police car and crime spot markers

Police shows and crime drama series to watch

Ever since I was 10 and started reading my mum’s Inspector Morse and Dick Francis books, I’ve been a bit of a crime fan. Sounds young, but murder books back then weren’t so graphic as those nowadays. When I was older I got into watching detective shows like Quincy and Columbo. Now there’s so many on police shows and crime series on tv, I’m struggling to watch all of those I want to.

Here’s some of the police and crime dramas I’ve enjoyed over the years up to re-watching again more recently (or more likely discovering them on random Freeview TV channels because they were previously on Sky which we don’t have).

tips for the best crime and police dramas to watch

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TV Police shows and crime series

UK crime series

Silent Witness (BBC)

My husband got me into these, the series is one of the only tv shows we will watch together. Based around a forensic science lab and their work finding answers for murder investigations.

Line of Duty (BBC, 6 series)

Following AC10, the anti-corruption unit. You either love it or are ambivalent. I’m hoping the show returns.

Bodyguard (BBC, 1 series)

Former soldier finds protection and securty work as a bodyguard to a polarising politician he doesn’t always agree with while trying to recover with PTSD symptoms.

Endeavour (ITV)

Gentler side of policing, showing the early years of Morse’s police years. I used to like watching Inspector Morse to see all the places in Oxford I know, so I can do the same with Endeavour.

Spooks (BBC, 10 series)

Tense spy series following the work of MI5, a clandestine counter-terrorism division of the British security service, with some gory endings to various characters through the series.

Trigger Point (ITV)

Following the bomb squad with Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester in the key roles.

Prime Suspect (ITV, 7 series)

Long running tv show featuring Dame Helen Mirren as DCI Tennison.

The Bay (ITV)

Detective police series set in Morecambe bay, NW England, with a focus on family liaison officers working alongside the main investigators in the community.

Broachchurch (ITV, 3 series)

Out of town detective vs local competing and working together to solve crimes in a Dorset setting. Featuring David Tennant and Olivia Colman.

Shetland (BBC, 6 series)

Each series is one storyline, following Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez’ team in his Shetland community.

Death in Paradise (BBC)

Set in the Caribbean, this gentle crime drama follows the island’s murders and the slightly awkward British detective of the series who ends up in Saint Marie. The solving of the crime always follows a Hercule Poirot style coming together of the suspects to unveil whodunnit. Easy viewing, a little comedic moment and no gore.

Luther (BBC)

Psychological crime drama featuring Idris Elba as the lead detective with issues of his own around obsession and violence.

Strike (BBC)

Based on Strike novels written by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), following war veteran Cormoran Strike, turned private detective solving complex cases with his partner.

police car and crime spot markers

US crime shows

The Wire

The show that brought Idris Elba to the attention of many! In the city of Baltimore, Detective James McNulty and his team investigate crimes and try their best to solve the bridge that exists between the drug kingpins and the law enforcement agencies.


Popular Crime Scene Investigation show based on forensic science investigations. Sequel CSI Vegas started in 2021. Miami and New York versions of the show had crossovers of cast on some occasions, CSI Cyber was a 4th franchise.


Long running police procedural drama, with a prolifieration of spin offs (Los Angeles, New Orleans, Hawaii, Sydneyi) based on investigations by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service’ major response team.


Crime writer Castle gets involved with the police solving crimes when a murder bases his crimes on Castle’s books.


Loosely based on the books by Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan and FBI Agent Seeley Booth form an unlikely alliance to solve cases by examining the remains of victims.

Hawaii Five-O

I’m now starting watching this again from the start as I joined it halfway through frst time it appeared on Freeview. A modern update on the 1968-80 series. An elite task force sets out on a mission to wipe out serious crime on the islands of Hawaii. I love the relationship between the team and even my 11 year old likes it for the funny bits.

Magnum PI

Slick modern update of the Tom Selleck show from the 80s. An ex-Navy SEAL returns home from Afghanistan only to use his special skills for his secret venture as a private investigator in Hawaii, where he works as a famous novelist’s security consultant.

Jack Reacher

TV series taken from the Lee Child books and films, based on a former military policeman lone drifter who gets involved stopping criminals while on his travels.


The FBI finds a woman with amnesia appears covered in tattoos that are clues to crime conspiracy. Each show tries to explain more of the tattoos.


8 seasons of counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer fighting the bad guys one day at a time. With each week’s episode unfolding in real time.

Rizzoli and Isles

Police detective Rizzoli teams up with Medical Examiner Isles to solve crimes. The show was based on the books by Tess Gerritson.

Which crime series do you enjoy?

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    1. They’re quite different styles US vs UK, but both enjoyable. I’m less of a fan of the darker Scandinavian style ones. I’ve not seen many of those

    1. It seems like that’s definitely one I need to catch up with. I’m also hoping Seal Team comes to Freeview at some point in the future – can’t access it here on my channels yet.

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