When my eyes are too tired to read another word on the page–or a screen–there is nothing I love more than watching a killer or a copper with a British (or Irish or Welsh) accent. Don’t get me wrong, I love British and Irish crime drama on the page too. I love Tana French like mad. Some recent favorites are EENY MEENY by M.J. Arlidge and IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware. And I can’t wait to tear into THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton.
But there’s nothing like hearing the accent and seeing the different world of their police, the DIs and the DCIs. Some of them are adapted for the US but they’re never quite the same. So where do you start?
You’ve seen the US remake and weren’t so keen? Trust me, watch the original.
-Broadchurch (Gracepoint in the US): Scottish DI (Detective Inspector) Alex Hardy (David Tennant) transfers to a seaside community and must solve the murder of a local child. The female DS (Det. Sergeant) whose promotion he “stole” isn’t so thrilled to help him.
-Prime Suspect: Less a series and more a set of movies created over 14 years, it spans the career of Jane Tennison, a prickly, hard-living, brilliant copper played by Helen Mirren.
-Life on Mars: A Manchester cop is knocked unconscious in 2006 and wakes up in 1973. Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey‘s Anna) has a small role that connects the cop’s past and present.
You read the book:
-Sherlock: It’s Sherlock Holmes in modern-day London, with Benedict Cumberbatch. Need I say more?
-Case Histories: PI Jackson Brodie, a former cop. Based on the Kate Atkinson books. Stars Jason Isaacs of Showtimes’s Brotherhood and the Harry Potter movies (he’s Lucius Malfoy).
-Place of Execution: Based on Val McDermid’s novel, stars Juliet Stevenson as a documentary filmmaker trying to solve the 40+ year old mystery of a 13 year old girl’s disappearance.
You loved the star in something else:
-Luther: Idris Elba, aka The Wire‘s Stringer Bell, stars as troubled DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) John Luther. Bonus: Ruth Wilson, from The Affair on Showtime, is incredible as Alice Morgan, whose intersections with Luther are full of surprises.
-The Fall: The X-Files‘ Dana Scully, Gillian Anderson, is DS (Detective Superintendent) Stella Gibson. She is tough as hell and is tracking a serial killer played by 50 Shades of Grey‘s Jamie Dornan. Which means I can never see him as a sex object. Sorry, not sorry.
-The Escape Artist: David Tennant again. What? He’s magnificent. He’s in Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, Broadchurch, etc. This time, he’s a barrister whose courtroom skills backfire on him when a former client comes after him and his family.
-New Street Law: Sliding Doors‘ John Hannah stars in a series about two rival barrister firms in Manchester.
-Amnesia: John Hannah is DS Mack Stone. Stone is searching for his wife, who disappeared on their 5th anniversary, and also trying to prove that an amnesiac is not who he says he is, but is actually a “black widower”. Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey‘s Mr. Bates) is Stone’s partner and has his own agenda.
-Appropriate Adult: Social worker Janet Leach (Emily Watson) is the appropriate adult called to sit in on the interrogation of “simple-minded” accused killer Dominic West (The Wire‘s Jimmy McNulty, The Affair‘s Noah, and more).
-Good Cop: Warren Brown, of Luther, loses his moral compass.
Something different–and brilliant:
-River: Stellan Skarsgard is a genius police inspector haunted by the murder victims whose cases he solves.
-Happy Valley: Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is the sergeant on duty when a nervous accountant comes in to report a crime. She’s raising the son of her deceased daughter with help from her sister, played by Siobhan Finneran (Downton‘s O’Brien). James Norton (Grantchester and War and Peace) plays a pivotal role.
-Above Suspicion stars Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds. She plays DC (Detective Constable) Anna Travis who joins Hinds’ team on the hunt for a serial killer, and sets out to prove herself when the latest victim doesn’t fit the profile.
-Hinterland: Set in Wales, it’s a noir drama following a DCI trying to find redemption. It was filmed in Welsh and English.
-Single-Handed: Jack Driscoll is transferred from Dublin back to his birthplace in the remote west of Ireland as Garda Sergeant, the role recently vacated by his father, Gerry.
All are available for streaming, either on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Or at least they were when I watched. Happy viewing! If this inspires your writing, send me a query.