Don’t get me wrong, I love American and Canadian TV. Degrassi is a Canadian treasure and I’m a complete mess if I don’t catch Glee, Scandal, or Shameless. Because there is a lot of good TV out there, people don’t realize what they are missing, more specially, what great British television they’re missing out on. British TV is funny, witty, crude, and uncensored. Also, those accents just make the show that much more eventful.
The best British shows that film on location in England. Downton Abbey actually films on a large estate. True fact. In addition, so many of these British shows feature actors we love before they were even on our radar. For example, Carrie Mulligan was in the Doctor Who episode “Blink” before she was an A-lister and Andrew Garfield, better known these days as Spider-Man, was in the two-part “Daleks in Manhattan” episode. When you watch British televison you will also realize that shows like to trade actors. For example, everyone on Merlin has made an appearance on Doctor Who.
British television is highly underrated, and not enough people have been graced with it’s perfection. The stars are all beautiful (go Google Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, Bradley James, Colin Morgan, or Rob James-Collier ). So just in case the British history, realistic and uncensored nature don’t have you tuning in, the eye candy should.
Or, how about the fact respected actors love BBC too?
I can proudly say I am so obsessed with British television that I’ll probably develop an accent before the third season of Sherlock is aired.
Created by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatis, Sherlock is the modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales. Yes, I know. No sh*t, Sherlock.
In this adaptation of the well known series, Sherlock Holmes, who claims to be “a functioning sociopath, knows one thing and that’s deduction. His brilliance is mind boggling, and you will love how the show is edited together as text messages are shown on screen and the visual construction of Sherlock’s deduction process. Bonus point: Benedict Cumberbatch is tall, dark and sexy in this BBC show.
Warning: you will fall in love with him. His delivery as Sherlock is perfect, he truly comes off as a mad man.
The show has had 2 seasons, each with 3 episodes that are an hour and a half long each. They act as mini movies almost. Filming for season 3 had been postponed as Cumberbatch has become a highly-sought after actor, having recently worked Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Star Trek and The Hobbit. Sherlock’s Watson, Martin Freeman, can be found in the rom-com staple, Love Actually, and most recently as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Due to both of the actors involvement in The Hobbit, they will not start filming season 3 until 2014. It’s hard being a BBC junkie sometimes. No, correct that. All the time.
2) Doctor Who
Doctor Who has been around for decades. BBC revived the show after a long hiatus, kicking off a modernized Doctor Who with the Ninth Doctor back in 2005. Ninth Doctor, you ask? Why numbers, you ask? The Doctor is a alien timelord – this means he can travel through time and space. He can travel through all planets, through the past, present, and future. This is normally done with a human companion – commonly a good looking woman.
A timelord’s lifespan is so long that they are typically regarded as immortal but they are not. They have a set number of years before they die for good but before then, they typically regenerate into new version of themselves when they’re fatally wounded, hence the number. Doctor Who is currently on it’s 11th Doctor as played by Matt Smith, but fans of the modern Who fans will tell you to start watching from Christopher Eccleston—the Ninth Doctor.
Doctor Who can be very creepy as the Doctor often finds himself having to save the Earth from hostile aliens. However, with the Doctor’s quick wit and funny ways out of situations, not to mention his inability to let another faze him, Doctor Who can also be really funny. The show is also really great for history buffs as The Doctor and his companion go back to times in history and meet people like Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria.
Fun fact: this often used gif that helps to wordless illustrate sadness on Tumblr is from Doctor Who.
Torchwood is a spin-off of Doctor Who. It follows Captain Jack Harness and his work at the Torchwood Institute, in Cardiff, Wales. This institute primarily deals with extra-terrestrials, often the hostile kind. This institute was developed after Queen Victoria has a disastrous in with the Doctor and a few aliens, prompting her to create a “Area 51”-like agency to save England from the likes of ET. If you are not into aliens, just watch for John Barrowman’s face.
Oh and did we mention…
4) Downton Abbey
If you are going to be picky, Downton Abbey isn’t a BBC show, but it DOES air on the network (it’s created by ITV, another British network)
If you thought there was ever an age without scandal, bitching, and self-entitlement, Downton Abbey will prove you wrong. Downton Abbey is a period piece that takes place in the post-Edwardian era in Yorkshire, England.
The series follows the Crawley family who live in the fictional estate of Downton Abbey. This show is definitely one for the history buffs as we see the Crawleys go through some drama framed within important historical events including the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Marconi scandal, the Interwar period and the forming of the Irish Free State. Most importantly, we witness what happens when change is brought upon people who are so set upon tradition. Amongst all this history and aristocracy, we see romantic and family relationship emerge and falter.
