What British Television should I be watching?
April 4, 2007 9:56 AM   Subscribe

What British Television should I be watching?

Being a bit of an American anglophile, I watch a lot of UK television. We'll gloss over how. :-)

But I find that i don't even know certain shows exist until i blunder across them by luck, and I am sure that I am missing a great deal of shows I should be watching. I realize, of course, that this is highly subjective, and there's no way to tell me what I'll like -- but if people can point me towards well-liked/respected shows out there I've never heard of, I can look them up and see if I am interested. :-)

To show some of what I do or have watched, in no particular order: Blackadder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, The Prisoner, The Avengers, Python, The Office, Extras, I Claudius, Mr. Bean, Fawlty Towers, Hyperdrive, Spaced etc. Some of those are brilliant, some are decent, but they're all stuff I've enjoyed. Absolutely loved Yes Minister/Prime Minister, even with my rudimentary knowledge of UK Government. Never quite got into Red Dwarf, but it's usually the type of thing I like. Quite into the last 29 seasons of Doctor Who, especially the modern relaunch and Torchwood (and keeping my eye out for the actual start of Sarah Jane Adventures, though the pilot wasn't all that exciting to me.) Because I like Tennant from Doctor Who, I've downloaded acquired Casanova but it is yet unwatched.

A small ampling of the US TV I like tends to be the darker sci-fi shows (DS9, Modern Galactica), the science stuff (Nova), bad 60's Drama (Mission Impossible, Time Tunnel) Arc-based television (above mentioned Galactica, Lost, Heroes), Shows with people who are jerks (House, Office US), etc.

Again, I know this is vague. So, sort of - ignore all of the above, and tell me this: What UK Television do YOU like?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher to Media & Arts (78 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
The original Whose Line is it Anyway? episodes (NOT the wannabe Drew Carey American version).
Host Clive Anderson is often funnier than the performers themselves.

Coupling is also brilliant.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2007

Some of the best British comedy I have seen in a awhile is Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge series. The first seasons being a terribly bad talk show ending with a surprise. The second series follows Alan on his crazy adventures post-talk show.

Steve Coogan also has a newer series called Saxondale that I found incredibly funny. An ex-classic rock roadie/musician becomes a small-town exterminator.
posted by rabbitsnake at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2007

I, too, love Doctor Who and the new series is simply fabulous! Torchwood was pretty good as well.

In terms of other British Sci-Fi shows, both Blake's 7 and the Tomorrow People are classics. The 90's version of the TP aired on Nickelodeon.
posted by tanglewoodtree at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2007

Brass Eye.
The Thick of It. (It's Yes Minister, updated)
and Hitchhikers, obviously, if your secret method encompasses really old stuff.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2007

I just finished the first season of Black's books. It's quite funny, and very laid back. It's refreshing to watch a sitcom with unapologetically low budget feel to it.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:11 AM on April 4, 2007

I second Coupling.

I also enjoyed "Foyle's War" (detective series set during WWII) and "Cold Feet" (like Coupling but a bit more serious).
posted by kjars at 10:12 AM on April 4, 2007

You should be watching Life on Mars if my friends with British TV are to be trusted, which is the case :-) .

Beyond that, Steve Coogan, Jeremy Paxman’s Newsnight, Channel 4 News, represent some of the British TV I will happily watch any episode of. Graham Norton’s an excellent chat show host. Father Ted was funded by and first shown on Channel 4, and as such qualifies as British TV, despite its cast and creative crew being (almost?) entirely Irish.

British stand-up is a different and more enjoyable beast to its American counterpart, and it often gets airtime; look for the Comedy Store archives.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 10:12 AM on April 4, 2007

You might like to download some of those retrospective shows, like the Top 100 Comedy Shows or whatever. Last I checked, they had a few on UKNova.
posted by reklaw at 10:18 AM on April 4, 2007

I confess to an addiction Coronation Street, the best, and one of the longest-running, soap operas in the world.

