Five British Shows You Should Be Watching on Netflix

A Bit of Fry and Laurie: a bit of all right.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie: a bit of all right.

Netflix: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems! OK, that's wrong (and kind of plagiarized), but Netflix is still fantastic. One of the biggest benefits of the service, especially the Watch Instantly feature, isn't just seeing movies and TV shows you know and love, but getting to check out stuff that, just a few years ago, would have been inaccessible. This is especially true for shows from England.

Stuff from across the pond is often notoriously hard to come by on DVD, especially given the annoying problem of region coding and global shipping. But the Internet -- the glorious Internet -- means we can finally see those series from start to finish and with high picture quality instead of having to catch chunks on YouTube or resorting to low-res torrents. It doesn't matter if you're an Anglophile, either. These are great shows that all TV fans need to see.

Luther Idris Elba proved on The Wire that he's a stone-cold badass, but on BBC's Luther, he plays a cop, not a killer. Elba plays Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, an obsessive genius working murder cases while trying to sort out his own emotional problems. On paper that sounds like, well, every other cop show in history, but the acting and storytelling here are standouts. For fans of: Crime Story, The Wire, awesome and challenging stories.


The IT Crowd British series tend to have fewer episodes and spread them over longer periods of time than U.S. shows, which is why there have only been four seasons and 24 episodes of The IT Crowd since 2006. But the upside is that it's that much easier to catch up. IT Crowd is a hilarious comedy about a tech support team at a faceless corporation, but you don't have to be a tech geek to enjoy it. Trivia: NBC created an American version in 2007 starring Joel McHale, but it never aired. For fans of: The Office, Better Off Ted, Parks and Recreation, making fun of your job.

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Doctor Who Doctor Who is kind of everywhere these days. The long-running BBC sci-fi series died out in the 1980s before coming back with a TV-movie in 1996 and a revived series in 2005. The scope of the show's history can be daunting, but there's no need to go back to the 1960s stuff to start. Kick things off with the Christopher Eccleston episodes from 2005 and go from there. For fans of: Battlestar Galactica, smart sci-fi, Wil Wheaton's blog.


A Bit of Fry and Laurie It's a damn shame that many Americans will only ever know Hugh Laurie as Dr. House and Stephen Fry from a few episodes of Bones. Fry and Laurie are flat-out brilliant comedians, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie is some of the best sketch TV you'll ever see. It ran a light 26 episodes over four seasons between 1989 and 1995, but it's all online. Witty social commentary, awesome sketches and the sheer joy of watching Fry and Laurie be funnier than you knew humans could be. For fans of: Monty Python, The Kids in the Hall, happiness.


MI-5 Originally titled Spooks but airing as MI-5 in the U.S., this drama follows agents working at MI5, the U.K.'s counterintelligence agency (perplexingly, the show is hyphenated while the real agency is not). The show debuted in 2002 and is still going, with 80 episodes released so far. It's a high-energy, wonderfully layered drama that's picked up tons of fans and won a number of awards. For fans of: Alias, The West Wing, brains over brawn.

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