Saturday, 3 December 2016

British TV: A List

   I have not posted for a very long time. 2016 has been a shit year for various reasons, both politically and personally. This blog is still something that I want to carry on and be passionate about, so I am going to be posting a lot more regularly (since my last on was in June, this I hope won't be hard).

   I have been thinking about what this is to me. This is a very small corner of the internet that belongs to me, and I am going to post about what I want to write about. For me that in itself is a powerful thing.

   So, I cannot remember which Betty that wanted a request for more British shows, and I wanted to give a list of ten series that are British. I am including the whole of the UK here. This list is completely subjective but I have thought about why I am talking about them. I have decided to go Alphabetical, so with no further ado...

   Black Books

   This is a series dear to my heart. It had the wonderful Tamsin Greg who I first discovered here. This is about a dissolute man who owns a Second Hand Bookshop, who in fact just wants to drink. It had a silliness that I really appreciate. If you like dark humour and this is really about three people, then this series is for you. Dylan Moran is an Irish Stand Up and was one of the creators and writers, he also stars.

   If You Like This...I am a huge fan of Tamsin Greg, she is in Episodes (she is much more acerbic and just as great), she is also in Green Wing which is a bit more absurd. The co writer of this Graham Linehan has written a lot of series too, and I will be talking about him further. If memory serves there was another series called now I have looked it up The Book Group in 2002 (if you wanted a series about books that is still tinged with dark humour). I have not seen this, but it looks interesting and is set in Scotland.

   Doctor Who

   This is in many ways an obvious choice. If you want to have a sense of how Science Fiction and Fantasy in TV is handled, this is an interesting look. I am not a super fan. I would point to Martha as the companion series, (which had Blink the best episode for me and has the great Cary Milligan in it, and is all about her). I would also show up for Catherine Tate (thought that final episode is really awful to watch of that series). It has it's problems but the actors make up for that for me.

   If You Like This...There was recently a spin off called Class. It too has it's problems, but I would point to episode 3 and 5 as episodes I really liked. Kind of left field, but there was in early 2000s a remake of a show with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer called Randall and Hopkirk Deceased that sort of deals with time travel. It also has Tom Baker in it, it's interesting and I found it funny. So give it a go.

   Father Ted

   This was also written and created by Graham Linehan. It has that touch of the absurd, but within Ireland, and about a Priest, it's funny. If you want a look at Irish comedy this is an interesting start.

   If You Like This...The Vicar of Dibley is a good comparison for a comedy about a person within the religion. Like with Father Ted actually this comedy is just as much about the main person as it is about the side characters. Alice is a favourite of mine. It is a good example of a comedy that is warm and non dirty. On the other side of dirtiness but from the brain of Sharon Horgan, is Pulling, this is set in England, but it is interesting to look at her work, I mention her as she is also Irish. It is a strange pairing but she's a writer that deserves the success that she is getting and this is the first thing that I noticed her in (she is also in it). 

   Goodness Gracious Me

   This will always have a big place in my heart for Meera Syal alone. This sketch comedy Is great, and if you can find clips online it's still funny to me.

   If You Like This...There are a lot of sketch shows to choose from but am going to pick two. As Seen On TV with Victoria Wood. Victoria Wood passed this year (a big reason 2016 sucked for me). It has the great Julie Walters in it. It is just so sharp still. As a sketch show it still makes me laugh. I am also going to mention Monty Python, now this is very different apart from the format but the silliness in that show really made my comedic taste. I would also say some of the stuff in there really has not aged well (I always have to keep in mind this is from six white men, most of whom are straight and it was made in the early 70s, still that is not me giving it a pass). I would also briefly mention Smack The Pony as an all women sketch group.

   The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

   I have my theories about this property. I think you love the one that you were introduced to. This has had so many versions. it is a series of books, a radio play, a TV series and movie. For me this version is the best, and the voice of the Guide just makes me happy. Plus this deals so well with looking at what people are explaining. This explanation of the drink will always make me laugh. You can find it here (P.S. I need that dress like now):

   If You Like This...Red Dwarf is such a part of the my childhood that for me it will always make me laugh. This series is kind of dark if you think about it. A man is left to drift in space, with a human manifestation of a cat, a computer, Hologram and Robot for Company. Still the first six or so series make me laugh. And this theme sing will always make me smile. You can find it here:

   I am also going to mention that I think last year there was a radio version of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This has also had a lot of versions including book and TV Series. If you can find the radio series I think it's a good work that goes with this sensibility.

