9 Great Shows to Stream on BritBox Now

The forthcoming "Why Didn't They Ask Evans" and more greats to watch on BritBox now.
"Time" episodic of man
BBC/Matt Squire

The only problem with British TV is that there isn’t more of it. The seasons are often shorter than their American counterparts, ensuring that audiences are always left wanting another episode.

Enter BritBox. The BBC and ITV streaming service boasts some of the more famous British imports (“Downton Abbey,” “Doctor Who,” “Prime Suspect”) in its catalog, alongside a deep library of English greats that might not have gained the same notoriety on this side of the pond. We’ve put together the best of the best shows to watch on BritBox in all genres, from meaty murder mysteries (the most popular category on BritBox) to the perfectly understated British comedies.

1. “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans” 

Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans” is a perky and playful 1930s murder mystery packed with twists, turns, and sizzling banter. Will Poulter is Bobby Jones, a wayward naval officer who happens upon a dying man at the bottom of the cliff and the only witness to the man’s last words: “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” With help from his spunky childhood friend Frankie (Lucy Boynton), Bobby investigates the riddle and ends up discovering more than he bargained for. Directed by Hugh Laurie and featuring a sparkling cast, “Evans” is a jaunty and clever adaptation of sophisticated mystery, boasting equal parts danger and hijinx. Begins streaming April 12. 

2. “The Cleaner”

This surprisingly cheerful and goofy British comedy follows Greg Davies as Paul “Wicky” Wickstead, a cleaner specializing in crime scenes. In each episode, Paul visits a new home, meets a new unusual character, and cleans a new, ridiculously gory mess of human remains, tackling the latter with a delightfully dry and perfectly British annoyance (a horrific, bloody scene means he’ll have to be late for curry night at the pub!). “The Cleaner” shines in large part because of Greg Davies’ charm and relatability, along with the joy of watching him interact with a fresh and talented co-star (Helena Bonham Carter and David Mitchell, to name a few) with each outing.

3. “Time”

Sean Bean is Mark Cobden, a reserved school teacher attempting to adjust to prison life after he accidentally kills a man. On the other side of the coin is Eric McNally, an upstanding prison guard played by Stephen Graham, who’s being forced to choose between his family’s safety and his morals. “Time” is a poignant and piercing take on the modern prison system and how it affects all in its orbit. The acting here is superb. Every character, no matter how minor, feels piercingly real, with Bean and Graham in particular delivering grounded, contained, and powerful performances. Don’t miss this moving and often infuriating drama.

4. “Father Brown”

“Father Brown” is one of the most successful murder mystery series on air. With nine seasons and counting, this deeply pleasant show captivates audiences with its smart and intricate mysteries while dazzling them with gorgeous period costumes and quaint countryside cottages. Led by Mark Williams of “Harry Potter” fame as the titular priest, “Father Brown” is the gold standard for the cozy mystery genre: its puzzles are sophisticated, its twists are unpredictable, and its tone is light and amiable. It’s a show about murder, yet it feels like a toasty cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. For an even cozier and quirkier mystery romp, check out the “Father Brown” spin-off, “Sister Boniface Mysteries,” about a moped-driving nun with a PhD in forensic science who makes wine and solves crime in her spare time.

Picture Shows: Father Brown (MARK WILLIAMS), Mrs McCarthy (SORCHA CUSACK), Sid (ALEX PRICE)
“Father Brown”BBC Studios/Gary Moyes

5. “Vera”

Brenda Blethyn is DCI Vera Stanhope, an irascible detective whose murder-solving skills far surpass her people skills. She’s volatile, curt, and single-minded, but she’s an unparalleled detective. Obsessive about her cases, while dismissive of her own demons, Vera takes on a wide range of gruesome murders, each more confounding than the last. The widely successful crime drama has 11 seasons with no plans to stop any time soon. Fast-paced, engaging, and tense, with a thoroughly magnetic lead character, “Vera” is the perfect fix for that murder mystery itch.

6. “Cranford”

Not every story needs a murder to be compelling. “Cranford” is a perfect, charming, and deeply (almost surprisingly) engaging series about 1840s life in a small, provincial hamlet. Centered on a group of aging spinsters and widows, this Emmy-winning miniseries is propelled mainly by town gossip, low-stakes scandals, and the scourge of the new-fangled railroad. 

The cast here is world-class, with Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, and Imelda Staunton deftly leading the sparkling ensemble. The community of Cranford has its share of squabbles, but these people turn to each other with love when it matters. In many ways, the main character of “Cranford” is the town itself, tiptoeing towards modernity while unwilling to abandon its past. Delightful and touching, it cannot be overstated how profoundly lovely this show is to watch.

7. “Line of Duty”

When DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) refuses to participate in a coverup, he’s transferred to the police force’s anti-corruption unit and joins DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) in investigating the rot within their own ranks. It’s a gripping drama, expertly crafted to keep the audience guessing (Who’s corrupt?! Who’s telling the truth?!) until the very last second. Gritty, thrilling, and downright brilliant, “Line of Duty” is a masterclass in suspense that will leave you both breathless and desperate for more.

8. “Mum”

No one does cringe comedy like the British. Lesley Manville absolutely sparkles as Kathy, a woman holding it all together as she comes to terms with the loss of her husband. Her family, relatably wild and obtuse in every situation, is of little help. What could be a depressing show is surprisingly warm, as Kathy meets the most banal annoyances of life after a loss with wry acceptance. Even the daftest characters here are treated with a fond respect, ensuring that this manners comedy about death still radiates with love. “Mum” is tight, funny, and unexpectedly moving — a winning combination.

9. “Shetland”

When it comes to crime dramas, nothing is more gripping than murder in a small town. When that small town is more of a hamlet on the isolated Shetland Islands far off the coast of Scotland, the result is a magnetic, and often brilliant, suspense series. “Shetland” takes its inspiration from the novels of Ann Cleeves, following DI Jimmy Peréz as he untangles intricate and startling webs in a part of the world where cell service is spotty and crime scenes are only accessible by boat. Moody and affecting, “Shetland” is a murder show that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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