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Back for more: the best returning TV shows 

Some were away years, others just a few weeks, but we can’t wait to sink our teeth into new episodes of all these brilliant shows returning to screens in January 2023 

By Chris Miller, Writer

Don’t get us wrong: we love a shiny new TV show as much as the next entertainment obsessive. But there’s also something wonderful about the return of a beloved series. Our favourite TV shows make us feel genuinely invested in its premise, people and plotlines – especially if they can keep up that goodness for series after series. It makes us want to come back for more, and more, and more…


Happily, plenty of brilliant scripted TV shows are returning to our screens this January with new episodes – some of them after quite some time away, to be greeted like old friends. And there’s even better news if, like us, you love tales of crime, villainy and skulduggery, and the super-smart detectives who track down and collar those ne’er-do-wells ready for judgement and punishment, because that’s exactly what you’ll find in many of those shows.


But don’t worry, there’s still some fun comedy drama amid all that malfeasance… Below, we’ve rounded up the best returning shows to watch this January – with an indication of how crime-tastic each one is. Enjoy those emotional reunions.


Coming up…


Series 12 starts Sunday 29 January, 8pm, ITV1/HD (CH 113/103). Catch up on series 1-11 in Apps & Games > ITVX

Vera fans have had to be patient as series 11 was shown in two-part instalments, first in August 2021, then in January 2022, with the final two episodes left unbroadcast. But they’re now being rewarded for their stoicism as those episodes come to ITV1 this month, starting on 15 January, ahead of the start of series 12 at the end of January. Brenda Blethyn’s permanently dishevelled detective – always close to retiring, but never quite able to stop – faces another batch of Northumbrian murder cases, including a police officer found in a lake and a council worker discovered lashed to a sailing boat.



Season 6 starts Sunday 22 January, 9pm, Sky Max/HD (CH 122/121). Catch up on seasons 1-5 in Catch Up > Channels > Sky Max

The end of season 5 was an emotional one for the LAPD Special Weapons and Tactics team as Officer Chris Alonso (Lina Esco) departed and head honcho Hondo (Shemar Moore) learned that his girlfriend Nichelle (Rochelle Aytes) was pregnant. Changing times, but Hondo isn’t going to let that stop him from bringing down criminals.


As this new season begins he’s taking that fight international as he and his old military buddy Joe – played by former EastEnders star Sean Maguire – uncover a drug trafficking channel between Thailand and LA. Look out for episode 10, directed by Alex Russell, who stars in the show as Jim Street.


Murdoch Mysteries

Season 16 starts Thursday 19 January, 9pm, Alibi HD (CH 126). Catch up on seasons 1-15 in Catch Up > Channels > Alibi

With more than 250 episodes under its belt, this detective series is Canada’s most successful TV export and it’s still consistently entertaining as it hits a 16th season. As well as galaxy-brained, ahead-of-his-time Toronto investigator William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), the show is known for its whimsical portrayals of real-life figures such as Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Jack London and Mark Twain, the latter memorably played in season 9 by William Shatner.


There’s a notable guest appearance at the start of this season too: Siobhán McSweeney, Derry Girls’ Sister Michael and emotional Great Pottery Throwdown presenter, plays the aunt of Constable Thomas Crabtree (Jonny Harris) who arrives with dire warnings about Thomas’s upcoming wedding.   



Season 14 starts Sunday 22 January, 10pm, Sky Max/HD (CH 122/121). Catch up on seasons 11-13 in Catch Up > Channels > Sky Max

There was cause for celebration for LA’s NCIS team at the conclusion of season 13, as Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) officially became foster parents – and at the party they held to mark the occasion, G (Chris O’Donnell) and Anna (Bar Paly) got engaged! But how will this affect the dynamic of the Office of Special Projects? If the previous 280 episodes are anything to go by, not one jot. They’ll still be nailing those undercover assignments and apprehending miscreants all day long.


The Sex Lives Of College Girls

Season 2 available Thursday 19 January in Apps & Games > ITVX. Season 1 available now

The title makes this sound like a dodgy 80s VHS under-the-counter hit but the first season proved to be a witty and warm campus comedy-drama, with sharp writing from creator Mindy Kaling (the US version of The Office, The Mindy Project) and her talented team. Four college newcomers from different backgrounds negotiate a new stage in their lives: small-town girl Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet, sister of Timothée), sex-positive Bela (Amrit Kaur), football star Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott), and conflicted rich girl Leighton (Renée Rapp).


It’s got a lot to say about gender, race, class and of course sex, but it’s much more fun than that makes it sound – and the first season left us on a proper cliffhanger. Despite a few ethics violations there’s no actual crime involved, but we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see handcuffs…


The Defence

Season 3 available Friday 27 January in Apps & Games > All 4. Seasons 1+2 available now

Joanna Chylka (Magdalena Cielecka) is a great addition to a long line of uncompromising, irascible crime-fighters – a lawyer who, at the start of season 1, was called in to investigate the disappearance of a child with very little evidence to go on. Season 2 saw her defending a client in a double murder case whose innocence she believed in wholeheartedly, in the face of opposition from the police and even her own firm. All the while, we slowly learned more about Chylka’s past and why she is like she is… Season 3 kicks off with another double murder and a difficult client, as more of Chylka’s demons start to resurface.


