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Best Boxset UK TV Shows to Binge Watch While in Self Isolation

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published March 24th 2020
Catch up on these top British TV shows while stuck at home
British dramas are famous around the world for everything from comedy to crime and here are some unmissable TV series to keep you occupied while self-isolating.

The Split, BBC drama, UK drama to watch
Sisters are doing it for themselves in The Split


Everyone already knows about shows like Killing Eve, Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, but here are some more British shows - from the award-winning to lesser-known delights that will surprise you.


Peaky Blinders

Birmingham's answer to The Godfather, Peaky Blinders is a stylish gangster drama enhanced by an atmospheric soundtrack.

Follow Tommy Shelby's rise to power with his family after returning a broken man from World War I in this riveting BBC drama written by Stephen Knight and a stellar cast including Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory.

Peaky Blinders, Birmingham based, UK TV dramas
Cillian Murphy with Tom Hardy in Peaky Blinders


Gripping, clever, cheeky and witty, Peaky Blinders is full of dazzling characters including Arthur and Aunt Polly that you can't help but feel a bond with.

It has sparked a fashion in flat caps and phrases like 'by order of the Peaky Blinders' and even led to Snoop Dogg recording a version of the theme tune.

There have been five series so far to catch up on that get darker and more menacing as they progress - and another one is currently in production.

Peaky Blinders, Birmingham based, UK TV dramas
TV shows to watch...by order of the Peaky Blinders


This Country

If you appreciate the dry British sense of humour, this BAFTA award-winning comedy is right up your street.

Written by real-life sister and brother Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper, who play cousins in the show, this is an astute, gentle comedy with lovable, flawed characters you can't help but adore.

This Country, BBC drama, must watch box sets,
Writers and stars of This Country Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper,


Set in the rural Cotswolds countryside, it's in a mockumentary format that is guaranteed to make you laugh.


Line of Duty

Ahead of the new series later this year, catch up on the five previous enthralling series about crooked cops being investigated by anti-corruption team AC-12.

This multi-award-winning BBC drama manages to shock every season delivering twists, surprises and in-depth excellent plots.

Line of duty, BBC drama, boxsets to watch
Line of Duty is a police drama with a difference


Like Game of Thrones, this British drama isn't frightened to kill off central characters, so be prepared for the unexpected.

What makes it stand out from the rest is exceptional performances and fast-moving storylines with themes that run through all the series.

Stars have included Thandi Newton, Gina McKee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Keeley Hawes, Stephen Graham and Lennie James alongside regulars Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar.

If you are new to Line of Duty, savour every moment.


Britannia

If you are missing Game of Thrones, this British historical action drama may fill the void. Set in Britain during the Roman invasion, it takes a few episodes to get into but then grips with its crazy adventures and characters.

Britannia is an action-packed, sexy drama with an uber-cool rock soundtrack and is the first co-production between Sky and Amazon Prime Video.

Britannia, British Tv series, Amazon, Sky, David Morrissey
Britannia is ideal if you are missing Game Of Thrones


It has a good cast of familiar faces including David Morrissey as the cruel Roman Aulus Plautius leading the invasion and ZoŽ Wanamaker as a fierce British warrior queen Antedia.

Steve Pemberton from The League of Gentleman even turns up as Emporer Claudius and there's Nikolaj Lie Kaas, who fans of the first series of Danish thriller Follow The Money will recognise.

From druids to rival Brit communities and the Romans, Britannia is vibrant, quirky and more than a little crazy. It's worth giving it a go as you'll find yourself zipping through the two series so far and wanting more.


The Crown

Retelling the life of Queen Elizabeth II and her relatives, with a touch of dramatic licence, this is a slick drama in the style of Downton Abbey.

With beautiful costumes and sets, this award-winning lavish, Netflix-original show is a historical adventure through the latter part of the 20th Century that will have you bingeing on episodes.

The crown, best UK dramas to watch, Netflix
A right royal drama with The Crown


There have been three series so far with the Queen played by Claire Foy in the first two series and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman taking over the role from the third series. There's an impressive roll call of actors on the cast list including Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, John Lithgow, Matt Smith and Matthew Goode.


The Split

This glamorous BBC drama following a family of female divorce lawyers in London will have you hooked through its mix of romantic liaisons, comedy and feuds.

The Split, BBC drama, UK drama to watch
Sisters are doing it for themselves in The Split


At the centre of the action are the family exploits, regrets, romances and secrets of the three sisters, all following very different paths in life. There's also a few of their divorce cases thrown in to add a bit more drama.

