Looking forward to a relaxing weekend? Not interested in the World Cup? Freeview Play has got you covered with tons of binge worthy box sets available at your fingertips.
Here’s our pick of the best!
The League of Gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen has been described as like watching Monty Python remake The Wicker Man from inside Alan Bennett’s fever dream. The eccentric, and often grotesque characters created by Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss deliver a majestic mixture of horror and comedy.
Last year, League of Gentlemen fans were thrilled to see three special episodes to mark its twentieth anniversary. They’ll be touring with a live show later this year, but for now every episode is available to enjoy on-demand, including the anniversary specials.
For many viewers, this was their first taste of Scandi-noir TV drama. Series 4 is currently showing on BBC Two (the next episode is at 9pm on Friday). But if you haven’t caught up with previous series, they’re all available on BBC iPlayer. In the first episode, Swedish and Danish police investigate the murder of a woman found on the bridge that links the two Nordic neighbours. The wildly successful show has been sold to more than 100 countries, but Lars Blomgren, the man behind The Bridge still has ambitious plans: he wants to make a drama set on the border between North and South Korea. Good luck with that, Lars!
A Very English Scandal
The attempted murder of the Liberal Party leader’s male lover in the 1970s was a story just waiting to be televised. And it’s definitely been worth the wait. With stellar performances by Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, Patricia Hodge and Monica Dolan, plus a sublime script by former Doctor Who screenwriter Russell T. Davies, this is a compelling drama. The series focuses on the tragedy of Jeremy Thorpe’s downfall, but all three episodes are fizzing with farcical scenes and comical one-liners. There’s only a few days more to watch episode one, so connect to BBC iPlayer for one of the TV events of 2018.
Series 3 of this excellent drama includes great actors like Bob Hoskins, Anna Friel and Timothy Spall. But the real star of the show is scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern, who takes us into the lives and passions of neighbours in a north of England street.
With the new series airing now, if you aren’t familiar with the show it is time to catch up. All episodes from Series 1 and 2 are now available to enjoy on ITV Hub. Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar star as two London detectives investigating cold cases involving historic disappearances and murders. The show has proved to be a hit with viewers and critics, and the first series was nominated for a BAFTA in 2016.
Friday Night Dinner
Friday Night Dinner has just ended its fifth series and it’s widely agreed that this was one of the best. Featuring the pranking brothers, their eccentric father, sensible mum Jackie, plus the brilliant Mark Heap as the barmy next-door neighbour, it’s rapidly becoming a classic sitcom. Every episode from all five series is now available on All4.
Last year, that Waterloo Road-shaped space in your life got filled by the excellent Ackley Bridge. The school drama has a great mixture of strong storylines, memorable characters and powerful scenes, not to mention some very funny lines. Series two is now showing on Channel 4 (tune in on Tuesdays at 8pm, or catch up on All4). And all episodes of series one are available on-demand.
When it opened in 2016, this spy thriller was the UK’s highest-rated foreign-language drama launch. It’s set in the divided Germany of the 1980s, when the Cold War was in danger of turning hot. It also shows the human stories that were caught up in Iron Curtain politics. And the soundtrack features some great music from the likes of David Bowie, New Order and Grace Jones. A sequel series called Deutschland 86 is on the way, but all eight episodes of series 1 are available now on All4.
East Los High
This five-time Emmy nominated show takes us into the world of a group of teens in their final years at a Los Angeles high school. It’s a seriously addictive show where the young people have difficult choices to make about relationships, drugs and peer pressure. There’s heartbreak, love triangles and some impressive dance moves. Catch up with all four series on My5.
And if you’d like to follow the stories of some real-life LA teens, tune into LA Story on the ITV Hub.
Britain’s Great Cathedrals
Channel 5 has some absorbing factual series, and this is one of the best. From Winchester to York, Salisbury to Canterbury, Tony Robinson takes viewers back in time to explore these awe-inspiring buildings and their turbulent history. And he goes behind the scenes of their magnificent walls to discover their hidden secrets.
Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled
Sex, drugs, fame, cream cakes: no topic is off limits in this unconventional chat show. Alan Davies is the perfect host, giving guests such as Kathy Burke, Stephen Fry, Zoe Lyons and Eddie Izzard free rein to their unscripted wit. The title of each episode, based on the conversation, is only decided at the end of the show. Hence some arresting titles, like: A Clacker Free Zone; Hitler and Jingle; and I Didn’t Know If It Was The Embarrassment Or The Narcotics But I Have A Nosebleed.
You might have missed this series earlier this year, but it will appeal to viewers who enjoy historical drama. Inspired by the memoirs and letters of nurses and doctors during the American Civil War, Mercy Street follows the stories of two volunteer nurses from opposing sides working at the same hospital in Virginia.
There’s a spooktastic 96 episodes of this show to catch up with, as Zak Bagans and his crew investigate the scariest, most notorious haunted places in the world.
The Best of the Rest…
If you’re looking for even more box sets, most Freeview Play TVs come with Netflix and Amazon apps built into their smart features, so for a few pounds a month it’s easy to top up your viewing.
Check out some of our picks below:
The Good Wife
This glossy legal drama stars Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, the betrayed wife of a state attorney, and follows her life in a law firm. The show has been praised for its intelligent depiction of women, and especially of older women, and its cliff-hangers make The Good Wife more nail-biting than any action show. All seven series are now available to enjoy on Amazon Prime.
Unusual title, great show. In this Japanese manga series, we meet the young and mischievous Juri Yukawa. When her brother and nephew are kidnapped, Juri discovers that her grandfather can stop time using a mysterious stone. When they infiltrate the kidnappers’ hideout, they meet others who can move through the strange world of Stasis, as well as the grotesque monsters inhabiting it.
Acclaimed by critics and adored by viewers, all episodes in the first three series of this 1920s crime drama are now available to enjoy on Netflix. Led by the fearsome Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a notorious Birmingham gang is intent on ruling the streets, no matter the cost.
Charlie Brooker’s fables from the near-future are full of twists and turns, sleights of hand and last-minute reveals. Most episodes focus on the sinister side of technology, and the impact of social media on human emotions. Since this show moved to Netflix, the scale has become more cinematic and the settings more spectacular. All in all, Black Mirror is a deeply satisfying TV experience.