Chicago PD

Season 10 starts Friday 27 January, 10pm, Sky Witness/HD (CH 112/111). Catch up on season 9 in Catch Up > Channels > Sky Witness

Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and Detective Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) are back in action hunting perps and taking names after the explosive finale to season 9 of this long-running police series – but Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) seems to be losing his enthusiasm for keeping Chicago crime-free. After a shocking incident in episode 3, how much longer can he keep going? Meanwhile, there’s a deadly new drug on the streets…


And some to catch up on…

Silent Witness

Series 26 continues on Mondays and Tuesdays, 9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101). Catch up on all previous episodes in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

The world’s longest-running crime show – when it began, John Major was the UK’s prime minister – is back on the BBC for a 26th series consisting of five two-part stories. So far this season, Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) has already investigated the mysterious death of a man with connections to organised crime and unearthed the truth behind an abandoned lorry full of corpses. Maybe one day she’ll get a fun case about missing chocolate or something, but we’re not holding our breath.


Silent Witness gets consistently higher ratings when it’s shown in winter than in summer, proving January is the perfect time to watch Dr Alexander poke dead bodies till they provide answers.



Season 2 available now in Apps & Games > Prime Video. Season 1 also available

Fans of this 1970s-set take on the detective drama, in which the titular Nazi hunters track down suspected war criminal hiding from justice in the US, were made to wait a long time for a second season – but almost three years after the first, it arrived this month. And thank goodness it did, after the revelations in the season 1 finale about the true identities of both Offerman (Al Pacino) and The Colonel (Lena Olin) escalated the situation way beyond anything Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman) had imagined… The second season takes the action to South America and brings in new recruits, including Chava Apfelbaum (Jennifer Jason Leigh).


Happy Valley

Series 3 continues on Sundays, 9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101). Catch up on all previous episodes in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

The best long-form crime dramas need a memorable villain and in Tommy Lee Royce, Happy Valley has just that. James Norton (Grantchester, McMafia) is playing very much against type as Royce but his electric performance is a huge part of what makes this series so gripping.


It’s been seven years since the events of series 2, both in the show and in real life, and Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) thinks she might finally have put the trauma behind her as she plans for retirement and the trip of a lifetime to the Himalayas. But a grisly discovery pulls Catherine back into Royce’s orbit, where there’s more trouble awaiting her as she struggles to hold her family’s lives together.


Father Brown

Series 10 continues on Fridays, 1.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101). All episodes of series 9+10 are available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Nothing epitomises “cosy crime” like the BBC’s ecclesiastical detective, who’s been solving quirky mysteries at lunchtime for 10 series now. The always watchable Mark Williams dons the cassock again for another batch of cases, although this time he’s doing it without his trusty parish secretary Bridgette (Sorcha Cusack), who sadly left at the end of the last series. He has a new right-hand woman, though, in the form of Isobel Devine (Claudie Blakley, Man Vs Bee) – and in more good news, Inspector Sullivan (Tom Chambers, Holby City) is back to help with investigations concerning a model village, a celebrity florist, a clock collector and Princess Margaret.


The Madame Blanc Mysteries

Series 2 continues on Thursday, 9pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 154/105). Catch up on all previous episodes in Catch Up > Channels > Channel 5

This light-hearted detective show is back for another series after Jean White (Sally Lindsay, Coronation Street) solved the riddle of her husband’s death and became an advisor to the local police in the fictional French village of Saint-Victoire, surviving an attempt on her own life along the way. This time around Chief Caron (Alex Gaumond) needs her help even more when he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit – so it’s up to Jean and her sidekicks Gloria (Sue Vincent, who co-wrote the series with Lindsay and starred with her in Mount Pleasant) and Dom (Benidorm’s Steve Edge) to find the real perpetrator.


Bad Education

Series 4 available now in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer. Series 1-3 and the reunion special also available

What’s criminal here is the fact that Bad Education has been away from our screens for so long! There were three series and a film back in 2012-15, but then it disappeared until its very welcome return just before Christmas 2022 with a reunion special. Now comes a full series, with former students Stephen (Layton Williams) and Mitchell (Charlie Wernham) now established as teachers – although their positions are immediately in jeopardy as new head Ms Hoburn (Vicki Pepperdine, We Hunt Together) threatens to close down one of their departments. Meanwhile former head Fraser (Mathew Horne, Gavin & Stacey) is still hanging around like a bad smell.


Death In Paradise

Series 12 continues on Fridays, 9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101). Catch up on all previous episodes in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

With all this death going on – the homicide-investigation series will be on almost 100 episodes by the time series 12 ends – perhaps Saint Marie isn’t quite as paradise-y as the title would lead us to believe? Well, DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little, The Royle Family), the show’s fourth UK-based detective to head for the Caribbean on police business, has decided he likes the place enough to stay for now. And wouldn’t you know it, there are a load more murders to solve, including an estate agent involved in the sale of a local beauty spot. Romance could be in the air for Parker too…


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Image credits: Murdoch Mysteries © UKTV