When I was growing up, “British TV” meant either Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Good Life, the inexplicable Benny Hill Show or one of those well-acted but painfully dull movies on Masterpiece Theatre. Of course, looking back on it now, American TV wasn’t that exciting in the 1970s either, but Brit TV was well-known as being especially boring – not to mention cheaply put together.
If the last British TV show you watched was The Tomorrow People, you’ve been out of the loop for far too long! Thanks to the magic of DVDs and the Internet, you no longer need a passport and a plane ticket to watch most of the dozens of great British shows out there. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites, listed in no particular order:
Spooks – If you like 24, there’s a good chance you’ll like Spooks as well. It’s a gritty action\drama set in the anti-terrorism division of MI-5, which is Britain’s version of the FBI (sort of). Because most British shows still lack the big budgets that American shows have, most Brit TV writers rely more on cheaper things like, I dunno… character development. Whereas 24 is populated with a bunch of cartoon characters that we couldn’t care less about (excepting Jack, of course), we get to know each of the characters on Spooks deeply. And this makes us care. And when bad things happen to them, it’s like a kick in the gut. The show is tightly written, so whether the gang is chasing IRA or Muslim terrorists, computer hackers or rouge agents, you’ll almost always be on the edge of your seat. More than once I thought I was gonna have a heart attack before an episode was over. This show pulls no punches. At all. Yes, Spooks sometimes leans heavily on “technobabble” (not to mention technology that simply doesn’t exist in the real world). But still… this show will simply take your breath away!