There’s obviously no shortage of great television shows here in the United States. From dramas to sitcoms, reality shows to talent competitions, we seem to have covered every imaginable base as far as televised storytelling is concerned.
But that doesn’t mean Americans are the only ones that have mastered the small-screen. England has created some killer series over the years — some that even put our best TV shows to shame. And Netflix has done an awesome job of compiling the best that Great Britain has to offer and making it available for our viewing pleasure. Here are five of the best British TV shows you can watch right now on Netflix.
1. Peaky Blinders
This World War I-era crime drama is so compelling, it’s down-right addictive. Peaky Blinders takes place in the heart of England, and follows a crew of gangsters as they attempt to expand their empire past their home base of Birmingham, whilst evading the authorities that seek to shut them down. The BBC series features an impressive cast, including Inception’s Cillian Murphy as the cutthroat boss Tommy and Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill as the Irish police officer tracking the gang’s every move.
Peaky Blinders works on multiple levels. The mob theme keeps your adrenaline running as you constantly wonder who will suffer at the hands of the mob or its foes. Both in pacing and in cinematography, it often feels more like a film than a television series with its slick visual style. The writing and acting is top notch — just as good as anything you’d see on premium cable these days.
If you were a fan of Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy Peaky Blinders.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are two of England’s most recognizable stars — and they teamed up together for one of the most entertaining television shows in recent memory. In Sherlock, they play the notorious detective and his compatriot, Dr. Watson, respectively.
Together, they tackle some pretty compelling mysteries, and engage in some classic Sherlockian repartee while they’re at it. The series ran the risk of feeling like yet another take on Sherlock Holmes — but between its stars and some smart storytelling from showrunner Stephen Moffat, it often feels like a refreshing and somewhat modern take on the classic characters.
3. The Fall
It’s not often that American actors head across the pond to advance their careers, but The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson did just that with the BBC’s The Fall. This gripping crime drama co-stars 50 Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan in a surprisingly stellar performance.
Set in Northern Ireland, it tells the story of a brilliant metropolitan police officer on the trail of a sinister serial killer. Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, The Fall is one of those shows that catches your attention and won’t let go. And it constantly keeps you guessing, which means you’ll never be bored.
Idris Elba, famous for his portrayal of Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire, stars as the titular character in this BBC One series. Luther follows a brilliant but off-kilter detective, who investigates tough crimes. Like Law and Order or Criminal Minds, the cases are sometimes grisly — but Luther’s uncanny ability of getting to the bottom of the crime is fascinating. His personal demons make for an interesting twist on the traditional police procedural.
A young boy’s death tears a small town apart, and two detectives are the only hope to bring about some closure. That’s the premise behind Broadchurch, a gripping British series that deviates from the standard procedural protocol found in most crime dramas. By following a single case and its after-effects, Broadchurch gives you a chilling, intricate glimpse at every angle of the crime.
Its characters, from the grieving parents to the careful detectives (David Tennant and Olivia Colman) assigned to find the murderer, are rich and compelling. Broadchurch was remade for American television as the now-canceled Gracepoint, but we highly recommend you stick to the original.
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