• Category: Features
  • Written by Rick Ellis

2013 In Review: The Five Best New British TV Shows (That You Can't See In The U.S.)

The Tunnel

2013 wasn't just a great year for television in the United States. It was a fabulously creative year in the U.K. and many of the best new shows - "The Fall," "Broadchurch" - have already shown up either on cable TV in the U.S. or on Hulu and Netflix. But not all of the worthy new shows have made it across the Atlantic quite yet and we're highlighting six shows that American audiences really should be able to see for themselves:

Yonderland (Sky TV)

Imagine a show that somehow mashes together "Once Upon A Time," "Fraggle Rock" and "Monty Python" and you get this delightfully odd series that combines puppets, live action and a lot of droll English humor into one uniquely British series. In the series, a bored suburban mom discovers a hidden fantasy world located behind her kitchen pantry. When she visits, she's celebrated as being "the chosen" one that will save the world. But the scroll explaining what she's supposed to do has been misplaced, leading to all sorts of awkward and unbelievable problems.

Utopia (Channel 4)

There are very few TV shows that can be accurately described as being completely unlike anything else. "Utopia" is one of those shows and while the nearest comparison I can come up with is "Twin Peaks," the two shows only resemble each other in the way they stretch expectations to the breaking point. Written by Dennis Kelly, the show centers on a small group of people who find themselves in possession of an unpublished sequel to the graphic novel "The Utopia Experiments." The manuscript predicts a series of upcoming disasters and the group must decipher the manuscript before these disasters become reality. That description cannot begin to give justice to the oddness of the show. The tone is sinister and unsettling and each episode takes you into a completely unexpected direction.

By Any Means (BBC One)

This series is the most straight-forward show on the list, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in adrenaline and craftsmanship. The series centers around a clandestine unit that is tasked with beating criminals at their own game. They'll break rules, wreck lives and do whatever it takes to bring down their targets. The episodes are slick and entertaining and there's something to be said for watching a really well-made procedural drama.

Vicious (ITV)

Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobin play Freddie and Stuart, a gay couple who have been together for 49 years. They have lived in the same apartment for nearly half a century and at this point in their lives spend most of days entertaining guests and sniping at each other. The best way to describe the series is that it's a classically British comedy, which means an abundance of campy jokes, over-the-top premises and not-quite believable characters. But like the best British comedies, it's also wildly funny.

The Tunnel

When a prominent French politician is found dead on the border between the UK and France, detectives Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) and Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) are sent to investigate on behalf of their respective countries. However, as the case takes a surreal turn, a series of elaborate killings force the French and British police into an uneasy partnership. Written by Ben Richards and from the makers of "Broadchurch," "Spooks" and "Life on Mars."