Best British drama seriesby paola-sorrentino | created - 22 Jan 2013 | updated - 20 Nov 2015 | Public
An Anglophile in Italy, addicted to those wonderful British series with zero budget and a million ideas.
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1. Doctor Who (2005– )
TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family
The further adventures in time and space of the alien adventurer known as the Doctor, a Time Lord/Lady who can change appearance and gender, and his/her companions.
In case you want to know my fave Doctors: 1. Tom Baker, 2. Eccleston, 3. Capaldi. I never appreciated the boy-band Doctors. I think Capaldi will get to number 1 if he keeps being so adorably crazy AND if Moffat gives him better scripts.
2. Children of the Stones (1977– )
30 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy
Scientist Adam Brake and his son Matthew arrive in the sleepy English village of Milbury to find it under the grip of weird psychic powers unleashed by the sinister village squire, Hendrick... See full summary »
In the Seventies, this was kids' TV. The opening credits will scar you for life.
3. The Quatermass Experiment (2005 TV Movie)
97 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Professor Bernard Quatermass' manned rocket ship returns to Earth but two of the astronauts are missing and the survivor seems ill and unable to communicate.
A 2-hours live TV teleplay, no SFX, all very rétro, but enough brilliant acting to really give you the chills at the end.
4. Second Sight (1999 TV Movie)
169 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A hard-working detective tries to disguise the fact that he's going blind, while working on a challenging murder case.
"This boy playing a detective who is going blind is very good, I hope he gets a career". (Me, in 1999, at the end of the first episode)
5. Attachments (2000–2002)
50 min | Drama
Soap-style drama series about the lives and loves of young professionals working for an internet start-up.
I would pay for a copy. It's gone, but it must be so funny to watch in 2013, because it's like 300 years in the IT-Internet world and it'd probably look hideously dated...
6. Nathan Barley (2005)
26 min | Comedy
After publishing a rant about 'idiots' - frantically hip, ignorant scenesters - Dan Ashcroft finds these same people embracing him as his idol and his nerves constantly tested by his biggest fan, moronic scene personality Nathan Barley.
Charlie Brooker fixes forever in time the Shoreditch Media Producer / Creative / Musician W*nker. The specimen is now endemic all over the world, but Brooker came first and spoofed first and best.
7. I'm Alan Partridge (1997–2002)
TV-MA | 29 min | Comedy
Alan Partridge a failed television presenter whose previous exploits had featured in the chat-show parody Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, and who is now presenting a programed on local radio in Norwich.
Everything that embarrasses a Brit, encompassed in one despicable character (though Steve Coogan is becoming slightly Partridge-ish himself in middle age)
8. Goodness Gracious Me (1998–2015)
45 min | Comedy
A British sketch comedy that explores the integration of Indian and British cultures through a series of satires,musicals and skits.
9. Jekyll (2007– )
334 min | Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi
London, 2007. Tom Jackman is the only living descendent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He has made a deal with his dark side: a body share. What Mr. Hyde doesn't know is that Tom has a family.... See full summary »
Early Moffat at its best: already a big show-off, but not at Who levels. It fizzes out a bit at the end, but meanwhile you've seen Nesbitt overact manically like a Jack Nicholson from next door.
10. Queer as Folk (1999–2000)
48 min | Drama
A groundbreaking gay adult drama which chronicles the lives of Stuart and Vince, as well as 15-year-old Nathan, who is in love with Stuart.
Revolutionary, in 1999. Russell T Davies! And good one-liners that are still funny fifteen years later ("so you've both had babies tonight").
11. Casanova (2005– )
TV-MA | 174 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
After a life spent seeking pleasure and decadence, Casanova seeks his one true love, Henriette.
Light-hearted Russell T Davies skit about young Casanova. Peter O'Toole totally steals the show from a hyperactive and hideously blond David Tennant.
12. Torchwood (2006–2011)
TV-MA | 50 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
The members of the Torchwood Institute, a secret organization founded by the British Crown, fight to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.
