Which streaming service offers the best value for money? Our critics’ comprehensive guide to 22 options – from Apple TV+ to Paramount+ – including hidden-gem shows to be found on each and which to sign up for according to your tastes

The array of streaming options on offer in the UK can seem almost endless, with thousands of shows on offer across each.

And each platform has different terms and conditions, while offering a selection of shows and movies that caters to different tastes.

Our critics from The Mail’s Weekend magazine have meticulously poured over 22 services on offer in the UK and assed which offer the best value for money.

They also have a run down of which is the easiest to cancel and which service to pick according to your viewing tastes.

Read their definitive guide here:

NETFLIX 

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in Netflix’s biggest hit series The Crown

What is it? The UK’s market leader when it comes to subscribers, with 15 million people paying to choose from thousands of shows. Netflix is the 24th most visited website in the world and the service has 220 million global memberships.

Best for: Original drama.

How do I sign up and how much does it cost? Visit netflix.com/signup and choose the best option for you. The standard plan is £10.99 a month ad-free and allows you to watch in full HD, rising to £17.99 for the Premium Plan where the resolution is 4k and you can watch on more devices at the same time (four as opposed to two on the standard plan). You can cancel your subscription at any time before your next billing period begins.

Is it easy to use? Fairly, but the homepage can be a little bit overwhelming and it takes a while to scroll down through the 41 different categories. Netflix is probably the best service when it comes to recommending choices for you based on previous shows you’ve watched. So for example, if you’ve watched the British thriller Fool Me Once it will present you with dozens of programmes with similar appeal. There’s also a category called ‘Top Picks’ which is again based on previous shows you’ve watched. You can fast-forward through episodes at various speeds (once, twice or three times normal speed) but hitting the exact spot you want in a particular show can prove tricky. And if you have to resume an episode it invariably takes you back to the very start rather than the place you left it.

What do I get? The streaming giant has produced more than 1,500 original shows since 2013 and is not afraid to splash the cash in making them. The Crown (see below) cost almost £8 million per episode and comedian Chris Rock was paid more than £30 million for two comedy specials. The accent is on entertainment as opposed to the sport, current affairs and news offered by other services. The volume of content grows daily and Netflix flags up what’s new on its homepage with a special section. Mindful that many subscribers have families, it’s easy to switch your account to the children’s setting.

Most famous show: The Crown. Six series charting the story of our Royal Family from 1947 until 2005 and featuring some of the most memorable TV performances of recent years, including Olivia Colman as the Queen, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher.

Hidden gem: Better Call Saul. An utterly engrossing spin-off from US drama Breaking Bad with Bob Odenkirk as brilliant but morally bankrupt lawyer Jimmy McGill, a man who simply can’t resist a hustle. The love story that runs throughout the six series, between Jimmy and lawyer Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), is at the heart of the show’s appeal.

Other Highlights:

Fool Me Once. Murder-mystery starring Michelle Keegan as the widow of a man gunned down in a park and Joanna Lumley as her snobby mother-in-law. A cleverly woven thriller over eight parts.

Beckham. Four-part documentary series that takes you inside the life and career of the famous former footballer, David Beckham, with the emphasis on his performances on the pitch rather than his relationship with wife Victoria. The former Spice Girl, however, is part of a star-studded roster of contributors that also includes legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former teammates such as Gary Neville.

Stranger Things. Phenomenally successful sci-fi drama about the inhabitants of a small town in the US and a nearby human experimentation facility where one of the more ambitious tests has gone disastrously wrong. It’s now been turned into a hit West End show.

Bridgerton. The story of eight beautiful young siblings, each searching for love in Regency London. The show has turned actors such as Rege-Jean Page (Simon Basset, Duke Of Hastings) and Phoebe Dynevor (Daphne Bridgerton) into stars and spawned hit spin-off Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

Squid Game. Take 456 players in deep financial trouble, ask them to take part in a series of souped-up children’s games, any one of which could prove fatal but might eventually lead to a huge prize, and you’ve got a hit on your hands. One of the most successful Netflix shows of all time (it’s been viewed by 111 million accounts across the world and streamed for 1.65 billion hours), this compelling South Korean drama even led to a real-life spin-off called Squid Game: The Challenge, which came with a $4.56 million first prize.

The Queen’s Gambit. A young orphaned chess prodigy attempts to become an elite player, battling drug and alcohol dependency to achieve her goal. American actress Anya Taylor-Joy plays Beth Harmon in an eight-part series released in 2020 that remains firmly embedded in Netflix’s Top 10.

Movie choice: Power Of The Dog (2021). Benedict Cumberbatch is at his finest as unpleasant ranch owner Phil Burbank in a film that received 12 Oscar nominations in 2022. Burbank behaves appallingly towards his brother’s wife Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and Cumberbatch didn’t speak at all to Dunst during the shoot in order to foster that animosity.

Pros and cons: There’s no free trial and Netflix doesn’t shirk from killing off shows, which may annoy viewers who’ve enjoyed something. Hilarious Rowan Atkinson comedy Man Vs Bee, for example, didn’t make it past a single series. But flexibility with your subscription means you can switch between plans and cancel easily, while the sheer volume and breadth of shows is arguably unsurpassed among the streaming services.

Value for money: Netflix’s motto is ‘Watch what you want, when you want’ and you can quickly make your subscription worth it by gorging on the hundreds of box sets and long-running dramas available.

VFM rating: 8

Star rating: 9

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

David Tennant and Michael Sheen are the stars of Amazon Prime's Good Omens

David Tennant and Michael Sheen are the stars of Amazon Prime’s Good Omens

What is it? A streaming service not dissimilar to Netflix but arguably offering a slightly wider range of content including live football, original movies, dramas and even a legendary soap opera. Unlike other services, Prime Video offers the chance to rent or buy films and TV shows that are not included in the basic subscription fee and you can pay for add-on subscriptions to channels such as Hayu.

Best For: Movies and sports.

How do I sign up and how much does it cost? Go to www.amazon.com/gp/video/offers to start a 30-day free trial. Thereafter it’s £8.99 a month or £95 for a year, which means you save around £13 if you pay annually. The fee allows you to watch three different Prime shows on three different devices at any one time. You can cancel at any time by selecting accounts and lists, then Prime Video channels, then Cancel Channel and confirm. Your subscription end date will show on the screen.

