The Best of British TV and Where to Watch Them
With the BBC recently celebrating their 100th Anniversary, we got to thinking about our all-time favourite British telly. While not all of our picks below are from the BBC, most of them certainly are. That beloved British institution continues to churn out classics year after year.
At Fetch, we are lucky to have access to great British TV all across our platform. In the Fetch Variety Pack you’ll find BBC First and UK TV, the Kids Pack features BBC Kids and CBeebies, while the Knowledge Pack gives you access to BBC Earth, BBC Brit and BBC World News. Then of course, we have dedicated Streaming Apps like Britbox and Acorn TV, which specialise in British mysteries, dramas and comedies.
Here’s our list of British TV Faves and where to find them on Fetch.
Line of Duty
The Skinny: Highly-acclaimed and well-respected police-procedural focuses on the uncovering of corruption within the fictional Central Police Force. Recently transferred DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) is partnered with undercover officer DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and tasked to investigate the activities of suspected corrupt officers, portrayed by an all-star British cast across the six seasons, including Keeley Hawes, Lennie James, Stephen Graham, Thandiwe Newton and Kelly McDonald.
Where to watch: Stream all 6 seasons on Britbox, S1-5 on Acorn TV & Stan, S5 on Netflix, or purchase all seasons in the Fetch TV Store.
The Skinny: The topic of many a watercooler discussion since it’s conception, this meticulously detailed mystery series is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, with the titular character portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and his associate Doctor John Watson portrayed by Martin Freeman. Set in modern day London, Holmes & Watson – with the assistance of various acquaintances – work with the Metropolitan Police Service to unravel baffling mysteries, including several that conflict with Holmes’ archenemy, Moriarty (Andrew Scott).
Where to watch: Stream all 4 seasons on Stan, or purchase in the TV Store.
The Skinny: This epic, hard-hitting Birmingham-set crime drama follows the ambitious, illicit and violent exploits of the fictional Peaky Blinders crime gang in the direct aftermath of the First World War. The senior members are made up of cast Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Joe Cole, Sophie Rundle and the late Helen McCrory, with Tom Hardy, Sam Neill, Anya Taylor-Joy, Annabelle Wallis and Sam Claflin amongst the elite ensemble that join across the six seasons.
Where to watch: Stream all 6 seasons on Netflix, purchase S1-4 in the TV Store.
The Skinny: John Luther, portrayed with hulking intimidation by Idris Elba, is a psychologically tortured Detective Chief Inspector with the Serious and Serial Unit. Dedicated to his job, Luther is scarred from his obsessive and often violent approach to law enforcement. He finds himself caught up in a complex relationship with a brilliant psychopath and suspected murderer, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), who becomes an unlikely companion as he attempts to conquer the heavy weight of his personal demons.
Where to watch: Stream all 5 seasons on Britbox & Stan, S1 on SBS On-Demand, or purchase in the TV Store.
The Skinny: This small-town crime thriller series focuses on police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), who heads up a team of dedicated police officers in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. In the gut-wrenching first season Cawood pursues the man who assaulted her daughter, who consequently committed suicide, unaware he is now part of a secret kidnapping plot. The bleak drama has rich character development, carried by exceptional performances.
Where to watch: Stream the first 2 seasons on Britbox or Stan, or watch season 3 in the BBC First catch-up area.
The Skinny: Crime writer Lynda La Plante devised this classic police procedural starring the esteemed Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, who becomes one of the first female detective chief inspectors in Greater London’s Metropolitan Police Service. This series explores Tennison’s confrontation with the institutionalised sexism within the police force, as she fronts confounding serial murder cases.
Where to watch: Stream all 7 seasons on Britbox.
The Skinny: Historical drama inspired by Winston Graham’s 12 novel series, with Aidan Turner (And Then There Were None) starring in the titular role as Captain Ross Vennor Poldark. The series commences in 1783 as Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to his Cornwall home, learning that his father has passed away and his estate is in considerable debt. Full of charming characters and capturing the romantic tone of the novels, this is a visual feast that warrants repeat enjoyment.
Where to watch: Stream all 5 seasons on Britbox, or purchase in the TV Store.
The Skinny: This provocative, high-stress police procedural stars Gillian Anderson as DSU Stella Gibson, assigned to review the progress of an active murder investigation involving the on-the-loose killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). Stella and her team work tirelessly to build a case but they are met with complications inside and outside the Service. Throughout the three seasons The Fall delves into the psyche of a psychopathic killer to an unsettling degree, the product of committed performances from Anderson and Dornan.
Where to watch: Stream all 3 seasons on Britbox, Prime Video & SBS On-Demand.
