The best British crime dramas streaming now

As Line of Duty returns, we look at the best British crime dramas on streaming platforms here in the UK

Saturday, 20 March, 2021

This weekend sees the eagerly-awaited sixth season of Line of Duty starting on BBC1.

In an age when streaming platforms command ever-greater audiences, this police drama represents an increasingly rare example of must-see terrestrial TV.

The season five finale was the most-watched TV programme of 2019, attracting a live audience of 9.6 million people, and this series is likely to be equally engrossing.

We love a good police drama in this country, with historic shows like The Sweeney and The Bill inspiring more modern fare such as Life on Mars and Luther.

But where should you look to find the best British crime dramas? Are BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub your best bet, or should you venture onto streaming platforms like BritBox and Netflix?

Below, we consider where to watch some of the best British crime dramas ever broadcast…

Line of Duty seasons 1-5. Available on BBC iPlayer and Netflix for free, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play as paid episodes/series

If AC12’s adrenaline-fuelled activities have passed you by thus far, it’s essential to watch the earlier series of this compelling crime drama before plunging into season six.

Key sub-plots have extended throughout each prior season, complemented by a brooding Belfast backdrop and a propensity for key characters to meet surprisingly early ends.

The Fall. Available on BBC iPlayer and Netflix for free, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play as paid episodes/series

Another series revelling in its Belfast setting is The Fall, which provided an unusually detailed insight into the cat-and-mouse game between criminals and police.

Claustrophobic and hard to watch at times, it squeezed career-defining performances out of Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan over three relatively brief series.

Happy Valley. Available on BritBox for free, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play as paid episodes/series

The gradual transfer of British television content to BritBox has seen Happy Valley disappear from other platforms, though it remains one of the best British crime dramas ever made.

Despite its name, this is an unremittingly bleak portrayal of trauma and criminality, anchored by a captivating performance from Sarah Lancashire.

Broadchurch. Available on BritBox for free, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play as paid episodes/series

Another recent defection to BritBox from the ITV Hub, Broadchurch is arguably even bleaker than Happy Valley, though no less compellingly watchable.

A single event resonates across three seasons of a West Country drama that draws the best out of a stellar cast including David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker.

Save Me/Save Me Too. Available on Sky and Amazon Prime Video for free, and on Google Play as paid episodes/series

Having starred in the first season of Line of Duty, Lennie James went on to write and star in Sky’s remarkable tale about the intertwining lives of residents in a London tower block.

Nothing about Save Me is conventional, from the often bizarre snapshots of inner city life to Adrian Edmondson playing a paedophile. Yet almost every scene is compelling viewing.

Silent Witness. Available on Available on BBC iPlayer for free, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play as paid episodes/series

Taking a more scientific approach to crime drama, Silent Witness’s focus on pathology is underpinned by its creator’s former career as a murder squad detective.

It’s a testament to the show’s popularity that over 200 episodes have been made in the last 25 years, broadcast in over 235 territories while attracting audiences of nine million in the UK.

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Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!