Is it easy to use? Reasonably. If you go to the homepage you can press the button ‘All’ near the top and open the door to a torrent of content including more than 100 categories of comedies, movies, the 10 most popular Prime shows currently available (crime drama Reacher and hit movie Saltburn are currently one and two) plus, unusually among the major services, the shows that are going to disappear from the platform over the next 30 days. Once again, it’s not that easy to fast-forward and rewind accurately but resuming a show starts exactly where you left it.

What do I get? It’s difficult to find a weakness in the selection with every Bond movie available, plus an impressive roster of high-quality classics, live Premier League football, Clarkson and co on their Grand Tours and outstanding original dramas. You can also watch the revamped Neighbours through Amazon Freevee which, as it suggests, is free of charge but does come with ads, although Amazon say there are fewer commercials than on a traditional TV show.

Prime Video has 26,300-plus movies and more than 2,700 TV shows available, one of the largest libraries anywhere. On top of all that you can take advantage of other Amazon services. Subscription comes with unlimited one-day delivery on products ordered from the Amazon store and you’re also eligible for all the other perks of Amazon Prime, such as a same-day grocery delivery service from Amazon Fresh, Co-op and Morrisons.

Most famous show: Good Omens. Dark comedy based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen as the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, battling to prevent Armageddon. The special effects are breathtaking, very little expense was spared (they blew up a Bentley in one episode) and the supporting cast is strong.

Hidden gem: The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. Beautiful feelgood comedy-drama about a New York housewife (Rachel Brosnahan) who dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian in 1960s America. It won 22 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Other Highlights:

Daisy Jones & The Six. The compelling story of a fictional 1970s rock band that became one of the most famous in the world only to split at the height of their success. The band at the centre of the ten-part series has taken on a life of its own with an album, Aurora, released in 2023. The show’s star, Riley Keough, performed the vocals. Well, she is Elvis Presley’s granddaughter!

The Grand Tour. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were initially studio-based with a show not dissimilar to Top Gear, before hitting on the bright idea of travelling the world in eye-catching vehicles. Highlights include the trip to Madagascar, where Jeremy makes a very long journey along rutted roads in a Bentley GT, and the trip across Scandinavia where James narrowly avoided death after hitting a tunnel wall at high speed.

Neighbours. The Australian show about the residents of Ramsay Street in a suburb of Melbourne was heading for that great soap opera graveyard in the sky when Channel 5 pulled the plug on funding in 2022. But a final episode that saw the return of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan revived interest and it’s now happily back in business on Freevee.

The Devil’s Hour. Jessica Raine stars as Lucy Chambers, a woman haunted by terrifying visions in the early hours, waking at precisely 3.33 each morning. Why this is happening to her is one of several inexplicable mysteries the social worker wants answers to in this dark, haunting six-part thriller.

Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. An absolute must for lovers of JRR Tolkien’s books about Middle-earth, the series is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy and draws on tiny references made by the author to Middle-earth’s Second Age in his famous fantasy novels. Sir Lenny Henry stars as Sadoc Burrows, a distinguished elder of the Harfoot tribe.

Movie choice: Saltburn. A delicious black comedy about a young man from Merseyside making his mark in modern aristocratic society. Barry Keoghan is superb as student Oliver Quick, a lad on the make among the rich and privileged.

Pros and cons: Amazon shows will come with ads from 5 February (you can pay an additional £2.99 on top of your monthly subscription fee to remain ad-free) and the fact that some shows on the platform come at an additional cost (Amazon has added a ‘Free to Me’ section, making it clearer which shows are available for no extra charge) annoys some customers. Also, the homepage is less easily navigated and a little less clear than Neftlix’s. The plus side is the access to those other Amazon services.

Value for money: A bit less now that going ad-free costs extra, but Amazon is probably still the best VFM among its rivals, especially when family and friends can be watching three different Prime shows at the same time for less than £9 a month.

VFM rating: 9

Star Rating: 8

APPLE+ TV

Apple+ TV's hit The Morning Show stars Reese Witherspoon, left, and Jennifer Aniston

Apple+ TV’s hit The Morning Show stars Reese Witherspoon, left, and Jennifer Aniston

What is it? An American subscription service, launched in 2019, that puts the emphasis on big names and high-end drama, often with a strong comedic edge.

Best for: Original drama.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to www.tv.apple.com/channel/tvs.sbd.4000 to begin a free seven-day trial (or three-month free trial if you buy an Apple device), after which the subscription costs £8.99 a month, a deal that allows you to watch Apple+ shows on six different devices. To cancel your account click on the circled face in the top right-hand corner of the home screen to go to your account, where you can scroll down to subscriptions and cancel by pressing the word ‘manage’, followed by ‘cancel subscription’. You can cancel any time before your monthly or annual fee becomes payable.

Is it easy to use? Yes. Go to the home page and scroll down to see the shows on offer under neatly arranged sections such as Newest Releases, Home Grown Originals And Binge Entire Seasons. There’s also a search bar in the top right corner, simply key in the name of the programme you’re looking for. Click on a programme and a trailer will appear, after which you have the option in the bottom left of the screen to play an entire episode. If halted, shows resume just a little before the point at which you left them.

What do I get? Top quality drama – and lots of it. The service has gone for stars such as Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman and Jennifer Aniston to bring people to the platform and is adding new products at a rate of knots. In January alone these included three major new releases: Masters Of The Air (see below), Killers Of The Flower Moon – a western starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio – and Criminal Record (see below).

Most famous show: The Morning Show. Three series, with another on the way, about the cut-throat politics and towering egos at work on a breakfast TV programme in America. Nobody’s ego is quite so inflated as that of news anchor Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) who, after being told her request for more power, money and influence was unprecedented, declared, ‘But I am (ITAL) unprecedented!’

Hidden gem: Shrinking. Under-the-radar comedy-drama about a grieving therapist who decides to change his approach to work and tells each of his patients the honest truth, rather than sugarcoating his answers in psychobabble. Jason Segel plays the main character Jimmy Laird and Harrison Ford appears as his colleague Dr Paul Rhoades who’s suffering from Parkinson’s.

Other Highlights:

Slow Horses. Gary Oldman is brilliant as the dishevelled, blunt but secretly rather caring British intelligence officer Jackson Lamb in the story of a washed-up spies who suddenly become important.

Ted Lasso. The soccer comedy drama about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who uses his unique folksy methods of motivation and inspiration to make London minnows AFC Richmond a success on the pitch.

John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial. Brilliant in-depth three-part analysis of the assassination of the Beatle, and the legal investigation that followed, featuring an impressive range of first-hand testimonies and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.

Criminal Record. Cush Jumbo and former Doctor Who Peter Capaldi are detectives at loggerheads over a historic murder conviction. Dark, atmospheric eight-parter that also stars Cathy Tyson.

