Best British TV shows on Netflix to stream right now

Trixie Franklin (Helen George) and Nancy Corrigan (Megan Cusack) in Call the Midwife season 12
Helen George and Megan Cusack in Call the Midwife. (Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Nicky Johnston)

While Netflix has become known for its ever-growing slate of original TV series, like the 60s influx of music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and more, Netflix also has had its own British invasion of TV series that subscribers can enjoy.

Whether it's some of the best TV shows of all time or some of best-reviewed ones from recent years, the UK keeps churning out stuff that viewers everywhere love to watch. Netflix has played a big hand in bringing those shows to people everywhere, so we thought it's worth giving a tip of the hat to that and making our picks for the best British shows on Netflix right now.

The ground rules are that it has to be a TV show that either originally aired in the UK first or whose creative team hails from the UK. Sorry Shonda Rhimes fans, Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte are not making this list. We're also just listing this in alphabetical order; hard to compare The Great British Baking Show with something like Collateral.

With that understood, here are the What to Watch's picks for the best British TV shows on Netflix right now.


Ricky Gervais as Tony Johnson in After Life

Ricky Gervais in After Life (Image credit: Netflix)

The first thing that Ricky Gervais is always going to be known for is creating the original UK version of The Office, but he was behind another well received comedy series with After Life. It's darker than The Office, as Gervais stars as a man who adopts a new gruff persona following the death of his wife thinking he has little else to live for. But try as he might, the people in his life continue to find the best in him. 

No. of seasons: 3
Episodes: 18


Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard (Image credit: Sophie Mutevelian/World Productions/Netflix)

The second half of 2018 was dominated by Bodyguard. After releasing on BBC One in August, the crime thriller limited series debuted on Netflix on October 24 and quickly became as big of a hit in the US as it did in the UK (including in awards, as it was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys). Richard Madden stars as police sergeant David Budd assigned to protect the Home Secretary, only to become embroiled in a pair of messy affairs, one political and the other more intimate. Bodyguard was a grippy, intense watch with a great performance from Madden. In an exciting bit of news, Bodyguard season 2 is expected down the road as well.

No. of seasons: 1
Episodes: 6

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife cast.

Midwives Cynthia, Jenny and Trixie. (Image credit: BBC)

Netflix was not the first place that US viewers got to watch Call the Midwife, as it has been airing as part of PBS Masterpiece Theater since 2012. But the stream has certainly played into the show's growth in popularity, as currently all 12 seasons are available to stream at subscribers' convenience. The period drama about a group of midwives living in East London during the 1950s and 60s has effectively mixed its charm and drama for a series that once you start will want to return to again and again. 

No. of seasons: 12
Episodes: 109


Carey Mulligan and Nathaniel Martello-White in Collateral

Carey Mulligan and Nathaniel Martello-White in Collateral (Image credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Academy Award-nominee Carey Mulligan headlined this four-part limited series where she plays a detective investigating the murder of a pizza delivery man, only to discover a sinister web of smugglers, drug dealers and spies. It should be no surprise that Mulligan is outstanding, but Collateral's true breakout was Billie Piper as Karen, a performance that earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Between this and Bodyguard, 2018 was a banner year for British crime dramas.

No. of seasons: 1
Episodes: 4


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Crashing

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Crashing (Image credit: Mark Johnson/Channel 4)

Before the global sensation that was Fleabag made Phoebe Waller-Bridge a household name (and got her a starring role in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), she created and starred in the comedy series Crashing. The show centered on a group of 20 and 30 year olds that are tasked with living together as the property guardians of a disused hospital. Crashing actually premiered just months before Fleabag in 2016, but despite not getting the same attention internationally, anyone who is a fan of Waller-Bridge should give Crashing a watch. 

No. of seasons: 1
Episodes: 6

The Crown

150 TV Quiz Questions - Imelda Staunton in the Crown

Imelda Staunton in The Crown (Image credit: Netflix)

The US already has an obsession with the UK's Royal Family, but The Crown brought their story to us in the package of a gripping historical drama that made even a non-Royal-obsessed American like myself a fan. Of course, we know it's not 100% accurate, but that doesn't change that it gives us an insight into the reign of Queen Elizabeth from her early days to the more familiar elements of Princess Diana. While the writing and craftmanship of the series are impeccable, the highlights are definitely the brilliant performances, particularly from the three actresses that have portrayed Queen Elizabeth at different ages throughout the series: Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton.  

No. of seasons: 5 (with The Crown season 6 on the way)
Episodes: 50

Derry Girls

Derry Girls cast

The Derry Girls cast (Image credit: Channel 4)

A teen comedy set during the Troubles in 90s Ireland may seem like an odd combination, but this funny and clever series from Lisa McGee makes it work. Saoirse-Monica Jackson's Erin leads things, as the story focuses on her group of friends and family, which includes a pre-Bridgerton Nicola Coughlan in a standout role as Erin's friend Clare. All three seasons of Derry Girls, the last of which won a BAFTA for Best Scripted Comedy, are available to watch on Netflix. If you're not great at picking up Irish accents, some subtitles may be necessary.

No. of seasons: 3
Episodes: 19

The Great British Baking Show

TV tonight Noel, Prue and Paul.

Noel Fielding, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood on The Great British Baking Show (Image credit: C4)

Full disclosure, I wasn't all that excited to start watching The Great British Baking Show (aka The Great British Bake Off, its original UK title) when my fiancée suggested it, but boy was I surprised. This reality baking competition show is an absolute delight. Not only are the incredible creations by the amateur bakers that enter the signature white tent mouthwatering, but the show's overall laid-back, inviting vibe makes watching it such a mellow experience that it has become a ritual to help end our weeks when new episodes arrive on Netflix every Friday during seasons. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith may also be helping out with The Great American Baking Show (also fun to watch), but it's hard to top the original. 

No. of seasons: 7
Episodes: 62 (and counting, with The Great British Bake Off 2023 episodes premiering every Friday)

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father

Jack Whitehall in Travels with My Father (Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Stand up comedian Jack Whitehall is probably best known by US audiences for his roles in Good Omens, Disney's Jungle Cruise and The Afterparty season 2, but if you want to get to know him a little better, than watching his docuseries Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father is a perfect and entertaining place to start. Throughout the show's five seasons, Jack's gay lifestyle and 21st century mentality often clashes with his father's more traditionally conservative British sensibilities, but that's the magic and at the end of the day it is great to see a father and son connecting in this way.

No. of seasons: 5
Episodes: 18

Last Tango in Halifax

Sarah Lancashire, Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi and Nicola Walker in Last Tango in Halifax

Sarah Lancashire, Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi and Nicola Walker in Last Tango in Halifax (Image credit: BBC/Album/Alamy Stock Photo)

Sally Wainwright created one of the most popular British crime series of recent memory with Happy Valley, but before that she had a show that was a bit more sentimental in Last Tango in Halifax. The series, which starred Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi and Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire, saw two childhood sweethearts reunite after nearly 60 years when they both have become widowers and decide to marry. All four seasons are available to watch on Netflix. We challenge you to not fall for these characters yourself.

No. of seasons: 4
Episodes: 24

Monty Python's Flying Circus 

John Cleese on Monty Python's Flying Circus

John Cleese on Monty Python's Flying Circus (Image credit: Photo 12/Alamy Stock Photo)

The classic comedy troupe behind the hilarious movies Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian and more got their start on British TV with their sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus. Throughout four seasons, the troupe of John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin made people laugh to no end with sketches like the Ministry of Silly Walks, the dead parrot sketch, argument clinic and more. The entire series is available to watch on Netflix, as is a special, Monty Python's Personal Best, which sees the stars reflect on their favorite sketches and moments from the original series.

No. of seasons: 4
Episodes: 45

Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders (Image credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Robert Viglasky)

You didn't think we were going to be leaving Peaky Blinders off this list did you? The epic crime drama that stars Cillian Murphy as the head of the titular early 20th century gang is absolutely incredible. The show got bigger from season to season, but it never lost the swagger that made it so entertaining to watch thanks to the writing by Steve Knight and the performances by Murphy, Paul Anderson, Tom Hardy and the late Helen McCrory. With how the series ended, we just hope they get this reported movie to us as soon as possible. 

No. of seasons: 6
Episodes: 36

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Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.