Some TV shows are so good that you just can’t bear to switch them off.
If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. Binge-watching TV is so common that it has been studied by cultural anthropologists, with a recent survey reporting that over 60% of people subscribed to Netflix TV on Demand service, ‘binge-watch’ regularly.
The good news is that 8 in 10 people who regularly sit and watch multiple episodes of a particular show say it’s a more satisfying way to view TV. So why not try one of these classics when looking for shows to binge-watch? You might want to get the kettle on — you could be here for some time.
Dark and moody drama
There’s no doubting the popularity of moody, atmospheric Scandi-drama at the BBC right now. Wallander is one of the originals, following Detective Kurt Wallander as he tries to solve crime in southern Sweden. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, it is a visually stunning series that is also mentally stimulating.
Taking the gritty detective genre out of Sweden and right back to Blighty, Broadchurch centres around a murder of a young boy in a British seaside town. As the plot unfolds, the community are torn apart by both the crime and the resulting media focus on their sleepy village.
Post war women
This popular BBC series follows a group of midwives working in the poverty-stricken East End of London in the 1950s and early 1960s. Based on the memoirs of midwife Jennifer Worth, this series captures both the warmth and the daily challenges of post-war life. The character development and gentle good humour make it a perfect show to binge watch.
If you like Call The Midwife, then try the Bletchley Circle. Four women who used to work as codebreakers at Bletchley work together to catch a serial killer, using their trained ability to spot and interpret patterns to help them see things the police miss.
How the other half live
For glitz and glamour, there’s no beating Mad Men. Get immersed in the world of 1960s advertising, with the charismatic Don Draper and his team. Looking through the eyes of some of those ‘on the up’ gives a fascinating view of the era, pencil skirts, office politics, casual chauvinism and all.
If you have not been following the fortunes of the Crawley family, then this is the time to get acquainted. Viewers have been tuning in since 2010 for a slice of pre-war life, both with the Crawleys and their servants below stairs.
Going back further in time, this atmospheric drama from the BBC follows the intrigues of Henry VIII’s court, and specifically of Thomas Cromwell who was advisor to the king. A six-episode miniseries, Wolf Hall was nominated for multiple awards and proved so popular that a second season looks likely. Watch the first season now so you’re ready for the second when it comes out.
This colourful series looking at the life and marriages of Henry VIII was first screened in 2007. If you like Wolf Hall, you will love this. Grab a cuppa and settle in with this great show to binge watch.
Grit and glamour
An alternative, if you’re looking for gritty drama featuring both the ordinary ‘man on the street’ and the more glamorous, is the BBC series Rome. Covering the bloodthirsty, the sexy, and the political, as well as the daily challenges of life, this is a history lesson without even trying.
If you liked ‘The Sopranos’, try Peaky Blinders – about a gang making their mark in Birmingham in the early 1920s. This show scored a ‘Best of 2014’ rating from The Guardian newspaper because of the cinematic visuals and great character development. There’s more of this series to come on BBC, so catch up now.
US meets UK
The Office started in the UK, as a mockumentary following the team of a Slough-based company whose office faced closure. The show made Ricky Gervais a household name, with its blend of tension and awkwardness making it laugh-out-loud funny. Having captivated audiences in the UK, The Office US followed later with its own spin and characters. Check it out if you have already seen the UK version.
The 1990 miniseries, House of Cards, follows scheming chief whip Francis Urquhart after the fall of the Thatcher government. In 2013, this idea was revisited in a new series, this time based in the US. Watch both series to see how a timeless tale of revenge and manipulation translates across decades and continents.
From side-splitting comedy to gruesome history, political machinations to mystery-shrouded murder, there’s nothing better than binge watching a bit of escapist TV. Which of your favourites should we add to our list?