The best TV shows to watch on BBC iPlayer

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

The Salisbury Poisonings - dave minty and Tracy

With a whole range of new streamers propping up, subscription plans and multitudes of TV content to choose from, it can sometimes feel overwhelming when deciding on what to watch. However, when you’re looking for a reliable and trusty source of free-to-watch quality TV throughout lockdown, you can always turn to BBC iPlayer, with its constant stream of new dramas, comedies and factual documentaries on offer.


TV-enthusiasts have taken to the platform in record-breaking numbers over the past few months to watch sensational dramas like The Salisbury Poisonings and Normal People, as well as lockdown comedy Staged and light-hearted camp-fest Canada’s Drag Race.

With classic series like Doctor Foster, Taboo, Doctor Who and Line of Duty still available to stream, you can easily revisit some of your favourite moments from TV history, or immerse yourself in brand new critically-acclaimed shows like I May Destroy You and Mrs America.

So, if you’re looking for your next telly obsession, check out our regularly updated picks of the best TV shows to watch on BBC iPlayer.

The Salisbury Poisonings

Rafe Spall in The Salisbury Poisonings
Rafe Spall in The Salisbury Poisonings (BBC)

This three-part drama, based on the 2018 Novichok poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, looks at the crisis from the views of Public Health officer Tracy Daszkiewicz (Anne-Marie Duff) and police officer Nick Bailey (Rafe Spall).

The fact-based series, which recently aired on BBC One over three consecutive nights, shows the public’s panic after Sergei and Yulia were found poisoned, the great lengths endured by the public authorities to ensure the citizens of Salisbury’s safety and the innocent lives for ever affected by the incident. Watch The Salisbury Poisonings on BBC iPlayer

Mrs America

Mrs America (BBC)
Mrs America (BBC)

This nine-part drama looks at the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s America and the outspoken conservative activist  Phyllis Schlafy (Cate Blanchett) who was determined to take them and the Equal Rights Amendment down.

With its star-studded cast – Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Tracey Ullman, Elizabeth Banks, Margot Martindale – and true story, Mrs America is a compelling watch, featuring a complexly stunning performance from Blanchett as the pastel-clad anti-heroine. Watch Mrs America on BBC iPlayer

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska

Adapted from John Green’s 2005 novel of the same name, Looking for Alaska follows Culver Creek Academy students Miles (Charlie Plummer), Takumi (Jay Lee), Chip (Denny Love), Lara (Sofia Vassilieva) and Sara (Landry Bender) who, after the death of their friend Alaska (Kristine Froseth), look back on the events that led to it in a search for answers.

This teen drama miniseries, created by The OC’s Josh Schwartz, doesn’t strictly stick to its source material but as a result, develops into a bittersweet look at adolescence with lots of heart. Watch Looking for Alaska on BBC iPlayer

I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You

This fearlessly raw comedy-drama from Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel explores sexual consent, modern dating and gratification through the lens of a twenty-something woman in London.

The 12-part series follows Arabella (Coel), a novelist who rose to fame through social media and quickly labelled as “the voice of her generation”, as she reassesses her career, friendships and family after being drugged and sexually assaulted in a nightclub.

Also starring Press’ Paapa Essiedu and Inside No. 9’s Weuche Opia as Arabella’s best friends, I May Destroy You is gripping, unmissable drama which makes for important viewing. Watch This May Destroy You on BBC iPlayer

Canada’s Drag Race

We’ve had RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag Race UK, but now it’s time to visit our Canadian cousins. Canada’s Drag Race, which arrived on iPlayer on Friday 3rd July, sees Canada’s finest queens compete for the Drag Race crown over the course of ten episodes (released weekly).

Presented by US Drag Race runner-up and self-proclaimed Queen of the North, Brooke Lynn Hytes, the series challenges the queens to impress judges Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Unreal) and Stacey McKenzie (Canada’s Next Top Model) with their performing, acting, dancing, sewing and comedy skills.

