8 BBC Shows to Watch Before They (Potentially) Disappear From Netflix


The rights to most of the BBC shows currently streaming on Netflix are currently set to expire at the end of the month, and while there’s still plenty of time to renew them, the news has already sparked mild panic in some stateside Anglophiles. (Before you really freak out: Sherlock is safe, thanks to its affiliation with PBS, and Downton Abbey airs on ITV.) Since any excuse to plug quality British programming is a good one, here’s some suggested viewing for the next 18 days. Attempt to watch it all at your own risk.

Doctor Who

Netflix currently has both the original series and the revival, now in its eighth season, but for sanity’s sake we’ll advise starting with the newer stuff — there’s 17 years’ worth of backlog to work through if nattily dressed, time-traveling alien hijinks turn out to be your thing. Plus, the new series initially stars Christopher Eccleston, who currently plays Matt the cult-battling priest on The Leftovers. (The cognitive dissonance of watching Peter Capaldi go swear-less on a kids’ program comes later.)


Now that you’ve burned through all of Doctor Who 2.0 in three days, it’s time for this spin-off (one of several). It’s like Doctor Who, except about an immortal alien-hunter from the future instead of a sort-of-immortal alien from — well, that explanation takes a while. And it’s targeted at adults (Doctor Who is, technically, children’s programming), so Slate can’t shame you for being into it.


If “Idris Elba is the series lead” doesn’t make you click “Play” instantly, there probably isn’t much hope. But there’s also Ruth Wilson as a terrifying sociopath in a role that actually does her justice, unlike a certain show that just got her a Golden Globe.

Fawlty Towers

John Cleese’s tale of a tiny hotel on the “English Riviera” is as fine an introduction to British humor, and its favorable comparisons to the American variety, as any. Perfect for deepening engagement with the extended Monty Python oeuvre beyond the obligatory Monty Python and the Holy Grail viewings with Dad.


Americans mostly know Rowan Atkinson as the star of schlocky box-office fare like Bean and Johnny English. Blackadder, an ’80s anthology series that hopscotches through British history, may change that. Starring Atkinson as various scions of the namesake noble family and Tony Robinson as various servants named Baldrick, Blackadder follows its protagonist(s) on misadventures from the Middle Ages through World War I, catering to the history nerd in us all.

Top Gear

No doubt the Kardashians will catch up in time, but for now, Top Gear is the most popular reality show on Earth. Clocking in at 21 seasons and 168 episodes, that’s a lot of cars.

North & South

Sarah Seltzer has already sung the praises of the miniseries that launched a thousand Richard Armitage fangirls, but suffice it to say that what North & South lacks in famous source material (no disrespect to Elizabeth Gaskell, but she’s no Jane Austen as far as period drama catnip goes), it makes up for in romance. And explorations of class in 19th-century England.

A Bit of Fry & Laurie

The patron saints of the Infuriatingly Clever Cambridge Alumni school of comedy in the sketch show that made them famous. Fans of Peep Show, Last Week Tonight, and — just admit it — House owe at least a few episodes to themselves.