However, there is so much more to British television than meets the eye. Here’s a list of shows that are popular in the UK, but have not gained the attention they deserve in other parts of the world.
Set in the Cotswolds runs the day-to-day lives of cousins Kerry and Lee ‘Kurtan’ Mucklowe, played by real-life siblings Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper. There is a lack of excitement for young people living in small communities in the British countryside and this inspired the Cooper siblings to create This Country based on the isolation, desperation, and boredom they faced growing up in rural Britain.
Everyone in the village is an odd character; from the grumpy woman who swears at everyone to the Mucklowes who try and entertain themselves with senseless activities to fill their time, This Country shows a new side to British television. It’s not always about the Royal Family and high teas.
Bernard, Fran, and Manny are three friends who are very much involved in each other’s lives. Bernard owns a small bookshop, Black Books, with Manny as his accountant. Fran, on the other hand, runs a gift shop next door. While Bernard is known for his heavy drinking and smoking, Fran and Manny consistently try to get him out of the bookshop to be more ‘normal’ with their attempts continuously ending in havoc.
The BAFTA award-winning series stars notable British names: Dylan Moran, Tasmin Greig, and Bill Bailey. It is a funny, easy-to-watch, feel-good series that you can indulge in at any given time or mood of the day. It stands as one of the best classic British sitcoms to this day.
‘Friday Night Dinner’
The sitcom is based on the lives of a British-Jewish family, the Goodmans. As the title suggests, the Goodmans gather around for a family dinner every Friday night. What might seem like a normal thing for families to do is anything but that for this family. While brothers Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) pull pranks on each other, their father Martin (Paul Ritter) walks around the house shirtless and finds himself in the most unlikely situations. The mother, Jackie (Tamsin Greig), seems to be the only one who tries to be somewhat normal but is constantly let down by the eccentricities of her family.
British humor might be something that the rest of the world needs to familiarize themselves with, but trust that The Goodmans will constantly make you laugh, cry and be confused. You will feel like part of their little, odd family. The great Paul Ritter, unfortunately, died of a brain tumor on April 2021.
You might know David Tennant from Doctor Who and Olivia Colman from The Favourite. But did you know that they both starred in the British crime show, Broadchurch? The series follows a murder investigation led by Detective Inspector Hardy (David Tennant) and Detective Sergeant Miller (Olivia Colman) in a small coastal town in Dorset. The body of an 11-year-old boy, Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara), was found on the town’s local beach.
The murder case sparked outrage in the local community and the media. The series is an emotional rollercoaster full of twists and turns – when you think you’re closer to finding the answers – it pushes the case further and further away from the truth.
Considered one of the British comedy classics, Peep Show stars the dynamic duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who are known to be frequent collaborators on various projects. It is a comedy show about the lives of two British roommates who live in Croydon, South London. Olivia Colman also plays a recurring character in the series.
Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) works as a loan manager at JLB Credit (a fictional company). Despite being socially awkward, he is intelligent and hardworking. Corrigan owns the flat in Croydon, which he shares with his flatmate, Jeremy “Jez” Usborne (Robert Webb). He is the opposite of Mark; lazy, selfish, arrogant, but highly sociable. Their differences are what make this show hilarious and exciting to watch. The sitcom has won awards, including the 2008 BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy and the 2007 Royal Television Society awards for Comedy Performance.
‘People Just Do Nothing’
A mockumentary sitcom follows the lives of MC Grindah (Allan “Seapa” Mustafa), DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin), manager Chabud “Chabuddy G” Gul (Asim Chaudhry), and their group of friends who run Kurupt FM. Kurupt FM broadcasts garage and drum and bass music but is, as its name suggests, corrupt because it runs without a license.
The characters in the series give interviews to an off-screen interviewer as if they’re in a documentary. People Just Do Nothing mostly focuses on their personal lives and relationships with each other and with their respective partners, such as Miche (Lily Brazier) and Roche (Ruth Bratt). It has been nominated and won awards for BAFTA Television Awards, Royal Television Society Awards, and Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards.
‘Line of Duty’
Line of Duty is a police procedural series that follows authorized firearms officer DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), who is transferred to the Anti-Corruption Unit (AC-12) after refusing to cover up an unlawful shooting from his previous team. He is partnered with DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), who specializes in being an undercover officer. They work under the guidance of Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) to expose corruption within the police force. There is a long-running story arc of uncovering an organized crime group that has long been corrupting the police force and discovering the identity of “H” who appears to be the senior of the corrupt organization.
The BBC Two series has won an extensive list of awards from associations such as the BAFTA Television Awards, TV Choice Awards, and Royal Television Society. BBC Two included Line of Duty as one of the Top 50 BBC Two shows of all time and 80 Best BBC Shows of All Time.
Ask any British person who grew up as a teenager in the 2000s, and they will know Skins. This teen drama series follows the lives of a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England. It explores issues faced by many teenagers, such as bullying, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexuality, gender, and more. Each episode is named after the character it focuses on, such as “Tony” (Nicholas Hoult) or “Cassie” (Hannah Murray).
The series ran for six years with its primary cast replaced every two years. For instance, the first two seasons had a cast ensemble that included Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, and Joe Dempsie, while the second season had Kaya Scoldeario (Nicholas Hoult’s younger sister in the series), Jack O’Connell, and Luke Pasqualino. Many of the Skins stars went on to work on notable projects such as Slumdog Millionaire (Dev Patel), Game of Thrones (Joe Dempsie and Hannah Murray), Get Out (Daniel Kaluuya), the X Men films (Nicholas Hoult), and Unbroken (Jack O’Connell). Skins gave many of its cast a kickstart in their acting career.
Spaced ran from 1999 to 2001 and was written and created by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, who were also the sitcom’s stars. Daisy Steiner (Jessica Stevenson) and Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg) met at a café by chance while flat-hunting. They decide to move into a cheap flat in Tufnell Park despite barely knowing each other.
The story focuses on their weird adventures and finding new and unproductive ways of killing time. The director, Edgar Wright, has written, directed, and produced many notable films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Adventures of Tintin, Ant-Man, and Baby Driver, just to name a few.
Happy Valley is a crime drama series set in Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. The series follows the story of Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), who is divorced and lives with her sister Clare Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran). She is still recovering from the grief of her daughter, Becky, who committed suicide eight years earlier. Together, the sisters help raise Becky’s son Ryan (Rhys Connah), who they believe is a product of rape. The man who she believes raped her daughter has been released from prison. Cawood makes it her mission to catch him.
A BBC report reveals that the series has accumulated an average of 7.2 million viewers over six episodes of the first series. The series has won a total of 26 awards across two seasons and has rating of 8.5/10 on IMDb and 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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