The Best British TV Shows Like Vera


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Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Stefanie Hutson

hetty wainthropp happy valley images for shows like vera

After 12 seasons, Vera has become incredibly popular among fans of British mystery shows – and a classic in its own right. Luckily, season 13 of Vera is on the way.

Unfortunately, because Vera is a British TV show, and because British shows generally produce fewer episodes per series, there just aren't enough of them to satisfy the enormous appetite for dark and atmospheric crime-solving. So, if you're here because you want more TV shows like Vera, we've got a few alternatives for you.

Dark British Mysteries Similar to Vera

If you love Vera for the dark and atmospheric feel of the episodes, you may want to consider the shows below. There's nothing exactly like Vera, of course, but many of these have a similar mood and style of cinematography.

douglas henshall shetland leaving
Douglas Henshall has announced he'll be leaving Shetland after season 7

Shetland – Given that it was written by Vera author Ann Cleeves, this might be the closest approximation to the Vera experience. Though the first 7 seasons lack the strong female protagonist (season 8 will see a cast swap), Shetland features plenty of murder in the often dark and dreary Shetland Islands of Northern Scotland. Streaming HERE

RELATED: Must-Watch Shows Like Shetland

Loch Ness image for fans of Shetland
Laura Fraser and Siobhan Finneran in Loch Ness

The Loch / Loch Ness – This small-town crime drama is set along the banks of Scotland's famous Loch Ness. You won't see Nessie, but you WILL see Monarch of the Glen's Alastair Mackenzie in a very different light. Streaming HERE

Richard Harrington as Tom Mathias, Mali Harries as Mared Rhys-Hinterland_Season 2, Episode 2-Photo Credit: Warren Orchard/AcornTV

Hinterland – Hinterland is every bit as dark and atmospheric as Vera, but this one's set in the small towns and villages around Aberystwyth, Wales. Streaming HERE | S1 DVD | S2 DVD | S3 DVD | Netflix

Lee Ingleby and Martin Shaw in George Gently.

George Gently – Loosely based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter, this 1960s-based series follows Martin Shaw as Inspector George Gently, along with Lee Ingleby as DS John Bacchus. Together, they scour North East England‘s criminal underworld. Though the detectives and time are different, the TV series is like Vera in that it's set in the Newcastle, Northumberland, and County Durham area (as opposed to the Norfolk setting of the books). Stream it HERE

Catherine Cawood (SARAH LANCASHIRE) in Happy Valley (Season 3, Episode 1). Photo Credit: Lookout Point/AMC/James Stack

Happy Valley – Sarah Lancashire stars as a policewoman in a small Yorkshire town. When the man she believes to be responsible for her daughter's death is released from prison, her life changes. Also stars Grantchester and McMafia lead James Norton. Streaming HERE


Wallander –  This BBC-produced adaptation of Henning Mankell's Wallander novels gives us Kenneth Brannagh as the deeply introspective and empathetic Inspector Wallander. Though set in Sweden, this adaptation is in English.  Streaming HERE | Netflix

A Touch of Frost

A Touch of Frost – Rumpled and slovenly DI Jack Frost follows his instincts to find justice for the underdogs. The gritty series is set in the fictional South Midlands town of Denton, and Sir David Jason (Only Fools and Horses) stars. Though it's very different in many ways, it's a great show for anyone who loves the “rumpled detective who lives for justice” aspect of Vera. Watch it HERE.


Broadchurch – A small coastal village is shaken after the death of a local boy. Olivia Colman and David Tennant star as the investigators who unravel the case. Streaming HERE

cassie and sunny in unforgotten at pub

Unforgotten – Cassie and Sunny use modern technology to get to the bottom of very cold cases. This recent crime drama is based in London and stars Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cassie and Sunny. Stream it HERE

Black Work. ITV. 2015.

Black Work – After her husband is killed in an abandoned warehouse during an undercover operation, a police constable must figure out whether she ever really knew her husband. Streaming HERE

The Fall Premieres on BritBox in July 2020

The Fall – Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan star in this dark police thriller wherein DI Stella Gibson is sent to Belfast to track down a serial killer. Unlike most similar shows, we know who the murderer is at the very beginning. Streaming HERE 


River – River is a detective with voices in his head, though not in the traditional sense. Watch it HERE.


Stonemouth – Based on the Iain Banks novel of the same name, Stonemouth sees Stewart Gilmour returning home to his village for the funeral of his best friend. While investigating his friend's apparent suicide, he's forced to come to terms with his own dark past. Streaming HERE | DVD

DCI Banks.

DCI Banks – Stephen Tomkinson (Ballykissangel, Wild at Heart) stars as DCI Alan Banks, a skilled but stubborn Yorkshire-based investigator. This dark and gritty mystery is set primarily in West Yorkshire, which isn't too far from Vera's neck of the woods. Stream it HERE

Shows Like Vera: Formidable Older Female Leads

One of the fantastic things about Vera is that it's not just a good show. It's a good show with a very capable older woman in the lead role. Not only that, but instead of requiring the lead actress to be nipped and tucked into a completely unnatural creature, they've gone to great effort to make the lovely Brenda Blethyn a little *less* attractive.


Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates – Dame Patricia Routledge stars as a nosy and hard-headed but deeply kind pensioner in this charming mystery series. Streaming HERE

Julia McKenzie in Agatha Christie's Marple.

