Video-streaming service Netflix gives you a vast number of films, TV shows and documentaries to choose from. But with so much choice of UK streaming services out there, more often than not you find yourself spending your entire evening shuffling through the selection trying to pick something suitable – before realising that you no longer have time to actually watch a film.
Never fear. We’ve rifled through the Netflix catalogue to bring you our top picks, from side-splitting comedies to action-packed adventures. Let Stuff be the sherpa on your cinematic journey.
PART 1: NETFLIX ORIGINALS
The Night Agent (S1)
A young FBI agent whose career has hit the rocks through no fault of his own now works in a windowless White House basement room, waiting to answer a phone that never rings. Until it does, drawing him into a deadly mystery involving terrorist bombings, ruthless assassins and deadly intrigues within the highest echelons of the US government.
This espionage thriller came out of nowhere to become one of Netflix’s most popular original shows of early 2023, and we know why: while The Night Agent may not do anything totally new, and in fact feels quite cheesy and hackneyed at points, it executes everything so slickly that you can’t help but be sucked into the ride and find out how far the conspiracy goes. The next thing you know, you’ve binged through every episode and worn a new butt-shaped indentation in your sofa cushions.
Netflix’s best show of 2023 (so far) stars Ali Wong and Steven Yeun as Los Angelinos who, in the first few minutes of the first episode, go from total strangers to mortal enemies. This animosity superficially arises from an everyday road rage incident, but as the series goes on and we learn more and more about these characters, the true reasons behind their anger start to emerge – even as the duo’s respective lives start to unravel as a result of the ongoing dust-up.
If this all sounds a bit heavy, don’t be put off; Beef is also very funny, very stylish and ultimately ends in a very different place to where it begins. A welcome reminder that Netflix can still occasionally make a great TV series. More of this, please – although that’s not to say we need a second season; this is basically perfect on its own.
The Crown (S1-5)
Ranking as one of Netflix’s finest original series to date, The Crown is a glossy but grown-up retelling of Queen Elizabeth II’s early years. Over £100 million was invested in this extravaganza, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith (and later Olivia Coleman, Tobias Menzies, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce), and that all adds up to a swanky amount of period detail.
Even those of a staunchly republican bent might find themselves sucked in to the two full seasons, which chart a series of major national events as well as delve deeply into the personal lives of the royal family, and the pressures they face as the public personifications of an entire country.
Better Call Saul (S1-6)
Everyone’s favourite sleazy-yet-likeable lawyer Saul Goodman (well, Jimmy McGill) returns to Netflix, in a series (now in fact four series, with a fifth on the way) that throws us back seven years before the explosive events of Breaking Bad.
Bob Odenkirk slips into his cheap suit with remarkable ease, and his superb performance allows his character’s desperation, tenacity and humour to seep through the screen and grab our attention with both hands.
It’s always fun to root for the underdog, and from the very first episode you’re right there alongside Goodman, wanting him to fight to the top – all while being aware of the dark things to come. Yet another belting Netflix Original.
The Queen’s Gambit (S1)
Despite arriving with little fanfare, The Queen’s Gambit may well be Netflix’s best original series of 2020. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as chess champion Beth Harmon, a child prodigy with a preternatural inclination for the game – as well as a tendency for addictive behaviour. Set mostly in the 1960s, the sumptuous period details (so many gorgeous hotel lobbies!) and soundtrack occasionally bring to mind Mad Men, but this series has a necessarily more focussed approach to telling its story. Inspiring, funny and evocative, this is a character-driven success that reminds us of Netflix’s superb early run of original shows.
The Last Dance (S1)
Arguably the biggest sporting icon of all time, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a series of NBA championships in the 1990s, was the face of one of history’s most popular sneaker ranges and the star of a Hollywood movie. By 1998, however, it seemed like the Bulls’ era of dominance – and Jordan’s place at its heart – was in the balance. This engrossing, masterfully made 10-part documentary tells the story not just of that fateful season but of Jordan’s rise from green rookie to global superstar, and of how the Bulls planned and built their hegemony after years of underachievement.
