Liberty's List of British Drama Shows

by Liberty-AstonMartin | created - 06 Jan 2015 | updated - 4 months ago | Public

Must watch British Drama television series including mini series and BBCA productions. (Also a list of my favorite British Drama television shows). *IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER* (And also including some Australian/French shows which likely aired on BBC Worldwide or Netflix).

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1. Doctor Who (2005– )

TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

The further adventures in time and space of the alien adventurer known as the Doctor and their companions from planet Earth.

Stars: Jodie Whittaker, Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Smith

Votes: 184,858

One of the most compelling human dramas... is about an alien. Infinitely clever and quirky, Doctor Who has fans around the globe and has lasted over 50 years. The revamp, beginning in 2005, has captured the hearts of adults and children alike.

2. Broadchurch (2013–2017)

TV-MA | 48 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The murder of a young boy in a small coastal town brings a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart.

Stars: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan

Votes: 75,199

One of the best mystery dramas of the era, Broadchurch focuses on a small town and how it deals with the death of a young boy and the murder's trial. Gritty, dark, with vibrant seaside setting.

3. Sherlock (2010– )

TV-14 | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves

Votes: 716,268

Witty, clever, detective drama and beautifully produced. No one should miss this sensational hit show.

4. The Hollow Crown (2012– )

150 min | Drama, History

A mini-series of adaptations of Shakespeare's history plays: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V.

Stars: Anton Lesser, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Georgeson, John Mackay

Votes: 4,970

How Shakespeare was meant to be preformed. No more comment necessary.

5. Emma (2009)

240 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfectly content, to have a loving father whom she cares for, friends and a home. But Emma has a terrible habit - matchmaking. She cannot resist finding suitors ... See full summary »

Stars: Romola Garai, Michael Gambon, Jonny Lee Miller, Jodhi May

Votes: 13,529

Beautifully produced Jane Austen adaption. Jonny Lee Miller is the perfect Mr Knightly. All actors portray their roles perfectly: Michael Gambon, Tamsin Greg, Jodhi May, Rupert Evans, and the clever/stubborn Miss Emma Woodhouse. For fans of Austen, this is a must-see. Set, wardrobe, and style of whole production are simply stunning.

6. Orphan Black (2013–2017)

TV-MA | 44 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.

Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard

Votes: 93,292

Tatiana Maslany will leave you speechless. (A hard show to put into words). Epic. Sci-fi. Character/Plot thriller with quirky characters who face unthinkable drama. Tatiana plays over thirty characters and yet the show's small cast feels infinitely vast. Her skill surpasses any I have seen.

7. Intruders (2014)

45 min | Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

A secret society is devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others.

Stars: James Frain, Millie Bobby Brown, Tory Kittles, Mira Sorvino

Votes: 3,226

Breakout role of Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and starring John Simm and James Frain. Dark, haunting series about people who have an extra soul inside of them. Millie, a young girl, portrays a perverted, male serial killer with the ease of a seasoned actor such as Gary Oldman. Viewers may feel unsatisfied with the ending because of the show's cancellation, but it is still worth a watch for fans of the genre and of Millie.

8. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015)

60 min | Fantasy, History, Sci-Fi

In an alternate history, during the time of real life Napoleonic Wars, two men of destiny, the gifted recluse Mr. Norrell and daring spellcasting novice Jonathan Strange, use magic to help England.

Stars: Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren, Charlotte Riley

Votes: 10,716

Highly-anticipated adaption of Susanna Clarke's novel of the same name. This 7-part mini series is both a historical drama and a fantasy. In a world were magic is real but studied, not practiced, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell form an association that changes the country and the war. Bertie Carvel shines and Eddie Marsen is simply brilliant. Perfectly cast and produced.

9. The Game (2014–2015)

60 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

A Cold War spy thriller that tells the story of invisible wars fought by MI5.

Stars: Tom Hughes, Jonathan Aris, Victoria Hamilton, Shaun Dooley

Votes: 2,660

Cold War era drama with excellent cast (Tom Hughes, Brian Cox, Paul Ritter, etc). Slightly dry and understated, but very good espionage thriller.

10. Our Girl (2014– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Action, Drama, War

The series follows Molly on her first deployment as a serving army medic against the backdrop of the British Army's withdrawal from Afghanistan. Series 2 introduces Georgie, her more experienced friend, as she is deployed to Eastern Africa.

Stars: Ben Aldridge, Simon Lennon, Sean Ward, Michelle Keegan

Votes: 2,850

(As well as the preceding tv film). Soldier/Military drama centering around a young female.