Masters Of The Air. A £235 million tribute to the incredibly brave boys of the 100th Bomb Group, a unit of the US Air Force that flew B-17 Flying Fortresses in highly dangerous daylight raids over Europe from English air bases during the Second World War. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are executive producers of the two-parter and the cast includes Steven’s son Sawyer as Lt Roy Frank Claytor.

Movie Choice: CODA (2021). Powerful, emotionally raw Oscar-winner about a child of deaf adults (CODA) called Ruby who’s caught between helping her parents’ struggling fishing business and a potential career in music.

Pros and cons: The platform boasts a roster of second-to-none dramas but choice across a variety of genres is limited. The homepage is easy enough to navigate and the shows come ad-free and in high-quality 4k, but it can be frustrating that you can only occasionally download entire series because Apple prefer to release the first few episodes of a show and then the rest weekly. The first two episodes of Criminal Record, for example, debuted on 10 January but the final one won’t be available until 21 February.

Value for money: It’s competitively priced, especially when you bear in mind six people can watch six different Apple+ shows on six different devices at the same time. But other services have a wider range of shows, so you have to be a fan of the sort of shows on offer to make the most of your subscription.

VFM rating: 8

Star Rating: 7

DISNEY+

Jeremy Allen White is the star of Disney+ drama The Bear about a talented chef

Jeremy Allen White is the star of Disney+ drama The Bear about a talented chef

What is it? Launched in 2020, this service draws heavily on the extraordinary back catalogue of Disney’s animated classics, plus imaginative, big-budget spin-offs from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. It’s been a ringing success: Disney+ generated $8.4 billion revenue in 2023, a 13 per cent increase year-on-year.

Best for: Animation and fantasy dramas.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to DisneyPlus.com. The price is £4.99 for the basic service with ads, allowing two people to watch two different Disney+ shows on two different devices at the same time. The standard plan, which is ad-free, is £7.99 a month or £79.90 for the year. The premium service is £10.99 a month or £109.90 a year and allows four people to watch on four devices at any one time without ads. You get 12 months for the price of 10 with an annual subscription. To cancel log into your Disney+ account and cancel your subscription before payment is due for the next month/year.

Is it easy to use? Fairly straightforward. The homepage invites you to scroll down in order to check out the various sections such as New To Disney and Comedy Movies – or scroll across to the various other programme portals including Pixar and Star Wars. Click on Star Wars, for example, and 14 different sections of Star Wars-related entertainment appear on screen – including six documentaries and 11 films. A button on the left of the home page invites you to type in the name of the Disney+ programme you want to see. This can be a little laborious and fiddly. Resumption of episodes is good – it slips back to the point you left it – but fast forwarding through a show can feel a bit haphazard and it’s difficult to click on precisely the point at which you want to rejoin the action.

What do I get? Access to some superbly made high-action fantasy dramas, including every film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plus a chance to deep dive into the Star Wars universe. Along from Star Wars on the homepage is a section called Star, which features more mature content including the acclaimed Steve Martin series Only Murders In The Building, in which Steve’s character Charles-Haden Savage and his friends set out to solve murders committed in their New York apartment block, and the documentary Welcome To Wrexham charting the rise of the football club under the ownership of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The Disney+ library contains 7,500 TV episodes and 500 films.

Most famous show: The Bear. Hailed by the restaurant industry as TV’s most accurate portrayal of life in a busy working kitchen, the awards-laden series stars Jeremy Allen White as Carmen ‘Bear’ Berzatto, a talented chef returning to turn the family’s sandwich shop in Chicago into a high-end restaurant following the suicide of his older brother.

Hidden gem: Wandavision. Marvel Comic book characters Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) find themselves in suburban America in this superhero sitcom. As the series moves through the decades the two characters appear in faultless reconstructions of comedies from the 1950s through to the 2000s.

Other highlights:

Pam & Tommy. Fascinating fictional account of how an intimate private tape featuring Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and her Motley Crue drummer husband Tommy Lee made its way on to the internet. Former Downton Abbey actress Lily James plays Pamela.

Fleishman Is In Trouble. Ignored by the opposite sex when he was younger, a whole new world of romantic opportunity opens up for doctor Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) when he turns to online dating apps following his divorce from Claire (Claire Danes), the mother of his two children. But huge complications arise when Claire disappears without trace in a slick American drama.

Mr Mercedes. Based on a novel by Stephen King, this is a powerful haunting series about the tormenting of ex-detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) by a killer dubbed Mr Mercedes, a man never caught for his multiple crimes. Hodges races against the clock to expose the murderer and bring him to justice before he strikes again.

Dopesick. Showered with awards when it was released in 2021, this tells the story of a real-life medical scandal in the US, the marketing of the supposedly non-addictive painkiller Oxycontin which actually had fatal side effects for many users. Michael Keaton plays Samuel Finnix, a small town doctor fighting to expose the greed and lies of the pharmaceutical company that brought it to market.

A Murder At The End Of The World. Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in The Crown, appears as Darby Hart, an amateur sleuth attempting to catch a killer in the frozen wastes of Iceland. The five-parter also stars Clive Owen.

Movie choice: Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny (2023). The stakes are almost impossibly high as Indy (Harrison Ford) and his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) try to locate the missing half of Archimedes’ Dial so that Jurgen Voller, a Nazi who’s become a NASA scientist, can’t use it to alter the outcome of the Second World War.

Pros and cons: There’s no doubting the quality of what’s on offer but there are some issues. You can’t binge watch as much as you can with other services (popular series Percy Jackson And The Olympians, for example, is available at the rate of just one episode a week) and those problems with fast forwarding and rewinding definitely need addressing.

Value for money: If you can put up with the adverts, the basic service is well worth it as the volume of quality shows on offer is considerable. The higher tariffs put it roughly in the same bracket as the other leading services. Paying an annual fee rather than a monthly one is a smart way to save money if you can afford it.

VFM rating: 8

Star Rating: 8

PARAMOUNT+

Hollywood star Kevin Costner leads the case in acclaimed drama Yellowstone

Hollywood star Kevin Costner leads the case in acclaimed drama Yellowstone

What is it? A US channel that has grown from 100,000 worldwide subscribers in 2015 to more than 60 million in 2023.

Best for? Comedies and dramas.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to www.paramountplus.com and click on the Try Paramount+ button. It’s £6.99 per month to subscribe, or £69.90 a year. Paramount+ is also available on Sky platforms in the UK, with Sky Cinema subscribers getting the bonus of Paramount+ being included in their package at no extra cost. To cancel your subscription, click on your name in the top right of the homepage which will lead you to your account where you can click on ‘cancel subscription’. You must do this before your next monthly or annual subscription payment becomes active.

