David Tennant in Marvel's Jessica Jones (Photo: Netflix)

    8 Netflix shows starring British actors

    21 August 2020

    With tens of billions of dollars to invest in content, Netflix is the new king of the entertainment industry.

    Thankfully it’s kept up the noble Hollywood tradition of giving the occasional big break to hard-working Brits.

    Here are eight shows starring familiar faces:

    Lost in Space

    Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space, the groundbreaking 1965 series about a nuclear family stranded on a sparsely-populated undiscovered planet, has won praise for its stronger character development and stylish aesthetics – though some older fans lament the loss of the cardboard robots.

    Heading it up is the ruggedly-handsome Toby Stephens – the son of Dame Maggie Smith, looking slightly buffer than his romcom days in the role of John Robinson. This being the 21st century, the role has been rejigged slightly, with Robinson – a former Navy SEAL – now the second-in-command to his wife, the ship’s commander.


    Fargo – Netflix’s television spin-off of the Coen brothers’ cult movie – has impressed critics and viewers since it first arrived on the streaming service in 2014.

    Much of the praise has focused on the performance of Office and Sherlock alumnus Martin Freeman, who stars in season one as a browbeaten salesman who falls under the spell of a would-be serial killer.

    Meanwhile the third series of Fargo features a double turn from another familiar face: Ewen McGregor. The Trainspotting actor plays two semi-estranged brothers whose lives – and personal grooming – have taken divergent paths over time.

    The Office

    Catherine Tate in The Office – 2005 (Image: Rex Features)

    When Steve Carell left the American version of The Office in 2011 – having served for seven seasons as clueless boss Michael Scott – the show’s writers took the opportunity to bring in a series of high-profile guest managers to shake things up a bit.

    While Will Ferrell, James Spader and Kathy Bates all made an impression, it was Britain’s own Catherine Tate who ended up sticking around, turning a cameo appearance into a regular role for the show’s final two seasons.

    Though all nine seasons of The Office are currently on Netflix, they may well disappear next year, when it becomes the exclusive property of Peacock, NBC’s rival streaming service. Catch them while you can.

    The Witcher

    Filling the hole left by Game of Thrones, The Witcher is a sword-waving fantasy epic based on the works of another prolific scribbler – Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. And it’s got one of our lot in the lead.

    Henry Cavill – who went from Midsomer Murders and The Tudors to a lucrative regular gig as Superman in the extended DC universe – stars as Geralt of Rivia, a bare-chested warrior trained from infancy to fight off supernatural beasts.

    Filmed across Poland and Hungary – and making terrific use of the region’s semi-derelict castles – The Witcher reported staggering viewing figures when it landed last Christmas, quickly becoming one of the most-watched shows of 2019. With six full-length novels still to go, this one could run as long as Game of Thrones.


    Former IT Crowd regular Matt Berry has a habit of turning up in unlikely places.

    As well as his Bafta-winning cult sitcom Toast of London (also on Netflix), the Bedfordshire-born funnyman has voiced characters in Spongebob Squarepants and even recorded an acid-jazz album with stoner rock god Josh Homme.

    The velvet-voiced comedian’s latest gig is voicing an arrogant dauphin (later turned into a talking pig) in Disenchantment, the new animated sitcom from Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening. A second series of the show – a loose send-up of Game of Thrones – is set to arrive on Netflix at the end of the year.

    Jessica Jones

    What’s left to do after you’ve charmed audiences with a dashing performance as Britain’s most beloved sci-fi hero? For David Tennant – who left the Tardis in 2010 – the answer was obvious: defect to the dark side. And Netflix were more than happy to facilitate.

    While this dark and disturbing take on Marvel’s Jessica Jones might not be as family friendly as Tennant’s previous outing, it’s still delightful fun to see The Doctor recast as acerbic mind-bending super-villain Kilgrave. Dressed in a dashing suit – and adopting an English accent again – it’s a performance that’s both familiar and deeply disconcerting.


    Though she was never exactly a household name, UK-based viewers of the right age will likely remember Kate Nash from her successful turn as a twee pop-star in the early 2000s. Her biggest single – Foundations – was pipped to the top spot by Rihanna’s Umbrella in 2007.

    Having carved a second career as an indie actress in America, Nash now plays a former Duran Duran groupie turned wrestler in GLOW – Netflix’s spandex-clad drama about an all-woman wrestling franchise in 1980s Los Angeles. The series has been renewed for its fourth and final season next year.

    Locke & Key

    Comic books – particularly ones that come with obsessive fan-bases – are big business in Hollywood these days, so it was a safe bet that Locke & Key – a fantastical epic co-created by the son of Stephen King – would end up on one of the streaming networks before long.

    What was less predictable is that the show would arrive with a Brit in one of its biggest roles – in this case, Emelia Jones, daughter of chorister turned radio presenter Aled Jones plays Kinsey Locke: a teenager in possession of the Anywhere Key – an other-worldly device capable of turning any door into a portal that can take you to a place of your choosing.