Quite understandably, column inches can’t fill up quickly enough with praise for the likes of Netflix original series House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul and Marvel’s Daredevil. What though, about some of the lesser-known series available on the UK streaming site?
Sweeping past the well-publicised riches of Doctor Who, Sherlock, Arrested Development, Community and the like, we’ve ventured into the slightly dustier shelf of TV shows available on Netflix UK that may be lesser-known or less widely celebrated than the big hitters out there, but are still richly deserving of your time. Some are new, some are old, some were cancelled long ago, some are ongoing, several are from outside the UK and US.
From supernatural, sci-fi, fantasy and detective dramas to a clutch of brilliantly wierd comedies and animes, here are a bundle of shows currently available to stream on the UK version of Netflix. We’ll keep this updated as things appear and disappear, to make sure you’re never left without something new to try out of an evening in front of the telly…
We’ve explained in more depth here, here and here why this Netflix original adult animation is well worth your time. To sum up, all we can say is that over three seasons, this cartoon about a horse has developed into one of the most insightful, honest and emotionally brutal shows on television. It’s also very funny.
Featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Aaron Taylor, Amy Sedaris and many more, BoJack Horseman is sharp, absurd satire with a surprising emotional kick. Give it a few episodes and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
What’s the time commitment? 16-ish hours for the three series, plus another 25 minutes for the Christmas Special.
A cop from the future fights criminals from the future, but in the present day. That’s the Terminator-ish elevator pitch for Canadian sci-fi series Continuum, starring Rachel Nichols. The cast is good, the action’s good, and it follows in the fine sci-fi tradition of deeply mistrusting big, powerful corporations. All four seasons of Continuum are currently available to stream on Netflix UK.
What’s the time commitment? Around 30 hours.
Remember when World War II happened in the 1960s and a crack team of international spies with Australian accents thwarted Adolf Hitler’s plans to fund the Nazis using money from his chain of casinos? Danger 5 does, and that’s exactly the story it tells in its own, er, inimitable way. One for fans of Archer, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Team America: World Police and er, a really whacked out version of Top Secret feat. talking eagles, perhaps?
Both series of this Australian sitcom are available on Netflix UK.
What’s the time commitment? 5 hours 25 minutes
A Canadian horror series adapted from Japanese show Tori Hada, Darknet is an anthology series so far comprising just six half-hour episodes. Each episode is composed of several interlinked stories, all connected via the show’s titular website. If you enjoyed the varied format of 2012 horror compilation V/H/S, then this is worth checking out.
What’s the time commitment? A mere 3 hours.
Friday Night Lights
Arriving on Netflix UK along with the 2004 film of the same name, all five seasons of Peter Berg’s exemplary drama series Friday Night Lights are well worth your time. You’ll have noticed from the image above that a certain ballgame is the kernel of the series, which follows the ups and downs of a Texan high school American football team, but you certainly don’t have to be a sports fan to love Friday Night Lights, as we’ve gone into more detail about here.
The cast should be enough alone to recommend it to newcomers, including as it does great turns from Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, along with young stars Adrianne Palicki, Taylor Kitsch, Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan and many more. Say it with us, “Clear eyes, full hearts…”
What’s the time commitment? A satisfying 57 hours.
Him & Her
One of the best sitcoms to come out of the UK in recent years is Stefan Golaszewski’s relationship comedy Him & Her. This understated, brilliantly conceived series about the unambitious but happy Becky and Steve (Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey) contains its action largely within one, very messy room of a bedsit. Becky and Steve’s solo scenes are great, but it’s when the outside world in the form of upstairs neighbour Dan (Joe Wilkinson), and Becky’s sister Laura and her cohort invades that things really come to life. Kerry Howard, who plays the odious Laura, is pure brilliance.
All four series including two specials and the fourth and final run, the tremendous and excruciating The Wedding are available on the streaming service. Seriously good stuff.
What’s the time commitment? Around 12 hours
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
We’ve expounded upon why comedy fans should make time to welcome Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie and Frank into their lives here (our reasons were sevenfold) but the TL;DR version is simply this: it’s really, really funny.
This Rob McElhenny, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day-created sitcom is about a group of despicable people doing and saying awful things over a satisfyingly large number of episodes (there are eleven seasons and 124 episodes on UK Netflix at the time of writing). Call it the anti-Cheers, call it Friends if the central perk gang all suffered from serious head injuries, call it Seinfeld on crack… call it whatever you want to, just start watching.
What’s the time commitment? 54 hours or thereabouts, but you can just skip to the Top 25 if you prefer.