Seasons 1 and 2: enjoyable little self-contained sci-fi ditties, not heavy on the brain at all, everyone is cute and it's all jolly good fun. Season 3: CHILDREN OF EARTH: an amazing 5-parter which I personally consider one of the peaks of TV screenwriting. Season 4 was made with the American audience in mind, so forget it ever existed.
13. A for Andromeda (2006 TV Movie)
90 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In the Yorkshire Dales, a group of scientists receive radio signals from the Andromeda Galaxy. Once decoded, these give them a computer program that can design a human clone. One physicist ... See full summary »
Another no-budget sci-fi production with lots of atmosphere (and Tom Hardy)
14. Accused (2010–2012)
60 min | Crime, Drama
Created by Jimmy McGovern, each episode of this series examines a person who is accused of a crime and what led them to end up in the Dock.
Undescribably grim and miserable self-contained episodes about what drives ordinary people to end up in prison. The quality varies according to the week's subject and cast, but the grimmest of all are the episodes starring Andy Serkis as a taxi driver cum stalker, McKenzie Crook as a terrifying Army officer (!) and Sean Bean as a heartbreaking transvestite.
15. Sherlock (2010– )
TV-14 | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London.
WATCH. THIS. Especially Season 2. You have to really pay attention, but you'll be rewarded. Also: Lara Pulver. Also: Lars Mikkelsen.
16. Ashes to Ashes (2008–2010)
60 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy
DCI Gene Hunt swaps the Ford Cortina for an Audi Quattro and joins the London Metropolitan Police to deal with the 'Southern Nancy' criminal scum.
Bit long for a British series, but who's complaining.
17. The Black Adder (1982–1983)
TV-PG | 195 min | Comedy
In the Middle Ages, Prince Edmund the Black Adder constantly schemes and endeavors to seize the crown from his father and brother.
18. Jeeves and Wooster (1990–1993)
TV-PG | 55 min | Comedy
Bertram Wooster, a well-intentioned, wealthy layabout, has a habit of getting himself into trouble and it's up to his brilliant valet, Jeeves, to get him out.
Doubling over with laughter every two minutes, while learning a lot of very useful retro English expressions.
19. Blackpool (2004– )
60 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Soon after local entrepreneur Ripley Holden (Morrissey) opens his arcade in his beloved home town of Blackpool, a murder investigation makes tears at the fabric of his personal and professional lives.
20. Jonathan Creek (1997–2016)
120 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Working from his home in a converted windmill, Jonathan Creek is a magician with a natural ability for solving puzzles. He soon puts this ability to the use of solving impossible crimes and mysterious murders.
I'm not sure whether this qualifies as children TV. Very cute for all ages though.
21. Little Britain (2003–2006)
TV-MA | 29 min | Comedy
Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the creators of this character-comedy sketch show, delight in all that is mad, bad, quirky and generally bonkers about the people and places of Britain.
Don't have to tell you why, do I
22. The Office (2001–2003)
TV-MA | 30 min | Comedy, Drama
The story of an office that faces closure when the company decides to downsize its branches. A documentary film crew follow staff and the manager David Brent as they continue their daily lives.
You have to hand it to Gervais, he opened the floodgates to a lot of un-PC, rude, disgusting and really funny comedy. Cue Little Britain, etc.
23. Misfits (2009–2013)
TV-MA | 60 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
A group of young offenders doing community service get struck by lightning during a storm, and begin to develop superpowers.
IMHO, Seasons 1 and 2 are the best thing ever written for TV.
24. The Fades (2011– )
55 min | Fantasy, Horror
A teenage boy named Paul is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that nobody can explain. As if that weren't terrifying enough, he begins to see spirits of the dead, known as The Fades, all around... See full summary »
Adorably scary teenage-apocalypse. So good it won a BAFTA, and of course it was immediately cancelled due to "poor viewing". Oh well, maybe better this way so we won't suffer the indignities of sequels.
25. Inside Men (2012– )
60 min | Crime, Drama
The story of three employees of a security depot who plan and execute a multi-million pound cash heist.
Supercool bank heist!
