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While most recent mystery shows seem to be of the dark and gritty variety, there are plenty of British TV fans who prefer a good cozy mystery. In case you've never given the difference much though, a television cozy mystery generally features:
- An amateur sleuth, though he or she will often have a contact with the police
- The sleuth is slightly more likely to be female and slightly more likely to be middle-aged or older, but it's not a requirement by any means
- Minimal blood and guts
- A bit of light comedy is very common
- Good scenery
- A “brightness” in terms of how it's filmed – the opposite of the dark, gloomy Scandi-noir look
- A unique job or community at the heart of the series – members of the clergy, magicians, gardeners, journalists, and pensioners are great examples
- While sex and scandal may be included as an almost humorous element, they're never explicit
Cozy mysteries are generally designed to interest a very specific demographic – which, interestingly, is very similar to the overall demographic that enjoys British TV (and reads this site). It's primarily women over 40. That's not to say, of course, that there aren't plenty of men and women of all ages who devour them eagerly. Personally, I've been enjoying cozy mysteries in the form of Nancy Drew and The Three Investigators since the moment I first visited a library.
There aren't nearly enough British TV cozy mysteries to meet the demand for them, and requests for cozy mystery recommendations are easily one of the most common requests we get (along with people who want to cancel their BritBox or Acorn TV accounts because they don't realise we're a news site). To that end, we've decided to put together this list to help everyone find more British TV cozy mysteries to enjoy. We'll continue to add and update as more are released.
British TV Cozy Mysteries
Agatha Christie Adaptations
We're devoting an entire sub-section to the Grand Dame of Mystery, as most everything she did would either be considered cozy or cozy-adjacent. There's a gentleness to her mysteries, and I've not known many cozy mystery fans who didn't appreciate her work. For a more complete list of her work on screen, check out our piece on Agatha Christie adaptations.
Miss Marple – 1984 to 1992 – Joan Hickson has the distinction of being the only Miss Marple to have personally received a note from Agatha Christie saying, “I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple,” and many consider her to be the gold standard (though it's not quite so universal as with Suchet playing Poirot). Hickson played Marple over the course of 8 or so years of miniseries. Stream it HERE.
Agatha Christie's Marple – 2004 to 2014 – In this incarnation of the Miss Marple series, we see the clever spinster detective portrayed by two fine actresses – first, Geraldine McEwan, and later, Julia McKenzie. The episodes in this series were adapted from 12 Miss Marple novels, 2 short stories, and 9 novels that don't actually feature Miss Marple at all (but hey, everything is better with a little Marple). Stream it HERE.
Agatha Christie's Poirot – This one's a bit more debatable since Poirot is generally acting as a paid investigator – but as it meets the majority of the criteria, we're including it. David Suchet stars as the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in this long-running series, somehow managing to be both highly faithful to the novel version, yet more human and likable. Interestingly, Suchet had to wear padding to fill out the more generous proportions of Poirot, and he stayed in character at all times on set, whether filming or not. Stream it HERE.
Agatha Christie's Tommy & Tuppence: Partners in Crime – Francesca Annis and James Warwick star in this 1920s period mystery about the crime-solving couple of Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Crowley. There are 11 episodes over 2 seasons. Stream it HERE.
The Rest of the British TV Cozy Mysteries
Hamish Macbeth – Though Hamish Macbeth is a police constable, everything else about this series screams “cozy”. It's warm, it's funny, and the general tone is generally light. Even the police aspect of things is somewhat downplayed. Sex, violence, and cursing are minimal, and the scenery is some of the best you'll find in any series. Hamish Macbeth is a highly competent officer who prefers to play dumb and avoid promotion. He loves his small Scottish community and the laid-back lifestyle it affords him. The series is based on the Hamish Macbeth novels of M.C. Beaton. Stream it HERE
Rosemary & Thyme – Laura Thyme and Rosemary Boxer are two women at a crossroads. Both middle-aged, one has been sacked from her university job, and the other has been sacked by her husband. They create a gardening business together, but murder seems to follow them. It's a lovely, light-hearted series with gorgeous scenery. Stream it HERE
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates – After a lifetime of handling domestic duties for her family, a plucky pensioner teams up with her husband and a troubled teen as she solves a variety of interesting mysteries around her Lancashire home. Stars Patricia Routledge of Keeping Up Appearances. Stream it HERE | DVD
Agatha Raisin – After an early retirement from her PR career in London, Agatha Raisin buys a lovely Cotswold cottage and retires to the village of Carsley. It doesn't take long before she's mixing with the locals – and a variety of murders. Once canceled, Acorn TV brought this one back from the grave, creating Season 2 which premiered in 2018, and Season 3 which begins on October 28th of 2019 (to be released somewhat irregularly as feature-length movies). Stream it HERE
Jonathan Creek – It would be tough to come up with a more far-fetched idea for a mystery series – a journalist teams up with a guy who designs magic tricks and lives in a windmill. Still, the fact that it's an unlikely setup doesn't make it a bad one. Jonathan Creek is a fun, light-hearted mystery series focusing on locked-room style mysteries. While the first few seasons are widely considered the best, the whole thing is worth a watch if you enjoy cozy mysteries. Stream it HERE
