It was a no brainer three years ago to cut my cable cord and hand-select the streaming platforms that satiated my interests when I am looking for something engaging, enjoyable and an escape to either Britain or France, or anything that speaks to either culture. Sans ads and overflowing with dramatic as well as comedic options, I thoroughly enjoy perusing the catalog of shows, documentaries, and films to watch. During the past British and French Weeks here on TSLL, I have recommended various streaming services that I enjoy watching, along with a post that quickly became a favorite of readers that listed my favorite British cosy mystery series, so today I want to drill down a bit more specifically and share with you one of the two British streaming apps I regularly subscribe to and highly recommend if you too enjoy similar content.
Britbox ($6.99/mo) and AcornTV ($6.99/mo – see my 23 favorite shows on AcornTV here) are two streaming apps/platforms that I watch regularly as they both have shows, exclusive to each, ideal for Anglophiles. Today I would like to share with you my favorite series and programs on BritBox (below) and AcornTV here.
Below are the 31 series I have watched and recommend. There are of course many more available to watch on Britbox, and I continue to explore. From cosy mysteries, to comedies, gardening shows and well, those are the three primary genres you will find below, and they are shared in no particular order as to compare any one of the shows listed below to another is to compare apples and oranges. It really all depends on my mood as to what I select to watch. For example, in the morning I prefer gardening programs; in the evening depending upon the day, a light-hearted British comedy, but on other occasions, a light-hearted cosy mystery, and when I can handle a bit darker (but not too dark) caper with a likable lead as the detective, I will turn on something starring John Thaw or Brenda Blethyn. Needless to say, pick and choose based on what speaks to you, and underneath the name of each of the shows, I have shared a bit about them to give you an idea of what you will discover if you tune in to watch on BritBox. Then, if you are looking for even more Anglophile content along with a few more shows that offer varied international content as well, discover my favorite shows to watch on AcornTV (23 to be exact).
All things Poirot starring David Suchet are exclusively on BritBox. For some time, they were split between the two apps, but now all short stories and novel adaptations can be found on Britbox. I likely have watch The Murder of Roger Ackroyd easily 100 times, but I will watch it again in a heartbeat. One of the many reasons I enjoy watching the Suchet Poirot episodes is the interior design elements, his style, and attention to order in his home. It always makes me smile and never ceases to inspire me in some new way.
2. Gardeners’ World
Every Friday beginning with the season of spring and running through October, the gardening crew lead by Monty Don take gardeners through the gardening seasons, sharing what jobs to do, how to’s and ideas for what to plant where as well as taking viewers to RHS and National Trust garden tours around the country. I have written two detailed posts on why I love this program, and it is a weekly ritual to sit down with a hot cuppa, a warm scone or muffin out of the oven and watch as I am swept away to Britain but also am inspired for what to do in my own garden.
3. Miss Marple – all three leading ladies
I genuinely enjoy all three leading actors who have starred in Agatha Christie’s screen adaptations of Miss Marple, and while this may surprise some people, admittedly the latter two are far superior in their television quality, it is Joan Hickson’s renditions that I watch again and again.
If you are a fan of Midsomer Murders, especially the first 10 seasons starring John Nettles, then I recommend you start where his star status began, on Bergerac. I thoroughly enjoyed this series and watching a young John Nettles, after having seen him in so many Midsomer Murders, while his demeanor is quite similar, it makes it all the more enjoyable to step back in time. Set on the beautiful British island of Jersey in the English Channel, while yes, filmed in the early eighties and into the early nineties (1981-1991), it still is quite engaging.
5. Rosemary & Thyme
Felicity Kendal (Rosemary Boxer) and Pam Ferris (Laura Thyme) star in the three seasons of this gardening sleuthing mystery series. Yep, gardening and murders. Rosemary is a professional gardener and horticulturalist and Laura joins her as the series begins when a new chapter in her life begins following working as a police officers and her marriage ending in divorce. The two are quite the pair, and as the series unfolds each episode, you eventually travel to Italy, Spain and even to France as well as many of the episodes set in gorgeous English country villages.
6. The Mallorca Files
An original series created by BritBox, there are currently two seasons and the third is expected to drop later this year (I cannot wait). Set in the gorgeous tropical island of Mallorca, a workaholic British detective Miranda Blake is partnered up with a much more relaxed German detective Max Winter. The scenery is stunning, their chemistry powerful – his goofiness and her seriousness – a yin and yang combo that just works.
