In Spotlight: Martin Freeman’s 5 best TV roles you need to watch - from Sherlock to Fargo

As he returns to parenting comedy Breeders for its third season on Sky Comedy and NOW, we round up Martin Freeman's top TV appearances to date - from Fargo to A Confession.

By Sophia Moir Updated: 1 July 2022 - 12.38pm
Martin Freeman in Breeders season 3

Stream every episode of Breeders season 3 on Sky Comedy with NOW from Wednesday 13 July. Seasons 1-2 are available now.

Martin Freeman has become a household name following starring roles in movies including Love Actually, The World’s End and The Hobbit franchise, but his television performances are just as impressive.

Having starred alongside Ricky Gervais in The Office, his career has seen him appear in the much-loved adaptation of Sherlock, the critically-acclaimed ITV series A Confession, the Netflix black comedy drama Fargo, and the recent BBC crime drama The Responder.

He's back on our screens this month in the third series of parenting comedy Breeders, playing flawed but devoted dad Paul alongside Daisy Haggard as his on-screen wife, Ally. 

With Breeders season 3 set to air on Sky Comedy and NOW this month, we rank five of Martin Freeman’s best TV roles to date.

1. A Confession - Det Supt Stephen Fulcher

Freeman took on the role of Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher, the police officer tasked with investigating the real-life disappearance of Sian O’Callaghan from Swindon in 2011. Fulcher lost his job as the result of his investigation, which found that local taxi driver Christopher Halliwell had murdered Sian, as well as Becky Godden-Edwards who had gone missing in 2003. Fulcher broke police protocols in hearing Halliwell’s confession to killing Becky, and was found guilty of gross misconduct, resigning from the police as a result.

A Confession is available to watch on BritBox.

2. Sherlock - Dr John Watson

Freeman almost missed out on playing Dr John Watson next to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes after his wallet was stolen just before his audition. Luckily, he persuaded Sherlock’s co-creator Mark Gatiss that his apparent grumpiness was due to his missing wallet, rather than a lack of enthusiasm for the project, and he was hired. The series, which also starred Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson and Fleabag’s Andrew Scott as Moriarty, became the UK’s most-watched drama series since 2001 and received multiple awards, including a Bafta and Emmy for Freeman.

Watch Sherlock Series 1-4 on BBC iPlayer, Prime Video and Alibi with NOW.

3. The Eichmann Show - Milton Fruchtman

Feature-length drama The Eichmann Show saw Freeman star as Milton Fruchtman, an American television producer determined to televise the trial of senior Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. Set in 1961, the programme tells the true story of how Fruchtman paired with blacklisted TV director Leo Hurwitz to transmit the trial of Eichmann from Israel to the world, despite death threats and resistance from politicians and TV networks.

Watch The Eichmann Show on Prime Video (buy or rent).

4. Fargo - Lester Nygaard

Adapted from the 1996 Oscar-winning film of the same name, Fargo saw Freeman star as spineless life insurance salesman turned murderer Lester Nygaard in the first season of the Minnesota-based drama. Nygaard meets out-of-towner Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) in hospital, who suggests that Nygaard should kill his school bully, Sam Hess. Things escalate quickly. Nygaard kills his verbally-abusive wife Pearl in a fit of rage, and Malvo sees off the police chief who goes round to investigate. And that’s just the first episode in the 10-part black comedy drama. Freeman was nominated for an Emmy for his role, while the show won the award for Outstanding Miniseries. 

Watch Fargo Series 1-3 on Netflix.

5. The Office - Tim Canterbury

It’s impossible to talk about Martin Freeman’s television career without mentioning The Office, the workplace-based sitcom written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The Slough-based comedy saw Freeman play prankster Tim Canterbury, a sales rep at Wernham Hogg Paper Merchants. As well as pulling pranks on his colleague Gareth (Mackenzie Crook), Tim spends his time flirting with receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis), in one of television’s greatest will-they-won't-they relationships.

Watch The Office on BBC iPlayer and BritBox.

Best of the rest: Martin Freeman’s top TV shows

  • Bruiser (2000)
  • World of Pub (2001)
  • Hardware (2003-2004)
  • The Robinsons (2005)
  • Boy Meets Girl (2009)
  • StartUp (2016-2017)
  • Angelyne (2022)
  • The Responder (2022)