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Ones to watch: 2012 TV preview

What's been going on at the notorious prison island of Alcatraz?

New year, new telly – here's a round-up of some of the hottest shows to look forward to in 2012.

Alcatraz – Watch, March

The latest show from Lost maestro JJ Abrams, Alcatraz is a riveting conspiracy thriller following a detective as she uncovers very strange and sinister goings-on at the prison island of Alcatraz. Sam Neill lends starry support in one of 2012's biggest new dramas.

Napoleon Dynamite – E4, February

The world's greatest geek is back, but this time in animated form. Find out how Napoleon's ninja skills are coming along, and what happened to Pedro after he won that election, in a series which features the voices of the original stars.

Being Human series 4 – BBC Three, January

Pointy-toothed heartthrob Mitchell may have departed, but there's a brand new vampire to look forward to in Being Human. He's Hal, a proper posho whose dress sense will be as sharp as his fangs. What will Nina and George make of him?

Spartacus: Vengeance – Sky1, January

The sad death of Andy Whitfield put the Spartacus sequel on ice for a while, but it's finally with us in January. Lookalike Liam McIntyre steps into the gladiator sandals to lead a rag-tag team of runaway slaves in their revolt against Rome.

We'll Take Manhattan – BBC Four, January

Karen Gillan steps out of the Tardis for this achingly cool, Sixties-set drama. She plays supermodel Jean Shrimpton, whose relationship with photographer David Bailey revolutionised fashion photography forever. You'll wish you could step through the telly and be part of it all.

True Blood series 4 – FX, 5th February, 10pm

Sookie returns from the realm of the fairies in the new season of True Blood, only to find that a whole year's passed and a lot's changed. The new season features witches, love triangles, a necromancer, and plenty else to get your gnashers into.

Bigger Than... – Sky Living, Wednesday 4th January, 9pm

The guiltiest pleasure of 2012, this reality show features girls who think they look like fat versions of Britney, Cheryl, Gaga and the like. They'll embark on crash diets and workouts to look more like the celebrity in question and win a talent agency contract.

Titanic dramas – BBC One and ITV1, April

To mark a century since the sinking of the Titanic, two major new dramas will be sailing our way. The ITV one is called Titanic, is written by Downton maestro Julian Fellowes, and tells of the disaster through several contrasting viewpoints. Meanwhile, the Beeb have Titanic: Blood and Steel, a sweeping tale going right back to the construction of the ship and starring the likes of Neve Campbell and Chris "Mr Big" Noth.

Grimm – Watch, February

Creatures from fairy tales are very real and very scary in this new series from the co-creator of Angel. It centres around a cop who discovers he's one of a group known as "Grimms" who have to keep the world safe from the magic beasties.

The Voice – BBC One, Spring

At last, the BBC will be launching its own version of The X Factor, and they've certainly invested in the celebs. Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.i.am and, er, some guy from The Script will be the judges – bet Simon will be watching very carefully.

Homeland – Channel 4, February/March

Bold new drama starring Damian Lewis as an Iraq veteran who's hailed as a hero when he returns to the States – but is he a terrorist pawn? Intelligence agent Claire Danes thinks so, but it's down to her to uncover the truth.

The Firm – channel and date to be confirmed

Josh Lucas takes over the Tom Cruise role in this thrilling follow-up to the blockbusting John Grisham saga. It follows the character of Mitch McDeere a decade after he brought down a mob-owned law firm, and with plenty more trouble ahead.

Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 – E4, March/April

Biting comedy about a naive country girl and a moral-free city girl who have to share a pad in New York. The most interesting twist is that Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek is in it, playing a kind of wicked version of himself.

New Girl – Channel 4, 6th January, 8.30pm

Queen of kook Zooey Deschanel arrives on telly for this smash-hit US comedy about a girl who leaves her cheating boyfriend and winds up living in a house full of very different blokes – from a cheesy womaniser to a guy with serious anger issues.

The Love Machine – Sky Living, January

Chris Moyles and Stacey Solomon play Cupid in this one, which sees people choose potential mates based on looks alone, before rapidly getting to know each other's views on everything from sex to money. It's basically speed-dating, on telly. Prepare to be hooked.

Suits – Dave, Tuesday 17th January, 9pm

A young genius with zero experience blags his way into a huge New York law firm in this witty, quirky new drama. How long can he go on pretending before he's rumbled? Well, series two's already been commissioned, so quite some time we should think.

Other shows to look out for

Mad Dogs season 2: the boys return to Sky1 for more crazed crime mayhem.

Upstairs Downstairs: Alex Kingston joins the cast of the BBC's answer to Downton Abbey.

Nikita season 2: the beautiful assassin is back for more thrills and spills on Sky Living.

Awake: a bereaved man flits between two parallel universes in this mysterious Life on Mars-esque drama.

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19-12-2011