12 of the Best British TV Spin-Offs Ever Made

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Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Stefanie Hutson

With two great spin-offs returning to the BritBox schedule in April, it seemed like a good time to take a look at some of the best spin-offs to come out of the British TV scene. 

12 of the Best British TV Spin-Offs Ever Made

The spin-offs below are in no particular order. Trying to rank them just wouldn't be fair (and it certainly wouldn't be easy). 

Beyond Paradise

Beyond Paradise 

By now we've all learned not to get too attached to the detectives on Death in Paradise. If your favourite detective was DI Humphrey Goodman, however, you're in luck – because he's the star of the 2023 spin-off Beyond Paradise. Even better, it returns for a second season on BritBox in April 2024. 

If you don't remember, Humphrey left Saint Marie to be with Martha Lloyd back in England. The spin-off picks up when the newly engaged couple moves to Martha's hometown in Devon to start a family and pursue a quieter, calmer sort of life. Humphrey joins the local force, and (not surprisingly since it's a mystery) he quickly learns that life in a village can be just as twisted and deadly as life in any other place. 

The series is set in the Cornish fishing town of Looe, so even if you're a bit hesitant about the premise, it's worth giving it a try just for the scenery. Though it doesn't have Harry the lizard, Humphrey does manage to find a new companion (we won't spoil it for you, though).



There are a number of Doctor Who spin-offs, but Torchwood stands above all of them thanks to its higher budget, slightly older target audience, and longer run (4 seasons and 41 episodes in total). 

Set in Cardiff, Torchwood follows a covert agency that looks into reports of extraterrestrial events in hopes of scavenging alien technology. The team is led by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who also appeared in a number of Doctor Who episodes. He's a bit more ethically complex than the Doctor, allowing for some variation from the overall “feel” of Doctor Who episodes. 

The series also features a number of other actors you may recognise, including Eve Myles (Keeping Faith), Indira Varma (Luther), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), and even Americans Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile) and Bill Pullman (Spaceballs) in the final season.

The Royal & The Royal Today

The Royal (L) and The Royal Today (R)

Okay, so this one is technically two – but since they're closely related, we figured that was fair. The Royal began in 2003 as a spin-off of Heartbeat, a light period crime drama set in the North Riding of Yorkshire in the 1960s. It moved the action seaside to the fictional town of Elsinby, filming mostly in Whitby and Scarborough. Rather than focusing on police, 

For the first few years, there was a lot of actual crossover between the two shows. After a few years, however, the show had become popular in its own right, and they dropped the crossover appearances. 

In 2008, The Royal was doing well and they decided to create a spin-off that followed the events within the same hospital, but in the present day. Unfortunately, The Royal Today didn't do quite as well, and it was axed after a single season of 50 episodes. 

Sister Boniface Mysteries

Sister Boniface
Sister Boniface Mysteries

This Father Brown spin-off revolves around a character who appeared for just one episode all the way back in season 1. The character of Sister Boniface appeared in episode 6, “The Bride of Christ”, and she really livened up the story. Though she would have been an excellent repeat character, it's great to see her in the middle of the action on her own show. 

Sister Boniface Mysteries is set in the 1960s, as opposed to the 1950s timeline of Father Brown. It's a time when forensic science is just starting to make some new leaps, and Sister Boniface is both a wine making nun and a scientific advisor to the local police. 

In April, the series will return for its third season on BritBox.

The Green, Green Grass

The Green, Green Grass

This 2005 spin-off of Only Fools and Horses followed three characters from the original series: Boycie, Marlene, and their son Tyler. Forced to leave Peckham after giving evidence against the Driscoll brothers, the family heads for the rural county of Shropshire (near the Welsh border) and takes up farming life. Just like an episode of Escape to the Country, right? 

It's not always an easy adjustment for the ex-Londoners, but it's always entertaining – and that kept the show going for 4 seasons and 32 episodes. 

Lewis & Endeavour

Lewis (L) and Endeavour (R)

We've combined these two because of course, they're both spin-offs of the British TV classic Inspector Morse. Lewis came first in 2006, and it followed the now-DI Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) as he becomes the mentor rather than the mentee. His new partner is DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), a young man who studied to be a priest prior to becoming a police officer. IT ran for 9 seasons and 33 episodes in total. 

Endeavour premiered in 2012, and it rolled the timeline back to the 1960s, giving us a look at how Inspector Morse came to be the man he was in the original series. Knowing what most of us know about Morse from the original series, the progression can be a bit depressing at times. The show gives you hope for the young man on so many occasions, but since we know how his life turns out, it's bittersweet viewing. 

Sean Evans stars as the young Endeavour Morse, while Roger Allam plays his mentor, Fred Thursday. Whether you're watching for the first time or the fifteenth, we recommend checking out our list of hidden secrets in Endeavour next time you watch so you can fully appreciate just how thoughtful the writers and producers were as they made the series. 