7. McDonald & Dodds
Another BritBox original, set in Bath, England, so yep, stunning and centered around the universities and architecture that the city is known for. A mix-matched pair Jason Watkins stars as Detective Dodds and Tala Gouveia as Sergeant McDonald, they may approach life in two entirely different ways, but they come to realize they are quite well matched when it comes to solving crimes. There are currently three seasons available and I am hoping more to come.
8. Beyond Paradise
This new series from BritBox just dropped this February and already it has been renewed for a second season. A spinoff from Death in Paradise and set in Devon, England, the once DI in Paradise is DI Humphrey Goodman is now back in England, having just moved from London with his fiancée Martha to her childhood town in Devon. Quirky, smart, beautiful and not too heavy at all, this is a fun series which is why I chose it as a Petit Plaisir for epsiode #352.
9. Hold the Sunset
A hilarious comedy with an all-star cast. Two neighbors, both now widowed/a widower, have decided to marry and move to a warmer destination in Spain, but wait! Their adult children aren’t making that move so easy. John Cleese and Alison Steadman star as Phil and Edith, Jason Watkins as Edith’s delinquent son, Sue Johnston as Edith’s needy sister and the cast goes on, each bringing a reason to laugh and chuckle.
10. Antiques Roadshow
With oodles and oodles of seasons, if you love antiques, guessing what is valuable and for how much, BritBox is where to watch the original show that is Antiques Roadshow.
11. Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister
I stumbled across this series for the first time when I went to the play in West London back in 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having not watched the tv series that inspired it, when I finally began subscribing to BritBox and saw the series was available, I immediately began watching it. British humor at its best and all at the expense of the, yep, you guessed it, the Prime Minister.
12. Death in Paradise
One of BritBox’s most popular original series that is now in its 12th season, slip away to St. Marie, which is actually the town of Deshaies, that is located in Guadeloupe. The cast films here for six months each year and season 13 is rumored to be on its way to screens soon.
13. Sister Boniface Mysteries
One of the latest original series, a spin-off from Father Brown, starring Lorna Watson as the uber-intelligent nun who turned down a job to work at M16 in order to live in a nunnery, she now helps the local police in a small country village, set in the 1950s solve their many murders. Bustling about on her moped and making wine with her fellow sisters, this is a delightful series and why it was chosen as a Petit Plaisir for episode #325. There are already two seasons and I suspect a third is in production.
14. Father Brown
Speaking of the inspiration for Sister Boniface, Father Brown’s 10th season was released in the UK in January and finally! This June, on the 10th, we will be able to watch it here in the states on BritBox. I cannot wait.
15. Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Klein
Gardeners, enjoy this limited series where master gardener Carol Klein from Gardeners’ World takes viewers through an entire year in her own garden in North Devon. Watch it grow, mature as well as watch all that she does to bring it to its full beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed this series as it is simple, no-nonsense, yet tranquil as well as she potters about sometimes with her pup, sometimes with her cat and sometimes with her husbands or other helps, but primarily in her own company.
16. Doctor Who
I know many TSLL readers and viewers alike enjoy Doctor Who, a classic series that began in 1963 and continues on with a variety of different stars playing the lead role over the years.
17. Downton Abbey
While also available on PBS Masterpiece, you can now watch Downton Abbey episodes on BritBox.
18. House of Cards
While not as grotesque as America’s version of House of Cards, this was the series inspiration in many ways. Ian Richardson stars in the 1990 limited series set in Parliament as Machiavellian chief whip Francis Urquhart who plots revenge against his colleagues by creating a world of deceit to conquer all who oppose him. I found it fascinating.
19. Inspector Morse
If you are a fan of the series, you will not be surprised that I enjoy it. John Thaw stars in the series that made him a household name, Inspector Morse. And if you have never watched this series, it is Morse’s predilection for the finer things, his keen awareness, love of classical music, and watching the birds that seem antithetical to the stereotypical ‘cop’ that is often portrayed in other series, but it is precisely his vast intelligence, curiosity and methodical approach to solving murders paired with his unique approach to crime solving that make his character so fascinating.
20. Mapp & Lucia
Based on the books written by E F Benson this dramedy (primarily a comedy) follows the rivalry between two society ladies in a small seaside town during the 1930s. There are two different series, and each are wonderful in their own right. I love the more recent one for its videography of gorgeous gardeners in the coastal village as well as the village life, and the original television series for the acting.