26. The Last Weekend (2012– )
180 min | Thriller
Set over a long weekend in East Anglia, a surprise phone call from an old university friend, invites Ian and his wife for a few days by the sea. Their hosts, Ollie and Daisy, are a golden ... See full summary »
Intriguing little plot with an unreliable narrator. With friends like this during a weekend in the country, who needs enemies...
27. The IT Crowd (2006–2013)
TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy
The comedic adventures of a rag-tag group of technical support workers at a large corporation.
Yes, it's a sitcom, not drama, but it had to be in. "But memory *IS* RAM!"
28. Look Around You (2002–2005)
TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy
A parody of educational programs. Just don't believe anything in the show is true.
Humour so cold it feels like liquid nitrogen.
29. Luther (2010–2018)
TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A crime drama series starring Idris Elba as a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.
Miserablism at its coolest. By now everyone is dead.
30. Manchild (2002–2003)
30 min | Comedy
This English sitcom is about Terry, Gary, James and Patrick, four Londoners who remained best friends and confidants past their sexual prime, married or even divorced, some with children, ... See full summary »
God, aren't middle-aged men despicable creatures???
31. The Thick of It (2005–2012)
TV-MA | 29 min | Comedy
Set in the corridors of power and spin, the Minister for Social Affairs, is continually harassed by Number 10's policy enforcer and dependent on his not-so-reliable team of civil servants.
Quite intricated for non-Brits, but worth watching just for Peter Capaldi's ferocious spin doctor with the dirtiest talk ever on TV.
32. Line of Duty (2012– )
Not Rated | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
DS Steve Arnott is transferred to the police anti-corruption unit after the death of a man in a mistaken shooting during a counter-terrorist operation.
Police drama that feels real. Oh wow!
33. The Crimson Petal and the White (2011– )
274 min | Drama, Romance
Set in 1870s London, a young prostitute finds potential power and status after becoming the mistress of a powerful patriarch.
Oh Mr Hunt! Oh, oh, OH Mr Hunt!!!!! Visually spectacular and genuinely bizarre Victorian romp which takes the usual trope of the social-climbing prostitute and steers it in a totally different direction. It even manages to make Chris O'Dowd sexy......
34. Being Human (2008–2013)
60 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
A werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost try to live together and get along.
There's a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost.... Against terrible odds and basically a total cast overhaul (which worked for me; I couldn't stand Annie and Mitchell any longer, while Hal and Tom were a perfect comedy couple and so much subtler), this was pretty all the way. Toby Withhouse just has a knack of sketching memorable characters, especially those with little screen time. Too bad it was axed; more stories could have bloomed out of this.
35. Utopia (2013–2014)
TV-MA | 50 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
After a group of people, who meet online, discover a bizarre graphic novel which seems to hold mysterious answers, they find themselves being tracked down by a merciless organization known merely as 'The Network'.
Please God make it all as good as Episode One and we have a winner. EDITED TO ADD: ok, the whole series couldn't keep up with Ep 1. The tons of style with no substance started to grate. I also don't understand all the fawning about the "beautiful, bright colours" - it's been done, try Series 1 of Being Human. I appreciate the effort but it's like the best kid in your class, who is undiscussably bright but you don't really want to be friends with him after all.
36. Black Mirror (2011– )
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech world where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.
Even Charlie Brooker's laundry lists should win BAFTAs. Best episodes IMHO: of course the pig's story is the most shocking (EDITED IN SEPTEMBER 2015 TO ADD: well, it appears Charlie Brooker is a psychic!!!!!!!!!), but I was delighted and saddened by the doomed love story "Be Right Back", which had undertones of old classics like "Far from the Madding Crowd", and makes you reflect about what we really portray about us on social media.
37. The Hollow Crown (2012– )
150 min | Drama, History
A miniseries of adaptations of Shakespeare's history plays: Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V.
Gasp! Real Shakespeare! No "modern revisitations"! Get your Shakespeare and get it all! Get Whishaw a BAFTA! Who else can look so totally barmy and yet so regal and articulate in the same breath?
38. Lost in Austen (2008– )
180 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Amanda, an ardent Jane Austen fan, lives in present day London with her boyfriend Michael, until she finds she's swapped places with Austen's fictional creation Elizabeth Bennet.