(You have to be careful of spoilers if you get it from the CBC, though. We canucks are running six months behind. Typical.)

Also, if your secret method works for radio shows, I'd look for the original version of the Hitchhiker's Guide.
posted by timeistight at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2007

How about Jeeves & Wooster. I just got season one on DVD so I haven't watched any yet, but it's Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry so if you like House...
posted by lampoil at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2007

kjars: I completely forgot about "Foyle's War"! That is an excellent show!! I second it.
posted by tanglewoodtree at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2007

A few things I've been especially partial to recently are:

Adam and Joe and their various other shows
Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends
Monkey Dust
The IT Crowd

I see someone's already got Brasseye but
Jam and Nathan Barley are also great.
posted by lornoss at 10:26 AM on April 4, 2007

Second 'The Thick of It,' absolutely superb.
posted by Abiezer at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2007

I'll third Coupling, good view on relationships. Black Books is also great, I think if you like Spaced, you'll enjoy it as well.

Look Around You - educational filmstrips gone horribly and hysterically wrong.

Old stuff - I loved The Young Ones.

Really wanted to like the new Robin Hood, but having a hard time when the Sherrif looks like a Janes Addiction refuge. Loving the new Doctor Who, about to begin Torchwood as well.

I like some of the home design shows as well - the original Trading Spaces and Ground Force, much more so than anything on American television. And occasionally the Gordon Ramsay stuff, but sometimes he's too angry for me to enjoy (which I know is his thing...).
posted by librarianamy at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2007

The Fast Show
Grand Designs
posted by fire&wings at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2007

Royle Family
Still Game

2nding the Brasseye, Alan Partridge recommendations.
posted by the cuban at 10:34 AM on April 4, 2007

Surprised no one has mentioned Spooks. I like it all, but esp. the first couple seasons where Tom Quinn was the focus.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:37 AM on April 4, 2007

Spaced!! Hilarious.
posted by infinityjinx at 10:40 AM on April 4, 2007

I think That Mitchell and Webb Look is the best British comedy show from the last couple of years. Not every sketch is a home run, but there are at least a few really good sketches in every show. Here is a quickie.
posted by teleskiving at 10:40 AM on April 4, 2007

Gah, just noticed you do indeed already watch Spaced.
posted by infinityjinx at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2007

Based on your list, I think you might like Life on Mars (although you might have had to have seen The Sweeney first to get all the references). Its clever police procedural/sci-fi cross-over concept got me hooked during series 1. Series 2's been a bit patchy, though. Final ever episode is next week where we're told "all will be revealed!

Other things I set my linux-based-tivo-knock-off for are:

Hotel Babylon - a bit flaky but a guilty pleasure in an Ugly Betty kind of way

Later with Jools Holland - very eclectic music show (mostly pooled from Jools' mates/people he rates, rather than bands with an album to plug)

The State Within - political mini series (this was a co-production with BBC America, so it might have aired already)

QI (Quite Interesting) - panel game hosted by Stephen Fry where points are awarded, not for being right but for being interesting

Various Ray Mears shows - bushcraft/travel/survival programmes, if you like that kind of thing

Top Gear - another guilty pleasure, although it all got terribly serious when Richard Hammond very nearly died filming last year

Cooking in the Danger Zone - a bit like Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, but a lot more interested in the anthropological bits rather than the swearing & drinking (although that does occur too!)

Lastly, if you can track it down, Reichenbach Falls was very good. Based on an idea by Ian Rankin, a frankly bizarre detective story, but really well done.
posted by dogsbody at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2007

fire&wings mentioned Grand Designs. It really is excellent, there are few other shows that give the same kind of opportunity to see ordinary people really putting all of their passion into a large-scale and long term creative project (building or restoring a home). And the results are often amazing.
posted by teleskiving at 10:47 AM on April 4, 2007

Father Ted. Irish, or at least mostly, but a huge hit in the UK and funny as hell. By the guy who does the IT Crowd.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:47 AM on April 4, 2007

I'll nth Coupling, but I also remember someone asking a very similar question here previously. I can't find it, though. (Not saying this is a dupe and should be deleted, just saying that this is a logical followup a few years(?) after the old one.)
posted by inigo2 at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2007

AH HA! I knew I'd find it eventually...
posted by inigo2 at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2007

Green Wing.

