The best TV shows to watch on BBC iPlayer

From BBC3 series to the best drama and comedy box sets available online – discover what you've been missing on BBC iPlayer

Spooks

BBC iPlayer is so much more than a catch-up service.

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While the BBC website was once just a helpful place to catch up with that show you missed at the weekend, iPlayer is now a streaming service in its own right, attempting to keep pace with US media giants like Netflix and Amazon.

In short, it’s home to some of the best British TV available to watch online.

Whether you’re a fan of drama box sets such as Luther and Peaky Blinders, classic comedies like Extras and This Country, or archive documentaries by David Attenborough and Louis Theroux, there’s a lot to offer on iPlayer.

The BBC is also planning to make iPlayer even more useful for viewers, with the possibility that all shows will be made available to watch online for an entire year.

So, what’s currently available to watch? Check out our regularly updated picks of the best TV shows to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Spooks

The long-running spy drama has made its return to BBC iPlayer and will be followed by a number of other classic shows in the coming weeks. Following the staff at British intelligence agency MI:5 as they attempt to counter threats to the public, the series received high praise throughout its run. Watch on BBC iPlayer

Noughts + Crosses

Masali Baduza and Jack Rowan in Noughts + Crosses

Based on Malorie Blackman’s young adult novel, Noughts + Crosses is set in a world where Africa colonised Europe, creating a ruling class of crosses (black people) that oppress the disadvantaged noughts (white people). Against this backdrop, a forbidden romance blossoms… Watch Noughts + Crosses on BBC iPlayer

Doctor Who

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 07/01/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 12 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: PRE TX **STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 07/01/2020 00:00:01** The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall
Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who

Series 1-12

The latest series of Doctor Who has just started, pitting Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor against more iconic foes. New episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer weekly, while you can also catch up on older adventures dating back to Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. Watch Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer

Last Tango in Halifax

Series 1-4, series 5 added weekly

Last Tango in Halifax series 5
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

The beloved series about a couple who rekindle their romance after 60 years apart has recently returned to BBC One for a fifth series. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid reprise the lead roles in the latest episodes, which RadioTimes.com gave a four-star review. Watch Last Tango in Halifax on BBC iPlayer

This Country

Series 1-2, series 3 added weekly

Charlie Cooper and Daisy May Cooper in This Country

A Bafta-winning mockumentary about life in the Cotswolds for two feckless cousins Kerry and Kurtan, created by and starring siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. Watch This Country on BBC iPlayer

Torchwood

Torchwood cast
John Barrowman and the cast of Torchwood
BBC

This Doctor Who spin-off follows fan favourite character Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) as he and his team investigate more mature sci-fi mysteries. The series has recently returned to BBC iPlayer, following Barrowman’s surprise appearance in series 12 of Doctor Who. Watch Torchwood on BBC iPlayer

Inside No 9

Series 1-4, series 5 added weekly

Steve Pemberton in Inside No 9

This darkly comic anthology series from Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith has welcomed guest stars including Jenna Coleman, Rory Kinnear and Sheridan Smith. Watch Inside No 9 on BBC iPlayer

Line of Duty

Series 1-5

Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston in Line of Duty

As the sixth series starts filming, get caught up on this critically acclaimed crime drama from writer Jed Mercurio, which follows a team investigating corruption in the police force. Watch Line of Duty on BBC iPlayer

Peaky Blinders

Series 5 only

Peaky Blinders V Ep 6
Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is back in the fifth series of the brilliant crime drama set in 1920s Birmingham. The hit show recently took home Best Drama at the National Television Awards 2020. Watch Peaky Blinders on BBC iPlayer

Top Gear

top-gear-christmas
Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff on Top Gear

It’s been a bumpy ride for Top Gear since its original presenters left for Amazon Prime, but the motoring series seems to have found a winning formula with its latest hosts: Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris. Watch Top Gear on BBC iPlayer

Absolutely Fabulous

Series 1-5, plus specials

Break out the Bolly, sweeties, because the complete box set of AbFab – starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as sozzled PRs Eddie and Patsy – has landed on BBC iPlayer… Watch Absolutely Fabulous on BBC iPlayer

Man Like Mobeen

Programme Name: Man Like Mobeen S3 - TX: n/a - Episode: Man Like Mobeen - Ep 5 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Uncle Shady (MARK SILCOX), Mobeen (GUZ KHAN) - (C) Tiger Aspect - Photographer: Alistair Heap
Guz Khan in Man Like Mobeen

