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British Crime & Mystery TV Series

My appetite for British crime and mystery television series is insatiable and at an addiction level.  As compared to their American counterparts, generally speaking, the British series tend to rely less on glitz and gimmicks, and the focus is more on the investigation, procedure, character development, etc.  One key factor that enables this is the program length, which can range from one to three hours per story, and that is without commercials.  Many of the series are adapted from novels, or characters from the novels.  While I have zero acting experience, I'd love to be an extra on one of the shows, or even a victim!

 

Much to my surprise, this page receives over 7,000 views per month.  Due to the interest and feedback received via e-mail, I've also started work on a British Crime & Mystery Movie and TV Mini-Series page and a British Period Dramas page.  I also intend on occasionally blogging about related news and reviews.  Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions, comments or feedback.

 

 

About the List and My Ratings

 

The series are listed below in alphabetical order, and range from gritty and gruesome, to quirky and light hearted.   Due to repeated feedback and requests, I have started to expand the list to include shows that are not my taste or preference, as well as shows that I may not have seen.  To help provide some indication and guidance of my viewing preferences, I am using a custom rating system as follows, which is subjective and not objective: 

 

Indicates that I found the series to be one of the best, and that I likely have viewed the series more than once
Indicates that I found the series to be very good, and may have viewed the series more than once
Indicates that I found the series to be at least average, and that it was worth watching
Indicates that the series is not my taste or preference, and this should not detract you, as your taste is likely different!!
Indicates that I have not yet seen the series

 

So in other words, I've seen any of the series with two stars or more, and could provide additional guidance or answer questions.  For the series rated one star, I've seen at least a few episodes.  The rating simply means that it was not my taste or preference, and is not an indication of the quality of the show, etc. 

 

Based on numerous requests, I am going to begin adding a dedicated page for each series, which will obviously take some time.  When a dedicated page has been added for a series, the indication will be that the rating icon has been completely removed.

 

 

Where to Find the Series

 

For those who live in the US, some of the series have aired previously on PBS, A&E, or BBC America.  Some are available on DVD from sites like Amazon, from streaming services such as Netflix, Acorn Online, etc.  Some series, though, are only available directly from the UK.  They can be ordered on DVD from Amazon UK, but generally the DVDs will be limited to playing only in a Region 2 capable player.  This problem can commonly be solved by "unlocking" the region limitations via entering a simple firmware code on many DVD players.

 

There are a few key benefits of getting the DVDs from Amazon UK.  First, in many cases, ordering the DVDs from the UK will actually cost less than the US versions, especially the box sets.  And that is inclusive of shipping charges and after currency conversion.  Second, you can see the programs earlier than they air on PBS.  For example, I've seen episodes of Inspector Lewis and Wallander weeks or months before they aired on PBS.  Third, unlike the US, the British shows do not have a "defined" program length to each episode.  Besides censoring the content, PBS does time edit many of the shows down to 90 minutes, so you can see the UK versions that are unedited for both time or content.

 

 

Nomenclature

 

For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that some of the television nomenclature varies between the UK and the US.  For example, what the US calls a TV "season" is called a "series" in the UK.  Usage of the term "episode" also varies.  For the sake of simplicity, my usage of the word "episode" simply describes viewing a particular story to completion.

 

 

 
Above Suspicion


Based on novels from the same author as Prime Suspect, this ITV series follows two police detectives solving murders.  The series ran from 2009 to 2012, and there are 4 episodes, each roughly 3 hours in length.
 
 
Accused


This unique BBC series follows the point of view from those that are accused of crimes, including murder.  The series ran from 2011 to 2012, and there are 10 episodes than run about an hour each.
 
The Bletchley Circle


This series from ITV is set in the 1950s and follows a former WWII codebreakers solving murder.  The series has run since 2012, and there is one episode that runs about three hours.
 
Blue Murder


This ITV series follows a female police detective solving murder in Manchester, England, who is also a single mother.  The series ran from 2003 to 2009, and there are 19 episodes than run about an hour each.
       
 
Body Farm


This BBC series is a spin-off from Waking the Dead and focuses on a team of forensic scientists.  The series ran in 2011, and there are 6 episodes than run about an hour each.
 
Broadchurch


This series from ITV follows detectives on single murder case spanning the series.  The series ran in 2013 and is about six hours, and is in my DVD stack to watch.  There is a second series planned.

 
Cadfael


This series from ITV, which also aired on PBS, follows a Benedictine monk who solves murders in middle ages.  The series ran from 1994 to 1998 and there are 16 episodes than run about 80 minutes each.
 
