I May Destroy You screenshot

The best free box sets and TV shows you can watch on demand

Posted by for Life

Looking for a new show to watch during lockdown? Here’s our guide to the best free boxsets you can stream without a subscription.

If you’ve managed to binge-watch most of Netflix’s box sets in lockdown, you’re not alone. 

With so much time at home on our hands nowadays, it can be hard to find new series to fill those long evenings – especially if you’re on the hunt for a particular genre or tone.

But just because you might have exhausted all your paid-for options, doesn’t mean there aren’t loads of free box sets which might just tickle your fancy. Indeed, thanks to platforms such as BBC iPlayer and All 4, you’re spoilt for choice.

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 2020, there’s plenty to enjoy.

So without further ado, here’s Stylist’s picks of the best free boxsets for you to enjoy on demand.

  • It’s A Sin

    It's A Sin
    Best free box sets: It's A Sin.

    Russel T Davies’ latest series for Channel 4 has been all anyone could talk about for the last couple of weeks, and for good reason.

    Set in 1980s London, It’s A Sin follows a group of gay friends who move in together during the AIDS crisis. Equally heartbreaking and hilarious, the show follows the characters as they navigate the threat of the virus and what it means for the wider gay community.

  • I May Destroy You

    If you didn’t manage to catch Michaela Coel’s smash-hit series when it aired last year, now’s the time to do just that.

    The series follows the story of Arabella (played by Coel herself), a best-selling writer who is sexually assaulted in the middle of writing her second novel. As she tries to piece together the night of the assault (which she struggles to remember), Arabella is forced to reassess everything, from her career to her relationships with her friends and family. 

  • Pretty Little Liars

    Pretty Little Liars
    Best free box sets: Pretty Little Liars.

    In news which will be music to the ears of Pretty Little Liars fans everywhere, the BBC acquired all seven seasons of the hit show at the end of last year – meaning the whole thing is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

    Set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, the series follows the lives of four girls – Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer – whose lives change forever when the group’s leader Alison disappears. A year after her disappearance, the now estranged friends begin receiving texts from a mysterious figure called ‘A’, who threatens to reveal some of their deepest secrets. But who is ‘A’? And what do they want? 

  • The End Of The F**king World

    When The End Of The F**king World first aired on Netflix at the beginning of 2019, it wasn’t long until we were completely hooked. The dark comedy – which originally aired on Channel 4, and is available to watch for free on All 4 – follows the story of Alyssa and James, two teenagers who take off on a road trip to try and find Alyssa’s father. The catch? James actually plans to kill her.

    With two seasons of the show available to watch now, what are you waiting for?

  • 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. 

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: BBC/Channel 4

Share this article

Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

Recommended by Lauren Geall