Acorn TV and Where Else to Watch British Programming

It’s always nice to know where TV programmes you’d like to watch are hanging out, although I must say, shows have a rather nasty habit of partying somewhere only to cheekily sneak out the door without so much as a by your leave, popping up elsewhere without notice. And sometimes it happens right in front of your very eyes.

One Christmas Eve a few years back, my husband and I decided to sit down with a glass of wine and watch a little bit of something for a little bit of a while. It was late because we had, of course, had to wait until the kids were fast asleep before we could haul out the presents. I put on Love, Actually because we hadn’t seen it since it first came out. We managed about half an hour before crawling bleary eyed into bed.

The next evening, with kids engrossed with newly acquired whatever, we decided to finish it. Only to find it gone. Now, if you’re like us you’ll probably understand the issue of not remembering where you were watching something. I had felt positive that it was playing on Netflix but maybe Hulu? Amazon?  Alas, it was not to be found anywhere. So after googling our little dilemma I discovered that quite a few people were irate at the fact that Netflix (I had been right all along) had indeed removed Love, Actually from their content on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day! Talk about Grinch-ish!

Anyroad. I digress horribly. What I am really here to share is a rundown of where I, personally, get my consumption of British TV. Just be forewarned that whenever I list a location for a TV show it may have already upped sticks for pastures new.

~Acorn TV  So I will admit right here and now to having a soft spot for Acorn. I was thrilled to discover a one stop shop for British shows a few years back and bought a Roku in order to be able to watch it on TV. It has a considerable amount to watch, mostly British but also Australian, Canadian and Irish and a smattering of foreign subtitled shows. You can watch Foyle’s War, Vera and Midsomer Murders here as well as several Acorn originals: Keeping Faith, Striking Out and the incomparable Agatha Raisin (back for more fun with season 2, November 19th. Yay!). New material is added on a regular basis, sometimes with all episodes all at once, sometimes, with the more popular shows (A Place to Call Home) episodes are parsed out on a weekly basis (insert sad emoji).

A recent perusal showed several things I still hadn’t gotten around to watching after all these years. Admittedly some of it is pretty dated and a handful of things are down right dreadful, but if I was going to suggest just one place to watch Brit TV, this would be it. And it’s a veritable bargain for $49.99/year or $4.99/month.

~Britbox This is the new kid on the block arriving in March of 2017 and is a joint effort between the BBC and ITV so all programming comes from those stations. It did explain why for several months prior, many shows disappeared from Acorn and Hulu and elsewhere as Britbox apparently went around gathering up all its own productions. I resisted subscribing until recently (it felt a little like cheating on Acorn) but I just couldn’t resist checking it out. There are several popular soaps available: Emmerdale (I remember my mum watching this when I was a kid, although back then it was called Emmerdale Farm), East Enders and Coronation Street (my soap of choice which I used to watch growing up) and the great thing is that they release on Britbox the same day they air in Britain so you don’t feel as though you’re getting stale material.

There’s also lots of Dr Who, some great old classic comedies such as Porridge and Are You Being Served? with a variety of new shows added regularly.

FYI: do not subscribe to Britbox through Amazon. The interface is appalling and there is no way to see what new shows have become available. I recently switched and the experience is so much better. Britbox is $6.99/month.

~PBS PBS gets some of the best and most recent of British TV. Poldark anyone? But if, like me, you find it really hard to watch Masterpiece on a Sunday night (because older kids are up later and just wont let you watch in peace perhaps) subscribe to PBS Passport, on their site, for $4.99/month. This way you can access their material any time it’s convenient. You can access the current shows for free for a few weeks but I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to go in and watch archived material.

~Hulu There used to be a British section discovered by clicking a box at the top of the home page. A quick check showed that it’s gone and you now need to click on International. Not quite as convenient but most of the British stuff is well identified, although there does seem to be less of it. However, if you already subscribe to Hulu this is a good place to start. Harlots, Whitechapel, Stella are all worth a watch, as is Larkrise to Candleford and New Tricks. $7.99/month but that does include ads. If, like me you just can’t abide watching your TV that way, you have to shell out another $4/month. Give up a Starbucks latte I say.

~Sundance Now This was a very recent discovery upon tracking down McMafia, a programme that stars James Norton (the vicar in Grantchester who sparks all manner of ungodly thoughts) and is about an exiled Russian crime family living in London. It didn’t quite live up to expectations to be honest, but was still entertaining. While on Sundance, I discovered Riviera with Julia Stiles and Next of Kin with Archie Punjabi. There are also a handful of other British shows that I didn’t have time to watch. I did a free trial through Amazon and will be going back in with a free trial directly through the website to watch a couple of other things.

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