This comedy series from Guz Khan and Andy Milligan follows the title character as he aims to live a good life and leave his criminal past behind. The show tackles big issues in British society such as racial profiling and knife crime. Watch Man Like Mobeen on BBC iPlayer

Fosse/Verdon

The eight-part drama is based on the troubled personal and professional relationship between director and choreographer Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his wife and unsung collaborator Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). Rockwell and Williams both won SAG Awards for their performances in this series. Watch Fosse/Verdon on BBC iPlayer

Silent Witness

Silent Witness
The cast of Silent Witness on BBC One

Series 1-22, series 23 added weekly

Every episode from the long-running crime drama is available to stream on iPlayer, with the currently airing 23rd series being added to the service weekly. Watch on BBC iPlayer

Worzel Gummidge

Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge
Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge

This remake of the classic 1980s television series has been warmly received by critics and audiences alike, with Mackenzie Crook taking on writing and directing duties as well as starring in the title role. Watch Worzel Gummidge on BBC iPlayer

W1A

Series 1-3

Twenty Twelve’s ex-Head of Olympic Deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) is appointed Head of Values at the Beeb in John Morton’s follow-up to the popular comedy series… Watch W1A on BBC iPlayer

The Trial of Christine Keeler

Programme Name: The Trial of Christine Keeler - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Christine Keeler (SOPHIE COOKSON) - (C) Ecosse Films - Photographer: Ben Blackall
Sophie Cookson in The Trial of Christine Keeler

BBC One’s new drama series tells the story of the woman at the heart of one of the 20th Century’s biggest scandals: The Profumo Affair. Watch The Trial of Christine Keeler on BBC iPlayer

Killing Eve

Series 1 & 2

Killing Eve
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve

Jodie Comer’s Villanelle and Sandra Oh’s Eve are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse in this sharp, witty and gruesome thriller, which has been renewed for a third seasonWatch Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer

Elizabeth is Missing

Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth is Missing

Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson returns to British television for this feature length drama, which sees an elderly woman searching for her missing friend while contending with her own dementia. Watch Elizabeth is Missing on BBC iPlayer

Pose

This groundbreaking series comes from producer Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) and depicts New York City’s LGBTQ ballroom culture scene during the 1980s and 90s. Two seasons are available on iPlayer, both of which have been critically acclaimed, with a third one on the way. Watch Pose on BBC iPlayer

This Time with Alan Partridge

(BBC)
Steve Coogan and Susannah Fielding in This Time with Alan Partridge

Steve Coogan’s beloved comedy character returns to the BBC to co-host a magazine series akin to The One Show. As you would expect, things don’t go exactly to plan… Watch This Time with Alan Partridge on BBC iPlayer

Giri/Haji

Giri Haji
Takehiro Hira in Giri/Haji

Available until 16th April

This thriller is split across the cities of London and Tokyo as a single murder has devastating effects for people in both. Giri/Haji (which translates to Duty/Shame) comes from writer Joe Barton (Humans) with Kelly MacDonald (Boardwalk Empire) and Japanese actor Takehiro Hira in the leading roles. Watch Giri/Haji on BBC iPlayer

His Dark Materials

Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials

The BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s sweeping fantasy epic is an absolute delight. Dafne Keen (Logan) takes the lead role of Lyra Belacqua, a mischievous young girl intent on rescuing her kidnapped friend. Watch His Dark Materials on BBC iPlayer

Ladhood

Liam Williams is behind this coming-of-age comedy series, where he uncovers the roots of modern day masculinity by going back to his own adolescent years. Watch on BBC iPlayer

Seven Worlds, One Planet

seven worlds one planet
Seven Worlds, One Planet

You can never go wrong with a David Attenborough nature documentary, with this latest series just as jaw dropping as the last. Each episode explores another of Earth’s distinct continents and the life that inhabits it, providing some fascinating information and capturing numerous incredible moments. Watch on BBC iPlayer

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

Drag race cast
The contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best UK queen win: the British edition of the beloved US star’s reality competition show – which sees drag queens compete against one another in an array of weekly challenges – is here… Watch on BBC iPlayer

Luther

Idris Elba in Luther (BBC)
Idris Elba in Luther

Series 1-5

Idris Elba stars as London’s slickest – and most maverick – detective as he races around the city solving crimes fit for a horror movie. Watch Luther on BBC iPlayer

The Capture

The Capture
Callum Turner in The Capture

This critically acclaimed six-part drama sees a soldier (played by Callum Turner) come under suspicion from a detective inspector (Holliday Grainger) after CCTV footage links him to the assault and kidnapping of a young woman. Watch on BBC iPlayer

