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Here’s a fact that may surprise you. BritBox actually has more titles than Acorn TV. BritBox just has kind of an awkward interface that makes discovery a bit challenging (though Acorn’s interface got MUCH worse after their recent update).
Now, the fact that they have more titles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like BritBox better, because they each have different types of content and there are very few titles that overlap (Midsomer Murders is one you’ll find on both). While we strongly recommend subscribing to both, we’ve put together a BritBox vs. Acorn TV comparison guide to help you decide between them if you don’t have the time or budget for that.
If you’re already a BritBox member and you just don’t know what to watch, here’s our take on the best shows on BritBox.
The Top 10 Best Shows on BritBox
At last count, BritBox had a little over 300 different programs available in their streaming library. This changes from month to month, of course, as new shows are added and others are removed. When the service began in 2017, the total number of programs was closer to 200, but it’s been climbing slowly and steadily since then.
Midsomer Murders – As of early 2018, BritBox now carries all 20 seasons of the quintessential British mystery classic.
Vera – Acorn TV used to get the new seasons first, but Series 8 premiered earlier this year on BritBox. There’s no official word on where Series 9 will end up in early 2019, but if we were betting, our money would be on Britbox.
As Time Goes By – Two lovers are reunited in their senior years after a misunderstanding drove them apart decades earlier. Stars the delightful Dame Judi Dench alongside Geoffrey Palmer. If you like to binge watch shows with tons of series, it’s worth noting that this one has 9.
Shetland – Series 4 of this engrossing Scottish mystery premiered this spring on BritBox, with new episodes being released weekly
Cold Feet – While this popular dramedy originally premiered in the late 90s, they recently returned for a reboot. The cast is a little older these days, and the issues are a bit different, but it’s still quality television.
Vicar of Dibley – This early 90s comedy features Dawn French as a female vicar in a small village not too far from London
Keeping Up Appearances – Patricia Routledge stars as the snooty but lovable Hyacinth Bucket (that’s BOUQUET).
Inspector Morse – John Thaw stars as the classic Oxford detective.
Fawlty Towers – John Cleese and Prunella Scales star in this wonderful but way too short comedy about a quirky husband and wife who run a small hotel.
The Best of the Rest
Narrowing the list down to 10 was far too restrictive, and many British TV fans will have already watched most of those, anyway. So – let’s talk about what you might want to explore after you work your way through those.
Fantastic Police Procedurals & Mysteries on BritBox
Rosemary & Thyme – Two older women become unintentional detectives after partnering up as gardeners.
Scott & Bailey – This Sally Wainwright (Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley) procedural went on for 5 seasons, all of which are on BritBox
New Blood – This new crime drama features two young detectives working together to fight a new breed of capitalistic criminals.
Inspector Lynley Mysteries – Oxford-educated DI Thomas Lynley works alongside his working class assistant Sergeant Barbara Havers.
Dalziel & Pascoe – Two cops – one old school, one new – don’t always get along, but they always get their man.
Cracker – Cracker is an unrefined but intelligent criminal psychologist who helps to solve difficult crimes by considering what’s going on in their twisted little minds.
Cadfael – Derek Jacobi plays Cadfael, a crime-solving 12th century monk.
Boon – Ex-firemen Ken Boon is rendered unfit for duty after injuries sustained while saving a child’s life. Forced into early retirement and much in need of an income, he advertises his availability for “anything legal” and winds up working as a private investigator.
Prime Suspect – Helen Mirren stars as DCI Jane Tennison, a determined female cop in the overwhelmingly male police world of the early 1990s.
Miss Marple – BritBox carries 3 seasons from the classic 1980s Marple series.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot – BritBox carries the first 6 seasons of the classic David Suchet Poirot.
Jonathan Creek – An inventor of tricks for a popular magician also helps solve crimes that seem impossible.
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates – Patricia Routledge stars as a plucky old pensioner who solves crimes alongside her patient husband and the at-risk teenager they adopted.
A Touch of Frost – David Jason stars as DI Jack Frost in this police drama about a disorganized but highly effective detective.
Maigret – BritBox carries both the early 1990s Michael Gambon version and the 2016 Rowan Atkinson interpretation
Life on Mars – This unique “is it a time travel show or not” police drama stars John Simm as a Manchester cop who suffers serious injuries and wakes up to find himself as a cop in 1970s Manchester.
