20 New British Crime Dramas You've Probably Never Heard Of

America's neighbor across the pond is responsible for some of the most riveting television series in recent history. Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Americans have better access to all the dramas and comedies produced by the best names in British television.

Police procedurals and crime thrillers are especially popular these days, and Britain gave birth to classic contributions like Broadchurch, Luther, and Prime Suspect. However, there exists a slew of under-the-radar shows and specials just as engrossing and creepy as their better-known companions. This list delves into recent British crime miniseries you probably haven't heard of but should know.

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Updated on July 11th, 2022 by George Chrysostomou: With so many new shows to explore and some underrated classics that audiences continue to overlook, these British crime series are really examples of the height of the genre. They might approach the topics at hand in intriguing and nuanced ways, but they also continue to play upon the tropes that viewers might be familiar with. 

The Girl Before (2021)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

The Girl Before

This crosses a range of genres, from a psychological thriller to a straight crime piece. Nothing is as expected in The Girl Before, which was initially created by the BBC and stars a huge range of talented actors, led by the fantastic Gugu Mbatha-Raw and David Oyelowo.

RELATED: 10 Best True Crime Documentaries That Aren’t About Murder

Jane begins to live with her new love interest, an architect that resides in an unusual house. Everything begins to fall apart though as she learns about the woman who once lived there before, who had actually died on the premises. The truth of her romance is about to be twisted in this British crime series.

Happy Valley (2014-2022)

Available To Stream On fubo And Crackle

happy valley sarah lancashire

Set in Yorkshire England, the police drama follows Sergeant Catherine Cawood, whose personal life is just as complex as the crimes she's tasked with solving. Starring the likes of Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Charlie Murphy, and James Norton, it's a who's who of British talent.

The BBC series Happy Valley is somewhat run of the mill in terms of its premise, but the scripts are so intelligent and the cast so charismatic that it gives a remarkably fresh spin on the familiar. While there's only a few seasons available, the door might not be closed for good.

Des (2020)

Available To Stream On Sundance Now

David Tennant's remarkable ability to reach audiences through the camera is now well documented. He's played heroes and villains, but never someone as chilling as the titular serial killer in Des. What's so dark here is that the ITV series is based upon a true character.

Hailing from Scotland, but set in London in the early 1980s, Des revolves around the murderer Dennis Nilsen finally getting caught out. After the remains of a human were found near his home, this is an in-depth exploration of an incredibly sinister mind.

Fortitude (2015-2018)

Available To Purchase On Google Play, Prime Video, iTunes, And VUDU

Michael Gambon in Fortitude

Fortitude has such a star-studded lineup across its 3 seasons on Sky Atlantic that it would be easy to miss a few. Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston, and Sienna Guillory are just a few of the names that make an appearance. The British crime series is set in a small town on the Arctic Circle.

As a series of crimes begin to unfold, the citizens of this tight-knit community come to the realization that the killer is amongst them. The first series takes some surprising turns, as the crimes that take place aren't of a conventional nature. The seasons spiral from there and are genuinely gripping.

Tin Star (2017-2020)

Available To Stream On Prime Video

Another Sky Atlantic series, led by the formidable Tim Roth, Genevieve O'Reilly, and Abigail Lawrie, Tin Star is another British police drama that really focuses on his family life and how the job impacts that dynamic. The series sees Jack Worth move his unit to the Canadian Rockies for a new adventure.

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With elite training after a former undercover role, his whole world is put in danger when his lives collide. From the power of the church to corrupt oilmen and the criminal underworld that plagues the small town, far more happens in this sleepy Canadian community than may first appear.

Top Of The Lake (2013-2017)

Available To Purchase On Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video, And YouTube

Elisabeth Moss stars as a newly appointed and inexperienced detective in this gripping crime drama that has 13 episodes in its 2 seasons. Top of the Lake follows Detective Griffin (Moss) as she attempts to find her footing in the position after the tragic disappearance of a pregnant teenager in a small New Zealand town.

It's a completely gripping and at times gritty crime drama that isn't as well known as it should be and is definitely worth checking out for anyone who hasn't seen it.

