The arrival of streaming platforms has provided production outfits with new avenues for TV series and movies to reach a wider international audience. We have these online services to thank (like, super thank you) because as modern-day Filipino binge-watchers, we no longer have to limit ourselves to only watching Asian or American feature entertainment.
Now, we can also lap up the brilliance of British TV and film, anytime we want to. Did we also mention that most shows only run 6 to 8 episodes per season? That would be great for our short attention span, wouldn’t it? If you’re a fan of, or at the very least, fancy the whole British culture, then this round-up of worthwhile TV series may interest you.
Be chuffed to bits with these titles as you sip your tea and watch them in your lovely telly! (Yes, we’ve gone there.)
It’s one of the most popular crime series ever to come out of modern British television. Inspired by the detective story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the main character is portrayed by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange). The entire plot of the series revolves around solving mysterious cases by Holmes in the persona of a “consulting detective”. Aside from being hired by ordinary people, the protagonist’s major clients also include the UK government.
The show’s highly-stimulating story, supported by clever characters and captivating storylines, make for great TV binge-watching. Each season features only three to four episodes that will surely keep you entertained (and definitely wanting more).
2. The Inbetweeners
The story follows the mishaps and adventures of high school students Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas), Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison), and Jay Cartwright (James Buckley). At the time of its release, the show was widely considered to be ahead of its time. The show depicted the reality of high school students’ lifestyle, friendships, adolescence, and of course, failed sexual encounters.
The Inbetweeners’ “badass” type of story is what makes it worthwhile to watch. There’s a lot of profanity and underage drinking scenes involved, something adults can totally relate to as they look back at their own crazy teenage life.
3. Derry Girls
Set in Derry, Northern Ireland, the series features five high school students who study in a Catholic girls’ secondary school, who also struggle with their individual issues of being a teenager. The group is composed of Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Orla (Louisa Harland), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and James (Dylan Llewellyn)–the only lad in the group, but is still called a Derry girl.
The show’s timeline indicates that the lives of the “Derry Girls” were lived during “The Troubles” time or the war between religion and race. This makes for a good sub-plot as the girls fixate over their own teenage issues, like running the school paper, keeping a good image, and flirting with Protestant boys they find attractive.
The sitcom is a must-watch as it features realistic historical moments during “The Troubles” period. The show is unique in the sense that it is able to recount the Northern Ireland war while making memorable quirky characters and hilarious episodes.
Also, the soundtrack is kickass. 90s kids will agree!
4. Doc Martin
Portrayed by Martin Clunes, Dr. Martin Ellingham, or Doc Martin, is a genius and successful vascular surgeon who works at the fictional Imperial College London. The series starts with him developing a phobia for blood (hemophobia), which pushed him to leave his practice.
He soon becomes a general practitioner instead in a small town called Port Wenn (which is actually a beautiful, real-life postcard tourist spot in Port Isaac (Google it and you will agree).
Doc Martin’s character is socially awkward with a sarcastic attitude, which is kind of endearing as it is balanced with a side of him that is very observational ( just like Sherlock Holmes). Worth watching if you are into medical drama, or if you just want a character’s meaningful impact on others’ lives despite not being generally liked by society to grow on you as you watch all 9 seasons of the show.
Another reason to love Doc Martin is the show’s showcase of genuine humor and interesting character personalities.
5. The IT Crowd
Another must-watch British sitcom is the cult classic The IT Crowd, which follows the story of computer programmers Maurice Moss, Roy Trenneman, and their department head Jen Barber. They make up an IT unit working in the dank basement of the fictional Reynholm Industries based in London.
The IT nerds, Moss and Roy, have a weird but wacky kind of bromance where they share “sweet” gestures not commonly seen in colleagues, intertwined with oddball humour and slapstick comedy. Jen Barber provides quick zingers in between, which makes for a great, non-pretentious, effortlessly funny comedy show.
The IT Crowd has always been highly recommended because of its geek-centric comedy that highlights the very nature of British humor–satirical, intellectual, and filled with innuendos.
UK TV show Skins, which aired from 2007 to 2013, is about the lives of teenagers living in Bristol, South West England. The story touches on controversial issues like adolescent sexuality, bullying, death, dysfunctional families, mental illness, and substance abuse. You’ll notice that every episode is named after a particular character, as it will feature the struggles they face in their lives.
This is one of those few shows in modern television that really highlighted the relevance of diversity in its storyline. Almost every type of character arc, such as the geeky nerd, edgy rebel, or even party lover, was given its time to shine.
You’ll probably love the crazy adorable family of the Gallaghers led by David Threlfall as Frank, who is an alcoholic father to Fiona, Lip, Carl, Debbie, Liam, Stella, and Ian (half-brother of the Gallagher kids).
Despite the dysfunctionality of the Gallagher family, the series was effective in showing the wonderful attributes of every character in the story.
Shameless was also, well, shameless, in delving into the issue of substance abuse and alcoholism. The show’s ability to interpret the effects of being an alcoholic and drug dependent is worth noting.
8. Peaky Blinders
Released in 2013, the series is based on the true story of the criminal dealings of the Shelby family based in Birmingham, England. The drama was set in the year 1920 after the First World War when the Shelby family started as a street gang until they rose to become a major criminal organization that extends from London to the United States.
Gang leader Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) is known as a deliberately cruel and powerful leader. The Shelby family fearlessly deals with dubious schemes and they even manipulate and betray their people.
What makes it enticing to watch is the anticipation for this empire to fall apart. Viewers can also expect some storylines to involve fascists, Nazis, and the Great Depression.
9. Toast of London
Toast of London is a British sitcom that features the life of Steven Toast (played by Matt Berry of The IT Crowd and Disenchantment), a middle-aged B-actor who chases acting gigs in London but seemingly spends the majority his time being involved and running away from problems. The show features quirky characters and oddball humour, and is most notable for its hyper-specific situations where the humour is derived from. Jon Hamm has guest-starred in the series.
The show is unique for its sequence transitions and running gags that almost always seem to fit the entire episode’s plot. Notable as well is the original music composed for the episodes.
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