Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty star in "Vera," returning to BritBox in January 2019. (BritBox)

New ‘Vera,’ ‘Silent Witness’ Premiere on BritBox in January

The streaming service BritBox in January launches new seasons of two binge-worthy British crime dramas, Vera and Silent Witness.

Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn stars as the irascible Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope in four new, feature-length episodes of “Vera,” which is based on Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope Mystery novels.

I recently watched all 21 seasons of the forensic crime series “Silent Witness,” which began in 1996 with a single main character, pathologist Dr. Sam Ryan (Amanda Burton). The show’s 22nd season begins Jan. 30 on BritBox.

“Silent Witness” certainly has changed over the years, pulling stories from current events and connecting them into the cases of murder, kidnapping, newly unearthed bodies or even transit accidents. While it may sound like a show similar to “CSI,” it’s a lot smarter about how it shares the forensic science. In other words, rarely do characters blather on when explaining the science. Instead, they wear limited explanations into the action or conversations in the show.

When Burton left after the eighth season, the show morphed into an ensemble drama and was able to include many more points of view on any given subject — terrorism, politics, childcare, military or police coverups and, of course, murder. Emilia Fox, David Caves, Liz Carr and Richard Lintern currently star.

Check out all the rest of the shows coming to BritBox in January.

BritBox January 2019 calendar

Date to be announced


Season 9, 4 feature-length episodes; U.S. exclusive premiere

DCI Vera Stanhope’s offbeat manner and appearance belie a knack for catching killers in the Northumberland countryside. Detective Sergeant Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty), Detective Constable Kenny Lockhart (Jon Morrison), DC Mark Edwards (Riley Jones), and DC Jacqueline Williams (Ibinabo Jack) deal with Vera’s anger as they look into four new cases. In the new season, Vera and her team investigate the murder of a forensic psychologist in Newcastle, the discovery of two skeletons hidden in a culvert near Whitley Bay, and two more crimes.

Tuesday, Jan. 1

Mrs. Brown’s Boys New Year’s Special: Mammy’s Motel

U.S. exclusive premiere

Agnes Brown is back for this hilarious New Year’s special, centered on a loud-mouthed Irish matriarch whose favorite pastime is meddling in the lives of her six children. 


Saturday, Jan. 5

That Day We Sang

2014 movie, BritBox premiere

Lonely, middle-aged Tubby (Michael Ball) and Enid (Imelda Staunton) grab a second chance at life thanks to the power of music. After years alone, they reconnect at a 1969 reunion for The Manchester Children’s Choir. Victoria Wood wrote and directed this touching musical treat.

BritBox January
Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball in “That Day We Sang.” (BritBox)


Thursday, Jan. 10

Question Time

North American exclusive premiere

In this spinoff of the BBC Radio Show “Any Questions?,” panel members from the worlds of politics and media answer questions submitted by the public.  Fiona Bruce (“Antiques Roadshow”) takes over as the first female host of “Question Time” in its 40-year history, diving into some of the most relevant topics facing society today. 


Wednesday, Jan. 16

24 Hours in Police Custody

Seasons 4-5; North American exclusive premiere

The gritty documentary series follows the Bedfordshire police team as they respond to emergencies, investigate crimes, arrest suspects and battle against the clock. More than 80 cameras capture and explore the everyday lives of the extraordinary people who fight against crime in modern Britain.


Wednesday, Jan. 23

The Royal

Seasons 1-3, 2003-04; U.S. premiere

In this spinoff of the popular British show “Heartbeat,” a dedicated staff of doctors and nurses care for patients at the fictional St. Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in the seaside town of Elsinby. Robert Daws (“Coronation Street”) stars as Dr. Gordon Ormerod, who with his team navigates medical issues and the moral dilemmas that arise. Julian Ovenden (“Downton Abbey” co-stars.)

BritBox January
Julien Ovenden (in suit) in “The Royal.” (Granada)


Wednesday, Jan. 30

Silent Witness

Season 22, 2019; North America exclusive premiere

The new season of the long-running crime drama created by Nigel McCrery focuses on identity, star Emilia Fox said on British talk show “Sunday Brunch,” Digital Spy reports. Fox plays Dr. Nikki Alexander, who with Dr. Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern), Jack Hodgson (David Caves) and Clarissa Mullery (Liz Carr) investigate puzzling crimes using forensic science.

Silent Witness 22
David Caves (from left), Emilia Fox, Richard Lintern and Liz Carr star in “Silent Witness.” (BBC/Sally Mais)

More British TV

Acorn TV’s January 2019 calendar