Please sign in to post.

British detective series?

Having canceled out trip to Italy and London that was to start 2 days from now, and faced with some time at home, we are looking for a new series to watch in the evening. Foyle's War is our alltime favorite; we also liked Broadchurch and Midsomer Murders. Tried Shetland and could not understand a word that was said, but maybe we should give it another go ( maybe we can learn). What else would you suggest?


Posted by
9343 posts

I love Father Brown. Others i like are Vera, New Tricks, Lewis, Shetland, and DCI Banks.

I agree that it can be hard to understand what someone playing a small part says on Shetland, but i do understand 98%. The main characters i don’t have trouble understanding.

Posted by
5697 posts

Since I have a hard time hearing American TV, let alone British speech, I turn on closed captions.

Posted by
5419 posts

A friend recommended ”Scott and Bailey” to me. I haven’t started it yet.

It’s not a British detective series, but the Danish series ”Borgen” is riveting. It is a great political drama.

Posted by
4132 posts

Titles we've been watching lately, besides Midsomer Murders. Some new. Some old. All on PBS. All are well done. Not all are exactly detective series or mysteries.

Prime Suspect. We're recording and saving this. The entire series is being shown from the beginning. Police procedural.

Unforgotten. All cold cases. Crime drama set in and near London. Each series has six episodes and deals with a single case.

Hinterland. Set in and near Aberystwyth, Wales. Police detective drama.

Broken. Excellent but dark six episode psychological drama. Filmed in Liverpool.

We haven't seen Shetland offered on our local PBS station, yet. From the online descriptions, it looks good to me.

Posted by
4474 posts

I second using Closed Captioning for British shows!

Posted by
411 posts

Happy Valley. Does not live up to the name but is seriously good.
Hinterland can be a bit gloomy but I enjoyed it. Set in Wales.
The Fall.
I had a giggle that you couldn't understand Shetland.
Heading there in June fingers crossed.
Aussie free to air is total rubbish so I usually watch countless UK and Scandinavian series on Stan.
I will look through the list when I get home from work.

Posted by
87 posts

Another vote for Unforgotten and Father Brown.
We’ve enjoyed many British shows, Poldark, Granchester, and Endeavour (Inspector Morse’s early career) to name a few.

Posted by
8477 posts

Inspector George Gently, Line of Duty, Hinterland, Wire in the Blood, Vera, New Tricks, inspector Morse, Endeavour, Lewis, Scott and Bailey, The Fall, Grantchester to name a few.

Loved Shetland, no problem with the accent.

Posted by
411 posts

Line of Duty definately. The Dark is pretty good.
I loved the original Scandinavian The Bridge.

Posted by
484 posts

Inspector Wexford based on Ruth Rendell's detective. Quite good. I've recently found them on YouTube. The quality there is not of the best but they are watchable. They might be available elsewhere but I don't know.
Prime Suspect is good too if a little gritty. Helen Mirren is the main detective. (oops - i see Lo recommended this).
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is fun too and stars Patricia Routledge.

You can also move on to Sicily to Inspector Montalbano :-)

There are also some good Scandinavian series.

Posted by
2630 posts

Rebus, set in Edinburgh and pretty gritty stuff, the first series had John Hannah in the lead role but the later series had Ken Stott who in my mind was a far better image of Rebus. You may need subtitles though.

Posted by
337 posts

“Shakespeare and Hathaway” is a British murder-mystery comedy series. Fun, light entertainment. (And closed captioning helps here too!)

Posted by
484 posts

I don't want to edit again so I will add:
Maigret which is a British television series set in mid 1950s France, and Inspector Dalgliesh based on the books by PD James.
There is also the Inspector Lynley series based on the books of Elizabeth George (one of my favourites. Inspector Havers who is Lynley's partner is really lovely in this series.).

Posted by
443 posts

Think if you liked Foyles War, then New Tricks - as mentioned above - would be a good pick.

I hadn't watched Shetland until the last series and got seriously hooked. Terrific landscapes.

There are lots of other good options noted above.

Will also put in a word for Inspector Montalbano, set in Sicily, Italian with English subtitles. I'm trying to learn Italian and it just shows me I have a very long way to go.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you don't mind subtitles and want to sample detective shows from throughout Europe, see if you can subscribe to the MHz app. Not every show streamed here is crime-based, but it seems the majority are. The offerings from Scandinavia are particularly robust- the first and third seasons of the aforementioned Wallander are available, but sadly, the Danish versions of The Killing and The Bridge are not (if you ask me, those are the all-time classics of Nordic Noir TV). I've become somewhat addicted to Tatort from Germany, which is odd, seeming that I never watched it when I actually lived in the country.

