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Artwork for the BBC First series Downton Abbey

BBC First’s January schedule is brimming with premium programming including the return of hotly-anticipated dramas Luther and Sherlock, and the launch of brand new critically acclaimed series Peaky Blinders and The Missing.


 

Luther  

Friday 1 January at 20:00
BBC First’s Golden Globe-winning series, starring Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), returns to your screens. Still reeling from Ripley’s death, John Luther has left the force and retired to a remote clifftop. When he discovers the one person he still loves might be dead, Luther has one aim – find whoever’s responsible and make them pay. 

Meanwhile, a savagely intelligent killer is leaving a trail of bodies but no trace of his identity. Luther realises he must return to the job – only he can immerse himself in the killer’s complex psychosis and anticipate his next move. But John’s personal problems are stacking up too, and he will need to compromise his moral code once more. This is his toughest test yet – one that will push him closer to the edge than he’s ever been before.

Idris Elba commented on the new series: "It’s great we’ve been able to do this Luther special. John is so close to my heart, he’s part of me. The fans won’t be disappointed with his return – it’s explosive and definitely goes up a gear!"

Written and created by Emmy-nominated Neil Cross and directed by Sam Miller (No Good Deed, Fortitude) this Luther two-hour special also stars Rose Leslie (Game Of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Laura Haddock (Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Inbetweeners Movie), Darren Boyd (Fortitude, Spy), John Heffernan (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Ripper Street) and Patrick Malahide (Indian Summers, The Paradise), with Michael Smiley and Dermot Crowley returning as Benny Silver and DSU Martin Schenk respectively.

 

Sherlock  

Friday 8 January at 20:00
On a train between Cardiff and London in 2008, Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen) discovered they shared a love of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic creation, Sherlock. Then a thought hit them – wouldn’t it be fun to make a contemporary update. 

Their idea gave birth to a global phenomenon. Sold in over 240 territories worldwide, Sherlock is the BBC’s top-rated drama in more than a decade. The show is watched by over 70 million people in China alone. Now, 12 Baftas and seven Emmys later, the writers are taking the story back to Victorian London for one episode only. 

Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Emmy Award winner Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) star in this one-off special, before returning to modern-day London for three more feature-length episodes next year.

 

Peaky Blinders  

Wednesday 13 January at 21:00
Peaky Blinders is a brand new, epic six-part gangster drama on BBC First (119), starring Cillian Murphy as a gangster operating in Birmingham, England, during the aftermath of World War 1. 

Britain in 1919 is a tumultuous mix of despair and hedonism, a nation cleaned out by the extravagances of the Great War. Returning soldiers, newly minted revolutionaries and criminal gangs all fight for survival in an industrial landscape gripped by economic upheaval.

Thomas Shelby and his family run the most feared and powerful local gang, the Peaky Blinders. Named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, they make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market.

But Tommy’s ambitions go beyond running the streets, and when a crate of guns goes missing from an arms factory, he recognises an opportunity to move up in the world. Crime pays, but business pays better.

As rival gangs, Communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians descend on Small Heath in pursuit of the weapons, Winston Churchill dispatches a ruthless police chief from Belfast to impose order on an increasingly lawless city and recover the guns.

Peaky Blinders is a dazzling picture of England taken directly from the pages of our secret history. They will now burst into life in a vibrant evocation of a hedonistic age. The Shelbys will be a family to be reckoned with.


 

The Missing  

Wednesday 13 January at 20:00
New to BBC First is an eight-part mystery thriller starring James Nesbitt as Tony Hughes, the father of a boy missing in France.

When five year-old Oliver disappears while on holiday, it sets off a manhunt that will last for years and years to come. The Missing takes you inside the mind of a father, Tony, desperate to find his lost son.

Told through a delicate and complex narrative that reflects the fractured and frantic battle for a lost child, The Missing is a thrilling and heart-breaking drama of a life consumed by hope, love, truth and obsession.

A gripping puzzle with twists and turns at every stage, Tony’s exhaustive search fractures his marriage to Emily and threatens to destroy his life. Julien, the French police detective who launched the initial search for the child, also finds himself drawn back into the hunt that he was never able to resolve when Oliver first disappeared.

Exploring the emotional cost of a child's adduction, this gripping relationship thriller is told over two time frames, simultaneously, in two countries.

 

Downton Abbey Season 6  

Sunday 10 January at 20:10
BBC First returns to the sumptuous setting of Downton Abbey for the sixth and final season of this internationally acclaimed hit drama series. 