The Last Dance will appeal not only to basketball and sport fans, but to anybody who appreciates a story well told and a glimpse into the strangely singular mind of mercilessly driven individuals like Jordan. Those looking for a nostalgic trip back to the 90s won’t be disappointed either – the era-appropriate soundtrack is superb.
Stranger Things (S1-4)
Only 80s kids will understand this. Actually that’s not true at all, but Stranger Things is a love letter to many of the movies, TV shows and books that children who grew up in that decade will cherish: it’s replete with references to E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies, Stephen King, Dungeons & Dragons and Poltergeist, and the mood and feel is sure to dredge up nostalgia aplenty.
Take away the retro vibes though, and the show can still stand on its own as a decent sci-fi drama-thriller. And it doesn’t mess about too much – unlike a lot of Netflix Original Series, its episodes are reasonably tight (around 40 minutes each), and there are only eight of them in the entire fantastic first season, and nine in the (almost as enjoyable) second.
I Think You Should Leave (S1-3)
Sketch shows, once kings of TV comedy, have fallen out of favour of late. But I Think You Should Leave is proof positive that there’s plenty of life left in the old format: it just needed a refreshing jolt of weirdness.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Tim Robinson co-writes and appears (along with a parade of familiar guest faces like Bob Odenkirk, Tim Heidecker and Andy Samberg) in a collection of crude, inventive and hilarious skits that rarely end up where you expect them to. The humour usually comes from a character “committing to the bit” by taking a social miscue or bizarre personality trait to extremes. It sounds simple enough, but Robinson and co have done nothing less than reinvent the comedy skit.
Featuring some of the most bum-clenchingly tense scenes witnessed on a TV screen since Breaking Bad, Ozark follows Jason Bateman and Laura Linney’s squabbling Chicago couple as they launder money for a brutal and merciless drug cartel. When Bateman’s put-upon financial advisor happens on a risky plan to “wash” the dirty cash in rural Missouri, he and his family must immediately up sticks for a brand new life in one of America’s most deprived places. All of a sudden, murderous Mexican narco-barons become just one of many problems for the family.
Filmed in muted, washed-out tones with bags of brooding and squalor on show, Ozark doesn’t always make for a pretty watch. But if you like your drama series perpetually poised on a knife edge, it’ll be right up your street.
Squid Game (S1)
Subtitle-haters are missing out if they choose to avoid this dark drama series on account of it being Korean (yes, we know you can watch it dubbed into English, but please… don’t do that). The gripping story of a heartless life-or-death tournament in which desperate contestants compete in souped-up playground games for the prospect of a fat winner’s cheque, Squid Game has already become not only one of Netflix’s most popular foreign language series, but its most popular debut series full stop. A grim commentary on late capitalism and how it encourages screwing each other over to get by? Sure, but it’s also entertaining as hell.
Black Mirror (S1-6)
Black Mirror has made the move from Channel 4 to Netflix in sumptuous, unsettling style.
Not only has the platform given Charlie Brooker and his team the freedom to tell more stories (the two Netflix-made series have six episodes rather than the usual three) and let each one run without ad breaks for as long as it needs to, it’s also given them a budget big enough to expand the scale, scope and special effects.
The feature-length final episode, Hated in the Nation, is a perfect case in point. What hasn’t changed is the overall theme. Each episode may tell a standalone story, but they’re all connected by the threads of modern humanity’s relationship with technology, the internet and social media.
Make no mistake, this is unnerving stuff, enhanced by the fact that the stories are generally set in a very near future that’s all too recognisable. But fear not, the trademark blacker-than-black humour has also been retained, so you’ll guffaw almost as much as you’ll squirm. This is must-see television for anyone who’s obsessed with tech.
Sex Education (S1-3)
Using the word “raunchy” to describe a comedy-drama series makes us feel like 1970s tabloid journalists, but what better term to sum up a bunch of teenage sexcapades tied up by a fun plot and relatable, well-rounded and likeable characters? We’ll be calling it a “romp” next (which it also is) – but Sex Education is a genuinely inventive, engaging, insightful and occasionally moving series, and extremely easy to binge-watch.
Cobra Kai (S1-5)
A series that started life on YouTube Red as a giggle-worthy, nostalgia-fuelled spin-off of The Karate Kid movies, Cobra Kai is now firmly established as a fan-pleasing comedy-action-drama that arguably surpasses the beloved films that inspired it.