11. Strike Back (2010– )

TV-MA | 45 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Follows the actions of Section 20, a secretive unit of British military intelligence. A team of special operations personnel conduct several high risk missions across the globe.

Stars: Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Michelle Lukes, Daniel MacPherson

Votes: 26,934

(The British television show with Richard Armitage and Andrew Lincoln before moving to Starz in America). Compelling thriller set in two-part stories.

12. Torchwood (2006–2011)

TV-MA | 50 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

The members of the Torchwood Institute, a secret organization founded by the British Crown, fight to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.

Stars: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Kai Owen, Gareth David-Lloyd

Votes: 36,701

(Including 'Torchwood: Children of Earth' as a stand-alone mini series).

13. Top of the Lake (2013– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Obsessed with the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl near a freezing lake in New Zealand, a brave detective will find herself up against small-town secrets and a side of herself that was meticulously kept at bay.

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, David Wenham, Peter Mullan, Thomas M. Wright

Votes: 29,706

NEW ZEALAND. Not sure of original network. Likely aired on BBC Worldwide? Character drama. Somewhat predictable for the seasoned viewer, but still worth watching. Beautiful scenery. The backdrop of New Zealand is almost a character in its own right.

14. Black Mirror (2011– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech world where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.

Stars: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel, Beatrice Robertson-Jones

Votes: 336,824

British show, but now ran by Netflix. Deeply rooted in aspects of human nature and society. Satirizes our conflicts with technology and humanity. Each episode is a different 'world' with different characters/actors in different situations, but all are uniquely insightful about humans as a species. Ranges from dark comedy to thriller/drama. Excellent show. One of a kind. Disturbing but deeply satisfying.

15. Spooks (2002–2011)

60 min | Drama, Thriller

The missions of MI-5, the UK's domestic intelligence organization.

Stars: Peter Firth, Hugh Simon, Nicola Walker, Rupert Penry-Jones

Votes: 13,306

Long-running espionage/action thriller "Spooks." Fans of Strike Back, James Bond, and police procedurals will enjoy.

16. Single Father (2010– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama

After his wife Rita's fatal car accident, Dave tries to raise his four children, helped by Rita's best friend Sarah. Things get complicated when mourning gives way to romantic feelings, while his kids remain sincere priority.

Stars: David Tennant, Millie Innes, Chris Hegarty, Suranne Jones

Votes: 1,277

Down-to-earth family drama with David Tennant.

17. The Escape Artist (2013)

180 min | Drama, Thriller

A junior barrister celebrated for spiriting people out of tight legal corners represents an accused murderer.

Stars: David Tennant, Toby Kebbell, Sophie Okonedo, Ashley Jensen

Votes: 4,789

Twisting legal thriller starring David Tennant. Fans of drama and thriller will both enjoy.

18. North & South (2004)

TV-PG | 235 min | Drama, Romance

North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton.

Stars: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack

Votes: 27,276

Industrial Revolution drama romance set around union/worker struggles. Complex characters with conflicting motivation.

19. Poldark (2015– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Drama, History, Romance

Ross Poldark returns home after American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.

Stars: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Jack Farthing, Heida Reed

Votes: 21,185

Period drama with rounded characters. Beautiful scenery/film making and compelling, human storylines.

20. Wallander (2008–2016)

TV-PG | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A television show centered on a soul-searching Swedish cop.

Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Richard McCabe, Jeany Spark, Sarah Smart

Votes: 11,131

Gripping detective drama.

21. Robin Hood (2006–2009)

TV-PG | 60 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

After 5 years of fighting in the crusades, Robin returns to England and leads a band of outlaws to outwit the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Stars: Jonas Armstrong, Gordon Kennedy, Sam Troughton, Joe Armstrong

Votes: 15,000

Fun but full of rich characters. Lucy Griffiths and Richard Armitage shine in this series. Great family show that younger fans and adults can both enjoy without it being boring. One of the best adaptions of the Robin Hood legend that I have seen.

22. Luther (2010– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

DCI John Luther is a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.

Stars: Idris Elba, Dermot Crowley, Michael Smiley, Warren Brown

Votes: 107,136

Dark, gritty, detective show. Many two-parters of procedural stories, but a strong storyline throughout. Idris Elba portrays Luther very well. Fans of twisting detective stories or of Sherlock will enjoy.

23. The Fall (I) (2013–2016)

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A seemingly cold but very passionate policewoman goes head to head with a seemingly passionate father who is in fact a cold serialist in this procedural out of Belfast. The only thing they share is their common complexity.