As our time with the Crawleys begins to draw to a close and we see what will finally become of them all, the family, and the servants who work for them, remain inseparably interlinked as they face new challenges and begin forging different paths in a rapidly changing world.

Secrets and rifts threaten the unity of the family, while those below stairs continue to navigate social changes which put their futures in jeopardy. 

The final season of the multi-award winning series offers all the highs and lows, joy and sorrow, that viewers across the globe have grown to love, and follows all our favourite characters as they strive to find happiness once and for all. The concluding episode attracted more than nine million viewers in the UK.  

Fans can also look forward to one last Christmas special. The Crawleys are set to say their final farewells during a feature-length special. 

 

Burton and Taylor  

Sunday 3 January at 19:50
Exclusive to BBC First and starring Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables) and Dominic West (The Affair), this captivating drama tells the tale of Hollywood’s original "it" couple in the twilight of their star-crossed relationship. 

When Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton met on the set of Cleopatra, the attraction was immediate. The public was enthralled by their illicit romance, two tempestuous marriages, frequent break-ups and extravagant reunions. 

Burton and Taylor tells the nostalgic, bittersweet tale of Hollywood's most glamorous couple as they acted together for the last time in Noel Coward's play, Private Lives, in 1983. During the tour, public speculation grew about the possibility of another marriage, but in private old frictions played out once again. Beyond the alcohol, pills and the trappings of fame, was love the ultimate crutch that allowed them to escape the realities of their extraordinary lives?

 

Mr Selfridge 

Sunday 21 January at 21:00
Exclusive to BBC First, Mr Selfridge returns to DStv screens for a third season.

Starring Emmy award-winning American actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Mr Selfridge is inspired by the life of charismatic American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge, whose business in London’s Oxford Street has become a much-loved institution. 

Season 3 picks up in 1919 just after the end of World War I. Zoë Wanamaker (Harry Potter films) joins the series cast to play Russian Princess, Marie de Bolotoff. Though the shadow of World War I hangs over everyone, the first episode opens with the joyous occasion of a wedding. Harry’s eldest daughter, Rosalie, marries Princess Marie’s handsome son Serge, played by Leon Ockenden (Casualty). Rosalie Selfridge is played by Kara Tointon (EastEnders) and Kara’s real-life sister, Hannah Tointon, plays her rebellious sister, Violette, which sees the sisters acting together for the first time. 

Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street, The Mill) also joins the cast to play Kitty Hawkins’ ambitious younger sister, along with Kelly Adams (Holby City) who plays Harry’s new love interest, Nancy Webb. 

Other BBC First highlights you can enjoy from January are ...


 

Atlantis 

Saturday 9 January at 18:00
The legend begins! From the creators of international hit show Merlin and the creator of the Bafta-winning Misfits, family drama Atlantis premieres exclusively on BBC First.

When Jason (Jack Donnelly) set out to find his father, he could never have anticipated where his journey would lead. Far from home and desperate for answers, Jason washes up on the shores of an ancient land. 

A mysterious place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired goddesses and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants – this is the lost city of Atlantis. But beneath the surface is a dark and simmering past, a complicated web of treachery and deceit, in which Jason seems inexplicably bound. 

Aided by the studious young Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and the overweight, overbearing Hercules (Mark Addy), Jason embarks on a voyage of discovery, which sees him brush shoulders with Medusa, come face to face with the Minotaur and even do battle with the dead. 

A treasure trove of extraordinary tales re-imagined in a thrilling and unexpected way for a new generation.

 

Father Brown Series 1 

Friday 15 January at 20:00
Based on the stories of G K Chesterton, the hugely successful Father Brown airs exclusively on BBC First. 

Set in the 1950s in the heart of the beautiful English countryside, Mark Williams (Harry Potter, The Indian Doctor) stars as Father Brown, the Catholic priest who also happens to have a particular talent for solving crimes, in this adaptation of GK Chesterton's novels. 

Father Brown's world is quintessentially English: drawing rooms in large country houses, miles of countryside, village halls and secret gardens, as well as country fairs, railway stations and rural parish churches. 

Many years spent hearing his parishioners' confessions have given him an uncanny insight into the origins of evil and the workings of the criminal mind. Each episode sees the enigmatic priest investigate a crime in his own particular way. 

Full of humour and compassion, but with a big dramatic twist each time, this series remains true to the period charm of the original character and setting while bringing a contemporary edge to the storytelling.