Here's a taster:
posted by tiny crocodile at 10:54 AM on April 4, 2007

Spooks/MI-5, Prime Suspect, Second Sight (Clive Owen!), and the Singing Detective are all, in different ways, very good and unforgettable. (Sorry, don't have time for links when I should be working.)
posted by loosemouth at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2007

The Young Ones, Vicar o f Dibley, Cold Feet
posted by necessitas at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2007

Let's try that again:

Green Wing
posted by tiny crocodile at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2007

Silent Witness is pretty good; it's similar to CSI.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2007

Another vote for The Young Ones (available on DVD) and The IT Crowd.
posted by dr_dank at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2007

This Life. It's got drama and people who are or at least occasionally act like jerks. Ditto Our Friends in the North. And the original Queer as Folk, written by Russel T Davies who is behind the new Dr Who.
posted by Martin E. at 11:08 AM on April 4, 2007

Coupling, Black Books, Mitchell and Webb, Peep Show - all good modern comedy.

You should probably get some stand up too: Eddie Izzard is marvellous, and I can watch Bill Bailey again and again.

Older stuff you might like - "At last the 1948 show!" is a precursor to the pythons, there's the Python stuff, then there's the series of Secret Policeman's Ball dvds.

I have a real soft spot for A very peculiar practice, I think it was probably the first adult television I ever really got into. But there were a few good series like that in the 80s - Scully, the boys from the blackstuff, Auf wiedersehen, pet, Making out.
posted by handee at 11:10 AM on April 4, 2007

Hippies comes after Father Ted and before Black Books. Not available on DVD AFAIK so you'll have to 'acquire' it.
Callan was an interesting late 60's crime serial.
The three Quatermass series from the fifties were groundbreaking sci-fi at the time and still have a certain frisson.
Rising Damp is well worth a look.
My favourite is Bush Tucker Man. An Australian Vietnam veteran drives round the Outback in a Land Rover. Doesn't sound like much but his deadpan manner and informative spiel about Australian flora and fauna makes me laugh out loud every time. Good hat too. Not British, not available on Region One or Two DVD but worth 'acquiring'.
posted by Dr.Pill at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2007


Best UK comedy in years...

posted by rocco at 11:16 AM on April 4, 2007

Foyle's war. It's a bit old, but Prime Suspect was great. Also, HBO and the BBC collaborated in making Rome, which is excellent.
posted by xammerboy at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2007

For the last eight years I've been sending DVDs to a friend's dad in Ohio. I worked there for a while with this friend, and over the course of a few family barbecues that I was invited to, found out that the dad was really into British humour. Here's what's gone down well:

'Phoenix Nights', and the spin-off 'Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere'. This is really northern social-club humour. I don't think that there's an American equivalent.

'The League Of Gentlemen'. Really, really, dark humour, but still very funny.

'The Sweeney'. Gritty 70s police action.

'The Professionals'. 80s police action.

'Minder'. London small-time criminal drama/comedy. The early seasons were probably some of the funniest TV of the 80s. Starred Denis Waterman of 'The Sweeney'.

'Rising Damp' and 'Porridge'. Classic 70s sitcoms starring Richard Beckinsale, the father of Kate, who died in his late 20s.

'The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin'. Based on the books, and starring Leonard Rossiter from 'Rising Damp'.

'Home to Roost'. From the writer of 'Rising Damp', about a father whose estranged teenage son moves back home. Stars John Thaw, of the previously mentioned 'The Sweeney'.

