The Best British Dramas and How to Watch Them

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Fleabag, Downton Abbey, Bodyguard and The Crown
Amazon Studios/PBS/Netflix/Netflix

Looking for an escape from everyday life in the era of self-isolation? British television is the perfect place to jet off to -- virtually, of course -- while we all stay home and seek out new things to entertain us. So, what better to way to find that next British TV series to binge-watch on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu than ET's guide to the best British TV dramas (and comedies)?

Whether it's the deliciously sexy divorce drama The Split or the spine-tingling suspense thriller Bodyguard with Richard Madden, or the nutty antics of the women of the classic sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, or the iconic sci-fi drama Doctor Who, British TV truly is the cure for all ills. You'll be surprised how many streaming platforms there are for you to discover your newest U.K. obsession. From BritBox to BBC iPlayer to PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video, to the never-ending library of titles on Netflix, you really don't have an excuse not to broaden those TV horizons.

Maybe you've worked through our feel-good movie picks or aren't in the mood to watch TV episodes about pandemics. If that's the case, this eclectic mix of U.K. imports may just do the trick while we all hunker down in our homes.

Absolutely Fabulous

What's more fun in quarantine than watching two grown women behaving badly, throwing up not growing up, dressing outrageously and drinking without a care in the world? British stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley breathe life into their larger-than-life Ab Fab personalities, PR agent Edina and magazine editor Patsy. Seriously, prepare to have a rollickin' good time with one of the best British TV series.

Watch Absolutely Fabulous on BritBox.


Viewers are taken on a thrilling, adrenaline-filled journey in the six-part BBC drama starring Richard Madden. The Game of Thrones alum plays David Budd, a PTSD-suffering war veteran and dedicated Principal Protection Officer (PPO), charged with protecting Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), the Home Secretary. Montague's politics don't align with Budd's views, forcing him to make decisions about where his loyalties lie.

Watch Bodyguard on Netflix.


Life in a small town is disrupted after the discovery of a dead boy becomes the focus of a police investigation and media madness. And tensions rise in the police force after an out-of-town detective inspector (David Tennant) is made the lead to investigate the crime over Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). Now Miller has to put aside her ambitions in order to create a working relationship with Alec Hardy.

Watch Broadchurch on Netflix.

Call the Midwife

Based on memoirs by Jennifer Worth, the British period drama follows a group of midwives working in London during World War II. Beautifully written and executed, Call the Midwife will make you reach for the tissue box while also making you laugh. The series, which has won numerous awards in the U.K., tackles difficult and taboo subject matter, such as national health care, teen pregnancy, adoption, incest and abortion, as well as explores the various states of love. 

Watch Call the Midwife on Netflix.

The Crown

Creator Peter Morgan’s sprawling, award-winning drama recounts the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the events of her reign, starting with her unexpected path to the throne to her relationship with an ever-modernizing world and the scandals that followed certain family members. So far, Claire Foy and Olivia Colman have portrayed the matriarch with Imelda Staunton taking over the role when the British TV series concludes with season 5

Watch The Crown on Netflix.

Downton Abbey

Julian Fellowes’ beloved British upstairs-downstairs series follows the drama, romance and scandals of the lives living at the Yorkshire country estate in the early 1900s. After six seasons with the Crawleys, the story continued with a feature film that saw them hosting the royal family as they toured England.

Watch Downton Abbey on PBS and the movie on HBO Now

The Fall

The game of cat and mouse takes on new meaning in The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson as she hunts down Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), a husband and a lunatic who revels in tying up women before murdering them. While only three seasons, each installment is more intense than the last, as Gibson gets closer to catching the sexy and titillating Spector. “I'm so glad to be a part of that project and to play Stella. It's just a wonderful series,” Anderson says

Watch The Fall on Amazon Prime Video.


Only have six hours to spare? Then Phoebe Waller-Bridge's life-changing Fleabag is the show to run to. While season 1 established the British phenom as a force to be reckoned with, it's season 2 where she truly shines. Hot Priest Andrew Scott is reason enough to tune in to the sophomore installment, but Fleabag's growth and acceptance of her own self-identity by the end of the series is beautiful to watch.

Watch Fleabag on Amazon Prime Video.

Gavin & Stacey

Before James Corden hosted The Late Late Show, the Brit co-created the critically lauded comedy with Ruth Jones. An immediate hit across the pond, the series told the love story of Gavin (Matthew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page), as they experience key moments in their relationship: their first meeting, meeting each other's families, getting engaged, getting married, moving in together and trying to start a family.

Watch Gavin & Stacey on BritBox

The Great British Baking Show 

A refreshing shift from the fiery conflict of American cooking competition shows, The Great British Baking Show brings sweet and sassy home bakers to the English countryside each weekend to compete in three challenges, with the hopes of being awarded the coveted Star Baker prize and staying on another week. It's all about fun, friendship and fondant. What could be more delightful?

Watch The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.


The premise for this series is simple: Dylan (Emma star Johnny Flynn) is diagnosed with chlamydia and must contact each of his former lovers to break the news. But over the course of its three seasons, the time-hopping comedy shows true heart, as Dylan reconnects with himself, exploring where the relationships went wrong with the help of his hilariously bawdy best friend, Luke (The Crown's Daniel Ings) and star-crossed love, Evie (The Good Doctor's Antonia Thomas).

Watch Lovesick on Netflix.

The Office (U.K.)

Before Steve Carell's Michael Scott, there was Ricky Gervais' David Brent. The original series is a lot harsher and a tad more awkward than the U.S.'s version, but there's something uniquely singular about the British comedy -- which follows the banalities of daily life working at a paper company, sound familiar? -- that just leaves us wanting more. Curious whom Jim and Pam were loosely inspired by? Want to compare and contrast the similarities and differences? Press play and settle in for a fun ride!

Watch The Office (U.K.)on Amazon Prime Video.

Sex Education

Asa Butterfield stars in this pitch-perfect high school comedy as Otis, an awkward teen who falls backward into running a clandestine sex clinic, with the help of the school's outcast tough girl Maeve (Emma Mackey), best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and the knowledge gleaned, willingly or not, from his TMI-prone sex therapist mum, played by Gillian Anderson.

Watch Sex Education on Netflix.


Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are the perfect Sherlock Holmes and James Watson in the beloved series featuring the Sir Conan Doyle's legendary P.I. duo. With four seasons and one special, the hugely popular adaptation is so classically British with slick modern tweaks it's hard not to wish you could take a hop and a skip over the Atlantic. 

Watch Sherlock on Netflix.

The Split

Think of this smart, sexy and heart-wrenching British drama as the U.K.'s version of The Good Wife and The Affair, if they had a baby, that is. The concept itself is relatively simple -- three sisters, all divorce lawyers, go to battle for their clients in contentious cases -- but we all know, just because their professional lives are going swimmingly doesn't mean their personal lives are as well. The main heroine, Hannah (Nicola Walker), finds herself in a bit of a quandary when her very attractive friend from university, Christie (Barry Atsma), with whom she has history, comes back into the picture.

Watch season 1 of The Split on Hulu and season 2 on SundanceTV.

Stacy Lambe, Meredith B. Kile and Jennifer Drysdale contributed to this story.

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