I need The Office, only for non native speakers
October 25, 2006 7:10 PM   Subscribe

I teach English in Buenos Aires and one of my students has asked me if we can watch some TV that's 'set in an office' and 'is in British English' (I haven't watched a lot of TV for some time). I've looked at The Office (too hard for all but the very advanced non-native speakers) and The IT crowd (too weird for this chap). Any suggestions?

My student works in insurance but I rather doubt that there are any insurance based programmes. It doesn't have to be funny but bonus points for something interesting (I had thought of The Troubleshooter with John Harvey Jones but I can't find it in a nickable/downloadable form).

Oh and I don't really want to have to go through too many definitions of profanities/euphamisms...
posted by itsjustanalias to Education (18 answers total)
Mary Tyler Moore Show
posted by bendybendy at 7:31 PM on October 25, 2006

whoops, that's usa'ian.
posted by bendybendy at 7:32 PM on October 25, 2006

Sky TV had a show called "The 1970's office" on recently. It was a kind of reality show where people had to deal with 1970's attitudes and sutch. It might work for your class.

And I dont think the Mary Tyler Morre show can be considered "Brittish" English....
posted by gergtreble at 7:35 PM on October 25, 2006

Murphy Brown?

It's movie, but Office Space?
posted by chrisamiller at 8:23 PM on October 25, 2006

I was quite enjoying Absolute Power until it stopped playing on TV here recently..
posted by pompomtom at 8:28 PM on October 25, 2006

Not many office shows.... Casualty (hospital), The Bill (Police station), My Hero (Dentists) come to mind
posted by A189Nut at 8:32 PM on October 25, 2006

Best answer: Yes, Minister.

Teaches a nice dry wit as well.
posted by oxford blue at 9:22 PM on October 25, 2006

Yes Prime Minister. Not only is it impeccably clear, but it's a complete political education in a dozen or so episodes.

And it's beyond funny. Background information. Available at Amazon on DVD. I'm a huge britcom fan and this may be the best of them.
posted by Phred182 at 9:23 PM on October 25, 2006

Another vote for Yes Minister.

Drop the Dead Donkey is set in a news room, and there's Press Gang which is an 80s kids program set in a newspaper staffed by schoolkids. Not quite an office but close: press gang info, drop the dead donkey info.
posted by handee at 12:42 AM on October 26, 2006

I remember there being a BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary set in a car rental company's office that followed the founder and various IT/sales/HR people. IIRC the company was called Holiday Autos. Alas, a quick google didn't dig up anything downloadable, but an email to the BBC might help.
posted by patricio at 4:32 AM on October 26, 2006

Stick him with the Office I say. It's not that tough surely?
posted by tomw at 4:49 AM on October 26, 2006

UK English is spoken quite rapidly compared to American English, and there are different vowel stressings. The Office is tough. My wife is from Ohio and she has trouble understanding much of what Brent says given his quick speech, colloquialisms, and run-on prononciation. And she likes Eddie Izzard.

There are a bunch of BBC reality shows that are dull as dishwater - the ones The Office was originally slagging. There's ones set in airports and the like. You can usually download these from UKNova or similar. There's the UK Apprentice show - also incredibly dull.
posted by meehawl at 5:33 AM on October 26, 2006

Patricio, are you thinking of The Armstrongs?

You could teach people a lot of interesting words with that programme.
posted by randomination at 5:47 AM on October 26, 2006

Not the Armstrongs, though that would indeed require a lot of 'interesting' translations.

I've discovered this was a three-parter called "The Secret Life of the Office"
posted by patricio at 8:18 AM on October 26, 2006

Fawlty Towers has crisp Brit diction, plus entertainment value.
posted by anadem at 9:04 AM on October 26, 2006

I think patricio is thinking of People Like Us. (if not, then it's another suggestion. great series!)
posted by pyjammy at 9:39 AM on October 26, 2006

Oh wait, sorry patricio. Clearly it's not what you meant! But still. People Like Us. Good stuff. Funny.
posted by pyjammy at 9:41 AM on October 26, 2006

Yes Prime Minister is brilliant (and crucially for ESL students centres on three terrific actors with great diction) but is a little dated. A more contemporary take on UK politics, also set in an MP's office, is The Thick of It. Very funny. Lots of swearing. One of the creators describes it as "Like Yes Minister meets Larry Sanders."
posted by Hogshead at 12:45 PM on October 26, 2006

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