British Crime TV Series Like Endeavour To Watch Next

TV

Now that Endeavour has ended for good, there are a few obvious places for fans to go in search of more of the crossword-solving, bitter-drinking, classics-quoting Oxford detective. The first are Colin Dexter’s novels, which established the character. The second is the original ITV show Inspector Morse based on those books, which starred John Thaw in the title role for 33 feature-length episodes between 1987 and 2000. Thirdly, there’s sequel Lewis, which continued the story of Morse’s underling Robbie through his own inspector days, and which also ran for 33 episodes, up until 2015. Both are currently streamable on BritBox in the UK and US, as well as ITVX, and PBS Masterpiece.

The likelihood though, is that those three will have already been exhausted by Morse devotees, so here are some recommendations of detective shows with a touch of Endeavour about them, whether it’s a melancholic lead with a brilliant mind, a British period setting, satisfyingly written cases to solve, an excellent ensemble cast, or in some cases – all of the above.

Foyle’s War

Stream on: Acorn (US & US), Hoopla (US) and ITVX (UK)

ITV originally commissioned this 1940s-set detective series from creator Anthony Horowitz to fill the recently vacated Inspector Morse Sunday night slot, making it a solid bet for bereft Endeavour fans. It’s about Ch. Supt. Foyle, a detective with Morse’s upright sense of honour and duty, who leads a similarly lonely life but as a grieving widower rather than a lifelong bachelor. While Morse investigates murky happenings at Oxford colleges and goes up against Freemasons and corruption, decades earlier, Foyle deals with the Hastings spivs and lowlifes who try to take advantage of a country at war, as well as military top brass with their own agenda. Michael Kitchen takes the title role, alongside Honeysuckle Weeks as Foyle’s driver Sam, and Anthony Howell as his colleague DS Milner. These feature-length episodes are the perfect retreat into a satisfyingly complex past.

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Grantchester

Stream on: PBS Masterpiece and Prime Video (US); ITVX and BritBox (UK)

Originally set a decade earlier than Endeavour, ITV’s Grantchester has now reached the 1960s and its social, political and pop cultural history is just beginning to overlap with the Morse prequel. It’s about a vicar and amateur sleuth who solves crimes while struggling with his calling, with the aftermath of his sad childhood, and with his dedication to remaining celibate in the face of various romantic temptations.

Since series five, Tom Brittney has played the lead character (taking over from Happy Valley’s James Norton), alongside Robson Green’s police detective Geordie. Now poised to air series eight in the US, it’s another detective series with a charismatic lead, a great ensemble, and satisfying murder mysteries.

Inspector George Gently

Stream on: Acorn (US & UK), Prime Video, Sky and NOW (UK)

Anybody missing Fred Thursday could do a lot worse than look to George Gently, another last bastion of truth and justice in a changing world. Played by The Professionals and Judge John Deed‘s Martin Shaw, the always-on-the-brink-of-retirement Gently investigated crimes in the 1960s North East for eight series of this acclaimed BBC drama, which ran between 2007 – 2017. Adapted loosely (the location and much more was changed) from the books by Alan Hunter, and co-starring Lee Ingleby as Gently’s sidekick Bacchus, its combination of crime mystery, social themes and memorable characters should be a solid fit for Endeavour fans.

Shetland

Stream on: BritBox (US); BBC iPlayer, ITVX and BritBox (UK)

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This Scottish detective drama based on Ann Cleeves’ Jimmy Perez novels is set in the present day, but takes place so far away from big cities and towns that it has a unique, almost timeless atmosphere. The beautiful, remote Shetland islands are more than just a picturesque backdrop for the cases investigated by DI Perez and his team, they’re integral to the local character and community. With one ongoing case per series (seven have aired so far) plus the personal intrigues of widower Perez and his co-workers, it’s a richly plotted detective mystery that will transport you.

Last year, lead actor Douglas Henshall left the show, but the BBC has already filmed an eighth series with a new head detective played by Agatha Raisin and Catastrophe’s Ashley Jensen.

Vera

Stream on BritBox (US); ITVX and BritBox (UK)

Another beloved British crime series based on an Ann Cleeves character solving crimes in a stunning coastal location (see also: Shetland), Vera is a long-running ITV crime mystery poised to air its 13th series. Brenda Blethyn plays DCI Vera Stanhope, a brilliant detective who doesn’t suffer fools (or anyone, truth be told) gladly, but who’s a dog with a bone when it comes to solving cases. While Stanhope is obsessive and insightful at work, her home life, head, past, and yes, wardrobe, are much more of a mess.

