Complete list of 1980s British detective series

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Browse British detective series by decade or return to the TV Detective Database:

Below is a complete list of British detective/mystery/crime series from the 1980s. This includes series that started prior to 1980 and continued into the decade, as well as shows that started in the 1980s and continued into the 1990s.

Clicking on a title link in the list below will take you to my post about that specific show (if I have created one). Additionally, the list also includes information and links to places where you can watch/stream the show online or purchase the series on DVD. The final column includes any additional notes and comments.

Note: Most of the links lead to US sites since most visitors to this website are based in the US. However, many of the DVD releases are in Region 2 format (i.e. are imported from the UK and would require a multi-region DVD player for viewers based in the US). Additionally, wherever possible, I link to “complete” DVD boxed sets; however, in some cases, it may be more economical to purchase individual seasons.

A-B

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh1983-2005 The Adam Dalgliesh Chronicles DVD set (Region 2)Not technically a single series but a collection of TV movies and mini-series based on the books by P.D. James.
Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence: Partners in Crime1983-1984[stream here]DVD boxed set released by AcornBased on the books by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s Poirot1989-2013[stream here]Complete Cases DVD collectionBased on the books by Agatha Christie

B

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
The Baker Street Boys1983
Bergerac1981-1991Streamable via Amazon or BritBoxComplete DVD collection (Region 2)
Bulman1985-1987Complete series DVDA spin-off of Strangers, which was a spin-off of The XXY Man
The Bill1983-2010[stream here]

C

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
C.A.T.S. Eyes1985-1987
Campion1989-1990[stream here]Complete collection DVD set (Region 2)
Captain Zep — Space Detective1983-1984(children’s programme)
The Chinese Detective1981-1982
Cribb (a.k.a. Sergeant Cribb)1979-1981
Crown Court1972-1984[stream here]

D-G

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Dempsey and Makepeace1985-1986Complete series DVD (Region 2)
The Fear1988
Floodtide1987-1988Complete series DVD (Region 2)
The Gentle Touch1980-1984[stream here]Complete series DVD (Region 2)

I-J

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Inspector Morse 1987-2000stream on BritBoxComplete series DVDProduced the spin-off series Inspector Lewis and Endeavour
Jemima Shore Investigates 1983Complete series DVD (Region 2)Based on the books by Antonia Fraser.
Juliet Bravo1980-1985Individual seasons/series have been released on DVD, starting with [Series 1] and ending with [Series 5]

K-M

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
King and Castle1985-1988
Lovejoy1986-1994[stream here]Complete DVD collection
Maelstrom1985

P

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye1983-1985[stream here][Season 1 DVD]UK-US co-production
Police 51962-1992, 2014
The Professionals1977-1983Complete series DVD set

R

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Rockliffe (a.k.a. Rockliffe’s Babies and Rockliffe’s Folly)1987-1988Rockliffe’s Babies DVD collection (includes the first two seasons)
The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (a.k.a. The Inspector Wexford Mysteries)1987-2000[stream here]DVD collectionBased on the Inspector Wexford book series by Ruth Rendell.

S

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
The Sandbaggers1978-1980[stream here]Complete series DVD (Region 2)
Sherlock Holmes (a.k.a. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)
1984-1994[stream here][Complete Granada Television Series DVD set] Individual seasons have also been released on Bluray.Starring Jeremy Brett
Shoestring1979-1980Complete series DVD set (Region 2)
South of the Border1988-1990
Square Mile of Murder1980
Star Cops1987
Strangers1978-1982

T-V

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Taggart1985-2010[stream here]Various collections have been released on DVD.
Unnatural Causes1986
Van der Valk1972-1992[stream here]Complete DVD box setA reboot of the series was also produced in 2020.

W-Z

Show TitleAir DatesAvailable to stream?Available on DVD?Other notes
Widows1983-1985
Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House1982DVD setEight episode miniseries.
Zastrozzi, A Romance1986 DVD set (Region 2)(based on the novel by Percy Besshe Shelly)

If you know of a show that is missing from the list above, or if you have any other additions or corrections, please let me know in the comments!

6 comments

    1. Thanks for this! I think I missed adding it because it’s technically not a series, but rather separate movies featuring the same character.

      I’ll have to think a bit about how to list this and other similar series of movies. For instance, Peter Ustinov played Poirot in a series of TV movies (after appearing as the character in theatrical releases), so I feel like if I include Dalgliesh, I would have to include that as well.

      Like

    2. Hello there. Hope you are well. Early 1981. A Crime Thriller, theme featuring a cat crawling in a dark room. Music reaching a shock crescendo wih a quick blast of Alto Saxophone.

      Like

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