It’s officially fall now, and you know what that means – darkness comes earlier, pumpkin spiced things are showing up everywhere, and it’s time to start watching Halloween-appropriate television shows. Luckily for us British-TV lovers, the UK has produced a lot of supernatural content. I suppose that’s no big surprise considering they effectively GAVE us Halloween (which evolved, at least in part, from the Gaelic Samhain festivals celebrated throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man).
Because murder mysteries are a year-round thing in the UK (and because they seem to make up 50% of their total programming), I’ve left those out. This list is strictly for programs with witches, magic, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena. Some of the titles are relatively rare, so they may only be available on Amazon UK (and often, Region 2 titles are cheaper there anyway so it’s always worth checking). US residents can order from both regular Amazon and Amazon UK.
So, what’s on our watchlist for the month of October? Where to begin…
British Television Shows with Witches & Werewolves
The Worst Witch – Mildred Hubble is a just a normal little girl living with her single mother – until a young witch flies into her balcony and changes everything. Suddenly, she’s competing for a place at witching school and fending off typical adolescent mean girls who also happen to have magical powers. Streaming now on Netflix.
Lizzie Dripping – Back in the early 1970s, the BBC produced this curious show about a young country village girl and her possibly imaginary witch friend. There’s also a series of books related to the show. While you can’t stream the show anywhere or buy it on a Region 1 DVD (North American format), you CAN pre-order the series here on the UK Amazon site. As with any DVDs ordered there, you’ll need a region-free DVD player to watch it.
Penny Dreadful – This British-American horror series is set in Victorian London and features a number of ghastly, ghoulish characters from 19th century British and Irish fiction. Dracula, Van Helsing, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll all appear. Streaming now on Netflix.
Being Human – Before the American version of Being Human, there was a British version. In the show, a werewolf, vampire, and ghost attempt to live together and get along. It doesn’t always go well. Streaming now on Netflix.
Beasts – This supernatural anthology series was created in the 1970s and features six self-contained episodes of beastly horror – rats, witches, wolves, and…ghost dolphins terrorize the characters. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon UK
In the Flesh – After a zombie outbreak, the government develops a drug to subdue zombies and return them to their normal state. One of these zombies, teenager Kieran Walker, receives this treatment and is returned home to his sleepy Lancashire village. DVD on Amazon.
British Television Shows with Ghosts & Hauntings
The Secret of Crickley Hall – After their young son goes missing, a couple escapes to Crickley Hall in an effort to rebuild their lives. Though it seems perfect at first, it doesn’t take long before strange things begin to happen. Stars Tom Ellis (Miranda, Lucifer) and Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster, Scott & Bailey). Available streaming on Amazon. You can also get it on DVD or even pick up the book.
Residue – In this show that blends sci-fi and the paranormal, we see a futuristic UK city under siege by some sort of ghostly phenomenon. Photojournalist Jennifer Preston (played by Natalia Tena of Harry Potter & Game of Thrones) is hindered by a government coverup as she tries to piece together what’s happening. Also stars Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones and Misfits. Now streaming on Netflix.
Marchlands – Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) stars in this miniseries set in three separate points in time at one haunted house. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD at Amazon | DVD at Amazon UK
Lightfields – Lightfields is a miniseries follow-up to Marchlands, this time starring Dakota Blue Richards (Endeavor, The Golden Compass) and Michael Byrne (Honest, Coronation Street), along with Kris Marshall (Death in Paradise). In the series, a tragic death in 1944 leaves a presence that affects all those who eventually live in the home. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD at Amazon | DVD at Amazon UK
The Canterville Ghost – Based on a novella by Oscar Wilde, this one has been remade several times for film, television, and even radio. You can get the streaming rental here at Amazon, but they only have the Patrick Stewart version (it’s also on DVD). There’s also a TV version with the delightful Bernard Cribbins, but we’ve been unable to locate that one. The Canterville Ghost tells the story of a family that moves to a castle haunted by the ghost of a dead nobleman, Sir Simon. Try as he might to scare them, the family refuses to be frightened and poor Sir Simon is utterly humiliated.
Mulberry – Mulberry is an apprentice to the Grim Reaper, and he’s been sent to collect Miss Farnaby. Instead, he becomes a member of her staff and tries to help her enjoy whatever extra time he can win for her. Mulberry is only available on Region 2 DVDs (requires a region-free DVD player), and you can get it from Amazon or Amazon UK.
