1. Sherlock, 2. Peaky Blinders, 3. Killing Eve, 4. Doctor Who, 5. Fleabag, 6. Downton Abbey, 7. The Crown, 8. Misfits, 9. The Office, 10. Mr. Bean. British TV series are some of the best in the world, and more and more British TV series are finding success around the world. Toplist will introduce you to the best British TV series of all time in this article. The best of these TV shows feature recurring elements such as comedy, period drama, mystery, and romance, each reflecting a different aspect of British society. Here are the best British TV series from the vast array of British TV series.
- Peaky Blinders
- Killing Eve
- Doctor Who
- Downton Abbey
- The Crown
- The Office
- Mr. Bean
Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is exactly what fans of mystery and crime dramas have been waiting for. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous duo has been brought to life in modern-day England, with Martin Freeman playing Doctor John Watson. The added humor, modernization of the setting and character traits, and energetic visual storytelling are what make this version of Sherlock Holmes brilliant.
Cumberbatch’s Holmes is not the typical detective portrayed by Sir Doyle. Rather, he is anti-social and often regarded as a psychopath, while Freeman’s John Watson is a tense veteran suffering from PTSD. Sherlock has the perfect balance of adventure, drama, and comedy, with each epic episode balancing out with excellent performances and gripping, reimagined takes on classic characters. The show catapulted Cumberbatch to international fame and is still regarded as one of the best television shows of all time. Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffatt, who wrote Sherlock, collaborate on the BBC drama Dracula.
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Comedy-drama
Created by: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1475582
Peaky Blinders is a Steven Knight-created British gangster drama television series. It is set in Birmingham, England, and follows the exploits of the Peaky Blinders crime gang in the immediate aftermath of World War I. The fictional gang is loosely based on the same-named real-life urban youth gang that operated in the city from the 1890s to the 1910s.
Steven Knight created Peaky Blinders with the image of “smoke, booze, and (these) immaculately dressed men…” based on a real-life notorious gang active in Birmingham in the 1890s. As a result, the show provides nothing less than the most thrilling gangster story on television. Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of the protagonist, Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, is outstanding, capturing the attention of every single viewer. Peaky Blinders may be too dark for some, but it is important for eschewing the fancy, overly costumed fluff of many period dramas in favor of something real lurking in the heart of working-class, historical England, the England of the people. Peaky Blinders’ sixth season has already begun airing on BBC One, but Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date for season six.
Genre: Historical fiction, Crime drama
Created by: Steven Knight
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2442560
Killing Eve is a British spy thriller television series produced in the United Kingdom for BBC America and BBC Three by Sid Gentle Films. Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) is a British intelligence investigator tasked with apprehending psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As the chase progresses, the two become obsessed with each other. Based on Luke Jennings’ Villanelle novel series, each of the show’s series is led by a different female head writer. The first series was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the second by Emerald Fennell, the third by Suzanne Heathcote, and the fourth and final by Laura Neal.
Genre: Spy Thriller, Drama, Black comedy
Created by: David Holmes
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7016936
Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television series that has aired on the BBC since 1963. The series follows the exploits of a Time Lord known as the Doctor, an extraterrestrial who appears to be human. The Doctor travels the universe in the TARDIS, a time-traveling spaceship. The exterior of the TARDIS resembles a blue British police box, which was common in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. The Doctor fights enemies works to save civilizations and aids those in need with the help of various companions.
Doctor Who is a British cultural phenomenon. This science-fiction show has been running since 1963, amassing a large fan base for decades; after a 15-year hiatus, the show returned in 2005 in an energizing, internationally adored form. Doctor Who has combined the most unusual elements in science fiction, British comedy, and the tradition of British mysteries to create something entirely unique. Time machines, Time Lords, and a character with a mysterious past. This show has been inducted into the Guinness World Records book multiple times, which is interesting but not surprising.
Genre: Science fiction, Adventure, Drama
Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436992
Phoebe Waller-Fleabag Bridge is a British comedy-drama television series based on her one-woman show, which she first performed in 2013. It was created by Two Brothers Pictures in collaboration with Amazon Studios for the digital channel BBC Three. Waller-Bridge plays the title character, a free-spirited and sexually active young woman in London who is also angry and confused. Sian Clifford also appears in the series, and Andrew Scott joined the cast in the second season.