Is it easy to use? Like Netflix, the homepage can be bit overwhelming with 38 different programme categories to choose from and a bar offering links to other platforms such as Showtime and Comedy Central. But the platform itself is reasonably easy to navigate. Just click on the show you want to see and it will lead you to a ‘play now’ button. Resumption of episodes is spot on but fast-forwarding and rewinding can be problematic and it isn’t always easy to reach the precise point you want.

What do I get? A whopping 556 movies (at the last count) plus, on average, 21 shows in the new to Paramount+ section at any one time. The service also includes a section called ‘More To Come In 2024’ which flags up shows arriving in the next few months such as series two of sci-fi thriller Halo which lands on 8 February.

Most famous show: Yellowstone. The Yellowstone franchise is to Paramount+ what Star Wars is to Disney+, with the original series of the western starring Kevin Costner now joined by spin-offs 1883 and 1923. Costner puts in a hugely powerful performance as John Dutton III, owner of the biggest ranch in Montana. The second part of the fifth and final series of Yellowstone streams later this year.

Hidden gem: Yellowjackets. The thrilling, awards-laden story of a group of young female footballers who have to fight for life after their plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. The story slowly reveals their fate and also transports us to the present day where the spotlight falls on the lives of survivors.

Other Highlights:

The Castaways. Sheridan Smith stars in a five-episode thriller about a sister presumed dead after a plane crash, only for her credit card to be used in a shop in Fiji. Her sibling investigates…

Sexy Beast. A three-episode prequel to the film of the same name which starred the legendary Ray Winstone as a retired crook on the Costa Del Crime. It looks at the early criminal career of Winstone’s character Gal, played here by Scottish actor James McArdle.

Fatal Attraction. Eight-part series starring Lizzy Caplan as Alex, the character portrayed so memorably by Glenn Close in the movie, and Joshua Jackson as Dan, the married man she has a toxic affair with.

Frasier. The radio psychiatrist, played by Kelsey Grammer, moves from Seattle to Boston and from the airwaves to a new career as a university lecturer. Droll comedy with Grammer’s superb comic timing at the core of the show’s success. Watch out for Only Fools And Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst as workshy professor Alan Cornwall

Movie choice: Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Movie sequel that took eight years to plan, two years to make and cost £133 million. Tom Cruise reprises his role as ace navy pilot Maverick, who’s now passing on his expertise to a group of young graduates – including the son of his deceased best friend – ahead of a highly dangerous mission.

Pros and cons: It has less original content than most of its rivals, but it is growing. The highly anticipated series A Gentleman In Moscow, starring Ewan McGregor as a Russian nobleman put under permanent house arrest at a swanky Moscow hotel, arrives later this year. There’s a decent range of genres to choose from and Paramount+ is relatively easy to navigate with some nifty features including excellent parental control tools.

Value for money: It’s at the lower end of the monthly tariff charged by streaming services so reasonably priced.

VFM rating: 8

Star rating: 7

NOW

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in the epic fantasy drama Game Of Thrones

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in the epic fantasy drama Game Of Thrones

What is it? Sky TV’s on-demand streaming service.

Best for: Sky shows, the latest film blockbusters and big sporting events, including Premier League football.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Go to www.nowtv.com/membership to start a free trial, thereafter it’s £9.99 a month for an Entertainment Pass, £9.99 for a Cinema Pass, £11.99 for Sky’s 11 sports channels and £4.99 for a Hayu Pass. You can cancel your subscription any time before your next payment is due.

Is it easy to use? Yes. The programmes and films are well laid out on the home page and each one has a handy synopsis and a star rating.

What do I get? Depending on the pass you have and whether you’ve combined it with another one (for more details see the Now website), a range of blockbuster movies, the greatest number of sports events, the best Sky and HBO have to offer and, in the case of Hayu, thousands of hours of reality shows.

Most Famous Show: Game Of Thrones. The epic fantasy drama, based on the novels of George RR Martin, runs to eight series and 73 episodes and stars Kit Harington as the seemingly unbreakable Jon Snow. He was one of the few characters to survive to the very end in a blood-soaked show that saw a staggering 6,887 deaths over the course of its eight-year run.

Hidden Gem: The Thin Blue Line. Ben Elton’s much underrated 90s sitcom about the oddball collection of characters who maintain law and order in a small English town. David Haig’s DI Derek Grim is a scene stealer.

Other Highlights:

Succession. An award-winning acting masterclass from Brian Cox as Logan Roy, a tough Scotsman who can’t choose which one of his four children should succeed him as boss of his global business empire.

Chernobyl. Utterly engrossing drama about the nuclear disaster of 1986 and the clean-up efforts that followed. The mini-series won ten Emmys, two Golden Globes and three BAFTAs, including one for Jared Harris who played Valery Legasov, a Russian brought in to try to limit the damage of the nuclear fallout to both the Soviets’ reputation and the world beyond the power plant.

Pros and cons: Excellent place to catch up with some extremely bingeable drama series but at a relatively high price. It’s also very flexible, with monthly and even daily passes available, particularly useful if you want to watch a certain football match or sports event such as the Ryder Cup without a subscription.

Value for money: There are cheaper ways to be entertained via the various streaming services but Now constantly offers deals and bundles to try and tailor packages for individual customers.

VFM rating: 7

Star Rating: 8

DISCOVERY PLUS

Documentary series Shark Week has been frightening audiences on Discovery since 1988

Documentary series Shark Week has been frightening audiences on Discovery since 1988

What is it? American platform which launched in 2021.

Best for: Lifestyle, adventure and sport.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to www.discoveryplus.com where you’ll find details of the three viewing plans. Basic for £3.99 a month gives you access to Discovery Plus originals such as Million Dollar Wheels plus shows from channels such as Discovery, Food Network, Quest and Really. Standard at £6.99 a month gives you access to some live sports such as the Australian Open tennis, plus Eurosport coverage of snooker and motorsports. Premium at £30.99 a month extends the sports options to Premier League football and English Premiership rugby. You can cancel your subscription before your next monthly payment becomes due.

Is it easy to use? Yes. The homepage is easily navigated, there’s a facility to rewind and fast-forward episodes ten seconds at a time and programmes resume where you left them.

Most famous for: Shark Week has been running on Discovery since 1988 and offers an in-depth guide to the mighty beasts as well as sending celebrities such as Mike Tyson into shark-infested waters.