Agatha Christie's Marple – One of the original female sleuths, Marple shows us that brains and cleverness will often triumph over youth, brawn, and the best laid plans for murder. Streaming HERE

Scott & Bailey.

Scott & Bailey – This crime drama revolves around the lives of Scott and Bailey, two female Manchester homicide detectives at different life and career stages. Streaming HERE

Agatha Raisin & the Love From Hell

Agatha Raisin – This Cotswold cozy mystery series is infinitely lighter than Vera, but the lead character is another 50+ woman – a single, newly-retired PR executive from London. Like Vera, it's based on a series of novels (by the delightful M.C. Beaton). Streaming HERE

RELATED: MC Beaton's Agatha Raisin Books

Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren.

Prime Suspect – Helen Mirren stars in this 1990s classic about a female DCI dealing with the challenges of being a successful, competent female in a traditionally male field. Streaming HERE | DVD

Rosemary & Thyme

Rosemary & Thyme – Although the premise is a bit silly if you think about it, this cozy mystery series about Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendall solving murders on various gardening jobs is actually quite lovely. Streaming HERE

RELATED: 9 of the Most Delightfully Absurd British Mysteries

From Darkness

From Darkness – This psychological crime drama shows former police officer Claire Church struggling to come to terms with her past as a long-dormant serial killer starts to kill again. Streaming HERE


Shows Like Vera: dark & Atmospheric European Mysteries

Follow the Money

Follow the Money (Danish) – Bad things happen inside Energreen, a mysterious energy company led by charismatic CEO Alexander Sodergren. This title is Region 2 encoded and requires a region-free DVD player for North American playback.  S1 DVD | S2 DVD | Streaming

Maria Wern (Swedish) – After the death of her husband, police inspector Maria Wern moves to a picturesque island to start over with her 2 children. There, she does her best to hunt down killers while battling against a male-dominated team. Streaming

Inspector Winter

Inspector Winter (Swedish) – Dedicated but troubled Inspector Winter investigates murders in Sweden. Streaming

Thicker Than Water (Swedish) – When B&B owner Anna Lisa is found dead one morning, her siblings learn that her will requires them to run her B&B together for a year in order to inherit it. Doing so risks unearthing long-buried family secrets. This title is Region 2 encoded and requires a region-free DVD player for North American playback. S1 DVD | Streaming


Spiral (French) – This unique series follows investigations around Paris from every point of view. Streaming

Thou Shalt Not Kill (Italian) – Chief Inspector Valeria Ferro works to untangle some of Turin's toughest cases while grappling with her mother's recent release from prison. Streaming


Shows Like Vera: More Brenda Blethyn…

Brenda Blethyn and Simon Callow in Chance in a Million

While Vera is the show that brought Brenda Blethyn to the attention of many, she's been a busy working actress for many years. In addition to being great as a detective, she's also a brilliant at comedy.

Chance in a Million – This is where I first saw Ms. Blethyn, and while the settings and outfits will feel dated, it's still very enjoyable. The show follows Tom Chance, a man who constantly falls victim to unusual circumstances – with Blethyn playing Alison, his long-suffering girlfriend. DVD


Belonging – Blethyn stars alongside Kevin Whately (Inspector Lewis) in this drama about a married couple caring for elderly relatives together – until the  husband leaves. Streaming HERE 

Dead Man Running – Not many people would expect to see Brenda Blethyn sharing the screen with Danny Dyer and American rapper 50 Cent, but that's exactly what happens in Dead Man Running. She plays the mother role in this film about a man desperate to raise the cash to pay off a loan shark. Streaming HERE

Brenda Blethyn in Introducing the Dwights

Introducing the Dwights – Blethyn is hilarious in this comedy film about a young man falling in love – and his very colorful mother. Streaming HERE 

Mary & Martha – Hilary Swank stars alongside Blethyn in this emotional drama about two women bonded by tragedy. Streaming HERE

Undertaking Betty

Undertaking Betty – Stuck in a bad marriage, Blethyn's character decides to fake her own death. This movie offers another great comedic performance by Blethyn. Streaming HERE

Remember Me? – This fun movie is part comedy, part drama, and Blethyn doesn't disappoint. Imelda Staunton also appears in this film about a quirky but typical middle-class suburban family. Streaming HERE

Saving Grace (2000) – Brenda Blethyn

Saving Grace – After her husband's suicide, a woman realizes she's on much shakier financial footing than she'd previously thought. Streaming HERE

London River – When a woman doesn't hear from her daughter after terrorist bombings in London, she begins an investigation that shakes her to her core. Streaming HERE

Brenda Blethyn in The Labours of Erica

The Labours of Erica – In this comedy, Blethyn stars as a woman trying to complete a list of her teenage goals by the time she turns 40.  DVD HERE (requires a region-free DVD player)

Outside Edge – Cricket may be a puzzling sport to many, but you don't need to understand it to appreciate this great cricket team comedy starring Brenda Blethyn, Robert Daws, and Timothy Spall. DVD HERE (requires a region-free DVD player). 

Brenda Blethyn in The Witches

The Witches – When a young boy moves to England with his grandmother, they accidentally stumble upon a witch convention during a seaside holiday.   Stream it HERE.

RELATED: British TV Actors You May Not Have Noticed in The Witches



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