And it may be kind of cheesy, but I love Kommisar Rex from Austria (and later, from Italy).

Posted by
2007 posts

Perhaps not your traditional detective, try Brother Cadfael series with Derek Jacobi. A Benedictine monk solves crimes in early 12th century England.

Or Canadian? We recently discovered Murdoch Mysteries, with Detective Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary set in the late 1890s. Some episodes get a bit silly but generally easy and entertaining. It is PBS Pledge season here and we’ve stocked up on plenty of cozy murder mystery books and DVDs from our excellent library.

A friend always uses closed captions; we cut our teeth on years and years of Monty Python.

Posted by
138 posts

I would add Death in Paradise which is a British series based in the Caribbean. Rather like Midsomer Murders but with palm trees. Clear accents is a bonus.

Posted by
11177 posts

So many good ones listed I have nothing to add but endorse, Scott and Bailey, Shetland, Hinterland, Unforgotten, Endeavor. I also liked Tennyson, the prequel to Prime Suspect.

We always watch them with Closed Captioning, though.

Posted by
6186 posts

Yes to Brother Cadfael! With Derek Jacobi.

The series was great, and the books are even better. We reread the books before we took the Villages of South England tour, and were glad we had. The group visited Battle Abbey, and we were delighted that even in its ruined state, we recognized all the various parts of the structure and grounds.

Posted by
9343 posts

I thought you said “on PBS” when i read your question last night but yes, so many more if you have access to other platforms... . Not mentioned is my all-time favorite, Agatha Christie, either Poirot or Miss Marple.

Posted by
15798 posts

This is fantastic! And I hope it will be useful to others.

I should have stated that we have access through Amazon Prime, NetFlix, BritBox, and Acorn, so most things can be found somewhere.

And I should have included Endeavour among the ones we have watched and enjoy. Waiting for more episodes there.

We have lots of Montalbano on DVDs and I love that guy. Subtitled of course. Their Sicilian dialect is difficult to understand even if one knows some Italian. If you haven't watched "The Snack Thief" I highly recommend it.

Now to figure out how to bookmark this so I can find it easily. EDIT: just found the "bookmark this topic" button.

Thanks, and let's keep it going.

Posted by
15798 posts

Now if someone would just turn the "Bruno, Chief of Police" books into film. I would love to see him and his friends on their horseback rides, meet the little Bassett hound Balzac, and see the Périgord countryside.

Posted by
1223 posts

People here are listing shows as if they are all of equal quality! ;)

I will start with the better and go down the list from there:
Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse are the gold standards. These are musts
Lewis was a great series continuation of Morse, and now Endeavor is doing ok, (although the storyline in recent seasons is deteriorating IMO)
Foyle's War
Vera is wonderful and could be included at the top of this list
Scott and Bailey is also very good. It gets better as it goes
Happy Valley is great (and really, ANYTHING written by Sally Wainwright! See also Last Tango in Halifax, Gentleman Jack, and Scott and Bailey...)
Broadchurch - first season
Line of Duty (loved)
George Gently

Broadchurch - 2nd season
Inspector Lynley (if you can find them)
Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie - Marple or Poirot, Death in Paradise = all the "cosy" mysteries that are easy to figure out but decent comfort food
Unforgotten (I really dislike Nicola Walker in this. But she's great in Last Tango...). Takes itself a bit too seriously for my taste
Hinterland (Im not a huge fan but this will suffice when I have nothing else)
Shetland (same. Adequate, but I just can't be moved to care about Douglas Henshall's earnest single-dad, protector of the community angst)

And then the rest like Rebus or the Derek Jacobi, I find these too dated

Im sure there's more I can't recall at the moment

Posted by
2581 posts

A couple of short series that I love and have re-watched are Case Histories (set in Edinburgh) and The Bletchley Circle.

Also WPC 56, a totally charming one about the first woman police constable in a small English town.

If you love history presented in a delightfully humorous manner, try watching anything with historian Lucy Worsley, who has the best job title ever--Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. Last weekend I caught A Very British Romance on my local PBS station and now want to see everything else she's done.

Posted by
3852 posts

Lola, great topic! I have watched many of these but have found some new recommendations - and been reminded of some to go back and catch up on! Thanks, everyone!

