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

Killing Eve s2

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.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a number of classic shows are returning to the service to keep people entertained while quarantined at home.

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

Killing Eve

Killing Eve
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve

A series that needs no introduction, Killing Eve has become a global sensation in its short time on the air. Psychotic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and MI5 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse in this sharp, witty and gruesome thriller. The first season, written by Fleabag scribe Pheobe Waller-Bridge, earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. As the third season is about to debut, there’s never been a better time to catch up… Watch Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer

Spooks

Spooks
Keeley Hawes, Matthew Mcfadyen and David Oyelowo in Spooks
BBC

The iconic 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 original run. Spooks also boasts an ever-changing ensemble cast that includes some of the brightest stars on British telly, including David Oyelowo (Selma), Matthew McFadyen (Ripper Street) and Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty). Watch 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 brought with it some earth-shattering revelations about Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, while also pitting her against more iconic foes. You can catch up with all the latest episodes on BBC iPlayer, as well as revisit older adventures from the era of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat with every episode of modern Who available to stream. We’ve all got our favourite Doctor and there’s no better time to get reacquainted with yours… 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. Every episode of the BAFTA-winning hit is available to watch on iPlayer, introducing a number of memorable characters and emotional stories. Last Tango in Halifax has also been praised for its respectful and authentic depiction of older people. Watch Last Tango in Halifax on BBC iPlayer

This Country

Charlie Cooper and Daisy May Cooper in This Country

This hilarious mockumentary depicts life in a sleepy Cotswolds village for cousins Kerry and Kurtan, created by and starring siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. The acclaimed comedy took home multiple BAFTAs for its wry observations about countryside living and recently made headlines for casting an A-list actor in its final series, whose identity has been obscured and kept secret. Every episode is now available to stream, with a US adaptation currently in the works. Watch This Country on BBC iPlayer

Torchwood

Torchwood cast
John Barrowman and the cast of Torchwood
BBC

Torchwood came spinning out of Russel T Davies stellar run on Doctor Who, following fan favourite character Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) as he and his team investigate sci-fi mysteries that are more adult in theme. Shortly after Jack made his surprise return to Doctor Who, the BBC made Torchwood available to stream on iPlayer in full. A perfect choice for those looking to make the long wait for series 13 a little bit easier… Watch Torchwood on BBC iPlayer

Inside No 9

Series 1-5

Steve Pemberton in Inside No 9

This darkly comic anthology series from League of Gentlemen creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith tells a different original story in each one of its half-hour episodes. It’s an impressive showcase of creativity from the writing duo and has kept things feeling fresh well into its fifth series. Inside No 9 has welcomed numerous notable guest stars including Jenna Coleman, Rory Kinnear, Katherine Parkinson, David Morrissey 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

With production on the sixth series of Line of Duty facing delays, there’s now plenty of time to get caught up on this critically acclaimed crime drama from writer Jed Mercurio, which follows a team investigating corruption in the police force. The series has quickly established itself as one of the BBC’s most popular dramas and quite possibly one of the best shows they’ve ever produced. Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston impress in the leads, alongside a formidable guest cast that includes Lennie James (Save Me), Keeley Hawes (Spooks) and Thandie Newton (Westworld). Watch Line of Duty 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. In our review of the latest episodes, RadioTimes.com calls it “outrageous, jaw-dropping, hilarious TV,” and in a show of faith the series has recently been bumped up to BBC One for the first time in its history. If you switched off when Clarkson and co left, it’s time to give Top Gear another look. 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. Frequently appearing on lists of the best British sitcoms ever made and recently spawning a successful spin-off film, the outrageous humour of Absolutely Fabulous could be just the thing to liven up your lockdown. Watch Absolutely Fabulous on BBC iPlayer

Fosse/Verdon

The eight-part drama is based on the troubled personal and professional relationship between legendary director Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). They made a huge contribution to American culture through their collaborations, but it came at a serious price. Rockwell and Williams were lauded for their performances in this series, picking up awards from the Emmys, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. Watch Fosse/Verdon on BBC iPlayer

Silent Witness

Silent Witness
The cast of Silent Witness on BBC One

Series 6-23

It’s a real testament to the quality of Silent Witness that the show is still pulling in huge audiences even in its 23rd season. The crime drama starring Emilia Fox follows a group of forensic pathologists as they take on criminal cases around the UK. Despite being on the air for so long, the series is still finding ways to surprise its viewers – with a recent cast shake-up promising a very different dynamic for the upcoming series 24… Watch on BBC iPlayer

Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends

It’s difficult not to love Louis Theroux. Although he can appear a little awkward at times, his willingness to throw himself into daunting situations shows huge and very admirable commitment to his craft. Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends first aired between 1998 and 2000, so not all of its bizarre cases will be entirely up to date with today’s world. However, there’s still a huge amount of entertainment to be found in the strange characters Theroux encounters during his fascinating investigations. Watch Louix Theroux on BBC iPlayer

