It goes without saying that English TV Series are well respected throughout the world. Just like with our English Movies it is tremendously difficult to select the best of the best. Where most countries usually excel in just one or two genre’s, England manages to pull of some great productions in a variety of different series genres. From ridiculously funny comedy series to suspenseful detectives and thrillers to the finest English drama series. We shall on a later date go more detailed into the different genre’s, but this selection deals solely with the finest English TV Series. We do try to spread it out over different genres. So you could argue that some comedy series should have been on the list, but we also wanted to bring forth other ones. In other words, you can even get tired of John Cleese’s mug once in a while. But please, let us know what your favorite English tv shows are. We know that some other ones deserve to be on the list as well.
(some English shows that we had almost included: Blackadder, Downtown Abbey, The Office,
5 Best English TV Series – our recommended English Series
It is always difficult to kick off a list. We have not only taken into consideration our own taste, but also our perception of which English series have been the most popular. We have furthermore made use of other tv critics.
1. Brideshead Revisited (1981)
We are not the only one’s that could not deny the greatness of this legendary English tv series by ITV. The Guardian has given it the honor of second place on their best television TV Dramas of all time. It is a great English series about a young lad that befriends a wealthy and aristocratic fellow student at Oxford, and slowly get familiars with the lifestyle of the very rich. He quickly finds out that behind the golden curtain are also problems. As they state that with regard to the original book by Evelyn Waugh:
‘Catholicism, loss, the unreliable nature of nostalgia, the death of English nobility, the battle between faith and individual freedom – augured narrative headaches, yet in John Mortimer the production found a writer capable of capturing such profundity without sacrificing the novel’s humor’.
It not only was worth the translation to the thirteen hour tv series, as also the 2008 film with Matthew Goode based on the series is definitely worth it. It can, however, not quite compete with the drama series version. Bridesheads Revisited was awarded 2 Golden Globes.
Fragment of the second episode of Bridesheads Revisited:
2. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
Of course, one cannot speak of English television with touching upon the British sense of humor. Nowhere is it better demonstrated, and does it know to reach a universal audience as with the great Monty Python Series. Besides this great series, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam and the likes have also produced fantastic Monty Python movies (Can watch them online in our Watch English movies online section). This surreal comedy series filled with the most funny and absurd scetches has managed to make people laugh then, makes people laugh now, and will continue to do so for a long time.
Monty Python as the founders of SPAM:
3. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)
Here we have our good Friend John Cleese again. In Fawlty towers he brings all his talents together. IMDb sums it up splendidly: ‘Hotel owner Basil Fawlty’s incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.’ Indeed, more you do not need to know. This is the concept that has made people have stomach ache from laughing hard just around the world. It is one of England’s most exported series and remained to be one of the best watched English tv shows in the world. Although there were only 2 seasons with 6 episodes each, the reruns contiinue to be funny. Even the current young generation knows the ‘Don’t Mention the War’ Joke.
This BBC production did not receive a lot of awards, but it deed receive the BAFTA award for best situation comedy to times in a row.
4. Inspector Morse (1987)
We really also wanted to include a police series on the list, as we are very big fans of that genre when it comes to European television series in general. (Read about our Danish and Swedish detective series in the Danish or Swedish Section). And what better show to promote than the 12 Season long running Inspector Morse. Even today there is probably is not a country in the world that not once again decides to air some Inspector Morse reruns. During its long existince it has received a large amount of awards.
5. Our Friends in the North
Perhaps for many people not so familiar as the other titles. It also has not been awarded with as many prizes, or has received as much widespread recogntition. However, it cannot be denied this is an excellent English series that everyone should see. It is only nine episodes, so it can also easily be attempted. The titles of the episodes of this by the BBC produced series carry the names of years. In every episode you get taken into the lives of the four friends in that particular period in their life. From 1964 up to 1995. The show was released in 1996. The younger readers will be excited to see the familiar faces of current popular actors Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Mark Strong (Rocknrolla). Our Friends in the North came in 4th on the Guardian’s list.
Fragment of the series with Daniel Craig:
Want more than just the best English tv series? Please then also check out our other European TV Series.