Posted by
6339 posts

We've enjoyed many of those mentioned -- Shetland, Vera, Gently, Banks, Line of Duty, Prime Suspect, Lynley, Lewis, Dalgliesh, Broadchurch, Foyle. Two good ones not yet mentioned: Silent Witness, Dalziel and Pascoe. Always with subtitles if available. Even if you can't understand Shetland, Vera, or Gently, the northern landscapes are worth it. Kind of shocking, though, to find so much violent crime in those remote parts of the UK. Any thoughts about why, emma? ;-)

We're not so thrilled with Midsomer, Hinterland, and Cadfael.

All three versions of The Bridge are great -- Danish, British, American. (The British-French series is called The Tunnel of course.)

Posted by
5835 posts
Posted by
5195 posts

As a former detective I couldn't watch any drama series about the police because they were all nothing like the real thing and I used to get stupidly annoyed. The only series (a brief one) that came anywhere close to reality, and quite good it was too, was Manhunt starring Martin Clunes.

Posted by
484 posts

And one more - Dalziel and Pacoe based on the books by Reginald Hill. Set in Yorkshire.
The books are better than the show but that is usually the case. The books can be so much more descriptive.

Posted by
89 posts

Since you have Acorn TV my recommendation is Murdoch Mysteries. It is Canadian and I first saw it when in Vancouver BC. Anyway got hooked and have watched all 12 seasons.

Posted by
1625 posts

We just watched “The Stranger” 8 part series on Netflix. Takes place someplace in England. I added subtitles since sometimes I need assistance with British Accents. Good show!

Posted by
53 posts

A friend recommended to me A Touch of Frost that was a good series. Towards the end the actors seemed too old to actually be detectives.

Lovejoy just reappeared on Acorn. It's not a detective series, but similar plot of mystery. Storyline is the weak link. I loved the characters and the mostly rural setting.

We are plodding through Midsomer Murders. Campy!

Posted by
915 posts

Some of these are older, so if you can find them...

Touching Evil with Robson Green and Nicola Walker
Second Sight with Clive Owen
Case Histories with Jason Isaacs

Ornen (The Eagle)

Posted by
129 posts

I subscribed to Britbox (think it's $70 per year). Right now working my way through Ballykissangel which is set in Ireland. I also enjoyed Shetland but has to use the CC the first few shows. But before we did the RS Scotland tour I watched the series without CC just to get used to the accent. Interesting, the accents we actually heard around us when traveling were much more mellow than what we heard on TV. If we ever make it to Cornwall I figure that will be the true test! Vicar of Dibley funny if you can find it--I bounce between Britbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime and PBS Passport. Hope you get to reschedule your trip!

Posted by
15798 posts

OK, my list is growing!

JC, thank you in particular for mentioning Manhunt. We are big Martin Clunes fans but gave up on Doc Martin after a few seasons (although my husband (a doctor) wishes he could be so direct and curmudgeonly with his patients). I thought we had watched everything he has done (including documentaries on dogs and horses), but were not aware of this new one.

Edgar, thanks for the location list.

Posted by
888 posts

After reading all this I'm seriously wondering if I watch too much TV.... I think I've seen everything recommended in all the posts.

We've subscribed to Acorn streaming - Brit Box's main competitor - for several years. They also have several Australian and 1 New Zealand series that we've enjoyed. Bummed that Vera and Shetland are going to Britbox this year.

A Place to Call Home - 50s drama
Crownies - legal drama
Janet King - follow on to Crownies
Jack Irish - detective
Broken Wood - detective, New Zealand

Posted by
443 posts

What about Luther with Idris Elba. Very gritty. And Idris Elba …..

Posted by
2147 posts

I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Rosemary & Thyme. I think you can find it on Acorn.

Posted by
6186 posts

Emma, you're right; we don't use that expression. I had to look up "to touch cloth." Also also found "turtle's head."

Posted by
1223 posts

Luther - yes! (Idris Elba - yum)

cj-traveler - I too fear I am outing myself as watching too much TV. But my disclaimer is that I was weaned on Masterpiece Theater and as my husband says, if there's a British accent (or a corset, or better: both), Ive watched it at least once.
What about the PD James Adam Dalgliesh series

As for where to watch, you can subscribe to Acorn or Britbox or PBS for a month at a time (basically, subscribe, and then when you get the confirmation email, go to "manage account" and cancel, and the cancelation will take effect in 1 month). Thats how I watch the new seasons of Vera. I just binged season 10 last month. Father Brown is on Netflix, but leaving at the end of March.