'The Comic Strip Presents...'. Large amount of hour-long comedies with vastly differing themes. Two of the classics are: 'Mr Jolly Lives Next Door', which stars Peter O'Toole as a serial-killer; and 'Gregory - Diary of a Nutcase', which is a spoof of 'Silence of the Lambs'.

'The Royle Family'. A sitcom set in Manchester where nothing really happens. Very funny observations on the human condition.

'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps'. Starring one the actors from 'The Royle Family'.

'Peep Show'. Starring Mitchell & Webb. Very funny sitcom about two mismatched housemates. The unique thing about this is that the viewer gets to hear the two main characters' internal dialogues.
posted by veedubya at 11:22 AM on April 4, 2007

The Mighty Boosh is a great surreal comedy,
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is a brilliant spoof of 80s TV & bad horror novels.
Peep Show has plenty of jerks - "On the surface, Jeremy and Mark are quite horrible people; underneath they're even worse. We know this because the viewer is privy to their inner monologues, hearing the secret thoughts that often contradict their spoken statements, thoughts that are littered with sexual desperation, bitterness, bile and obscene fantasies." (from here)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:23 AM on April 4, 2007

A third (fourth?) for Life On Mars. The State Within has indeed already aired on BBC America -- I thoroughly enjoyed it although I felt like I had to draw diagrams to keep everything straight.

I liked the little bit of Cold Feet that I saw when it debuted in 1997 or so. However, I rented the first season DVDs from Netflix a few months ago and in my opinion it doesn't hold up that well ten years on.
posted by harkin banks at 11:24 AM on April 4, 2007

'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps'.

I guess the American taste may differ, but jeez, Two Pints is dire.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2007

Top Gear
Life on Mars
Doctor Who
posted by blue_beetle at 11:26 AM on April 4, 2007

I was just beat to the punch on The Mighty Boosh - I watched my first episode last week, with Old Gregg, and I'm STILL randomly bursting into giggles thinking about it.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2007

Edge of Darkness usually comes up as one of the BBC's all time classic thriller/dramas.

State of Play was good a few years ago. It starred John Simm, who has been so heartily recommended for Life on Mars above. He's also good in The Lakes, both the Lakes and State of Play are contemporary dramas and pretty dark. State of Play is less of a time commitment at 6 episodes.

Cracker (1995 onwards) is a superb and nasty psychological detective show with themes across a season. Hopelessly remade in the US, well worth seeing the UK version.

Going back to the 1980s you could try A Very Peculiar Practice, a surreal satricial comedy about a British university becoming commercialised.

Since we're in British universities in the 80s you should look up Porterhouse Blue, a dark 4 part comedy about attempts to modernise an ultrareactionary Cambridge college. The title refers to the stroke that departing academics are supposed to have as their way out of the institution.

One of the stars of that also appears as Francis Urquart in House of Cards and its sequels. As close to a dark version of Yes Minister as you're likely to find.
posted by biffa at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was a big fan of Chef!, starring Lenny Henry. The first two seasons, anyway -- the third was disappointing. Hard to find on DVD, but available.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2007

Wire in the Blood. The one thing ITV have the occasional flair for is criminal drama.
posted by saturnine at 12:04 PM on April 4, 2007

Midsomer Murders - Friends laughed at me when my wife told them of my strange obsession. Little did they know that this show is a virus that climbsinto your central nervous system and will. not. let. go. The devilish thing about Midsomer Murders is that it's a great "Hobby Show" that is, you can work on a hobby while having it on and be just fine. Those that laughed at me now watch as they knit, brew beer, and commit other likely sordid acts.

The show itself centers around a Detective Inspector who solves often outlandish mysteries in the otherwise quiet area of ficticious Midsomer County, England. Lots of English theatre types can be seen guest starring (watching Rome on HBO involved a lot of pointing and yelling Hey!).