Campion


This BBC series follows a private detective, and is based on some novels.  The series ran from 1989 to 1990, and there are 16 episodes than run about an hour each.
       
 
Case Histories


This BBC series is set in Edinburg, Scotland, and follows a former police detective who is now a private investigator.  The series has run since 2011, and there are 6 episodes than run 90 to 120 minutes each.
 
Case Sensitive


This ITV series is based on some novels, and follows a female and male police duo solving murders.  The series ran from 2011 to 2012, and there are 3 episodes than run up to 120 minutes each.
 
The Commander


This ITV series follows the commanding officer of a team of detectives, and stars Amanda Burton from Silent Witness.  The series ran from 2003 to 2008, and there are 8 episodes than run up to 180 minutes each.
 
Cracker


The gritty ITV series stars Harry Potter actor Robbie Coltrane as a drinking, smoking, gambling, and cussing criminal psychologist who helps the police solve murders.  The series ran from 1993 to 2006.
       
 
Dalziel & Pascoe


This BBC series follows a politically incorrect police detective and his assistant solving murders.  The series ran from 1996 to 2007, and are 46 episodes that run up to 120 minutes each.
 
 
DCI Banks


This series from ITV is set in Yorkshire, England, and follows two detectives solving murders.  The series has run since 2010, and so far there are seven episodes that run up to two hours each.
 
 
Death in Paradise


This BBC series follows a former London police detective who now is the lead policeman in the British islands.  The series has run since 2011, and so far there are 16 episodes that run about an hour each.
 
 
Doctor Blake Mysteries


This series from Australian television follows a local doctor helping the police solve murders.  The series has run since 2013, and so far there are ten episodes that run about an hour each.
 
       
 
Endeavour


This series from ITV is a reboot of Inspector Morse, and traces his start as a detective.  The series has run since 2012, and so far there have been 5 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
 
Falcón


This series from Sky Atlantic follows a police detective solving murder in Seville, Spain, and is English language dialogue.  The series ran in 2012, there are 2 episodes about two hours each.
 
The Fall


This BBC series features Gillian Anderson as the lead detective pursuing a serial murderer in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The series runs about five hours, and a second series has been commissioned.
 
Foyle's War



Set in Hastings, England, this ITV series follows a detective solving crimes during the World War II era.  The series has run since 2002, and so far there have been 22 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
       
 
George Gently



This BBC series follows a detective and his assistant solving crimes during the 1960s in Northumberland, England.  The series has run since 2007, and so far there have been 15 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
 

Hamish Macbeth



This very quirky and light hearted series from BBC Scotland follows a rural police constable in Scotland.  The series ran from 1995 to 1997, and consists of 20 episode that run about an hour each.

The Helen West Casebook



This ITV series follows a crown prosecutor handling crime cases, and stars Amanda Burton from Silent Witness.  The series ran in 2002, and there are 3 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.

Hustle



This BBC comedic drama series follows a team of grifters (con artists) around London, similar to the Ocean's 11 movie franchise.  The series ran from 2004 to 2012, and there are 48 episodes that run about an hour each.

       

Inspector Alleyn Mysteries



This BBC series follow and English police detective in the late 1930s.  The series ran from 1990 to 1994, and there are nine episodes that run about 90 minutes each.


Inspector Lewis


This ITV series is a sequel to Inspector Morse, and follows a police detective and his assistant solving crimes in Oxford.  The series ran from 2006 to 2013, and there are 27 episodes that run over 90 minutes each.

Inspector Lynley Mysteries


This BBC series follows an aristocrat police detective and his assistant that solve murder cases in London.  The series ran from 2001 to 2007, and consists of 23 episodes that run over 90 minutes each.
 
Inspector Morse


This ITV series follows an Oxford educated police detective and his assistant that solve murder cases in Oxford.  The series ran from 1987 to 2000, and there are 33 episodes that run over 90 minutes each.
       

Inspector Resnick



This BBC series stars Tom Wilkinson as a police detective in Nottingham.  The series ran from 1992 to 1993 and there are two episodes that run about 90 minutes each.



Jack Irish



This Australian series stars Guy Pearce as a former lawyer who is now a private detective.  The series has run since 2012, and so far there are three episodes that run about 90 minutes each.


Jack Taylor


This series from Ireland follows a former police detective now working as a private detective in Galway, Ireland.  The series has ran since 2010, and consists of 5 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
 

Jo


This is an English language show set in Paris following a team of police detectives.  The series ran in 2013, and consists of 8 episodes.  I have the DVDs and will be watching them soon.
 
