17 of the best TV series on Netflix UK
You've seen Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black & Daredevil, what about Lilyhammer Schitt's Creek and these other great series?
Quite understandably, column inches couldn’t fill up quickly enough with praise for the likes of Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black, Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul and Marvel’s dearly departed Daredevil. What though, about some of the lesser-known series available on the UK streaming site?
Sweeping past the well-publicised riches of Doctor Who, Sherlock, Arrested Development, Community and the like, we’ve ventured into the slightly dustier shelf of TV shows available on Netflix UK that may be lesser-known or less widely celebrated than the big hitters out there, but are still richly deserving of your time. Some are new, some are old, some were cancelled long ago, some are ongoing, several are from outside the UK and US.
From supernatural, sci-fi, fantasy and detective dramas to a clutch of brilliantly weird comedies and animes, here are a bundle of shows currently available to stream on the UK version of Netflix. We’ll keep this updated as things appear and disappear, to make sure you’re never left without something new to try out of an evening in front of the telly…
Here in the UK, this was the thriller of 2018. It was the show that had people talking, obsessively theorising and Googling the meaning of ‘kompromat’. Written by Jed Mercurio, directed by John Strickland and produced by World Productions (the people behind Line Of Duty), it’s the story of Sgt David Budd, an ex-army police officer assigned as PPO (that’s personal protection officer, or in English, bodyguard) to home secretary Julia Montague. With Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in the lead roles, and plenty of action and surprises, it’s six episodes of pure escapist entertainment. Once you’ve watched, read our spoiler-filled episode reviews here.
Further reading: here are the Netflix sitcoms guaranteed to put a smile on your face
Call My Agent!
All three series of this excellent French comedy drama are available to stream on Netflix UK, and richly deserve to become your nouveau passe-temps preferee (for those of you who didn’t do Year 9 French, that means new favourite pastime *blows on fingernails*). It’s set at a talent agency – hence the French title of Dix Pour Cent, or 10 Per Cent, alluding to an agent’s cut of any gigs they book for the star – and is a witty skewering of the world of celebrity that’s clever, funny and tres, tres cool.
We’ve explained in more depth here, here and here why this Netflix original adult animation is well worth your time. To sum up, all we can say is that over five seasons, this cartoon about a horse has developed into one of the most insightful, honest and emotionally brutal shows on television. It’s also very funny.
Featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Aaron Taylor, Amy Sedaris and many more, BoJack Horseman is sharp, absurd satire with a surprising emotional kick. Give it a few episodes and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
We go into much more detail on why Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s series which began in 2015 and currently runs to three seasons, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend richly deserves to be on your to-watch list here. In short, behind the rom-com stylings is a whip-smart, funny comedy drama with some of the best original comedy songs since Flight Of The Conchords. The story of Rebecca, a successful New York lawyer whose poor mental health leads her to make a move across the US to a Californian backwater, this one’s a hugely pleasant surprise. Read our celebration of all four seasons here.
Further reading: here are the new and returning TV shows coming to Netflix UK
The End of the F***ing World
She a no-nonsense tearaway who always speaks her mind, and he thinks he might be a psychopath. They may not be a natural fit, but Alyssa and James discover that they’ve no one else to rely upon after they go on the run. TEOTFW is an off-kilter but oddly touching adventure that became a surprise hit when it arrived on Netflix in early 2018 (having crept below the radar when Channel 4 first aired it in 2017).
It’s strange and frequently uncomfortable, and you’ve never seen anything quite like it before. And good news, series two is already available to stream on All 4. Here’s our series one review and our spoiler-free look at series two.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
We’ve expounded upon why comedy fans should make time to welcome Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie and Frank into their lives here (our reasons were sevenfold) but the TL;DR version is simply this: it’s really, really funny.
This Rob McElhenny, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day-created sitcom is about a group of despicable people doing and saying awful things over a satisfyingly large number of episodes. Call it the anti-Cheers, call it Friends if the Central Perk gang all suffered from serious head injuries, call it Seinfeld on crack… call it whatever you want to, just start watching.
Further reading: here are the best Netflix original movies to stream right now
The Sopranos fans would recognise that moue anywhere. It belongs, of course, to Silvio Dante, known in real life as actor/writer Steven Van Zandt and in his Norway-set ‘gangster on the lam’ comedy drama as Frank Tagliano, a bad man out to take his new remote Norwegian hometown, Lillehammer, for it’s got. All three existing eight-episode seasons of this Netflix co-production are available to stream.
Here’s why we think the show deserved to be renewed for a fourth season, even if Netflix, er, didn’t agree.
You can read all about why we love Brian Limond’s comedy series here, but the short version is that it’s funny, unpredictable, weird and utterly engrossing. Oh, and Falconhoof, obviously. These three six-episode series clock in at just under nine hours’ viewing in total.
