As a disclaimer I am going to acknowledge that I did not include Doctor Who and Downton Abbey on this list because they are well-known, well-fandomed, and very much celebrated. You’ve probably already decided on whether or not you’re going to watch them so while I am giving them props, I thought I’d compile a list of lesser known British series in America.
There are A LOT of advantages of watching a British show, although I do love my American TV. British series are noticeably more diverse including far more Black and Asian actors, they have shorter season runs so no boring filler episodes, they don’t shy away from nudity or profanity and the shows aren’t afraid to make bold moves; British series will kill off characters in a heartbeat, they’ll get rid of all your faves if it means pushing the story line along, most of all, British series aren’t afraid to end. American television is, until fairly recently, designed to have no foreseeable ending. There are few shows that are exceptions to this rule including The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and Lost.
Most American series get dragged on and beaten down (HIMYM, Supernatural, The Office, Two and a Half Men to name a few) as long as people are watching them. The need to keep a series going for 10 seasons typically means things that should not happen, that are inconsistent, that are contrived do happen. It’s why even though the couple you ship should not be together they eventually will end up together. When you have to write a bagillion episodes public perception of the show starts to influence what actually happens in the show (*cough*Homeland*cough*Carrie and Brody*cough*), it’s why Chuck and Blair ended up in Gossip Girl despite Chuck being actually physically abusive toward Blair.
British series, most of the time, tend to avoid these hangups because the seasons are short, anywhere from 1 to 10 episodes and most of the time the shows are intended to have a broader narrative arc that must come to an end. While there are dozens of British series worthy of your time here are some personal recommendations ranging from comedy to drama to crime to science fiction.