Does it seem like a lot of the best television shows come from the United Kingdom? It shouldn’t be too surprising. Long before the streaming age of Peak TV, British shows were propping up PBS stations all over the United States. Even broadcast networks couldn’t resist adapting British sitcoms and dramas into more Americanized incarnations. But the beautiful thing about having a streaming service like Hulu is that you can cut out the middleman. Why settle for a watered-down version of The Office when you can watch the British original? And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. To get you started on your U.K. television journey, check out our list of the best British shows on Hulu.
Didn’t find what you were looking for on Hulu? Still hoping to find entertainment from across the pond? Try the best British shows streaming on Netflix.
While in the States, Idris Elba may be best known for being Thor’s sidekick Heimdall, but in the U.K., he’s better known as John Luther, a volatile and unconventional detective who — among other things — can confidently put “goes to murderers for counsel” and “covering up crimes” on his resume. Intensely brilliant but at times cripplingly passionate, Luther is easily one of the most magnetic and fascinating detectives on TV in any nation.
Created by: Neil Cross
Cast: Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Dermot Crowley
Number of seasons: 5
What would young offenders do with superpowers? One possible answer can be found in the British sci-fi dramedy Misfits. In the middle of doing community service, five delinquents — including Umbrella Academy‘s Robert Sheehan and Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones — encounter a bizarre electrical storm. After lightning strikes that should leave them dead, they instead find they’ve been given superhuman abilities that match their personalities or situations. For example, the regretful Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), desperate to make up for past mistakes, can manipulate the flow of time. Meanwhile, Simon (Rheon), who feels unseen, can soon literally become invisible. Misfits offers a perfect blend of drama and comedy while exploring how superpowers could truly change someone’s life.
Created by: Howard Overman
Cast: Karla Crome, Joseph Gilgun, Natasha O’Keeffe
Number of seasons: 5
Author Rae Earl kept a diary chronicling her mental health issues as well as the harrowing experience of being a teenage girl bigger than many other teenage girls. Those diaries were published in 2007 and later used to create the powerful teenage dramedy My Mad Fat Diary. Sharon Rooney plays the author right after a four-month stint at a psychiatric hospital as she tries to rebuild her life while at the same time desperate to hide what’s been going on. My Mad Fat Diary offers a touching portrayal that feels real while still making you laugh.
Created by: Tom Bidwell, Rae Earl
Cast: Sharon Rooney, Claire Rushbrook, Ian Hart
Number of seasons: 3
There’s no shortage of adaptations of Jane Austen’s 19th-century novel Pride and Prejudice, but this mini-series released in the mid-’90s set a standard to which every subsequent treatment strives to meet. Jennifer Ehle stars as Austen’s tenacious protagonist Lizzy while Colin Firth fills the shoes of her love interest, Mr. Darcy, a man who women tend to swoon over until he opens his mouth. If you haven’t seen this Pride and Prejudice, it’s time to correct that (then you can watch the one with the zombies).
Created by: Andrew Davies
Cast: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Crispin Bonham-Carter
Number of seasons: 1
Prime Suspect is a must for any fan of the detective genre, as it follows the activities of Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, a gripping and deeply-flawed character. Uncompromising in her detective pursuits and unable to maintain any kind of relationship, Tennison’s talent for solving crimes never shrinks, even as her dependence on alcohol grows every year. Helen Mirren portrayed the uncompromising detective between 1991 and 2006, and the show is almost universally praised by critics. Do yourself a favor and get caught up in the mystery of Prime Suspect.
Created by: Lynda La Plante
Cast: Helen Mirren, John Benfield, Tom Bell
Number of seasons: 7
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of creators to get, well … creative. A perfect example of using the unique challenges the pandemic provided is Staged starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen as fictionalized versions of themselves and filmed almost exclusively via videoconferencing. Using the kind of self-effacing celebrity humor that put plenty of pounds in Ricky Gervais’ bank, Tennant and Sheen play somewhat pettier versions of themselves as they try to navigate lockdown while rehearsing an upcoming stage performance. Along with hilarious bickerings regarding who is and isn’t Doctor Who, we get to see Dame Judi Dench pay a visit to humble their inflated egos.
Created by: Simon Evans, Phin Glynn
Cast: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Georgia Tennant
Number of seasons: 2
It’s impossible to escape comparisons between the U.S. version of The Office and the British sitcom that was its inspiration, and any fan of the former owes it to themselves to give the latter a watch. Instead of Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott, Ricky Gervais invented the role of David Brent, a manager even more inappropriate and inept than his stateside echo, while Mackenzie Crook plays his righthand man Gareth who is obsessed with the authority he doesn’t really have. While the American answer to The Office quickly changed course from the original in order to make characters like Michael Scott and Dwight more likable, the original keeps the laughter while not shying away from the utter jerks Brent and Gareth prove to be.
Created by: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook
Number of seasons: 3
How do you survive a zombie apocalypse? By following Gilligan’s example (at least before the crash). That’s the idea our heroes get in Zomboat!, a hilarious series in which two women and two men decide the only way to escape the end of the world is to take a canal boat that barely moves faster than the hungry zombies on land. Surprisingly upbeat, scary, and as funny as the apocalypse could possibly be, Zomboat! is mandatory viewing for any zombie fan or any comedy fan who doesn’t mind their humor when it gets a little bloody.
Created by: William Hartley, Adam Miller
Cast: Leah Brotherhead, Hamza Jeetooa, Ryan McKen
Number of seasons: 1
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