These Creepy Crime Dramas Set In Sleepy British Towns Are Almost Too Relatable

Netflix's latest original series Safe is set within the sleepy confines of a gated community in the North of England. Residents have to pass by a security system to get in and out of the community, but this still doesn't mean they are safe from danger. If you've already marathoned the series and are craving another look at the dark underbelly of small town life, then these crime dramas set in a sleepy British town will certainly pique your interest.

As you no doubt remember, Safe follows the recently widowed surgeon Tom Delaney (played by Michael C. Hall, who you might recognise as Dexter) as he attempts to track down his daughter, who has gone missing after attending a local house party. The series was created and written by Harlan Coben, an American mystery novelist, with The Telegraph labelling Coben's take on English town life as a bit "stagey."

It certainly has an element of caricature about it — the community could be more representative of British life, and I personally can't help but wonder who on earth would choose to live in a gated community — but as all true TV fans will know, plausibility has never been a huge obstacle on the course to watchability, and the dramatic performances in Safe make it very compelling.

It's got a fun, intricate plot with lots of soapy twists and turns that have you blearily agreeing to "one more episode" long after you should have gone to bed. So if you've now reached the finale and are looking for something similar to fill the gap, read this list will point you back in the direction of deliciously creepy suburbia.


With just three seasons under its belt, Broadchurch brought us so much: Olivia Colman and David Tennant's beloved detective duo, a cast of a nuanced and compelling characters, and an exploration of the social politics of a small community. Set in a fictional, sleepy Dorset coastal town, the show was also something of a love letter to England's seaside boroughs, with some beautifully shot scenery. The first season begins as the body of a young boy is found on the shore, unleashing a cascade of suspicion and anxiety.

Stream Broadchurch on Netflix


Set in a small town on the Dover coast, 'Liar' begins as local school teacher Laura Nielson (Joanne Froggatt) goes on a date with a parent of one of her pupils, Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd), a respected doctor. She wakes in his bed the following morning aware that she has had sex but with no memory of actually consenting to it. The series follows Laura as she seeks to prove what she suspects, that she has been drugged and raped, and explores the impact of these accusations for her and the local community.

Stream Liar on Amazon Prime

'Happy Valley'

Staring the always watchable Sarah Lancashire as the foolhardy Sergeant Catherine Cawood, still grieving the suicide of her young daughter. Catherine learns the man who raped her is due out of prison and obsessively searches for him, blaming him for the death of her daughter. Little does she know, he is also key to the kidnapping case she has been recently assigned. Set in the Calder Valley in Yorkshire, Happy Valley explores many of the often overlooked social issues prevalent in this area.

Stream Happy Valley on Netflix


Set in a sleepy Bristol suburb, Thirteen opens as a girl dressed in a bedraggled nightgown tentatively makes her way out of a nondescript front door before sprinting down the street. On reaching a phonebox she frantically calls emergency services. "I'm Ivy Moxam," she breathlessly tells them. "I was taken 13 years ago." The series explores her return to her family and society after being held captive for most of her life.

Stream Thirteen on iPlayer

'Doctor Foster'

Set in quintessentially British fictional town of Parminster, Dr Foster explores the dark happenings going on beneath the seemingly perfect surface of such a place. The titular doctor (Suranne Jones) plays a GP who discovers her husband is having an affair with their friends' daughter. Digging deeper, she finds he is in financial hot water too, and schemes to protect herself and her son.

Stream Doctor Foster on Netflix


Set on the Shetland Islands and based on the novel Red Bones by Ann Cleeves, Shetland begins as an elderly islander's remains are found on the site of an archaeological dig. DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) suspects the murder is somehow related to the Shetland Bus — a secret special operations group that made trips between the Shetland Islands and Norway, to assist the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II. With the discovery, island's secrets begin to unravel in this dark drama.

Stream Shetland on Netflix

'Safe House'

Robert and Katy (Christopher Eccleston and Marsha Thomason) are the owners of a pretty guesthouse in the Lake District. Robert, a former police officer, is talked into turning their picturesque B&B into a safe house by a former colleague. They end up hosting a family of four who have been on the run from a dangerous criminal. But somebody seems to know where they are and who they are, and the couple suspect a leak in the police department, rendering the safe house suddenly anything but.

Stream Safe House on Now TV

Sleepy British towns can be home to some scary goings on, as this list has surely proven — so if you live in one, buckle up when you tune in. This is about to bring a whole new meaning to something hitting close to home.