Serengeti

Dramatised natural history series featuring a cast of real animals interacting on the African savannah, narrated by Star Wars actor John Boyega. Watch on BBC iPlayer

The Mighty Boosh

Series 1-3

Step into the strange, musical, mad world of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt. Watch The Mighty Boosh on BBC iPlayer

Clique

Series 1-2

Psychological thriller that delves inside a gang of whip smart, complicated and ambitious young people at a university. Watch Clique on BBC iPlayer

Frozen Planet

Series 1

David Attenborough’s iconic nature documentary from 2011 heads to the coldest corners of the earth and explores the wildlife that survives there. Watch Frozen Planet on BBC iPlayer

Hustle

Series 1-8

Robert Vaughn, Robert Glenister, Adrian Lester and Marc Warren star in this slick BBC drama, which follows the fortunes of London confidence tricksters. The con is on… Watch Hustle on BBC iPlayer

Around the World in 80 Days

Series 1

From 1989, Michael Palin’s epic voyage across the globe, following in the footsteps of Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg, using any mode of overland transport… Watch Around the World in 80 Days on BBC iPlayer

The League of Gentlemen

Series 1-4

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton in The League of Gentlemen

This gloriously dark, surrealist comedy about a strange group of people living in the small, northern town of Royston Vasey is created by and stars Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton. Watch The League of Gentlemen on BBC iPlayer

Goodness Gracious Me

Goodness Gracious Me started life as BBC Radio 4 sketch show before making the leap to TV in a BBC2 series that ran from 1998 to 2001, featuring affectionate skits on British-Asian culture. Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia star. Watch Goodness Gracious Me on BBC iPlayer

Extras

Series 1-2

Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais’s deadpan comedy is set in the world of film and TV extras. Watch Extras on BBC iPlayer

Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends

Series 1-3

A classic documentary series from Louis Theroux delving into the stranger fringes of American culture and society. Watch Louix Theroux on BBC iPlayer

Outnumbered

Series 1-5

Hugh Dennis, Claire Skinner and the Brockman children in Outnumbered

This comedy embraces the funny side of family life as we follow the Brockmans and their various trials and tribulations. My, how they’ve grown… Watch Outnumbered on BBC iPlayer

What We Do in the Shadows

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) bring their excellent mockumentary about a group of vampires in a flatshare to New York City. Watch on BBC iPlayer

Clive James: Postcard from London

The inimitable broadcaster and writer Clive James looks back on his experiences living in 1960s London, sharing anecdotes with the likes of Victoria Wood and Michael Caine. Watch Clive James: Postcard from London on BBC iPlayer

The Blue Planet and Blue Planet II

Series 1-2

Arguably David Attenborough’s most impactful documentary yet, The Blue Planet and its sequel shows the beauty of live beneath the waves – and the damage humans are wreaking on it. Watch Blue Planet on BBC iPlayer

War and Peace

James Norton and Lily James take the lead in this BBC adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic story of love and loss. Watch War and Peace on BBC iPlayer

The Young Offenders

Series 1-2

The Young Offenders BBC
Alex Murphy and Chris Walley in The Young Offenders

The second series of the comedy following two lovable rogues as they get up to no good in the Irish city of Cork has recently arrived… Watch The Young Offenders on BBC iPlayer

Five by Five

This five-part series of five-minute episodes from Idris Elba is a poetic portrait of London that subverts stereotypes. Watch five by five on BBC iPlayer

Planet Earth and Planet Earth II

Series 1-2

David Attenborough’s award-winning nature series takes us on a glorious journey of the islands, mountains and cities of the earth. Watch Planet Earth on BBC iPlayer

Jonathan Creek

Series 1-5

Cult crime drama series starring Alan Davies as the creative consultant to a stage magician who also solves fiendish mysteries. Give those little grey cells a workout… Watch Jonathan Creek on BBC iPlayer

Gentleman Jack

Suranne Jones stars in Gentleman Jack

Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones leads writer Sally Wainwright’s drama about a 19th-century Yorkshire landowner who embarks on a passionate courtship with another woman. Watch Gentleman Jack on BBC iPlayer

The Musketeers

Series 1-3

The Thick of It and Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi appears alongside Skins star Luke Pasqualino and Merlin’s Santiago Cabrera in this BBC adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel… Watch The Musketeers on BBC iPlayer

The Planets

Series 1

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Professor Brian Cox’s captivating series studying the origins of the solar system and how the planets came to be. Visually stunning. Watch The Planets on BBC iPlayer