Jun 20 2013

Three Lesser-Known British Shows You Should Watch

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Television

Down the sights!

British television has really been knocking it out of the park lately, especially with popular and critically acclaimed shows like Luther, Misfits, and Sherlock. We’ve mentioned them before on Unreality, so if you have not checked them out, please do yourself a favor and watch them over the summer! They are all available on Netflix too! So, what are you waiting for?! Goooo!

But for those of you who already have watched those shows (I am guessing there are quite a few of you!), I have three lesser known series that you should most definitely check out! Each one of these are significantly different from one another, so there’s really something for everyone!

Now, on to the list!

Case Histories (2010-Present, two seasons)

Case Histories is truly a hidden gem to North American audiences. I’m really not sure how popular it is in the UK, but I do know that its recognition over here is virtually none as I have not met one person who has heard of it.

The story revolves around Jackson Brodie–former soldier and policeman—who decides to become a private investigator in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. He takes on cases that usually intertwine with each other and become much bigger than expected. As expected, this gets him into quite a bit of trouble because he’s kind of a stubborn (yet moral) bastard. Brodie is played by the brilliant Jason Isaacs (who played Mr. Blond in Harry Potter), which is what initially brought me to this series.

What strikes me most about Case Histories is how personal and real it is. You feel that this could all happen and you become emotionally attached the Brodie and his cases, especially since he seems to want to do the right thing despite the warnings from the people he works for.

Case Histories has just recently finished its second season. The first season contains 6 episodes and the second has only three, with each episode being an hour and half long. I really enjoy the long episodes, short seasons format, which seems to be common place overseas. Anyway, give it a shot; you won’t regret it!

Robin Hood (2006-2008, three seasons)

BBC’s Robin Hood is an origin story of the legendary hero (no unique spin, just a straight forward retelling) starring Jonas Armstrong as the lead and Keith Allen as his nemesis, the evil and charismatic Sherriff. It’s also where I was first introduced to Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Strike Back), who is excellent as the Sheriff’s second in command, Sir Guy of Gisborne; he really is a great actor, overall.

Yes, it’s very cheesy and full of camp but it’s also fun and entertaining! And it grows on you! We can’t always have our Sopranos! Right? Well, perhaps we can and maybe this kind of show isn’t for you, but I thoroughly enjoyed its charm and humor! It sort of reminded me of a 90s action and adventure series with higher production values. That being said, it’s not all cheese as there is quite a bit of drama as well, which I thought was done pretty well.

So, if you’re looking for a good, light-hearted adventure, go no further as Robin Hood delivers!

The show went on for three seasons, ending in 2008. It is also available on Netflix, so watch a few episodes and tell me what you think!

Inside Men (2012, Miniseries)

Like Robin Hood and Case Histories, Inside Men also has a completely different tone. It’s a very dark and dramatic mini-series about the events that lead up to an armed robbery at a secure money counting house as well as its aftermath. The first episode begins with a depiction of the brutal robbery and then explores the motivations behind those who committed the crime; you will find that it is a unique way of telling the story as it jumps around time wise.

If you can get past the somberness of Inside Men, then you will find a lot to like here. The cast is phenomenal and you will definitely recognize the main actors from other British shows, mainly from Luther. It’s also a one-off miniseries, so it won’t take you long to get through the four, one-hour episodes.

Well, there you have it! If you’re looking for something new to watch during the summer months, these series might satisfy your needs!

What are some of your hidden gems in recent British television, mates?

 





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16 responses so far

  • Nick

    Case Histories kind of sounds like Terriers from your description. I think Terriers is one of the greatest shows ever made and am curious if anyone’s seen both series and can give a comparison.

  • Charlotte

    I’m British and I have never watched any of these! I’ve only ever even heard of Robin Hood and I don’t know of anyone else who watches it. So these are pretty lesser known here too :) Something for me to check out!

