15 best British TV crime dramas of all time (so far)

From left: Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure from Line of Duty. Photo Credit: Des Willie/Courtesy of Acorn TV.
From left: Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure from Line of Duty. Photo Credit: Des Willie/Courtesy of Acorn TV. /
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NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 02: Actor Idris Elba speaks on stage after BBC America’s ‘Luther’ screening at The Django at the Roxy Hotel on December 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) /

8. Luther

Number of seasons: 5 seasons (there are talks of a movie)

Created by: Neil Cross

Starring: Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma, Paul McGann, Saskia Reeves, and Warren Brown

What it’s about: I’m not 100% sure Luther needs an introduction, but for those who have somehow missed this masterpiece, it’s a series that follows DCI John Luther, played by the one and only Idris Elba. He works for the Serious Crime Unit in the first season, which does develop later. The series is all about those dark and traumatic crimes, which could have made this series too gory to watch but it’s created well.

Why it’s the best Can I just say Idris Elba? Do you need another reason?

Luther wasn’t afraid to get dark and gritty. At the same time, it remained entertaining and relatively easy to watch for this type of British TV crime dramas.

While there are various pieces of evidence and different murders, the series remains a cat and mouse game between Luther and psychopath Alice Morgan. We go on a personal journey as Luther does everything he can and sacrifices all to make sure she’s locked away. Will he manage to succeed? The personal element and this cat and mouse game is the thing that constantly kept us on our toes.

7. Happy Valley

Number of seasons: 2 seasons

Created by: Sally Wainwright

Starring: Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton, Siobhan Finneran, George Costigan, Joe Armstrong, and James Norton

What it’s about: Set in Calder Valley, West Yorkshire in England, the series follows police sergeant Catherine Cawood. Still coming to terms with her teenage daughter’s suicide eight years earlier, she tries to focus on her work as well as helping her sister, Clare. Clare is a recovering alcohol and drug addict who has a son, Ryan, who was the product of rape. It’s a very personal drama that is certainly worth the watch.

Why it’s the best The personal elements are what make this series stand out so much. Happy Valley is anything but happy, as we focus on a story that sees Catherine often have to choose between family members, while dealing with her own grief.

On top of that, we have a kidnapping case to solve in the first season. The second season sees Catherine implicated in a string of murders, so she has to try to exonerate herself. If you want deep and well written with a strong focus on females in front and behind the camera, this is the series for you.