Hidden gem: Expedition Unknown. American presenter Josh Gates looks to explain some of the world’s great mysteries. The 11 series include the Sunken Pyramids Of The Nile and the Quest For El Dorado.

Other highlights: Million Dollar Wheels. A glimpse into the world of LA-based car dealer RD Whittington who supplies the super-rich with their motors.

90 Day Journey: Angela & Michael. The story of the romance between two seemingly mismatched people – one a 52-year-old American grandmother, the other a much younger Nigerian man – told over 26 episodes.

Pros and cons: A little bit niche – the accent is very much on real-life documentaries, investigations, lifestyle and mysteries – but there are 55,000 hours of programmes to feast on.

Value for money: The basic plan offers a window on a world very few other services are able to provide, and the more expensive packages are worth it if you’re into top-class live sport.

VFM rating: 8

Star rating: 8

SMALLER SERVICES FOR WHICH YOU ALSO PAY A FEE

ACORN TV

Kerry Godliman' Whitstable Pearl is featured on Acorn TV

Kerry Godliman’ Whitstable Pearl is featured on Acorn TV

What is it? British/American subscription service launched in 2011, established in the UK in 2020.

Best for: Home-grown dramas.

How do I get it? Go to www.signup.acorn.tv/createaccount.jsp. There’s a free trial available and then it’s £4.99 a month, £49.99 annually. You can cancel any time.

Is it easy to use? The homepage, at https://uk.acorn.tv/ breaks down the content into 16 different categories such as Legal Eagles for legal dramas like Australia’s Janet King and Crime featuring shows such as slick BBC cop drama London Kills with Hugo Speer. The website is a bit slow to respond to commands but once you click on a programme you can see all the episodes available. Episodes are easy to rewind and fast forward and, if you do step away from a programme for a few moments, it resumes where you left it.

What do I get? Crime dramas, some original and some that have already appeared on other channels such as Dalgleish and The Madame Blanc Mysteries. Shows come from the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand (NOT AMERICA??). There are more than 160 different shows on offer.

Most famous show: Whitstable Pearl. An original Acorn TV production in which Pearl Nolan (Kerry Godliman) combines running a seafood restaurant with solving crime in the Kent coastal resort, enjoying a love/hate relationship with gruff new-cop-in-town Mike McGuire (Howard Charles). Cleverly woven crime stories with a scene-stealing performance from Frances Barber as Pearl’s mum.

Hidden gem: Cannes Confidential. Jamie Bamber charms his way around the beauty spots of the French Riviera city as suave conman Harry King, both helping and hindering detective Camille Delmasse. It was the first drama to gain permission to film in Cannes since The Persuaders starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in the 1970s.

Other highlights:

The Chelsea Detective. DI Max Arnold (Adrian Scarborough) steps from his shabby riverboat to solve crimes in one of London’s most affluent boroughs. Peter Fincham, a former controller of BBC1, created the series.

Signora Volpe. Emilia Fox takes a break from her long-running role in Silent Witness to play Sylvia, a former spy drawn into crime-solving when she visits her sister in a quiet village in Umbria, Italy.

Pros and cons: Obviously a limited genre but a real feast for lovers of high-quality crime dramas.

Value for money: You can’t go wrong if whodunnits are your cup of tea – probably best to save your money if not.

VFM rating: 9

Star Rating: 6

HAYU

What is it? Launched in 2017, the US-based platform offers reality TV content from across the world.

Best For: Reality shows.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Go to www.gethayu.com/welcome?geo+GB to start a seven-day free trial. You can secure a monthly deal for £4,99 or a six-month deal for £23.99. Also available to Now subscribers. You can cancel any time before your next payment is due.

Is it easy to use? It is. The programmes are broken down into a dozen categories on the homepage including Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, Your Crime Fix and The Real Housewives Of Hayu – and if you click on a particular show it will instantly take you to all the series filmed so far. Once an episode is running a facility at the bottom left of the screen allows you to rewind or fast forward by 15 seconds. Episodes resume a few seconds prior to where you halted them.

What do I get? Access to almost 300 reality shows, primarily from the US.

Most famous show: Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Binge on 13 series of a show that opened the door on the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian-Jenner family. It focuses mainly on sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe and their half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

Hidden gem: Lindsay. An eight-part series shining a revealing light on the life of Mean Girls and Parent Trap star Lindsay Lohan. Arguments about everything from money to keys to the lack of a closet organiser in her gilded life make it strangely compelling.

Other Highlights:

Real Housewives. Feast on well over 100 series featuring rich glamorous women across the globe in one of TV’s most successful franchises. It began with The Real Housewives Of Orange County in 2006, spinning-off to include shows set in Vancouver, Cheshire and Lagos.

Stewarts & Hamiltons. The heavily tanned actor ‘Gorgeous’ George Hamilton features in a series about one of Hollywood’s most famous blended families – the Stewarts, led by Rod Stewart’s ex-wife Alana, and the Hamiltons, including George himself and his son Ashley George. Riveting and unintentionally funny.

Pros and cons: Not too many of the latter if you’re a fan of reality TV, but steer clear if reality isn’t your thing.

Value for money: Worth every penny if your idea of a cosy night in involves bingeing on the lives of the super-rich and super-beautiful.

VFM rating: 8

Star Rating: 6

BFI PLAYER

What is it? The British Film Institute’s on-demand service.

Best for: British movies.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Go to www.bfi.org.uk/bfi-player. While thousands of movies stream for free, there’s also an archive of product for which you have to pay – £4.99 a month, £49 for the year. There’s a 14-day free trial.

Is it easy to use? The homepage isn’t as clear and concise as some – a fairly random collection of movies greet you at first. It offers 16 different categories, including Women With A Movie Camera and Most Popular British Indies Of 2023, and each film comes with a trailer you can check out before deciding whether to commit. Films are easily rewound and fast-forwarded using the bar at the bottom of the screen.

What do I get? A vast array of movies from across the world. The free service includes films chronicling Britain over the last 120 years.

Most famous film: Gregory’s Girl (1982). One of the greatest British movies of all time, the gorgeously warm story of a teenage lad (John Gordon Sinclair) who falls head over heels in love with footballer Dorothy.

Hidden gem: Moonlighting (1982). A brilliant performance from Jeremy Irons in a Cannes-winning film about a Polish builder, Nowak, carrying out an illegal house renovation in London.

Other Highlights:

Inland (2022). Mark Rylance gives a typically engaging performance as Dunleavy, the carer for a young man recently discharged from a psychiatric unit.

