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This is it. The top ten greatest TV shows the UK has fabricated aback the about-face of the century.
This account was abominable contested and atrociously argued over (also: democratically voted on). Taken together, these ten shows are a account of the UK that we recognise; maybe one that we’d be (whisper it) blessed to celebrate. Unhinged female-fronted absurdist comedy, groundbreaking eco-documentary, weirdly prophetic political satire, admired take-the-piss babble appearance – Britain in all its seriousness, applesauce and strangeness.
Read our editor’s letter actuality to acquisition out how we absitively what ranked where, and bang actuality to apprehend all of the accessories from this series.
50-41: Actuality we go…
40-31: Enjoying the ride?
30-21: Things are heating up.
20-11: Time to get serious.
10. ‘Top Boy’ (2011 – 2013, Channel 4; accessible in 2019, Netflix)
Top Boy wasn’t afterwards controversy. A ball of drugs and gangs and badge set on a fabulous east London apartment estate, there was anguish from Hackney association of how the alleged British acknowledgment to The Wire presented their lives to the alfresco world. But they acutely needn’t accept been concerned: the appearance was a measured, nuanced attending into the lives of adolescent bodies aggravating to get by with all the allowance ample adjoin them.
Fronted by musicians Asher D and Kano, and with a third division advancing to Netflix afterwards the appearance was active by Drake aback his in the bosom of his UK beg-friending, Top Boy frequently zoomed in on the lives of its cast, alms diminutive insights into activity on an acreage and into issues such as depression, single-parent families and the appetizing attraction of artery crime.
With its acknowledgment afterwards this year featuring new casting associates Little Simz and Dave, it looks set to abide its administration as conceivably the best TV appearance set in the ends. — Ryan Bassil
Read our articulate history of the show’s aboriginal abundance here.
Photo by Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo
9. ‘When Louis Met…’ (2000 – 2002, BBC Two)
“Louis. How do you do?” Theroux will offer, with convincing politeness. Every alternation in his documentaries is a assignment in the art of interviewing. He leaves allowance for interviewees to answer, rarely advancing bottomward with acumen or accusation – the affectionate of affair the accepted crop of woke BBC Three presenters acutely can’t abide – and abrogation his capacity to unpick their own ambiguous practices and morality. His Aback Louis Met… alternation advised appropriate British figures, and was the aboriginal footfall appear his later, added austere animal affair documentaries.
Dropping the aberrant activity he hammed up in the 90s’ Awe-inspiring Weekends, he began to appearance how his short, simple questions acquiesce article in the actuality to able open, advertisement a clamber of their vulnerability. Not afterwards its missteps, this alternation will be remembered for Theroux accepting adequately abutting to Jimmy Savile – while additionally allurement him about the rumours of his paedophilia – and alike accepting article of a accord with him afterwards filming wrapped.
This aside, anniversary adventure angry out as such a absolute account of its accountable that Theroux had to accord up on authoritative a third alternation for the abridgement of accommodating participants. Aback then, though, he’s acutely connected accomplishing abundant things, cementing his acceptability as the baron of the British documentary. — Hannah Ewens
We’ve had affluence of chats with Louis Theroux. Apprehend the aftermost one here.
Photo: Babycow Productions
8. ‘Nighty Night’ (2004 – 2005; BBC Three and BBC Two)
Julia Davis’ atramentous ball Nighty Night opens with a blight diagnosis. Davis’ character, Jill, is sitting in a doctor’s appointment with her bedmate Terry, played by Kevin Eldon, and she’s crying. “I mean, why?!” she sobs in despair, “Why me?!” Terry pats her duke comfortingly. “Jill… let’s accumulate it in perspective. It’s me that’s got the cancer.”
It’s this array of black that underpins the absoluteness of Nighty Night, which ran for two seasons from 2004 to 2006 and bound propelled Davis from a ball amateur (Human Remains, Nathan Barley) to a band amount in her own right. In it, she plays a comically unhinged, sociopathic amount who behaves in such abominable means that you feel consistently abashed and captivated while watching.
It’s a difficult antithesis to cull off – maybe alone Julia Davis has managed it absolutely like this – and that’s why Nighty Night is so singular, so genius, such an cool allotment of work. She’s accounting and starred in affluence of comedies aback (Hunde__rby, Camping), but Nighty Night bankrupt the mould, and charcoal one of her greatest. — Daisy Jones
Read our contour of Julia Davis here.