Back in the 80s, few could have imagined Karate Kid villain Johnny Lawrence being the nuanced, relatable protagonist of his own TV show over three decades later, but here we are. Johnny is just one of several characters from the movies now firmly ensconced in this new life, and being given far more depth as a result.
David Fincher’s slick period drama series follows the efforts of two FBI agents to better understand how serial killers think. This sort of profiling wasn’t considered useful by law enforcement top brass in the late 1970s (when the first season of the show is set) but our protagonists believe that working out how murderers’ brains function is the key to stopping them.
If this all sound overly grim, don’t worry – Mindhunter isn’t all doom and gloom, being peppered with moments of comedy (often black, admittedly) and underpinned by the dynamic of the main characters’ strained relationship. It sadly appears to have been put on permanent hiatus since its second season, but rumours of a revival simply won’t go away. Fingers crossed.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (S1)
Guillermo Del Toro has recruited a horror movie dream team, including the directors of Mandy, The Babadook and Splice, tasking each member with delivering their own hour(ish)-long tale of terror for this brilliant, ghoulish and disturbing limited collection.
The result is a Twilight Zone-style anthology series of tall tales and spooky stories, with weightless CGI gimmickry reduced (if not ditched entirely) in favour of old-fashioned practical effects. From occult rituals and ravenous alien parasites to bizarre beauty products and restless spirits, there’s so much here for horror lovers to enjoy, and it’s all so beautifully made.
PART 2: FILMS
From the minds that brought you John Wick comes a very John Wick-style action movie with comedian and Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk playing firmly against type. Odenkirk’s character is the titular ‘nobody’: a dejected suburban schmo who trudges to a dull office job every day after a near-silent breakfast with his distracted family.
But he wasn’t always this way, and after a violent encounter on a bus his former life comes rushing back into focus, complete with a lot of guns, snapping bones and broken noses. It’s great fun, and let’s face it: who needs originality when the formulaic stuff can be so enjoyable?
Michael Mann’s 1995 action-thriller is probably best known for putting legendary thesps Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a scene together for the first time. That impressive feat of casting aside, it’s also a stylish, smart and influential movie that everybody should watch at least once.
De Niro plays it cool as a stoic master thief setting up the perfect pre-retirement heist with his crew, while Pacino goes into scenery-munching overdrive as the veteran cop trying to stop him. It’s a simple setup, but the two leads’ performances, the grudging respect between their characters and the film’s exceptional action sequences add depth aplenty.
There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s modern epic is stark and relentless; the first we see of protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a dialogue-free 20-minute sequence of scrabbling in the dust in search of silver. From there, Plainview progresses to oil drilling and, consumed by a relentless pursuit for black gold, he begins dispensing homespun charm to townsfolk in order to grab their oil rights; his adopted son is the perfect prop as he seeks to portray himself as a God-fearing family man.
The only person who sees through him is young evangelist preacher Eli Sunday because, being equally corrupt, he recognises Plainview as a grave threat to the supremacy of his church. The stage is set for a grand clash between religion and capitalism, played out in operatic fashion against the towering derricks.
Were we forced (at chainsaw-point, perhaps) to pick the movie that best personified the 1980s, Brian de Palma’s Scarface might be the obvious choice: brash, bloody, vulgar, oversexed and absolutely swimming in cocaine, it’s a wild ride through Miami’s pastel-coloured, neon-lit underworld, all set to a soundtrack of Giorgio Moroder synths.
An immensely quotable Al Pacino shines as a Cuban immigrant seeking to build a name for himself as a drug kingpin; his live-wire performance and overcooked accent are huge highlights. Ostensibly a tragic cautionary tale about the dangers of letting ambition get the better of you, the film’s OTT exuberance – from its violent action scenes to its synth-tastic soundtrack – makes it hard to take seriously, but there are few movies of the era that provide as much cheesy enjoyment.
The perfect antidote to our current ‘wild swimming’ craze, Jaws remains one of the most influential, entertaining and tension-filled films of all time.
