Zoe Ambrozewska Staff Writer
With internationally successful shows such as Merlin, Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Downton Abbey, British television has boasted some of it’s best talent, both on screen and in production, in the last few years. As someone who lives in Britain and watches British television daily, I have put together my list of shows that EVERYBODY should be watching, because they’re fantastic!
(Side note - some of these shows were subject to unsuccessful American adaptations, but please don’t let that discourage you from trying the original, British series!)
Broadchurch: We may have only had two episodes of this eight-part drama, but I am already hooked, and with the team working on it (written by Torchwood and Doctor Who’s Chris Chibnall, with a cast including Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Davill, as well as Olivia Colman, Jonathan Bailey and Jodie Whittaker) whose really surprised? The show is set in the fictional, seaside town of Broadchurch, and follows the Police investigation and media frenzy surrounding the mysterious death of 11-year-old Danny Latimer. In order to keep the murderer a complete secret, the cast were not even told who it was until absolutely necessary, when filming the series finale. I absolutely love this show so far, and the exchanging of extraordinary theories of ‘whodunit’ with my friends and family is definitely interesting! Broadchurch airs Mondays at 9pm on ITV, and has also been bought by BBC America, to be shown later this year.
Mr. Selfridge: Having just been signed up by ITV for a second series, as well as by many international distributors (including PBS in the United States and Australia’s Seven Network), this period drama has received positive feedback from viewers and critics alike! Based on Harry Gordon Selfridge and the opening of his London department store, Selfridge’s, the show also incorporates the rise of the Suffragettes and freedom for women, as well as effectively presenting not only the luxury of the higher classes, but also the plight of the poor. In addition to this, the intimate, yet corrupt relationships between the characters enthrall us as an audience (who doesn’t love a good scandal?!). The ITV series follows Harry Selfridge’s journey as he becomes King of Oxford Street, but highlights what he loses along the way. The brilliant characters and the wonderful sets and costumes make this show a must-watch.
Misfits: This British science-fiction comedy-drama (yeah, those exist!) may seem ridiculous or stupid at times, but wow, it really works – especially in the first three series’ (in my opinion that is). Among the brilliantly hilarious writing is a mostly dark, sometimes unsettling, yet exciting plot, centering around – you guessed it, a group of misfits, who are all young offenders completing their community service. When they are caught up in a freak storm, they each acquire supernatural, special powers, all of which are somehow connected to their own characteristics. They are not the only ones who have powers, however, and spend their time battling the now supernatural beings who pose a threat to them. Its one of those shows that could have either ended up really bad, or really good – and luckily, its brilliant!
Black Mirror: Channel 4 is well known here in the UK for slightly alternative shows that present some sort of comment on society, and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is no different. About the show, Brooker noted, “each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they’re all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy”. In this way Black Mirror made really interesting and thought-provoking viewing! A further testament to the triumph of the show is Robert Downey Jr’s interest in making one of the episodes (‘The Entire History Of You’) into a movie. I would definitely encourage anyone who enjoys television with depth to give this show a go.
Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes: Life On Mars is a 2006 BBC drama, following Sam Tyler, a police officer who is in an accident and wakes up in 1973. The ambiguity of Sam’s real situation (whether he is dead, has gone mad, is in a coma, etc – and the effect of his actions in 1973 on his present day self) is what drives the show, and kept audiences going back for more. DCI Gene Hunt quickly became a classic favourite character for many, leading to his return in the follow-up Ashes To Ashes. This sequel sees policewoman Alex Drake shot in 2008, and subsequently wake up in 1981. The eventual conclusion of the show was very clever and definitely satisfying, making the re-watching of the show an always-enjoyable experience for me. As well as this, the 1970s/80s settings, clothing and stories were fantastically entertaining! A sci-fi drama I can’t recommend highly enough.
Skins: Although the American MTV adaptation of this drama failed, the controversial storylines were hugely popular (especially among teenagers) here in the UK. The show depicted characters we wanted to be, and characters we could relate to, all within strong relationships and friendships, and so audiences grew to be immensely invested in their stories. The show, despite the dark storylines, was attractive in its refreshing wit, reflecting the changes our society has gone through since our parents, for example, were our age. Skins also gave many fantastic actors their start in the industry, including Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class; Warm Bodies; Jack the Giant Slayer) and award winner Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and showed the world a much more grown-up Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra, The Golden Compass).
Special mentionsgo to BBC drama’s
Hustle, as well as
Gavin and Stacyand
Inbetweeners(the American adaptation definitely does not do this comedy justice)!
So what do you think? Have you enjoyed any of these shows? Or are you going to give one a try? Let us know!