The best free box sets and TV shows you can binge watch without a subscription

Wondering what to do now you’ve binge watched Tiger King and worked your way through Unorthodox? Here’s Stylist’s picks of the best free boxsets to get stuck into during lockdown.

In those moments of extreme lockdown-induced boredom, I like to imagine how many people are watching Netflix at any one time. As countries across the globe remain under lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, we’re all trying to entertain ourselves as best we can – and turning to TV is one of the most popular ways to do this.

Don’t get me wrong – for some people that might mean getting stuck into a craft kit or redecorating their home, but for others, lockdown has presented the perfect opportunity to get through all the TV shows, boxsets and films on their “must watch” list.

But what happens when you make it to the end of that perfectly curated list? When your friends have nothing left to recommend except from Tiger King? When you’re considering re-watching Friends for the 52nd time?

That is where, dear reader, the wonderful world of free boxsets comes in. You know, those things we watched way before the days of Netflix and Amazon Prime? 

Thanks to the existence of free services such as BBC iPlayer and All 4, there are plenty of TV series out there for you to enjoy without needing to purchase a subscription. Whether you fancy watching a series you’ve been “meaning to get round to” forever, or want to catch up on some of the great shows you missed out on in 2019, there’s plenty to enjoy.

So without further ado, here’s Stylist’s picks of the best free boxsets for you to enjoy during lockdown and beyond.

  • Seven Worlds One Planet

    If you missed this fantastic documentary from the one-and-only Sir David Attenborough when it aired at the end of 2019, you should definitely give it a watch.

    It’s the perfect show for those of us itching to get travelling again once the coronavirus outbreak comes to an end. And with each of the seven episodes focusing on a different continent, you’re sure to learn something new every time you sit down to watch. 


  • Derry Girls

    This standout comedy from Lisa McGee is a favourite among the Stylist team, and for good reason. The series, which follows a group of teenagers during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, is jam-packed with awkward mishaps and laugh-out-loud moments thanks to the show’s loveable characters.

    If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, this is the one to watch.


  • Spooks

    In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC uploaded a series of classic boxsets onto iPlayer – one of those being the standout MI5 drama Spooks.

    It’s been nine years since we last saw the hit drama on our screens, but the excitement of this action-packed show is still just as entertaining. And with 10 seasons available to watch now, you won’t be complaining about boredom anytime soon. 


  • The Missing

    If you’re looking for a mysterious crime drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat, The Missing is the TV show for you.

    Comprised of two series, The Missing follows detective Julien Baptiste as he tries to solve two missing children cases. Watch it at the same time as your friends and spend hours trying to unravel the complex and intriguing storylines. 


  • Killing Eve

    Everyone’s favourite psychopath Villanelle is set to return to our screens in Killing Eve season three on 19 April, so if you’re yet to catch the first two seasons of this fast-paced drama, now’s the time to do just that.

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s standout thriller stars the incredible Jodie Comer as trained assassin Villanelle alongside Sandra Oh as bored MI5 agent Eve Polastri, as the pair engage in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Get ready to become obsessed.


  • The Capture

    If you didn’t find the time to watch this crime drama when it first aired last year, you should definitely give it a go now.

    The mystery-thriller follows the story of Shaun Emery, a British soldier convicted of committing murder in Afghanistan, whose conviction is overturned due to problems with video evidence at his trial. But Emery’s return home doesn’t mark the end of his troubles, as he’s forced to confront more incriminating footage. 


  • This Country

    This mockumentary style sitcom is the perfect excuse to sit back and have a laugh. Co-written by comedian Daisy May and her brother Charlie Cooper, This Country follows the daily life of bored cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe in the rural Cotswolds.

    The mundanity of it all is what makes this comedy so funny – from discussions about what happened to Computers for Schools vouchers to arguments about oven-baked pizza, it’s tongue-in-cheek humour is addictive.


  • Luther

    Not for the faint-hearted, Luther follows the life of detective John Luther (played by Idris Elba) as he befriends a murderous psychopath called Alice Morgan. Unable to convict her due to lack of evidence, Luther finds himself solving cases alongside the cold hearted criminal.

    Full of dark twists and jump scares, Luther is the perfect gritty crime drama – just watch out for the bus scene in season five.


  • Fleabag

    If you haven’t watched Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s breakout comedy-drama series yet, you need to get onboard, if only for the Hot Priest in season two.

    The series, which stars Waller-Bridge as the lead character Fleabag, follows the young woman as she navigates her life in London while coming to terms with tragedy. Plus, the episodes are only half an hour long, perfect for filling a lunchbreak. 


Image: BBC

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