15 hidden gems on iPlayer that are well worth watching

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In recent months, BBC iPlayer has sought to raise its game in terms of its offering of streamable TV and films, as the likes of Netflix and Amazon only strengthen their libraries.

With the BBC making mountains of older shows available, and some of the newer ones flying under the radar, there are bound to be dramas, comedies, films and documentaries you didn't even know were there.

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Here are 15 hidden gems to check out on iPlayer, along with details of how long they will remain on the platform from the time of writing.


Cop Paul Gerardi enjoys a glass of wine - before his life is turned upside down by another case in Salamander (Photo: Eén/BBC)

What is it? Belgium's acclaimed crime and conspiracy drama series won a cult audience with its first series in 2012, before returning to BBC Four this year. Hailed as Europe's answer to '24', both seasons are available right now.

How long do I have to watch it? 26 days for Season 2; a month for Season 1

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The Relic

What is it? An under-appreciated 90s monster movie that strikes just the right balance between silly, hammy fun and genuine suspense. Tom Sizemore's cop and Penelope Ann Miller's evolutionary biologist team up to battle a rampaging creature in a museum. What's not to like?

How long do I have to watch it? 10 days

Being Human (seasons 1-5)

What is it? One of those shows where the concept alone - a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost share a flat in Bristol - is enough to get you watching. Being Human gave early career boosts to Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Poldark himself, Aidan Turner, when it launched in 2009. All 36 episodes are available on iPlayer.

How long do I have to watch it? 2 months

Adam Curtis - Hypernormalisation

What is it? Renowned documentary creator Adam Curtis musters another epic kaleidoscope of archive imagery, absorbing music and hypnotic narration, in this 166-minute exploration of the 'fake' social and political reality we now live in; and how we arrived here.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends

Louis Theroux took an in-depth look at the porn industry in the first series of 'Weird Weekends' (Photo: BBC)

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What is it? The series that established the cult of investigative journalist Louis Theroux 20 years ago. With his trademark faux-naive questioning, the presenter delves into the worlds of swingers, nationalists and survivalists, with revealing results.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

The Bridge (seasons 1-4)

The previous three seasons are also available right now (Photo: BBC)

What is it? One of the most acclaimed and beloved Scandi-noir detective shows. But while the arrival of the fourth and final season may well have caught your attention, the fact that all three previous series are now back on iPlayer may have escaped it. For the uninitiated, it's well worth delving into the complex crime investigations of socially awkward Swedish cop Saga, and her Danish partners.

How long do I have to watch it? 1 month

Simon Amstell: Carnage

Carnage - Swallowing the Past is Simon Amstell's directorial debut (Photo: BBC)

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What is it? Simon Amstell's witty mockumentary imagines a world 50 years down the line where everyone is vegan and pensioners look back with shame on their meat and cheese eating past. An amusing satire, with some entertaining cameos.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

Annie Mac: Who killed the night?

What is it? Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac investigates the astonishing decline of Britain's nightclubs, asking why the once vibrant party life of our town and city centres has been decimated around the country.

How long do I have to watch it? 7 months

Kajaki: The True Story

Hard-hitting ordeal: Kajaki

What is it? An agonisingly tense movie telling the true story of a group of British soldiers trapped in a minefield while serving in Afghanistan.

How long do I have to watch it? 19 days

Patricia Cornwell: Stalking The Ripper

What is it? In this fascinating Omnibus documentary, originally broadcast in 2002, the crime author examines the notorious unsolved case of Jack The Ripper - utilising a modern approach in a belated attempt to find the killer.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

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Gavin and Stacey

What is it? The award-winning sitcom is hardly an unknown quantity. But the fact that seasons 1-3 are all available on iPlayer right now might have escaped your notice. Well worth another watch, or a first-time binge if you've never had the pleasure.

How long do I have to watch it? 2 months

The Young Offenders

No compromise: the series retains the acclaimed original film's cast - and spirit (Photo: BBC)

What is it? This Irish comedy about two young tearaways is a spin-off from the acclaimed film of the same name, with the same core cast and creative team on board. A genuinely funny and endearing watch.

How long do I have to watch it? 3 months

Davis vs Taylor: the '85 Black Ball final

What is it? If recent snooker action has put you back in the green felt frame, this 2010 documentary about one of the greatest ever games in the sport should be just the ticket for a quiet night in.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

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Philip Glass Concert: Live at The Barbican

What is it? The BBC Symphony Orchestra's performance of a number of pieces by renowned American composer Glass, whose work on film scores and original albums alike has rendered him one of the world's most celebrated musical minds. Two hours of bliss.

How long do I have to watch it? More than a year

Queens Of Jazz

What is it? A celebration of the 20th century's most influential and extraordinary female jazz performers, including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.

How long do I have to watch it? 5 days

If you're looking for further sonic inspiration, other musical documentaries on iPlayer include Eurovision at 60, Kings Of Rock n Roll and Buena Vista Social Club

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[Main images: BBC]

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