Even if you haven’t watched it before (and statistically, you probably have), you surely know the deceptively simple premise: when a small New England seaside resort is terrorised by a killer Great White shark, the water-hating local police chief decides to hunt it down. But it’s this film’s camera work, script, direction and iconic John Williams score that make it such a cinematic icon; the first ever summer blockbuster, no less.
Director Steven Spielberg cranks up the tension through his use of perspective and sound, leaving the audience constantly on edge, but the film isn’t afraid to leaven its scares with moments of fun and comedy. It’s still a wonderful watch, over 40 years after its release.
No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy’s elegiac crime novel gets the Coen brothers treatment – and how. This is cinematic magic, thanks not only to the source material and its sympathetic adaptation by two of America’s finest filmmakers, but the superb performances from Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, Tommy Lee Jones and, most memorably, Javier Bardem as the philosophising, seemingly unstoppable mass murderer Anton Chigurh. If you like your thrillers as contemplative and lyrical as they are nail-biting, look no further.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The inimitable directorial style of Wes Anderson shines through in his animated film based on Roald Dahl’s beloved novel. A charming tale of how a cunning rural fox outwits three wicked farmers, Fantastic Mr. Fox manages to meld the two artists’ oeuvres far more neatly than you might imagine. The stop-motion animation and sets are glorious (Anderson’s visual style works just as well with models as it does with people) while the script breathes new life and humour into Dahl’s book while largely retaining its themes and essence. It’s a film both kids and grown-ups will adore, and features a rakish vocal performance from George Clooney in the title role.
The Irishman isn’t just Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited return to the world of organised crime, it also unites the cinematic Great Triumvirate of tough guy gangster movie stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and an out-of-retirement Joe Pesci. Kind of like The Expendables, but with people who can actually act – and it’s undeniably great to see these legendary thesps delivering the best work of their late careers.
With a story spanning several decades (this movie is showcase for how far CG de-aging technology has come – and perhaps proof that there’s still room for improvement) the film delves into the mysterious disappearance of mercurial union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who had links to both mainstream politics and the mob. It’s mainly told through the recollections of De Niro’s eponymous “Irishman” Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who becomes an enforcer for both Hoffa and Russell Bufalino, the mafia boss played by Pesci.
Dismiss Bridesmaids as a so-called ‘chick flick’ at your peril. While at its core it’s a rom-com focused on the charmingly awkward ‘will they, won’t they’ interactions between directionless heroine Kristen Wiig and dorky love interest Chris O’Dowd, it offers so much more..
Riotously lewd jokes, well-executed toilet humour and offbeat distractions provided by the likes of Matt Lucas, Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy make for some hilarious moments, and the film’s warm interrogation of the themes of friendship, love and marriage is adeptly delivered by the ensemble cast and director Paul Feig. Come to think of it, this might be the last great romantic comedy ever made.
Guillermo Del Toro’s talent for infusing reality with the otherworldly has never been more captivating than in Pan’s Labyrinth, his 2006 dark fantasy film set during the Spanish Civil War.
Pan’s Labyrinth is like The Chronicles of Narnia reimagined by Ernest Hemingway. Some of the beasts young Ofelia encounters as she attempts to complete the tasks set for her by the guardian of the labyrinth are the stuff of nightmares, but above ground her fascist stepfather is arguably more terrifying than them all.
Studio Ghibli’s Oscar-winner showcases Hayao Miyazaki’s filmmaking at its very best: magical, thought-provoking and utterly absorbing. While the average Western animated movie is dubbed sophisticated if it throws in a couple of knowing references for any adults that happen to be watching, Spirited Away feels like it’s working on an entirely different plane of existence, confident enough to play by its own set of rules.
This beautifully animated tale of a coddled young girl unwittingly drawn into a strange parallel world of spirits, witches and demons effortlessly touches on universal themes like family, love, friendship and facing your fears, making it a compelling, engaging watch for viewers of any age.
Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel of the same name, Gone Girl is a smart, cold-blooded psychological thriller in which Ben Affleck’s small-town boy has to cope with his wife’s shock disappearance – and growing speculation that he may be the one responsible. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer that neither of the spouses are quite what they seem, and that this case is more than a simple whodunnit.