Fitzcarraldo (1981). The production may have been marred by injuries and rows but the story of a man trying to bring opera to a Peruvian jungle is awe-inspiring. The film was shot in Brazil and Peru and used more than 1,000 extras.

Pros and cons: Don’t expect too many blockbusters to be lurking in the BFI’s archive but there’s a huge range of movies here – 553 at the latest count. Foreign language dramas, shown with subtitles, come from countries including Thailand, Morocco, France, Algeria and Sweden.

Value for money: Definitely, if you’re a film buff who likes to watch the kind of movies you don’t find at your local Cineworld.

VFM rating: 8

Star Rating: 8

MUBI

What is it? Streaming to 190 countries, it offers arthouse movies from around the world.

Best For: Arthouse movies.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Go to www.mubi.com/en/gb/showing to start a seven-day trial, after which it costs £11.99 a month. Cancel anytime.

Is it easy to use? Yes. Scroll down the homepage to find movies in 30 different categories, including Best Of 2023 and Modern Masterpieces. Films from more than 100 countries – including Bolivia, the Faroe Islands and Paraguay – feature in the collection.

What do I get? Access to thousands of the most critically acclaimed films of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Most famous film: Reservoir Dogs (1982). Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel are among the stars of Quentin Tarantino’s stylish story about a jewellery heist that goes horribly wrong.

Hidden Gem: Fallen Leaves (2023). Comedy-drama about a couple of young Finns, Ansa and Holappa, who have to overcome appreciable obstacles to find love in Helsinki.

Other Highlights:

Charade (1963). A rare move towards the mainstream for MUBI with this delightful romantic comedy mystery starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

The Worst Person In The World (2021). Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve won Best Actress at Cannes for her bewitching performance as a woman struggling to find love.

Pros and cons: Definitely a site for film buffs as it features many movies that are extremely hard to find elsewhere.

Value for money: Not cheap but worth it if you have the time to sit down and watch several arthouse movies a month.

VFM rating: 6

Star Rating: 5

HALLMARK TV

What is it? An American cable television network launched in 1992.

Best for: Romantic dramas.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Via a Prime Video account for the additional price of £4.49 per month. You can cancel anytime.

What do I get? Hallmark specialises in family-orientated entertainment with made-for-TV movies a speciality.

Most famous for: The Way Home. Drama starring Four Weddings And A Funeral’s Andie McDowell, about three generations of women from the same family gradually reconnecting with one another.

Hidden gem: When Calls The Heart. Culture clash drama series about a young Canadian teacher from a privileged background who goes to work at a school in a mining town in Alberta.

Other Highlights:

Love On The Right Course (2024). Romance set amid the bunkers and sand traps at an upmarket golf club. Whitney is losing her love for the game, can handsome Daniel help her rediscover it?

Romance In Style (2022). Designer Ella Richards impresses the wealthy son of a magazine owner with her brilliant designs for plus-sized women and it’s not long before he’s falling head over heels in love with her.

Pros and cons: Only available if you’ve got Prime but worth the extra cost if schmaltzy romcoms and dramas are your thing.

Value for money: Definitely if you like warm-hearted dramas and romances.

VFM Rating: 8

Star Rating: 7

ARROW

What is it? A platform for cult movies launched in 2021.

Best for: Horror films.

How do I get it and what does it cost? Go to www.arrow-player.com and start your 14-day free trial. Subscription thereafter costs £4.99 a month, £49.99 a year. You can cancel anytime.

Is it easy to use? Yes. If you type in https://www.arrow-player.com/browse you can see all the movies on offer, hundreds from around the world under headings such as 80s cult, Sci-Fi Stunners and Slashers. Press the arrow on any film and it will play. Movies can be easily fast-forwarded and rewound and resume where you left them.

What do I get? Access to a treasure trove of movies from around the world, including many international horror classics.

Most famous film: Oldboy (2003). South Korean thriller about a man imprisoned in a cell that resembles a hotel room for 15 years without knowing the identity of his captor or his captor’s motives. Grand Prix winner at Cannes in 2004.

Hidden gem: Cinema Paradiso (1988). Oscar-winning Italian/French movie about the relationship between a young boy in Sicily and the ageing projectionist at his local cinema.

Other Highlights:

At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964). Brazilian horror movie about an undertaker in search of immortality.

Heathers (1989). Winona Ryder and Christian Slater were among the fresh-faced stars of a movie about a student killer at an American high school who stages his victim’s deaths as suicides. Ryder won much praise for her performance as Veronica yet her agent begged her not to take the role saying, ‘Your career will be over.’

Pros and cons: Very much one for lovers of the darker side of cinema but offers access to movies of all types that are not easily available elsewhere.

Value for money: If you enjoy being thrilled and terrified then the large library of cult classics will justify the expense.

VFM rating: 7

Star Rating: 7

CURZON HOME CINEMA

What is it? London-based movies-on-demand service that was launched in 2010.

Best For: Recent film releases.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to https://homecinema.curzon.com/collections/welcome-collection/ and sign up for a free account. You don’t subscribe to Curzon Home Cinema but pay for individual movies. Once you’ve opened an account, you will then be offered a free movie to watch from a selection of four presented on the homepage under the title Welcome Collection. Thereafter films are charged to your credit or debit card. Prices vary, current fees include £5 for the Oscar-nominated Anatomy Of A Fall and £18 for Wonka.

What do I get? Access to thousands of films, many of which have only recently been playing on cinema screens and some of which are timeless classics. Go to the home page and you’ll find icons at the top left marked ‘Films’ and ‘Seasons’ (where you’ll find a section marked ‘2024 Oscar Nominees’ giving access to delights such as Barbie and Golda). Other sections celebrate movies set in Paris, the 2024 BAFTA nominees and Planes, Trains And Automobiles, a collection of films set on modes of transport.

Is it easy to use? It is. Click on the movie on the homepage and you’ll get an option to watch the trailer before you commit to paying for it. There’s a facility at the bottom left of the screen while you’re watching a film to rewind or fast-forward 10 seconds. Resuming can be a little more problematic so probably best to remember at which point you left the film.

Most famous for: Barbie (2023). The enormously popular pink doll (Margot Robbie) comes stunningly to life in a movie that also stars Ryan Gosling as her boyfriend Ken and has now earned £1.44 billion at the box office. It has eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

Hidden gem: The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961). Nuclear testing by the world’s superpowers has sent Earth spiralling towards the Sun and only the detonation of nuclear bombs in Siberia will set it back on the right course. Eerie sci-fi thriller starring Leo McKern – later TV’s Rumpole Of The Bailey – as Bill Maguire, a gnarled journalist covering the story.

