In this divisive and chaotic year of our lord, there’s still at least one thing we can all agree on: British crime dramas (an important subdivision of British dramas) are bloody awesome. The genre surged in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years, thanks in part to BBC series Peaky Blinders and total babe Cillian Murphy. Lucky for you, Peaky Blinders is just one of the many excellent British TV crime dramas available to stream these days.
You’ve probably heard of The Stranger starring Richard Armitage, but if you haven’t, you can thank me later for introducing you two. But it’s more than just beautiful, emotionally reserved men and their sexy posh accents that make British crime dramas a must (see also: Richard Madden in Bodyguard. You’re welcome.). The shows are genuinely well-written, packed with smart dialogue, and have multi-dimensional, gripping plot lines. Not to throw shade, but British crime shows make Law and Order SVU and Criminal Minds look run-of-the-mill, even boring. (And I worship at the altar of Olivia Benson, so that’s really saying something.)
If the genre is still somewhat foreign to you or if you’ve already made it across the pond and need more proper crime to queue up, Netflix has a ~badass~ lineup of British TV crime shows. There’s a lil something for everyone, from “catch the serial killer” to “unravel that decades-old mystery,” sometimes in the same show. Just don’t blame me when you start using some good ol’ British banter and start looking for clues in your everyday life.
The much-loved first season features Richard Madden (yum) as protection officer David Budd—a war veteran with intense PTSD who’s assigned to a security detail for a conservative parliament member (Keeley Hawes). I don’t need to tell you, but the twisty intrigue and sexy chemistry are both ~really good~ here. There’s been widespread discussion of a second season, which I would like immediately pls.
You might have missed this thrilling series the first time round, but how could you not be into Gillian Anderson matching wits with Jamie Dornan?? She’s the talented, bisexual detective tasked with catching a serial killer and has…a complicated past of her own, let’s say. He’s the serial killer, who’s also a family man and *also* the creepiest person ever.
A picture perfect soccer mom (Cush Jumbo) has a bunch of dark secrets, and they all come rushing in when a serial killer starts killing again (Richard Armitage is in this one too, if you’re a fan). This one’s based on a book, if you love crime novels—but be aware the show kinda modified the ending, so you’re technically getting two dramas in one.
This is one show that will have you guessing what’s going to happen next the entire time you watch it. When a total stranger confronts family man Adam Price and reveals a secret about his wife, it sends him down a spiraling rabbit hole as he tries to uncover the truth.
If you love your British crime with a side of sci-fi (or even if you don’t), this show is an absolute must-watch. When a DNA researcher believes she’s found a way to genetically match you with your perfect partner, she sets up a matchmaking service to help pair people off with their soul mates and everything seems super exciting and great. Until someone turns up dead.
Any fans of Sherlock Holmes (aka the OG British crime god) will love this show—it’s a totally new take on the classic Sherlock tales. It’s about a ragtag group of teens in Victorian England who come together to help a sinister Dr. Watson and his mysterious partner Sherlock Holmes solve supernatural crimes.
Out in London’s East End, the drug trade isn’t exactly hidden. And Ra’Nell, whose mother was just admitted to a mental hospital and whose father died after Ra’Nell killed him, is figuring out how to navigate a crime-filled life.
Criminal is a Netflix original series that hyper-focuses on police interrogations, each set in a different country—France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. With only three episodes in each season, it’s super snackable. And each time, you get to witness three different perspectives: inside the police interrogation room, what happens behind the one-way mirror, and last, the area outside the two rooms. Fair warning: This one will utterly mind-f*ck you.
A heartbreaking drama-slash-thriller about a dad whose daughter disappears in what is supposed to be a gated, secure neighborhood. As he desperately searches for her, he begins to realize that what he thought was safe is far from it. This is the kind of show that’ll make you question whether your roommate is actually your friend or some crazy person trying to get close to you so they can kill your entire family.
I know what you’re thinking so I’ll just come right out and say yes, this show 1,000 percent lives up to all the hype (and totally falls under “crime” even if said crime is old-timey). Peaky Blinders will go down in history as one of the greatest things to come out of England, right next to David Beckham and the dress Pippa Middleton wore to Kate and Will’s wedding. If you haven’t heard of Peaky Blinders, either the show or the viral haircut trend, then please leave your bunker and start watching it ASAP.
Okay, so this show is both completely wild and completely thrilling. An English woman heads down to Ibiza to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her brother. White Lines is for anyone who likes murder mixed with sex, drugs, and partying. Pure escapism.
Giri/Haji follows a Tokyo policeman who travels to London to find a wanted murderer who also happens to be his brother. The Japanese-English series is a cross-cultural story that combines cops and family drama in a seriously thrilling show.
If you plow through this list in order and loved The Fall, you’ll have no problem getting addicted to Marcella Backland and company. It’s another cat-and-mouse formula only with more baggage and blackouts that make it hard to separate reality from what’s going on inside Marcella’s head.
Fans of Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones can breathe a sigh of relief: There is life beyond Dorne and that life exists in the fictional town of Woodmere, where actress Indira Varma plays Detective Sergeant Nina Suresh, who’s tasked with solving the murder of a physician found stabbed in a playground.
Clear your schedule (who even has better plans anyway?) and binge Collateral: a four-part series centering on the murder of a pizza delivery driver in London. Mulligan is Kip Glaspie, an Olympic pole vaulter-turned detective. Yep, you read that right.
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