Entertaining Comedies on BritBox
Upstart Crow – A fictionalized sitcom about a young-ish Shakespeare
Young Hyacinth – This 2016 special is a prequel to Keeping Up Appearances. Our only complaint is that they didn’t turn it into an ongoing series.
Father Ted – This classic comedy features three strange priests living together in a small Irish village.
Blackadder – Rowan Atkinson stars in this classic comedy about a fictional British anti-hero.
Absolutely Fabulous – This much-loved comedy features the adventures of two middle-aged women who live an unabashedly narcissistic lifestyle.
Are You Being Served? – We’re still not sure how the employees of Grace Brothers department store manages to keep the place in the black, but we enjoy watching them do it.
Red Dwarf – Red Dwarf is a sci-fi sitcom that showcases the adventures of the last human and his friends, drifting aboard an old mining spaceship.
Last of the Summer Wine – While BritBox only has a handful of episodes out of the 37 seasons produced, it’s still worth mentioning because those old Yorkshiremen are just so funny. Update: In late June 2018, they’ll be adding the first 5 series to the mix.
Only Fools & Horses – Two slightly dodgy brothers from London wheel and deal, always looking for that big score.
The Job Lot – BritBox offers 3 seasons of this West Midlands-based comedy about employees at a job centre.
Rev – An underdog vicar tries to keep things together at a run-down urban church.
Not Safe for Work – This raunchy workplace comedy shows civil service inefficiency at its finest.
Dramas on BritBox
Trauma – This 2018 thriller shows how two fathers’ lives collide when one’s son dies at the hands of the other
The Moorside – This 2017 true-crime drama about the disappearance and reappearance of a child drew huge numbers in the UK.
Classic Doctor Who – The time traveling time lord likely needs no special introduction.
Brideshead Revisited – Two young men meet at Oxford and remain in one another’s lives for years afterwards.
Ballykissangel – An urban priest is transferred to a rural Irish village and must learn to integrate with the community. While this is probably best described as a drama, it’s not a heavy one. There are plenty of amusing, light-hearted moments.
British Documentary & Reality Programming on BritBox
Tales from the Coast with Robson Green – Grantchester star Robson Green travels around the UK’s coastline (including a great Scottish islands episode). This is a must-watch for anyone Robson Green fan.
Antiques Roadshow – People bring in items to have them appraised by experts.
Nigellissima – Nigella does Italian cuisine.
Coast – This long-running program features various parts of the coast in and around the British Isles. It’s one part travel, one part history, and one part nature documentary (and it’s absolutely wonderful).
Escape to the Country – This rural British house-hunting show can be a bit jarring for Americans familiar with HGTV’s House Hunters, as shoppers frequently reject all the properties they visited (American shows often require participants to have already chosen or purchased their new home prior to filming).
Home Away From Home – Brits swap houses, often with entertaining results.
Flog It – People attempt to sell their antiques.
British Soaps on BritBox
If you’re an American who enjoys British soaps, there’s no better streaming service you could have. BritBox has all the big ones (though if you’re looking for the popular Irish soap Red Rock, you can watch it here with Amazon Prime, at least at the time of writing).
EastEnders – This slightly newer (but still nearly 30-year-old) soap is set in the fictional London borough of Walford around a Victorian square that includes a pub (The Queen Vic), a market, a launderette, and a cafe.
Coronation Street – This long-running British soap opera is set in the fictional town of Wetherfield, home to cobbled streets among terrace houses and a trusty local watering hole, the Rovers Return pub.
Emmerdale – Emmerdale has been around a little longer than Corrie, but it’s often regarded as the younger, sexier cousin of the other two big soaps. This is probably due to the sort of re-brand they did years ago.
Casualty – This is the longest-running medical drama in the world, and it centers around the lives of the emergency room staff and patients at Holby City Hospital.
Holby City – Holby City is a spin-off of Casualty, and it occurs in the same hospital with frequent cross-overs between the two “worlds”.
What’s Your Favorite TV Series on BritBox?
Given the sheer volume of titles on BritBox, it’s all but guaranteed we’ve missed plenty of great ones. What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!