10 Best Cozy British Murder Mystery Series
In this day and age, who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? Some great examples have been released over the years. The incomparable Columbo, for instance, or more recently Rian Johnson’s fabulous Knives Out movies, or Only Murders in the Building. But, in all honesty, it’s the Brits that dominate this genre of storytelling, with the legacies of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie influencing the British television landscape massively.
While more action-driven gritty police dramas are also incredibly popular in the UK, including shows like Luther, Line of Duty, and Happy Valley, there are times when you just want to relax and watch your favorite characters solve the mystery of someone’s death without the looming presence of too much violence or trauma. That’s where the cozy British murder mystery comes in, a “genre” of television that whisks you away to a gorgeous idyllic location (usually the British countryside, though some shows travel a bit further out) where you can forget about your troubles for an hour or two.
We’ve collated a few of the best cozy British murder mystery shows for your viewing pleasure. Grab a couple of scones (with jam and clotted cream, of course—the only proper way to eat them) and enjoy.
Death in Paradise (2011-present)
Death in Paradise takes the viewer on a journey to the gorgeous (albeit fictional) Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, where fish-out-of-water British detectives unite with the local police force in solving various intriguing murder cases. With 12 seasons already under the show’s belt, Death in Paradise has seen quite a few Detective Inspectors come and go, but each brings their own quirky personality and experience to the show.
There’s also a new spinoff available, titled Beyond Paradise, which follows the adventures of the second Death in Paradise DI, Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) in the sleepy fictional seaside town of Shipton Abbott. Beware, however–there’s only been three episodes so far.
In the UK, all 12 seasons of Death in Paradise are available to watch on BBC iPlayer. In the US, you can find Death in Paradise on BritBox.
Midsomer Murders (1997-present)
The longest-running and perhaps most iconic example of the cozy British murder mystery, Midsomer Murders takes place in the fictional English county of Midsomer. Peppered with beautifully quaint villages and a plethora of neighborly squabbles, Midsomer Murders provides interesting stories, plenty of murder victims and suspects, and a strangely relaxing atmosphere for its audience to enjoy. It’s based on the books by Caroline Graham.
Though the show has only featured two lead Detective Chief Inspectors, namely John Nettles’ DCI Tom Barnaby and Neil Dudgeon’s DCI John Barnaby (yes, they are related), Midsomer Murders has had five different supporting Detective Sergeants, all of whom bring their own charm to the show. The guest cast over the decades is also a Who’s Who roster of many now-famous actors. Episodes of Midsomer Murders are available on ITVX in the UK, and in the US on Acorn TV.
Father Brown (2013-present)
And now we come to the first of Britain’s recent “clergy member turns amateur sleuth” shows, Father Brown. Based on the books by G.K. Chesterton, Father Brown follows the titular character and his friends as he tries to solve his neighborhood’s frankly alarming number of murders while simultaneously annoying the local police force. Father Brown himself is played with charming sincerity by Mark Williams, whom you might know best as Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter movies.
Season 10 of Father Brown is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and the show is available to buy or rent on various streaming services in the US and can be found on BritBox.
Sister Boniface Mysteries (2022-present)
Sister Boniface Mysteries is a spinoff of Father Brown and follows the sleuthing exploits of Sister Boniface, a nun in St Vincent’s Covent. The twist here, though, is that Sister Boniface uses not only her wildly accurate detective skills but the power of science as well to help the local constabulary solve murderous crimes.
This is a BritBox original and can be watched on the platform in both the UK and the US.
Featuring two more members of the clergy becoming amateur sleuths, Grantchester takes place in Cambridgeshire and follows Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and his best friend the vicar—first James Norton’s Sidney Chambers, later replaced with Tom Brittney’s Will Davenport—as they solve case after case in the parish of Grantchester. This is probably the darkest show on this list, but the central friendship and gorgeous backdrop make it a worthwhile watch.
All seven seasons of Grantchester can be watched on ITVX in the UK, and the show is available on PBS Masterpiece (and Amazon Prime Video) in the US.
Marple, otherwise known as Agatha Christie’s Marple, focuses on—you guessed it—the iconic Miss Marple and her excellent detective skills as she puts them to use in her hometown of St. Mary Mead. First played by Geraldine McEwan, who was later replaced by Julia McKenzie, this is six seasons of gentle yet intriguing entertainment and certainly deserves a place on this list.
Marple is available on ITVX in the UK and BritBox in the US.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot is a classic of British television (despite focusing on a Belgian detective) and stars the inimitable David Suchet as the titular and iconic Hercule Poirot. With a total of 70 episodes—a massive feat for any British TV series—there’s plenty of content and exciting murder mystery here to keep you occupied while once again immersing yourself in the British countryside. Perfect for a rainy Sunday.
Poirot is available on ITVX in the UK and on BritBox and with an AcornTV subscription in the US.
Agatha Raisin (2014-present)
Agatha Raisin is based on the books by M.C. Beaton and focuses on a PR guru turned amateur sleuth based in the beautiful Cotswolds region. This is one of the more energetic shows of the bunch, and Ashley Jensen’s comedic performance provides some solid laughs, bringing you a lighthearted version of the beloved cozy murder mystery.
Agatha Raisin is an Acorn TV original and can be viewed on their platform in both the UK and the US.
Rosemary & Thyme (2003-2006)
Rosemary & Thyme focuses on the friendship, detective skills, and gardening business of Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) and Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) as their horticultural expertise whisks them away to some of the most stunning gardens in the UK and beyond. Unfortunately, they do stumble upon quite a few murders and mysteries along the way.
Rosemary & Thyme can be watched in full on ITVX and on BritBox in the US.
Shakespeare & Hathaway–Private Investigators (2018-present)
Shakespeare & Hathaway is set in the gorgeous English town of Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of one William Shakespeare) and follows a retired detective turned private investigator and his business and crime-solving partner as they follow clues throughout the town. Though murders do happen, Shakespeare & Hathaway features a mix of different crimes and mysteries, providing a fun change of pace.
Shakespeare & Hathaway is available on BBC iPlayer in the UK and BritBox in the US.
Any other recommendations?
If you’ve had your fill of the so-called “cozy” murder mysteries, there are plenty of juicier, darker, yet not overly action-packed British shows that you can watch. A few good titles to start with include ITV’s Vera, Broadchurch, Foyle’s War, and the trinity of Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour. On the BBC side, there’s also still plenty left to explore, including titles such as Shetland, Inspector George Gently, and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
(featured image: ITV)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]