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The Best British Detective Series, Ranked 

Ranker TV
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Updated June 1, 2020 321.6k votes 32.2k voters 1.1M views 100 items

This list of the best British detective series is ranked by British TV fans just like you! Who doesn't love a good detective series? It seems like every few months Britain is putting out the newest, most buzzed about detective show on television. This list ranks the all-time top British mystery series, from classic series like Poirot to modern hits like Luther, so you'll always know what to binge watch next. What are the best British detective series of all time tackling the best weekly whodunit mysteries?

From Sherlock to classic British detective shows like Agatha Christie's Marple, these great British series will have you solving crimes and mysteries along with your favorite TV detectives. Many of the shows listed here are BBC detective series, while other British mysteries debuted on different British networks. In the states, you can catch many of them on your PBS station, while others are streaming on Netflix or available through Acorn TV. No matter how you watch television, you know detective series are some of the best British TV shows out there.

This list features the most popular British detective series including Sherlock, The Last Detective, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Foyle’s War, Wallander, and Inspector Lewis. Don't see the good British detective shows you love on the list? Add them for other TV fans to vote!

 

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1
Foyle's War is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell

Premiered: 2002

This series is a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after WWII, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV after the long-running ...more
2
Father Brown is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
mousenmovie added Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Alex Price

Premiered: 2013

Father Brown is a British television period drama which began airing on BBC One on 14 January 2013. It features Mark Williams as the eponymous crime-solving Roman Catholic priest. The series is ...more
3
Agatha Christie's Poirot... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson

Premiered: 1989

Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet stars as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie's fictional ...more
4
Endeavour is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, James Bradshaw

Premiered: 2012

Endeavour is a British television detective drama series. It is a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse and—like that series—is set primarily in Oxford. Shaun Evans portrays a young ...more
5
Shetland is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell, Steven Robertson

Premiered: 2013

Shetland is a BBC Scotland crime drama television series starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez. The story takes place on the Scottish archipelago of Shetland, though much ...more
6
Vera is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Brenda Blethyn, Jon Morrison, David Leon

Premiered: 2011

Vera is a British detective television series based on the works of crime author Ann Cleeves. It stars Brenda Blethyn and is broadcast on ITV and in the United States on public television
7
Inspector Morse is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
John Thaw, Peter Woodthorpe, Kevin Whately

Premiered: 1987

Inspector Morse is a British detective drama television series based on a series of novels by Colin Dexter. It starred John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse and Kevin Whately as Sergeant Lewis. The ...more
8
Miss Marple is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Miss Marple Joan Hickson, Gwen Watford, David Horovitch

Premiered: 1984

Miss Marple is a British television series based on the Miss Marple murder mystery novels by Agatha Christie. It starred Joan Hickson in the title role, and aired from 1984 to 1992. All 12 ...more
9
Prime Suspect is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
KathyGrieco added Helen Mirren, Zoë Wanamaker, Tom Bell

Premiered: 1991

Prime Suspect is a British police procedural television drama series starring Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, one of the first female Detective Chief Inspectors in ...more
10
Broadchurch is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
jobill added David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker

Premiered: 2013

Broadchurch (ITV, 2013) is a British serial crime drama television series created by Chris Chibnall. Police detectives DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) ...more
11
Grantchester is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
James Norton, Robson Green, Morven Christie

Premiered: 2014

Grantchester is a British ITV detective drama, set in the 1950s Cambridgeshire village of the same name. The show features Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton), who develops a sideline ...more
12
Agatha Christie's Marple... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Geraldine McEwan, Julia McKenzie, Stephen Churchett

Premiered: 2004

Agatha Christie's Marple is a British ITV television series based on the books and short stories by British crime novelist Agatha Christie. The title character was played by Geraldine McEwan ...more
13
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Sherlock (BBC One, 2010) is a British crime television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based on stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The brilliant yet insensitive detective ...more
14
The Bletchley Circle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle
The Bletchley Circle is a television mystery drama miniseries, set in 1952–53, about four women who used to work as codebreakers at Bletchley Park. Dissatisfied with official failure to ...more
15
Inspector George Gently ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, Simon Hubbard

Premiered: 2007

Inspector George Gently is a British television series produced by Company Pictures for BBC One, set in the 1960s and based on some of the 46 Inspector Gently novels written by Alan Hunter. The ...more
16
Inspector Lewis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman

Premiered: 2006

Lewis is a British television detective drama produced for ITV. A spin-off from Inspector Morse, like that series it is set in Oxford. Kevin Whately reprises his character Robert ...more
17
Happy Valley is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Anna Lane added Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton, Siobhan Finneran
Happy Valley (BBC One, 2014) is a British crime drama television series created by Sally Wainwright. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is the sergeant on duty when flustered and nervous ...more
18
Death in Paradise is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Kris Marshall, Danny John-Jules, Ben Miller

Premiered: 2011

Death in Paradise (BBC One, 2011) is a British-French crime drama television series created by Robert Thorogood. After investigating the murder of a police officer on a Caribbean island, British ...more
19
Midsomer Murders is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Suzi Quatro, John Nettles, Neil Dudgeon

Premiered: 1997

This is a British television detective drama that has aired on ITV since 1997. The show is based on Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby book series, as originally adapted by Anthony ...more
20
Rosemary & Thyme is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Rosemary & Thyme Felicity Kendal, Pam Ferris, Ryan Philpott

Premiered: 2003

Rosemary & Thyme is a British television mystery series starring Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris as gardening detectives Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme. The show began on ITV in 2003. The ...more
21
A Touch of Frost is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
David Jason, Bruce Alexander, John Lyons

Premiered: 1992

A Touch of Frost is a television detective series produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV from 1992 until 2010, initially based on the Frost novels by R. D. Wingfield. Writing credit for the ...more
22
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Sherlock Holmes Jeremy Brett, Charles Gray, Edward Hardwicke

Premiered: 1984

Sherlock Holmes is the name given to the TV series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by British television company Granada Television between 1984 and 1994, with the first two series ...more
23
DCI Banks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Anna Lane added Stephen Tompkinson, Jack Deam, Andrea Lowe

Premiered: 2010

DCI Banks is a British crime drama series produced by Left Bank Pictures for the ITV network. The series is based on Peter Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks novels and stars Stephen Tompkinson as ...more
24
The Inspector Lynley Mys... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Nathaniel Parker, Sharon Small, Lesley Vickerage

Premiered: 2001

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries is a series of BBC television programmes about Detective Inspector Thomas "Tommy" Lynley, 8th Earl of Asherton of Scotland Yard and Detective Sergeant ...more
25
Luther is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best British Detective Series, Ranked
Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley

Premiered: 2010

Luther is a British drama series starring Idris Elba as the eponymous character DCI John Luther. Written by Neil Cross, the first series, comprising six one-hour long episodes, premiered on 4 ...more