My favourite part of the show is the gossiping servants. If this all isn’t reason enough to watch, the the ever iconic Maggie Smith, a.k.a. Professor Minerva “Badass” McGonagall, delivers some of the greatest one liners you will ever hear in her role as Violet Crawley, the dowager countess of Grantham.
Downton Abbey also features a gorgeous, badass, sexy valet— who also happens to be gay. Considering that homosexuality was a crime for which people were killed for during this time, he expectedly far from the stereotype. I wonder what will happen after the events of the season 3 finale. Hm… Regardless, here’s some swoon worthy visuals.
Even though Merlin just ended, watching all 5 seasons is well worth your time especially because there is an up-coming spinoff. I know in North America spin-offs rarely work, but clearly the British know something we don’t because they always manage to execute them perfectly.
Merlin follows the struggles of Merlin (wow) a wizard doubling as a servant for Prince Arthur. Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Arthur (Bradley James) have such perfect on-screen chemistry, and their friendship is one for the ages. Their devotion to one another as friends more so than master/servant is heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking. Join the Merlin fandom and be prepared for a lot of unintended sexual tension between the two male protagonists, which incidentally, can be said about John Watson and Sherlock’s relationship in Sherlock. Thank you BBC for fulfilling a lot of teenage girls fantasies.
Misfits, which is currently on its 4th season, follows the lives of 5 young people who spontaneously get superpowers after a freak storm. More specifically, the group is made up of a mismatch group of delinquents doing community service hours at a community centre.
The powers range from mind reading to invisibility, as well as some other weird powers that the group has to deal with together. These powers including gender shifting, to power to control dairy products, the ability to take other people’s power, and to brainwash. The show is so warped and out there that it’s actually really good. The coolest thing is that everyones power is reflective of their personalities. For example, Simon who is a very shy, quiet person, gets the power of invisibility, while a drug dealer who wanted to be the biggest dealer of all becomes a sort of “power” dealer as he is able to take and transfer people’s powers.
My favourite episode is when a Holocaust survivor retrieves the power to go back in time to kill Hitler but is killed the moment he travels back in time. Unfortunately, Hilter discovers the cellphone the survivor has in his pocket and Hitler uses the technology to win the war. We then quickly cut to the modern day where society is under an extension of the Nazi regime. Heavy? Yes, but definitely interesting and unique.
Oh, and theres a good looking smart-ass who provides consistant comedic relief.
You know Nicholas Hoult? Yeah that unfairly goodlooking guy from X-Men: First Class, Warm Bodies, and the upcoming Jack: The Giant Slayer? Yeah, he went on to do Skins after his career-starting role in About A Boy. Fun fact, so did Slumdog Millionaire and the Newsroom‘s Dev Patel.
Skins follows the stories of a series of high school students who basically deal with all your typical adolescent struggles. It would be like every other show, except it’s rude, crude, funny and is frighteningly more realistic than your average episode of The O.C. The writers aren’t afraid to show what really happens during those precious teenage years. In other words, there’s a lot of sex, drugs, and swearing. The boys are good looking, the girls are stunning, and all the characters are equally messed up due to drugs, eating disorders, relationships, and all of that nice stuff. If you want a show about troubled high school students, watch Skins. If you don’t want to watch for that, watch for Hoult’s smoldering hot, Tony.
8) The In-Betweeners
The Inbetweeners follows a plot line similar to Skins, except it takes place in a public school. It also contains your typical British crudeness, and covers important issues like bullying and broken families.
There are three seasons and won two BAFTAs, so you all better go watch now. The show is hilarious and like other BBC shows is heavy on derogatory and curse terms – British television is a lot less censored than North American television, and I for one think that’s a good thing. If you are not yet persuaded to watch this show, I should probably mention one of One Direction’s common dance moves is from the Inbetweeners movie that was released after the series wrapped in 2010.
9) Beautiful People
Beautiful People is comedy/drama that is based on the memoirs of Simon Doonan, the incredibly amazing creative director of Barney’s, the high end department store. It follows a 13-years-old Simon Doonan and his best friend Kylie as the two dream of moving to a more lively and metropolitan London. The episodes stand as their own, each recalling one of Doonan’s experiences. The show alternates between Doonan experiencing things at 13, and Doonan in New York in 2008 recalling these experiences to his current boyfriend, Sascha. For example, while his boyfriend is helping him on a window display at Barney’s, he almost breaks a vase, prompting Doonan to recall the story of “How I Got My Vase.”