Recently (as in: the last few weeks) watched British shows reccommended to yours truly:
1) Broadchurch. Aka the one with Olivia Coleman and David Tennant in leading roles which had the nation wondering whether Chris Chibnall has been replaced by a space alien after Doctor Who watchers had been wondering that already, given this two very good early s7 episodes. All kidding aside now: I've seen remarks along the lines of "can this be the writer of Cyberwoman?" and now that I've watched it, I feel tempted to reply: "No, the writer of Adrift." Adrift being my choice for best episode written by Chris Chibnall in his two seasons as headwriter for Torchwood. (And I don't mean that in a damming-with-faint-praise fashion: Adrift is excellent.) Broadchurch has identical strenghts and weaknesses. To recapitulate for non-Torchwood watchers: Adrift is a season 2 episode which revolves around Gwen investigating what happened to several people who may or may not have fallen into the Rift (Sci Fi MacGuffin located in Cardiff). Some of the strongest scenes involve the mother of one of the victims and her searing grief. There is also an ongoing subplot about Gwen and Rhys, recently married, clashing and having a crisis - the Gwen/Rhys arguments are part of what made their relationship so incredibly realistic and one of my favourites, btw - and on top of it all, Gwen discovers that Jack, her boss, may have been involved in whatever happened to the missing people, so paranoia abounds and increases. At the end, when she knows the truth, it's ugly and painful. The first time I watched it, I was so caught up that only later a plothole occured to me, but the episode still touched me so much I did not care. Oh, and there are some devastatingly beautiful shots of the coastline around Cardiff.
...if you've watched Broadchurch, you can see what I'm getting at. If you haven't: Broadchurch deals with the murder of an eleven-years-old boy, Danny Latimer, and the effect it has on the community (the town of the title). (It's a coast town, so there are some devastatingly beautiful coast-of-Dorset shots in every episode.) Our team of investigating detectives are Ellie Miller, married, mother of two, friends with the dead boys' parents (and lots of other people), empathic and talkative, who has been awaiting a promotion as the series begins and isn't happy to find herself passed over in favour of newcomer Alex Hardy, divorced, brooding, man of few words and supicious of everyone. Hardy is, on paper, the most conventional character of the ensemble (brooding Scottish Inspector haunted by tragic past he's trying to make up for by solving this case), but since he's a) the second lead - Ellie Miller is the first one - and b) played by David Tennant, whom I've missed on my tv screen. I didn't mind in the on screen reality. Also, Olivia Coleman is sparklingly delightful and incredibly raw in the dark scenes as Ellie Miller, and Chibnall wisely does NOT burden the odd couple relationship between her and Hardy with UST. There are the expected clashes of opposites (not to mention that he has her job) early on, but it's not of the flirtatious type, nor does it become that later. They do, however, develop respect and slowly something like friendship, which is incredibly important for the series' final two episodes. (Hardy through the series refuses to call Ellie Miller by her first name, insisting on calling her "Miller", and you expect that to change, according to the rules of tv, in some funny or fluffy moment. He does eventually call her "Ellie" one particular time, but the emotional circumstances are anything but what you'd expect early on.
The Latimers - the boys' parents, sister and grandmother - are naturally the family we see most of, and this is where Chibnall's Adrift-proven talent for grief in all its many forms - shock, numbness, outburst, devastation, denial etc. - comes to the fore, as does his talent for couple in-fighting without this meaning the end of the relationship. The cast is excellent throughout, and you can play Six Degrees of Doctor Who not just with Tennant and Chibnall (and Coleman, given her brief appearance in The Eleventh Hour): there is also Arthur Darvill, Rory the Centurion himself, as the Vicar.
Flaws: there is that plothole thing. For example, apparantly the police in Broadchurch doesn't have access to the national crime database at all, since it needs the press to figure out two of their suspects have priors, despite them already having interrogated the people in question. Also, I really doubt two crucial confrontations would have been allowed to take place. But: watching, I was caught up emotionally too much to mind.
2) Scott and Bailey, season 1. This was advertised to me as a British modern Cagney and Lacey, and this I've found to be a very good description. It takes place in Manchester and, like Cagney and Lacey, combines a younger hotheaded detective (played by Suranne Jones, who can also play the Whoverse game, since she was both the TARDIS and Mona Lisa), single, and a calmer, older and married one, played by Lesley Sharpe (amazing in many things, but especially in the miniseries The Second Coming and the Doctor Who episode Midnight, both penned by Russell T. Davies). The friendship between the two women is already established when the show starts, and like in the decades old American show, we get some key conversations in the rest room of the precinct. Where it parts ways with Cagney and Lacey is that their boss, who has been friends with Janet Scott for ages but has a far pricklier relationship with Rachel Bailey, is also a woman, and Jill is basically the main supporting player or third lead, however you want to put it.
I really enjoyed the first season of this show; there is good chemistry between the leads, it combines cases of the week with ongoing emotional developments and one main case (mind you, if you're experienced in genre tv, you can figure out who must be the murderer for that one half way through), and it reminds me all over again that actors on Britsh tv are allowed to both be and look normal instead of as if stepping of the cover of a magazine, and not just the males but the women as well.
Flaws: one. Rachel's boyfriend whom she splits up with in the pilot is so obviously scum-of-the-earth that it's hard to believe she put up with him for two years, let alone give him another chance, even if he's played by Rupert Graves. The show lampshades this by letting Janet marvel why an intelligent and attractive woman would go for a man not fit to wipe her shoes, but the "some people are stupid in love" principle doesn't quite work for me as an explanation. Also, some crucial emotional development in this regard takes place between the last but one episode of the season and the last one. But other than that, I have no complaints.