You can catch reruns in the states on BBC America (sometimes) and the Biography channel (Sundays).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2007

I quite enjoyed the recently finished Skins. Sort of a British version of the movie Kids, in TV form. The first season is only 9 episodes, but it's some entertaining TV.
posted by antifuse at 12:23 PM on April 4, 2007

I love "Little Britain." I don't always get the most UK-specific jokes but it's still funny for the hilarious characters.

And recently BBCAmerica has been showing a new series by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French called "Clatterford" (although I gather it had a different title in the UK - "Jam and Jerusalem" I think?) It's a bit like Vicar of Dibley in the whole "small English country village, clash of modern v. traditional lifestyles" type thing.
posted by dnash at 12:28 PM on April 4, 2007

Secondinf Top Gear & Foyle's War
I liked Spooks a lot (over here as MI5), kind of like a 24 but with self-contained episodes and minus the real-time gimmick.
posted by juv3nal at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2007

Thirding Foyle's War, and nthing Young Ones (and firsting Bottom, which featured Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson).
posted by Lucinda at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2007

I don't think 'The Day Today' (Chris Morris) and Ideal (Johnny Vegas) have been mentioned yet.

Just about everything mentioned on this thread has been on the UKNova tracker at some point (prior to the official DVD releases, that is - they have a very strict policy on that - but anything that has not/will not be legally released is fair game). If it's British TV of every description you're after (brand new, classics and obscure rarities), that's the place you need to look.
posted by boosh at 12:42 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hard to add to the list, but from the 80s/90s: Fairly Secret Army, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Absolutely!, Who Dares Wins, Chelmsford 123.

The Who Dares Wins team (Mulville, McGrath, Tony Robinson represent a kind of transition between Not The Nine O'Clock News and The Comic Strip.

Absolutely! is crying out for a DVD release. Not just for 'Stoneybridge!'. It's a close cousin to Naked Video, which gave us Rab C. Nesbitt and Siadwell the bedroom poet.

And don't neglect radio, especially the classic serials on BBC 7. Lots of British comedies started on radio -- Whose Line, League of Gentlemen, Little Britain, Mitchell and Webb, etc.

[My current 'imports': Life on Mars, and, um, Time Team. And I have the Our Friends In The North DVD set, and it's funny to see Eccleston and Craig from back then.]
posted by holgate at 12:55 PM on April 4, 2007

Nothing new, but nthing:

Peep Show
Green Wing
Black Books

posted by finding.perdita at 1:20 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can find it, The Thin Blue Line was great. It's more of Rowan Atkinson's work.
posted by kc0dxh at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2007

BBC's British version of The Apprentice is so much better than the American original.
posted by gyc at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2007

Still Game was mentioned. if you can get past the Scots accents, it pays comedy gold.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2007

- On the Buses, an excellect 60s/70s sitcom

- Strange, which the BBC axed, stupidly
posted by DKD at 4:01 PM on April 4, 2007

Strange to see no mention of Have I Got News For You, which is one of the most important (and best) programmes still on air. A straight description doesn't really do it justice, but it's sort of analogous to The Daily Show, a bit, if you squint. Essential viewing when it's running.

And I'll nth Life on Mars, The Thick of It and State of Play, but also check out G.B.H. - old, but still brilliant.

And a fond personal favourite is Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn, which is a TV adaptation of his Guardian column. It'll also give you a strong taste of what's on British TV at the moment - and quite possibly not that pleasant a taste.
posted by influx at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2007

Sorry, Charlie Brooker's TV show is Screen Wipe - Screen Burn is the column/book.
posted by influx at 4:57 PM on April 4, 2007

Tons of good recommendations already, but I think you might like The Second Coming - it's a Russell T Davies-penned drama about the second coming of the messiah, in the form of Christopher Ecclestone. For comedy I recommend Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, a spoof about a supposedly long-lost 80s horror show.
posted by penguinliz at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2007

'Hustle'? 'Primeval'? 'New Tricks'? Also 'Ultraviolet', if you haven't seen already it.

(Torchwood's a bit of a washout; don't get too excited...)

nth-ing 'Shameless', particularly the first 2 series.

