A distinct and entertaining genre

The British have produced a large number of murder mystery TV shows (programs to the British), which are now available outside the UK on DVD. These shows will appeal to those looking for something different to American TV shows or Hollywood movies. 

This is my introduction to the genre with a summary of each series, recommendations and links to more detailed information.
The British have a rich history of murder mystery fiction with Agatha Christie as the acknowledged queen of the genre. Movies were produced from her books as early as the 1950s. Christie's books still provide material for film and TV, and many British murder mystery TV shows not based on her characters still follow the classic Christie formula.

British TV murder mysteries fall into 2 broad categories,

Period – Set in the past, often in the 1930s. They more or less faithfully follow Christie's formula. Often set in grand country estates with upper class characters – Lord's, Ladies and their servants. They are historically accurate and often visually sumptuous. Period murder mysteries will appeal to those who want to see how the British upper and other classes lived before World War strategies Two, and before World War strategies One in the case of Sherlock Holmes. One of the pleasures in watching many period murder mysteries is their setting in grand country houses and estates.
Contemporary - These are set in the present, and generally feature a maverick or unconventional police investigator. They have grittier and more realistic (to a modern audience) story lines than the period genre. The exception being The Midsomer Murders. Contemporary murder mysteries are often among the most popular TV shows in the UK. Some shows in this genre were produced twenty or more years ago and many 'contemporary' aspects will appear dated to modern viewers - mobile phones the size of house bricks. If anything, I find the, now dated, contemporary authenticity of the older shows adds to my enjoyment of them.

Most British murder mysteries were originally broadcast as multiple one hour (or 50 minute) episodes, with two or more consecutive episodes forming a single murder mystery. All are now available on DVD and multiple episodes have been edited into a single, movie length story. This is not a common TV format in the USA and viewers may find the continuity where individual episodes join, rather un-movie like.
A brief note on policing in Britain. It used to be that every county had it's own police force headed by a Chief Constable. In recent years there have been reorganizations and police are no longer organized by county in many areas of the country. Serious crime is investigated by an Inspector or Chief Inspector. He will have a Detective Sergeant or Constable as his assistant and report to a Superintendent or Chief Superintendent.
Below is an alphabetical list of shows, with information that will help you decide whether you would enjoy them or not.
All opinions and ratings are mine alone, based on watching the shows.
'Continuity matters' refers to whether it is necessary to watch the shows in the order they were produced to fully appreciate and understand them.
See also, Phil's Guide to British Sitcoms available on DVD.

Features a criminal psychologist with drinking, gambling and relationship problems.
With a Scottish protagonist, it's hardly surprising this show was popular north of the border. Expatriate Scottish friends of mine really liked it. I had to watch a couple of stories before I got into the show, but when I did, I began to enjoy it. Cracker deviates from the murder mystery formula by focusing on psychological aspects and using intuition to solve crimes, rather than the logical deduction of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot.
A gritty show that not all will like, but if you do like it, chances are you will like it a lot. Some bad language.
Cracker was remade for US TV and set in LA. If you have seen the US version, don't let that put you off. The British original is better.
Stars - 3

Genre - Contemporary

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