Many Americans have a taste for British television. In fact, we can’t seem to get enough. When Prince William got married, 23 million of us got up early in the morning to watch the wedding1, and the demand for British programming continues to grow. If you ask me, it’s because we’ve grown weary of the same old Hollywood story lines and are craving something more substantial, new and fresh. We like the humor, the witty one-liners, and the originality. While our own networks often produce calculated formulas that are as predictable as an episode of NCIS, which can honestly be both entertaining and comforting, the Brits take risks and provide a fresh take on TV. British programs give us brilliant costumes, fantastic accents, and some of the best acting on the planet. Several of these shows have made their way across the pond and are attracting new audiences here in the states.
Top streaming services, such as Netfflix, Hulu and Youtube, are now offering hit TV shows that originated in the UK. So what shows should you pick? Here are a few suggestions, but fair warning: once you start watching these shows, you might not leave the couch until you finish the complete season. Here’s to binge watching!
Enjoy the grit of crime drama? Then treat yourself with this powerful show based on Dublin’s criminal underworld. Violence, betrayal, murder, and gun running are only the beginning as Darren Treacy returns to Dublin. He’s been on the run from the Garda in Ireland due to gun possession. His brother, Robbie, fresh out of prison, is shot in a drive by. As issues escalate between family, friends, and the local drug gang, prepare to sit on the edge of your seat while experiencing Love/Hate’s raw and moving delivery. Considered by many viewers to be on par with the very best of the BBC’s productions, Love/Hate has a chilling, ruthless, bloodthirsty draw that won’t let you go. Available through Hulu, this series is already in its third season, and stars Aidan Gillen as John Boy Power. I dare you not to fall hopelessly in love with Robert Sheehan as Darren Treacy.
If you ask Americans hooked on British drama what show they’d recommend, you’re likely to hear the name Downton Abbey. First appearing on iTV in the UK, this amazing period drama aired on January 9, 2011, and immediately shot up in popularity, earning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.. Based on the Crawley family and its servants, the show offers an intimate look at the British class system through the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and the reign of King George V. The show is packed with superstars like Maggie Smith, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Hugh Bonneville, and Elizabeth McGovern. You’ll never look at family heritage the same after viewing this series, now in its third season; you can find it on Netflix and Hulu.
The final show I’d like to mention is packed with drama, sex, egos, booze, and crime. The Hour is a fast-paced show that stars Dominic West, Ben Whishaw, and Romola Garai. A behind-the-scenes look at the deadline-driven days of a producer, an anchorman, and a journalist on a 1950s-era investigative news program, The Hour captures—and holds–your attention. The Hour is available on Netflix.
Anyone who loves the BBC has probably heard of the Time Lord from Gallifrey. Over 900 years old, the Doctor travels through time in his TARDIS–a living, telepathic machine–to save civilizations and protect planet Earth from the threat of extraterrestrials. This show is celebrating its 50th year anniversary and has become an icon of British popular culture, not to mention a cult favorite around the globe. What makes Doctor Who exceptional and unique is its ability to weave a never-ending storyline across generations of viewers and actors alike. Able to “regenerate” upon death, the Doctor has gone through eleven transformations thus far, and is currently played by actor Matt Smith. The show is known for its pseudo-science and quick wit, as well as its cast of the Time Lord’s clever companions. Doctor Who can be found on Netflix.
The greatest detective of all time has been modernized in this crime drama from the BBC, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (the voice for both Smaug the Dragon and the Necromancer in The Hobbit) and Martin Freeman (who plays Bilbo in The Hobbit). This is a powerful and brilliant contemporary look at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes creation, set in modern times, beset by modern dilemmas. Why watch another version of this famous detective? Because Sherlock is heads above and beyond traditional attempts at portraying the exploits of this London detective. It’s fresh, fun, and fantastic. The subtle, computer-generated blips that allow you to see inside the mind of Sherlock while he makes his deductions are worth a look. Available on Netflix, Sherlock is highly entertaining and strongly recommended. Want to add to this list? Comment below and share your views with the rest of us.
1 Via Deadline.com