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10 Terrific British Television Shows You Should Watch Right Now

Hinterland

These days we have so many options for television viewing that finding good programming can overwhelm even the pickiest of viewers. Between networks, cable, and streaming, we have an endless number of series at our fingertips, which means that good shows can slip through our fingers.

Add international shows to the mix, and the opportunities for quality viewing grow. Most everyone is familiar with some British shows from Doctor Who to Absolutely Fabulous to The Crown. But there are plenty of other wonderful shows and miniseries from across the pond that are worth your time.

Here are ten of the best British series you can spend your time on. There’s something for everybody here from comedy to thrillers to a reality competition show unlike any other. I’ve even included options for viewing them so that you don’t have to waste too much time looking. Enjoy!

(A note on streaming: two niche services have opened the door for more terrific UK shows. Britbox offers tons of classic series and current favorites, while Acorn TV brings British and Australian shows along with some series and movies from other parts of Europe and original programming. Both are worth checking out.)

10. Life on Mars (2006-2007)

A motorist hits Manchester Police Detective Sam Tyler, and he wakes up in 1973. Is he dreaming? Is it a coma? Did he really travel back in time? And how will he get back? These questions surround the truly original drama Life on Mars.

The show does an incredible job of recreating the ‘70s from costumes to sets to the gritty look of a crime drama from the era. Many of the crimes Tyler has to solve connect to the incidents he was working on in 2006 and the show provides plenty of comic relief in watching Tyler adjust to a time with fewer technological advances in law enforcement and far less political correctness.

Life on Mars is quirky and sometimes tough to follow, and Tyler can sometimes frustrate viewers by overthinking his situations or asking the wrong questions about why he wound up where he did. But all told, it’s a worthwhile show for someone looking for a twisty drama with a generous amount of laughs thrown in.

To be honest, I prefer the short-lived American version of Life on Mars, mainly because I understand the cultural references without having to look things up. But the original is worth a try. Check it out on Amazon or Britbox.

9. State of Play (2003)

Paul Abbott’s searing miniseries about the intersection between journalism and political scandal takes so many twists and turns that you may find all your theories proven wrong after six hours.