Set in the present day on the chilly but beautiful North East coast of England, Vera’s twisty cases have atmospheric backdrops and colourful guest stars, grounded by a very likeable ensemble cast.

Y Gwyll/Hinterland

Stream on: Acorn and Hoopla (US); Sky, BBC iPlayer, ITVX and BritBox (UK)

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This Welsh detective drama may have taken more inspiration from Scandi-noir crime than Inspector Morse, but its melancholic and intense lead character, plus its willingness to confront dark themes like the institutional abuse that reared its head in Endeavour’s final series, mean there’s plenty of overlap for fans.

Performed in Welsh and English over its three series of feature-length episodes, it’s a visually beautiful drama with a real sense of place. Richard Harrington plays Detective Chief Inspector Tom Mathias, a man with secrets in his own past, who relocates to rural Aberystwyth – a place that turns out to have dark undercurrents and hidden trauma.

Unforgotten

Stream on: Prime Video and PBS Masterpiece (US); ITVX and BritBox (UK)

This modern-set detective show deserves a place on this list not for sharing a great deal with Endeavour but simply for being so bloody good all crime drama fans should watch it. Written by Chris Lang, each series of Unforgotten starts with the discovery of a body, and from there a tangle of characters, lies and gripping stories spin out. So far, so status quo. The difference with Unforgotten’s bodies is that they’ve been buried for years, often decades, as have the secrets that put them there.

For four series, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) brought closure to the victims of long unsolved crimes, and to their families. Then Walker left and new character DCI Jessica James (played by Sinéad Keenan) was brought in and proved that the magic was still there. Series six is on the way.

The Bletchley Circle

Stream on: Peacock, Roku, Tubi etc. (US); Acorn (UK)

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Only seven episodes of this smart 1950s-set crime solving show exist (as well as another eight from spin-off The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco), but it’s still well worth seeking out. It’s the story of Susan, Millie, Lucy and Jean, four former code-breakers who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. Seven years after the end of the war, they reunite to stop a serial killer of women whose ‘code’ they realise they are uniquely positioned to decipher. Sworn to silence about their part in the war effort, the gang find satisfaction and value in putting their skills to work, even if they have to keep it all under their hat in 1950s Britain. Anna Maxwell-Martin (Line of Duty), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders), Rachel Stirling (Detectorists), Hattie Morahan and Julie Graham star.

World on Fire

Stream on: PBS Masterpiece (US); BBC iPlayer, ITVX and BritBox (UK)

No, not a detective series, but this 1940s-set multi-strand drama touches on so much that it’s hard not to imagine a younger Fred Thursday slotting neatly into its story of conflicted wartime romance and life-or-death conspiracy. Created by Peter Bowker, it follows a diverse group of ordinary people from around the world, whose war experiences intersect in surprising ways. The cast is a mix of stars (Sean Bean, Lesley Manville, Helen Hunt) and celebrated newcomers (Jonah Hauer-King, Julia Brown, Zofia Wichlacz). The seven-part first series aired all the way back in 2019, with the second following later this year due to pandemic delays.

See also:

Grace, written by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis, adapted from Peter James’ Roy Grace novels. John Simm (Doctor Who, Collateral) stars in this Brighton and Hove-set crime series.

Prime Suspect: 1973. This 1970s-set prequel to Lynda La Plante’s celebrated DCI Jane Tennison series on which Dame Helen Mirren made her name on TV, was an attempt to recreate the Endeavour magic with a different detective. It only lasted one series, sadly.

A Touch of Frost, the other role that made David Jason a household name, ran from 1992 – 2010, so there’s plenty of the maverick detective to go around.

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Murder on the Home Front is a two-part miniseries inspired by the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, secretary to the Home Office pathologist during WWII. A neat, well-cast period crime drama.

Ripper Street goes much further back than Endeavour, to Victorian Whitechapel where the search for Jack the Ripper played out, but it shares a similarly solid ensemble led by Succession‘s Matthew Macfadyen, and a similarly dramatic taste for the lurid and grotesque.

Endeavour is available to stream on BritBox, ITVX and, via PBS Masterpiece.

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