       

Jonathan Creek


This BBC series follows magician that solves crimes by applying his skills to "how it was done."  The series has run since 2007, and there are 31 episodes that run from one to two hours each.
 

The Last Detective


This lighthearted ITV series follows a bumbling police detective that solves crimes with his civilian sidekick.  The series ran from 2003 to 2007, and consists of 17 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

Law & Order UK


This series from ITV is quite simply an British adaption of the American show, but set in London.  The series has run since 2009 and consists of 43 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

Line of Duty


This BBC series follow police detectives in England and one may be corrupt.  The series has run since 2012 and so far there are five episodes that run about an hour each.
 
       

Luther


This BBC series follows an obsessive detective in London, and stars Golden Globe winner Idris Elba.  The series has run since 2010 and consists of 10 episodes that run about 60 minutes each.
 

Marple


This series from ITV is based on the novels from Agatha Christie.  The series has run since 2004 and consists of 23 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.  There is also a previous series known as Miss Marple.
 
 
Messiah


This BBC series follows a team of detectives that investigate gruesome murders, and stars Ken Stott from Rebus.  The series ran from 2001 to 2008, and there are 5 episodes that run up to 180 minutes each.
 
MI-5 (Spooks)


This BBC series follows a team of from the British domestic security service.  The series ran from 2002 to 201, and there are 86 episodes that run about an hour each.
       

Midsomer Murders


This long running series from ITV follows a police duo solving murders in the quirky English countryside.  The series has run since 1996, and consists of 95 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
 

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries


This light hearted Australian series follows a flapper female private detective in Melbourne during the 1920s.  The series has run since 2012, and consists of 13 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

Missing


This BBC series is light and follows the investigations of a missing person unit in Dover, England.  The series ran from 2009 to 2010, and consists of 15 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

Mrs. Bradley Mysteries


This BBC series follows a 1920s socialite and her chauffer solving crime.  The series ran from 1998 to 1999, and consists of 5 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
 
       

Murder City


This ITV series follows a mismatched male and female police detective duo solving murders in London.  The series ran from 2005 to 2006, and consists of 10 episodes that run up to 90 minutes each.
 

Murder in Mind


This unique BBC series follows murder from the killer's perspective and the events leading up to it.  The series ran from 2001 to 2003, and consists of 23 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

Murder in Suburbia


This lighthearted series from ITV follows two female detective that solve murders in the suburbs of London.  The series ran from 2004 to 2005, and consists of 12 episodes that run about an hour each.

Murder Investigation Team


This series from ITV follows a team of detectives solving murders in the London area.  The series ran from 2003 to 2005, and consists of 12 episodes that run up to 75 minutes each.
       

Murphy's Law


This BBC series follows an undercover detective in London.  The series ran from 2001 to 2007, and consists of 23 episodes that run about an hour each.
 

New Tricks


This lighthearted BBC series follows a female detective and three retired detectives that are brought back to solve cold cases.  The series has run since 2003, and consists of 77 episodes that run about an hour each.

Pie in the Sky


This BBC series follows a near retirement detective who opens a restaurant.  The series ran from 1994 to 1997, and consists of 40 episodes that run about an hour each.

Poirot


This ITV series stars David Suchet as the Belgian detective based on the Agatha Christie novels.  The series ran from 1989 to 2013, and consists of 66 episodes that run as long as 90 minutes each.
 
       

Prime Suspect


This ITV series stars Helen Mirren as a rising police detective in London who has a problem with alcohol.  The series ran from 1991 to 2006, and consists of 9 episodes that run as long as 200 minutes each.
 

Quirke


This BBC series stars Gabriel Byrne as a pathologist in Dublin, Ireland during the 1950s.  The series is not yet available on DVD, and I have it on pre-order from Amazon UK.

Rebus


This ITV series follows an edgy police detective and his assistant that solve murders in Edinburg, Scotland.  The series ran from 2006 to 2007, and consists of 10 episodes that run about an hour each.

Ripper Street


This BBC series is set in London shortly after the "Jack the Ripper" murders, and follows police detectives.  The series has run since 2012, and consists of 8 episodes that run about an hour each.
       

Rosemary & Thyme


This light series from ITV follows two female gardeners who encounter and solve murders while on the job.  The series ran from 2003 to 2007, and consists of 22 episodes that run about an hour each.

Scott & Bailey


This series from ITV follows two female police detectives solving murders in Manchester, England.  The series has run since 2011, and consists of 14 episodes that run about an hour each.

