Better Call Saul
How to follow Breaking Bad – a brilliant, hugely successful drama? Creator Vince Gilligan returned to the world of one of its most dazzling characters, Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman, following the sleazy lawyer before he met Walter White. Expectations were high.
Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney played lovers whose one night stand yielded an unexpected pregnancy. The pair's astonishing chemistry combined with dazzling, rude and very funny dialogue. And the second series – which took a darker turn – may have even been better than the first.
Game of Thrones
HBO's shamelessly entertaining sex and swords epic continued into its fifth season, now facing life away from the source text (the series has surpassed the point where author George RR Martin has written the story to date). But it remains a brassy, confident drama that has sucked millions of people into its world.
House of Cards
The intrigues which led to Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood's machiavellian ascent to the most powerful job in the world captivated viewers in the previous two series. But with Underwood now installed as US president, was this drama in danger of losing its mojo? It required attention.
Mad Men fans had to say goodbye to Jon Hamm's Don Draper at some point, and this series saw him bow out perfectly. Creator Matthew Weiner said that he wanted all his characters to be a little more happy at the end of the show than they were in the beginning, and he certainly succeeded in that.
A second visit to the frozen waste of the US Midwest plunged us into 1979 in a drama replete with cold-hearted violence and menace. Fargo's producer Noah Hawley continued where he left off. A third season is thankfully on its way.
BBC Drama has delivered some pretty decent period series over the years, from Pride and Prejudice to Middlemarch, from Our Mutual Friend to Cranford. But it has never remade and reinvented one of its own with quite the same skill and joie de vivre as this. Returning to Winston Graham's brilliant source text in 18th Century Cornwall.
The bleak, wintry Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge survived the loss of one of its leads with aplomb in this third series. Following the departure of actor Kim Bodnia (who disagreed with the direction creator), Sofia Helin was left on her own. But a creative headache was turned into a dramatic opportunity as the absorbing drama is packed with intrigue and heart–in-the-throat moments. (She got a new partner as well).
The Danish programme was an epic but family saga. It brilliantly described the fallout among a group of siblings after the matriarch leaves the family home to the daughter she’d given away as a baby.
This was the best TV drama of the year, and may even be one of the best ever made by the BBC – it was really that good. Based on Hilary Mantel’s two novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies it transported viewers into the world of Tudor intrigue. It focused not on King Henry VIII or his unfortunate queens but on his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell.