Matthew MacFadyen holds a newspaper in 'Stonehouse'

BritBox’s Best of 2023 List Means My TV Viewing Schedule Is Now Set

I’m a huge fan of programming out of the U.K., especially detective shows and thrillers. I finally treated myself to a BritBox subscription, which can be added via Amazon Prime Video or subscribed to solo. BritBox is a smorgasbord of, yes, British-made content, and it’s my main portal to re-binge episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and discover new procedural dramas—my recent favorites are Grace and Sherwood. Please watch Grace and Sherwood so that I have more people to talk to and fewer people to harangue about watching them.

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BritBox has announced their top streaming titles of the year—the content they consider their very best of 2023, and some of the platform’s most-watched and best-reviewed. Most of these titles are not what I would have naturally gravitated toward when navigating on my TV screen, so I was happy to have them highlighted. There are two fascinating-looking documentaries about larger-than-life actors, Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole, another look at a Hollywood legend in more dramatic form with Jason Isaacs as the man behind Cary Grant, a criminal drama starring Timothy Spall, and lighter comedy fare from creator-star Romesh Ranganathan. There’s also a “harrowing drama” about retro U.K. politics starring Succession force of nature Matthew MacFadyen and Bodyguard‘s Keeley Hawes, who I would absolutely throw myself in front of a bullet for.

Here’s BritBox’s best of 2023 list, straight from the source:

  • Archie (Premiers December 7): BAFTA® Award-winning and Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter and executive producer Jeff Pope brings the remarkable, little-known story of the formative years of Hollywood superstar, Cary Grant to screens in this much-anticipated drama. One of the twentieth century’s most iconic figures, Cary Grant touched the world with his charm, wit and grace. But few knew Archie Leach, the man behind the name, and the enormous challenges he overcame on his path to stardom. From his troubled childhood to the one overpowering lie that shaped his life, this surprising and emotional drama captures the struggles, fears, loves and losses of Archie Leach – a man who couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself. Starring Jason Isaacs and executive produced by Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant’s daughter, and Dyan Cannon, his ex-wife.
  • Stonehouse: This is the true story of disgraced Labour minister John Stonehouse by acclaimed writer John Preston with BAFTA & Emmy-winning Matthew MacFadyen (Succession) in the lead role, co-starring Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard) as Barbara Stonehouse and Kevin R. McNally (Designated Survivor) as Harold Wilson. 
  • The Sixth Commandment: The Sixth Commandment tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar (Timothy Spall, Hatton Garden Heist), and a charismatic young student, Ben Field (Éanna Hardwicke, Normal People), who bonded over their love of books and involvement with the Church of England, set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory.
  • The Ghost of Richard HarrisThe film examines the life of the multi-talented screen actor – but this is not your typical film that only looks at his unqualified successes.  Instead, it reassesses his legacy and addresses the darker aspects of his life – his broken marriages, his use of drugs and alcohol and the films that he might have preferred to forget. It leans into his “hell-raiser” reputation as told by those who knew him best including his three sons, Jared, Jamie, and Damien. The documentary was screened to widespread acclaim at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Since then, it has received various awards and nominations including being longlisted by the BAFTA Film Awards. 
  • Peter O’Toole: Along the Sky Road to AqabaThe documentary centers around how O’Toole brought a touch of danger to his art and had a stroke of madness present throughout his life. Structured into four acts each introduced by a quote about O’Toole that encapsulates his life during a specific period. Each act expands into a holistic narrative addressing questions such as his self-belief, his alcoholism, his relationships with women, his belief in socialis,m and his selective embrace of Irishness. While O’Toole’s words (gleaned from hundreds of hours of archival interviews) serve as a narrator, the doc also features new interviews with Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi (among others). 
  • Avoidance: Created and written by Romesh Ranganathan and Benjamin Green and starring Romesh Ranganathan, the BAFTA-winning actor and comedian behind the Netflix special The Cynic, Avoidance follows hapless anti-hero Jonathan who is struggling to get back on his feet after breaking up with partner Claire (Jessica Knappett, Ghosts). After Claire has accused him of being impossible to live with, and keen to avoid conflict at all costs, Jonathan moves in with his sister (Mandeep Dhillon, CSI: Vegas) and her wife (Lisa McGrillis, Mum). For the sake of his 9-year-old son, Spencer, Jonathan starts to rebuild his life and pull himself together, which is hard when you lack all the necessary tools to do so.

All of these titles are going on my to-watch list, but I’m most excited about Stonehouse, because the cast there is impeccable, and The Ghost of Richard Harris, which appears to be an unflinching reassessment of his legacy. While you’re here, check out our lists of the best British detective shows and best British crime dramas, many of which can be seen on, you got it, BritBox. Now if you’ll excuse me, mon ami, I have a longstanding evening date with one Hercule Poirot.

(via Britbox, image: BritBox)


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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.
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