Second Sight


This BBC series stars Clive Owen as a detective that has a rare disease and is starting to lose his sight.  The series ran from 2000 to 2001, and consists of 8 episodes that run about an hour each.


Sherlock


This BBC series is quite simply a modern day Sherlock Holmes with his sidekick Watson.  The series has run since 2010, and consists of 9 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
       

Sherlock Holmes


This series from ITV stars Jeremy Brett as the infamous detective, and his sidekick Watson.  The series ran from 1984 to 1994, and consists of 41 episodes that range from one to two hours.

Silent Witness


This BBC series follows a team of forensic pathologists that help the police investigate murders.  The series has run since 1996, and consists of 71 episodes that run up to 120 minutes each.


Single Handed


This series from RTE Ireland follows a Garda policeman on the rural west coast of Ireland.  The series ran from 2007 to 2010, and consists of 12 episodes that run about an hour each.

Taggart


This long running series from Scotland follows of team of detectives solving murders.  The series ran from 1983 to 2010, and consists of 109 episodes that run about an hour each.
       

Thorne


This Sky1 series stars David Morrissey from The Walking Dead, and follows a team of police detectives solving murders.  The series ran in 2010, and consists of 2 episodes that run about 180 minutes each.

A Touch of Frost


This ITV series follows an aging and quirky detective solving murders in the fictional town of Denton, England.  The series ran from 1992 to 2010, and consists of 42 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.

Touching Evil


This gritty series from ITV follows murder cases handled by elite Organized and Serial Crime Unit (OSC) based in London.  The series ran from 1997 to 1999, and consists of 8 episodes that run about 2 hours each.


Trial & Retribution


This ITV series is procedural and follows a team of detectives from investigation to the court room.  The series ran from 1997 to 2009, and consists of 22 episodes that range from 90 to 200 minutes each.
       

Vera


This ITV series follows a female detective and her assistant solving murders in Northumbria, England.  The series has run since 2011, and consists of 12 episodes that run about 100 minutes each.

Vexed


This is a hilarious police procedural comedy from the BBC about a lazy, disorganized, and politically incorrect detective.  The series has run since 2010, and consists of 9 episodes that run about an hour each.


The Vice


This gritty series from ITV stars Ken Stott from Rebus, and follows a vice squad in London.  The series ran from 1999 to 2003, and consists of 21 episodes that run up to 120 minutes each.


Waking the Dead


This BBC series follows a cold case squad consisting of detectives, a forensic scientist, and a psychological profiler.  The series ran from 2005 to 2011, and consists of 46 episodes that are about 2 hours each.
 
       

Wallander


This BBC series is adapted from novels about a police detective in Sweden, and stars Kenneth Branagh.  The series has run since 2008, and consists of 9 episodes that run over 90 minutes each.
 

Whitechapel


This ITV series follows team of detectives that solve murders which appear to replicate historical murders.  The series has run from 2009, and consists of 5 episodes that run as long as 180 minutes each.

Wire in the Blood


This dark series from ITV follows a clinical psychologist who helps the police solve gruesome serial murders.  The series ran from 2002 to 2009 and consists of 24 episodes ranging from 90 to 120 minutes.

Wycliffe


This series from ITV is adapted from novels about a police detective in Cornwall, England.  The series ran from 1994 to 1998, and consists of 38 episodes that run about an hour each.
       

Zen


This BBC series is adapted from Italian novels about a police detective in Italy, starring Rufus Sewell.  The series ran in 2011, and consists of 3 episodes that run about 90 minutes each.
     
       

 

 

Soundtrack Music

 

Some of the TV series above may have soundtrack related music available for purchase.  Listed below is the music which I have purchased, and enjoy listening to.  There are also a few soundtrack albums available for Inspector Morse by Barrington Pheloung

 


Barrington Pheloung
Lewis: Music from Series 1 & 2

Some of the music from Inspector Morse was written and/or conducted by Barrington Pheloung.  He also similarly did the music for the Inspector Lewis series.  The soundtrack for Lewis is available on Amazon UK.

Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
Despite the Snow

The theme used on the Wallander series is a song called "Nostalgia" from the album Despite the Snow by Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo.  An interesting backstory is that album was recorded in a 16th century barn.  The album is available on Bandcamp.

Emily Barker
Nostalgia Reprise (Anna)

The closing credits of Series 3 of Wallander use a short variation (a reprise) of the song "Nostalgia."  It is called "Nostalgia Reprise (Anna)" as it was used also in Series 1 during a scene called "Anna."  The song is available on Bandcamp.
 

 

 

This page was updated March 30, 2014