The Enfield Haunting – Set in 1970s, this miniseries takes you through the very strange events unfolding in an ordinary house in Enfield, North London. It’s available on Region 2 DVD (which requires a region-free DVD player to play).
The Haunting of Radcliffe House – When a young family moves from London to the North York Moors to restore a large old Victorian estate, strange things begin to happen. 90 minute movie. DVD at Amazon | DVD at Amazon UK
Marley’s Ghosts – Sarah Alexander (Coupling, Jonathan Creek, The Worst Week of My Life) stars in this series about a recently widowed woman who can talk to the dead. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD at Amazon | DVD at Amazon UK
The Ghosts of Motley Hall – This 20-episode 1970s children’s series is about a deserted mansion populated by 5 argumentative ghosts. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD at Amazon | DVD at Amazon UK
The Clifton House Mystery – When a family moves into an old home in Bristol, they discover a secret room with a skeleton. Peter Sallis (Wallace & Gromit, Last of the Summer Wine) appears as a ghost hunter hired to get rid of the spirits in this fun 1970s children’s show. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon | DVD on Amazon UK
Afterlife – Before The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln starred alongside Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey, Paranoid) in this British series about a university lecturer who is skeptical about the paranormal until he meets a medium who changes his mind. DVD on Amazon
The Fades – A teenage boy is haunted by unexplained dreams, then he begins to see dead people haunting the earth. Look out for Tom Ellis (Miranda, Lucifer) in the role of Mark. Free streaming with Amazon Prime
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) – This show was made once in the 1960s and again in the early 2000s, and features two detective partners, one of which is deceased. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). 1960s Edition on DVD | 2000s Edition on DVD
British Television Shows with Magic & Mysticism
Jonathan Creek – Jonathan Creek is a brilliant behind-the-scenes creator of magic tricks who discovers he also has a talent for solving murders. Over the years, he partners with several different co-investigators as he tackles seemingly unsolvable crimes. Everything aside from Series 1 is currently streaming on BritBox. The Series 1 DVD is extremely expensive in Region 1 format (for North American DVD players), but if you have a region-free DVD player, you can order a less expensive Series 1-4 DVD from Amazon, or even the Series 1 DVD from Amazon UK.
Mayday – Mayday is a quaint English village with a strong pagan tradition. Mayday festivities are central to the community, and the May Queen is the highlight of that day – until she disappears. DVD at Amazon
Thriller – Thriller is an anthology show that aired at two separate times during two different decades. The 1960s Thriller featured Boris Karloff as storyteller, and while he was British, the show was filmed in the United States and most of the actors were American. The 1970s version was a British creation, often set around the London commuter belt. Each episode offered a unique and self-contained story, all some variety of thriller (and many with supernatural elements). 1960s Thriller on DVD | 1970s UK Thriller on DVD
The Magic of Houdini – Alan Davies (of Jonathan Creek fame) visits New York and explores the history of famed illusionist Harry Houdini. Streaming now on Netflix.
Shadows – This 1970s series offered supernatural anthology content for a younger audience – think Twilight Zone or Thriller for the kids. Keep an eye out for a younger Jenny Agutter (MI-5, Call the Midwife), Gwyneth Strong (Only Fools & Horses, EastEnders), Clive Swift (Keeping Up Appearances), Pauline Quirk (Broadchurch, Birds of a Feather), and Brian Wilde (Last of the Summer Wine). Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon UK
Moondial – While staying with an aunt, moonlight falls on a sundial and a little girl is transported back in time. There, she discovers two children at the mercy of evil forces. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon | DVD on Amazon UK
The Box of Delights – An shabby box guarded by a mysterious old man leads a young boy into all manner of adventures in this brief children’s series. Stars Patrick Troughton (Doctor Who: The Second Doctor). Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon | DVD on Amazon UK
Children of the Stones – A researcher and his son move to a sleepy English village surrounded by ancient stones, only to realize that all is not as it seems in the town. It’s a children’s show, but creepy and mature enough for adults to enjoy. DVD on Amazon
Merlin – This retelling of the classic tale showcases a young and increasingly powerful Merlin when he was just a servant to Prince Arthur of Camelot. Now streaming on Netflix.
Supernatural – In order to gain entry into a secret society, prospective members must tell a sufficiently frightening story or face death. Only available on Region 2 DVD (requires a region-free DVD player). DVD on Amazon | DVD on Amazon UK
Did We Miss Any?
Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!