Talk about any British show and everyone automatically assumes that it must be BBC. For people on the other side of the pond, and honestly, even for the rest of the world, British television is synonymous with BBC, and rightfully so. It’s not that the country doesn’t have other channels; but it’s just that BBC has been the most influential network till date, not just in Britain but in other parts of the world as well. It has become a trademark and has been so consistent with the quality of its material that whatever it serves you, you’ll know it’ll be good, at its worst. If you haven’t yet started consuming what British television has to offer, then Netflix presents you with a great opportunity as it is full of British films and TV shows. So, here’s the list of really good BBC shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
18. Wanderlust (2018)
This show stars Toni Collette as Joy Richards, a relationship therapist who is driven to take extreme measures when her marriage begins to fall apart. Joy and Alan have been married a long time; they have three kids who are all grown-up now, and they have successful careers, so there are no financial woes either. However, everyone in the family is struggling with one or other problem which is directly related to their sex lives. A cycling accident opens Joy to the courage of demanding something more from her husband and this leads both of them down a path that ultimately poses the question: what price are they willing to pay for their fantasies and forbidden desires to come true? Thus, ‘Wanderlust’ becomes a study of a normal marriage that takes a drastic turn when the partners make a choice that they’ll soon regret.
17. Collateral (2018)
A BBC Two and Netflix original miniseries, ‘Collateral‘ is a British police procedural show set in London and spans four days. The central character of the story is Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) who gets involved with the investigations into the murder of a pizza delivery boy in London. As she investigates deeper, she finds herself inside the dangerous realm of London’s underworld which seems to operate with its own sets of rules. Parallelly, we see how politician David Mars and a vicar also indirectly get involved with the case. A rather intriguing thriller, the best part of ‘Collateral’ is the atmosphere and tension which remain consistent throughout its four-episode run.
16. White Gold (2017 –)
If you’ve wondered what became of Jay and Simon from ‘The Inbetweeners’, then ‘White Gold’ is the show you should watch. It stars James Buckley as Brian Fitzpatrick and Joe Thomas as Martin Lavender, two salesmen working at Cachet Windows, with Ed Westwick playing the role of the head salesman, Vincent Swan. Brian and Martin are of different ambitions and have a polar opposite approach when it comes to their work ethics. Martin is polite and considerate and he prioritizes the needs of his customer before his ambition. This is why he’ll never be able to beat Brian at sales. Brian is cunning and ruthless, and as Vincent once wager, “he can sell ice to the Eskimos”. The show focuses on the rivalry and friendship of these three, along with the story of other salesmen who work with them.
15. Marcella (2016-)
This show follows the story of a troubled former detective, Marcella Backland. Her personal life is a mess. Her husband has decided to call quits on their marriage after a decade-and-a-half, and he is ready to use anything against Marcella to get the full custody of their children. His case is strengthened by Marcella’s psychological weakness. She is prone to black-outs and along with impeding with her personal life, this problem is also causing chaos in her professional one. The pressure is further increased when a decade-old case is reopened. New information suggests that the serial killer who was responsible for three murders in 2005 has returned, and before he (or she) stages more bloodbath, Marcella and her team have to solve the crime, revisiting the horrors they have witnessed all those years ago.
14. Merlin (2008 – 2012)
This show is a re-imagining of the legend of King Arthur and other characters from his story. The protagonist of this tale is Merlin, a wizard who, in the original legend, helped Arthur reclaim his throne after discovering that he had done the impossible task of pulling Excalibur out of the stone. In this version, however, the events take place very differently. For starters, Merlin is not an old sage, he is Arthur’s contemporary. Arthur’s father Uther is the king of Camelot and he has prohibited magic of all forms in the kingdom. When Arthur discovers his powers, he is forced to keep them under wraps to save himself from punishment. Meanwhile, he meets Arthur, who might be rebellious to the king but has a very kind heart that wants to do good for his subjects.
