You have a lot of brilliant things, Britain, but the best, by far, is your television. The drama, the intrigue, the costumes, the accents. It’s sensational. Luckily for those of us across the pond, Netflix is here to bring us these lovely exports. Break out the biscuits and tune into these picks for a cracking good time. (Did I say that right? My British English is a work in progress.)
Here’s our top 10 BBC series streaming on Netflix in the US.
10. Happy Valley
There’s nothing better than a British crime drama. I will say this-they get very complicated, very quickly. So hang on to your hats. Stay with me: Sarah Lancashire plays Catherine Cawood, a headstrong police sergeant in West Yorkshire. She’s divorced and still coming to terms with the suicide of her teenage daughter, Becky. She’s living with her sister, a recovering addict, and raising Becky’s son, the product of rape. We haven’t even gotten to the darkest bits yet. Her daughter’s rapist has been released from prison and about to get into some whole new evil. Catherine doesn’t know just what she’s about to stumble into.
9. The IT Crowd
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Set in the offices of Reynholm Industries, this comedy shines a light on the oft underappreciated IT department. There’s the geeky genius, the laid back technician, and the department head who doesn’t even know anything about IT. It’s a kooky yet relatable comedy in which the workers finding themselves in ludicrous situations.
8. Call The Midwife
This period drama centers around a group of midwives working in the East End of London in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It follows them as they are drawn into the lives and homes of the women and families they treat, all the while weaving historical events into the storylines. The series has won numerous awards and earned praise for approaching a number of delicate and topical issues.
7. The Office
Where it all started. If you appreciate the U.S. version, you must watch the original. Created, written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the mockumentary style series follows the lives of the workers of a paper company. Gervais stars as their fearless leader David Brent with Martin Freeman playing the prankster paper salesman. You must watch what has been regarded as one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. It’s mandatory. (I was going to make a “that’s what she said joke” but since that’s the U.S. version it wasn’t going in naturally. It seems like it would be easy to fit in. I know it’s never a good idea to force it. Why is this so hard? Let’s just put this matter to bed.)
Bonus: There’s an Office spinoff movie, “David Brent: Life on the Road” headed your way so bone up now. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!
6. The Fall
The Fall is a slow-burning, addictive watch. The quiet crime drama has quite a different twist—we know who the killer is. The burning question that keeps us coming back is: will he be caught? It’s almost like a dream where you’re screaming but no one seems to hear you. You know who the killer is. But will they be able to figure it out? It is absolutely riveting and you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
5. Black Mirror
No description I could write for this show would do it justice. The Twilight Zone for the new age? I hesitate to call it science fiction because the episodes are rooted in reality…a twisted, bizarre reality. Each episode is a stand-alone drama. And each episode goes beyond the imagination. I don’t want to spoil it for you. All I’ll say is the actors are top notch and your mind is going to be blown. I’ve said too much.
4. An Idiot Abroad
Travel shows are all over the place, but this one is delightfully distinct. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (The Office) send their ever distressed friend Karl Pilkington on a trip around the world to visit the Seven Wonders. What makes this travel show so magnificently different is that Karl hates it and doesn’t hold back telling you about it. Instead of sugarcoating every new experience he has, Karl lets us know how annoyed he is every step of the way. The whinging is laugh out loud funny. Karl Pilkington is my spirit animal. (If you find yourself enjoying this, which you will, you should also check out The Moaning of Life.)
Idris Elba stars in this drama as brilliant and dedicated police officer John Luther. He is dedicated to a fault—his cases consume him and he is haunted by the dark side of humanity he comes in contact with. The series has received eleven Primetime Emmy Award nominations in various categories, including four nominations of Elba for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Elba has received a Golden Globe Award for the role.
2. Peaky Blinders
One of Netflix’s first collaborations with the BBC, this gangster drama follows a Liverpool street gang led by Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Sam Neill plays the detective tasked with the reining in the crew and bringing order to Birmingham. The performances are spot on and it’s engrossing.
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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective gets a contemporary makeover in this crime drama. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. Sherlock is arrogant and brilliant, highly annoying to the police officers he’s often in contact with. Watson is a sharp war vet who gets caught up in the investigating and goes along for the ride, taking notes along the way. Together they solve mysteries in modern London, going against the grain. They make a smashing team. The show has been nominated for numerous awards including BAFTAs, Emmys, and a Golden Globe, winning several awards across a variety of categories.