22 best TV shows of 2022: House of the Dragon to Derry Girls

Our list of all the best TV shows in 2022 to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW, BBC and more.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 20 December 2022 - 4.20pm
Channel 4 Derry Girls season 3

2022 was overflowing with glorious TV.

From the sunshine of The White Lotus to the grim reality of This Is Going To Hurt. Whether you wanted epic, dragon-filled fantasy or a tearful farewell to a classic sitcom, there was something for everyone to fall in love with.

Across Netflix, NOW, Amazon Prime Video, BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, there will be something brilliant you might have missed – so check out our list to find something to binge as we head into 2023.

Here are the BT TV team’s personal favourites and picks for the best TV shows of 2022.

Sherwood – BBC One and iPlayer

BBC

Sherwood was a brooding, intense and devastating drama that explored the fractures and divisions in a small Nottingham mining village that are resurfaced by a shocking murder.

This six-part thriller avoids whodunnit or whydunit tropes, focusing instead on the characters, real lives and shattered communities that were left behind by the miners’ strike and how old wounds are easily reopened.

David Morrissey and Lesley Manville are a stone cold guarantee of great TV and Sherwood didn’t disappoint.

Read our Sherwood review

Stranger Things season 4 – Netflix

Netflix

The penultimate season of the Netflix smash hit had been a long time coming, but it over delivered with what was its strongest season since its first.

Darker, edgier and with Nightmare on Elm Street undertones, the series was a homage to classic 80s horror movies. And no TV character made as big an impression in 2022 as Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson. No, we’re still not over it.

Read our Stranger Things review

This Is Going To Hurt – BBC One

The brutal and heartbreaking This Is Going To Hurt was unrivalled in 2022.

An unnerving and stark warning about the neglect the nation has given the NHS and its incredible workforce, the adaptation of Adam Kay’s bestseller could have been miserable and dour, but instead it was brimming with anger, laughter and heart.

Ben Whishaw’s whirlwind lead performance and Ambika Mod’s breakout role as junior doctor Shruti made the series unmissable TV.

The White Lotus season 2 – Sky Atlantic with NOW

The first season of The White Lotus was great, but season 2 felt like a masterpiece. With a new location on Sicily and largely new cast, the twists and turns in this sunshine-soaked whodunnit were an addictive joy that inspired more theories and online discussion than any show in 2022.

Top Boy season 2 – Netflix

Netflix

Dubbed “the British Wire” when it first started on Channel 4, Top Boy has risen way above such a reductive description and continued to shock and surprise us with its latest series on Netflix.

Brimming with emotion, heart and violence, it still feels like an underrated TV gem because of the lack of recognition and awards the series gets.

Watch our exclusive interview with Top Boy's cast

Derry Girls season 3 – Channel 4

Channel 4

There is something truly magical when a comedy series shifts into the public consciousness and the characters and episodes begin to feel like they’ve been around forever.

It’s a mark of Derry Girls genius that it doesn’t seem possible season 3 only aired earlier this year.

Lisa McGee’s sitcom now sits on the top of the British sitcom tree alongside all the greats (The Office, Alan Patridge, Only Fools, Dad’s Army) and its closing episode, set with the backdrop of the Good Friday Agreement vote, was an emotional masterpiece that made us shed as many tears as any drama in 2022. Apologies if that made you Boke.

Ozark season 4 - Netflix

Part 1 of Ozark's thrilling final series was released in January 2022, followed by an agonising three-month wait for its final episodes at the end of April.

Ozark culminated in a series where you couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to Marty (Jason Bateman) and the Byrde family - all the while not wanting the series to end.

Over the course of the five years that it was released on Netflix, it became an addictive, word-of-mouth hit that you pleaded with everyone you knew to watch. The true definition of a Netflix binge-watch.

What to watch after Ozark >

House of the Dragon – Sky Atlantic with NOW

The weight of expectation on the Game of Thrones prequel was so heavy, it didn’t feel possible for House of the Dragon to live up to expectations.

However, the twisted Targaryen family dynasty ended up standing up as its own unique beast and the smaller story being told allowed the HBO drama to delve deeper into Westeros' most twisted characters than Thrones ever could.

Emily Carey, Milly Alcock, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke were the stand-out stars, playing the best friends turning slowly into sworn enemies at the centre of the violence and warring dragons.

The Responder – BBC One

Martin Freeman gave one of his greatest ever performances in this challenging and gripping thriller about Chris Carson, a police officer being pushed to his mental limit.

An astonishing script from former copper Tony Schumacher is The Responder's secret sauce as it delves into the morally grey and murkiest areas of police work.

SAS Rogue Heroes - BBC One and iPlayer

BBC

There were high expectations around SAS Rogue Heroes, partly because it was the first TV series from Steven Knight following the end of Peaky Blinders - but also it was the first time that the SAS had given the "nod of approval" for a series based on its origins.