And if anyone with a bit of power is reading this, we'd love to see a fourth spin-off added to the list – WPC Shirley Trewlove would make a wonderful main character, and we'd love to see what came of her in later years.

Rock & Chips

Rock & Chips

Another spin-off of Only Fools and Horses, this one was different enough from The Green, Green Grass that we decided to give it its own entry. It's a prequel to Only Fools and Horses, and it focuses on the life of Del Trotter as a young man. Interestingly, Nicholas Lyndhurst (who played Rodney in the original series) also appears in Rock & Chips, this time playing convicted thief Freddie “the Frog” Robdal.

Young Del Boy is a teenager living in an unhappy home, and the series puts a lot of the focus on his family life, particularly his mother, and his aspirations for a better future. Much like Endeavour gives us a greater appreciation for how Inspector Morse matured, Rock & Chips offers a bit of insight and compassion for Del Boy. Despite solid viewing figures, only 3 episodes were ever made.

Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes

Life on Mars is easily one of the most unique crime dramas of the new century (so far), so it's no surprise that when the story came to an end, they looked for a way to make a sequel. In Ashes to Ashes, we see police officer Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes, The Durrells) shot in 2008, only to regain consciousness in 1981. 

If you haven't watched Life on Mars, you may want to look away for this next bit so we don't spoil the premise for you….

We learn that prior to the shooting, Drake was reading up on what happened to Sam Tyler (the officer from Life on Mars who was played by John Simm) after he woke up in the present. Now that she's in 1981, she meets up with the old gang from Sam Tyler's time in the past. At some point after Tyler knew them, they transferred from Manchester to London.

In the end, Ashes to Ashes brings closure to many of the things we all wondered about through the entirety of both shows – making it a most excellent spin-off.

The Grace & Favour

Grace & Favour

This Are You Being Served? spin-off premiered 7 years after the original series ended in 1985, and it saw the employees of the men and women's departments inheriting an estate after the death of Young Mr. Grace. It turns out he'd invested their pension funds in all sorts of bad businesses, one of which is Millstone Manor. They're not permitted to sell it and split the profits, but they can use it in whatever manner they see fit.

After viewing the property, they decide to live in it and, run it as an inn, and use the proceeds to fund their retirement years. Of course, the most important thing is that Mrs. Slocombe's cat is there for the fun. 

Fun fact: “Millstone Manor” is Chavenage House in real life, and it's been used in many other productions. Most notably, it appeared in the recent Poldark adaptation starring Aidan Turner, but it also “starred” in The Pale Horse, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. They also hold weddings, if you're dreaming of a ceremony in the Cotswolds. 

Thomas & Sarah

Thomas & Sarah

This 1979 spin-off of Upstairs, Downstairs follows the former chauffeur and house maid after they leave service at Eaton place in 1910, and sees John Alderton (Please Sir!) and Pauline Collins (Dickensian) returning to their previous roles. It only lasted for one season of 13 episodes, but it's a must-watch for anyone who enjoyed the original Upstairs, Downstairs

Because there's a gap between the end of Upstairs, Downstairs and the beginning of Thomas and Sarah, you may find it helpful to read the two-part short story creator Alfred Shaughnessy wrote and published in TV Times magazine. UpDown.org.uk (a fan site) kindly makes the two parts available at the links below:

First of the Summer Wine

First of the Summer Wine

Many British TV fans are familiar with the world's longest-running comedy, Last of the Summer Wine. The series ran from 1973 to 2010, and it followed a handful of elderly men as they got up to no good in rural Yorkshire. Out of necessity given the show's long run, the actual characters varied over the years. First of the Summer Wine is a prequel to the series, and as with the entirety of Last of the Summer Wine, all episodes were written by Roy Clarke (the same prolific writer who gave us Keeping Up Appearances, Open All Hours, and Still Open All Hours).

Set during the months leading up to WW2, the 1988 series aimed to show the main characters from the early days of Last of the Summer Wine – Compo, Norman, Seymour, Foggy, Wally, and Sherbert. Peter Sallis, who played the original Norman Clegg, came on as the young Norman's father. A number of the female characters were also present in younger incarnations, including Nora, Ivy, Dilys, Lena, and Anita. 

Given that Roy Clarke was born in 1930 and grew up in Yorkshire, the series offers a fascinating peek into his memories of what life was like as a young man during such a difficult time in recent history. 

Young Hyacinth

Young Hyacinth

Though just a one-off special, this delightful prequel is well worth a mention because it gives us insight into how the Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances became so obsessed with becoming a member of the upper class. Set in the 1950s, the series shows the Walton girls (Hyacinth, Violet, Rose, and Daisy) living in a small canalside cottage (hardly a “poor” thing these days!) with Mark Addy (Trollied) playing their alcoholic father.

Poor and desperate, Hyacinth works as a domestic servant and dreams of having that kind of life for herself. Sadly, we know she never quite makes it – and that her snobbery might be a way of protecting herself from acknowledging she's unlikely to achieve her lifelong dream. 

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The Best British TV Spin-offs


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