Need a new TV project to undertake? Here are our top picks for drama boxsets, from period pieces to police procedurals.
Line of Duty
Line of Duty has become a national institution, with series six still to come.
In a whole new spin on the police procedural, Line of Duty puts the coppers themselves under the microscope, as the series follows the anti-corruption investigations of AC Unit 12.
In the first series, after a botched anti-terror raid DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) refuses to cover up the killing of an innocent man. He therefore transfers to AC-12 and begins investigating the abnormally high conviction rates of DCI Tony Gates’ (Lennie James) department.
Given creator Jed Mercurio’s complex characterisation, a microscope is in genuine need to examine the labyrinthine morality of the suspects. Joining Arnott to help peel back the layers are his partner, DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), and their supervising Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar).
As each series ramps up the tension from the first episode to the last - especially during its infamous interrogation scenes – Line of Duty grips and doesn’t let go.
Better Call Saul
Far from your standard spin-off cash grab, in many ways Better Call Saul is Breaking Bad’s antithesis. Throwing aside the high octane elements of Breaking Bad’s winning formula, the product is a masterfully nuanced and slow-burning character study of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
Retracing the six years prior to the events of Breaking Bad, fans already know what happens, but this is the story about how: how small-time fraudster Jimmy McGill lost his soul to become the first port of call for criminals in legal need.
As Jimmy struggles to keep his inner conman at bay, his grey morals also begin to rub off on colleague and romantic interest, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Another Bad fan favourite, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), rears his old, wise and ruthless head as he strives to provide for his daughter-in-law through increasingly nefarious means.
And it’s these means that are the gateway back to the underbelly and its drug dealing action that many relished in Breaking Bad, gifting the second of two series for the price of one.
Netflix are currently releasing an episode every Tuesday for its fifth series.
In his title track for Peaky Blinders, Nick Cave sings of ‘a tall handsome man in a dusty black coat with a red right hand.’ Add a razorblade-concealing newsboy cap and you get Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the series protagonist and patriarch of the Brummie gangster family at its centre.
Aunt Polly (a sagacious Helen McCrory) had taken the reins of the bookmaking and robbing business during Tommy’s absence, but he returns from the First World War with higher ambitions for the gang.
He meets his match in Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), a Detective Chief Inspector sent to Birmingham from Belfast to rid the city of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Communists, but who prolongs his stay to clean up all gang warfare.
The BBC One series is loosely based on the notorious Peaky Blinders gang, who operated in Birmingham after the end of the 19th century.
You can watch the first four series on Netflix, with the fifth arriving on the 22nd April.
It’s hard to find a more ambitious series than Westworld, as the scale and stakes of the sci-fi Western are raised with every chapter.
The story begins in the eponymous Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android ‘hosts’ who cater for the appetites of their high-paying guests. These guests can seemingly indulge without consequence, but a mysterious malfunction threatens to upend the fantasyland.
Anthony Hopkins stars as Robert Ford, the enigmatic co-founder and park director playing God to all Westworld inhabitants. But as Ford clashes with Delos Inc., the park financers and operators, his true motives elude them all.
Intricately plotted and philosophically inclined, Westworld is an immensely satisfying cerebral twist-athon.
The third series is currently underway, with an episode airing on Sky Atlantic every Monday at 9pm.
This is England ’86, ’88 and ‘90
With a wealth of material leftover from his 2006 feature film of the same name, Shane Meadows revived the characters and aged them a few years for a four-part series, swapping the skinhead culture of ’83 for the mod revival of ’86.
During the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is sitting his last school exams and coming to terms with his entry into adulthood and working life.
Woody (Joe Gilgun) also returns having fully embraced mod culture, alongside his girlfriend Lol (Vicky McClure) and other members of the gang including Combo (Stephen Graham), who are all still looking for love, entertainment and employment.
The three series offer a bleakly comic and touching take on the experiences of ‘80s youth, which still resonate today.
And each takes a deep, nostalgic dive into our collective memories to recapture moments in times of drastic change for the country.