The Skinny: This long-running sci-fi/comedy is a pop culture icon and depicts the adventures of an extraterrestrial Time Lord known as the Doctor who works with various companions to save civilisations and combat foes. Thirteen actors have headlined the series as the Doctor, with Jodie Whittaker becoming the first woman to play the role for television. She will be succeeded by Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) in the next series.
Where to watch: Stream 12 seasons of the 2006 series on Britbox and Stan, and 26 seasons of the 1963 series on Britbox.
The Skinny: With extensive use of point-of-view shots via head-mounted cameras, accompanied by the actors’ voice-over narration to reveal their thoughts, this stylistically unique sitcom has become a cult favourite across it’s 9 seasons. The show follows the dysfunctional lives of socially-awkward loan manager, Mark (David Mitchell), and childish slacker/unemployed musician, Jeremy (Robert Webb), two best friends who share a flat together. Notable supporting roles include Olivia Colman, who portrays Mark’s love interest through much of the series, Matt King as Jeremy’s untrustworthy band mate, and Patterson Joseph as Mark’s suave but reckless branch manager.
Where to watch: Stream all 9 seasons on Britbox, Stan or ABC iView.
Keeping Up Appearances
The Skinny: At the centre of his classic ’90s sitcom is Hyacinthe Bucket (Patricia Routledge), an eccentric and snobbish middle class woman, whose endeavours to prove her social superiority through her faux affluence come at the cost of trying to hide her lower class upbringing and extended family. Each episode – ripe with iconic moments that become synonymous with the show (it’s pronounced “bouquet”) – results in a farcical situation involving Hyacinthe’s desperate attempts to protect her social credibility much to the bewilderment of her hapless husband, Richard (Clive Swift).
Where to watch: Stream all 5 seasons on Britbox and Stan.
The Office (UK)
The Skinny: There aren’t too many shows one can deem perfect end-to-end, but the UK Office might be one of them. Ricky Gervais’ David Brent is cringe dialed up to 11, but the mockumentary sitcom has been a pathfinder since Gervais and Stephen Merchant created the series in 2001, including a (very good) American re-make starring Steve Carrell. The Office details, sparing no mundanity, the day-to-day lives of office employees in the Slough branch of the Wernham Hogg paper company, enabling humour to be drawn out of the trivialities of human behaviour, office politics and social awkwardness amongst other themes.
Where to watch: Stream both seasons, and the Christmas Special, on Britbox and Prime Video.
The Skinny: Since 2002 factual variety program Top Gear has been examining and reviewing of motor vehicles via an expanding line-up of challenges, and celebrity guests, orchestrated by the charismatic hosts and founders in Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (from the second season). While the trio, who co-hosted for more than 20 seasons, have now moved on from the program, the popular motoring series continues to entertain and has regained some of its peak popularity with the recent appointment of former English cricketer Andrew Flintoff as a host.
Where to watch: Stream 25 seasons on Prime Video & 9 seasons on Stan.
The Skinny: Following a wild business trip to London, Rob (Rob Delaney), an advertising executive from Boston, starts dating an Irish primary school teacher, Sharon (Sharon Horgan), after she unexpectedly falls pregnant following their fling. This BAFTA-Award winning comedy is created and written by Delany and Horgan, a winning partnership, and is a hilariously honest (appropriately crude and outrageous too) portrait of a relationship between two flawed human beings, dealing with an array of pressures to their love and livelihood.
Where to watch: Stream 4 seasons on Stan, or purchase in the TV Store.
The Vicar of Dibley
The Skinny: Set in the fictional, sleepy, conservative small town of Dibley, this comforting and always-rewatchable sitcom details the eccentric residents’ relationship with the newly appointed female minister, Geraldine Granger (Dawn French). Her boisterous demeanour is met with both wonderment and horror from the residents of the town, who are eventually won over by her warmth, generosity and…unique sense of humour.
Where to watch: Watch 3 seasons + Specials on Britbox, 5 seasons on Stan and 2 seasons on Prime Video.
The Thick if It
The Skinny: This ferociously funny and profane political satire is the product of Armando Iannucci (I’m Alan Partridge, Veep) detailing the struggle between politicians, party spin doctors, advisers and the media within the inner workings of the British Government. Famous for mirroring true-to-life policies and scandals, and in some cases preceding them, and the epic rants of Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker, The Thick of It takes a mockumentary approach, embroiling viewers in the privileged day-to-day turmoil of closed-door party scheming and the private lives of public figures.
Where to watch: Stream 4 seasons on Britbox and Stan.