13 British Mystery TV Shows that are a Must Watch

Many of us could say that the pandemic of 2020 wouldn’t have been survivable without certain essentials:

Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

For me, it also included Acorn, Britbox, and PBS Masterpiece.

For the past six years, I have become a fan of British television and movies. This passion is something that my family does not understand. My youngest son, now 18, and wanna-be screenwriter, is puzzled about why I no longer have an interest in American TV.

From too-easily-solved police cases to outrageous court scenes, law and order shows here in America are notoriously unrealistic. And we all know how produced, raunchy, and improbable reality shows have become. (And who has time for that kind of drama? I have enough already, thank you.)

Is it because I’m older that I want to enjoy TV and movies rather than experience them?

Since watching more British TV shows, I have admiration for the type of programs they produce across the pond.

My new TV passion started with Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. After the first couple of episodes on Netflix, I was hooked.

The writing was clever. It was a different type of suspense. Lovely, dry humor. A whole new way of experiencing some of the storylines from Conan Doyle’s books. Nothing like I’ve seen on American TV.

(By the way, Hollywood – you will never compete with the Brits on movies made from Agatha Christie’s books either.)

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In British TV, actors are “normal.” Instead of actors with perfect white teeth, the latest hairstyles, chiseled features, and perfect bodies, British shows have believable characters: they look like everyday people, they make mistakes with real-life consequences, their families are imperfect, and things don’t always work out perfectly in the end, such as our own real lives.  

British (plus Canadian and Australian) mysteries are my go-to selections. In many of the series I’ve watched, there are few episodes in a season, but each episode is often 1-1/2 to two hours. This gives a good chunk of time to create the characters’ stories and flush out the plot with a satisfying ending. You can’t get that in a 45-minute TV show.

If you want to explore some good British crime, detective, and mystery TV, here are 13 excellent series to get you started (additional subscription maybe required):

Middle of the Road

Not campy mysteries yet has a satisfying end to each episode.

1.     Midsommer Murders – Amazon Prime & IMDb

2.     Brokenwood Mysteries – Acorn TV


If you want a series that will keep you clicking “next episode,” these have intriguing storylines and lots of surprises.

3.      Line of Duty – Acorn TV

4.      Whitechapel – Amazon Prime Video

5.      Broadchurch – Netflix

6.      Bodyguard – Netflix

7.      Deadwater Fell – Acorn TV

Root for the Detective

These have been around, but they are not outdated. These detectives are brilliant and we get to see their vulnerabilities and their lives outside of their jobs.

8.    Vera – Britbox

9.    Shetland – Britbox

10.  Wallander – Amazon Prime Video

11.  Hinterland – Netflix

12.  Scott & Bailey – Amazon Prime Video

13.  Unforgotten – Amazon Prime Video

Where to find these channels

Shows on IMDb are free with ads, accessed through Amazon Prime or through their website.

Acorn TV is $5.99 per month, and Britbox $6.99 monthly through Amazon Prime, for easier billing and cancellation.

Subscriptions to Acorn TV can also be done through their website with a 7-day trial and then $5.99 per month; Britboxoffers the same 7-day trial and $6.99 per month. Subscribing through the website does offer one advantage – it is easier to browse through their library more easily than searching on Amazon Prime.

Ready to cut the cable cord altogether? Check out Cord Cutters News, a site I found that reviews all the streaming services and subscription sign-up specials.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite British TV series!

3 responses to “13 British Mystery TV Shows that are a Must Watch”

  1. Angie, I agree. I think it's great to branch out from the usual tv choices, and British tv offers a unique style that brings a new perspective to many Americans. I've been getting most of my movies free from YouTube. But after reading your blog, I am ready to branch out to some of the channels that you have mentioned. Thanks!

  2. You are speaking my language. I subscribe to BritBox and I have watched a lot of these shows during the pandemic. I love MidSOmer Murders but the new season is on Acorn which I don't want to subscribe to — there are too many LOL. There are a few I missed that you listed so I will have to go back and check! Thanks!

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