Other Highlights:

Wonka (2023). A musical fantasy tracing the early life of Willy Wonka from Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Starring Timothee Chalamet as Willy, it takes us back to his early days as a chocolatier trying to make a living for himself in Europe.

Days Of The Bagnold Summer (2020). Moving account of a mother-son relationship in which Monica Dolan (subpostmistress Jo Hamilton in Mr Bates Vs The Post Office) plays Sue, the divorced mother of a teenage boy who she’s forced to spend the summer with after his trip to America to spend the holidays with his father is cancelled.

Pros and cons: The website is easy to navigate and you have total control over which movies you choose to watch. But while you have 30 days to start the movie once you’ve paid for it and downloaded it, once you’ve pressed play you only have 48 hours to enjoy the film.

Value for money: The cost of streaming individual movies can be steep, often close to what you’d pay to see them at the cinema, but you do get the chance to view them in the comfort of your own home.

VFM rating: 7

Star Rating: 7

SHUDDER

What is it? US platform launched in 2015.

Best for: Horror movies.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to https://www.shudder.com/shudder-tv and sign up for a free seven-day trial. It then costs £4.99 monthly or £49.99 for a year. If you can afford to sign up annually it works out at £4.17 per month. You can cancel your membership by going to ‘My Account’ in the top right corner of the homepage and then pressing ‘cancel membership’ at the bottom.

What do I get? The opportunity to choose from thousands of movies under the headings Horror, Thriller and Supernatural and then subdivided into a variety of genres such as Revenge, Cult, Sci-fi, Crime and Mystery.

Is it easy to use? Yes. Just go to the homepage choose your movie. There’s an arrow on the bottom left of the screen once the film is running that allows you to go back 10 seconds, and it resumes a couple of seconds before you left it.

Most famous for: Donnie Darko (2001). A cinema flop but one of those off-the-wall movies that’s gained a cult following since. Donald ‘Donnie’ Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) has a life-changing experience with Frank, a man dressed in a rabbit costume, who tells him the world will end in 28 days before discovering a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. And then it just get weirder…

Hidden gem: Baskin (2016). Turkish movie about a group of police officers who literally open a portal to Hell during an investigation – and then stand back and watch Earth become overwhelmed.

Other Highlights:

Carnival Of Souls (1962). Widely regarded as one of the greatest horror movies ever released, it centres on a woman who narrowly survives a car crash but then suffers nightmare visions that lead her to an abandoned carnival – and some ghastly ghouls.

Halloween (1978). Jamie Lee Curtis’s movie debut was a truly memorable one. She plays Laurie Strode, a babysitter who’s stalked by Michael Myers in a small American town on Halloween. Murderer Myers has escaped from a sanitarium and seems hell bent on killing again.

Pros and cons: Not too many of the latter if you’re fan of movies capable of chilling the blood. The easy-to-navigate homepage is a big plus.

Value For Money: Definitely if you like horror and supernatural movies.

VFM rating: 8

Star Rating: 7

NATIONAL THEATRE AT HOME

What is it? Launched after successful YouTube broadcasts during the pandemic when audiences couldn’t attend theatres, this service brings National Theatre productions into people’s living rooms.

Best for: High-quality stage shows.

How do I sign up and what does it cost? Go to www.ntathome.com and set up an account for free. This gives you access to shows from the National Theatre and other venues such as the Donmar Warehouse and Bush Theatre – as well as behind-the-scenes content and interviews. You can also take out a subscription for £9.99 a month or £99.99 for a year providing access to as many plays as you want. You can unsubscribe before your next payment is due. There are also 150 plays you can rent for three days at £5.99, £7.99 or £8.99. Plays are added to the site on a regular basis.

Is it easy to use? Yes, just press on browse, rent or subscribe at the top of the homepage. Categories you can browse include musicals, productions that have gone from page to stage to screen, works by particular playwrights such as Shakespeare and Arthur Miller, and Hidden Gems.

Most famous show: King Lear, with a towering performance by Sir Ian McKellen as the tragic monarch. You can also watch McKellen On Stage, a documentary film about his career.

Hidden gem: Mosquitoes. Olivias Colman and Williams play chalk and cheese sisters – one a high-flying scientist based in Switzerland, the other underemployed and living in Luton – brought together by tragedy. Heart-rending performances from both actresses.

Other highlights: Fleabag, the one-woman stage version that spawned the smash-hit TV comedy starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a woman with an eventful love life and a guinea pig-themed cafe.

Kerry Jackson. Cold Feet star Fay Ripley delivers a top-class performance as a woman desperate to make a success of her tapas restaurant in trendy east London.

Pros and cons: The website is easy to navigate, but the cost is expensive unless you’re a theatre lover who’s going to make regular use of the content. The quality of recordings makes you believe you’re actually in the theatre.

Value for money: Excellent if you enjoy having the best of the West End in your living room.

VFM rating: 9

Star rating: 8

AND FOR FREE

BBC iPLAYER

What is it? BBC streaming service that began in 2007 offering TV shows from the BBC.

Best for: Natural history and documentaries.

Is it easy to use? Go to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and navigate your way through the channels and categories using icons at the top of the home page. A handy A-Z icon will tell you if your particular favourite is available on the site. You need a valid TV licence to watch.

What will I get? A chance to view BBC TV channels live as well as a vast treasure trove of shows stretching back to the Beeb’s early black and white days. You can feast, for example, on episodes from 26 different seasons of Doctor Who.

Most famous show: Several featuring Sir David Attenborough. The extraordinary career of Britain’s greatest natural history presenter is told through his many contributions to the BBC archives, starting with Zoo Quest in the 1950s and including all three series of Planet Earth.

Hidden Gem: Two Doors Down. Don’t expect shocking plotlines and high drama in this beautifully delivered Scottish sitcom, just brilliantly observed characters and laughs drawn from the conflict and tensions that exist between neighbours. Doon Mackichan and Elaine C. Smith star as the outrageous Cathy and Christine, and all seven series are available.

Other Highlights:

The Sky At Night. A fascinating collection of episodes of the astronomy show first broadcast in 1957 and which ran for 60 years with the same presenter, Sir Patrick Moore. His 1960 documentary about the historic Soviet mission to launch a manned rocket into space is a gem.

Cheaters. Eighteen bite-sized episodes of dark comedy chronicling the affair between south London neighbours Josh and Fola (Joshua McGuire and Susan Wokoma). A second series will be filmed later this year.

