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3 great British TV crime shows you need to watch this January

Two people pose in a forest in Dublin Murders.

Once Christmas is over, it’s over; most people don’t want to hear another Christmas carol or see tinsel again for at least 11 months, and possibly more. And certainly, very few are in the mood to watch It’s a Wonderful Life‘s George Bailey walk through Bedford Falls again or see Home Alone‘s Kevin McCallister act all cute while violently defending his parents’ Chicago mansion.

To that end, Digital Trends has fashioned a handy list of three shows all set in or produced in Great Britain and all focusing on the most un-Christmas genre of them all: crime. The following selections include a criminally (pardon the pun) underrated Irish series made by the BBC, a limited Netflix series starring Maestro‘s Carey Mulligan, and one of the finest modern dramas ever made.

Need more recommendations? Check out the best British shows on Netflix and the best British shows on Hulu.

Happy Valley (2014-2023)

Happy Valley | Series 3 Trailer - BBC

You may not know this, but Happy Valley is one of the most acclaimed TV shows ever. The British series, which debuted in 2014 and ran its third and final season last year, has won a slew of awards, including BAFTAs for Best Drama Series for its first two seasons. The show centers on Catherine Cawood, a dedicated police sergeant who patrols the drug-ridden “happy valley” of West Yorkshire, England. Catherine’s good at her job, but not much else; she’s divorced, has a temper, still hasn’t gotten over the death of her daughter, and is struggling to raise her grandson.

She’s also one of the best characters ever created for British television, and that largely due to Sarah Lancashire, the actress who breathes life into the stale “tough policewoman” archetype and gives vivid dimension to the deeply flawed Catherine. Whether she’s investigating the kidnapping of a wealthy businessman (season 1), looking into a human trafficking ring in her own backyard (season 2), or uncovering a secret drug operation involving a pharmacist and her grandson’s PE teacher, Lancashire’s Catherine is always worth watching, even if some of things she says and does makes you want to look away.

Happy Valley is streaming on AMC+.

Dublin Murders (2019-)

A man and a woman look at each other in Dublin Murders.

It’s not wrong to think of the male and female protagonists of Dublin Murders, Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox, as a non-sci-fi version of The X-Files‘ Mulder and Scully. They’re attractive, have great chemistry together, and need one another to solve an increasingly bizarre series of crimes that unfold in, you guessed it, Dublin. Instead of aliens and supernatural shenanigans, though, Rob and Cassie have to battle something more scary: their own personal demons.

Dublin Murders only ran for one season in 2019, but the show is actually based on two books: Tana French’s In The Woods, about a past disappearance of two children and how it is connected to a present kidnapping of a little girl, and French’s The Likeness, which has Cassie investigate the murder of a woman who looks exactly like her. It’s a 2-for-1 kind of deal: two separate mysteries in one slick package. Dublin Murders has a great sense of time and place (it makes you want to ditch wherever you’re living and immigrate to Ireland), but it’s ultimately the two leads that make the series a standout. They’re electric, and a second season can’t come soon enough.

Dublin Murders is streaming on Starz and cane be streamed for free on The Roku Channel.

Collateral (2018)

A woman crosses her arms in Collateral.

No, this isn’t the 2004 Tom Cruise movie, nor does it have anything to do with that excellent Michael Mann film. This Collateral is a 2018 four-episode limited series about the murder of a pizza delivery man and a gradually expanding web of corruption, crime, and death that involves politicians, priests, and the police.

Maestro‘s Carey Mulligan stars as Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie, who is investigating the murder, which is linked to an illegal immigration operation that touches England and other countries. With a cast that includes Doctor Who companion Billie Piper, Nicola Walker, Ben Miles, and John Simm, Collateral is the quintessential British crime show: intelligent, suspenseful, and always arresting. It also features one of Mulligan’s best performances, and is more timely in 2024 than it was when it first aired six years ago.

Collateral is streaming on Netflix.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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