Explore Britain from home with these modern TV classics

If you’re a fan of British television, you can discover our cities and countryside from home as you dive into a host of modern British TV classics, from gripping crime shows to side-splitting comedies and rich period dramas - all ready and waiting to be binged.

Crime Dramas

Sherlock

A man in an old style police uniform standing outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

A modern day adaptation of the seminal Arthur Conan Doyle detective novels, the BBC created four seasons of Sherlock, filmed from 2010 and 2017. Watched by audiences in over 200 countries, the show stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and is set in contemporary London, with filming split between the British capital and Cardiff. The location shots for the fictitious detective’s famous home, 221b Baker Street, were filmed at 187 North Gower Street in Bloomsbury. Fans will no doubt recognise Speedy’s Café which is located next door, an eatery that has added a special ‘Sherlock’ breakfast to its menu. 221b Baker Street, the address made famous by Conan Doyle in 1887, has been recreated in the shape of the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

Broadchurch

Once you’ve exhausted all episodes of Life on Mars you can fill the crime series-shaped void with the thrilling Broadchurch. Staring Scottish Dr Who actor David Tennant and The Crown’s Olivia Coleman, three exhilarating series of the show were filmed between 2013 and 2017. Based in a fictional town in Dorset, the series' location was partially inspired by the home of writer Chris Chibnall, who lives on the picturesque Jurassic Coast. The vast coastal views of West Bay played a starring role in the show, as did the town of Clevedon, near Bristol. Broadchurch tips its hat to the Dorset-born poet and novelist Thomas Hardy throughout the series, with the surname used for one of the main characters being Detective Inspector Alec Hardy.

Period Dramas

Downton Abbey

A chance to peer into the life of Britain’s high society and their loyal staff, Downton Abbey follows the twists and turns of the Crawley family, from post-war into the roaring 20s. Having run from 2010 to 2015, the glamourous six-series classic was a rip-roaring success, with more than 100 countries showing the British drama, cementing its place as a modern British classic.

Although filled with breathtaking scenes of Britain, the most iconic of all the filming locations has to be the family’s expansive estate, shot in Hampshire’s Highclere Castle. Set in 1,000 acres of parkland, the Victorian-built manor house remains home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose family have lived on the site since 1679. Julian Fellowes, the author of Downton Abbey, is a long-standing family friend and actually had Highclere in mind while penning the series. The picturesque village of Bampton in the Cotswolds was also used for many of the exterior scenes of Downton Village, including the church, post office and pubs.

Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders street art mural in Digbeth, in Birmingham city.

Now shown in an astonishing 183 countries worldwide, why not join the Shelby fan club and dive into the world of 20th-century British gangsters in the award-winning Peaky Blinders? With five gasp-inducing series (and a sixth series reportedly on the way), this Birmingham-based phenomenon has gone from strength to strength since first being aired in 2013, with the last series gathering an audience of 6.2 million for the first two episodes. Set in the once industrial hub of the UK Midlands, anglophiles can follow the story of gang leader Tommy Shelby, played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy, as he and his family rise to become the top dogs of the city, shortly after the First World War. Expect scenes of smoke-filled pubs, mist-covered canals and hours of dramatic suspense. Many of the gritty scenes from the seasons were filmed in the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, a firm favourite with creator and writer Steven Knight, as scenes from all seasons to date have been shot there.

Comedies

The Inbetweeners

A hysterical coming-of-age comedy, The Inbetweeners follows four boys as they clumsily fight their way through the highs and lows of adolescent awkwardness. Starring British actors Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison and James Buckley, it spanned three series and won the British Comedy Academy Outstanding Achievement award in 2011.

Mostly filmed in north-west London, areas such as Uxbridge and Watford were used as the backdrop to the series, as well Ruislip, which was the location of the boys’ high school. If you’re a fan, you’ll no doubt remember the theme park episode, which was filmed at Thorpe Park in Surrey.

03 Jul 2020(last updated)