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At a quick glance, it doesn't look like Netflix has many perks. You can't buy extra movies and shows to add to your library like you can on Amazon Prime. You also can't add on extra streaming subscriptions such as HBO, Starz, Acorn, or BritBox (like you can with Amazon and Hulu).
So what keeps us coming back for more? Netflix has been throwing money left and right at some of the biggest shows in television – and they aren't even technically on TV.
Netflix likes to put big bucks into big productions, drawing subscribers in. Many (but not all) of the shows on this top 10 list are exclusive to Netflix, so you won't find them anywhere else.
10 Best British TV Shows Streaming on Netflix
In no particular order, these are the top 10 British TV shows streaming on Netflix that are both highly rated and popular:
The Crown tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s onward. It was devised by Peter Morgan and based on his play “The Audience.” Since it began, it has grown into a much loved, much anticipated series staring British heavyweights like Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, and more.
Outlander is part historical drama, part fantasy. It begins in 1945 in post-war England when a stone circle mysteriously transports Claire Randall, a married WWII nurse, to 1743 where she's thrown into the Jacobite rebellions and into the arms of Jamie Fraser. Fans of action, romance, and historical dramas will enjoy Outlander. It's based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon.
It stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzines, and countless veteran Scottish actors, like Graham McTavish, Richard Rankin, and more. Even Douglas Henshall is in four episodes.
After Life follows the story of Tony, a widower who decides he's tired of playing nice. Ricky Gervais writes, directs, and stars in the series. It's a dark comedy with two seasons currently available and a third in the works. After Life is a Netflix original series, so it's unlikely it will be streaming anywhere else for the foreseeable future.
It also stars Diane Morgan, Mandeep Dhillon, Paul Kaye, Ashley Jensen, Kerry Godliman, Roisin Conaty, Dame Penelope Wilton, David Bradley, Joe Wilkinson, and more.
Black Mirror is a polarizing show, if only for it's first episode. For that reason, I often suggest skipping the first episode. Each episode is different, so you don't need to watch them in any kind of order. It's a dark reflection of how humans and technology are evolving, among other things, but it's also deeply moving… It's just one of those shows where the stories stick with you long after you watch; they make you think. If that's not art, I don't know what is.
My recommendation? If you're hesitant, start with Season 2, Episode 1: “Be Right Back,” Season 1, Episode 3: “The Entire History of You,” Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation,” or Season 5, Episode 2: “Smithereens.” …or whichever sound the most interesting. There's no wrong or right way to watch Black Mirror. The episodes are all so different; it's easy to have favorites and ones that don't quite jive with you.
It's rated 8.8/10 on IMDb and is created by Charlie Brooker. Too many cast members to list since it's an anthology series.
Witchers are taken in as children and subjected to alchemical treatments and grueling training processes, making them something other than human – they are mutated into monster-hunting sell-swords. If the process wasn't horrible enough, they're also stigmatized as a lower race of human.
Geralt of Rivea is the best witcher in the land, and even he is still treated badly. He is friendless apart from his horse, Roach. It's safe to say Geralt is an introvert just trying to make ends meet.
The first season takes place in two completely different timelines, but there is neither a clear indication of this nor an ah-ha moment for the audience to realize it. That being said, it's still a wonderful production that should only improve with the seasons. The first season did a good job setting up the characters and the alternate world. Season two should expand on that. The second season will take place in the present timeline, so it should be less confusing for viewers.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra, Joey Batey, Jodhi May, and more.
Netflix claims this show was viewed by 76 million households, making it Netflix's most-watched first season of a TV show – ever.
Set in industrial Birmingham, Peaky Blinders follows Thomas Shelby, a crime boss hell-bent on success. The characters are complex and the women are powerful. It's also a unique look at a historical criminal underworld not often featured on screen.
Peaky Blinders has a tendency to fly under the radar, but it's a high quality production that excels in all categories: acting, directing, cinematography, music and more. The production quality is on par with the premium networks.
It stars Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Helen McCrory, Sophie Rundle, and many more wonderful actors.
Broadchurch follows detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) as they uncover the secrets of their small town. The gorgeous Dorset scenery contrasts with the horrific death of a young boy. The first two seasons primarily follow the same case, while the third and final season revolves around a new case.
Also starring Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Matthew Gravelle, David Bradley, Charlotte Rampling, Eve Myles, and James D'Arcy.
Great British Baking Show
The Great British Bake Off, as it's known in the UK, began with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry judging, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc presenting, and Rupert Penry-Jones narrating. After the BBC sold it to Channel 4, Prue Leith stepped into Mary Berry's shoes, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding replaced Mel and Sue, and Rupert no longer narrates it. But, it's still worth watching. (Even if it isn't as relaxing without Rupert Penry-Jones narrating it).
The Great British Baking Show is beloved in the US for how it contrasts to American baking competitions: it isn't as stressful to watch. Instead, the quaint, understated British competition show could even be called relaxing at times.
This modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson. While it's based on the detective series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the setting is modern day London. Dr. John Watson is a war doctor home from Afghanistan and looking for a flatmate when he meets Sherlock Holmes, a private detective with more than a few idiosyncrasies.
Also starring Mark Gatiss (who co-wrote the show with Steven Moffat and Stephen Thompson), Andrew Scott, Louise Brealey, Rupert Graves, Amanda Abbington, Una Stubbs, Lara Pulver, and more.
Call The Midwife
Call the Midwife follows a group of midwives from the 1950s onwards. It deals with community, family life, and social difficulties. The cast changes a bit, but the charm stays. Follow midwives, families, and mothers through the most important, difficult, happiest, and saddest days of their lives.
It stars Miranda Hart, Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Stephen McGann, Judy Parfitt, Linda Bassett, Jennifer Kirby, Vanessa Redgrave, and more.
Call the Midwife is streaming on Netflix.
What are your favourite British shows on Netflix?
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Liberty is a writer from Ohio, but pretends she's in the English countryside sipping some Yorkshire Gold tea, dunking some Custard Creams, and wondering who stole her TARDIS.