British television shows have gone global over the last decade.
Shows like "Fleabag," "The Crown," and "The Great British Baking Show" have been worldwide hits.
Here are 22 of the best British TV shows of the last decade.
British TV is currently enjoying a great run of success.
For much of the last decade, a great deal of the best television has come from the other side of the Atlantic. And while traditionally the UK has been synonymous with stale period dramas, a new generation of innovators, many of whom have notably migrated from the theater to the small screen, have brought new life to British television.
There is now a range of productions spanning all manner of genres. And thanks to the proliferation of streaming, many of these shows are available to audiences around the world.
So, keep on reading below to see 22 of the best British TV shows of the last decade.
— Zac Ntim contributed to an earlier version of this article.
"The Great British Baking Show"
The UK is known for producing some of the most innovative game shows in the world, and "The Great British Baking Show" — or "The Great British Bake Off" — is perhaps the biggest British hit of the last decade.
The show is a high-stakes competition between a group of amateur bakers who gather each week to complete a series of baking tasks — all under a strict theme. Later, they present their goods to a panel of expert judges, who pick their favorite cakes, biscuits, and pastries.
Each week, the worst baker is sent home until the final where Britain's best amateur baker is crowned.
"I May Destroy You"
Michael Coel's inventive and fearless limited series "I May Destroy You" follows Arabella, (played by Coel who also writes and co-directs), a young writer who is in the process of completing her first book when she is sexually assaulted by a stranger during a night out. The show follows her as she tries to rebuild her life and find the perpetrator.
"A Very English Scandal"
Written and created by Russell T. Davies ("Queer As Folk"), "A Very English Scandal" is a thought-provoking yet hilarious miniseries that follows the story of British politician Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant).
Thorpe finds himself at the center of a scandal when his secret partner, Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw), threatens to go public about their affair in the early 1960s, at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain.
For nearly a decade, Thorpe uses all his political power and influence, including a supposed murder plot, to keep Thorpe quiet.
"The End of the F***ing World"
"The End of the F***ing World" is a baffling dark comedy about two off-beat teenagers.
James (Jessica Barden) is a quiet loner, who is convinced that he is a bloodthirsty psychopath, while Alyssa (Alex Lawther) is his witty and more commanding companion, who has grown tired of her home life and stepfather.
One day, out of the blue, she convinces James to join her on a cross-country road trip to find her birth father, and along the way, they encounter dangerous and hilarious obstacles.
Netflix's "Sex Education" is an oddball mash-up of American style and British accents.
The show centers on Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), a precocious high schooler who starts an undercover business providing sex advice to his clueless but hormonal classmates.
"Sex Education" has won praise from critics and audiences alike for its contemporary and emotionally intelligent depiction of sex, young relationships, and its inclusive cast.
Gillian Anderson also stars as the show's resident sex expert.
"Normal People" is, for the most part, set in Ireland, which is not part of the United Kingdom. The show is based on a novel of the same name by Irish author Sally Rooney, but it was co-produced by the BBC, so it has made this list.
The show is a brilliantly conceived drama about two Irish teens, Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who together navigate high school in their small, rural town.
We follow them and the awkward transition to college in the big city, which sees the power dynamics in their relationship reversed.
Peter Morgan's sweeping Netflix series "The Crown" is the first interesting dramatization of Queen Elizabeth II's tumultuous but steadfast reign.
The show's narrative is expansive and covers almost every major event of the second half of the 20th century and uncovers — sometimes with an extensive artistic license — the British crown's position within them.
In the first two seasons, which cover events from around the mid-1950s to the late '60s, Claire Foy and Matt Smith star as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
The third season saw Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies take over the roles.
The fifth season saw Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip.
Charlie Brooker's brilliant anthology series "Black Mirror" has assumed the coveted but elusive position of event television. Whenever it drops, people immediately watch.
The show is now six seasons deep and follows a similar structure to "The Twilight Zone." Each episode features a new cast and an autonomous story that grapples with the potentially dark and twisted results of the 21st century's obsession with technological innovation, celebrity, and social media.
Since migrating from British terrestrial television to Netflix in 2017, the show has picked up multiple Emmys and helped to launch the international careers of Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, and Brooker himself.
Adapted from Julia Quinn's bestselling series, "Bridgerton" follows a Regency London family as they navigate the marriage market.
The British cult crime drama "Top Boy" was brought back to life in 2019 with the help of Canadian rapper Drake.
The show, which follows the lives of two major drug dealers in London's infamous East End, was surprisingly canceled in 2014 by its home producers Channel 4 after two acclaimed seasons.
But Drake was such a fan that he brokered a deal between Netflix and the show's creators, Ronan Bennett and Ashley Walters, to create a third season. It premiered on the streamer to huge acclaim for its expansive look at London's criminal underworld and the structures that uphold it.
"Doctor Foster" follows a similar trajectory to most dark primetime dramas, but the show executes all the familiar story beats with far more precision than most of what we see on either TV or the big screen.
Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones) is a talented and beloved family doctor from a rural English town. But her life begins to unravel when she suspects that her husband may be having an affair with a younger woman. And soon, after following several lines of inquiry, she discovers a long and dark pattern of behavior.
"It's a Sin"
"It's a Sin" follows the lives of three young gay men, Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas), and Colin (Callum Scott Howells), who all move to east London in 1981.
And just as they begin to enjoy the sexual freedoms of youth in the big city, the first terrifying reports of a new disease called AIDS begin to filter through from across the Atlantic.
Traditionally, teen dramas were sun-drenched affairs with casts dominated by A-list actors who were always about 10 years older than the characters they portrayed on screen. But "Skins" changed the genre.
