55 best British shows ever

Contrary to popular belief, not all good TV shows come from Hollywood. Sure, big studios can spend much more money on the production, but it does not necessarily mean better quality when it comes to the content. We have compiled a list of the best of British shows and there is something for everyone. Given, the comedy list is perhaps a bit too long, but as I have grown up on it, it is difficult to just name a few. Be as it may, whether you like your domestic goddesses, nerve wrecking thrillers, the hilarity and intelligence of QI, aliens from outer space or just plain old whodunits – take your pick and enjoy our selection.

Situation comedies
None can do comedy quite as well as the Brits. Most of these series will tickle you pink with glee. From golden oldies to modern date favorites, if you fancy a laugh one of these series is sure to tickle your funny bone.

Only Fools and Horses
The Plot: Story of 2 Cockney brothers, who are wheeling and dealing small time at the local market and dreaming of becoming millionaires. And no, they are not dealing drugs the most dangerous item Delboy and Rodders ever wheeled and dealed were the exploding blow up dolls.
The hook: Dimwitted as they might be on occasion, you cannot help by becoming fond of the Peckham crew and the Trotter boys.
Favorite catch phrase: This time next year we’ll be millionaires; He who dares wins; Lovely jubbly
Favorite quote: Rodney: If there is such a thing as reincarnation, knowing my luck I’ll come back as me.

To see Only Fools and Horses clip click here

The plot: Blackadder is a cunning shrew with an acute bout of bad luck. You will follow his story from century to century, all the way to World War I trenches and the best season by far. Keep your eyes open for appearances by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. And Baldrick is – well you have to see for yourself.
The hook: Hilariously funny it will give you a glimpse just how good the British are at making fun of themselves.
Favorite catch phrase: I have a cunning plan.
Favorite quote:
Private Baldrick: I have a plan, sir.
Captain Blackadder: Really Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?
Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.
Captain Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?
Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.

To view the clip from Blackadder click here

The Office
The plot: A mockumentary about daily goings on of employees in a paper company in Slough. Awkward, decidedly non PC but never boring, Office could have you laughing out loud or cringing in shame, sometimes both at the same time.
The hook: Ricky Gervais – watch the master of awkward pause at work.
Favorite quote:
David Brent: I’ve sort of fused Flashdance with MC Hammer shit.

David Brent: I gave a speech only this morning to my staff assuring them that there would not be cutbacks at this branch and there certainly wouldn’t be redundancies, so…
Jennifer Taylor-Clark: Well, why on Earth would you do that?
David Brent: Why? Oh, don’t know. A little word I think’s important in management called morale.
Jennifer Taylor-Clark: Well, surely it’s going to be worse for morale in the long run when there ARE redundancies and you’ve told people that there won’t be.
David Brent: They won’t remember.

To view the clip from the Office click here and here.

Red Dwarf
The plot: David Lister – former chicken soup machine repairman and the last human being alive is lost in space on a mining ship called Red Dwarf with a anal hologram, senile computer, neurotic android and a humanoid mutation of his cat for company.
The hook: SciFi comedy that although decidedly bad in the special effects department will make laugh you out loud.
Favorite catch phrase: Stoke me a kipper, I’ll be home for breakfast; Smeg!

To view clip from Red Dwarf click here and here.

Absolutely Fabulous
The plot: Edina Moonson and her friend Patsy are self obsessed, immature, obsessed with fashion, alcohol and drugs (but not necessarily in that order) Londoners who crave fame, fortune and slim waist (at least Edina does). Patsy, by her own admittance, has not eaten since 1974.
The hook: Outrageous, over the top and decidedly dim Edina and Patsy give a whole new meaning to the word excess.
Favorite catch phrase: Its fabulous darling.
Favorite quote:
Eddie: Pats. Pats. You know, like, when you are in a room or something, and you think someone is like staring at you…
Patsy: In a room?
Eddie: Or in a plane. Anywhere… anywhere… And you are sort of doing things because you think someone is looking at you like people are looking at you, you know?
Patsy: On a plane?
Eddie: Well, anywhere… anywhere… And then you look at them and they are just sort of asleep but their head is flopped in your direction, you know? Well, I don’t want THAT to happen. I don’t want THAT to be my life, you know. The whole world asleep.

To view clip from Absolutely Fabulous click here and here.

The plot: Richie Richard and Edward Elizabeth Hitler (I’m not making this up) are best of friends, who loathe each other, but because they are both so vile they are forced to socialize together. Bottom is an acquired taste and is sardonically funny, once you get over the violence, cannibalism and dirty underpants.
The hook: Hm, let me get back to you on that one.
Favorite catch phrase: May I say, what a SMASHING blouse you have on?
Favorite quote:
[the boys believe they’ve just killed the meter reader]
Eddie: Hey! Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe he’s just stunned! Why don’t you give him the Kiss of Life?
Richie: Yeah!
[pause, disgusted look]
Richie: No I will NOT! You sad pervy! We’ve got a dead body in the house and your first idea is to sexually assault it!

To view clip from Bottom click here.

One foot in the grave
The plot: After being forced into early retirement Victor Meldrew grumpily, resentfully and with a good dose of sardonic humor explores the life of a senior citizen and gives the term bad luck a whole new meaning.
The hook: The situations Victor gets himself into are beyond bizarre, but hilariously funny.
Favorite catch phrase: I don’t believe it!

To view clip from One Foot in the Grave, click here.