Best known now for its premature cancellation in 2006 and brief return from the dead thanks to a nuts-based fan campaign, post-apocalyptic drama Jericho had moments of eerie greatness amidst all the action adventure. Set in a small Kansas town cut off from the rest of the country after a nuclear disaster, the show offers a surprisingly thoughtful look at a community attempting to rebuild.
Yes, it’s far from perfect, but there’s enough in this Skeet Ulrich-led series to make it worth a watch. All twenty-two episodes from both seasons are currently on Netflix UK, and if you become a fan of those, you can follow the story in comic book continuation.
What’s the time commitment? 14 hours 40 minutes
Kill La Kill
A plucky vagrant girl who teams up with a sentient sailor uniform to triumph over evil? Who needs any more convincing that bold, violent, ideas-packed anime Kill La Kill is worth your time? Oh, you do. Well read a bit more about it here, then. The whole twenty-four episode first season of Kill La Kill is currently available to stream.
What’s the time commitment? 10 hours
Knights Of Sidonia
This anime adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei’s manga series arrived to rave reviews in 2014 (some even heralding it as the saviour of Japanese anime – er, no pressure then). It’s a future-set story bursting with sci-fi and fantasy ideas from giant alien shapeshifters to genetically engineered humans, colony spaceships, mechanised weapons, immortality and more. A hard sci-fi space adventure with much to recommend it then, including the fact that all 24 episodes from two series are available to watch now.
What’s the time commitment? 20 hours
The Sopranos fans would recognise that moue anywhere. It belongs, of course, to Silvio Dante, known in real life as actor/writer Steven Van Zandt and in his Norway-set ‘gangster on the lam’ comedy drama as Frank Tagliano, a bad man out to take his new remote Norwegian hometown, Lillehammer, for it’s got. All three existing eight-episode seasons of this Netflix co-production are available to stream.
Here’s why we think the show deserved to be renewed for a fourth season, even if Netflix, er, didn’t agree.
What’s the time commitment? 18 hours
Line Of Duty
Simply put, Jed Mercurio’s Line Of Duty is the best crime drama to come out of the UK in recent years. The first series, starring Lennie James (who can currently be seen as a new regular on The Walking Dead), was so good that when talk of a second run arrived, the general response was to doubt whether lightning could strike in the same place twice, and predicted a diluted disappointment. When it came to it, series two starring Keeley Hawes, was every bit as tense, gripping and surprising as the first. Police corruption has never been this captivating.
The first two series are available on Netflix UK, which is the perfect preparation for the excellent series three, which aired on the BBC in spring 2016.
What’s the time commitment? 11 suspense-filled hours.
All four seasons of Orphan Black are currently on Netflix UK, so you’ve no excuse for not getting started with this twisting, turning sci-fi action series brimming with ideas. Once you’ve got over the British accents in the first episode, you’ll be captivated by a genuinely unprecedented performance by lead Tatiana Maslany. We’ll say no more about it here to save spoilers, but suffice to say that girl’s got range.
Here’s a little more on why it’s worth a go if you’ve yet to have the pleasure.
What’s the time commitment? 30 hours
When Parade’s End originally aired on the BBC in 2012, Benedict Cumberbatch took pains to explain how much his character, plummy Edwardian Christoper Tietjens, “the last Tory”, differed from his incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Tietjens may get more lady action than Sherlock, but both share a sharp intelligence, an even sharper tongue, and are so unimprovably English they probably bleed Earl Grey tea.
Forget the limp comparisons to Downton Abbey though, Parade’s End is a different thing altogether. It’s historical drama of a refined sort; clever, well-adapted from Ford Madox Ford’s original series of novels (by Tom Stoppard no less), and boasting a first-rate cast from Cumberbatch to Rebecca Hall, Stephen Graham, Anne-Marie Duff, and more.
What’s the time commitment? 4 hours 40 minutes. (Netflix has edited the original five-part series into three feature-length episodes.)
Person Of Interest
We explained in detail here why CBS’ Person Of Interest is well deserving of your time, and the short version is this: it may start out feeling like any other crime procedural, but that’s sure as hell not how it develops, or where it ends up. Trust us, this one merits some investment, especially for sci-fi fans.
Synopsis-wise, it’s about a former CIA agent with information about the future victims and perpetrators of violent crimes, and what he does about it. There are shades of Fringe, Quantum Leap, and a host of other great shows woven in here. There’s also a great cast led by Jim Caviezel, with support from Michael Emerson, Amy Acker, and more.
Only seasons one to four are currently available on Netflix UK. The long wait for the show’s fifth and final season will be a tough one, we can promise you that.
What’s the time commitment? Just over 62 hours for seasons one to four.
