In this series, we take a look at the London-set TV shows and films to look out for on various streaming platforms (click through for BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime). Today, our focus is with Netflix, which offers a particularly good mix of classic television shows.
Note: streaming services add and remove content all the time. We will try to keep these articles up to date, but always check with the service for the latest details.
Corridors of power
All-conquering The Crown is, for many people, reason enough to get a Neflix sub. The biographical drama spans three series and follows the lives of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy in seasons 1 and 2, Olivia Colman in season 3) and Prince Philip (Matt Smith in seasons 1 and 2, Tobias Menzies in season 3) beginning with their pre-Accession marriage in 1947. The show has garnered many awards and huge critical praise. As you'd imagine, it features many London scenes, but those shots of the Palace and Downing Street are faked on a set in Elstree Studios just north of the capital.
From crown to parliament. Slick political comedy The Thick of It made a household name of Peter Capaldi as a sweary spin doctor. All four series of the Westminster-set show can be found on Netflix.
Reeling in the highest BBC viewing figures since 2008, police thriller Bodyguard was an immense hit, with Keeley Hawes and Richard Madden playing the Home Secretary and a protection officer respectively. Dark, brooding and filmed almost entirely in London.
Spies, detectives and crime
London cop and spy shows are particularly well represented on Netflix. The BBC's Sherlock is arguably the pick of the bunch. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are immense as Holmes and Watson, while London itself plays a big part in the show's success. Witness the phonebox shrine to Sherlock, which materialised outside Bart's hospital following the character's apparent death. The first four series can be found on Netflix.
ITV series Whitechapel is beyond far-fetched, but has plenty of adherents. Rupert Penry-Jones heads the bill as an East End detective investigating a series of macabre crimes, with a little help from Steve Pemberton's tour guide. The first series focuses on a Jack the Ripper copycat, the second revives the Krays, while series three and four cover a grisly scenario every episode.
Luther might be glibly summed up as another gritty crime drama about a cop who isn't afraid to break the rules. Yet this four-series BBC show has an assured edge that makes for compelling viewing — especially if you live or work in Shoreditch where most of the action seems to have been filmed. Plus, Ruth Wilson and Idris Elba make one of the best pairings on television.
After two series on Channel 4, Top Boy, a gritty crime drama series set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney, was revived for a third series on Netflix (a feat that was championed, and led, by none other than Canadian rapper, Drake). There's a fourth in the pipeline, too. All three series are up on Netflix, although the original two now have the moniker Top Boy: Summerhouse.
A co-production between BBC2 and Netflix, Collateral flew slightly under the radar when it first broadcast in 2018 but its four episodes, each set over a different day following the murder of a pizza delivery driver in London, can be caught up on if you missed it the first time. Be warned: there are more twists and turns than Bank station.
Call the Midwife probably needs little introduction. The Poplar-based series portrays the lives of a group of midwives and their charges in the 1950s and 60s. The show has been a huge success and looks set to continue for years to come. The first seven series and Christmas specials are all available on Netflix, ideal for a heartwarming binge.
Charlie Brooker's delightfully dark Black Mirror takes a dystopian, satirical look at the impact of technology on society. It makes regular use of the capital — either as a setting in its own right or to stand in for somewhere else. After impressing the critics on Channel 4, the show moved to Netflix in 2016 and now enjoys a worldwide audience. The National Anthem, Playtest and Hated in the Nation are good episodes for London locations.
Two comedy giants from different eras can be found on Netflix. Join Del Boy, Rodney and Trigger as they wheel and deal around south London's Peckham in Only Fools and Horses. Only the first three seasons are currently on Netflix, but it's surely one of the best sitcoms of all time. Speaking of sitcom successes (and south London), all nine series of the inimitable Peep Show is ready to tuck into. Settle down for point-of-view characters, Croydon and a pure masterclass of cringe comedy.
If we're being honest, Netflix's offering of classic London films is pretty poor. Highlights include Layer Cake, Kingsman, Snatch and the Academy Award-winning Darkest Hour, The King's Speech and Phantom Thread. But if you've ever lamented that Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum was set in New York, your luck's in. The third and final instalment of the film series that sees museum inhabitants spring into life once darkness falls, Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb, is set in London and available for your viewing (dis)pleasure on Netflix.
Last (and possibly also least), for an all-out cheese-fest with some gratuitous London sightseeing sprinkled in, What A Girl Wants with Amanda Bynes and Colin Firth is pure teen comedy twee.
And a few scraps
Once Upon a Time in London: Cockney gangsters, concealed razors, beige trench coats and cheeky one liners – you know the score.
He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege: You can guess the story from the title of this badly reviewed drama. An SAS veteran attempts to save the life of the PM from an attack on Downing Street. Never seen it, never going to see it.
The Krays: The Myth Behind The Legend: Documentary brought out to coincide with the film Legend, narrated by former Kray portrayer Martin Kemp.