13. Peaky Blinders (2013-)
‘Peaky Blinders‘ managed to create a global fan following as soon as it began airing, and its popularity has only grown over the years. The story of this series is set in Birmingham in 1919 where a dangerous criminal gang called the Peaky Blinders is on the rise. The gang is led by Tommy Shelby, a crime lord who will not stop at anything to earn the success that he thinks he deserves. The only opposition that the Peaky Blinders face is from Inspector Major Chester Campbell. He is someone who has been sent to Birmingham by Churchill to curb down the rise of Communists, members of the IRA, and the criminals who have made this industrial town the hotbed of their different activities. The performances and the brilliant visuals on offer in this series are unparalleled. Cillian Murphy has been the perfect casting in the role of Tommy Shelby, with the intensity in his eyes being perfect for the role.
12. Sex Education (2019-)
This British Netflix original series centres around a character called Otis Milburn who is rather socially awkward and has thus never managed to get intimate with any girl. However, when it comes to sex, Otis is an expert on the theoretical part of it because his mother is a sex therapist. Even without putting in a conscious effort, Otis has become an expert in the field because of the endless talks about sex which kept happening in his house quite openly since he was a child. Otis decides that he should use his knowledge to help those of his classmates who suffer from sexual problems, and for that, he opens a secret underground sexual therapy clinic with the help of one of his classmates called Maeve. While trying to solve the various sexual problems of his fellow students, Otis realizes he needs some intimacy in his life as well. A rather bold and wise series, ‘Sex Education‘ touches upon the boldest topics with such humour and innocence, that nothing feels awkward at any point of time.
11. Man Like Mobeen (2017-)
This show follows the story of a Muslim man living in Birmingham. His only family is his sister Aqsa, who has a very promising life ahead, unlike Mobeen’s, and he wants to give his sister a chance at moving away from their current circumstance towards a better life. However, it is not so easy for him to keep her away from danger, especially when he hasn’t been able to let go of his shady past as a drug dealer that comes back to bite him time and again. The show follows Mobeen’s quest of trying to make things right, with the help of his mates, Nate and Eight. But how can they help him when they are used to making a mess around themselves?
10. Bodyguard (2018 –)
Everyone is crazy about Jon Snow, but most of the fandom he has gained comes from the process of elimination. I mean, and sorry for reminding but, Red Wedding! For a lot of people, the King in the North is still Robb Stark. If you are one of those loyalists, then ‘Bodyguard’ is just the show you need. It stars Richard Madden as David Budd, an Afghanistan war veteran who is assigned to be the bodyguard for a controversial politician, Julia Montague. Still recovering from the scarring experiences of war, Budd finds his new job even more challenging because he finds himself in constant disagreement with the ideas of a person he’s supposed to protect. Want some exciting, nail-biting action series with a tense political atmosphere which might be a latent commentary on current political circumstances? Head to Netflix and watch this show.
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9. Black Mirror (2011-)
One of the greatest TV shows of all time, ‘Black Mirror‘ is a Channel 4 original series that was later taken on by Netflix. This series is one of the most eye-opening things you will see on television today. Each episode of ‘Black Mirror’ is a different story which tells us how close to a massive tragedy our lives always are in the hands of the technology that we use today. From cyberbullying to surveillance to online dating, nothing remains outside the realm of ‘Black Mirror’. From brilliant performances to stories that leave us dumbfounded- the production qualities of this series are endless. The series challenges the ways we perceive the world and shows us how susceptible our lives are at the hands of technology, which was only meant to aid and assist us.
8. The Last Kingdom (2015- Present)
For the fans of historical fiction, BBC is a great place. The channel keeps reinventing the classic stories from Shakespeare and Austen while introducing the audience to a set of new characters from the more recent novels. ‘The Last Kingdom’ is a treat if you love such shows. It is based on a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell and is set in the late 9th century. The protagonist of the story is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. His father was Saxon noblemen and was killed in an attack by Viking Danes who frequently plundered Anglo-Saxon territories. Uhtred is taken captive by the Viking lord, Earl Ragnar, who raises him like a son. As the years pass by, the rivalry within the Viking lords grows, which eventually leads to the death of Ragnar. Now that Uhtred is in charge, he decides to not only avenge Ragnar’s death but also plans to take back the Saxon territories that were taken at the time of his real father’s death.