ITVX

What is it? Service launched in November 2022 taking over from ITV Hub.

Best for: Drama.

How do I get it? Go to www.itv.com/

Is it easy to use? Yes. Like BBC iPlayer, go to the website and navigate via the icons at the top of the homepage to find out if the programme you want is on the site.

What do I get? Live output from the ITV channels, the chance to watch classic BBC and ITV shows from the past and premieres of programmes that later transfer to ITV1. The second series of black comedy The Dry, for example, will stream exclusively on ITVX in March. Subscribe to ITVX Premium (£5.99 a month, £59.99 for the year) to watch ad-free. Cancel anytime.

Most famous show: Coronation Street. Plenty to feast on from the legendary soap including compilation documentaries about the show’s great battleaxes and most famous characters.

Hidden gem: The Prisoner. Cult classic from the 1960s, starring Patrick McGoohan as a British secret agent imprisoned in a surreal village.

Other highlights: Nolly. Three-part biopic which first aired on ITVX about the legendary star of Crossroads Noele Gordon, brought vividly to life by Helena Bonham Carter.

Mr Bates Vs The Post Office. The most talked-about TV drama in years, with Toby Jones leading the cast in the real-life story of how the Post Office falsely accused hundreds of sub-postmasters of fraud and theft.

CHANNEL 4

What is it? Channel 4’s streaming service.

Best for: Drama and factual.

How do I get it? Visit www.channel4.com

Is it easy to use? Yes. Scroll down on the homepage to reveal the full extent of what’s available. Categories include Best Of The US, Share Your Skills (including Grand Designs and Super Surgeons), Health And Wellness and Film 4, with movies on offer including Scarface, Babe and the original Sexy Beast.

What do I get? Free access to more than 40 years of Channel 4 programmes. You can go ad-free with 4+ for £3.99 monthly or £39.99 annually. Cancel anytime.

Most famous show: E.R. The US medical drama that gave George Clooney his big break as Dr Doug Ross. A total of 15 series are available.

Hidden gem: National Treasure. Robbie Coltrane’s last great role as Paul Finchley, a showbiz star accused of rape in the 1990s. The stellar cast also includes Julie Walters and Andrea Riseborough.

Other Highlights:

Father Ted. Three series and a Christmas special about three dysfunctional priests living on Craggy Island off the coast of Ireland. It was the breakthrough role for Ardal O’Hanlon as lovable but dim Father Dougal.

Time Team. You can watch 11 series of the documentary in which Tony Robinson and his team use hi-tech methods to uncover long forgotten buried treasures including Seahenge, a saltwater version of Stonehenge, discovered off the coast of Norfolk.

My5

What is it? Channel 5’s version of iPlayer and ITVX.

Best for: Drama.

How do I get it? Go to www.channel5.com.

Is it easy to use? Yes. Press the browse button at the top of the homepage and this will present you with 18 icons, each opening up a new category from Crime to Lifestyle and News & Current Affairs.

What do I get? All Channel 5’s shows on one site – a total of 1,347 across 14 genres.

Most famous show: All Creatures Great And Small. Four wonderfully made seasons of the drama based on Alf Wight’s James Herriot books about life as a 1930s vet in Yorkshire, starring Sam West and Anna Madeley.

Hidden gem: Secrets Of The Royal Palaces. Rarely seen footage of all the royal residences, including Holyrood House, Highgrove, Sandringham and Windsor, spread over four series.

Other Highlights: Heat. Atmospheric Australian thriller about two families at a luxury home in the Outback that’s about to be consumed by a bushfire. Danny Dyer is excellent as Steve Cameron, an Englishman with a closet full of secrets.

The Great Flood Of ‘53. Documentary featuring amazing archive footage and eyewitness accounts of the flood that devastated communities up and down the east coasts of Scotland and England in January 1953.

UKTV PLAY

What is it? Streaming service for UKTV.

Best for: Comedy and drama.

How do I get it? Go to uktvplay.co.uk/

Is it easy to use? Yes. There’s an A-Z button at the top of the homepage that provides you with details of every show on the site. These include 112 episodes of Abandoned Engineering, 95 episodes of Great British Railway Journeys and 91 episodes of the car auction show Bangers & Cash.

What do I get? A full range of programmes from UKTV channels Dave, Yesterday, Drama and W with sections devoted to classic British dramas, period dramas, true crime, trains & railways and engineering.

Most famous show: The Bill. There are a staggering 1,005 episodes of the Sun Hill cop drama available over 29 series of a show which originally ran on ITV. Worth watching for early TV appearances from future stars such as Sean Bean, David Tennant and Sarah Parish.

Hidden Gem: Agatha Christie And The Curse Of Ishtar. Intriguing crime drama in which young Agatha, fresh from divorce, goes to Iraq and not only meets the love of her life but also becomes embroiled in a real-life murder case. Lyndsey Marshall plays Agatha in a story based partly on fact.

Other Highlights:

Flack. Stylish drama starring Anna Paquin as an American PR living and working in London.

Meet The Richardsons. Married comedians Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont allow the cameras behind the scenes on their private lives, inviting a wealth of well-known stars including Alan Carr, Jason Donovan and Johnny Vegas to join in the fun.

YOUTUBE

What is it? The American online site launched in 2005.

Best for: Music videos.

How do I get it? Go to Youtube.com

Is it easy to use? Yes. Just go to the website and look for the programme you want in the search bar at the top of the homepage. The service is free but you can go ad-free for £12.99 a month, with a one-month free trial. Cancel anytime.

What do I get? Everything from entire series of dramas to lessons in how to play the oboe.

Most famous show: Kitchen Nightmares. Six seasons of the show in which Gordon Ramsay tries to rustle up professionalism, good food and a satisfactory level of service in some of the most disorganised kitchens he’s ever had the misfortune to swear in. An expletive-driven reality version of hit drama The Bear.

Hidden gem: ALF. Adorable 80s US sitcom about a furry creature called ALF (Alien Life Form) from the planet Melmac who crash lands in the Tanner family’s garage and subsequently lives with them. Four seasons available.

Other Highlights: The Reaction. Daily Mail journalists Sarah Vine and Andrew Pierce bring sharp-witted analysis and forthright opinion to bear on the major news stories of the day.

Traitors. No, not that one although there are similarities. Set in 1945, this is a stylish six-part 2019 thriller, originally seen on Channel 4, starring Emma Appleton as Feef, a British woman tasked with identifying a Soviet spy in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. Keeley Hawes plays Priscilla Garrick, a senior civil servant.

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