And then there are the non British-mysteries that help with travel cravings: Grand Designs, Escape to the Country and Escape to the Continent. And ow Im slumming with Grand Designs NZ - chuckle.

Posted by
3137 posts

Peaky Blinders, Luther, Killing Eve, Maigret with Michael Gambon, Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett.

Posted by
571 posts

I am an Acorn subscriber and have watched the following: Brokenwood from New Zealand...shades of Midsomer with an different accent! Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries from Australia. Agatha Raisin is a rather silly but fun series set in a Cotswold village. There have been some excellent European series through Acorn as well. On Netflix really enjoyed the two series of Trapped from Iceland, and Occupied from Norway...about Russia occupying Norway for access to North Sea Oil.

Posted by
11177 posts

I am glad Dick mentioned Silent Witness. I watched Season 21 to get a feel for it and was hooked enough to go back to Season 1 (there are 23 seasons in all). Season 1 is a bit dated but good. I am jumping to Season 8 where the current lead character joins the cast. It gets me through treadmill-time at the gym!

Vera is top notch, too.

Posted by
9343 posts

christa, i absolutely love Lucy Worseley, good mention. She’s done many, all excellent. Check out YouTube for many. Netflix used to have her 3 part series on the Russian Czars which was excellent, don’t know if it’s still there though.

Patty, yes! Loved Rosemary & Thyme. Was sad when it ended. I think i watched every episode 10 times each over the years - lol.

Posted by
739 posts

Agatha Christie’s Marple. (NOT Miss Marple)
It has 6 series. The first couple were in my opinion better then the last few as the actress playing Miss Marple was better (she retired).
I just finished watching them last week.
Hard to argue against Agatha Christie

Posted by
27 posts

I, too, have seen most of these. I guess I have a passion for justice...

Another non-British series I enjoy is Brunetti, based on Donna Leon's mysteries.
It's a German production set in Venice. So an easy way to brush up
on that language. Also, Marie's Mind For Murder, another German
show. Both are on MHz.

Posted by
915 posts

If anyone is a fan of Anne Perry’s detectives, there was a movie made of The Cater Street Hangman with Eoin McCarthy (also on Brother Cadfael) and Keeley Hawes as Thomas Pitt & Charlotte Ellison. Loved them both in their roles and wish more of the Pitt books had been filmed.

Posted by
5697 posts

OK, not something to watch, but if you're up for reading books how about the "Her Royal Spyness" series by Rhys Bowen.

Posted by
850 posts

To me Alec Guiness as George Smiley is the gold standard. Smiley's People and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Little Drummer Girl is good too.

If you haven't seen it get a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels. The Swedish ones, not the toned down, too pretty, and bland, mass market one.

Wallander is good, but there you have to choose between a couple very different actors, Kenneth Branaugh or Krister Henriksson. The first is easier to find, but I prefer the second.

Cracker is harder to like, but better than most.

Inspector Lewis is better than the Midsomer or Brokenwood series.

Prime Witness with Helen Mirrin is very good.

Heat of the Sun was one of the very best Masterpiece Theater productions. It's one I would dearly love to see another dozen shows to have followed. (They didn't).

City of Vice is 17th century drama around the start of the Fieldings who were the foundation of Scotland Yard. It's not for the squeamish.

The Tunnel is good. So is Comrade Detective a Russian series.

Colonel March of Scotland Yard is an old series with Boris Karloff in the lead.

The Worricker Trilogy is another I wish they'd made more of.

I've just started Inspector Manara, an Italian series and I'm still on the fence with this one.

Don't forget Life on Mars, a time travel story line.

And for a strange American/British series with a comedy theme there's always Keen Eddie.

Posted by
388 posts

To me Alec Guiness as George Smiley is the gold standard. Smiley's People and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Little Drummer Girl is good too.

Every few years I have the urge to watch Smiley's People and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy again.

If you haven't seen it get a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels. The Swedish ones, not the toned down, too pretty, and bland, mass market one.

There is a box set of the Swedish trilogy, including many illuminating special features. That the author knew nothing about computers, where the author's wealth ended up, how Sweden's tourism benefited, etc.

Ripper Street. Victorian crime and inventions.

Mystery Road. Judy Davis aged well.