The six-part series, based on Ben Macintyre's bestseller, arrived on screens at the end of October, immediately becoming one of the must-watch dramas of the year.

It drew in 3.8 million viewers for its premiere on BBC One, plus a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics raved about its "action-packed set pieces" filmed in Morocco.

Following its cliffhanger finale, a second season was confirmed, further exploring the adventures of David Stirling (Connor Swindells) and the rest of the regiment. Bring it on!

Hacks – Prime Video

Sometimes good things come to those who wait. The delay in a UK broadcaster meant that we got both seasons of Hacks in 2022, allowing us to binge the outrageous and unexpectedly joyous comedy.

Hannah Einbinder is brilliant, but its Jean Smart at her most iconic who repeatedly steals the show in this odd couple comedy about a young bratty writer and a legendary Vegas stand-up.

A League of their Own – Prime Video

This update on the classic 1992 movie went under the radar in the UK, which is a huge shame because writer Abbi Jacobson, captured the same magic in extended story on the birth of a woman’s professional baseball team.

The ensemble cast are a joy and the series effortlessly weaves together a diverse range of emotional stories.

The Rehearsal – Sky Comedy with NOW

Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal is a divisive show, but purely for pushing boundaries of how TV shows work and what they can be, it deserves to be on this end of year list.

It’s an impossible concept to fully get a grip on without watching it, but The Rehearsal is part reality show, part comedy, part art experiment, where Fielder gets the public to rehearse real life moments to prepare them for every circumstance.

It’s a mind-bender – you never really know what’s real and what’s scripted – and Fielder deserves praise for his wild imagination.

The Capture season 2 - BBC One and iPlayer

It's been three long years since the conspiracy thriller concluded on BBC One, but the second series of The Capture was worth the wait, becoming a gripping, must-watch.

Holliday Grainger was superb as DCI Rachel Carey, alongside Paapa Essiedu as a rising star politician.

The series saw Carey involved in a new conspiracy, in another storyline that felt not entirely unplausible - involving the terrifying rise of deepfake technology.

We Own This City – Sky Atlantic with NOW

Stream We Own This City on Sky Atlantic with NOW

David Simon’s return to the streets of Baltimore could have been weighed down by the huge levels of expectation on this successor to The Wire, but this limited series managed to live up to the hype.

Based on a true story of mass police corruption, We Own This City is gripping, captivating and shocking expose of modern policing in the USA.

3 reasons to watch We Own This City

Big Boys – Channel 4

As Channel 4 bid farewell to one classic comedy Derry Girls, it helped ease the pain by introducing us to Big Boys - starring Derry Girls' "wee English fella", Dylan Llewellyn.

Dealing with grief, mental health, masculinity and sexuality, the series about university students Jack and Danny sounds quite heavy going, but luckily it’s also gloriously funny.

Heartstopper – Netflix

Netflix

This adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel proved that TV shows don’t always have to be dark, gritty and laced with tragedy.

The Netflix series turned quickly from cult favourite to TV phenomenon as the coming-of-age romance for Nick and Charlie captured the imagination of millions and warmed our hearts.

The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself – Netflix

Sadly, Netflix has already confirmed that there won’t a season 2, but that shouldn’t stop you hunting down this blood-splattered teen drama about witches, identity and exploding bodies.

Written by Joe Barton (Giri/Haji) and adapted from the Half Bad books, the series has a bold creative vision and this won’t be the last you see of the stunning young cast.

Watch our interview with The Bastard Son cast

Mammals – Prime Video

Prime Video

The launch of Mammals got lost amid a load of bad PR for James Corden, but this kooky dark drama about love and relationships was a reminder that the Gavin and Stacey star, regardless of his manners in restaurants, is a great actor.

Dark, twisted and unlike anything else we’ve watched this year, Mammals is curious, original and delivers an ending you’ll never see coming in more ways than one.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe – ITV

ITV have become the masters of these stranger-than-fiction true life dramas in recent years and the retelling of John and Anne Darwin’s fake death insurance scam ranks as one of the channel’s finest yet.

With Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan playing the North-East couple who almost managed to dupe the world, this three-parter explored the darkness underneath an extraordinary story.

Read more about The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe

Peaky Blinders season 6 - BBC One and iPlayer

The conclusion of Peaky Blinders was a long time coming, with fans all over the world desperate for new episodes of the Birmingham-set period drama.

It's safe to say the Shelby clan went out with a bang, with the series ending with bloodshed, deaths, backstabbing and all-out war between Tommy and the Blackshirts.

One of the BBC's biggest ever hits, it's been confirmed that a spin-off film is on its way.

Wednesday – Netflix

Netflix

Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday broke all sorts of records on Netflix as audiences fell in love with the Addams Family teen mystery series, which was an addictive joy.

Secrets from the Set of Wednesday

Ortega is a superstar in the making and that dance sequence is a contender for the most iconic TV moment of 2022.