20+ Cozy British Mystery Shows for British TV Fans Who Like Their Mysteries Mild

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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 instead of a streaming service).

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

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Joan Hickson as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple

 

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.

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Poirot's Halloween Party

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

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Hamish Macbeth

 

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

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Rosemary & Thyme streams on BritBox

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

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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

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The first episode of Agatha Raisin, Season 3 premieres in October

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, season 3 which began in 2019, and season 4 (beginning with a Christmas episode in December 2021). Stream it HERE

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Father Brown

Father Brown – Mark Williams stars as a crime-solving priest living in the fictional Cotswold village of Kembleford in early 1950s England. Stream it HERE

Classic Father Brown – Kenneth More played the title role in this 1974 television adaptation of GK Chesterton's novels about the British Catholic priest who solves crime. In this version, the action is set in the 1920s. Stream it HERE

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Sister Boniface (LORNA WATSON)

Sister Boniface Mysteries – At time of writing, this one's not yet been released – but it's a Father Brown spin-off that very much qualifies as a cosy. The character of Sister Boniface (who appears in an early Father Brown episode) has been given her own life as a crime-fighting nun with a keen grasp of science that allows her to use then-revolutionary forensic techniques to help the police. Learn more about Sister Boniface Mysteries here

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Miss Scarlet & the Duke – When Eliza Scarlet's father dies, he leaves her in a precarious financial situation and she decides to take over his PI business. Unfortunately, she lives in Victorian times, and there aren't many who want to hire a woman to do a “man's job”. The series sees her fighting to make the business work and find a way forward in her new life – often butting heads with her dear friend Inspector Wellington. Stream it HERE

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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 

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Sally Lindsay and the cast of Madame Blanc Mysteries

Madame Blanc Mysteries – Created and starred in by actress Sally Lindsay, this Acorn TV original follows a woman whose husband has died in mysterious circumstances during a routine antiquing trip to France. After his death, she finds their accounts are all drained, and the only thing left is their house in France. She heads there to sort out what's happening. Stream it HERE

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Cadfael

Cadfael – Based on the Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters, this series features Sir Derek Jacobi as a medieval monk and detective. Stream it HERE

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Shakespeare & Hathaway

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 mild, and the gorgeous backdrop of Stratford-upon-Avon will have you browsing holiday booking sites and dreaming of a trip to England. Season 4 was delayed by the pandemic, but it's still on the way. 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

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Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky – 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. Some might not consider it a true cosy due to his police ties, but it does meet many of the criteria, with Crabbe running a restaurant in between solving crimes. Sex, violence, and language are all fairly toned down, too. Stream it HERE

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Queens of Mystery is delightful…

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. Season 2 premieres soon. Stream it HERE

Mrs. Bradley Mysteries – Diana Rigg stars as Mrs. Bradley, a slightly edgier version of Miss Marple who solves mysteries alongside her devoted chaffeur. Stream it HERE

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The Bletchley Circle

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 American codebreakers. Stream it HERE

 

Australian & Canadian Cozy Mysteries 

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Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Acorn TV

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

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My Life is Murder

My Life is Murder – Lucy Lawless stars as retired detective Alexa Crowe, a woman recovering from tragedy and occasionally helping out the local police. There are now two seasons of this one – the first set in Australia, and the second in New Zealand. 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

Mr. and Mrs. Murder – A fun middle-aged pair works together as crime scene cleaners – but they somehow manage to solve more crimes than the actual police. Stream it HERE

 

Not Quite Cozy Mysteries

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Death in Paradise – not quite a cozy mystery, but close

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 figure they'll 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

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Grantchester 

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

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Midsomer Murders

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

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Vexed

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

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Jason Watkins in McDonald & Dodds, Season 2

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. There are just two short seasons so far, but a third is on the way.

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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26 Comments

  1. Hi I’ve literally seen all these programmes (I have to rest in bed a lot!).
    Not “cosy” but Vera is amazing.
    There are 2 Coroners-British & Canadian. Both excellent.
    I also like the cosy films like Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, one about the mail & a Chef one.
    Keep them coming, I say!

  2. Saw someone recommend “The Brokenwood Mysteries”, a New Zealand show with 7 seasons already (4 One & a half hour length episodes per season) gave it a try, and I’m hooked!
    It’s such an incredible show, has the kind of humor and small town sensibility of “Queens of Mystery” & “Agatha Raisin” and a very good lead characters ying-yang chemistry like in “Shakespeare and Hathaway”. The cases and deaths are also very original.
    It’s nothing like it’s kiwi urban counterpart ”My Life is Murder”, but both shows are great in their own way.

