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The 41 best things to watch on Netflix UK

The very finest films and TV shows the streaming service has to offer. Updated for October 2021

Video-streaming service Netflix gives you a vast number of films, TV shows and documentaries to choose from – and that can be a problem.

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.

MORE NETFLIX ARTICLES

If you’re after the best new stuff on Netflix we’ve also got you covered with our New on Netflix UK feature, and if you want to get a bit more specific, try these:

The 25 best TV box-sets on Netflix UK

The 19 best Netflix Originals on Netflix

The 16 best sci-fi movies and TV shows on Netflix UK

The 12 best documentaries on Netflix UK

The 15 best horror movies on Netflix UK

The 20 best comedy movies and TV shows on Netflix UK

The 20 best kids movies and TV shows on Netflix UK

The 8 best anime on Netflix UK

The 12 best sports movies and documentaries on Netflix UK

If you’re landing on this page and you’re based in the United States, then you might want to check out out separate list of the Best movies and TV shows on Netflix USA.

And of course we shouldn’t forget the almost-as-brilliant Amazon Prime Instant Video – you’ll find our Best Of list for that here.

Prefer Sky’s offerings? We’ve also got lists of The 19 best TV shows on Now TV and The 20 best movies on Now TV.

PART 1: NETFLIX ORIGINALS

GLOW (S1-3)

This period comedy-drama about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling isn’t really about 1980s wrestling at all, but about how a group of women rally against both their demons and the patriarchy that keeps them down. GLOW could have easily fallen into the trap of a camp curiosity, or a simple, shallow celebration of neon spandex and super-strength hairspray, but it’s instead a sharply written, character-driven comedy that sits comfortably among Netflix’s most bingeworthy original series.

Watch GLOW on Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit (S1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDrieqwSdgI

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.

Watch The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix

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.

Watch The Last Dance on Netflix

Stranger Things (S1-3)

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.

Watch Stranger Things on Netflix

I Think You Should Leave (S1-2)

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.

Watch I Think You Should Leave on Netflix

Ozark (S1-3)

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.

Watch Ozark on Netflix

Narcos (S1-3)

The most critically acclaimed Netflix original series of 2015 (now three seasons strong) tells the bloody story of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the man tasked with taking him down. Sounds like a laugh riot, right?

While Narcos lacks much in the way of light-relief, watching American DEA agent Steve Murphy submerge himself in a viciously amoral cesspit is a constant thrill. What could well be a high-minded exercise in true crime melodrama is elevated to nerve-shredding nirvana via some classy performances and the disturbing use of archive footage. Escobar’s brutal legacy lives on through your telebox, and the horror of it all will make you wince in anguish.

Watch Narcos on Netflix

Black Mirror (S1-5)

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.

Watch Black Mirror on Netflix

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MORE NETFLIX ORIGINALS

The Crown (S1-4)

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 and Tobias Menzies), 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.

Watch The Crown on Netflix

BoJack Horseman (S1-6)

A Netflix exclusive, this animated series features Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a, er, “horse man” who enjoyed success while in a popular 1990s sitcom but now lives in a haze of booze and self-loathing as a washed-up former star.

Set in a skewed version of Hollywood in which humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, BoJack Horseman features a strong cast (Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul plays BoJack’s best friend Todd) and strong writing, and there are now five seasons plus two specials available: perfect for binging.

Watch BoJack Horseman on Netflix

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.

Watch Sex Education on Netflix

Cobra Kai (S1-3)

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.

Watch Cobra Kai on Netflix

Orange Is the New Black (S1-7)

Arguably Netflix’s second-best original series after House of Cards, this is a prison show that goes its own way: less brutal than Oz, less daft than Prison Break and more compelling than Prisoner Cell Block H, it’s a fish-out-of-water drama (based on a true story) in which a white, middle-class Brooklynite ends up in a low-security women’s jail for a crime committed almost a decade previous.

A character-driven show that uses Lost-style flashbacks to explore the pre-prison lives of the cast, Orange Is the New Black proved such a hit that it spawned a full seven seasons.

Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix

Love (S1-3)

"Created, written and executive produced by Judd Apatow" is a phrase that’s a lot more exciting to some people than to others, but if you’re even slightly drawn to his particular brand of mumbly, honest, relationship-based humour, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this Netflix Original comedy drama.

