BEST OF BRITISH: TELEVISION REVIEW #1 by PAUL LAIGHT
Having grown up with three (and then four channels) on British television I was always used to a high quality viewing experience. As a kid TV shows were an event and something to look forward to and plan an evening’s routine around. British shows from my youth that I loved were: The Comic Strip, The Young Ones, The Singing Detective, Fawlty Towers, BlackAdder, Edge of Darkness, Play for Today, Pennies From Heaven, Doctor Who, Only Fools and Horses, Monty Python, Boys From The Blackstuff, Dad’s Army, Steptoe and Son, Prime Suspect, Spitting Image and many more. But with the subsequent invasion of high-end overseas televisual product and the introduction of digital and satellite channels I have at times lost sight of some best shows around at the moment.
Thus, I took a break from watching loads of US imports and movies (still watching Game of Thrones as it’s amazing!) and had a trawl through 4OD (called All 4 now), Netflix, YouTube and other outlets to catch up some of the current Best of British TV shows you can watch online or DVD. Obviously there are hundreds of other great British shows available but here are some of the ones I’ve watched recently:
BLACK MIRROR (CHANNEL 4)
Black Mirror is a dark, horrifying and mind-bending drama which gets into your mind and under your skin; tapping into the perils of technological advancement and effect the media could have on our future lives.
FRESH MEAT (CHANNEL 4)
I watched the first season of this University-based comedy and there’s an attractive young cast, fun performances, knockabout humour but also a bit of heart too as our Fresher’s come to terms with life on and off campus.
FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER (CHANNEL 4)
A simple premise of a Jewish family dinner but a lot of laughs as Mum, Dad, their boys and weird neighbour get into all kind of scrapes. Hilarious stuff especially from eccentric father played by Paul Ritter.
GARTH MARENGHI (CHANNEL 4)
This is an absolute stonewall comedy classic. I watched this under-appreciated gem again for inspiration for a comedy script I’m writing and it fantastically parodies horror and sci-fi TV of the 70s and 80s.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (BBC)
This Dickens adaptation from 2011 starred Ray Winstone as Magwitch plus David Suchet, Paul Ritter and Douglas Booth. But, the standout was Gillian Anderson as a spectre-like Miss Havisham ghosting through her scenes with eerie grace.
INBETWEENERS (CHANNEL 4)
I watched all 18 episodes of this and then the films and while I used to think it was just rude, smutty, uncultured, lowest-common-denominator comedy it is also hilarious with great comedy moments plus the occasional bit of pathos.
INSIDE NO. 9 (BBC)
Cracking, dark and funny half-hour stories from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton who once again craft some fiendish narratives with a sting in their tale. All episodes are great but I loved the dialogue-free (pretty much) one A Quiet Night In.
LAW AND ORDER (ITV)
A very good adaptation of the American show. I watched the first two seasons and the formula follows the Police and CPS crime process from arrest to conviction (or not depending on the case.) Some great British character actors pop up throughout and compelling social commentary too.
Idris Elba as Detective John Luther prowls the screen like a caged lion enacting furious justice on the killers of London town. Ruth Wilson as his cold-blooded sidekick is also a treat in a formulaic but compelling crime show.
NATHAN BARLEY (CHANNEL 4)
Go http://www.trashbat.co.ck/ and check out the original hipster prick as this hilarious TV satire parodies the Shoreditch gang-star fashion victims in all their gory! Still well Jackson even ten years down the line. Peace and fucking. Believe!
PEEPSHOW (CHANNEL 4)
Two blokes share a flat. Oh, and they are romantic and social fuck-ups! That’s the premise in this brilliantly written classic sitcom from Jess Armstrong and Sam Bain. I rewatched all 8 seasons in close proximity and it just gets funnier and funnier making great use of the Mitchell and Webb humour-chemistry-combo. Genius.