With autumn trickling in and bringing with it dark and cosy nights in front of the TV with blankets, hot water bottles, copious cups of tea and delicious decadent biscuits, we thought we’d round up our favourite ever crime dramas.
They’re gritty, they’re unpredictable, and they’re addictive enough that hey look it’s suddenly 11.57pm and wow OK you’re going to need a lot of coffee to get you through tomorrow’s working day.
We hope you enjoy them as much as us and that they satisfy your thirst for all things dark and twisted.
For me, Broadchurch was the obsessive crime drama that started a decade-long dedication to finding the next one that would live up to its ridiculously high standards. Starring the ever-wonderful detective duo Olivia Colman and David Tennant, this BBC series is set in the fictional Dorset town of Broadchurch and investigates the death of a local kid. It’s the way the writers manage to make you suspect every single character that makes it just as bloody excellent as it is.
Episodes? Eight hour-long episodes per series with three series to date (the first is easily the best IMO).
Mare Of Easttown
One of the best things we watched in 2021 was Mare of Easttown. Brilliant for the gripping storyline about one missing young woman and the body of another, but just as brilliant for Kate Winslet’s role as Mare, a small-town American detective with a hell of a lot of baggage. In fact, she’s so good in her role that she recently bagged a Golden Globe. A dark but addictive show with twists you’ll never see coming.
Where? NOW TV or Sky.
Episodes? There’s just one season for now with seven hour-long episodes.
There’s currently four seasons in this Netflix crime drama (which, just FYI is produced by Jessica Biel). They’re all good in their own right, but the first one is outrageously good. It starts with a quiet sunny day on a lakeside beach somewhere in the States. There’s families everywhere enjoying the good weather and some time together, and then a young woman (played by Biel) gets up from playing with her son and stabs a man to death. Intrigued? Hunt it out on Netflix tonight.
Episodes? Three seasons, each with eight episodes.
There are currently two seasons of The Missing and both focus on fictional stories of British children who go missing abroad – the first whilst on holiday in France, and the second whilst stationed with their family at an army base in Germany. Whilst the plot lines are clever and WTF it’s the character Julien Baptiste who’ll keep you coming back for more – he’s so great he even got his own spin-off show named ‘Baptiste’ which is also available online.
Where? BBC iPlayer
Episodes? Two seasons both with eight hour-long episodes.
Line Of Duty
Probably the most talked about British crime drama of all time, and for very good reason. This London based series focuses in on the AC-12 unit who investigate corruption within the police force (which is what makes it a little different to other similar shows out there). It’s dramatic, it’s won a shit ton of television awards, and there’s plenty of seasons available if you’re looking for something with lots of episodes to sink your teeth into.
Where? BBC iPlayer
Episodes? There’s six hour-long episodes in each season, with five currently available and a sixth due in 2021.
One of the BBC’s most recent gripping crime dramas is Vigil, which takes the unusual twist of being set on board a submarine off the coast of Scotland (it’s named HMS Vigil to give the name some context). A member of the navy is discovered dead on board and a detective is sent on board to investigate. It has one of those casts where you’re pretty sure you’ve seen everyone in something before and will find yourself frantically Googling their names.
Episodes? Six hour-long episodes.
This clever crime drama is named after the Channel Tunnel, as the first episode investigates the discovery of a body at the exact point where the British and France borders meet. The series is filmed between England and France, and there are subtitles in places but they’re not at all tricky to get to grips with. The chemistry between the cast (Stephen Dillane and Clemence Poesy – of Harry Potter fame) is an added bonus that just makes it really, really work.
Where? Sky Atlantic
Episodes? Three seasons with 6-8 episodes, all 45-minutes long.
This Irish-British series is set in Northern Ireland and stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan (who plays a serial killer and trust me when I say, it’s odd to find yourself fancying a man who slaughters women but hey life’s full of surprises). Admittedly this is one of those dramas where I found myself caring less and less by the final season, but the first one or two were bloody great and I’d easily watch them again if I could. Would recommend for sure.
Where? BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
Episodes? There’s three seasons of hour-long episodes, each with five/six episodes.
Things to note: you will fall in love with Idris Elba, you won’t be able to get on a night bus again (or sleep alone in your house), and you will be completely and utterly gripped – at least for the first few seasons. This London-based crime drama is fast-paced, addictive and full of shock twists that make you momentarily forget to breathe.
Where? BBC iPlayer.
Episodes? Five seasons, all with between four and six hour-long episodes.
It took me a couple of episodes to fully become not-going-to-sleep-must-watch-more invested in this, but once you’re in, it’s all you can think about. It’s set in West Yorkshire, features a damn bloody brilliant female lead (played by Sarah Lancashire) and has a weirdly homely, comforting feel to it – y’know, alongside the gritty crime, violence and murder.
Episodes? There’s two seasons each with six hour-long episodes.
And if you’ve already watched all of our faves, here are some other dramas worth a very honorable mention: The Killing (there’s a Danish version and an American adaption, both are v good), Unforgotten, The Woods (Netflix – a Polish series with subtitles) and Quicksand (Netflix – the plot focuses on a Swedish school shooting) and Showtrial (a brill 2021 BBC drama).