The antidote against too much Austen in the movies.
39. Any Human Heart (2010– )
A novelist's life ricochets from 1920s Paris to '50s New York and '80s London. Along the way he meets Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - the exiled British king and his mistress Wallis Simpson.
40. Exile (2011)
180 min | Drama, Thriller
A father and son story, with a thriller motor. It explores a mystery from the past with a brutal and shocking revelation.
You won't know where it's going. A rare pleasure nowadays.
41. In the Flesh (2013– )
56 min | Drama, Horror
Four years after the Rising, the government starts to rehabilitate the Undead for reentry into society, including teenager Kieren Walker, who returns to his small Lancashire village to face a hostile reception, as well as his own demons.
Although it whacks you on the head with a big neon sign saying GET THE METAPHORS!, this kinder, gentler zombie story is lovely and I wouldn't mind a second series; so much can be still told about these characters.
42. Mayday (2013– )
59 min | Drama, Thriller
Mayday in a small town steeped in pagan traditions where the crowning of the May Queen is the highlight of the day until suddenly she goes missing.
It's been laughed at, it's been reviled, the acting is hammy, the stories are improbable. I didn't mind it, and some peaks of brilliant writing in the final episode redeem it.
43. Broadchurch (2013–2017)
TV-MA | 48 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
The murder of a young boy in a small coastal town brings a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart.
Broadchurch, "the better Mayday". Really? I'm really bored with it, I don't even know whether I'll make it to the end. Perhaps Mayday wasn't good because it wasn't subtle at all - but this poor imitation of a Scandinavian drama is just depressing. Tennant is incredibly irritating (kudos for having chosen such an unpleasant role).
44. Southcliffe (2013– )
188 min | Drama, Thriller
Following a rash of shootings in an English market town, the crimes are retold through the eyes of a journalist and the tragedies' victims.
I'm afraid we won't get rid of Scandi-drama imitations for a while. This series is another bleak, grim, slow, desaturated, exhausting reflections on the consequences of evil in a small community etc etc - and it makes you feel murky inside. I watched because I'll watch anything with Rory Kinnear in it, but honestly, it was so heavy it bordered on parody.
45. What Remains (2013)
240 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A young couple move into an apartment only to find the body of a young woman that had been missing for 2 years but never registered as missing which leads to a deeper investigation into what actually happened.
This didn't have any pretense of being realistic or Scandi, and it moved quickly from a procedural to full-on Gothic. I'm getting a bit weary of series with murdered-kid-or-woman (not a spoiler, it's the first scene), but it'll do. And there's Steven Mackintosh in it, the lovable everyman you can never trust. Amazing cast all over and a sure BAFTA for.... the inspector's eyeliner. He looks like a lost member from The Cure.
46. The Escape Artist (2013– )
180 min | Drama, Thriller
A junior barrister specializes in spiriting people out of tight legal corners.
After the first episode I can tell you this: it's the highest-quality product I've seen for many months. Totally realistic dialogues, award-winning acting all over, an intriguing premise, super sexy barristers. BUT! These meticulously written characters end up doing a couple of things that are so stupid or careless that make you snap out of your enjoyment. Enjoy the ride, not the destination...
47. The Missing (2014– )
TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
When Tony and Emily Hughes travel to France with their 5-year-old son Oliver, their family holiday turns into a nightmare when Oliver disappears from a large celebrating crowd in Northern France.
British drama has been trying hard to emulate Scandi-drama for a while, and this is the best result yet. The writers were not afraid to venture into seriously upsetting territories. The plot is absolute (and cruel) clockwork, with seriously nasty cliffhangers at the end of each episode; James Nesbitt overacts a bit, but who are we to judge how a father may act when his son goes missing.
I personally think the French cast did a classier job this time, but perhaps I was just happy to see the suavely menacing Tchéky Karyo in a British production, and I was really surprised by Titus de Voogdt (and his Flemish accent....).
48. Remember Me (2014)
60 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
The day Tom Parfitt moves from his home into residential care, he becomes the sole witness to a violent death.