Shakespeare & Hathaway – This delightful series is technically about a couple of PIs, but between Luella Shakespeare's hair-styling past and assistant Sebastian's theatrical career, it's very much a cozy mystery. Sex and violence are very mild, and the gorgeous backdrop of Stratford-upon-Avon will have you browsing holiday booking sites and dreaming of a trip to England. Season 2 premieres on BritBox on October 8th (2019), and it's already been confirmed for a third AND fourth season. Stream it HERE | Buy it HERE
Campion – Based on the Albert Campion mystery novels by Margery Allingham, this series starred Peter Davison as Albert Campion, a wealthy man who solves crimes with his manservant Magersfontein Lugg and police friend Stanislaus Oates. Stream it HERE
Pie in the Sky – I debated about whether to include this one on the list, as DI Crabbe is a semi-retired police officer who tries to retire and open a restaurant, but constantly gets called back to help the police. It does meet many of the criteria for a cozy, though, with Crabbe running a restaurant in between solving crimes. Sex, violence, and language are all fairly toned down, too. Stream it HERE
Queens of Mystery – This new series from Acorn TV flips the cozy convention on its head, putting the focus squarely on a young police detective – but it's her meddling, crime-solving, mystery-writing aunts who give it the cozy feel. It's a fun new series and with any luck, we'll be seeing more seasons. Stream it HERE
The Bletchley Circle – World War II was perhaps the first time in history when the UK started to make good use of their female talent. Perhaps most notably, a variety of intelligent women were trained as codebreakers at Bletchley Park. Sadly, their talents were no longer needed or respected in the years immediately following the war, and many of those women found themselves bored and in need of a challenge. In Bletchley Circle, four former Bletchley codebreakers team up to solve vexing local crimes, despite the fact that the men in charge would rather they not. This one's a bit darker than the typical cozy, but it fits most of the criteria. Stream it HERE
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco – Though the general consensus seems to be that this followup series is not even close to as good as the original, that's more because the original was just so good – and the British scenery didn't hurt, either. In the new series, we find ourselves in San Francisco with Millie Harcourt, Jean McBrian, and some new Americna codebreakers. Stream it HERE
Australian & Canadian Cozy Mysteries
True, these aren't British – but they're from the Commonwealth, and that's close enough for us.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries – In 1920s Melbourne, Phryne Fisher stands out. She's a uniquely modern woman who never lets her gender get in the way of a good time – or solving a murder. Stream it HERE
Miss Fisher's Modern Mysteries – In this Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries spin-off, Phryne Fisher's long-lost niece Peregrine follows in her aunt's footsteps after her mysterious disappearance. Stream it HERE
Frankie Drake Mysteries – In 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake and her partner Trudy Clarke solve mysteries out of their own PI firm – and occasionally, they bump into some very famous people. Stream it HERE
Not Quite Cozy Mysteries
For one reason or another, these mysteries don't quite make the cut for cozy – but they have a number of the right elements and we figured they'd probably appeal to someone who enjoys a good cozy mystery.
Death in Paradise – While Death in Paradise revolves around an island police station, it hits most of the other cozy criteria. There's plenty of humour, the tone is light, and the tropical scenery is lovely. This long-running series focuses on British detectives (okay, one Irish) plonked down in a warm, humid, informal island life. Much of the humour comes from cultural differences and misunderstandings that occur as they lead their team of detectives through murder cases. Stream it HERE
Grantchester – Reverend Sidney Chambers (and later, Reverend Tom Davenport) helps DI Geordie Keating solve crimes around the small Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester. Though it's a bit more serious than a cozy, it features a close-knit community and a crime-solving vicar, both common elements of cozies. Though sex and violence are present and greater than in a typical cozy mystery, the setting (1950s England) means the overall tone is still a good bit milder than most modern “gritty” mysteries. Stream it HERE
Midsomer Murders – Though it often feels like one of Britain's coziest mysteries, the fact that police work is so central to each episode prevents it from being a true cozy mystery. John Nettles (and later, Neil Dudgeon) star in this classic, long-running series about murder in the lovely county of Midsomer. Stream it HERE
Gil Mayo Mysteries – DI Gil Mayo is a light-hearted alternative to the typical hard-boiled cop mystery, but again, he IS a cop, and police investigations are central to the series – so it's not quite cozy. Stream it HERE
Vexed – This series about a two police detective partners is bright and upbeat, but not quite a cozy mystery. It focuses on the partnership of an eccentric male detective and his troubled new female partner. Stream it HERE
McDonald & Dodds – Set in Bath, England, this light mystery isn't 100% cozy (it does feature police officers), but it keeps the sex and violence to a minimum – and even the filming itself feels brighter than many mysteries. It follows two mismatched detectives, played by Jason Watkins (The Crown, Trollied) and newcomer Tala Gouveia. The first season has just two feature-length episodes, but it's been renewed for a second series.
Which British TV Cozy Mysteries are Your Favourites?
Are you a fan of the cozies? Which ones are your favourites? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!
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