And Then There Were None (2015)

Available To Purchase On Google Play And Prime Video

Aidan Turner in And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is a 3 episode miniseries based on the Agatha Christie murder mystery novel of the same name. The cast, from Aidan Turner to Sam Neill, portrays the tension of several strangers stranded on an island during a storm with a killer on the loose.

It's a completely engaging miniseries that gets lost among the countless Agatha Christie movie adaptations that have been put to film in the last century.

Paranoid (2016)

Available To Stream On Netflix

Paranoid is a little-known British crime series that follows a group investigating the violent murder of a well-liked local woman in a public park. The detectives think that the case will be a quick one to solve at the beginning until they realize that her former lover also died right before her death.

The 8 episodes delve into the mysteries of the town and the one death that began to unravel a string of conspiracies connected to the case.

Collateral (2018)

Available To Stream On Netflix

Cropped poster for Netflixs Collateral

This Netflix original miniseries follows Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) as she investigates the murder of a pizza delivery driver as she thinks it wasn't just a random act of violence but a more sinister planned killing.

RELATED: 10 Weird True Crime Stories Netflix Should Cover In A Documentary Next

There are other engaging storylines throughout the 4 episodes from a politician (John Simm) who is caught up in the case and a vicar (Nicola Walker) who attempts to hide an affair that is also connected to the murder.

A Very English Scandal (2018-2021)

Available To Stream On Prime Video

Ben Whishaw and Hugh Grant star in this political thriller British crime miniseries based on the true story of Jeremy Thorpe (Grant) in the 1960s who was accused of murdering his ex-lover, Norman Scott (Whishaw), after he was unsure whether Scott would expose their affair.

The Amazon original will be returning in 2021 for 3 more episodes following a new scandalous story turning this miniseries into an anthology series with a new story each season. The first 3 episodes are an engaging mystery while also being surprisingly funny as well.

Rillington Place (2016)

Available To Purchase On Google Play, Prime Video, iTunes, And VUDU

Rillington Place is a three-part BBC One miniseries based on the life of real-life serial killer John Christie. Tim Roth stars as Christie, and Samatha Morton plays his wife, Ethel. Gritty and eerie, the show doesn't hold back in showing how Christie committed multiple murders in the 1940s and 1950s at his domicile, 10 Rillington Place in London.

Two of his victims were upstairs tenants in the complex, a 20-year-old woman named Beryl Evans and her 13-month-old daughter. Beryl is played by Killing Eve star Jodie Comer. The Evans cause was a major scandal at the time, and Beryl's husband Timothy was wrongfully accused of both murders and hanged. Christie was the star witness in the case.

London Spy (2015)

Available To Stream On NBC

This five-part BBC Two drama stars Ben Whishaw as a perpetual party boy named Danny who falls in love with a mysterious man named Alex. When Alex goes missing for a number of days, Danny searches his lover's apartment only to find his dead body stuffed in a large trunk. As the circumstances surrounding Alex's death become increasingly suspicious, Danny decides to uncover the truth at any cost.

Jim Broadbent co-stars in this compelling crime drama written and directed by Tom Rob Smith. Smith is known for writing Ryan Murphy's award-winning series American Crime: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

Fearless (2017)

Available To Stream On Prime Video And Netflix

This iTV six-part series delves into the world of a human rights lawyer named Helen McCrory. Played by Emma Banville, McCrory takes on a case that involves absolving a convicted murderer of his conviction.

RELATED: 10 Best Crime Dramas (According To IMDb)

McCrory believes the man, Kevin Russell, is innocent of murdering a schoolgirl 14 years earlier. Russell worked at the school the girl attended as a janitor, and she believes he was convicted out of convenience. The show follows her as she attempts to uncover the truth about the girl's tragic death while freeing Russell from a sentence he doesn't deserve.

Prime Suspect 1973 (2017)

Available To Purchase On Google Play, Prime Video, iTunes, And VUDU

The long-running police procedural Prime Suspect solidified Helen Mirren's career, and it helped to establish the melodramatic nature of subsequent detective dramas. In 2017, iTV aired a prequel to Prime Suspect. This six-episode miniseries stars English actress Stephanie Martini as a young Jane Tennison, the character made famous by Mirren.