(on preview: ah, forgot about 'The Second Coming' - good telemovie. And 'Darkplace', except I always had the feeling it should have been funnier.)
posted by Pinback at 5:20 PM on April 4, 2007

I'm going to recommend what's currently available since it's easier to acquire.

If you're a big scifi fan, you're missing Primeval. It's too much CGI but filled the gap until Dr Who returned. The first season just completed so it's readily available.

It may be a bit but strange but Ideal is pretty interesting. It's just so different from anything you'd normally see in the States. I'm still not sure I like it, but I keep watching. I would highly recommend starting from the beginning and not reading any spoilers. It's fun but so odd.

BENIDORM. Just the funniest thing I've seen in ages. It's set in an all-inclusive resort in the south of Spain. I give Benidorm the highest recommendation possible.

There's also Sugar Rush and, if you liked the Wallace and Gromit series, you should check out Shaun the Sheep.

Ah, I see Pinback mentioned Primeval. I highly recommend Hustle, as well. I worry about the changes in the upcoming season, but what can you do?

Torchwood is an absolute and complete trainwreck. Buyer beware!
posted by who squared at 5:25 PM on April 4, 2007

Coarse. Outrageous. With two of the people from Young Guns. Another wonderful show I vote for.
posted by beautifulcheese at 5:55 PM on April 4, 2007

Some of the stuff being recommended in this thread is certainly... interesting. There's quite a lot of stuff here that us real English people sneer at. I mean, Primeval? Benidorm? Low-rent ITV crap, if you ask me. But then my taste in Yank shows is pretty odd compared to the average American, I guess...
posted by reklaw at 6:18 PM on April 4, 2007

nthing The Vicar of Dibley, Chef!, Bottom and Father Ted.

Might I also suggest French and Saunders, the Comic Relief shows/sketches, Stiff upper lip and the early episodes of Absolutely Fabulous?

Listed above are all comedies, but Never mind the buzzcocks (a comedy trivia quiz) is certainly worth watching. The Friday Night Project (comedy-variety show) seems hilarious too, but I've only watched one episode yet.

And of course, if you're at all culinary inclined, all of BBC's cooking shows are great.

I love your taste in television! Will you marry me and move to the UK together? (Unless David Tennant asks me first of course.)
posted by lioness at 6:28 PM on April 4, 2007

Oh, 'Primeval' is cheese, no doubt. Not a patch on a good 'Who' storyline, or even a good 'Farscape' episode. But it's sci-fi; what do you expect? The asker did show a leaning towards sci-fi, and this is a forum on the internet, after all...

It still beats 'Torchwood' though, just by dint of being consistent between episodes.

To throw a non-UK, non-sci-fi option out there - 'The Games'. Imagine a "Yes, Minister"-ish take on the Sydney Olympics, and you're pretty much there. It's a bit dated (many topical & local references), and I can't find it on any of the usual sources, but well worth a look if you can find it.
posted by Pinback at 6:41 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Pinback, if we're expanding to Australia and non-scifi, I'm going to have to add Dangerous. Just completed the first (and maybe the only) season, so easy to find.

There's also The Chaser's War on Everything. Sort of like The Daily Show. They allow you to download episodes directly from their website.
posted by who squared at 7:15 PM on April 4, 2007

I've just skimmed through the comments but don't forget that the BBC does the best, ever, documentaries. Not just the awesome nature program(me)s like Blue Planet which is absolutely awesome in HD. Anything hosted by David Attenborough is an automatic must-see in our house. A lot of those docus make it over to PBS and Discover channel I think.