  3. Are these all procedurals (a mystery is solved in every episode)? Or are some of them serials (where the mystery takes the entire season to be solved, like Only Murders in the Building)? I’m looking for some good examples of the latter. Thanks!

    • Shetland is one of my very, VERY favorite mysteries and it does take an entire season to be solved. I just finished one that took all 6 episodes and it was excellent!! Probably one of my very favorite detective series. I truly am an addict when it comes to good, good mysteries. Several out there now!!

  4. When will season 2 of “”My Life is Murder” air in America? Also, “Queens of Mystery”?

  5. I fell in love with Cozy Mysteries years ago. It’s awesome to have this list so I can check out other Cozy Mysteries. Thanks.

  6. What about Peter Wimsey. I see that there were movies made of some of Sayer’s books. Can they still be seen?

  7. I absolutely LOVE Shakespeare and Hathaway! Love the humor, and the characters! Which of these other showw would be most similar??

    • I love S&H, too! I’d say definitely Agatha Raisin (start with Quiche of Death — in the US it’s separated from the series). Then Death in Paradise, Rosemary and Thyme, and Mallorca Files. McDonald and Dodds seems promising but few episodes. Even though it’s more serious and less like the others, New Tricks. Agatha Raisin and Rosemary and Thyme are villagers solving crime, the rest are detectives.

  8. Great suggestions! I think The Coroner fits your definition of cozy. New Tricks is another favorite — the senior citizen retired police officer characters are certainly cozy and sweetly eccentric, even if the cold cases they solve can be a bit gritty.

  9. Thrilled to find this site! I’ve been watching a lot of British mysteries since the pandemic hit–cozy series are my FAVORITE. I do think, however, that there are a couple more that readers might like to know about. These are “Not Quite Cozy”–they are more cozy-adjacent as they don’t put me off with too much grittiness, violence, or depressing storylines. They are more light-hearted. They are: The Coroner and Murder in Suburbia.

  10. I recommend adding:
    -Sherlock (w/Cumberbach) I can’t believe it isn’t on this list!)
    -Canada’s Murdoch Mysteries
    -Doc Martin (I don’t care for it, but others might)
    -Murder Most English (I’ve not seen it, so not too sure if it is “cozy”)
    -New Zealand’s Brokenwood Mysteries (it’s been likened to Midsomer)
    -Sherlock Holmes (any version)
    -Arthur & George
    -An Inspector Calls
    -The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
    -Inspector Pitt Mysteries
    -Inspector Lynley
    -Inspector George Gently
    -Prime Suspect, Prime Suspect:Tennison
    -Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, Endeavour
    -Case Histories
    -Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence
    -Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
    -Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery
    -Orient Express (any version)
    -Doctor Blake Mysteries
    -Foyle’s War
    -Inspector Maigret
    -The Lady Vanishes
    Paranormal-type Mystery:
    -Ghost Hunters of Harry Price: Ghost Hunter
    -The Secret of Crickley Hall
    -The Living and The Dead
    -From Time to Time

  11. Ah, Macbeth. Acorn TV includes Hamish’s singing in West Coast Story (S1E4), absent from U.S. DVDs.

  12. All of my favorites, with one exception – Frankie Drake Mysteries is a stinker. The acting is AWFUL, and the plots are ridiculous. I soldiered through the first season, but gave up midway through the second. Murdoch Mysteries, by the same writers is much, much better.

    • I completely agree. I LOVE Murdoch Mysteries, and I really, really, really wanted to love Frankie Drake, but the acting of the title character is awful, and her partner isn’t much better. I do like the morality officer and the coroner’s assistant, but they can’t save the show.

      It’s the same way I feel about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries compared to Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. I REALLY wanted to love the spin-off, but it was just…awful.

    • Deginitely agree – acting in Frankie Drake Mysteries was awful, and so were the plots! Loved the coroner though, and the morality officer wasn’t bad either. The lead actress, however, was one of the worst I’ve ever suffered through! And what was with that quirky quick head shake all the time?

  13. An excellent list, right down my street! If I had to niggle, though, I wish you would’ve noted which streaming services these series are available at instead of blandly linking to Amazon. I know you’ve got to pay your bills, but it would’ve been a lot more convenient.

    • By linking to Amazon, it helps us to future-proof our posts. Streaming services change constantly, but when we send the link to Amazon, it updates to show BritBox or Acorn or PBS or Starz, etc. We just don’t have the manpower to update hundreds of posts on a monthly basis, so it helps us to avoid having dated and incorrect streaming information.

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