Love is a story of two useless, directionless, loveless people at opposite ends of the loser spectrum, who stumble into each other’s lives and begin a relationship that doesn’t seem particularly healthy for either of them. This isn’t laugh-a-minute stuff, but spending time with the substance-abusing Mickey (Community’s Gillian Jacobs) and pushover Gus (Paul Rust) is an occasionally painfully awkward, occasionally guffaw-inducing pleasure.

It’s perhaps not a TV show for everyone, but the progression in the characters’ relationships over its three seasons makes it an ultimately rewarding, always entertaining watch.

Watch Love on Netflix

Better Call Saul (S1-5)

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.

Watch Better Call Saul on Netflix

Arrested Development (S1-5)

Dysfunctional families have been done to death on both the big screen and TV, but the Bluths are up there with the most self-centred, destructive and, well, downright hilarious bunch of the lot.

Straight man George Bluth desperately tries to keep his family and fortune intact as their company is hit by the US government for embezzlement.

Superb performances from the likes of David Cross, coupled with tonnes of re-quote potential make this a must-watch. It gets a little lost after the first three seasons thanks to the actors’ other projects clashing with filming, but a recent "remix" re-edit of the poorly-received fourth season and a new fifth season have sparked interest in the Bluths once more.

Watch Arrested Development on Netflix

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FILMS

PART 2: FILMS

Akira

The movie that did more than any other to spark the West’s obsession with anime and manga, this Japanese cyberpunk classic – a tale of teenage biker gangs, political upheaval and creepy wizened psychic children played out against the backdrop of sprawling, crumbling megalopolis Neo-Tokyo – remains eminently watchable over 30 years after its release. The hand-painted animation is stunning, the grimy dystopian setting evocative and the soundtrack unforgettable. Very few animated movies have aged as well as Akira, or proved as influential. Our advice: watch this before Hollywood’s upcoming live action reimagining wrecks everything.

Watch Akira on Netflix

Jaws

The movie that put an entire generation off skinny dipping, Jaws remains one of the most iconic, most copied and most beloved films of all time.

The premise is beautifully simple: when a sleepy New Jersey resort is terrorised by a killer shark, the local police chief decides to hunt it down. But it’s the film’s presentation and direction that make it such a special monster movie. Steven Spielberg cranks up the tension through perspective, editing and sound (John Williams’ iconic score is masterful), leaving the audience constantly on edge, but he isn’t afraid to season the scares with well-timed beats of levity. It’s still a fantastic watch more than 40 years after its release.

Watch Jaws on Netflix

The Irishman

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.

Watch The Irishman on Netflix

The Big Lebowski

Louche, laid back and seemingly lightweight, Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 comedy rewards the astute watcher; it’s packed to the gills with call-backs, references to classic movies and other clever touches. It’s also an absolute riot, as Jeff Bridges’ ageing hippy sets out to right a wrong (in a case of mistaken identity, two hoodlums broke into his apartment and “soiled” a beloved rug) and ends up embroiled in a kidnapping case involving a German electropop group, ruthless pornographers, a paraplegic philanthropist, a sullen teenage car thief, the police chief of Malibu, a (possibly hallucinatory) cowboy… and bowling.

With an outstanding supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Goodman, The Big Lebowski is a rare cinematic gift: one that keeps on giving with each subsequent viewing.

Watch The Big Lebowski on Netflix

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-winning character study is stark and relentless; the first we see of its protagonist Daniel Plainview is a 20-minute sequence in which Daniel Day-Lewis scrabbles wordlessly in the dirt for silver. From there, Plainview moves to drilling for oil; consumed by a relentless pursuit for the black gold, he effortlessly charms townsfolk out of their oil rights using his adopted son as a prop to shore up his image of a family man; Plainview is anything but.

The only one who sees through his ruse is Paul Dano’s young preacher Eli Sunday – because he’s a similarly corrupt conman: an evangelist who sees Plainview as a threat to the supremacy of his church. And thus the stage is set for a power struggle between religion and capitalism, played out in operatic fashion against the oil wells and starkly soundtracked by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Fantastic stuff.