This miniseries surely has its merits, and I do want to suggest it to anyone, but I personally thought it was overkill. There is such a thing as too much "atmosphere", too much tacked-on creepiness, too little involvement from Michael Palin, cast against type as a curmudgeonly old man. It had beautiful scenes, but on the whole, it would have worked better as a fast, striking one-hour stand-alone drama (something like Whisper and I'll Come To You, which is a very clear influence here).
49. Arthur & George (2015– )
60 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle recaptures his zest for life by pursuing and challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice.
How delightful! I love fast, snappy writing, but sometimes it is pleasant to go back to a retro style, a slower pacing. This Edwardian detective story is in no rush to go anywhere (also, it is based on real events, so that's the problem of a "big finale" solved - we can all just Google it), and is also subtly humorous.
50. The Widower (2013)
60 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A three-part drama based on the crimes of convicted murderer Malcolm Webster.
A super creepy turn by Reece Shearsmith in a short and sinister story based on real events (...you mean this monster existed, and women actually married him??)
51. The Second Coming (2003– )
144 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Steven Baxter is the Son of God, and can produce the miracles to prove it. How does the world react when he announces it has to produce a Third Testament within five days, or else it's Judgment Day?
I just discovered this Russell T. Davies little gem, totally low budget but with sparkling dialogue and the typical RTD vein of madness. I believe RTD decide to cast Chris Eccleston as Nine after his superb acting in this: it takes real inspiration to play a nice-but-dim Manchester nobody AND the Son of God *at the same time*. Best scenes: the First Miracle, the "you lot?" monologue (later sampled in an Orb song) and the denouement, which makes complete sense but is still upsetting to watch.
52. Fortitude (2015– )
TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
Perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now.
We're still halfway into this international co-production, and it's going all over the place, starting as a realistic murder story but slowly taking a very odd and possibly supernatural turn. I really have no idea where it will go next, which is quite a nice feeling when watching a series. The cast is unbelievable: Chris Eccleston, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sofie Gråbøl, Luke Treadaway, Johnny Harris... They can even afford the luxury to have amazing actors in small parts (watch out for Creepy Markus and his adorable girlfriend, who I think won't last to the end of the series...)
53. Inside No. 9 (2014– )
30 min | Comedy
Anthology series which mixes dark humor with genres like crime, horror or drama. The show invites viewers into some very different No.9s, where the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre.
If you were old enough to be spooked by Roald Dahl's TV version of "Tales of the Unexpected", this is the nearest thing in this millennium. Each 30-minute episode feels like two hours, and I mean it in the best way. You will always be smirking "I know how this is going to end", and it will never do, well, except a couple of cases. Shearsmith and Pemberton will skewer absolutely any genre - and if you've watched A FIELD IN ENGLAND, seeing Shearsmith in 17th-century clothes again is a guilty pleasure.
There is only one problem with this intelligent, quirky, original series: one of the episodes is a billion times better than all the others. Better than any TV in 2014, an absolute gem. Suddenly all the other episodes, even the nastier or most intricate ones, pale in comparison. You know, perhaps they should never have included THAT episode. That'd be fitting.
54. Poldark (2015– )
TV-14 | 60 min | Drama, History, Romance
Ross Poldark returns home after American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.
Wow, this sucked! Honestly. I feel for Aidan Turner, now the instant wet dream of any bored middle-aged wife. Ten long hours that made Downton Abbey's dialogue sound like Noel Coward; panto characters, wooden acting (Elizabeth, pout once again please!), the most boring mining/banking subplots, mind-numbing repetitiveness (another long shot of Poldark on his horse along the sea!), and to be honest, very tired acting by Turner "I had more fun when I played a vampire that nobody watched" himself. It's just a soap. Won't watch the next series.
55. Safe House (2015– )
45 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A married ex police couple are asked by a police officer and their close friend to turn their remote Guest House into a Safe House.
It's Eccleston's fault. I'll start watching anything with Eccleston in it, even when it's just a half-baked silly thriller with lots of interiors of a stone cottage on the Lakes. For fans only.
56. Prey (2014– )
60 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
On the run accused of a terrible crime, Manchester Detective Marcus Farrow tries to prove his innocence while being hunted by his former friends and colleagues.
