London Calling: The Allure of British Television

I am not British, but I have many friends who pretend they are, and couple who legitimately hail from the Great Britain. They know how much I enjoy television, and often make suggestions for me of shows that I might enjoy. They have been right 89% of the time.

There is something strangely appealing about watching a foreign television series. For one thing, you get it in large chunks because it aired years ago. It’s also refreshingly diverse compared to the usual American garbage TV I’m used to.

Furthermore, I adore British slang. I don’t know why, and I may never figure it out, but I dig it, to an astounding degree. Pish, tosh, all that poppycock, etc, really gets me going.

I suppose it all started when everything else did: in my youth. My likes and dislikes were developed under heavy influence by my father, a man of the world who embraced many interests which essentially boil down to 4 main food groups: The Law, The Mob, The 60’s, and satirical comedy.

I grew up watching Law and Order, Monty Python, and David Letterman, and to this day love 60’s folk rock more than any other genre. I adamantly refuse to watch CSI, and avoid Jay Leno like the plague.

Stemming from his inherent interest in law, my dad would spend hours watching Rumpole of the Baily, and soon thereafter, Lovejoy on a regular basis.

People talk about “British comedy” like it’s another language, that you need to study to understand. I think it’s just another genre, like satire, or slapstick. You dig it or you don’t. I do.

There is the obvious, BBC’s The Office, created by Ricky Gervais, which can be sited as re-igniting my passion for British television. What’s not to like? It’s quick, it’s awkward, and the characters are endearing and quirky. From there, it was hop, skip, and a jump to Gervais’ next show, Extras, which picked up interest over here when American celebrities like Ben Stiller showed up in episodes.

The latest show a pseudo-British friend has suggested to me was a big hit. It’s called 8 out of 10 Cats, and by god, is it hilarious. I don’t know who any of the people are, and for the most part, don’t give a shit what they’re talking about, but I can’t help but be enthralled by what goes on. First off, everyone in Britain who’s been on telly once, is considered a minor celebrity, and is fair game to be mocked incessantly. They have no censors, from what I can tell, so the host and panelists just get to run their mouths all they want, it’s brilliant.

Some other shows worth checking out: Skins, The IT Crowd, (more of that “British Comedy”) and Spaced.


4 thoughts on “London Calling: The Allure of British Television

  1. martin

    Wonderful work, Lightle – your fascination with 8 out of 10 Cats will never fail to impress me.

    Love SF’s recommendations, know you will love Black Books as it has Dylan Moran in it from Run, Fatboy, Run – who I know you dig!


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