Sentimental and fun with gorgeous outfits and London scenery, you'll be racing through the two series so far.


Peep Show

Starring comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and even Olivia Colman before she rose to fame, this timeless comedy series by Channel 4 is one you'll want to come back to time and time again.

Written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb, it is cynical, acerbic and has beautifully crafted situations with hilarious results.

David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Peep Show
Mitchell and Webb star in Peep Show


It follows the lives of dysfunctional friends Mark Corrigan and "Jez" Usborne as they get into various scrapes.

Originally broadcast on Channel 4 from 2003 until 2015, it's one of Britain's best-loved comedies that will lift your mood while self-isolating.


The Halcyon

Sadly, there was only one series of The Halcyon by ITV in 2017 which follows various characters above and below stairs in a London five-star hotel during World War II.

The Halcyon, ITV, British drama
Catch up on the one series of The Halcyon


Written by Charlotte Jones, it had a strong cast including Olivia Williams, Steven Mackintosh and Kara Tointon that juggled family rivalries, romances and politics within the glamorous setting of the hotel and the backdrop of war.

A very watchable drama for fans of Downton Abbey and Foyle's War with realistic storylines that aren't predictable.


Shetland and Vera

I've lumped these two together as they are both from crime writer Ann Cleeves.

Both are scenic murder mysteries where the backdrop of crashing waves and isolated beaches make the shows as enchanting as the storylines - always very character-led with heartfelt plots.

ITV show Vera is a long-standing favourite after 10 series starring award-winning movie actress Brenda Blethyn in the lead role. She plays nearly-retired Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, based in Northumberland, who is a quirky figure but meticulous in her investigations.

shetland, bbc, best british tv series
Murder and mystery on the stunning Shetland Isles off Scotland


BBC show Shetland meanwhile follows likeable and handsome detective DI Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate various crimes (usually murder) within the close-knit island community of the stunning and remote Shetland Isles. There have been seven series so far to catch up on, so plenty to enjoy.

You'll not just be impressed by the drama but planning your holiday to the North East and Shetland coastlines once self-isolation is over.


The Trip

Now in its fourth series, The Trip is a satire mockumentary starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in extreme, fictional versions of themselves.

Full of the pair trying to outdo each other with impressions while visiting gorgeous locations and restaurants (you'll definitely want to add to your wish list), it's a subtle ingenious comedy.

The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, best UK series
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon at their best


While the first series took the pair through the Lake District on the premise of them writing a review article for a newspaper, the second ventured to Italy, third to Spain and the latest fourth series is in Greece. Think of it as a travel show with comedy.

The pettiness and rivalry make for great viewing along with the escapades they get themselves into - you just have to remember that they are playing themselves and it's not real.


Thirteen

Only one series of this drama from BBC Three to catch up on, but it's unmissable. It's also an early lead role for Jodie Comer - the award-winning actress who starred as the assassin in Killing Eve.

Over five episodes, it draws you in completely in this often upsetting storyline about a young woman who escapes after 13 years held captive by a kidnapper.

Thirteen, BBC Three, best dramas to watch, Jodie Comer
Jodie Comer stars as the lead in Thirteen


Taken as a teenager, Ivy Moxam(Comer) escapes and returns home to her family and school friends, who have all been affected in various ways by her disappearance.

Merging the police investigation to find the kidnapper and understand what happened to Ivy along with the family difficulties coping with Ivy's return, you will be mesmerised. Then there's the question of is she really Ivy after all?


Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot

Whether it's the ITV series or the BBC original of Miss Marple, what better way to wile away the hours than with good old fashioned murders by the Queen Of Crime.

Marple, ITV, best dramas to watch
ITV's version of Marple


Sit back and get the little grey cells working through red herrings, poisoned cocktails and appointments with death.

There may be various Marples but surely there is only one decent Poirot in the shape of David Suchet from the long-running ITV series.

The Thick Of It

Another oldie, but a classic that will resonate well in these politically uncertain times.

The Thick Of It, BBC, best UK tv shows to binge on
Relive the joy of The Thick Of It


Way before Veep, Armando Iannucci created this brilliant comedy on the inner workings of the government that will make you cry with laughter.

Famous for its swearing warlord-like communications chief Malcolm Tucker, there were only four series of this BBC comedy, but every one of them is a corker. Relive them on BBC iplayer with relish.
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Your Comment
Also I love Doc Martin!
by Seafarrwide (score: 3|1898) 2 days ago
This list should keep us all occupied for some time!
by May Cross (score: 3|6037) 2 days ago
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