Some of the best shows on television in America actually come from “across the pond.” You may remember seeing them on PBS, BBC America, or other cable networks. You may even have had the chance to see them when you visited the UK — or they may be something completely new to you. Some of these programs have been rewritten and adapted for American television, while others have remained classically original. Either way, here are some great British TV shows you can check out any time thanks to Netflix streaming. This post lists the top 10 British TV shows that are dramas. I’ll do another post with the Top 10 British comedies soon.
Top 10 British TV Shows: Dramas
Dramas come in many forms, and some even have quite a bit of humor in them, as well. We fall in love with these British TV shows’ characters and can’t wait to see what happens with them next.
The original episodic serial that is just as much comedy as drama about the Gallagher family of Chatsworth Estate, as they do whatever it takes to stay together. Loads of colorful supporting characters and compelling story lines to keep up with. Showtime currently airs the American version with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum.
9. Upstairs, Downstairs
Before Downton Abbey, there was the Bellamy family of Eaton Place, and their household staff below stairs. The series spans 25 years, through economic changes, the sinkings of both the Titanic and the Lusitania, women’s suffrage and the Great War. While it may seem a bit dated at times, remember this was produced at a time when shows like this were performed like theatre and recorded live.
8. Being Human
Best friends George and Mitchell move into a house that turns out to be haunted by Annie, a young woman who used to live there until she fell down the stairs. But that doesn’t really bother the boys since George is a werewolf and Mitchell is a vampire. The three quickly form an unbreakable bond as Mitchell tries to stay off the blood habit and out of the nocturnal underground killing culture he was once a leader of, George tries to find true love without revealing his secret, and Annie just tries to find out why she’s still here.
7. Wire in the Blood
Dr. Tony Hill is a quirky clinical psychologist who happens to have a peculiar knack for getting inside the minds of serial killers, which is why the Bradfield Police need his help for some of their most vexing cases. Be warned: This is a very dark, graphic look at some of the heinous ways humans can hurt each other.
6. Prime Suspect
Before Helen Mirren was a Dame, she was Jane Tennison, the Metropolitan Police’s first female Detective Chief Inspector, hunting down killers, while fighting rampant sexism in the old boys’ club of the homicide department. Look for a young Ralph Fiennes as the boyfriend of one of the victims.
5. MI-5 (aka Spooks)
The MI-5 team protects Britain from homegrown terrorist plots like car bombings, assassination attempts on foreign dignitaries and other acts of wanton destruction. Their personal relationships, however, are sometimes even more difficult to keep peaceful.
4. All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriott’s life as a country veterinarian is recalled in this charming series that spans the 1930s to the 1950s. At first the farming community of Darrowby is a bit skeptical of the young transplant from the south, but he eventually wins them over, as well as the lovely Helen Alderson.
3. Agatha Christie’s Poirot/Marple
David Suchet has made a career of playing the intrepid Belgian sleuth, the only actor to date to have appeared in all the stories of Hercule Poirot investigating the murder of the rich and titled. The snoopy Miss Jane Marple, on the other hand, has been incarnated by a few legendary actresses, though many fans feel the late Joan Hickson is the definitive resident spinster of St. Mary Meade.
This modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective is sharp, fast-paced and visually stunning. You might be surprised to find Sherlock Holmes texting with an iPhone or Watson blogging about their adventures on his laptop loses nothing of the essence of the original novels. Brilliantly portrayed with great chemistry by Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson.
1. Doctor Who
Is it really possible that the last of the Time Lords has been flying the TARDIS through our televisions for 50 years? This pop culture icon, who rockets through time and space dodging Daleks to put the universe right, was first broadcast in 1963 and has seen a lot of changes in the ensuing half century — including no fewer than 11 different actors having played The Doctor. On Netflix, the series is separated into “Classic Doctor Who” and the more recent episodes that began airing in 2005.
We hope you enjoyed this list of the best dramas among all British TV shows on Netflix — and come back soon for the top 10 comedies! We also listed some of the best TV shows on Netflix that were cancelled too early and the best miniseries ever!