The books to TV shows hot list: From The Sister to Normal People - the TV adaptations we're all watching in 2020

We round up the best TV adaptations coming soon to your screens that were based originally on books - so you can catch up on your bedtime reading before they start.

By Sophia Moir Published: 28 October 2020 - 4.50pm
ITV The Sister Russell Tovey

There’s no better talking point than debating with your friends whether a TV show or film is better than the book it's based on.

From Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones and The Handmaid's Tale, people always have an opinion about which version is best.

But if you’re one of those people that likes to read the book before watching the TV version, there’s a lot of small-screen adaptations coming to your screens very soon.

From The Sister to Normal People, we reveal our pick of the best adaptations that we’re most excited about in 2020 and coming soon.

The Sister

The Sister key art ITV

Four-part ITV drama The Sister is written by Luther creator Neil Cross and based on his own novel Burial which was published in 2009.

The book isn't autobiographical, but it was inspired by a nightmare Cross had in his teens about murdering a homeless man.

The Sister stars Russell Tovey as Nathan, a man with a terrible secret. Nathan is rocked to the core when Bob - an unwelcome face from his past played by Bertie Carvel - turns up on his doorstep with shocking news.

The Sister airs on four consecutive nights from Monday, October 26 on ITV and ITV Hub.


Belgravia ITV

Belgravia is a best-selling novel by Julian Fellowes, which he’s adapted into a TV series.

The award-winning creator of Downton Abbey is back in his specialist genre of posh period drama for the new series, which is set in the affluent London district in the 1840s.

Billed as “a story of secrets and dishonour amongst the upper echelon of London society in the 19th Century”, Belgravia sounds as though it will be packed with as much intrigue as in Downton itself.

Belgravia is available to watch on BritBox.

Normal People

Normal People BBC
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne in Normal People

The adaptation of Sally Rooney's international literary phenomenon will star Daisy Edgar-Jones (War of the Worlds) as Marianne, above.

Honest, smart and intoxicating, Normal People is a compulsive modern love story. It follows a couple who keep crossing over into each other’s lives and explores just how complicated intimacy and young love can be.

Catch up on Normal People on BBC iPlayer.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere Prime Video UK
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon in Little Fires Everywhere

Based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family, and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. 

The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster

Catch up on Little Fires Everywhere on Prime Video UK.

Alex Rider

Alex Rider Amazon Prime Video

Alex Rider is the hero of the smash hit best-selling book franchise, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

The books, a series of coming-of-age spy thrillers, are written by Alex Horowitz and follow a London-based teenager who has unknowingly been trained since childhood for the dangerous world of espionage.

Alex Rider is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.


Us is the adaptation of David Nicholls' novel

Adapted from David Nicholls’ 2014 novel Us, Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves lead the cast of the four-part TV adaptation.

Douglas Petersen (Hollander) is blindsided when his wife Connie (Reeves) tells him that she’s not sure she wants to be married to him anymore. 

Agreeing to still go on their planned family grand tour of Europe, Douglas vows to win back the love of his wife and repair his troubled relationship with their son Albie (Tom Taylor).

Catch up on Us on BBC iPlayer. 

The Undoing

The Undoing key art
Watch The Undoing weekly from Monday, October 26 on Sky Atlantic with NOW TV.

Based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Undoing sees Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant star as a couple living a seemingly perfect life in New York - until a violent death changes everything. 

The limited series is written by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) and directed by Susanne Bier, who previously worked on Bird Box and The Night Manager.

The Undoing starts Monday, October 26 on Sky Atlantic with NOW TV.


Julie Andrews Getty
Bridgerton is the adaptation of the Julia Quinn novels

Based on the popular Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn, the books follow the Bridgerton family and are set against the backdrop of high society during the Regency period in England.

Dame Julie Andrews will voice Lady Whistledown in the eight-part series, which is from Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes.

Bridgerton is expected to launch on Netflix later in 2020.

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone Rex
Eric Heisserer is showrunner of Shadow and Bone

Based on Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone is a fantasy series about sinister forces plotting against a young soldier when she reveals a magical power that might unite her world.

The TV series will hail from Bird Box and Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer (pictured), who will also serve as head writer and showrunner.

Shadow and Bone will premiere on Netflix in late 2020.

This Is Going to Hurt

Adam Kay Idil Sukan / BBC

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay, a former doctor and now comedian and author, will adapt his personal account of life on the wards for a new comedy drama series.

The eight-part series will be based on his non-fiction book, which details the brutal honesty of being a doctor for the NHS - both the highs and the lows.

This Is Going to Hurt will premiere on BBC Two, but a date has yet to be announced.

The Power

The Power Rex
Naomi Alderman with her novel The Power

The Power is based on Naomi Alderman's 2017 novel. The thriller takes place in a world where teenage girls suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will. 

Amazon has enlisted producers from The Handmaid's Tale and Broadchurch for the 10-part series that gives new meaning to "girl power”.

The Power will premiere on Amazon Prime Video, but a date has yet to be announced.

Lord of the Rings

LOTR Amazon Prime Video / Rex

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novels - which were famously adapted into a string of Oscar-winning movies by Peter Jackson - Amazon’s multi-season, big budget Lord of the Rings adaptation has got everyone talking.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first of three volumes of the epic novel, The Lord of the Rings. 

Lord of the Rings will premiere on Amazon Prime Video, but a date has yet to be announced.

The Expatriates

Nicole Kidman Rex
Nicole Kidman's production company are making The Expatriates

The Expatriates is a TV adaptation of the book by Janice Y. K. Lee, following three women in a close-knit expatriate community in Hong Kong.

It’s a compelling story that explores the strength of the women as they persevere through struggles with marriage, career, parenting and unimaginable loss.

Nicole Kidman’s production company Blossom Films are making the original series, following the Emmy-winning series Big Little Lies.

The Expatriates will be released on Amazon Prime Video, but a date has yet to be announced.

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