Outlander and other must-see TV shows on Amazon Prime

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in a scene from Outlander. Picture: AP/Sony Pictures

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in a scene from Outlander. Picture: AP/Sony Pictures

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THE successor to Top Gear has dominated most of the hype around Amazon Prime’s film and TV streaming service, but the online channel has plenty else to keep subscribers occupied – here are five of the best shows available right now

Netflix is the king of subscription streaming TV, but Amazon Prime has ambitions of its own. The American media giant launched its UK operation in February 2014 when it took over the former LoveFilm service. Prime has steadily grown its audience by adding a mixture of original and classic programmes along the way, and will now host a new motoring show fronted by ex-Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. It doesn’t yet have the range of Netflix’s library, but it’s quickly amassing an impressive catalogue – here are some of the best shows to watch on Prime at the moment.

OUTLANDER

Outlander, which has a huge fanbase, is the most watched series on UK Prime. Claire Randall is a nurse at the time of the Second World War suddenly transported back two centuries to the Scottish Highlands in 1743. There she meets dashing Jacobite warrior Jamie Fraser and learns to adapt to a time of clan warfare and intrigue. While it’s been described by some critics as harmless wish-fulfilment fantasy, leaked emails suggested Prime Minister David Cameron was so concerned about the programme’s content that he asked Sony executives to hold off broadcasting it in the UK until after last year’s independence referendum.

VIKINGS

Historical dramas are the undisputed champs of television at present, as the huge popularity of Outlander and Game of Thrones has proved. Another contender that mines the rich seam of the past is Vikings. Filmed in Ireland, the series is based on the Norse sagas of mythical warrior Ragnar Lothbrok. Starting life as a humble farmer, Ragnar quickly discovers there’s money and power to be made by joining the raiding parties plundering lands across the seas. A fourth season is now in the works.

30 ROCK

Tina Fey’s satirical sitcom is loosely based on her experience as the head writer for long-running American chucklefest Saturday Night Live. 30 Rock follows the cast and staff of a fictional NBC sketch show and the suitably manic mishaps that ensue. A critical smash throughout its run until 2013, there’s a wealth of episodes to enjoy.

DOWNTON ABBEY

Six seasons in and the country’s favourite aristocrat drama continues with a stiff upper lip and a droll look at the UK’s pre-war class system. While the latest series is being broadcast on ITV, you can catch up with season one on Prime and remind yourself why Julian Fellowes’ creation became so popular, if not universally loved.

LIFE ON MARS

TV writers love time-travel. Want to know what the past was like? We’ll show you, via a classic police procedural drama. John Simm’s Mancunian detective is used to doing things the 21st century way, but then finds himself back in 1973 after an accident. Out goes political correctness and in comes booze, casual racism and a thick fug of cigeratte smoke in every room. Life on Mars works thanks to its sure-footed ability to provide humour when necessary.

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