The 14 Best TV Shows on BritBox to Stream Right Now

TV Lists BritBox
The 14 Best TV Shows on BritBox to Stream Right Now

One of two niche streaming services* dedicated to serving U.K. content to global audiences, BritBox comprises everything from the biggest contemporary hits to the most beloved classics from BBC and ITV eras past. This means the BritBox catalog is sure to have something to fit whatever mood you might be in. Got a hankering to watch an alien doctor travel through space and time? BritBox is the exclusive home of the first 26 series of classic Doctor Who. Curious to see how the British medical drama differs from Grey’s Anatomy? Holby City Hospital is ready for you to burst through its ward doors. Itching to dive into the classic misadventures of your friendly neighborhood vicar? Well, has BritBox got a truly—and I mean truly—incredible number of clergy-adjacent options for you to choose from.

With the service’s investment in original content and readers’ obsession with revisiting programs in mind, these are the top 14 recommended titles. But first, a quick primer:


What Makes It Unique: All-but-live streaming of daily BBC/ITV programming like Good Morning Britain, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, as well as topical weekly programming like Brexitcast, Gardener’s World and Mock the Week; the entirety of Classic Doctor Who and Midsomer Murders; exclusive access to other popular BBC/ITV programming, both new (Vera, Death in Paradise, RHS Chelsea Flower Show) and from the vaults (the Up series, Mr. Bean, The Sweeney)

What You’ll Find on This List: For the most part, BritBox divides its extensive catalog into categories defined either by recency—Now, Classics, Last Chance—or by genre—Drama, Mystery, British Home & Garden.

* Profiled in a separate column, Acorn TV aims to scratch the same anglophilic itch that BritBox does. But while the two services cater to similar audiences, the experiences (and catalogs) they provide are different enough that it isn’t really a question of which one is best. They are, like Hulu and Netflix, just… different. With its investment in not just original but also international content, Acorn TV is more reminiscent of Netflix. Meanwhile, with its network television roots and the fact that it posts new episodes of soaps, panel shows, and morning news programs within 24 hours of them airing in the U.K., BritBox much more closely resembles Hulu. Acorn TV gives its subscribers an eclectically global experience while BritBox has the edge in the “this is what to watch when you want to feel like you’re in Britain” department.

That out of the way, let’s get to the streaming goods:



The Cleaner

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Starring: Greg Davies and Zita Sattar, with guest spots from Helena Bonham Carter, David Mitchell, Stephanie Cole and more
Seasons available: 2

We may love Greg Davies most around these parts for his iron rule as the Taskmaster on, well, Taskmaster, but late last year he pulled on his bright white noddy suit and stepped into the role of small town crime scene cleaner for, funnily enough, The Cleaner. In a premise pretty much tailor-made for pandemic-era production, The Cleaner opens each episode with Paul “Wicky” Wickstead rolling up to a crime scene after the police have left, lorry full of cleaning supplies at hand, only to be confounded in one way or another by someone else on the premises. In some cases, it’s the murderer. In others, it’s a neighbor. Sometimes, it’s initially unclear, which lets Davies take the episode to unexpected places. With this set-up, most episodes only need Davies and one other person for the story to work, which lets the show take full advantage of booking flash guests like Helena Bonham Carter and David Mitchell. But even with such a limited cast, the writing is solid enough that the texture and scope of Wicky’s world outside of work is bracingly clear.




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Starring: Romola Garai, Michael Gambon, Jonny Lee Miller, Jodhi May, Robert Bathrust, Louise Dylan, Blake Ritson, Tasmin Greig
Seasons available: 1 (2009)

The 1995 Pride and Prejudice, which BritBox also carries (restored in 4K!), might be a bigger draw for some Austen diehards, but the Romola Garai-starring adaptation of Emma from 2009 is just as worth your time. Charming and tastefully lush, the miniseries has a wholly different vibe than either Emma’s flashier adaptations (Clueless and EMMA.), which makes it the perfect period piece to settle into when logging into BritBox for the first time.


Gardeners’ World

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Hosted by: Monty Don
Seasons available: 3 (2021, 2022, 2023, and the most recent Winter Specials)

One of the features that makes BritBox as a platform stand out is its dedication to next-day streaming of quintessential British series that air new episodes on both a daily and weekly basis. Daily secretions include news programs like Good Morning Britain and long-running soap operas like EastEnders and Emmerdale. Weekly options comprise of everything from topical panel shows like Mock the Week to more straightforward punditry like Question Time to, most delightfully, seasonable home and gardening programming like Springwatch, Escape to the Country, and Gardeners’ World.