Fawlty Towers
The plot: Neurotic, arrogant and short tempered hotel owner has low tolerance for his guests, his wife Sybil and their Spanish waiter Manuel. Needless to say hell breaks loose in every episode.
The hook: Brilliant John Cleese as Basil Fawlty
Favorite catch phrase: You’ll have to forgive him. He’s from Barcelona; Don’t mention the war!
Favorite quote:
Basil Fawlty: [two guests are speaking to Basil in German] Oh, German. I’m sorry, I thought there was something wrong with you.

To view clip of Fawlty Towers click here.

The plot: Andy Millman and his friend Maggie Jacobs are out of work actors that supplement their income by working as extras. Andy never had a speaking role, while Maggie talks a bit too much and manages to put her foot in every time.
The hook: Hilariously funny comedy by the king of awkward pause Ricky Gervais plus a celebrity sighting in every episode.
Favorite catch phrase: Is he having a laugh?
Favorite quote:
Andy Millman: What’s happening with my script?
Darren Lamb: What script?
Andy Millman: [rolls eyes] The script I gave you two months ago.
Darren Lamb: Is it funny?
Andy Millman: You haven’t read it?
Darren Lamb: What’s it called?
Andy Millman: “When the Whistle Blows”.
Darren Lamb: [writing] “When the W Blows”.
Andy Millman: Don’t just write “W” you’ll forget what the W stands for.
Darren Lamb: “When the Wind Blows”.
Andy Millman: “Whistle”!
Darren Lamb: Got it.
Darren Lamb: “W” equals “Wind”.
Andy Millman: “Whistle”!
Darren Lamb: [writing] “When the Whistle Blows”.
Andy Millman: So that’s done, I can forget about that, I’ve got my best man on it. Just make sure the phone’s plugged in.
Darren Lamb: You joke, but it was off for two days… no one noticed.

To view clip from Extras click here.

Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister
The plot: British Minister for Administrative Affairs unsuccessfully tries to cut down on red tape, but keeps being outwitted by Sir Humphrey Appleby, permanent secretary of the department.
The hook: Political comedy (if there is such a thing) at its best.
Favorite quote:
Bernard: God moves in mysterious ways
Hacker: Listen Bernard, Sir Humpherey is not God.
Bernard: Uh, will you tell him or shall I?

To view clip from Yes, Minister click here.

Father Ted
The plot: Father Ted of Craggy Island in Ireland tries to manage his somewhat eccentric congregation with the help of dimwitted Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett, a somewhat atypical priest (favorite vices – drinking and swearing).
The hook: Loved both in Ireland and Britain, Father Ted gave us somewhat unusual perspective of the Catholic church. Well that and it was bloody funny.
Favorite catch phrase: Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!
Favorite quote:
Father Ted: There he is so. Risen from the dead. Like that fella… ET

To view clip from Father Ted click here.

Keeping up appearances
The plot: Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”) is as middle class as you can get, however her social ambitions do get the better of her. Detests her sister Violet (who is better off then her; source of envy) and her sisters Daisy and Rose (who are worse off; source of shame).
The hook: Hyacinth answering the phone.
Favorite catchphrase: The Bucket residence, the lady of the house speaking!; Now don’t be silly, Richard!
Favorite quote:
Hyacinth: [to Richard, after she picks up the phone] It’s Sheridan!
Richard Bucket: How much does he want?
Hyacinth: Oh, stop it, Richard! I’m sure he’s just calling to say hello to his mommy.
[on the phone, to Sheridan]
Hyacinth: Now, what is it dear?
[stops and blinks]
Hyacinth: You want £90?

To view clip from Keeping up Appearances, click here.

Jeeves and Wooster
The plot: Based on the novels by P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster is set in 1920s London and centers around delightfully dimwitted Bertie Wooster (who gets in trouble often) and his gentleman’s gentleman Wooster (who much smarter then his master gets him out of every pickle).
The hook: You mean apart from a plethora of delightfully eccentric characters and great dialogues? Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry of course.
Favorite catch phrase: What ho, what ho, what ho? (as a greeting not the slang use of the word)
Favorite quote:
Wooster: “Madeline Bassett labors under the delusion that I am madly in love with her. Well, when a girl thinks you’re in love with her and comes to you and says that she’s returning her betrothed to store and is prepared to sign up with you instead – what can you do except marry her? You have to be civil.”

Bertie Wooster is pretending that he and Jeeves are chums (for the Communists at his table) – NOT master and servant. Wooster tries to get some hot water.
Wooster: “I don’t know what you’ve been doing to the cooker, Comrade Jeeves, but I don’t seem to be able to get the gas lit.”
Jeeves gets up and whispers as he slinks by: “It’s electric, Sir.”

To view clips from Jeeves and Wooster click here and here.

The New Statesman
The plot: Alan B’Stard a conservative MP cheats, makes porn movies and even commits murder all in attempt to get richer and more powerful. Almost every time he succeeds.
The hook: A hilarious and somewhat exaggerated look into the 80s conservatism.
Favorite quote:
Sarah: Where did you spend last night?
Alan: I had an all night sitting.
Sarah: Oh, I hope you didn’t suffocate the poor girl!

To view clip from New Statesman click here.

Men behaving badly
The plot: A sit-com about 2 mates Gary and Tony, who spend a lot of time down the pub drinking beer and at home drinking beer (driving their girlfriends crazy).
The hook: Although I don’t think men are that bad, I have to admit it is quite funny.
Favorite quote:
Gary Strang: Bed? Beds are for sleepy people! Let’s get a kebab and go to a disco!

Tony: [Tony has been trying to tattoo himself with a darning needle] It was going to read “Deborah, I love you”, but now I’m just going for “Deb”.

To view clip from Men behaving badly click here.

