10 British TV Shows That Crossed the Pond

Actor Idris Elba in the press room with the Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television award for "Luther," at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Dark, darker, darkest. The BBC One miniseries "Luther" follows the career of a brilliant, dedicated, but violent police detective who sometimes deals with criminals in ways that are outside the law. Luther's wife was murdered by a former colleague and friend, and the tragedy brings out the dangerous side of the investigator. The show's tone is often creepy, disturbing and even repellant. How else can you describe a scene where a murderer tries to render fingerprint evidence unusable by removing prints with a kitchen blender?

As unsettling as the series can be, it drew admiration when it showed up on BBC America. In 2011, Idris Elba (the actor then best known for portraying Stringer Bell on HBO's "The Wire") earned the first of multiple Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries. The show also contended for Outstanding Miniseries [source: Television Academy -- Luther]. Gloominess pays off.