With guest judges Michelle Visage, Tom Green and Elisha Cuthbert due to appear, this export of Canadian drag is not one to miss. Watch Canada’s Drag Race on BBC iPlayer


David Tennant, Michael Sheen in BBC One Staged

One of the latest series produced during lockdown, Staged stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant as exaggerated versions of themselves, attempting to rehearse a play over Zoom amid the coronavirus chaos. The six episodes are only 15-to-20 minutes long, but they’re packed full of witty banter and the actors’ insights into life stuck indoors. Watch Staged on BBC iPlayer

Doctor Foster

Suranne Jones Doctor Foster

This explosive drama from playright Mike Bartlett stars national treasure Suranne Jones as a GP Gemma Foster who begins to suspect her husband of 14 years is having an affair. With two seasons of suspicion and betrayal to binge through, Doctor Foster is the perfect edge-of-your-seat watch, as viewers witness Gemma’s gradual descent into adultery-based paranoia. Also starring Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Bertie Carvel. Watch Doctor Foster on BBC iPlayer


BBC/Hartswood Films/Netflix/Robert Viglasky

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the duo behind the Doctor Who’s 2005 revival and Sherlock, returned to BBC One earlier this year with Dracula – a campy, terrifying and charismatic take on Bram Stoker’s 19th century vampire. 

Starring Danish actor Claes Bang in the titular role supported by Dolly Wells as witty Sister Agatha and an excellent John Heffernan, this revamp(ire) is a sharp and sometimes gory three-parter, with an undeniable Moffat-Gatiss tone. Watch Dracula on BBC iPlayer


Tom Hardy in Taboo
BBC / Scott Free

Created by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, Taboo is a brilliantly grim drama starring Tom Hardy (who co-created the series with his father) as a brooding 19th century man who has returned to claim inheritance from his recently dead father.

This Gothic eight-parter, featuring the likes of Oona Chaplin, Jonathan Pryce and Jessie Buckley looks at 1800s London in a dark, brutal light. Tom Hardy’s menacing performance makes up for the period drama’s slow pace and leaves you wanting more. Watch Taboo on BBC iPlayer

Normal People

This romantic drama has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of BBC iPlayer’s most watched programmes and for good reason. Viewers have been enraptured by the tumultuous relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), two university students living in Dublin. All episodes are available to stream right now, which is quite fortunate as it makes for perfect binge watch material. Watch Normal People on BBC iPlayer

The Nest

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 01/02/2020 - Programme Name: The Nest - TX: n/a - Episode: Portraits (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: L-R Dan (MARTIN COMPSTON), Emily (SOPHIE RUNDLE), Kaya (MIRREN MACK) - (C) Studio Lambert - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Martin Compston (Line of Duty) and Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders) star in this drama series about a wealthy couple who ask a troubled teenager to be their surrogate. The show recently concluded on BBC One to a strong reception from critics and viewers, packing a number of twists and powerful performances. Watch The Nest on BBC iPlayer

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do In The Shadows screenshot (YouTube trailer)

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

Killing Eve

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. Watch Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer

Line of Duty

Line of Duty, BBC Pictures

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


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 Spooks 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

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

Last Tango in Halifax series 5

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 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

Programme Name: This Country - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: L-R Kurtan (CHARLIE COOPER), Kerry (DAISY MAY COOPER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Jack Barnes

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 cast

Torchwood came spinning out of Russell 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

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 11/02/2020 - Programme Name: Inside No. 9 Series 5 - TX: n/a - Episode: Love's Great Adventure (No. 3) - Picture Shows: **STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 11/02/2020 00:00:01** Trevor (STEVE PEMBERTON) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

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

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, 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

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

Silent Witness

Silent Witness

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 Silent Witness on BBC iPlayer


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

The Cry

Ewen Leslie and Jenna Coleman in The Cry

Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman stars in this thrilling drama as Joanna – a mother fighting for custody of her baby when a trip to Australia goes horribly wrong. Based on the Helen FitzGerald book of the same name, the mystery four-part series will have you on the edge of your seat. Watch The Cry 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

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


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


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

BBC One’s  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


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

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 30/11/2019 - Programme Name: Elizabeth Is Missing - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Maud (GLENDA JACKSON) - (C) STV Productions - Photographer: Mark Mainz

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. gave the powerful drama a four-star review. Watch Elizabeth is Missing on BBC iPlayer


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


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

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 Seven Worlds, One Planet on BBC iPlayer


Idris Elba in Luther (BBC)

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

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

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 The Capture on BBC iPlayer


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

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

Edward (REECE SHEARSMITH), Tubbs (STEVE PEMBERTON) in The League of Gentlemen 20th anniversary special (BBC Pictures)

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


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


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

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

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

The Young Offenders BBC

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

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

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

Gentleman Jack - Ep 3

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


Check out what else is on with our TV Guide