Are you being served
The plot: Delightedly funny and rather eccentric cast of characters on a floor of rather formal, but albeit colorful (if you consider Mrs Slocombe’s hair) Grace Brothers department store in London is the gist of the plot for this golden English oldie.
The hook: As formal as Grace Brothers might be, their employees never have a dull moment.
Favorite catch phrase:
Mrs. Slocombe: …and I am unanimous in this!
Captain Peacock: Are you free, Mr Humphries?
Mr. Humphries: I’m free!

Favorite quote:
Mr. Humphries: [discussing having to hang onto backs of buses and skateboard to Grace Brothers to save money] I had just bent down to tighten my nuts, and there was a double yellow line, see? And next thing I knew, there was policeman behind me. He put a sticker on my helmet and tried to clamp me.

To view clip from Are you being served, click here and here.

Hi – de- hi
The plot: Set in the fictional seaside camp Maplin and drawn from the writers experience of working in a similar camp, its all about the staff and their daily lives rather then campers who are more often then not treated as nuisance.
The hook: The delightful Su Pollard as Peggy Ollernshaw, this part farce, part comedy, part trip down the memory lane (you should see their hairstyles) ran for 9 seasons for a reason.
Favorite catch phrase: Hi de Hi campers!¸ Don’t tell Miss Cathcart!
Favorite quote:
Mr. Partridge: [singing] Jerusalem. Jerusalem. Lift up your skirts and sing!

Vicar of Dibley
The plot: When 100 years old vicar in the small town of Dibley passes away, the village gets a new one. A female that likes chocolate and cannot seem to be able to keep her mouth shut. Not what the residents of Dibley had in mind when they asked for replacement.
The hook: Dawn French as the vicar and her interaction with the conservative but decidedly eccentric residents of Dibley.
Favorite catch phrase: No, no, no, no…yes.
Favorite quote:
David Horton: Now, does anyone have any suggestions for the Gala Night?
Jim: No, no, no, no, yes! I saw this movie the other day: the Full Monty. So you just get some music, and I’ll take all my clothes off.
David Horton: …And that would be entertaining?
Jim: You’d certainly get your money’s worth. I’ll take my truss off and everything.

To view clip from the Vicar of Dibley, click here.

Allo, Allo
The plot: René Artois is an owner of a small café in France during the World War II. He works for the Germans and for the French resistance AND still manages to have affairs with his waitresses.
The hook: Not the best British comedy, but the one liners are quite catchy.
Favorite catch phrase: You stupid woman!; I shall say this only once; It is I, Leclerc!
Favorite quote:
Officer Crabtree: I was pissing by the door, when I heard two shats. You are holding in your hand a smoking goon; you are clearly the guilty potty.

Monsieur Alfonse: Oh, my dicky ticker!

To view clip of Allo, Allo click here.

On The Buses
The plot: Bus driver Stanley lives at home with his over bearing mother, his rather frumpy sister Olive and her husband Arthur. At work he is supervised by a man that sports a striking resembles to Adolf Hitler. All things considered Stanley should be a gloomy man, however he is remarkably cheerful and full of mischief (and in them days they did not know about anti-depressants).
The hook: Given On the Buses is rather crude and very slapstick so no wonder it was never popular with the critics, but the viewing public loved it and there were several movies spin offs.
Favorite catch phrase: I ‘ate you Butler!
Favorite quote:
[Jack walks into the Butler’s kitchen]
Jack Harper: Why is Olive crawling about on the floor?
Olive Rudge: I thought you were the milkman!
Jack Harper: Does Olive always crawl about on the floor when the milkman calls?
Stan Butler: We wish she did! If she did, we wouldn’t owe him £6.10!

To view clip from On the Buses click here.

Open All Hours
The plot: Arkwright is a shop owner that would flog ice to the Eskimos, but is a bit mean with money. Much of his time when not smooth talking customers is spent being a father figure to his nephew Granville and trying to convince his long suffering fiancée nurse Gladys to finally marry him.
The hook: The comedic chemistry between Ronnie Baker and David Jason make for some excellent viewing.
Favorite catch phrase: Ger-Granville! Fer-fetch yer cloth!
Favorite quote:
Granville: You won’t let me buy firelighters. You say they’re too expensive.
Arkwright: They are in this damn shop. I’m not paying these prices! Get round the Co-op and buy some.
Arkwright: Go and open a packet.
Granville: [leaves the room, to return a few seconds later] Not if they’re going to count as my birthday present.

To view clip from Open All Hours click here.

Dad’s Army
The plot: Walmington-On-Sea is a fictional town in England during World War II. Residents that are too old or unfit to join the army become members of Home Guard. As all our different (and that is putting it mildly) they let their tempers get the better of them which makes for some entertaining slapstick comedy.
The hook: Dad’s Army is a British institution, that managed to draw in 18.5 million viewers at the height of its popularity in 1970s.
Favorite catch phrase: We’re doomed!; Don’t panic! Don’t panic!
Favorite quote:
Walker: They’ll be no German planes over tonight.
Jones: [Sirens start] Why did you have to open your big mouth?

To view clip from Dad’s Army click here.

Thin Blue Line
The plot: Inspector Fowler is in charge of a small police station in Gasford. His subordinates give him much more trouble then any of the criminals.
The hook: Thin Blue Line might not be as good as Blackadder, but it does go to show Rowan Atkinson can do much more then just Mr. Bean.
Favorite quote:
Inspector Raymond C. Fowler: [talking about drugs] When I was a teenager, my idea of chemical stimulation was sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend!
[P.C. Goody and P.C. Habib start chuckling]
Inspector Raymond C. Fowler: What is so funny, Goody?
P.C. Goody: Well sir, you just said your idea of chemical stimulation was sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend!
Inspector Raymond C. Fowler: So?
P.C. Goody: Well, everyone knows they’re AWFUL!