A hilarious show about a young woman who attempts to deal with life’s misfortunes through sardonic debauchery and witty hedonism. Fleabag is written, created, and starred by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and is based on a one-woman play written by Waller-Bridge in 2013. By making the viewer the protagonist’s best friend, the show can connect with the audience. Waller-Bridge defies the fourth wall by having the main character in the show acknowledge and address the audience directly. Except, Waller-Bridge takes it further in the second season and uses this very metafictional device as a way to explain her character’s alienation and possible mental health issues. It’s a brilliant, heartbreaking, and hilariously profane series.
Genre: Comedy-drama, Black comedy, Cringe comedy
Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Downton Abbey, another historical drama series set on a sprawling estate, has received numerous accolades, including several Golden Globe Awards, as well as the Guinness World Record for “highest critical review ratings for a TV show”. The show focuses on an entitled family and follows their lives as they experience significant historical events such as the Titanic’s sinking and World War One. Using both fiction and reality, as this show expertly does, has become a favorite method of comprehending culture and a historical period (especially a very English one). The presence of Dame Maggie Smith is also a definite plus.
The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey in 1912, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era, with major events of the time influencing their lives and the British social hierarchy. The first series depicted news of the Titanic’s sinking; the second series depicted the outbreak of World War I, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal; the third series depicted the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State; the fourth series depicted the Teapot Dome scandal, and the fifth series depicted the British general election of 1923 and the Beer Hall Putsch.
Genre: Historical drama
Created by: Julian Fellowes
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1606375
The Crown, created by Peter Morgan, is a historical drama that has gained a lot of traction on Netflix. The show follows the reign of the current monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, and gives viewers an insight into what happens behind the palace’s closed gates. The presence of award-winning actors such as Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gillian Anderson, as well as newcomers such as Emma Corrin, elevates the drama, with these actors delivering some of the best performances. Monarchical power structures are the most quintessentially British. In recent news, Humayan Saeed has been confirmed to play Princess Diana’s love interest in season five of The Crown.
Critics have praised The Crown for its acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and production values, though some have criticized its historical inaccuracies, particularly in the fourth season. It has received numerous honors, including sixty-three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for its first four seasons, twenty-one wins, including Outstanding Drama Series for its fourth season, and seven awards for the cast.
Created by: Peter Morgan
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4786824
Misfits is a British science-fiction comedy-drama television show that airs on E4 about a group of young offenders sentenced to work in a community service program where they acquire supernatural powers after a strange electrical storm. The fifth season of the show began on November 12, 2009, and ended on December 11, 2013.
Genre: Action, Black comedy, Drama
Created by: Howard Overman
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1548850
The original workplace comedy The Office starring Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman aired from 2001-2003 and inspired the immensely popular American remake starring Steve Carell. The plot of the British version is largely the same as that of the American version. It stars Gervais as David Brent, the obnoxious and foolish manager of the Wernham Hogg paper company who has agreed to participate in an office documentary. Martin Freeman plays Tim Canterbury, who shares the same will-they-won’t-they tension with coworker Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis) as Jim and Pam in the American version.
Despite its 14-episode run, the show received numerous awards and accolades, including two Golden Globes and a Bafta. It also aided in the advancement of several of its stars’ careers. Since the release of the American version, there has been much discussion about which series is the best. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Ricky Gervais settles the debate.
Genre: Mockumentary, Workplace comedy
Developed by: Greg Daniels
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386676
This British sitcom, starring Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean, has been a long-time favorite among comedy fans. The show revolves around a childish protagonist who, due to his simplistic nature, tends to make unusual and unnecessary difficult scenarios out of simple everyday tasks. The simplicity of the sitcom contributes to Mr. Bean’s popularity. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Atkinson describes the show as “broad, simple”, with “accessible stuff”. Mr. Bean’s daily life brings much-needed laughter to the viewer’s life.
Despite the lack of dialogue, the show became extremely popular around the world, with Rowan Atkinson being named the seventh most recognizable face in the world. In an interview with Graham Norton, Atkinson recalls having to persuade a fan that he was, in fact, Mr. Bean. Rowan Atkinson recently admitted that playing Mr. Bean is stressful and exhausting, and as a result, his next Mr. Bean film will be an animated feature.
Created by: Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis
Link to watch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096657