Line Of Duty
Simply put, Jed Mercurio’s Line Of Duty is the best crime drama to come out of the UK in recent years. The first series, starring Lennie James (who can currently be seen as a new regular on The Walking Dead), was so good that when talk of a second run arrived, the general response was to doubt whether lightning could strike in the same place twice, and predicted a diluted disappointment. When it came to it, series two starring Keeley Hawes, was every bit as tense, gripping and surprising as the first. Police corruption has never been this captivating.
The first four series are available on Netflix UK. Series five aired on BBC One earlier this year, and here are our spoiler-filled reviews.
Further reading: here are the best documentaries to stream on Netflix
All five seasons of Orphan Black are currently on Netflix UK, so you’ve no excuse for not getting started with this twisting, turning sci-fi action series brimming with ideas. Once you’ve got over the British accents in the first episode, you’ll be captivated by a genuinely unprecedented performance by lead Tatiana Maslany. We’ll say no more about it here to save spoilers, but suffice to say that girl’s got range.
Here’s a little more on why it’s worth a go if you’ve yet to have the pleasure.
When Parade’s End originally aired on the BBC in 2012, Benedict Cumberbatch took pains to explain how much his character, plummy Edwardian Christoper Tietjens, “the last Tory”, differed from his incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Tietjens may get more lady action than Sherlock, but both share a sharp intelligence, an even sharper tongue, and are so unimprovably English they probably bleed Earl Grey tea.
Forget the limp comparisons to Downton Abbey though, Parade’s End is a different thing altogether. It’s historical drama of a refined sort; clever, well-adapted from Ford Madox Ford’s original series of novels (by Tom Stoppard no less), and boasting a first-rate cast from Cumberbatch to Rebecca Hall, Stephen Graham, Anne-Marie Duff, and more. After you’ve watched, read our spoiler-filled episode reviews.
Two eight-episode seasons of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanjlig’s trippy fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/whatever it is The OA are currently available to stream on Netflix, the latest having arrived earlier this year. It’s the very strange story of a woman named Prairie Johnson, who reappears after a lengthy absence and… that’s probably all that’s sensible to say at this point. If you love being confounded by weirdness in a continuing drama, then this is for you. Here’s our season two review.
Further reading: here are the best action movies to stream on Netflix
When the filthy rich Rose family lose all their wealth, they find themselves living in a rundown motel in the remote town of Schitt’s Creek. What ensues is an almost impossibly good-natured sitcom about four fishes-out-of-water adjusting to their new circumstances in a community of loveable oddballs. Father and son duo Eugene and Daniel Levy knock it out of the park as family members in front of the camera and showrunners behind, and after Home Alone and Beetlejuice legend Catherine O’Hara’s storming performance you will never look at fruit wine in the same way again. Perfect binge-watching material.
The Secret Of Crickley Hall
Netflix has bundled this mini-series up into two ninety-minute episodes, instead of the three sixty-minute instalments that originally aired on the BBC, but we can’t imagine that’s harmed it any.
A classic haunted house story that flits between time periods, The Secret Of Crickley Hall tells the story of the Caleigh family, who slowly uncover the story of what went on decades earlier in their country pile. It’s also a tale of loss, grief, and family perseverance.
On the whole, it’s a solid adaptation of James Herbert’s novel, and a great way to spend a chilly winter evening or two. It’s gripping, spooky, and best of all, boasts a great cast. Suranne Jones is joined by Tom Ellis, Donald Sumpter and the terrifically talented Maisie Williams, of Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who. After you’ve watched, read our spoiler-filled episode reviews.
Further reading: here are the best horror movies to stream on Netflix
Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s semi-fictionalised series, The Trip, is the a tragicomic look at male friendship, fame and mid-life crisis, and a deeply funny one at that. Edited into a feature film for the festival circuit, Netflix UK has the first two six-episode series here, showing Coogan and Brydon on a culinary tour of England’s finest restaurants, and competing to pull off the best celebrity impersonations.
Series two takes the pair to Italy, and hits the same emotional and comedic heights as the first. A third season, The Trip To Spain, has already aired on BBC Two, with A Trip To Greece on the way.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s Netflix sitcom is a weird, sharp, hugely enjoyably and very funny treat. It stars The Office: An American Workplace’s Ellie Kemper as the titular Kimmy, a young woman who recently escaped from a fifteen-year underground imprisonment at the hands of a deranged ‘Reverend’. Kemper is joined by a host of familiar faces from 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and elsewhere in the series (we won’t give away the fun surprises). It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story with more to recommend it than we’ve time to list here. Just watch it, you’ll have fun and here’s why
Trailer Park Boys
A Canadian mockumentary black comedy about Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, the petty criminal residents of, you guessed it, a trailer park, Mike Clattenburg’s long-running sitcom has inspired a loyal following and won international recognition. Watch these guys enact an unending string of get-rich-quick schemes on the wrong side of the law and see what all the fuss is about.
Read our recommendation for the best TV dramas on Amazon Prime Video, and 25 great Netflix comedy stand-up specials.