To view clip from Thin Blue Line click here.

You Rang M’Lord?
The plot: Aristocratic family in London during the 1920s hires a good number of servants as their household staff. Although a bit over the top, You rang M’Lord did manage to convey the gap between the upper classes and the lower classes as well as the hierarchy that existed between the servants themselves.
The hook: funny one liners and catchphrases.
Favorite catch phrase: I can’t remember the last time…
Favorite quote:
The Honourable Teddy Meldrum: I don’t want to marry Madge Cartwright. I want to marry her maid, Rose.

To view clip from You Rang M’Lord? click here.

Oh Dr. Beeching
The plot: Set in a small train station of Hatley in England in 1960s, the show centers around the train stations staff, who all keep wondering will the elusive dr. Beeching close their station down.
The hook: Most of the cast of Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord make a return visit.
Favorite catch phrase:
[Wilfred knocks at the door.]
Wilfred Schumann: Come in!
[he lets himself in]
Favorite quote:
May: Have a cup of tea.
Parkin: That’s the British response to everything. The King has abdicated, have a cup of tea. Hitler’s invaded Poland, have a cup of tea. The atom bomb has dropped, have a cup of tea.
May: One lump or two?
Parkin: Three, please.

To view clip from Oh Dr. Beeching click here.

The best of British sketch shows

Monty Python’s Flying Circus
The plot: None could do irreverent, tasteless and hilarious sketches all in equal measures as the Monty Python crew.
The hook: You never know what is coming up next.
Favorite catch phrase: And now for something completely different; Nudge, nudge, wink, wink
Favorite quote:
Bounder: ‘Morning, I’m Bounder-Of-Adventure.
Mr Smoke-Too-Much: Hello, I’m Smoke-Too-Much.
Bounder: Well you’d better cut down a little then.
Mr Smoke-Too-Much: I’m sorry?
Bounder: You’d better cut down a little then.
Mr Smoke-Too-Much: Oh oh, I see. Smoke too much, so I better cut down a little then.
Bounder: Yes. I expect you get people making jokes about your name all the time, eh?
Mr Smoke-Too-Much: No. I’ve never noticed it before

To view clip of Monty Python’s Flying Circus click here.

French and Saunders
The plot: A sketch show by the dynamic duo of British comedy Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
The hook: French and Saunders make fun of everything and everyone taking no prisoners.
Favorite quote:
Dawn: Quite frankly the internet is just a world of hideous filth waiting in earnest to corrupt our children! Why, one only need enter in a harmless barnyard term – like “poo cock” – and there’s no end to the smut that appears!

To view clip from French and Saunders click here.

A bit of Fry and Laurie
The plot: Another sketch comedy but this time by 2 of my favorites – Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
The hook: Deliciously funny, verbally challenging (well its Stephen Fry after all) with a good deal of Hugh Laurie falling about. A must see if you want to see what Hugh Laurie did before he became House MD.
Favorite quote:
Stephen: The reason we’re not going to do this sketch is that it contains a great deal of sex and violence.
Hugh: A great deal.
Stephen: Lots of sex and violence.
Hugh: That’s right. During the sketch, Stephen hits me several times with a golf club.
Stephen: Which of course wouldn’t matter except that I do it very sexily.
Hugh: That’s the trouble, you see. He does it so sexily. I wish you could see it.
Stephen: And then the sketch ends with us going to bed together…
Hugh: …violently.
Stephen: Very, very violently. Now this raises problems.
Hugh: Not for me.

To view clips of A bit of Fry and Laurie click here and here.

Benny Hill Show
The plot: There isn’t any really. Same character goes from sketch to sketch which more often then not are without any text whatsoever, its slapstick with mime and parody for a good measure. Its you know Benny Hill.
The hook: It is safe to say Benny Hill Show would probably not pass mustard these days, if for nothing else then for the obvious sexism and old buggers leering at pretty young women. Outdated as it may be Benny Hill Show was funny at its prime.
Favorite quote: Well they do not talk much, do they?

To see clip from Benny Hill Show click here.

The best of British panel shows

Quite Interesting
The plot: Comedy panel game where you get points for being interesting rather then right. Stephen Fry, the panel host and Alan Davies are joined each week by 3 more comedians to dispel the myths – be prepared everything you know is wrong.
The hook: A rare breed of TV show, you actually learn something and its still funny. I swear they should prescribe QI instead of anti-depressants it never fails to cheer me up.
Favorite quote:
Stephen Fry: [quoting Albert Einstein] Only two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not so sure about the universe.

Rob Brydon: When I was small and my dad just happened to hit his finger with a hammer for something new, he used to say, ‘Hells bells and buckets of blood.’
Stephen Fry: That’s a good saying ‘Hells bells and buckets of blood.’ I usually just say “Fuck it!”

To see clip from QI click here and here.

Whose line is it anyway?
The plot: 4 British comedians and actors do short improvisation games, they make up characters, skits and songs on the spot. With host Clive Anderson some of the comedians that performed on the shop included Stephen Fry, Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery and John Sessions to name a few.
The hook: Its hilarious, do you need anything more then that?
Favorite quotes:
[World’s Worst – Defence Lawyer]
Colin Mochrie: Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, it’s not as if the sheep was under age.

[World’s Worst Doctor]
Ryan Stiles: Excuse me for one minute.
[turns to look in a nearby book]
Ryan Stiles: [singing under his breath] Knee bone’s connected to the…

Colin Mochrie: [during a “Star Wars” Whose Line, as Luke Skywalker] I read the Jedi handbook you gave me. I was a little confused by page one, where it says,
[reads paper with line]
Colin Mochrie: , “My shorts are on fire”.
Ryan Stiles: [as Obi-Wan Kenobi] Yes, it helps you to use The Force.