Worzel Gummidge

Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge
Mackenzie Crook as Worzel Gummidge

Detectorists creator Mackenzie Crook follows up the acclaimed sitcom with this updated version of classic children’s series Worzel Gummidge. Crook takes on writing and directing duties as well as the starring role, in a reboot that has been praised for its charming sense of humour and valuable environmental messages. There’s no word yet on whether we can expect another series, but given the warm reception to this two-parter, it certainly seems possible… Watch Worzel Gummidge on BBC iPlayer

W1A

Series 1-3

This satirical comedy brings back the lead character of Twenty Twelve, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), in his new job role as Head of Values at the BBC. It’s his responsibility to define the corporation’s role in British society and prepare it for the future, while dealing with some hilarious day-to-day crises in the process. W1A has a stellar cast including Monica Dolan (A Very English Scandal), Jessica Hynes (Spaced), Jason Watkins (Trollied) and Hugh Skinner (Fleabag). Watch W1A on BBC iPlayer

This Time with Alan Partridge

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

Steve Coogan made his long-awaited return as delightfully awkward broadcaster Alan Partridge in this comedic take on a magazine news series similar in format to The One Show. While it doesn’t have quite as many laugh-out-loud moments as the character’s previous outings, the satire is smart and Coogan is superb, delivering brilliant Partridge lines in each episode. Susannah Fielding also stars as beleaguered co-presenter Jennie Gresham. Watch This Time with Alan Partridge 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 recent drama series tells the story of the woman at the heart of The Profumo Affair, one of the biggest scandals of the 20th Century. Sophie Cookson (Kingsman) gives a superb performance as Christine Keeler, whose affairs with both the Secretary of State for War and a Soviet Union soldier are splashed all over the newspapers. This series offers insight into the events that led to the scandal as well as the climactic trial that spawned from it. Watch The Trial of Christine Keeler on BBC iPlayer

Extras

Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais follow-up project after The Office was this deadpan comedy set in the world of thankless film and TV extra work. It’s a classic piece of British comedy, as struggling actor Andy Millman (Gervais) desperately tries to launch a career from blurry roles in the background. Merchant co-stars as useless talent agent Darren Lamb, with Ashley Jensen (After Life) as dim-witted friend Maggie. Come for the hilariously awkward humour and incredible celebrity cameos, stay for the genuinely touching final episode. Watch Extras 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 adaptation, which sees an elderly woman with dementia searching for her missing friend. Dealing with such a sensitive topic, it should be no surprise that Elizabeth is Missing packs an emotional punch, but Jackson also excels in the script’s more comedic moments. RadioTimes.com gave the powerful drama a four-star review. 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 now on iPlayer, both of which have been critically acclaimed, with a third one well on the way. Watch Pose on BBC iPlayer

His Dark Materials

Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials

The BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s sweeping fantasy epic is very impressive indeed. Dafne Keen (Logan) takes the lead role of Lyra Belacqua, a mischievous young girl intent on rescuing her kidnapped friend. To do so, she’ll have to evade capture herself from treacherous foes with the help of her daemon named Pan, who often takes the form of a weasel. Ruth Wilson (The Affair) and James McAvoy (IT: Chapter Two) also star… Watch His Dark Materials 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 and 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

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. Luther has been a firm favourite among the BBC lineup since it began back in 2010, with Elba giving an electric performance in the lead role and viewers gripped by the show’s consistently thrilling sense of tension. Watch Luther 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

The Capture

The Capture
Callum Turner in The Capture

This critically acclaimed six-part drama sees returning soldier Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) come under suspicion from detective inspector Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger), after CCTV footage links him to the kidnapping of a young woman. It’s a thrilling (and paranoia-inducing) look at how surveillance can be used and abused in the modern world, earning strong praise from critics. Ben Miles (The Crown), Paul Ritter (Chernobyl), Famke Janssen (X-Men) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) also star. Watch 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

The Mighty Boosh

While it inevitably won’t be for everyone, the mad world of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt’s Mighty Boosh is treasured by many. The cult hit series follows the surreal adventures of two struggling musicians, who live with a mystic alien shaman and a gorilla. 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

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 through their various trials and tribulations. The show became less fun as the kids grew up and their innocent backchat evolved into moody teen rudeness, but the early episodes feature some classic lines and a family dynamic that many of us can relate to. Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner star as drained parents Pete and Sue, with Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez as their challenging children. Watch Outnumbered 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

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do In The Shadows

Academy Award winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) adapt their excellent mockumentary film into an equally strong television series. The action shifts from New Zealand to New York City, where four vampires have lived as room mates for hundreds of years. The first season debuted last year to very strong reviews, praising the absurd comedy and ensemble cast that includes Matt Berry (Year of the Rabbit) and Kayvan Novak (Four Lions). Watch 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

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