This last one has been running since 1968 and has been gently hosted by master gardener Monty Don (and his dogs) more or less constantly since 2003. Gardner’s World runs every Friday through the growing season and features a comforting combination of real-time planting projects Don has taken on in his gigantic home garden, visits by co-hosts to interesting gardens around the U.K., and real-time growing tips Don calls “Jobs to do this weekend” that close out each episode. Since the start of the pandemic, they’ve added in home videos of gardens from viewers not just around the U.K., but around the world, a feature which thus far has never failed to make this critic (and newbie home gardener) tear up.


Hope Street

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Starring: Amara Karan, Ciarán McMenamin, Kerri Quinn, Niall Wright
Seasons available: 2

Despite being billed as an “uplifting original crime drama,” and opening with a cheerfully sweeping seaside credit sequence that would have been right at home in USA Network’s Blue Skies era, Hope Street is surprisingly tricky to make tonal sense of. Starring Amara Karan as DC Leila Hussain, a Nottingham detective seconded to a quiet seaside North Irish hamlet for mysterious reasons, and Ciarán McMenamin, Kerri Quinn and Niall Wright as said seaside hamlet’s Chief Inspector, Sergeant and PC, respectively, the series swings wildly, especially in early episodes, from Serious Crime Drama to “Gilmore Girls, but in Northern Ireland.” Ultimately it becomes clear that the stories it is more interested in telling are the quirky (and possibly romantic) interpersonal ones between the officers and the rest of the oddball local community, but it may take awhile for viewers more accustomed to darker psychological small town crime dramas like The Bay, The Victim and Shetland (all of which BtirBox also has) to stop expecting something truly terrible befalling Leila and her new Northern Irish friends.

That said, once you get on board with Hope Street’s actual vibe, you’ll be hooked. And given the massive cliffhanger the recently wrapped first season ended on, if it doesn’t get renewed, I’m going to riot.


Brideshead Revisited

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews
Seasons available: 1

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It was almost 40 years ago when the BBC miniseries Brideshead Revisited captivated audiences with its portrayal of early 20th century British aristocracy and Catholic guilt. The 11-hour series earned an Emmy for the late Laurence Olivier and catapulted Jeremy Irons into a successful, Oscar-winning career. Based on the popular novel by Evelyn Waugh, when middle-class freshman and aspiring artist Charles (Irons) arrives to Oxford, he is befriended by the rich, spoiled party boy Sebastian (Anthony Andrews) who soon falls in love with Charles and introduces him to his severely dysfunctional upper-class family living in the grand estate of Brideshead. As their relationship grows so does Charles’ infatuation with Sebastian’s sister Julia (Diana Quick). But the real struggle comes from the siblings’ mother (Phoebe Nicholls) who is determined to guide her children into their proper places as Catholic royalty, much to the dismay of atheist Charles. A beautifully engrossing soap opera filled with a higher caste of desperate souls, Brideshead is always worth revisiting. —Tim Basham


Moone Boy

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Starring: Chris O’Dowd, David Rawle, Deirdre O’Kane, Peter McDonald, Ian O’Reilly, Johnny Vegas
Seasons available: 3 (2012-2015)

One of the most charming comedies to come out of the U.K. in the last decade, Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy isn’t exclusively available to American audiences on BritBox—you can also find it on Hulu here—but it is nevertheless one of the series that should be among every comedy lover’s top priorities when making your BritBox watchlist. Starring David Rawle as Martin Moone, a slightly fictionalized version of Dowd’s tween self in 1980s rural Northern Ireland, and Dowd himself as Sean Murphy, Martin’s inexplicably old and be-whiskered imaginary friend, Moone Boy is achingly earnest and just so, so funny. The comedic gold isn’t hoarded by Rawle and O’Dowd either! Between Martin’s over-it teenage sisters, his weirdo parents, and his equally imaginative best friend, Padraic (Ian O’Reilly), whose own imaginary friend, Crunchie Haystacks (Johnny Vegas), gives Sean Murphy at least one other person to talk to, the three-season series is absolutely bursting with jokes. A genuine gift of a sitcom; watch it now.


