The best unexpectedly good British TV dramas

Brilliant British TV

As any TV producer will already be aware, it’s quite possible to obtain the best possible cast, plot and direction for any given series and still see it flop right in front of your face. With that being said, it’s no surprise that there are numerous examples of extremely expensive misfires over the years, whilst some lesser publicised efforts have resonated with audiences for one reason or the other and have gone on to become hugely successful in their own right. Most recently, British TV dramas have been particularly notorious for outperforming expectations and below is a brief rundown of underrated and unexpectedly good British TV dramas which may have slipped under your radar.

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour stars Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw (who plays Q) alongside The Affair’s Dominic West and with an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is quite possibly the most underrated TV show on the list. The show follows a group of journalists and their investigative efforts whilst producing a news magazine (The Hour) and is set in 1950’s Britain, which is of critical importance to the plot and perfectly merges a mix of suspense, drama and espionage. Despite the fact that the show was inexplicably cancelled after two seasons, it remains a staple of underrated British drama and is well worth a watch.



Whilst the 2009 big-screen Sherlock Holmes effort was memorable but mostly comedic, BBC’s Sherlock adds a new emotional depth to the characters of Holmes and Dr Watson and the challenges they face. As beloved as Sherlock Holmes is, the character needed bringing into the 21st century and somewhat distancing from the captivating but outdated episodes starring Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett as the magnifying glass wielding sleuth. The popularity of the series has reinvigorated the public’s love for Holmes and has consequently spawned a wide of merchandise and video games, as well as online iGaming slots such as Holmes and the Stolen Stones on Mr Green casino, where players have to solve the mystery surrounding some stolen diamonds and have a chance to win real money in the process.


Once again, the BBC must take great credit for Luther, which became an instant hit upon its release back in 2010. The much adored Idris Elba stars as the titular troubled detective John Luther, who is both brilliant and brilliantly destructive in equal measure, whilst Ruth Wilson delivers one of the best performances you’re ever likely to see, as the sociopathic narcissistic genius Alice Morgan. Luther may well operate in a morally grey area at times but he certainly gets the job done in a fast paced psychological detective drama which is bound to leave you wanting more. Thankfully, Elba confirmed back in June that filming of series 5 is due to commence at the start of 2018. Get in.

As fantastic as the aforementioned shows are, this is only the tip of the iceberg in a golden era for British TV drama and with honourable mentions going to some other hidden gems such as Plebs, Broadchurch and Doctor Foster, you certainly won’t be hard pushed to find something that takes your fancy on a quiet Friday night in.


Photos: ©BBC/Robert Viglasky Photography; ©BBC/Kudos Film & Television Ltd; iStock/kizilkayaphotos.