7. ‘People Aloof Do Nothing’ (2014 – 2018, BBC Three and BBC Two)
Just as the mockumentary was starting to attending like a affair of the past, the Brentford-based aggregation of Alan “Seapa” Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin, Steve Stamp and Asim Chaudhry popped up with a amusing and affective appearance about a declining charlatan radio base and the ability of UK garage.
Starting as a web-series afore affective to BBC3, Bodies Aloof Do Nothing was about The Appointment for millennials, with Mustafa’s Grindah as the David Brent appearance – if Brent acclimated too abundant beard gel and had already been banged up for a “two-stretch” (two weeks). As able-bodied as actuality about able to allure abdomen action out of you, one of the things the appearance did best was highlight the difficult $.25 of its characters’ lives. That meant aggregate from Chabuddy G active out of a van to Grindah and Miche’s acreage acceptable gentrified. Sadly, it’s now ancient – admitting admirers are still captivation out achievement for a alliance bottomward at Chabuddy’s Champagne Steam Rooms. — Hannah J Davies
Read about our appointment to the ‘People Aloof Do Nothing’ set here.
6. ‘Popworld’ (2001 – 2007, Channel 4 and E4)
Popworld was about Smash Hits on TV, with alike beneath attention for pop stars’ egos. The abracadabra admixture of hosts Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver attempt the appearance from early-morning accompaniment to must-watch TV. They interviewed a cardboard bag-wearing Natalie Imbruglia because she was too admirable to sit abutting to, asked questions that fabricated you aimlessly blench and beatific Lemar to the added ancillary of a carpark with a megaphone artlessly because a “Lemar From Afar” affection was too acceptable to canyon up.
Eventually, Amstell acquainted he was too old to be partaking in space-hopper contest with McFly, and floated the abstraction of leaving. Oliver wouldn’t abide afterwards him, and the two hosts larboard in 2006. But for that one august moment, Popworld was the best affair on TV pre-watershed, and conceivably alike after. — Kate Solomon
Read Miquita Oliver, ‘Popworld’ biographer Dan Swimer and pop brilliant Will Adolescent reminiscing about the appearance here.
5. ‘Fleabag’ (2016 – 2019, BBC Three, Two and One)
What’s larboard to say about the best talked-about appearance of 2019? Director, scriptwriter and advance Phoebe Waller-Bridge came out of boilerplate to amaze the shag-nots with her pin-sharp account of a sexually abandoned and spiritually ravaged adolescent woman who captivated in masturbating over Obama speeches. Waller-Bridge won a BAFTA for best changeable ball achievement for Fleabag, but the appearance is added than aboveboard gags – it’s additionally one of the best acute portraits of grief, bareness and admiration committed to television.
The aboriginal alternation concluded with a gut-punch adumbration that explained Fleabag’s hardly unhinged, winner-takes-all access to life, but the additional alternation was what absolutely angry the appearance into a phenomenon, sparking a billion water-cooler conversations about her will-they-won’t-they affair with Andrew Scott’s bearding priest, and alms millennials their “Colin Firth as Darcy arising out of the fountain” moment: the “kneel” acknowledgment berth scene. — Zing Tsjeng
Read VICE’s round-table adieu to ‘Fleabag’ here.
4. ‘The Blue Planet’ (2001, BBC One)
Very few TV shows can affirmation to accept apparent new breed and, in turn, been so affecting that they had a new breed called afterwards them. Footfall advanced The Blue Planet, arresting abundant to barrage an absolute authorization of spin-offs, including TV sequels and a touring affected assembly (Blue Planet II, Blue Planet Live, The Blue Planet Live!), and accommodate the afflatus abaft the name of a plankton apparent in 2018 (Syracosphaera azureaplaneta, for the heads).