Netflix has its own US remake of this French original currently appearing week-by-week on the streaming service, but seriously, skip that and go straight to the source. When did subtitles ever hurt anybody?
The Returned doesn’t only look beautiful, it’s also a grippingly told tale of death, grief, sex, philosophy and you know, all that stuff the French are so good at. It’s gorgeously shot, cleverly written and well-acted. If quality supernatural drama is your thing, then look no further, this is genuinely excellent.
What’s the time commitment? Seasons one and two combined clock in at 4 hours 40 minutes.
The Secret Of Crickley Hall
Netflix has bundled this mini-series up into two ninety-minute episodes, instead of the three sixty-minute instalments that originally aired on the BBC, but we can’t imagine that’s harmed it any.
A classic haunted house story that flits between time periods, The Secret Of Crickley Hall tells the story of the Caleigh family, who slowly uncover the story of what went on decades earlier in their country pile. It’s also a tale of loss, grief, and family perseverance.
On the whole, it’s a solid adaptation of James Herbert’s novel, and a great way to spend a chilly winter evening or two. It’s gripping, spooky, and best of all, boasts a great cast. Suranne Jones is joined by Tom Ellis, Donald Sumpter and the terrifically talented Maisie Williams, of Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who.
What’s the time commitment? A mere 3 hours.
Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s semi-fictionalised series, The Trip, is the a tragicomic look at male friendship, fame and mid-life crisis, and a deeply funny one at that. Edited into a feature film for the festival circuit, Netflix UK has both six-episode series here, showing Coogan and Brydon on a culinary tour of England’s finest restaurants, and competing to pull off the best celebrity impersonations.
Series two takes the pair to Italy, and hits the same emotional and comedic heights as the first.
What’s the time commitment? 6 hours for both series.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
Series one to three of this excellent BBC stand-up comedy series are currently available on UK Netflix. It’s a simple-enough set-up: Stewart Lee, one of the UK’s best stand-ups and occasional journalists, is clever and funny on stage for half an hour at a time, interspersed by backstage interludes with Chris Morris, one of the UK’s other funniest, cleverest comedians.
What’s the time commitment? 9 hours.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s Netflix sitcom is a weird, sharp, hugely enjoyably and very funny treat. It stars The Office: An American Workplace’s Ellie Kemper as the titular Kimmy, a young woman who recently escaped from a fifteen-year underground imprisonment at the hands of a deranged ‘Reverend’. Kemper is joined by a host of familiar faces from 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and elsewhere in the series (we won’t give away the fun surprises). It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story with more to recommend it than we’ve time to list here. Just watch it, you’ll have fun.
What’s the time commitment? 10 hours 45 minutes for the first two series.
Top Of The Lake
Jane Campion and Gerard Lee’s six-part crime mystery series Top Of The Lake, starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss and the brilliant Peter Mullan creates something genuinely unique out of sensational plots and genre staples. This unusual, mesmerising drama tells the story of Robin (Moss) a city detective who gets dragged into a complex local tangle when a pregnant twelve year old is discovered trying to drown herself in a local lake. A satisfying, rich and surprising mystery series set against an eerily beautiful New Zealand backdrop, Top Of The Lake is due to return to BBC Two for a second series.
What’s the time commitment? 6 hours
Trailer Park Boys
A Canadian mockumentary black comedy about Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, the petty criminal residents of, you guessed it, a trailer park, Mike Clattenburg’s long-running sitcom has inspired a loyal following and won international recognition. Watch these guys enact an unending string of get-rich-quick schemes on the wrong side of the law and see what all the fuss is about.
What’s the time commitment? Hours and hours. There are ten seasons on there now as well as a whole heap of specials and films. You won’t run out in a hurry.
It’s worth watching these Swedish adaptations of the Henning Mankell Wallander novels if only to be able to annoy people by saying “Yeah, but have you seen the Scandinavian ones? They’re so much better”. The truth is, the BBC Kenneth Branagh are every bit as good, but for crime drama completists with a Scandi-police series gap to fill, these ninety-minute films, available here in two thirteen-episode series, are definitely worth a look.
What’s the time commitment? a whopping 39 hours.
Sci-fi drama The 4400 attracted a loyal following during its tenure on CBS, culminating in an unsuccessful fan campaign to try to save it from cancellation after its fourth season. It’s a high concept drama about a diverse group of people who disappeared from their ordinary lives at some point in the previous sixty years, being returned to Earth in a single moment with no memory of where they’ve been or what’s happened to them. The show tracks the group’s attempts at reintegration into human life, and the strange goings-on surrounding their return.
A pleasingly fitting forty-four episodes of this sci-fi mystery in total were produced over four seasons, all of which are currently available to stream.
What’s the time commitment? 33 hours