Do you like Great Britain? Do you like crime thrillers? Well, then we have the thing for you.
No, but seriously, British crime thrillers are definitely A Thing that people like to watch. People being me. So if you too like to wonder what the difference is between a DS and a DCI, here are some of my favorites.
Country: England Stream on: PBS Masterpiece/Amazon Prime Seasons: 2 About: A group of women who worked as codebreakers during WWII get the band back together a few years later to solve a murder. Noteworthy for: Feminist feel-goodery. Frustrating ’50s patriarchy. Stars Anna Maxwell Martin, who is also in fun things like Motherland and Good Omens.
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 3 About: Out-of-town cop pairs with local cop to solve the shocking, sad murder of an 11-year-old boy in a quiet coastal English village. Noteworthy for: The absolute alpha and omega of British crime dramas (along w Luther, natch). Fabulous pairing of post-Dr. Who David Tennant and pre-The Crown Olivia Colman.
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 1 About: Cops! Politics! Immigration! Murder! Racism! Military! It’s all in this four-parter about a Syrian refugee/pizza delivery driver whose shooting death may be more than random. Noteworthy for: Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, Shame) was pregnant during shooting, so they just made it a fact that the character was a pregnant working woman, but the story isn’t actually about her pregnancy in any way. Pregnant women can just be pregnant but also keep doing their jobs? ALL MY APPLAUSE.
Country: England Stream on: PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Seasons: 1 About: Douglas Henshall (Shetland, Outlander) investigates what really caused a big car accident because his Spidey cop sense tells him there’s just something off about it. Noteworthy for: There are people whose entire jobs are to investigate traffic accidents? And shows about that can be interesting? Double who knew?
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 1 About: Three different crime stories told bottle episode-style entirely within the police interviews (ok, with a smidge of behind-the-reversible-mirror action with the investigators) as the cops try to get their (wo)man. Noteworthy for: David Tennant again ‘cuz he is in everything. Hayley Atwell (AKA Peggy Carter). Also, there are three other Criminal series - Spain, France and Germany.
Country: Northern Ireland Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 3 About: Another of the A-list of British crime thrillers, about a totally normal-seeming Belfast psychologist/husband/family man (Jamie Dornan) who is actually a serial killer and the smart/sexy/serious/big deal British lady cop (Gillian Anderson) who is brought over to find him. Noteworthy for: Jamie Dornan (50 Shades series) is cute and seemingly affable IRL, so how did he wind up with such an intense typecast? Also the neverending kick of seeing Gillian Anderson with her real British accent (yes, I’ve seen Sex Education, but still).
Country: Scotland Stream on: Acorn/Amazon Prime Seasons: 1 About: There’s a creepy, body-part-cutting-out-style serial killer on the loose in Loch Ness, and only Lydia from Breaking Bad and O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) from Downton Abbey can find him. Noteworthy for: Lydia (Laura Fraser) from Breaking Bad is actually Scottish? Also, here’s my pitch for a tagline they should have used: “A different kind of Loch Ness monster.” Right?
Country: England Stream on: Hulu, Starz or Amazon Prime Seasons: 5 About: Troubled detective John Luther (Idris Elba) tangles with his own personal sexy, scenery-chewing lady Hannibal Lecter. Noteworthy for: Seriously, how many serial killers could the UK have? Also, Idris Elba Idris Elba Idris Elba.
Country: England Stream on: Acorn on Amazon Prime Seasons: 1 About: Based on the true story of the hunt for British serial killer from the early aughts, Levi Bellfield. Noteworthy for: Doc Martin (Marin Clunes) plays the detective. You have watched enough of these now that you recognize half the actors and your first instinct is now to demand CCTV footage.
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 3 About: A London police detective whose job hunting a serial killer is hampered by the fact that she keeps having violent blackout fugue states and can’t be sure what horrible things she may have done herself—or if she’s even part of the crime she’s investigating. Noteworthy for: Made by The Bridge creator, so it has a twinge of the Scandi Noir about it. Definite trigger warning for bad stuff happening to kids in this one. Full-on bonkers ending to Series 3.
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 7 About: Brutal gangsters, the Shelby family, run Birmingham in the wake of WWI. Noteworthy for: Awesome marriage of modern music with period visuals. Tom Hardy kills it as a badass Jewish London crime leader in Series 2. Interesting humanizing of these guys and their WWI PTSD. Also, despite the super dude-heavy trailer, there’s some strong and sometimes even (criminally) inspiring women, too.
Country: England Stream on: Netflix Seasons: 4 About: Sherlock Holmes. Modern. You get it. Noteworthy for: Brown-haired Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock gives people the tingles. Fleabag’s Hot Priest (Andrew Scott) as Moriarty. And regardless of behind the scenes hullaballoo, Martin Freeman and Cumberbatch are terrific together as Watson and Holmes.
Country: Scotland Stream on: Britbox on Amazon Prime Seasons: 7 About: Douglas Henshall is back as another cop, investigating more murders — this time in the bucolic northern Scottish Shetland islands. Noteworthy for: I’m beginning to think bad things can happen in quiet rural places. Or that I should hide if I see Douglas Henshall. Based on the book series by Ann Cleeves.
Country: England Stream on: Amazon Prime Seasons: 1 About: A woman escapes after having been kidnapped and kept in a basement since she was a kid, and the cops have to try to find her kidnapper. What did he do to her? Why is she so weird? Is this what Kimmy Schmidt would be like if it weren’t funny? Noteworthy for: Jodie Comer before Killing Eve and Richard Rankin before Outlander.
Heather Huntington is a Staff Contributor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.