The series takes place in 1973 in a town called Hackney, where a 22-year-old Tennison joins the local police force. Like the show, the miniseries highlights the sexism and bureaucratic blockades Tennison is forced to deal with as she attempts to make a name for herself as an investigator.

Southcliffe (2013)

Available To Purchase On Google Play And Prime Video

This harrowing miniseries uses a shooting spree as a starting point to explore how trauma affects a community and those connected to it. Told in four parts, Southcliffe takes place in a fictional town of the same name. Sean Harris plays a local man named Stephen Morton, who is responsible for the senseless act of mass violence that occurs in one day.

Roy Kinnear plays a journalist who returns to Southcliffe, his home, in order to cover the case. The series is directed by Sean Durkin, a Canadian man whose only feature film is 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene. Like the movie, Durkin employs an understated and atmospheric style to unravel the narrative in Southcliffe.

In The Dark (2017)

Available To Purchase On Google Play, Prime Video, iTunes, And VUDU

This four-part BBC One British crime series is also based on books: Mark Billingham's Time of Death and In The Dark. The miniseries stars MyAnna Buring as a police investigator named Helen Weeks. Weeks is a pregnant detective for the Manchester Metropolitan Police. The first two episodes pursue a unique crime, and the final two delve into another case.

In the first part of In The Dark, Weeks is tasked with investigating a case involving the husband of her best pal from childhood. The husband is accused of kidnapping two girls. The second part sees Weeks, now very pregnant, forced to dive into the seedy Manchester underbelly.

The Last Panthers (2015)

Available To Purchase On Google Play, Prime Video, And VUDU

This gripping Franco-British series includes a star-studded cast and a historical basis. The Last Panthers fictionalizes the experiences of a group of jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers. This group, active in the Balkans since 2003, is responsible for some of the most high-stakes heists in history. Interpol believes 200 to 250 people are implicated in the crimes.

RELATED: 10 British Crime And Mystery Shows To Watch If You Liked The Stranger

The series, starring Samantha Morton and John Hurt, entails a heist in line with the Pink Panther style, and viewers are soon taken through the dark underworld of criminal Europe. The showrunner, Jack Thorne, is credited for writing on British series like Shameless and Skins.

Appropriate Adult (2010)

Currently Unavailable To Stream Or Purchase

This is another British crime miniseries inspired by the true story of serial killer Fred West. With his wife Rosemary as an accomplice, Fred was accused of killing multiple people, including his own daughter. When he was caught in 1994, police investigators, in order to ensure Fred understood the charges yielded against him, hired an appropriate adult, or trained person to guide him through the interrogation process.

In the miniseries, Emily Watson portrays the appropriate adult hired to assist Fred, Janet Leach. Fred is played by Dominic West. While the acting is stellar, the plot takes some liberties with the facts of the case.

What Remains (2013)

Currently Unavailable To Stream Or Purchase

BBC One aired this four-part miniseries following a retired police detective who decides to pursue a closed case that still haunts him. After the body of a woman was found in the attic of a tenement house, police officially ruled it a suicide. However, the detective, Len Harper, has a gut feeling about the case that leads him to believe foul play is involved.

For starters, the body lay in the house's attic for two years before it was discovered. While the people who live in the house seem friendly enough on the surface, Harper continues to investigate them in order to figure out what he and his colleagues missed the first time.

Chasing Shadows (2014)

Available To Purchase On Prime Video

This stylized and seriocomic detective miniseries stars Reece Shearsmith as a contemporary Holmesian police investigator whose ability to mine data is much better than his ability to interact with people. Shearsmith's D.S. Sean Stone teams up with an analyst from the Missing Persons Bureau in order to crack some of their mounting unsolved cases.

The analyst, Ruth Hattersley, is played by Alex Kingston. The pair make an odd couple for sure, and they are constantly butting heads with their boss, D.C.I. Carl Pryor, as they develop less orthodox methods for finding missing persons.

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About The Author Megan Summers (546 Articles Published)

Megan is a public librarian by trade obsessed with the intersections between art, culture, and society. She's a nerd for horror, obscure memes, weird history, graphic novels, and binge-worthy science fiction series.

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2022-07-11T06:02:05.000Z

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