We all talk about US TV Shows and why shouldn’t we – they are in abundance. However, Britain have really been knocking it out of the park over the past couple of years, producing some genuinely fantastic original programming. So, if you’re looking to fill the gap while waiting for our US faves to return in September, here’s just a few of the best shows that Britain has to offer!
Unforgotten was an unexpected delight for me. This thrilling drama highlights how the past cannot stay dead and your demons can come back to haunt you. The show follows four seemingly unconnected storylines that all come together in the most unexpected way when a decades old body is discovered under an old house.
Secrets and lies are exposed as DCI Cassie Stuart launches an investigation in an attempt to find out what really happened in this house several decades ago. With a more adult attempt at a whodunit story, Unforgotten will keep you guessing until the very end! This thrilling series has been renewed for a second series which is due to be aired later in the year.
Set in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester during the 1950s, this fabulous drama follows vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) as he befriends Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Greene) and together they solve murders. Sidney’s understanding of the heart comes in handy as he often spots clues that Geordie overlooks. Grantchester is somewhat of a social commentary, highlighting the corruption and immorality of the church and the law during the time period. Certain themes, such a the death penalty and homosexuality are discussed. Moreover, Sidney battles with his own issues: for a man who puts so much faith in God he also has a troubled past – he fought during the war and his actions haunt him everyday.
A breath of fresh air and less alarming than most crime-based series, Grantchester has done remarkably well in both it’s native UK and on PBS in America. The series has just finished it’s second series and will return for a third next year.
3. Last Tango In Halifax
Last Tango in Halifax follows two completely different people from two completely different backgrounds – childhood sweethearts – who get a second chance at happiness after reconnecting through Facebook. Alan and Celia are put back in touch via Facebook, and, to not get all cliche, love ensues. However, that’s not all – Alan and Celia both have families that battle with their own issues. This delightful drama created by Happy Valley genius Sally Wainwright stars Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) and Nicola Walker (Unforgotten). Putting Wainwright and Lancashire on the map, the success of Last Tango not only led to Happy Valley being produced, but won Lancashire a BAFTA for best actress. The series is joyful and uplifting, two qualities that are rarely seen on television anymore.
Excellently acted and written, Last Tango is full of optimism, highlighting that it’s never too later for one to find true happiness. As of now, three series’ have been produced with an upcoming special due to be aired at the end of the year.
Last Tango in Halifax is available on Netflix in the US.
2. The Game
The Game first aired on BBC America before making it’s way to the UK a year later. This British spy drama is set in the 1970s and follows MI5 operative Joe Lambe and his team as they uncover Operation Glass: a potentially devastating Soviet plot that threatens to change the outcome of the Cold War. Additionally, the team have a mole who is relaying secret information to the enemy – but who is it? Filled with twists and turns that keep viewers on the edge of their seat until the very end, this short six part series was critically acclaimed.
Despite being so short, the thrills and excitement provided in The Game are worth every second. Excellently written and acted, from the creator of Being Human. Highly recommended – you won’t see it coming!
1. Happy Valley
Happy Valley is an edge-of-seat crime drama set in Yorkshire, following Sergeant Catherine Cawood. Cawood’s demons come back to haunt her when the man responsible for her daughter’s suicide is released from prison. At the same time, she investigates a brutal kidnapping, but the two incidents are more related than Cawood knows.
This BAFTA award winning show received critical acclaim, with Daily Mail commenting that “every installment has been unmissable” and The Guardian referring to it as “Britain’s version of The Wire”. The series is excellently written by Sally Wainwright, with every episode having you on the edge of your seat. What made Happy Valley such a hit during it’s first run was the perfect mixture of drama with a little comedy, on top of phenomenal acting performances from Sarah Lancashire and James Norton. Lancashire is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses on global television and it’s because of her performance in Happy Valley that she earned this credit. During its run, the viewing figures were incredibly high and the series was often discussed in the news as well as being the number one trend on Twitter. Happy Valley is easily the most compelling show on the list and one of my all time favourite shows since I discovered it last year. I cannot recommend it enough – the level of writing and acting is easily equivalent to the likes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Two series have been produced and while Wainwright had stated that the story is far from over, she said that she needs adequate time to produce an equally compelling third series.
Happy Valley is available on Netflix in the US.
That’s just a few exciting examples of what Britain has to offer the world of entertainment! So, if you’re looking for something to fill the void, why not choose one of these spectacular series – when thrilling crime dramas like Happy Valley reel you in, you’ll be hooked until the very end. Alternatively, if you prefer something light then why not try out Last Tango in Halifax? The US may produce the majority of original programming around the world but in terms of quality, Britain gives America a run for it’s money.