Watch There Will Be Blood on Netflix

Hereditary

Ari Aster’s movie starts out like a family drama and ends as… well, that’d risk ruining a ride filled with more twists than a runaway rollercoaster.

Toni Collette’s Annie tries to parse the ways in which her recently deceased and extremely secretive mother’s behaviour has shaped and warped her family – not just Annie herself, but her deceased brother, son Peter and young daughter Charlie, the latter two of which seem particularly troubled. When these troubles lead first to tragedy, then full-on nightmare, it already may be too late for Annie to steer things back on course. If you’re looking for an intelligent, well-crafted film with the power to shock, look no further. Director Ari Aster (who more recently made Midsommar, another smart and scary movie) leaves plenty of clues and cues in to hint at the ending, but you still won’t see it coming.

Watch Hereditary on Netflix

Spirited Away

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.

Watch Spirited Away on Netflix

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MORE FILMS

Gladiator

Russell Crowe became a Hollywood A-lister off the back of this swords-and-sandals epic, in which he plays celebrated Roman general Maximus who, when cruelly betrayed by Joaquin Phoenix’s power-mad young emperor, must fight his way to vengeance via the blood-stained arenas of gladiatorial combat.

With the sort of stylish, timeless visuals you’d expect from director Ridley Scott, Gladiator is a stirring Hollywood blockbuster of the highest order, ticking off a whole range of boxes in its two and a half hours: sweeping vistas, rousing emotion, romance, brutal fight scenes and a truly hateful villain. Movies of its type don’t always age well – astonishingly, this is almost 20 years old – but thanks to Scott’s mastery behind the camera and Crowe’s Oscar-nominated performance, this is one that’ll still feel fresh in another decade or two.

Watch Gladiator on Netflix

Do the Right Thing

The best-known film of Spike Lee’s early career – and arguably his best film overall – Do the Right Thing is the story of a single sweltering day in Brooklyn, set on a single block of a single Bed-Stuy street. Despite this limited scope, Lee’s skill and the large cast of characters turn it into a wide-ranging and impactful metacommentary on racism in America: funny, vivacious, thought-provoking and powerful, without seeking refuge in simple platitudes or easy answers.

Watch Do the Right Thing on Netflix

The Matrix

If for some strange reason you’ve not yet seen this modern sci-fi classic, drop whatever it is you’re doing and “jack in” (not being crude, honest) to Netflix right this instant. The Matrix isn’t just a killer action movie – it’s packed with cultural touchstones and iconic moments, and it still looks amazing more than twenty years after it first emerged from the Wachowski’s fevered, fabulous minds.

Keanu Reeves plays hacker Neo, an office-bound drudge by day who finds himself drawn into a reality-shattering adventure full of flying bullets, mind-blowing martial arts sequences and some early CGI that doesn’t look like absolute garbage. Whoa!

Watch The Matrix on Netflix

Uncut Gems

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.

Watch Uncut Gems on Netflix

Step Brothers

Will Ferrell movie output could best be described as patchy, but Step Brothers is one of his films which – perhaps a little surprisingly, given its premise – transcends its concept to show how great he can be when he’s on form. Ferrell and the superb John C. Reilly play coddled middle-aged men who still live with their respective mother and father – and are forced to live together as step brothers when said parents get married. Cue whining, fist fights and the… er, “mistreatment” of a much-treasured drum kit.

If it sounds like the sort of film Adam Sandler would turn down, Step Brothers morphs swiftly from standard slapstick fare to, well, superior slapstick fare as the two enemies become allies and unite to combat a greater threat. It won’t change your life perhaps, but it will keep you chuckling for 90 minutes of it.

Watch Step Brothers on Netflix

The Revenant

Netting a healthy haul of three Oscars, this ice-bound, mud-spattered adventure stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a 19th-century trapper left for dead by a treacherous comrade (Tom Hardy, gruff and mumbling in a very Tom Hardy way) after being mauled by a grizzly bear.

Emerging from a shallow grave, Glass sets out on the long, cold journey towards revenge, evading marauding Native Americans and performing gruesome self-surgery in a series of incredible sequences. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction (which never feels showy, despite the spectacle) and the flawless camera work force the viewer to live every moment of Glass’ struggle to survive.