On the other side of the culture spectrum...the BBC also does pretty good 'reality' type shows and such. The Apprentice UK is far superior at this point to the badly deteriorated US version, because they didn't tart it up with gimmicks, and the boss, Alan Sugar, is a no nonsense geezer. There are other thought provoking shows in this genre like The Monastery (regular men try the monastic lifestyle), It's Not Easy Being Green (a family tries to go totally 'green') Cooking In the Danger Zone (a chef goes around the world experiencing unusual food...e.g. dog meat in Korea), Kill It Cook It Eat It (they showed real-life animal slaughtering in a real-life abattoir), Spendaholics (financial makeovers, mostly of younger people with massive credit card debts)...there are just tons.

Offerings from ITV and C4 are less even in quality, though if you can catch The South Bank Show from ITV, it's one of the better arts program(me)s out there.

In terms of dramas, my favorite more or less current dramas are (already mentioned above I think) Hustle, Life on Mars, Hotel Babylon. Party Animals is the new offering from the This Life creators. Ah, and most movies from the Beeb are also terrific.

The best independent website for following what's current on UK TV is The Custard. The reviews, aka the Crumble, are hilarious.
posted by derMax at 7:21 PM on April 4, 2007

A bit more

- Chef! is available on DVD (all series) in the U.S. though I think only the first series is out on DVD in the UK.

- Didn't see Absolute Power mentioned - brilliant satire about PR/spin doctors, with the always great Stephen Fry. I enjoyed this more than The Thick Of It (they aired around the same time). Also in the same vein (biting satiric comedy) Trevor's World of Sport. Now I will shut up. (yes I love the Beeb, and my satellite dish.)
posted by derMax at 7:49 PM on April 4, 2007

In the vein of the Royle Family, I loved Early Doors, but so few other people did that there’s only two series of it to be had.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 1:33 AM on April 5, 2007

Man, a lot of hate on Torchwood. I found it enjoyable, if a bit laughable.
posted by antifuse at 2:33 AM on April 5, 2007

Marion and Geoff
dark dark funny funny
posted by burr1545 at 5:11 AM on April 5, 2007

reklaw, I dare you to watch the first episode of Benidorm and not laugh. Plus, it stars Janine Duvitski from Waiting for God--which was also a really good show, btw. All seaons are available on amazon.co.uk.
posted by who squared at 10:50 AM on April 5, 2007

League of Gentlemen

Brilliant horror/satire sketch comedy by four talented actors/writers.

Gerry Anderson (supermarionation, live action, stop motion, and computer generated animation) TV shows

Gerry Anderson has been doing television shows for 50 years.

Eddie Izzard's stand-up comedy shows

The Lost Python.

So Graham Norton

Some of the best celebrity on-screen reactions have been caught on this show.
posted by plokent at 8:49 PM on April 5, 2007

Rebus, Messiah & Waking The Dead for policier-type dramas (with a very spooky, macabre twist to the storytelling, too);

Never Mind The Buzzcocks for satirical pub quizzy pop goodness;

any of the Reeves & Mortimer anti-panel shows & dramas (the latter are a little hit-or-miss, but only avoid the remake of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased))

Have I Got News For You, whether in the original as hosted by the sainted Angus Deyton, or in the recent guest hosted by Joan Collins/Boris Johnson/Alexander Armstrong;

Green Wing, obviously;
anything with Simon Pegg;

League of Gentleman, all versions;

Life On Mars, the only must see TV on in England today (finale Tuesday!);

Shameless, esp. S1 & 2.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:58 AM on April 9, 2007

Extras - Ricky Gervais' current show, fun to watch with a cameo from some actor on every show.

Peep Show - uncomfortably funny. If you liked the British version of The Office, you will probably like this

And shameful confessions for liking the following:

Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps - I don't know why but I find this show really funny despite it's low brow, corny, chavy nature.

Hollyoaks - Utterly trashy, insipid, soap opera type show I only recommend watching on Sundays to nurse a hangover but damn it's fun.
posted by like_neon at 8:19 AM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: I wanted to once and for all thank everyone for these answers, and I've been checking out many many of the shows above, with great results.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:27 PM on April 19, 2007

« Older [His] ideas intrigue me, and I'm interested in...   |   Does anyone know of a really nice... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.