Slickly directed by the masterful David Fincher, this unconventional mystery is likely to fix its hooks into you from the off – unless of course you’ve already read Flynn’s book, in which case you’ll already know all the twists and turns before they happen.
Josh and Benny Safdie’s handheld camera follows a hustling, gambling addict jeweller around 2012 New York, documenting his attempts to juggle the demands of his celebrity clients, wife, girlfriend and a circling pack of loan sharks.
If you’re looking for a relaxing watch before bedtime, Uncut Gems isn’t it. The shaky, up-close camerawork, enervating electronic score and Adam Sandler’s fantastic lead performance (he’s always been good at playing a man teetering on the edge – but mostly in bad films) all serve to conjure a feeling of unease and anxiety that barely lets up over the two-hour running time. It’s delirious, manic stuff: Netflix’s finest original film since Roma, certainly, and Sandler’s best performance since 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love.
You don’t need an interest in sport to get engrossed in this Oscar-winning doping exposé. Icarus is really two documentaries in one, with the first third of the film a kind of Super Size Me for performance-enhancing drugs: the filmmaker, a semi-pro cyclist, embarks on a hardcore doping program to show how flawed the drugs-testing process is.
But when his advisor, scientist Gregory Rodchenkov, suddenly finds himself in the eye of an international storm over Russia’s state-sponsored doping program, Icarus handbrake turns into an enthralling fly-on-the-wall thriller about the dangers of being a whistleblower in an authoritarian country. Cue mysterious deaths, tense interviews and a lot of hand-wringing as Rodchenkov goes into hiding from Putin’s cronies.
Lawrence of Arabia
With a butt-numbing running time of three hours and 47 minutes, David Lean’s biopic of mercurial, enigmatic British Army officer T.E. Lawrence is epic in every sense of the word; when first released back in 1962, it had an actual intermission in the middle allowing cinemagoers to stretch their legs and grab. It was subsequently cut down so that more screenings could be fitted into a day, but this edition restores every minute of Lean’s original cut. Hey, take your own intermission if you like – it’s Netflix!
Stunning desert vistas, grand battles, a cast of thousands and some of the best acting talent of the time all go towards making Lawrence of Arabia an unforgettable film exploring war, Empire, loyalty, individual brilliance and what happens when greedy foreign powers meddle in the affairs of the Middle East. There are few better ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
PART 3: TV SHOWS
Rick and Morty (S1-6)
This animated comedy series about a teenage boy, his mad scientist grandfather and the strange sci-fi adventures the two embark upon sounds like pretty wholesome stuff, but Rick and Morty is probably one of the dirtiest, most violent and most cynical shows on telly, regularly plumbing the depths of human (and alien) depravity for laughs. But it certainly does manage to get those laughs, which is the point – and it succeeds in posing lots of interesting questions about time, family, physics and existentialism while it does so.
Friends? Fuggedaboutit. For us, Seinfeld is the definitive New York-set 1990s sitcom about a group of pals just working their way through this crazy little thing we call life. An inventive, absurd and hilarious examination of the trivialities of the modern world, never relying on slapstick or coddling its viewers with cheap sentimentality (the vast majority of its characters are clearly horrible people), Seinfeld is quite simply a must-watch for all fans of comedy. With each episode clocking in at a little over 20 minutes, it’s also great fare for binge watching.
People Just Do Nothing (S1-5)
This series will strike a chord both with mockumentary fans and aficionados of late ‘90s UK garage music (although you certainly don’t have to be into the latter to enjoy it). Ostensibly a fly-on-the-wall documentary about West London pirate radio station Kurupt FM, People Just Do Nothing is actually a cringingly funny (and not unaffectionate) examination of the same kind of self-delusion exhibited by David Brent in The Office. The fact that the Kurupt crew clearly know their Artful Dodger from their Pied Piper adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole thing.
Peep Show (S1-9)
All nine seasons of Peep Show are streaming on Netflix, so if you haven’t yet watched Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s groundbreaking sitcom – the longest-running in Channel 4’s history, no less – now is the perfect time to venture into the minds of David Mitchell’s Mark and Robert Webb’s Jez, two best friends and flatmates who lurch from one disaster to the next.
