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We watch British mystery shows and read British crime novels, and thanks to BBC Sounds, we can listen to British tales of murder and mayhem, too.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

At the end of last year, UKTV and PBS Masterpiece announced their co-commission of Annika, a new mystery-crime drama television series starring Nicola Walker (Unforgotten, The Split, Last Tango in Halifax), which is based on the hugely successful BBC Radio 4 drama Annika Stranded (also performed by Walker).

You can listen to Annika Stranded and much more — from crime dramas and historical dramas, to supernatural and sci-fi stories — on BBC Sounds, the BBC’s non-geo-restricted streaming audio service. With BBC Sounds, you can listen to BBC radio programs, podcasts, music, and more from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection for your computer or a mobile data connection for the BBC Sounds Android or iOS app on your mobile device.

Since many British TV fans gravitate toward mystery-crime drama programs, let’s focus here on some of the BBC Sounds titles in this genre.

Of classic mystery stories, BBC Sounds currently has:

  • Father Brown Stories — Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers) stars as G.K. Chesterton‘s soul-saving, mystery-solving Catholic priest and amateur sleuth in 13 stories adapted into BBC Radio 4 dramas, including “The Arrow of Heaven,” “The Eye of Apollo” and “The Hammer of God,” amongst others.
  • Paul Temple — Created in 1938, the “Paul Temple” radio serials aired until 1968, and were reprised in 2006 when Crawford Logan (Doctor Who) took on the role of Temple, the professional crime fiction author and amateur sleuth character created by English playwright and author Francis Durbridge. The 10-part “Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair” is currently the only title in this series available on BBC Sounds.
  • Sherlock Holmes — As of this writing, 56 of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s tales of the consulting detective, starring Carleton Hobbs (I, Claudius) as Sherlock Holmes and Norman Shelley (The Pallisers) as Dr. John Watson, are available for streaming on BBC Sounds, including “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Empty House” and “His Last Bow,” amongst others.
  • Wimsey — Based on the Dorothy L. Sayers “Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery” novel of the same name, “The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club,” starring Ian Carmichael (The Royal) as gentleman detective Wimsey (a role the actor also played in five TV miniseries), is the only complete Wimsey radio drama available on BBC Sounds at the moment, with the first episode (of six) streaming for just another 19 days.

More recent mystery stories on BBC Sounds include:

  • Charles Paris: A Doubtful Death — BAFTA Film Award winner Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Worriker Trilogy, State of Play) stars as the lovably louche actor-cum-amateur detective Charles Paris in this 4-part mystery comedy adapted from a story by British author Simon Brett. After Charles lands a role in an immersive theater production of Hamlet, an actress goes missing and Charles must decide if this is to be or not to be a murder case. (This title is also available as an audiobook.)
  • DCI Alma Blair: Dead Pan — Penned by Scottish crime writer Val McDermid and starring BAFTA nominee Julie Hesmondhalgh (Broadchurch, The Trouble with Maggie Cole, Coronation Street) as DCI Alma Blair, this 5-part comedy crime drama finds Blair and her partner in life and crime, CSM Jo Black (Jane Hazlegrove, Casualty, The Level), having a romantic dinner at a fine-dining establishment where, needless to say, murder is on the menu.
  • Julie Enfield Investigates — Oscar® nominee Imelda Staunton (The Crown, A Confession, Vera Drake) stars as Detective Superintendent Enfield in this dark, atmospheric radio crime drama series created by BAFTA winner Nick Fisher (The Giblet Boys, New Tricks). In the five multi-part stories, DSI Enfield investigates murders on a railway track, in London’s meat market, along Regent’s Canal, and in the British Library, as well as the medical mystery behind the discovery of a dumped body. (The complete series is also available as an audiobook.)
  • McLevy — Created and written by Scottish actor and writer David Ashton (Hamish Macbeth), this detective drama, on which Ashton’s “Inspector Levy Mystery” novels are based, stars Primetime Emmy® winner Brian Cox (Succession, From Now, Nuremberg) as Inspector James McLevy, an actual person who lived in 1800s Edinburgh and was the first-ever detective in Scotland’s capital city. Costarring Siobhan Redmond (Queens of Mystery, Taggart), the radio drama’s twelve series to date (all available on BBC Sounds) find McLevy investigating the death of a young seamstress, dealing with a turf war between rivals in the Leith underworld, on the trail of an cat burglar, and more. (All twelve series are available as audiobooks, as are several “McLevy” short stories.)
  • Stone — Created by BAFTA nominee Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Come Home, Safe), this detective series stars Hugo Speer (London Kills, Marcella, Father Brown) as DCI Stone. Over the course of the nine series to date (all available on BBC Sounds), Stone and his team investigate the disappearance of a two-year-old girl from her family home, the suspicious death of a man in a fire at a homeless hostel, and the tragic stabbing of a teenager, amongst other cases.

There’s more besides the above on BBC Sounds. Check ’em all out!


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Charles Paris, DCI Alma Blair, Stone & More Mystery Programs on BBC Sounds
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