To view clip from Whose line is it anyway? click here.

Have I got news for you
The plot: Political quiz show, but with a twist. Decidedly un-PC (which is rare these days) and almost always on the verge of libel, Have I got news for you concentrates usually on the current news. Nothing is sacred.
The hook: Well its dancing on the verge of slanderous and it can be damn funny.
Favorite quote:
Mark Steel: [on Bush and Rumsfeld] They’re like an old couple with some holiday brochures. “Where shall we invade next? Cuba looks nice.”

Angus Deayton: Yes, this is the Pokémon phenomenon that has swept the UK. One school in Berkshire has banned Pokémon after instances of bullying to obtain the rarer cards. The bullying has finally stopped however, now that Mr. Hunt the geography teacher has the complete set.

To view clip of Have I got News for you click here.

Best of British Dramas

The plot: A small town solicitor Peter Kingdom copes with the suicide of his brother while running a small practice in the town of Market Shipborough. His cases are as unusual as his clients.
The hook: Beautiful scenery, Stephen Fry and the ever delightful Tony Slattery. Kingdom is like a great book with a cup of hot cocoa on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

To view clip from Kingdom click here.

Doc Martin
The plot: A big time London surgeon moves to a small town in Cornwall and runs a practice that is full of noisy, boisterous characters that present a bit of a problem for Doc Martin as they love to call him, as he is everything but noisy and boisterous.
The hook: A spin off from a delightful little comedy Saving Grace (about a widow that starts growing pot to make ends meet) and Martin Clunes (of Men behaving badly fame).
Favorite quote:
Bert Large: Son, I know it’s your phone bill and you’ve got your own money coming in, but those mobile phones damage your head membranes.
Al Large: Dad, I’ve got Bluetooth.
Bert Large: There you go, exactly my point.

To view clip from Doc Martin click here.

The best of British crime series
The plot: Little Belgian detective solves mysterious crimes with a help of his little grey cells and sidekicks Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp.
The hook: The ever wonderful David Suchet as Poirot, plus I have devoured Agatha Christie’s book from a very early age.
Favorite quote:
Hercule Poirot: [reading a brochure for a fitness program] ‘Use your vigor to keep your figure.’ Absurd! There is nothing wrong with the body of Poirot. He is in the peak of condition!

To view a clip from Poirot click here.

Inspector Morse
The plot: Grumpy inspector Morse solves crimes with his partner sergeant Lewis in the picturesque Oxford and surrounding area.
The hook: A classic crime series and brilliant John Thaw.
Favorite quote:
Morse: Drink that, Lewis, and loosen some brain cells.

To view clip from Inspector Morse click here. (Check out the early performance of Elizabeth Hurley and Rachel Weisz)

Midsomer Murders
The plot: Tom Barnaby is a veteran detective that solves crimes in the English countryside. And you would not believe the body count per episode.
The hook: There are no whiz and bangs in Midsomer Murders, just good old fashioned crime solving. And who would have thought those pretty cottages were homes of serial killers?

To view clip from Midsomer Murders click here.

The plot: British take on the wonders of profiling, featuring the wonderful Robbie Coltrane. Eddie Fitzgerald is chain smoking, heavy drinking gambler that uses his considerable intellect and cutting wit to outsmart the murderers he more often then not manages to catch.
The hook: Sometimes gruesome and hard on the stomach, but equally brilliant Cracker was never boring.
Favorite quote:
[to Beck]
Fitz: You’re a bit like a doctor, aren’t you?
Beck: Sorry?
Fitz: You tend to bury your mistakes.

To view clip from Cracker click here.

Jonathan Creek
The plot: Jonathan Creek creates illusions for magicians, but is recruited by Maddie Magellan a journalist to help her solve baffling crimes that leave the police puzzled.
The hook: The ever delightful Alan Davies.
Favorite quote:
[to Carla Borrega, having learned that her husband used to be married to a man]
Jonathan Creek: I was just wondering what the technical term for that was – not so much “bigamy” as “bugger-me”.

To view clip from Jonathan Creek click here.

Silent Witness
The plot: Although there are no fancy gadgets like on CSI and its numerous spin offs Silent Witness still makes for interesting telly as we dwell into the world of British forensic pathology. And did I mention unlike on CSI Miami none wears sunglasses inside?
The hook: Pathologist should not really actively meddle in the police murder investigations, but I’m glad they do (at least on the telly).

TO view clip from Silent Witness click here.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The plot: The greatest detective of all time Sherlock Holmes with his ever faithful sidekick dr. Watson solves crimes that none else can solve.
The hook: Arthur Conan Doyle fan here and this is the best version of Holmes adaptation that I have ever seen plus absolutely brilliant Jeremy Brett as Holmes.

To view clip from Adventures of Sherlock Holmes click here.

Waking the Dead
The plot: Unlike the American series Cold Case, Waking the Dead makes for much more interesting viewing in my opinion. The Cold Case squad that combines detectives, forensic pathologist and a profiler solves cold cases with modern techniques that were not available at the time the crimes were committed.
The hook: Much more interesting then Cold Case.
Favorite quote:
DC: You’re paranoid, Boyd. You should talk to Grace about it.
Det. Supt. Peter Boyd: She hates me.

To view clip from Waking the Dead click here.