Stars: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John Lynch, Aisling Franciosi

Votes: 66,093

One of the best psychological/detective dramas from the BBC (so basically, EVER). Omniscient view of detective and sadistic serial murderer set in Belfast, Ireland. One of Gillian Anderson's best roles. The characters are deeply rich, rounded, and fleshed out. Realistic and gritty.

24. DCI Banks (2010–2016)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The tenacious and stubborn DCI Banks unravels disturbing murder mysteries aided by his young assistants, DS Annie Cabbot and DI Helen Morton.

Stars: Stephen Tompkinson, Jack Deam, Andrea Lowe, Caroline Catz

Votes: 4,424

Police procedural set in Yorkshire. Very good, but likely not for everyone. A more serious Midsomer Murders.

25. The Night Manager (2016– )

TV-14 | 358 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The night manager of a Cairo hotel is recruited to infiltrate an arms dealer's inner circle.

Stars: Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Colman

Votes: 60,331

Mini-series with a James Bond feel. A great watch for fans of thriller/espionage.

26. Shetland (2013– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

DI Jimmy Perez and his team investigate crimes within the close knit island community of Shetland.

Stars: Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell, Steven Robertson, Mark Bonnar

Votes: 8,019

Police drama that is slightly procedural but has a compelling storyline throughout. Beautiful scenery and film making set on the Scottish island of Shetland.

27. Fortitude (2015–2018)

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now.

Stars: Richard Dormer, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen

Votes: 17,688

Gripping town drama with sci-fi/medical elements. British/American/etc actors.

28. The Living and the Dead (2016)

TV-14 | 60 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

When a young couple inherit a farm, they are determined to turn it into a success, but strange supernatural forces soon intervene, threatening their marriage and their lives.

Stars: Colin Morgan, Charlotte Spencer, Malcolm Storry, Kerrie Hayes

Votes: 2,880

Spooky mini series that has elements of classical horror but pulls in the modern era. Slightly procedural, but a strong storyline runs throughout that keeps you watching.

29. Humans (2015–2018)

TV-14 | 42 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.

Stars: Katherine Parkinson, Gemma Chan, Lucy Carless, Tom Goodman-Hill

Votes: 32,598

Excellent sci-fi about AI syths that become conscious. Colin Morgan, Gemma Chan, and Katherine Parkinson and the rest of the cast perfectly portray their characters. Character/Societal drama.

30. Happy Valley (2014– )

TV-MA | 58 min | Crime, Drama

Catherine Cawood is the sergeant on duty when flustered and nervous accountant Kevin Weatherill comes into her West Yorkshire station to report a crime.

Stars: Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Shane Zaza, Charlie Murphy

Votes: 28,450

BBC show in conjunction with Netflix. Non-procedural Police/Character drama.

31. The Kettering Incident (2016– )

TV-MA | 51 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Doctor Anna Macy finds herself inexplicably linked to the disappearance of two girls, fifteen years apart.

Stars: Elizabeth Debicki, Matthew Le Nevez, Henry Nixon, Anthony Phelan

Votes: 2,836

AUSTRALIAN show (Foxtel). Twisting psychological and societal drama with many sci-fi elements.

32. Glitch (2015– )

TV-MA | 45 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

Six people return from the dead with no memory and attempt to unveil what brought them to the grave in the first place.

Stars: Patrick Brammall, Genevieve O'Reilly, Emma Booth, Emily Barclay

Votes: 10,311

AUSTRALIAN show (ABC). People come back from the dead, but not as zombies! Gripping character drama and sci-fi. Picked up by Netflix.

33. The Five (2016)

60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A mystery series created by author Harlan Coben. Jesse, a five-year-old boy, goes missing. Twenty years later, his DNA shows up at a crime scene.

Stars: O-T Fagbenle, Tom Cullen, Hannah Arterton, Sarah Solemani

Votes: 6,084

Sky TV production about a boy who went missing when he was five and the four people surrounding the disappearance. Mystery and drama.

34. Retribution (2016)

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

A horrific murder rocks the lives of two families living side-by-side in isolated rural Scotland.

Stars: Owen Whitelaw, Adrian Edmondson, Kate Bracken, Georgina Campbell

Votes: 4,659

BBC drama/mystery about the death of a young couple and their families... A high-level, A-grade whodunnit.

35. The A Word (2016– )

60 min | Drama

The Hughes family work and love and fight like every other family. Then, their youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don't feel like every other family anymore.

