interests. Whitehill previously wrote on medical comedy Porters and co-wrote comedy podcast Whistle Through the Shamrocks.


The latest German original from streamer Disney+, this series puts a new twist on the mystery-romance genre by adding superpowers. When 18-year-old Pauline accidentally becomes pregnant – from a one-night stand – it’s just another problem for her in addition to school stress, the climate crisis and the downfall of society (better known as social media). What’s worse is she’s now developing feelings for her one-night stand Lukas, who, as it turns out, is the devil himself. Pauline discovers her pregnancy has given her supernatural powers, leading to an epic battle between good and evil. The series boasts a cast including Ludger Bökelmann, Sira-Anna Faal, Andrea Sawatzki and Dimitrij Schaad, while it comes from the executive producer team behind Netflix’s How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast).

Salmon Island
When Netflix launched Norwegian drama Lilyhammer, its first original series, in 2012, nobody could have imagined the impact it would have – on the streamer itself and the global television industry as a whole. More than a decade later, Netflix has again teamed up with the creators of that show, Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin (pictured), for new Norwegian series Salmon Island. Produced by Rubicon and directed by Marit Moum Aune (Made in Oslo), the series focuses on two families in a small coastal community in Norway who are sworn enemies in the global salmon industry.

Scener efter äktenskap (Scenes After Marriage)
With a title that nods to Ingmar Bergman’s work, this Viaplay series comes from writer Veronica Zacco (The Bridge) and director Anders Hazelius (Thunder in My Heart). Produced by B-Reel Films, it follows separated parents Lovis (Eva Röse) and Kian (Ardalan Esmaili), who meet every Friday afternoon at a pub beside the Öresund Bridge where they hand over their children, as they deal with the emotional storms created by their break-up in different ways. In his first role in a drama series, Swedish pop star Danny Saucedo plays bartender Bobby, who becomes a witness to these weekly meetings.

Special Ops: Lioness
This espionage thriller (also pictured top) coming to Paramount+ boasts an A-list cast, including Zoe Saldaña, Nicole Kidman, Laysla De Oliveira and Morgan Freeman. In a story rooted in real life, De Oliveira plays Cruz Manuelos, a rough-around-the-edges but passionate young Marine recruited to join the Lioness Engagement Team to help bring down a terrorist organisation from within. Meanwhile, Saldaña plays Joe, the station chief of the Lioness programme, who is tasked with training, managing and leading her female undercover operatives.

All the Light We Cannot See
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, directed by Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) and written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), this limited series weaves together the stories of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a brilliant teenager enlisted by Hitler’s regime to track down illegal radio broadcasts, over the course of a decade. With themes assessing the extraordinary power of human connection and how a beacon of light can lead us through even the darkest of times, the four-parter’s cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Lars Eidinger and Marion Bailey, alongside Louis Hofman as Werner and newcomers Aria Mia Loberti and Nell Sutton as the older and younger Marie-Laure, respectively.


Disappearing content
One of the more contentious industry trends of the past 12 months has been the decision of some streamers to remove their own series from their platforms – a phenomenon regularly linked to new strategic approaches to content curation but, more often than not, simply a cost-cutting exercise. Disney+ was the most recent culprit, taking dozens of series including Willow (pictured), Y: The Last Man, Dollface and Pistol down from Disney+. Warner Bros Discovery, parent company of streamer Max, began this trend last year, and Showtime and AMC in the US are also said to be scaling back. Though it may help balance the corporate books, the downside for viewers is clear: some of their favourite series won’t be available to watch unless they are picked up by other services or make an appearance on one of the numerous FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) channels popping up across the internet. One thing’s for sure, if viewers want to ensure they always have access to their favourite shows, the DVD market can look forward to a resurrection.

Once the home of stagey dramatic reconstructions that filled segments between ‘talking head’ historical experts, docudramas have evolved in recent years. This is best exemplified by producer Nutopia’s approach to its recent Netflix series African Queens, which in two seasons has dramatised the stories of Njinga and Cleopatra (pictured). The historians and voiceovers – here from executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith – remain, but Nutopia has honed a “creative mash-up” that flips the script on docudramas by bringing together factual producers and academics with top writing talent to create dramas that use historians to add context or move the story forward. With interest in fact-based scripted series at an all-time high, this approach to history docs looks set to be the future.

I Am
Since the launch of Channel 4’s female-led drama anthology series I Am in 2019, writer and director Dominic Savage has worked with a host of leading actors to bring to the screen a collection of intense, challenging and thought-provoking stories tackling issues at the heart of modern life. His collaborators so far have included Vicky McClure, Suranne Jones, Gemma Chan, Samantha Morton, Letitia Wright and Lesley Manville, while the feature length I Am Ruth (pictured) – created with and starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet – won this year’s Bafta Television Awards for single drama and leading actor.

Musical dramas
Following the path trodden by shows such as Glee and Smash, musical dramas are currently hitting television’s high notes. Comedy Schmigadoon aired its second season this year, telling the story of a backpacking couple who wind up in a town where life is one big musical, while Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies takes place four years before the events of the iconic movie, as four fed-up outcasts dare to have fun on their own terms and spark moral panic in the process. Daisy Jones & The Six (pictured) adapted Taylor Reid Jenkins’ novel of the same name to great success, charting the rise and fall of the fictional title band. Meanwhile, Mood has proven to be a standout British entry in the genre, scooping awards for its creator, writer and star Nicôle Lecky in the original music and miniseries categories at this year’s Baftas.

Taylor Sheridan
Sheridan is bringing his hugely popular western series Yellowstone (pictured) to an end after the completion of its fifth season later this year, but the writer isn’t likely to be short of work, with a huge slate of productions already either on air, in production or in the works. He was behind 1883, a prequel to Yellowstone, while additional prequels include 1923 and 1944. Spin-offs include Lawmen: Bass Reeves, 6666 and an untitled sequel due to follow on from the events in Yellowstone. Other series as part of his growing slate on Paramount+ include Mayor of Kingstown, Texas boomtown story Land Man, Special Ops: Lioness and Sylvester Stallone-led Tulsa King – and that’s not to mention his film work. Needless to say, Sheridan is one of Hollywood’s busiest talents.

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