The plot: What does British MI-5 actually do? (For non UK residents MI-5 is counter intelligence and security agency). Well if you watch Spooks you will get a fairly good idea.
The hook: Spooks will keep you on the edge of your seat. And then there is the absolutely dishy Rupert Penry-Jones, now that is a pretty boy if I have ever seen one.
Favorite quote:
Harry Pearce: You know, I feel about as welcome as a fart in a Wind Machine.
Tom Quinn: Sefton B?
Patrick McCann: Aye. It would take out everything south of Bristol. Not that anyone would miss Wales.

To view clip from Spooks click here.

The plot: A colorful group of London based con artists pull elaborated cons week in and week out. There is a code as well, rule number one is “You can’t cheat an honest man”.
The hook: Interesting, full of suspense and with numerous twists, Hustle goes down smoothly in one big gulp.
Favorite quote:
Danny Blue: All I’m saying is, you know, if I was a bird, well, I’d shag me.

Danny Blue: OK, I screwed up, yeah.
Mickey ‘Bricks’ Stone: What did you learn? In a sentence.
Danny Blue: Do it by the book.
Mickey ‘Bricks’ Stone: Screw up again, Danny and I’ll have it tattooed on your arse.

To view clip from Hustle click here.

Dalziel and Pascoe
The plot: Dalziel, a politically incorrect inspector that drinks a lot and smokes a lot while his partner Pascoe is his complete opposite in every way. Based on popular books by Reginald Hill, Dalziel and Pascoe solve crimes in a fictional town Yorkshire town.
The hook: 2 completely different characters make an interesting combo in this old school crime series.
Favorite quote:
Det. Supt. Dalziel: Did you find any drugs?
DC Seymour: No-one mentioned anything about looking for drugs.
Det. Supt. Dalziel: No-one mentioned anything about Barbary apes, but if you’d seen a couple of them fornicating on the kitchen table, likely you’d have mentioned it.

To view clip from Daziel and Pascoe click here.

Wire in the blood
The plot: Based on books by Val McDermid, a clinical psychologist Tony Valentine Hill helps the local police force solve a number of crimes committed by serial killers.
The hook: Sometimes a bit demanding on the stomach Wire in the Blood is an interesting watch, if for nothing else but Robson Green’s portrayal of brilliant but rather socially inept Tony Hill.

To view clip from Wire in the Blood click here.

Trial and Retribution
The plot: Devised by Lynda La Plante Trial and Retribution is an interesting and sometimes complicated police procedural drama that follows the story from the time the crime is committed to the verdict in court.
The hook: Sometimes gruesome and complicated.The different camera angles that give an unique insight into the story – from suspects and from police officers at the scene of murders.

To view clip from Trial and Retribution click here.

Prime Suspect
The plot: Written by Lynda La Plante and starring Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect tells a story about Jane Tennison, DCI in Scotland Yard that heads the investigation into a serial murder. To add to her misery, her prime suspect is still elusive, her team do not like to have a woman in charge and her relationships start to suffer.
The hook: Brilliantly written whodunit and fantastic Helen Mirren.

TO view clip from Prime Suspect click here.

The plot: Rebus is based on books by Ian Rankin, about a Scottish detective that likes his whiskey and pint combo and solves gruesome crimes in Edinburgh.
The hook: If you loved the Ian Rankin books you will probably love the TV series as well.

To view clip from Rebus click here.

The best of British Sci- Fi shows

Dr. Who
The plot: The Doctor is Time Lord from planet Gallifrey that travels the space in his time machine TARDIS. David Tennant is 10th reincarnation of Dr. Who.
The hook: I hate to be so bleeding obvious but its Dr. Who, need I say more?
Favorite quote:
The Doctor: Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do then I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.

To view clip from Dr. Who click here.

The plot: Dr. Who spin off that centers around Captain Jack Harkness a former Time Agent, who now resides in 21st century Cardiff where he becomes a member of Torchwood institute (an investigative group that catches aliens and combats the extraterrestrial threats). Think Spooks in Space.
The hook: Hello have you seen John Barrowman?
Favorite quote:
Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Fighting for the future on behalf of the human race. The 21st Century is when everything changes — and Torchwood is ready.

To view clip from Torchwood click here.

Life on Mars
The plot: Story centers around DCI Sam Tyler, who after being in a car accidents in 2006 wakes up in 1973. You can imagine the situation he gets himself in. It is unclear whether Sam Tyler actually traveled in time or he is still in coma or just insane.
The hook: police drama with sci-fi twist. And then there is the Ford Cortina.
Favorite quote:
Sam Tyler: [Sam startles Gene by waking screaming from a nightmare]
Sam Tyler: I was just dreaming.
Gene: What I call a dream involves Diana Dors and a bottle of chip oil!

Gene: I think you’ve forgotten who you’re talking to.
Sam Tyler: An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding?
Gene: You make that sound like a bad thing.

To view clip from Life on Mars click here.

Ashes to Ashes
The plot: A sequel to Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes centers around DI Alex Drake (who was shot in 2008) and wakes up in 1981. Unlike in Life on Mars, Alex does know she is stuck neither here nor there.
The hook: Well if you liked Life on Mars, you will probably enjoy Ashes to Ashes (although the critics have been fairly harsh on this spin off).

To view clip from Ashes to Ashes click here.

And for a good measure

Richard and Judy
The plot: Afternoon TV show and English institution hosted by Richard Madeley and his wife Judy. Featuring a plethora of celebrity guests and erm a lot of other things.
The hook: Its our old chum Richard, he would kill me if I didn’t mention him.
Favorite quote:
Judy: The octopus, who was trained for the circus, gradually became more reclusive. He got depressed and committed suicide.
Richard: Yes, he stabbed himself with his own beak!

To view clip from Richard and Judy click here.