Preposterous, bombastic. videogamey, logic-defying, it's like an American series that lost its way and ended up in Manchester. But you'll keep watching, because this cat-and-mouse game between a frantic John Simm and a just apparently useless Rosie Cavaliero gets better and more mindlessly entertaining halfway. I hear there will be a second series, with Glenister as the prey, and I simply can't wait to see Cavaliero's "useless" cop back in action.
57. The Casual Vacancy (2015– )
180 min | Drama
The citizens of the small British town of Pagford fight for the spot on the parish council after Barry Fairbrother dies.
Remember when J.K. Rowling published this book under a pseudonym, and it flopped, but then it was revealed that she was actually the Harry Potter writing genius and suddenly the book sales soared? Well played, Ms Rowling, because judging from this TV adaptation, it wasn't such a good book at all. It is mildly amusing to watch upper-crust Brits spending their time gardening and making snide remarks behind everyone's backs, but we could have used a plot as well.
58. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015– )
60 min | Fantasy, History, Sci-Fi
In an alternate history, during the time of real life Napoleonic Wars, two men of destiny, the gifted recluse Mr. Norrell and daring spellcasting novice Jonathan Strange, use magic to help England.
Oh, but this was delightful! "Respectable English magicians" try to practice "respectable wizardry" and end up meeting and fighting all kinds of evil and a Faerie King conjured from atoms of Malcolm Mc Dowell, Sting, Bowie and Nureyev (that's the amazing Marc Warren).
Each frame is a painting (slightly desaturated, for that time-worn effect). The usually threatening Eddie Marsan is the most lovable grumpy, tiny, timid magician, and I don't think he'll ever play "cute" again. And do you know when you've seen but never really noticed an actor in a dozen productions already, but this is the one where you really notice him?
I confess I developed a little crush for Bertie Carvel, a name straight off Wodehouse. At the beginning of the story he's a nice and proper, but slightly drippy young gentleman. At the end he's turned half mad, and he plays his mad stare *wonderfully*. I've read some reviews about this being "Harry Potter for an older audience", ok, so what? It's unmissable.
59. Doctor Foster (2015– )
60 min | Drama
A woman suspects her husband of having an affair. After following several lines of inquiry far more unravels including a streak of violence below the surface.
If you try to get over the feeling of watching the posh equivalent of a soap, this is a very, very odd series. It starts in the most banal way, it takes a screenwriter some guts to begin the story with Dr Foster (she of the perfect life, handsome husband, smart son, great house, nice friends and colleagues, the works) actually FINDING A BLONDE HAIR on her husband's scarf. I thought it went out of fashion in 1825.
However, what happens next is totally bonkers and braggadocio writing (some said), or the perfectly realistic portrait of a woman having a nervous breakdown (others said). The nice Doctor will do things that will make you squirm either way.
Oh, the maybe-adulterous husband is Bertie Carvel again, this time snivelly, smug and ambiguous, and able to pull the most amazing "who? not me" faces.
In case you want some literary back-up to this guilty TV pleasure, it appears to be inspired by Elizabethan plays. The finale certainly looks like that.
60. From Darkness (2015– )
233 min | Crime, Drama
Former Greater Manchester Police officer Claire Church's peaceful existence in the Western Isles is shattered when four bodies linked to her previous investigations are unearthed.
... I don't know. An absolutely dream cast (Anne-Marie Duff's laugh is enough to make any man and woman fall in love) is cherry-picked to act in a really slow, unengaging cop drama where you never care about the investigation or the victims. You end up watching just to see if she will get back with Johnny Harris, who actually scrubs up rather well, despite being called a "fat, balding, middle-aged detective cliche" by her in the first episode (yes, it was love); it's 16 years since they worked together and he still pulls the best lovelorn-puppy-dog eyes at her.
Best line: "Do you happen to remember what she wore that night?" "In Manchester, in the Nineties? Not much".
61. The Enfield Haunting (2015)
Not Rated | 136 min | Biography, Drama, Horror
In August 1977, a series of bizarre and terrifying events begin to take place in a seemingly ordinary house in Enfield, North London.