Peep Show‘s “gimmick” is that we often see the action from Mark or Jez’s point-of-view, hearing their inner thoughts as audible voice-overs. In the great British comedy tradition self-delusion, self-hatred and social awkwardness loom large here, and though both the main characters are indisputably despicable, selfish idiots, it’s impossible not to get sucked into their (often horrifying) antics. Many a true word is spoken in jest, as they say – and Peep Show is as much a meditation on the human condition as it is a comedy show. As the joyless Mark internally remarks after his girlfriend takes him to a fairground, “I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness.”
A James Bond-esque secret agent with the womanising, drinking and love of casual violence turned right up to 11, Archer is one of the greatest anti-heroes we’ve seen in an animated show. He’s in good company at private spy agency ISIS (in hindsight, an unfortunate choice of name) staffed as it is with a collection of selfish, bungling agents and perverts.
Perfect for Netflix binge-watching, thanks to its 20-minute episodes, it’s generously packed with snappy one-liners and Arrested Development-esque in-jokes. It’s just as good as it sounds.
Derry Girls (S1-2)
The first two series of Channel 4’s riotously funny and beautifully observed sitcom are now available on Netflix, so if you missed them the first time round (or just couldn’t deal with All 4’s terrible picture quality and proliferation of ads), now’s your chance to be whisked away to early 1990s Northern Ireland and into the lives of four Catholic girls (and one English boy) as they navigate their teenage years against the background of the Troubles. Not that Derry Girls ever takes itself too seriously or drifts into mawkishness; sectarianism is just another comic seam to be mined in this joyous and hilarious coming-of-age comedy show.
Schitt’s Creek (S1-6)
Every single episode of this beloved Canadian sitcom is available to stream on Netflix, which means many hours of strangely reassuring, utterly enjoyable telly lie before you. Schitt’s Creek stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as a once-wealthy couple who, after losing their entire fortune, must slum it in a tiny town they previously purchased as a joke. Managing to be both sharp and full of heart, this is a perfect show to binge-watch, especially if you’ve already made it through the older classics.
Breaking Bad (S1-5)
What, did you think we’d forgotten? Breaking Bad has been praised to the heavens by critics and those members of the public who clap their hands over their ears and shriek “spoilers!” when you start talking about it. So of course it’s going in this list.
Like Tony Soprano and Don Draper, Bryan Cranston’s Walter White is one of the great protagonists of 21st-century television; a mild-mannered chemistry teacher whose cancer diagnosis prompts him to turn his skills to creating crystal meth, enlisting wayward former student Jesse as his partner in crime. Series creator Vince Gilligan pitched the show as being the story of “a man who transforms himself from Mr Chips into Scarface” and while early episodes play up White’s faltering attempts to enter the drugs trade, as the series progresses he develops into a genuinely chilling character.
Watch Breaking Bad. Now. If only so that you don’t have to keep clapping your hands over your ears and shrieking “spoilers!” whenever anyone mentions it.
Mads Mikkelsen is one of the most interesting and watchable actors of his generation – arguably never more so than when he’s clad in the perfectly cut suits of this TV incarnation of cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
As per Thomas Harris’ original books, Lecter is a psychiatrist brought in to assist FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), but it’s not long before the doctor is manipulating the prodigious but fragile Graham. This is pretty high-brow stuff for a network TV show, chock-full of startling imagery, Lynchian characters and dinner scenes that will make your stomach rumble – a little unsettling once you realise what’s in most of them.
The Office’s Mackenzie Crook writes, directs and stars in this quintessentially English sitcom about a group of Essex metal detector enthusiasts. On paper it sounds like the recipe for a broadly comic, canned laughter-laden Last of the Summer Wine-style “aren’t these country folks weird?” series, but Detectorists (the proper name for people who use metal detectors) is far more sophisticated.
It’s funny, certainly, with sharp writing and fine performances from Crook and Toby Jones, but aside from its well-drawn, likeable and flawed characters there’s something special in its depiction of the English landscape that these men and women trudge over in search of Roman gold or Saxon silver day after day – almost always coming away empty-handed aside from a few ring pulls. Warm and affectionate without being sentimental, and a beautiful homage to hobbies, it’s a series that somehow feels both low-key and significant.