21. Murder in Provence
An original series from Britbox that no doubt TSLL readers already know about as it was referred to and recommended endlessly last year on the blog. Starring Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam (Allam is also a co-producer), this series adapts friend of TSLL M.L. Longworth’s Provençal mystery series, and the first season shares three of the ten books that center around Aix-en-Provence. If you love food and France, and of course solving a murder is always fun, this series is for you and why it was chosen as the Petit Plaisir in episode #324 and in the detailed shopping post of Nancy Carroll’s outfits in this post.
22. Nigella’s cooking shows
Whether you enjoy cooking or not, if you love to eat good food, watching Nigella in her kitchen (BritBox has three of her series) is a treat and soothing for the mind and appetite.
23. Pie in the Sky
Recently becoming available on BritBox, I have watched this entire series and as it marries French cuisine as the main character runs a fine dining restaurant along with being a semi-retired police officer Richard Griffiths who stars as DI Crabbe, the scenes in the kitchen (DI Crabbe loves to cook, and even has his own hen house for egg production) are my favorite.
24. Prime Suspect
Helen Mirren stars in this BAFTA-winning drama from acclaimed novelist Lynda La Plante that follows Detective Inspector Jane Tennison (Mirren) in what is now described as a genre-defining performance. A skilled detective who battles to prove herself in a male-dominated world, if you enjoy Mirren’s acting, I think you will especially enjoy this role in the earlier part of her acting career.
25. The Chelsea Flower Show
For those of us who cannot visit in person The Chelsea Flower Show in London in May, we can watch each of the nightly episodes airing all week during the annual gardening favorite occasion.
26. Shakespeare & Hathaway
Mark Benton and Jo Joyner star as Shakespeare & Hathaway in this 4-season series. Set in Stratford-upon-Avon, this is a bit of a light-hearted sleuthing series, so get ready for some laughs as well as solving crime.
27. The Coroner
Cassie Clare stars as the coroner and Iain Batchelor is the police detective that she works cases with in a coastal English town. There are only two seasons, and it looks like (based on the last episode of season 2) that a season 3 was planned for, but sadly, they have wrapped it all up and it doesn’t look like it will return. It is a well done series with strong chemistry between the two leads.
28. Edible Garden
Another gardener series to provide inspiration for seasonal gardening and enjoying what you grow in your everyday cooking
27. The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries
One thing I love about watching various British shows is seeing the same actor at different stages of their career – as an extra, or a bit part, and then as a co-star, and then as a lead. Such is the case with Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. Neil Dudgeon (from the current Midsomer Murders – Detective Barnaby) stars as Diana Rigg (Mrs. Bradley)’s chauffeur, and in one episode he is even posing nude for an art class. Too much fun in each of these episodes, and set in the early 1900s of England in the countryside. A hoot, and far too few episodes.
28. The Office
The comedy series that inspired the American series that Brough Steve Carrel to the screen. But back to the UK’s creation which is, just plain hilarious. Premiering in 2001 the “genre-defining mockumentary from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, following the insufferable David Brent as he “manages” his team at an unglamorous paper company.”
29. The Vicar of Dibley
Absolutely bonkers hilarious. Dawn French is the vicar of Dibley (a fictitious English country parish) in this beloved BAFTA-winning sitcom. Comedy as only French can do, and if you loved the films Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, this is a series you will like as it was co-written and created by Richard Curtis the same man behind the aforementioned films.
30. To the Manor Born
Penelope Keith just knows how to do comedy in the most unexpected of ways, and it is in the comedy To the Manor Born where she shines. From 1979 when the series premiered through the early 80s, Keith’s character Aubrey fforbes-Hamilton is most frustrated by the gentleman who has purchased her family manor that she has had to sell due to financial difficulty and is determined to put him in his place.
Many TSLL readers love the long-running series Vera starring Brenda Blethyn who stars as DCI Vera Stanhope. “Obsessed with her work and driven by her demons, Vera’s brilliance and caustic wit and guile are brought to each case that only she knows how to solve.
Below are a list of films and documentaries I have watched on BritBox and enjoyed. Shared in no particular order.
- A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley
- Cameraman to The Queen
- Charles, the Monarch and the Man
- Inside Claridge’s
- Agatha Christie’s Seven Dials Mystery
- Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide
- Agatha Christie’s The Crack’d Mirror
- Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
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