Murder in Provence

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Starring: Roger Allam, Keala Settle, Nancy Carroll, Patricia Hodge, Kirsty Bushell
Seasons available: 1

One of BritBox’s newest Originals, Murder in Provence is another crime drama that’s tonally hard to pin down. Based on the Verlaque & Bonnet novels by M.L. Longworth, series is set in Aix-en-Provence and stars Roger Allam as Investigating Judge Antoine Verlaque and Nancy Carroll as his romantic (and sometimes professional) psychologist partner Marine Bonnet, and takes as its subject a criminal investigative system that will be completely foreign to both British and American audiences, alike. Aside from the novelty of who’s doing the investigating in Murder in Provence, the format itself isn’t what makes this title’s tone hard to pin down. The 90-minute procedural set-up will be comfortingly familiar to anyone who’s watched even a handful of episodes of Columbo or Murder, She Wrote, though the BritBox series is much more leisurely and chatty than either of those two American series. What’s confounding is the fact that, despite being played by an entirely British ensemble cast, whose dialogue is peppered with recognizably British slang and turns of phrase, the characters themselves are all meant to be read as French. It’s incredibly distracting! And at the same time, fascinating. Basically, once you’re in, it’s hard to stop watching. So, you know, take this recommendation however you want.


Bleak House


Starring: Denis Lawson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Patrick Kennedy, Carey Mulligan, Gillian Anderson, Charles Dance, Alun Armstrong, Timothy West, Burn Gorman
Seasons available: 1

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In the mid-aughts, the BBC decided to adapt (once again) a host of lesser-known works by Charles Dickens, starting with Bleak House. And this version, written by Andrew Davies, is an absolute banger. Led by an excellent cast (including, rather iconically, Gillian Anderson), this battle of wills (both literal and figurative) is long enough to be able to include the full measure of Dickens’ strange side characters and dizzying plot strands, all of which connect in one way or another and in fantastically satisfying ways. It’s also a story where Dickens’ naming conventions are perhaps at an all-time high—Lady Dedlock, Mr. Jarndyce, Miss Flight, Snagsby, William Guppy, Krook, etc—and the adaptation leans into its strangeness. It’s a mesmerizing viewing experience, with a perfectly gothic Victorian aesthetic that creaks with sly humor. Do not miss! —Allison Keene



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Hosted by: Sandi Toskvig (Series N-S), Stephen Fry (Series J-M)
Seasons available: 10 (J-T)

Unless one listens to much Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, it’s like that the panel show, as a comedic format, won’t be very familiar. Don’t worry, though, BritBox has a whole heap of the BBC’s best panel shows ready and waiting to get you quickly up to speed. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (hosted by Jimmy Carr) and Would I Lie to You? (hosted by Rob Brydon) are fairly well known quantities here in the states, but if you’re going to watch just one, make it QI.

An oddball combination trivia/quiz show that’s been on the air since 2003, QI (which stands for “Quite Interesting”) takes the alphabet as a loose organizing principle, theming the fact-packed episodes of each new season according to the next letter down the line (in early 2022, we’re up to “S”). Originally presented by Stephen Fry (Series A-M), the program handed hosting duties off to Sandi Toksvig in 2016. Featuring comedian Alan Davies as the series’ anchor competitor slash co-presenter and a rotating trio of most British comedians, actors and noteworthy names, the “competition” aspect of QI is more a race to the bottom than anything else, as most competitors—including the winners—end up in negative points. It’s a weird little show, with a funny retro vibe, and I want everyone to love it as much as I do.

Star Wars fan Pro-tip: The L series’ holiday episode, “No L,” features Carrie Fisher herself among the panelists.



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Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Kenny Doughty, Paul Ritter, Cush Jumbo, Riley Jones, Jon Morrison, David Leon, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ibinabo Jack
Seasons available: 1-12

Based on the Ann Cleeves novels of the same name, Vera (which Cleeves also writes for) has been a British crime drama mainstay since 2011. Now on its eleventh season, the series stars Brenda Blethyn as the titular detective, Vera Stanhope, a “brilliant but irascible detective obsessed with work and driven by her own demons.” Set in Northumberland, one of the signature elements of the series—aside from how capable and no-nonsense Vera herself is—are all the beautiful landscapes found in that part of the country. I mean, it’s no Autumnwatch, but if you like a little murder with your scenery, maybe this is the show for you.

(To read an interview Brenda Blethyn did with Paste in 2017 in the lead-up to the seventh season of Vera, go here.)