The show follows a group of angst-ridden British teens, living in the city of Bristol as they party, drink, and snort through their unglamorous late-teenage years while struggling to contend with broader societal issues such as religion, race, and sexuality.
Several overseas adaptations of "Skins" have been attempted and most recently HBO's popular drama "Euphoria" dipped into the show's hedonistic formula. But still, no adaptation has managed to depict the lifestyle of its character with as much unflinching candor as the original series.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's raucous dark comedy "Fleabag" is undoubtedly one of the most innovative television comedies of the last decade.
The show, which was based on Waller-Bridge's one-woman play of the same name, follows an unnamed and directionless anti-heroine who tries, largely unsuccessfully, to find a meaningful path for her life whilst trying to come to terms with the tragic death of her best friend for which, in part, she is to blame.
Across two acclaimed seasons, the show picked up six Emmys and two Golden Globes before gracefully bowing out in 2019.
It can be easy to disregard a dating show like "Love Island," but there is a reason it is beloved by fans and celebrities around the world.
Each season, a group of contestants primarily from the UK and Ireland are brought to an island villa in an attempt to find a love match over a period of two months.
At any point, new contestants can be brought in, and current contestants, whether coupled up or uncoupled, can be voted out by the general public, or their own peers.
Contestants have to win over a partner, their fellow contestants, and the people at home in order to win the money prize at the end, and, of course, love.
"Killing Eve" is a sexy psychological thriller that put Jodie Comer on the map and reminded everyone of the incomparable talent that is Sandra Oh.
Produced by BBC America, the series follows an MI5 officer called Eve (Oh), who is bored at her desk job. After she is fired from her job for crossing a line, Eve joins an MI6 undercover team that specializes in hunting a singular ruthless assassin known as Villanelle (Comer).
The pair become obsessed with each other during the hunt forcing them to change allegiances and put a target on both their backs.
Comer and Oh's chemistry is incredible and over the four seasons, Comer and Oh were nominated and won numerous awards for their fantastic performances.
Set in the aftermath of World War I, "Peaky Blinders" follows the titular Birmingham gang as they build a criminal empire that takes them from the streets all the way to the offices of the British Parliament.
This gripping thriller from Steven Knight is led by Cillian Murphy, who plays the gang's leader Tommy Shelby, and he delivers a stunning performance throughout all six seasons.
His intensity is equally matched by a handful of villains that the group goes up against, including the likes of depraved police officer Major Campbell (Sam Neill), gangster Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy), and far-right extremist Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin).
While it's incredibly entertaining watching the outlaws scheme and brawl their way through Britain's underworld, it tries not to glorify their antics, instead showing the ramifications of their actions in a way that's often harrowing.
"Heartstopper" is a saccharine coming-of-age series that you can't help but fall for.
Based on a graphic novel of the same name, "Heartstopper" follows gay teen Charlie (Joe Locke), who falls for the popular rugby-playing student, Nick (Kit Connor). Over time, the two teens bond despite their differences in age and social groups, forcing Nick on his own journey of self-discovery.
While the media landscape for queer shows is a lot better now than 15 years ago, it is heartwarming to see a series filled with positive portrayals of queer teens of different sexualities and genders rather than traumatic scenes.
"Derry Girls" is one of the funniest comedies of the last decade that transports audiences back to 1990s Northern Ireland.
Set in the final years of the Troubles, the name of a 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland over the country's independence, the series follows four teen girls from Derry and a British boy as they are just trying to get through secondary school while at the center of the conflict.
The bizarre characters, offbeat humor, and '90s nostalgia, mixed in with the dark elements of the conflict, make the series stand out among the rest and hook audiences in.
Let's face it, it's hard to come up with a new comedy panel show in the modern era. It feels like everything's been done. Thankfully, "Taskmaster" takes a uniquely silly approach to the format.
The show features a different set of comedians in each series, rather than changing them every episode, and they have to complete a ridiculous set of tasks each episode to earn the most points by the end of the series.
What makes "Taskmaster" so great is the utter chaos that unfolds in each episode because the comedians are allowed to complete each task by whatever means necessary. It's just perfectly bonkers.
For example, in season 10, episode five, the group has to eat as much watermelon as they can, but they're not allowed to feed themselves. It has to be seen to be believed.
"The Traitors UK" is the best game show of the last few years.
It starts with 22 contestants who have to complete a number of challenges in an attempt to win £120,000.
However, three of the contestants are picked to be Traitors, and if they remain undetected throughout the whole game, they can take home the prize money.
Not only that, but a contestant has to be voted out in every episode, and the Traitors have to manipulate the whole group to stay in the game.
It's the drama that unfolds that makes "The Traitors" so good. Sure, the challenges they have to complete are funny, but it's the end of each episode, when the group has a debate over who could be a Traitor, that makes it a must-watch.
"Luther" is defined by one man: Idris Elba.
The actor brings such ferocity to the screen as the titular determined detective that it feels like he's dragging the audience through the seedier side of London by their neck.
While Luther's moral compass is set firmly straight, he's more than happy to bend the rules to do what's right and stop the most depraved criminals that he happens to come across. He's not quite a vigilante, but he's not far off either.
Each series presents him with challenges darker than the last, whether it's the serial killer who hides in his victims' houses before murdering them, or the twins who play a horrific board game across London.
Ultimately, "Luther" works brilliantly because Elba is so committed to the character, and it's no wonder that Netflix brought him back for his own movie in 2023, "Luther: The Fallen Sun."
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