  • Lyle Smith

    @Nick

    I have also watched Terriers and I completely agree that it was one of the greatest shows that I have ever had the pleasure of watching! So much could be said about that series and it was only one season, though I thought it wrapped up nicely despite a WAY too early cancellation. That being said, Case Histories is pretty different. There isn’t as much humor and he has no partner so there’s really no clever banter like there was between Britt and Hank. The cases are a little different I suppose. The main similarity that I can think of is that it seems like a real show with real people, which I think both Terriers and Case Histories share. I would definitely check it out though! Both are great in their own ways.

  • Lyle Smith

    @Charlotte

    I’m glad that I, a Canadian boy, could recommend a British show to a Brit! :) Hope you enjoy at least one of them!

  • Rockster

    I F@#King LOVE when you do these articles. I remember when you introduced us to UTOPIA the series. I will be checking these all out. THANKS alot!

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    I’ve only seen the first season of Robin Hood. It’s solid, but, yeah, it’s REALLY campy at times, and the last scene in the finale is so campy that I couldn’t bring myself to watching the second season … yet. Maybe later.

    I recently watched HIT & MISS on DVD, and it’s stunningly stellar. It only had a single season — six episodes — and the last episode was a bit surreal (felt like they had way too much ground to cover to tie up all of the threads they dangled). Still, I’d give it an enthusiastic thumbs up, too, for anyone looking for something from the other side of the pond.

  • Lee

    One I enjoy is Outnumbered a improvised comedy about 2 parents who try to keep there 3 children happy. Think more Malcolm in the middle but using words rather than slapstick.

  • ning

    Really like Case Histories, I live in Edinburgh myself :)
    Heres my 4. Real showcases of UK tv talent, would love to see you review these

    “Line of Duty” 2012
    with Lennie James and Martin Compston

    “Broadchurch” 2013
    with David Tennant and Olivia Coleman

    “The Fall 2013″
    with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan

    “Utopia” 2013
    (great ensemble cast)

  • ning

    Oh and you really must check out the Red Riding Trilogy 2009, about the most haunting television I have ever watched. Steller cast (Andrew Garfield, Sean Bean, David Morrissey, Maxine Peake, Peter Mullan, Daniel Mays, Mark Addy , Paddy Considine) beautifully shot with a great script/source material.

    It has lurked in my conscious heavily for the past four years. Magnificant tv

  • http://www.WeMatter.com Mike Liveright

    I can’t find either Inside Men or Case Histories on my STREAMING subscription to NetFlix. I may be miss=spelling it, or require a DVD subscription to get them.

  • Rex Hondo

    Robin Hood was lots of fun, had an interesting take on some of the characters, and threw some twists into the regular Robin Hood formula to keep the audience guessing.
    Unfortunately, there was at least one very good reason that the third season was the last.

  • Chris

    These may be old ground as some of these shows are quite old now but:

    Green wing. An amazing ensemble comedy like SPACED meets Scrubs

    SPACED. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wrights first collaboration

    Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. This is a parody of shows like diagnosis murder but with an occult twist and really plays up the low budget vibe.

    Brasseye. Very direct satire aimed at news broadcasting and the escalation of fear. One of the highlights of the show that may pass a foreign audience by is that it got British celebrities to endorse ridiculous antidrug campaigns even when the clues are right there letting them know that it is all a farce. If you don’t recognise the celebs and how they usually portray themselves in the media then just how absurd the whole thing is might not hit as hard.
    Please please don’t let that put you off. This is an absolute Gem that will make you laugh at things other shows wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
    Plenty of this show is on Youtube so give it a look.

  • TwoPi

    Oh sweet, thanks for this great list! Just checked out Case Histories and it was awesome! :)

  • Mary Whitehouse

    wot!!!! no ‘plebs’, or ‘IT crowd’ ?

  • SomethingOr

    @Mary Whitehouse

    He said “lesser known” shows… And it’s just a list of three random shows; it’s not some definitive list or anything. Chill out.

  • Xiaael

    I’ll give these a go, Lyle has not led me astray yet.
    I suggest “In The Flesh” too.

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