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The Best British Import TV Shows to Stream This Spring

Discover terrific thrillers, royal sagas and tales of star-crossed lovers


spinner image Characters from TV shows Alice and Jack, MaryLand, Shardlake and Doctor Who
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: PBS; Alamy; Adrienn Szabo/Disney+; James Pardone/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

From Downton Abbey to Fleabag, Black Mirror to Call the Midwife, American audiences can’t get enough of British TV shows. And luckily, series across all genres — period romances, gritty modern crime dramas, witty comedies — continue to be among Britain’s biggest and most beloved cultural exports. This spring and summer, there’s a new batch to add to your watch list. All are either finally making their way to American streaming services after gaining praise across the pond or debuting in both places at once.

Whether you’re in the mood for sexy royal intrigue, a biopic about a boundary-breaking actress or a searing political series that’s making waves across the U.K., there’s a new British import for every kind of viewer. Here are the season’s best British imports to put on your calendar.

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Alice & Jack

Set over the span of 15 years, this romantic tearjerker follows star-crossed lovers played by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn, The Revenant, the Star Wars franchise) and Andrea Riseborough (a surprise 2023 Oscar nominee for To Leslie). She’s a high-strung woman working in finance; he’s a shy scientist she meets in a bar. Despite mutual attraction, they can never seem to make it work out. With a supporting cast that includes Aisling Bea (This Way Up) and Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education), the series is for fans of shows like Normal People and this year’s One Day.

Watch it: Apple TV, PBS

Mary & George

Based on The King’s Assassin by Benjamin Woolley, this sexy historical psychodrama stars Julianne Moore, 63, as Mary Villiers, Countess of Buckingham, a 17th-century social climber who hatches a plan to secure her family titles and fortunes. She sets up her son George (Nicholas Galitzine, Red, White & Royal Blue) to seduce King James I (Tony Curran, 54) and become his “favorite.” Expect plenty of murder plots, betrayals, rivalries and a bit of bodice-ripping for good measure.

Watch it: Hulu, Starz

Mr Bates vs the Post Office

This four-episode drama shook up British media and politics when it premiered on ITV in January, depicting a real-life scandal that rocked the British Post Office (but might be totally new to American viewers). The gist: For years, money disappeared from local post office branches, and the government blamed managers, leading to firings and even fraud and theft convictions. The only problem? It was actually just a glitch in the internal IT system. Toby Jones, 57 — who played Truman Capote in the biopic Infamous — stars as Alan Bates, the subpostmaster who led the charge for justice. The series kicked off such a firestorm that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak even announced new legislation in its wake.

Watch it: Hulu, PBS

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Nolly

This three-part biographical miniseries, which premiered on Britain’s ITVX in 2023 before airing on PBS’s Masterpiece this March, features Helena Bonham Carter, 57, as soap opera star Noele “Nolly” Gordon. While Gordon may not be a household name to Americans, she was one of the most famous British TV icons of the 1960s and ’70s, appearing on a daily soap called Crossroads until she was unceremoniously fired. The series was created by Welsh producer Russell T Davies, 61, best known as the showrunner of the 2005 Doctor Who revival and the creator of Queer as Folk and A Very English Scandal.

Watch it: Apple TV, PBS, Prime Video

Shardlake

Fans of mystery novels will already be well acquainted with the name Shardlake from the books by C.J. Sansom. Set in Tudor England, the series follows a hunchbacked lawyer named Matthew Shardlake (Arthur Hughes) who works for Henry VIII’s all-powerful chief minister, Thomas Cromwell (Game of Thrones star Sean Bean, 65). After the king disbands Catholic monasteries, a commissioner is murdered at a monastery in the remote town of Scarnsea. Cromwell sends Shardlake to investigate, kicking off a suspenseful and eerie whodunnit. Anthony Boyle, a Tony nominee for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway, costars as Jack Barak, who may be assisting Shardlake — or spying for Cromwell.

Watch it: Disney+, Hulu

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MaryLand (premiering May 5)

Originating on Britain’s ITV in 2023, this three-part drama airs on PBS’s Masterpiece. Suranne Jones and Eve Best, 52, star as estranged sisters who rekindle their relationship when they learn about their mother’s double life and unexpected death on the Isle of Man. In their search for clues about family secrets, they meet their mother’s best friend, Cathy (Grease’s Stockard Channing, 80). The show may sound like a bit of a downer, but don’t worry: Lucy Mangan of The Guardian notes that, while the opening of the first episode might make the series seem like a thriller, it’s actually a joyful and incredibly moving exploration of family, female identity and trauma.

Watch it: PBS

Doctor Who (premiering May 10)

Either you’re a Doctor Who fan or you’re not, and for those who haven’t embraced the decades-spanning British classic, it’s a bit complicated to explain the basics: The Doctor is an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space inside something called a TARDIS, which looks like a police box on the outside but is much bigger on the inside. Over the course of the series (which ran from 1963 to 1989 and was revived in 2005), different actors play new incarnations of the protagonist, who fights baddies, saves lives and liberates the oppressed. Following in the footsteps of longtime Doctor Who David Tennant, 53, the new season — which premieres on Disney+ and the BBC May 10 — introduces Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa as the newest Doctor, and he’s making history as the first Black, African-born and openly queer actor to take on the role.

Watch it: Disney+

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