If you’re eagerly anticipating the next season of The Crown or Bridgerton, you’ll be happy to know that Netflix has become a surprisingly robust hub for British TV shows — both Netflix originals and existing programs that first aired in the U.K. Here, 10 of our favorites, plus the lessons about British culture, history and politics you might pick up while bingeing. Pour yourself a pint and a bowl of crisps and settle in for some bloody good telly.
The Crown (2016-)
The premise: If you liked the film The Queen by screenwriter Peter Morgan (58), you’ll love his Netflix original series, which takes a much longer view of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (95). Over six seasons (four have aired so far), audiences can follow along as the queen progresses from a young royal upstart to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history. The cast rotates out every two seasons: So far, Elizabeth has been played by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, with Imelda Staunton (65) set to debut later this year when Season 5 premieres.
You’ll learn about … the unique relationship between the monarchy and the rotating cast of prime ministers, who have been played so far by the likes of John Lithgow, 76, as Winston Churchill and Gillian Anderson, 53, as Margaret Thatcher.
The premise: Richard Madden, who played the ill-fated Robb Stark on Game of Thrones, won a best actor Golden Globe for this incredibly tense BBC One thriller, in which he stars as David Budd, a Scottish veteran of the war in Afghanistan who struggles with PTSD. After foiling an attempted suicide bombing on a train to London, he’s assigned to protect Home Secretary and Conservative Party MP Julia Montague (Keely Hawes), whose controversial policies he despises.
You’ll learn about … the very real discussions surrounding government surveillance in the United Kingdom, though this show pushes them to their extremes for dramatic effect.
Downton Abbey (2010-15)
The premise: Series creator Julian Fellowes, 72, should know a thing or two about the British aristocracy — after all, he is a member of the House of Lords. His upstairs/downstairs drama is set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of the Crawley family, as they and their bevy of servants react to the upheavals of the 1910s and ’20s, from the First World War to the Spanish influenza epidemic. The ITV/PBS coproduction was a runaway critical hit, picking up 15 Emmys, including three for Dame Maggie Smith (87) as the dowager countess. It also spawned a spinoff movie, with a sequel on the way this March.
You’ll learn about … the intricate hierarchy of the domestic servant class, from butlers and housekeepers on down to footmen and scullery maids.
Watch it: Downton Abbey
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