Despite uttering a small handful of lines during the film’s nigh-on three hours of running time, DiCaprio received his first Best Actor Oscar for The Revenant. Watching what he goes through here, it’s not difficult to see why the Academy was so enthralled. As a physical performance, it’s remarkable – and it’s just one great aspect in a film packed with them.

Watch The Revenant on Netflix

Icarus

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.

Watch Icarus on Netflix

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy’s noirish novel about violence, morality, evil and whether or not it’s a good idea to nick a big bag of money from a drug cartel (hint: it’s not!) gets the Coen brothers treatment.

It’s a combination that seemed destined to deliver a classic movie, and that’s just what this is: it’s glorious high-level stuff, thanks to not only the source material and its sympathetic treatment by two of America’s finest filmmakers, but the strong performances from Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, Tommy Lee Jones and, most memorably, Javier Bardem as the otherworldly and seemingly unstoppable mass murderer Anton Chigurh – a true force of nature. If you like your crime thrillers as contemplative and lyrical as they are nail-biting, look no further.

Watch No Country for Old Men on Netflix

PART 3: TV SHOWS

Rick and Morty (S1-4)

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.

Watch Rick and Morty on Netflix

Sons of Anarchy (S1-7)

All seven seasons of this outlaw biker gang drama are available to watch on Netflix, so if you haven’t yet binged on the bloody adventures of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original, don’t ya know?), there’s no time like the present.

While there’s plenty of mayhem, lawlessness and butchery to delight thrill-seekers, much of the appeal of Sons of Anarchy lies in its Shakespearean family drama: dark secrets, jealousy, sins of the father and backstabbing (both figurative and literal). While not always perfect (the ill-advised stint set in Northern Ireland, complete with a fiddle-dee-dee remix of the opening theme tune, springs to mind), the show offers more than enough compelling drama and complex characterisation to keep you hooked right through to its harrowing conclusion.

Watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix

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TV SHOWS AND BOX-SETS

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.

Watch People Just Do Nothing on Netflix

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."

Watch Peep Show on Netflix

Archer

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.

Watch Archer on Netflix

Fargo (TV series)

Not to be confused with the Coen brothers’ (also highly recommended, also on Netflix) movie that inspired it – and from which it draws its winning blend of dark deeds, intricate plotting, looming dread and comic “Minnesota nice” dialogue – this is yet another TV series that begs to be binge-watched over a weekend. And at a relatively modest eight episodes, that’s entirely doable.

Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman all deliver fine performances as residents of the snowbound titular town, but it’s Billy Bob Thornton, oozing malevolence and menace as drifter Lorne Malvo, who lingers longest in the memory.

Once that’s out of the way, the fantastic second and third series are now on Netflix for you to devour too – and each features a totally different story, with a totally different cast, set at a totally different time.

Watch Fargo on Netflix

The Office (UK)

Gareth’s obsession with lesbians. Tim’s hat radio. That dance. Fray Bentos. Keith eating a scotch egg. Monkey Alan in the warehouse. Brent’s Princess Diana song. Gareth Keenan ‘invetigates’. A stapler in jelly. The difference between dwarves, midgets and elves. Mr Sidney Poitier.

If you’ve never seen the original UK version of The Office, none of these things will be in the slightest bit funny. If you have, the mere mention of them should be enough to make you break out in a smile and decide to rewatch every episode. Right now.

Truly one of the greatest of all British comedies, The Office was hugely influential, unrelentingly hilarious and incredibly poignant, often all at the same time. Watch it. Right now.

Watch The Office on Netflix

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.

Watch Breaking Bad on Netflix

Friends (S1-10)

For the minuscule number of readers that don’t know, Friends is a long-running multi-cam sitcom about a sextet of… well, let’s call them “buddies”, “pals”, “amigos” or “compatriots” living in New York.

Yes, it’s packed with great gags and interesting series-arching plots, the show’s true pull is in its sharply drawn, likeable and relatable characters. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Monica’s travails as they navigate love, career, life and everything in between are sure to suck you in, even if some of the writing now feels somewhat dated.

Watch Friends on Netflix