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Broadchurch stars, from left, David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Arthur Darvill.©BBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

My penchant for British crime dramas – previously not even close to my cup of tea – began with a search for a binge-demanding distraction from the gloom of real life. I landed on Broadchurch, in spite of my general TV/film rule: no dead children. Yes, for escapist entertainment, I selected a series about a murdered child, his little body found on a Dorset beach below a cliff.

Stay with me?

I fell for the two female leads – smart, no-nonsense working-mother police detective Ellie (Olivia Colman, who will play the Queen on Season 3 of The Crown); and her devastated friend, Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker), mother of the dead boy. I devoured the first season, right through to its shattering conclusion.

Then I went looking for more like it. (The second season, which was not out at that point, is awful, by the way – although the third is an improvement over the second.)

The Netflix algorithm led me to Sally Wainwright, my new television hero. Her shows are female-centric, smart, funny (even if dark). Wainwright, who is from West Yorkshire, sets her shows in Northern England with unapologetic Yorkshire and Mancunian pride.

I started with Happy Valley – which is anything but (happy). It stars Sarah Lancashire as Catherine, a fortysomething police sergeant who is solving crimes, raising her grandson and grieving her daughter (while living with her sister, a recovering drug addict). There are Fargo-esque elements to the story initially, but the plot thickens and twists and thrills.

Catherine is a badass – damaged but also sensible and effective – and Lancashire is superb at capturing her. I was struck by how good it felt to watch a middle-aged woman play a middle-aged woman so authentically. Lancashire as Catherine doesn’t look anything like Gillian Anderson’s detective superintendent in The Fall (another British binge-watch; this one set in Belfast). Anderson’s Stella is smart, stunning and sexy, but looks nothing like most real women I know. (Sorry, women I know.)

After Happy Valley, I went straight for Scott & Bailey, another Wainwright creation. Viewer, I loved it. Scott & Bailey focuses on detective partners/best friends Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) – opposites who complement each other, but much more subtly and organically than this sentence makes it sound. Think Cagney & Lacey transported to contemporary Manchester – although that doesn’t begin to tell it. Janet and Rachel are so complicated, flawed and wonderful, and their relationship feels so real. They have office washroom meet-ups, after-work vent-fests at the pub, and cringey, uncomfortable workplace fallouts.

Then there’s all the women around them: their complicated (female) boss, Gill (Amelia Bullmore), their mothers (while their fathers are absent) and even one of the women they encounter in relation to a big investigation, played by Nicola Walker.

I fell hard for this show and was bereft when I was done. These women – they felt like friends. (That may sound pathetic, but there you are.)

I plunged right into another Wainwright series, despite the fact I wasn’t keen on a show about two people who fall in love late in life. But Last Tango in Halifax is more than a love story; it’s a worthy drama – with some criminal intrigue. And it stars my old friends Lancashire and Walker as the daughters of the two elderly lovers.

Walker is a terrific actor, and because of her, I checked out River – another British crime series but, my God, one with a giant heart-wrenching twist. I can’t say much about this without spoiling it, except this: Watch it. Bring Kleenex.

And because I would watch anything with Jones (with the exception, perhaps of Coronation Street), I veered off my crime show track and watched Doctor Foster, where Jones plays a woman with the perfect life: She’s a family doctor with a loving husband, thriving son, beautiful home – but also a sneaking suspicion that poses a threat to it all. It’s not a cop show, but there is an unfolding mystery that sure felt criminal to me.

If you’ll allow me one more: Marcella. Anna Friel plays the title character: a police detective returning to work after putting her family ahead of her career (and you’ll see how much good that does her).

I started on this Netflix track to get a break from my usual world. Yet, I found so much familiarity, in spite of our vastly different experiences. I have never been to Manchester, never used a weapon, never uttered “bloke” or “bollocks.” And yet, I related to these women in the most visceral of ways. They are excellent company. And I miss them.