Pride and Prejudice

Starring: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha
Seasons available: 1

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Horse riders make their way through a 16mm-colored countryside, Colin Firth makes his way into a lake, and Austen makes her way onto TV in what remains the definitive adaptation of Austen’s work for the screen (the breathtaking opening three minutes of Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaptation aside). The music bounces from scene to scene with curlicue youthfulness. The acting prods the lines around it with sly good cheer. Through it all, the spirit of the adaptation by Andrew Davies can be found in his describing it so: “Let’s have Elizabeth on a hillside seeing these two tasty blokes galloping along, and something about them makes her skip down the hill.” And, for the implicit back and forth that inspires (let alone what follows), we follow, too. —Evan Fleischer


Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

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Starring: Will Poulter, Lucy Boynton, Jonathan Jules, Conleth Hill, Daniel Ings, Maeve Dermody, Hugh Laurie, Miles Jupp, Amy Nuttall, Alistair Petrie
Seasons available: 1

The latest Agatha Christie adaptation to hit the small screens—and BritBox’s biggest commission to date—Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? is a classic British mystery lover’s dream. Starring Will Poulter as the earnestly charming village vicar’s son Bobby Jones and Lucy Boynton as the firecracker Frankie (Lady Francis) Derwent, the series comes to the streamer from director and executive producer Hugh Laurie (who also co-stars as Dr. James Nicholson). Based on a standalone Christie novel of the same name, the three-part limited series, which is set after the First World War, features impeccable production design, gorgeous costuming, and very clever dialogue. Moreover, it is just jam-packed with immediately iconic performances, all of which are led capably by the push-pull of Poulter’s easy-going loyalty and Boynton’s tightly coiled, wise-cracking independence. Honestly, while I understand that Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? is a standalone novel, the chemistry between Poulter and Boynton is so winning that I wouldn’t say a thing if BritBox (along with Laurie) decided to adapt other lesser-known Christie novels to give them even more runway to work with.



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Starring: Douglas Henshall, Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson, Mark Bonnar, Erin Armstrong, Julie Graham, Lewis Howden, Anne Kidd
Seasons available: 7

A strong sense of place is often key to a good murder mystery. Shetland, a crime drama based on the novels of Ann Cleeves that draws its name from its setting on the Shetland Isles off the coast of Scotland, uses its location to its advantage. At times, the masterful murder mystery—which begins with standalone stories before transitioning to a more serialized narrative—is remote and suffocating. At others, it’s quaint and beautiful. It all comes down to the story and the framing. But since Douglas Henshall’s Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez most often investigates murders, the setting most often reflects the murky nature of the crimes committed. And yet, Shetland isn’t a glumfest. There is plenty to smile about as well, making for a well-rounded viewing experience. —Kaitlin Thomas


The Fall

Starring: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Valene Kane, Séalinín Brennan, Colin Morgan, Bronagh Taggart, Niamh McGrady, Sarah Beattie, John Lynch
Seasons available: 3

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Let it be known that before he was Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan proved his acting chops and charisma as a disturbingly un-disturbable murderer in this superb psychological thriller. Dornan’s mild-mannered husband, father, and grief counselor (!) is among the most terrifying onscreen serial killers in recent memory. Paul Spector is a stalker, as exacting and methodical as his eventual pursuer. Enter Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson, a British detective superintendent called to Belfast to look into a spate of gruesome murders. As the cat-and-mouse game intensifies, Anderson’s characterization is its own triumph: analytical, uncompromising, reserved, but brazenly sexual on her own terms, entirely unfazed by the politicking and dick-swinging of her male colleagues. That we know the identity of the killer from the show’s first frames, and yet can’t take our eyes off the screen is a testament to the stealth creep with which The Fall operates. —Amanda Schurr


A Few Notable Channels

BritBox Destinations:
What Makes it Unique: A geographically curated collection that will help demystify some of the regional nuances that might otherwise be hard to parse for audiences not based in the U.K.
Best Bets: Prime Suspect (London), The Office (The South), All Creatures Great and Small (Yorkshire and the Humber)

Cozy Muders
What Makes it Unique: Does what it says on the tin! If you’ve ever spent a Sunday evening cozied up to PBS for Masterpiece Mystery, this is the channel for you.
Best Bets: Father Brown (and its follow-up, The Sister Boniface Mysteries), Agatha Christie’s Marple

Classic Doctor Who
What Makes it Unique: Your exclusive home for all things classically Whovian, helpfully organized by Doctor, with a smattering of can’t-find-them-elsewhere specials.
Best Bets: Doctor Who (all 26 original seasons!)

A BritBox subscription costs $7.99 per month (with a 7-day introductory free trial period) and can be used across up to 5 devices. Gift subscriptions are available, and credentialed educators can get a 30% Teacher’s Discount.

Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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