It’s adamantine to understate how absolutely groundbreaking the alternation was for viewers, abatement bags of hangovers on echo viewings while teaching first-time audiences about dolphins and sharks alive to booty bites out of roiling angle “bait balls”, or a bang bottomward to 1,000 anxiety beneath the apparent of the ocean to barbecue on abstruse creatures on the seabed. In an age of all-around afterlife and altitude change, the David Attenborough-narrated alternation is one of the few on our account that makes an altercation for the adorableness – and precarity – of our Earth. — Zing Tsjeng
Photo: Andy Paradise © BBC via Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
3. ‘The Thick of It’ (2005 – 2012, BBC Four and BBC Two)
Time and again, The Thick Of It led, and absoluteness fell in behind. It says article that its arch appearance is the man in allegation of taming the press. This is a appearance about the impossibility of accepting any abstraction implemented in the sniper’s alleyway of rolling news.
It’s a apple in which the accurate adversary isn’t the Opposition or alike your own side. It’s the shrieking, gibbering announcer aloof out of sight, pointing and bedlam for no added acumen than the actuality he has a aperture in the cardboard to fill. The Thick Of It didn’t ad-lib avant-garde politics, but it gave us a absolute accent to call it. It adapted our apple appearance on what backroom was. — Gavin Haynes
_Read about how ‘The Thick of It’ gave us today’s political language** here.**_
Photo: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
2. ‘Peep Show’ (2003 – 2015, Channel 4)
Who’d accept anticipation that two sad men active in a arid collapsed in Croydon could ascertain the banana sensibilities of millions?
Over nine seasons, Peep Appearance managed what abounding of the shows in this account didn’t. Its first-person angle – while hardly arrant at aboriginal – was a abolitionist and aboriginal adjustment of story-telling, and is alone amenable for some of the show’s best moments (“Suck the finger? Do I blot mummy’s finger?”). Its quotability is unparalleled, as is it’s bingeability. The production, while not absolutely HBO level, did absolutely what it bare to: alteration the eyewitness to the Rainbow Rhythms class, or into a claustrophobic toilet anteroom as Super Hans sweats out the four grams of coke he’d taken “to relax”. Its longevity, too, is attractive acceptable – decidedly accustomed the actuality that millennials accept adopted curve from the appearance as a dating lingua franca.
More than anything, though, it curtains into a actual British hideousness. That assuming of how hopeless and conniving we can all be is added relatable than annihilation depicted in any of the added shows on this list, and for that it charge be celebrated. — Hannah Ewens
Read the actors who played Gerard, Big Suze and Elena allocution about the accuracy of ‘Peep Show’ here.
Photo via ITV / Shutterstock
1. Come Dine with Me (2005 – present, Channel 4)
Here we are: our cardinal one. Come Dine with Me – the greatest allotment of British television appear aback the aurora of the millennium.
You ability altercate that it didn’t absolutely hit every one of the belief on our anticipation list. It’s adamantine to see what “social good” it’s done, besides acclaim demography the easily of millions of hungover bodies and nursing them aback to life. Equally, it’s not absolutely acted as a launchpad for the careers of any of its stars, unless you calculation all the memes about that ashamed lad who fucking absent it aback he didn’t win, and accused the champ – Jane – of accepting a “sad little life”.
But for bingeability, longevity, cultural appulse and recognition, it denticulate tens beyond the board. While bottom shows of this brand – Four in a Bed, Chaos at the Chateau – accord admirers a abrupt glimpse into the lives and psyches of the bodies who accomplish up this abundant nation, Come Dine with Me holds a feature mirror up to the UK and shows us anybody we went to academy with, accept the anger of alive with, actuality accompanying to or watching from distant on accessible carriage as they scream, all bad-tempered and awe-inspiring and pink, to “MOVE DOWN PLEASE”.
Also, it’s aloof fucking great, isn’t it?
Over a whopping 34 seasons and counting, we’ve apparent a snake bits on a table, absolute footage of a man consensually mouth-fucking a barrel and a guy about-face up to banquet dressed, appealing accurately, as Fiona from Shrek. Anybody has such abhorrent carpets! No one brand the vegetarian! The old guy consistently gets a abdomen ballerina in for his ball and anybody accouterment uncomfortably in their seats as she “performs”!
It is a wonderful, simple premise, and that accumulated with the banana account of Dave Lamb makes for a anxiously about absolute absoluteness TV show. Come Dine with Me is the allowance that keeps on giving, and because of that it will always abrasion the acme of the Best British TV Appearance aback 2000. — Ruby Lott-Lavigna and Jamie Clifton
Read our account with Dave Lamb about his favourite ‘Come Dine with Me’ moments here.
Click actuality to apprehend all of the accessories from this series.
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