How Clean is your House?
The plot: Domestic goddesses extraordinaire Kim and Aggie visit flea pits and clean them top to bottom.
The hook: Kim and Aggie do have a good number of tricks up their sleeve (usually lemon juice and vinegar and sometimes a combination of both). Highly entertaining plus you would not believe in what squalor some people live in.

To view clip from How clean is your house click here.


The plot: Skins centers around a group of teenagers living in Bristol. There are drugs, boozing, back stabbing and eating disorders. The authors claim the series is a realistic portrayal of life of teenagers, well I beg to differ, but then again it’s a teen series what can you expect?
The hook: Veronica Mars it aint (I know I have been spoiled rotten with it). But also it is not The Hills.
Favorite quote:
Anwar: I can’t pee if you’re looking… You’re looking aren’t you?
Everybody: [Sarcastically] No!

To view clip from Skins click here.

72 thoughts on “55 best British shows ever

  1. Excellent list! I just missed The Young Ones from the comedies and Apparitions, a horror show. Since I was a kid in South America I’ve been hooked into Brittish Shows, what about all the Hammer productions? a bit cheesy but like you said- almost no budget but brilliant manuscripts and acting.

  2. Great list. has nearly everything I expected would be there (although porridge is missing).

  3. I like your list, I’m gonna watch a few shows off it. I’m a huge fan of Red Dwarf and Torchwood so big thumbs up to those, everyone should check them out. ;D

  4. Just wanted to drop a note and say thank you for putting this list together. Great descriptions and I look forward to checking some of these out.

  5. I have seen most these and love them. I am american but plan to move to ireland soon. It’s nice to know that I like similar shows before i even get their

  6. Thank you all for lovely comments :)

    Btw Vic am totally jealous love Ireland :)

    I am actually working on a post now with the some maybe lesser known shows that might be a good alternative to some of the shows mentioned above. Hopefully it will be up this week :)

    Thank you all once again!

  7. I found your site following a link about Jeremy Brett, my all time favorite Sherlock Holmes. Quite a few of the programs you named, I really liked. Of course, most of them were on PBS here in the U.S.
    The one you call “Spooks” I believe was relabeled MI6 for U.S. tv. I watched most of the series and loved it. And of course, Poirot!
    British comedy is so wonderful. Thank you for your list.

  8. Great list!!! wish I had the patience and dexterity to do this. One series I have just started re-watching is I Claudius. Absolutely superb.

  9. This is dope! I was looking for some good British shows to check out.

    Don’t get too many chances to view the goods here in Toronto… BTW, Torchwood kicks ass! :)

  10. Man About The House, George and Mildred, Robins Nest, to name a few more that should be in here.

  11. Very good work indeed.!! Father Ted is my favorite one.!!! very irreverent and good comedy.!!! 😛

  12. Smashing list of many shows that are also my all time favorites. A few shows that I think others may be interested in which i did not see on your list are: Good Neighbors, The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, The Prisoner, The Professionals and Sweeney.

  13. Thanks for this summary, it’s what we have been waiting for.
    But I would add “Green Wing” to it. I surely don’t know all the listed shows but “Green Wing” is together with The Office and Extras in my top list.

    Pascal (Belgium)

  14. Please! Could anyone tell me what is the name of a british tv serie about a crazy woman who wanted to kill a friend and her kids to steal her husband. She baked poisoned animal shaped cookies for children, thats about all I can remember. Im from Finland and this serie was aired here in early 90’s I guess.

  15. i live in america and am just getting into british shows. ive watched fawlty towers, extras, the office, and black adder and loved them all. any suggestions on what to watch next?

  16. fawlty towers may be the best show ever. well up there with seinfeld and the honeymooners anyway. the show is flawless. i wish more people over here in the states would give it some more credit.

  17. I’ve been watching some British shows; loved “Jeeves and Wooster”, “Blackadder”, “The IT Crowd”, and “Doc Martin”.
    Not on your list but fantastic shows I also loved: “Coupling” and “Luther”.

  18. Some others missing too which i enjoyed; Lovejoy, Dad (with George Cole and Kevin Mcnally) and Children of the Stones. But overall a great list!

  19. I am from England and you have a very good list indeed of old ( to me) and new Brit Tv. It is really great to to hear that our Tv exports are loved by other nations. I always thought no one else got our odd sense of humour…..but i have been proved wrong. I have grown up on Dr.Who since I was 10, I am now 45. I would recommend a sitcom called My Family with Robert Lyndsey and Zoe Wanamaker. Made by the BBC. Very funny. I have watched almost all the programmes in your list and enjoyed them all. One I am wathing at the moment in The Shadow Line. very gritty cop/spy thriller. another BBC production. Has Christopher Eccleston in it of Dr. Who fame,( the 9th Doctor) but a bad guy in this one. Worth a watch if any of you can get the BBCi player downloaded into your PCs. If anyone wants me to give a heads up on what we have at the moment on Tv here, let me know. All the best to you all, Coolact.

  20. Surely “Coupling,” “The Young Ones,” and “Gavin and Stacey” should be on this list!

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  22. I’m looking for a tv show, british I think. Had two buys in a house with aliens? The one I caught guy was having a birthday party for his self but the alien prince took it over? Had a red octopus for the dj?

  23. Great list. I was looking for something to match my love of Doc Martin, Fawlty Towers, Keeping up Appearances….. Now I have some great ideas. I wonder if Downton Abbey is going to make your list someday. I am going to watch it.

  24. Great list and its also good to read the comments which gives you more ideas for other shows not listed- Thanks to All

  25. Thanks so much for this list! I love British TV, so much better than American stuff…I have trouble believing a crime show where everyone on it is a 25 year old model… I am going to check some out now :)

  26. Sorry, but any list that includes utter tripe like Blackadder, Absolutely Fabulous and Fawlty Towers isn’t worth reading to the end.