Inspired by a true story, it should be a horror, but the horror is not in the supernatual events. I find it's in the behaviour of all the people who managed, with various results, to exploit two teenage girls who "saw things" (or, most probably, just made it all up). Gold-diggers, liars, bereaved people hoping the "ghosts" were true so they could contact their dear deceased, journalists.
The genius is that there is no supernatural scene in the whole drama that you can trust. There is never an impartial witness when they happen, no matter how crowded the room is; they all have their reasons to swear it's real. That's where the horror and the all too human misery lies.
62. Humans (2015– )
TV-14 | 42 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.
The British remake of the Swedish dystopian hit Äkta Människor, set in a very near future where androids are widely used as workers, minders, nurses, maids.
So far, so Charlie Brooker. But the British series deviates from the original Swedish, and, I think, not in a good way. Many aspects of the original story have been wiped out - some situations that would have Daily Mail readers phoning in to the BBC to protest, or the glacial Nordic humour of the original. Most of the story is based on one family, but the British wife is about fifteen years younger than the Swedish wife - a little detail that irked. On the other hand, the Swedish actors who played the androids did a much better job, and some of them were terribly creepy. Here, some of them appear to be impersonating Kraftwerk.
Do watch it, but then do find the original series for comparison. Subtitles never killed anyone and Swedish sounds easy to the Anglo ear.
63. Unforgotten (2015– )
45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Police start to investigate when the bones of a young man are found under the footings of a demolished house 39 years after his murder.
I felt sorry for this series.
British TV is really upping the ante, so, yet again, a fantastic cast was assembled around Nicola Walker (the Woman with the Laser Beam Green Eyes) and Sanjeev "Check please!!!" Bhaskar in his first non-comedic role, as long as I'm aware of. To be honest he doesn't do very much, but they make a nice cop couple. The whodunnit was perfectly OK, with the right doses of good clues and red herrings; everything was very pleasant.
But --- they showed this in the same weeks when RIVER was on. No series could have stood a chance. This one suddenly became "the lame one" compared to the amazing RIVER, and looked a bit banal. I didn't mind the double weekly dose of Nicola Walker, for sure.
64. River (2015– )
60 min | Crime, Drama
John River is a brilliant police inspector whose genius lies side-by-side with the fragility of his mind. He is a man haunted by the murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest.
Stellan Skarsgård in a little British cop show?
He works with Lars von Trier, well, I personally detest Lars von Trier, but these people surely can do PAIN - remember Stellan fifteen years ago in BREAKING THE WAVES? I will never, ever watch that movie again.
I have no idea what Nordic gods persuaded him to star in a cop show, but this couldn't have been acted by anyone else. Please don't read reviews or anything; try to watch the first episode "blind". You will be rewarded with six hours of pure Scandinavian pain and an Oscar-worthy performance (a Bafta would be an insult). This is the best series of 2015, on Skarsgård's performance alone.
There is a procedural, smart and interesting cops, and yucky East End villains, but you'll find it steals time from the really interesting bits: River's life. Magnificent.
Oh, and from now on you will never be able to listen to a famous Seventies disco song without finding it immensely sad.
65. London Spy (2015– )
60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A chance romance between two men from very different worlds, one from the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, the other from a world of clubbing and youthful excess, leads into mystery after one of them is found murdered.
This is still going on. For the first two weeks it ran parallel to RIVER, a very odd couple: River was fast, snappy, emotional. This one is the slooooooooooowest thing I've seen on TV for ages.
I mean the "good" kind of slow; the one that makes you doubly paranoid; not only a "what will happen next", but also "WHEN will anything at all happen next". Which is more akin to the dread that poor Ben Whishaw must be feeling when he gets trapped in some evil MI6 conspiracy we still don't know anything about (at this point the whole audience is so paranoid that many think HE is actually the spy, and well, why not).
The dialogues are absolutely unreal, bookish, stilted, the screenwriter clearly feels no need to be "here and now". The first exchange between Whishaw and Charlotte Rampling (!) is pure Harold Pinter. The whole slow, artificial thing should send people to sleep, but is actually the most exciting hour of TV right now.