BBC First in 2019: The Little Drummer Girl and Press among the new British dramas

• Highlights include an adaptation of John le Carré’s spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl

BBC First has announced a raft of new dramas that will premiere on the channel in 2018/19 with stars like Idris Elba, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Shannon, Lily Collins, Dominic West, Tim Roth, Christina Hendricks and Jenna Coleman.

Highlights include an adaptation of John le Carré’s spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl from the makers of The Night Manager, Les Misérables, The Missing spinoff Baptiste, as well as Press.

Idris Elba will return to the role of Luther. Tim Roth, Christina Hendricks and Genevieve O’Reilly will return in the second series of the dark crime drama Tin Star. New seasons of popular BBC shows Peaky Blinders, Victoria, Call The Midwife and Death in Paradise will all come to the channel in 2019.

Tim Christlieb, director of branded services at BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand, said: “This lineup is absolutely packed full of everything BBC First stands for – brilliant storytelling, immaculately produced and jam-packed full of the best acting talent. It definitely promises to keep BBC First on its growth trajectory, which has seen the channel increase its audience share each year since 2015. Nowhere else will you see such an incredible range of premium British drama in one place. And, as viewers change the way they view, we have responded by offering extended catch-up periods on some of our biggest titles.”

In the year-to-date, live audiences on BBC First have seen an increase of 25% YOY for Total People and 49% for P25-54. This has made the channel an attractive destination for advertisers and sponsors with Travel Associates and Smeg both signing on as channel sponsors in 2018.

Liam Keelan, BBC Studios’ global scripted portfolio director, said: “There is more investment in British drama than ever before. The audience’s appetite for drama shows no signs of decreasing, and the BBC is the biggest commissioner of drama in the UK, accounting for 47% of drama commissioned across free-to-air, pay TV and SVOD. The battle for on- and off-screen talent is high but BBC Studios has invested in a network of independent producers, as well as producing and investing in shows in our own right, and continues to work with the best in the business.”

BBC First highlights

• The Little Drummer Girl

Based John le Carré’s spy thriller, The Little Drummer Girl is the latest adaptation from the team behind the BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series The Night Manager. Starring Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), the series is directed by visionary filmmaker Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, The Handmaiden).

• Les Misérables

Adapted by Andrew Davies from Victor Hugo’s 19th Century classic, Les Misérables stars Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine.

• Luther (s5)

Golden Globe-winning Idris Elba returns to the iconic role of DCI John Luther with a fifth series created by Emmy-nominated writer Neil Cross. Luther and new recruit DS Catherine Halliday played by Wunmi Mosaku investigate a series of horrific killings in London.

• Baptiste

Tchéky Karyo reprises his role as French detective Julien Baptiste from The Missing in a spinoff series. The series also stars Jessica Raine (Patrick Melrose) and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager).

• Press

Written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster) and set in the fast-paced and challenging environment of the British newspaper industry, Press explores the personal lives and constant professional dilemmas facing the journalists who work at two rival newspapers. The series stars Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders), Ben Chaplin (Apple Tree Yard), David Suchet (Poirot) and Brendan Cowell (Love My Way).

• Tin Star (s2)

Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) returns as Jim Worth, the alcoholic former London detective who moved to the town of Little Big Bear in the Canadian Rockies to escape his troubled past. The series also stars Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Genevieve O’Reilly (Glitch) and Abigail Lawrie (The Casual Vacancy).

• Victoria (s3)

The show stars Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) and Tom Hughes (Paula) in the lead roles.

• Call The Midwife

The Christmas Special will guest star Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter franchise).

• Death In Paradise

Ardal O’Hanlon returns as DI Jack Moone.

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