  27. Fantastic resource. Thanks for your work on this! Brilliant, much appreciated.

    About the comment above: “anonymous” shall remain just anonymous.

  28. There are soooooo many great British series, I just wanted to mention This Life as I still remember the horrible empty sadness when it finished. That’s the sign of a great series. I also want to mention Cold Feet another I miss terribly. WHY DO THEY

  29. You NAILED it!!! Absolutely every one of my favorite British shows are listed here. Oh WHY can’t American TV be as brilliant? Thank you, thank you!!!

  30. Great resource! I love Black Adder, but I actually felt like the last was the worst of the series.

  31. The phrase is supposed to be: ‘would not pass MUSTER’,

    Not, ‘it would not pass MUSTARD’.

    I know the word ‘muster’ isn’t used much any more, but it means when soldiers are called to stand for review. That is a muster. And passing muster means that they passed the review.

    ‘Passing mustard’ make no sense at all.

  32. Why can’t American TV be as brilliant?

    Mostly for the reason that commercial television is dominated by wanting to appeal to the lowest common demoninator.

    The tradition of good television comes from long years of publicly supported television in the U.K., which does not have to do what advertisers want. But now even some of the commercial channels produce good shows.

    Also, some British shows actually ARE co-productions with the US, often with the Boston PBS channel WGBH.

  33. Brilliant list but in the drama section you missed possibly the most successful- Heartbeat.

  34. My husband and I discovered British television shows a year or so ago. We tend to enjoy the quirky shows rather than the outrageous ones. Great list, though!

  35. Thank you so much for this list!!! Growing up I never got tired of watching every Fawlty Towers rerun that was on t.v., but I remember that my parents also liked Keeping Up Appearances, but I couldn’t remember the name of it which is how and why I luckily fell upon this wonderful list! I have now rediscovered other shows that I would never have even remembered as well as discovered new ones. Lol. I’m forwarding this list to family and friends if that’s cool. Again, thank you so much!! :)

  36. Sorry, but it can’t be a list of classic british TV without “Last of the Summer Wine”

  37. Don’t forget the “The Dukes of Hazard”, I know it was American made but imagine how much greater it would have been if Bo and Luke spoke the Queens English.

  38. Some great ones to add to my list! But what about As Time Goes By?? One of the best I love watching over and over, and with the great Dame Judy Dench. I love watching British television; I am sad when a series comes to an end, the characters are always so loveable.

  39. LadyArrabella – me thinks will need to do an updated list at some point. And yes, As Time Goes By was wonderful!

  40. Great list of british comedy BUT there are a lot of comedies missing that need to be added to this list, some glaring mistakes.
    1. MR. BEAN!!!!!
    13. STEPTOE
    some of these shows are a crime to leave out of the list some are hugely underrated like the baldy man which is hilarious and so to rising damp and the book club, and how could you leave out the goodies, shameless and some mothers do ave em! Frank Spencer ….hmm betty i think you made a woopsie!

  41. -Broadchurch is a new (2014) and fantastic drama that revolves around the mysterious murder of a young boy.

    -Another poster mentioned Luther, which I second as a must see tv show

    -Black Mirror is also fantastic for those into sci-fi and satire. It reminds me of Twilight, but much, much darker. This show makes you think long after the episode ends and has the same kind of effect as Children of Men, where you’re just sitting around contemplating about life and future.


    -Fresh Meat

  42. As time goes by the best ever. Watch over and over. Also mulberry. It was not on for many shows but watch whenever it is.

  43. My total favorite is Upstairs/Downstairs. I’ve been watching British TV since the 70’s when all I could get it on was PBS. I’m going to make a list of all of the suggestions as well as the at the top or this page. Thanks!

  44. I was hoping to find a short lived series called huckleberry (I think.i can’t remember who was in it). He was the son of death and summer.I’ really like the name of the woman he was told (by death) to kill but wouldn’t because he like the old lady.

  45. In response to Johanna (who asked a question 5 years ago): I think you’re looking for the series Mother Love. I wanted to answer this question because I was searching for the same thing with only very hazy memories and found it eventually!

  46. A great list, I have a few of those on video. I’ve just been given a dvd from a relative of the northern comedy Still Game. It’s plot focuses on the life of two pensioners in Glasgow, which is definitely worth a watch. The language may be a little harsh (or difficult, giving the occasional slang) for some, but it’s well natured and not over the top. Probably one of the few comedies I’ve enjoyed of the last couple of decades.

    Most of the new material I might enjoy is probably on pay per view services, and I don’t watch that much tv, so I usually only see repeats on that tv channel when it comes to comedy. I only caught on to Peepshow during its last few episodes which I also enjoyed, so I’ve backtracked and been watching the first few series. I also saw the Inbetweeners for the first time the other day (the movie version of the tv show), which was amusing but cruder and definitely ruder than I expected.

    Father Ted and On the Buses have been played on a loop on freeview for a long while now. I wish they would add more variety and more old shows from the classic list above that I might like. On the buses may have been hit or miss but at it’s best it’s enjoyable and definately worthy of being in this list.

    Can I include comedy sketch shows? I would add the Fast Show.
    My top 10 comedy (in no particular order, largely reflecting what I have on video) are probably I’m Alan Partridge S1, Blackadder, Bottom, Father Ted, Mr Bean, Red Dwarf, Rising Damp, Spaced, The Fast Show, The Office :)

  47. yes “As time goes by” should have been on your list and I’m surprised no one mentioned “All creatures great and small “

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