Stars: Max Vento, Lee Ingleby, Morven Christie, Christopher Eccleston

Votes: 1,377

A beautiful BBC drama about a family and how their lives change (and do not change) with regard to their son's autism diagnosis.

36. Thirteen (2016)

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

26-year-old Ivy Moxam steps out of an ordinary house, on an ordinary street, on an ordinary day. Ivy hasn't been seen for thirteen years, she was kidnapped in 2003 at the age of thirteen.

Stars: Jodie Comer, Valene Kane, Richard Rankin, Natasha Little

Votes: 5,800

Compelling BBC mystery about a girl who was abducted when she was thirteen and then escapes thirteen years later.

37. Trust Me (2017–2019)

55 min | Drama, Thriller

A hardworking nurse who loses her job for whistle-blowing is forced to take drastic measures to provide for her daughter.

Stars: Jodie Whittaker, Emun Elliott, Lois Chimimba, Summer Mason

Votes: 1,832

Jodie Whittaker takes the identity of a doctor. Drama / Romance.

38. Land Girls (2009–2011)

225 min | Drama

Follow the lives, loves and highs and lows of four members of the Women's Land Army who are working at the Hoxley Estate during World War II.

Stars: Becci Gemmell, Susan Cookson, Mark Benton, Mykola Allen

Votes: 2,114

Drama / Romance / Comedy

39. Endeavour (2012– )

TV-14 | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Set in the 1960s, the show follows Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable. Working alongside his senior partner DI Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.

Stars: Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, James Bradshaw, Anton Lesser

Votes: 14,590

Retro crime drama. Romance. Mystery.

40. Grantchester (2014– )

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester.

Stars: Robson Green, Tessa Peake-Jones, Al Weaver, James Norton

Votes: 7,960

50s era-ish mystery / drama / romance / sociology.

41. The Durrells in Corfu (2016– )

TV-PG | 46 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

Based on the real-life events of the Durrell family as they resettle from England to Greece.

Stars: Keeley Hawes, Josh O'Connor, Milo Parker, Daisy Waterstone

Votes: 5,256

Comedy / Family Drama / Romance.

42. My Mother and Other Strangers (2016– )

60 min | Drama, Romance, War

In 1943, the Coyne family and their neighbours struggle to maintain a normal life after a US Army Air Force base is set up in the middle of their rural parish.

Stars: Ciarán Hinds, Michael Nevin, Hattie Morahan, Owen McDonnell

Votes: 1,053

Wartime romance / drama.

43. Jamestown (2017– )

Not Rated | 60 min | Drama, History

A drama about English settlers in America in 1617.

Stars: Stuart Martin, Matt Stokoe, Kalani Queypo, Claire Cox

Votes: 2,700

Set in the British Colonies in America

44. Midsomer Murders (1997– )

TV-14 | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A veteran Detective Chief Inspector and his young Sergeant investigate murders around the regional community of Midsomer County.

Stars: John Nettles, Jane Wymark, Barry Jackson, Jason Hughes

Votes: 19,967

Mystery serial detective show with quirky village characters and bizarre deaths.

45. Last Tango in Halifax (2012–2016)

TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy, Drama

Re-united after 50+ years apart, Celia and Alan decide to marry. At age 16, Alan's late wife failed to pass on a letter from Celia, his longtime crush, with an apology for missing their first date and her forwarding address. Both now have daughters with lover troubles.

Stars: Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker

Votes: 4,011

Lovely family drama / romance of an older couple that falls in love.

46. Our Zoo (2014)

312 min | Drama

A drama series about the family who founded Chester Zoo in the 1930s.

Stars: Lee Ingleby, Liz White, Anne Reid, Honor Kneafsey

Votes: 1,182

Family / social drama with interesting animals.

47. Doctor Foster (2015– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama

A woman suspects her husband of having an affair. After following several lines of inquiry far more unravels including a streak of violence below the surface.

Stars: Suranne Jones, Bertie Carvel, Tom Taylor, Thusitha Jayasundera

Votes: 11,421

Family / Romance drama. Female doctor separates from husband.

48. Death in Paradise (2011– )

TV-PG | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A British inspector is transferred to Saint-Marie's police department, but he hates the sun, sea and sand. The series follow his investigations into murders on the island. Later series see another British DI head the investigative team.

Stars: Danny John-Jules, Elizabeth Bourgine, Don Warrington, Joséphine Jobert

Votes: 11,604

Comedy / Mystery / Romance / Drama. This is also in my British comedy list, but works equally well for the drama list. The detective gets replaced kind of like Doctor Who/James Bond.