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7. Still Game (2002-2019)
Even though this Scottish sitcom has run for seventeen years, there are only nine seasons of the series, the finale of which premiered on March 28, 2019. It follows the story of three men who get stuck in various circumstances, like when the lift becomes dysfunctional, they are forced to remain in their flat and use this time to discuss all sorts of topics. In addition to that, these characters also try to familiarize themselves with the modernity of the world, which also becomes a prominent topic of discussion for them. Quite popular in Scotland, ‘Still Game’ evolved from theatre to screen in very quick steps.
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6. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
This sketch comedy series is one of the classics of British comedy and apart from ‘Flying Circus’, you’ll find other programs related to ‘Monty Python’s’ on Netflix. Since all that started from here, it was only logical that this one made the list. If you’re still new to the scenario of British comedy, then you should go in with the expectation that it won’t be like any usual comedy you’ve seen before. In fact, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ gave ground to a new kind of comedy which was all previous versions combined and yet, nothing like any of them. It is sharp, witty and utterly humorous. Because it was made in the early 70s, you might feel like you’re watching a show from another time. But get used to it and you’ll feel anachronistic in your current timeline.
5. The English Game (2020 -)
Created by Julian Fellowes, Tony Charles, and Oliver Cotton, ‘The English Game’ is a historical sports drama television miniseries that stars Edward Holcroft, Kevin Guthrie, Charlotte Hope, and Niamh Walsh. The show is set in the 1870s Great Britain when football was considered a sport of the wealthy. However, two men from different classes join hands and come together to bring down the class divide that has existed for decades. In the process, they fight personal and professional turmoil, but their struggle against the system bears fruit as the players manage not only to change the game but their country as well.
4. Dracula (2020)
Inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name, ‘Dracula’ is a drama-horror television serial created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. The Claes Bang and Dolly Wells-starrer revolve around Jonathan Harker, a tormented lawyer who arrives in Transylvania for the sale of a stately house, unbeknownst to the dangers that he is pushing himself into. However, he unknowingly ends up in a maze-like castle belonging to the blood-sucking vampire Count, who has some sinister plans for Victorian London. The antagonist eventually hopes to rule over the entire world, but will he ever succeed in achieving his far-fetched dreams? Watch ‘Dracula’ in order to find out.
3. Giri/Haji (2019 -)
Featuring stand-out performances by Takehiro Hira, Kelly Macdonald, and Yōsuke Kubozuka, ‘Giri/Haji’ is a crime thriller series created and written by Joe Barton. The show follows a Tokyo detective named Kenzo Mori, who is on a mission to find his brother Yuto. The latter is accused of murdering someone related to the Yakuza, and the situation has become tense in the region as gang war seems imminent. Therefore, it’s crucial for Kenzo to find his brother and get to the bottom of the entire matter so that truth can be finally revealed. When he arrives in London, luckily, he finds help from DC Sarah Weitzmann and Rodney Yamaguchi, two unlikely allies who help him irrespective of the hardships in the path.
2. Criminal: UK (2019 -)
Developed by George Kay and Jim Field Smith, ‘Criminal: UK’ is a British police procedural anthology series that stars Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby, and Mark Stanley. The Jim Field Smith directorial focuses on London-based investigators who interview suspects of dangerous crimes. Based on these interactions and other evidence, they try to understand the suspects so that they can form an opinion of their likelihood of involvement in the crime. The mind-games and the psychological drama that unfolds keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and make them guess till the very end of each episode.
1. Derry Girls (2018 -)
Starring Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, and Nicola Coughlan, ‘Derry Girls’ is a British teen sitcom directed by Michael Lennox. The show is set in the 1990s when Northern Ireland was ravaged by political conflict that made the life of ordinary citizens quite complicated. Amidst all the societal disputes, five high school students struggle with the typical teenage conflicts that become even more complicated in the light of other problems.
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