   Love Soup

   This is probably mean to put this on my list. I would dare to say this is very hard to find. I can't not put it on, for me this is Romantic Comedy done right. It has a strange concept in that the lovers never meet but you see their lives and how perfect they are for each other side by side. It also has Tamsin Greg in it, she is so very good. It has that dark slant of humour that I really appreciate.

   If You Like This...I have mentioned Me and Mrs Jones before. This is a lot more silly and light. It only had one series, but it's again a Romantic Comedy done right in a TV setting. The supporting cast also for me make this something that you should watch. I am scratching my head but if you'd like more sprawling but with a British romantic feel there are a lot of books that might scratch that itch, Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Melissa Nathan to name a few.

   Pride and Prejudice

   Oh come on you didn't think I would leave out this series. So, so good. My favourite scene has to be Elizabeth and Lady Catherine having that final confrontation. So good. I also think the supporting cast make this a series to be remembered.

   If You Like This...Ok there are many, many TV adaptions of Austen but the Sense and Sensibility version staring Hattie Morahan is beautiful, she is so so good. Plus the men in this are all gorgeous. It is written by Andrew Davis who did Pride and Prejudice. If you want Austen but with a modern light, Lost in Austen is good. This marries the modern aspect with why women fall in love with the world that is created by Austen. I like how funny it is. Also has not everyone wanted to travel into their favourite book? There are many other literary adaptions but for me Pride and Prejudice I still re-watch and it makes me super happy.


   I like the first series of this so much, if you like it, then by all means dive into the rest. I have mentioned this before on this blog. The writing is what makes the series great, it also helps that the actors are fantastic. I become a huge fan of Dev Patel from this. This feels like an authentic look at British teens, and what their experience truly is. 

   If You Like This...My Mad Fat Diary, I have also mentioned this before on this very blog, but it such a good series. The first series holds such love for me as well. It feels authentic and the main actor in this is amazing, Sharon Rooney. It deals so well with mental heath, fatness and sex. I cannot recommend it enough. I am also going to mention Fresh Meat here as well. This has a lot of problems, but it again feels authentic to teens and early adults. This is about people first going to University. It is an interesting look at University.

   State of Play

   This when I first saw stayed up until 5 in the morning to watch it. I hadn't finished it, but that is how much I liked this. The actors here are all so good. It is really worth it for the acting. I would mention that Polly Walker and Kelly MacDonald are amazing to me in this. Plus I would mention that Phillip Glenister is good as is Bill Nighy. This is a political thriller told over six episodes.

   If You Like This...Shameless, the original. This may be a strange pairing but this is from the same writer. Shameless to me has the same tone just done within a family. These both have James McAvoy in them. Drop The Dead Donkey, this may also seem like an odd pairing. This is a Comedy and definitely in the early 90s. This is set in the same setting of a newsroom. It still has a similar darkness just less pronounced.


   I am talking specifically about the first series. This has Lucy Punch who I really, really liked in this. This is silly, but the chemistry between the two actors make it. If you like a pretty silly tone paired with good actors then this is for you.

   If You Like This...Jonathon Creek. This was one of my all time favourite series as a teenager. This has a great hook, and the actors make it work. Mysteries are solved by a writer and magician. There is always something that cannot be explained and over the episode you find out the mystery. I prefer the first three series, but it's still good. Luther, this is a real departure but I wanted to include this, if only because Idris Alba is great in it, and is about solving crimes but the relationships are just as important.

   Misc....I wanted to mention a few series and short things. One Consuming Passion. A whole film about Mills and Boon, and it has Olivia Coleman in it? Sign me up!!! I love the title sequence in this. It just overall made me so happy that this about romance. I think this was made as Mills and Boon had it's one hundred year anniversary, not too long ago. I love this so much if you can watch it, please tell me! Two The Great British Sewing Bee. I have talked about this a lot, but it's so good and I love watching previous episodes. I wanted to talk about a reality show British style. There are just as many terrible UK reality stuff too, but this is special to my heart. Finally French and Saunders, it's still good. If you can find clips it's well worth it. They both make me laugh, it is well worth looking at where they both found their comedic voice.

   OK, and I am done!

   Just to finish here is one video from Monty Python with Heathcliff and Cathy doing Semaphore, it will still make me giggle. You can find it here(it starts at 1:05):

   And this song from Victoria Wood's musical from Acorn Antiques. It never fails to make me smile. Acorn Antiques is an acquired taste but it still holds up. You can find it here: