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The Best British TV Shows You Should Watch

The United Kingdom, the country that brought us the Beatles and Harry Potter, is home to some of the world's greatest television shows. Those who grew up with Monty Python probably agree with great enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, even with the proliferation of web-streaming services and their television show offerings, so many great British TV shows go unwatched in the US. Some are available on PBS and BBC America, but many more can only be seen on DVD. If you haven't explored British television yet, here's a great list of the shows you should watch.

"Doc Martin"

This show kicked off in 2004 as a spinoff of the wildly successful film "Saving Grace." Previously a top surgeon in London, Dr. Martin Ellingham gets bouts of severe vomiting at the sight of blood. He returns to his childhood home in a rural village and starts a general practice.

The show's humor centers on the doctor's personality. He's blunt, emotionally underdeveloped, and socially awkward. His challenging demeanor creates a ridiculous, embarrassing, and hilarious dynamic between himself and his patients.

"Doctor Who"

This 1960s science-fiction television show is arguably the biggest classic in the UK. It was the first scary TV show to make it to the mainstream, influencing countless writers, producers, and filmmakers.

The protagonist, a regenerating alien who looks like a human, travels through time in a police box called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). The BBC revived the show in 2005, remaking it for the modern era and extending the series into 2020.

"Downton Abbey"

This Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series has only six seasons, but the Guinness Book of World Records recognized its second season as the most critically acclaimed show in the world. It's a historical fiction about an aristocratic family, the Crawleys, based in Yorkshire, England.

The show starts, telling the viewers that two of the family's heirs died on the Titanic. The Crawleys are in financial distress already, pressuring the head of household, Robert Crawley, to marry a wealthy American woman. The family's new heir is a middle-class, unsophisticated, distant cousin, Matthew Crawley. He marries Robert's daughter, Lady Mary, but refuses to conform to the family's aristocratic lifestyle.

"Prime Suspect"

Helen Mirren is known the world over for unprecedented, dramatic acting skills. Before she became an Oscar-winning actress though, she played the tough-as-nails female homicide detective Jane Tennison in this London-based show.

The first couple of seasons focus on Tennison's character navigating her police station's boy's club. As she succeeds in solving murder cases, Tennison's personal life suffers, including a career-ending battle with alcoholism.

"Ripper Street"

This murder mystery has succeeded, then been cancelled, reordered, moved to another network, cancelled again, and reordered again. Based on the most famous serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper, "Ripper Street" follows police detective Edmund Reid's attempts to solve the murders.

"Sherlock"

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively, this PBS and BBC collaboration has become a hit even in the US, Canada, and China. It won several Emmys and a Peabody Award.

The creators of the show, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, adapted the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle series to modern London, with Watson being a veteran of the most recent war in Afghanistan.

 

Even though you may not be familiar with some of these shows, they are worth watching. Many of them aren't available through Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other streaming services. But DVD box sets represent a unique opportunity to see these spectacular British classics. To order your DVD box sets and Blu-ray Discs, visit a family-owned web store.



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