5 Amazing British Television Shows That Not Enough Of You Have Seen

c4 misfits group v6 434x360 5 Amazing British Television Shows That Not Enough Of You Have Seen

I bet Paul Revere wouldn’t have been able to see this coming. What am I referring to, you ask? The influx of premium British television shows that seem to exist in abundance, for us all to pluck from as we see fit.  I am going on the record, right now, to say that I truly believe that some of the best television I have ever seen has been British in lineage. And the factors for this are many.

The main reason is that British TV is far less scrutinized and censored, so often times what we see will be ripe with sex and violence of the most uncensored kind. But that is not the selling point at all. As you will see from these five shows, no single element runs through them. A few of them are riotously funny in ways we have never seen before. A few of them are incredibly dark and deal with things that would be taboo to most American audiences. And mainly, you have shows that don’t pander. Shows that do not dumb themselves down for the sake of their audience. Shows that change the terms of what we are used to seeing on TV. Also, in a few of these cases, shows that introduced huge future movie stars to the world through British television.

And honestly, even if you hate British television because it makes you think of stuffy, uptight humor, YOU are the reason I am making this list. I promise (and you can hold me to this here) that every single one of you reading this right now will find at least one British television show on this list that you enjoy immensely.

And only Commies don’t like Spaced.

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Spaced

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You know I had to start with the show that launched the careers of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, who are now in the final chapter of their Three Flavours of Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End). Spaced is, and I mean this, the best “nerd” show ever. When people tell me The Big Bang Theory is the best “nerd show” ever, I want to big bang them in the brain with a hammer. Sorry, I have violence issues.

Spaced is a show about two friends who need to pretend to be a couple to be able to afford the flat they want. The couple in this case is Tim (played by Simon Pegg) and Daisy (played by Jessica Hynes, who deserves to be WAY more famous than she is) and the flat they want is in a building full of a motley crew of personalities, the most memorable being the war obsessed Mike Watt, played with passion by Nick Frost.

What made the show work so well was the genuine camaraderie between the cast, and the constant flow of nerd references, from anti-Jar Jar speeches before they were cool, to video game references only the nerdiest of us will get, Spaced is not only one of the best shows out of the Britain. It is one of the best shows ever made.

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The Young Ones

young 5 Amazing British Television Shows That Not Enough Of You Have Seen

How do I explain The Young Ones to someone who has never seen it?

Imagine the Sex Pistols and The Three Stooges had kids, and this show was about them, as 20-something slackers living in England in the 80′s, and you have a quarter of an idea, at least.

The Young Ones was a British television show that ran from 1982-1984, about four flat mates living together even though they had wildly different personalities. The humor on the show ran the gamut, from dark (with a beheading used for laughs) to the slapstick (same scene, body now stumbling around looking for its own head). It was insane and irreverent, and everything you had never seen on a television show outside of Monty Python, yet here it was.

Funny side fact about this. It was on at midnight on Sundays on MTV in the very early nineties. It was also the first non-musical program the channel ever ran. Also, the anarchist character RICK is pretty much my favorite TV character of all time.

The Fades

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The Fades could have (and probably still should become) a film. It is an epic good-versus-evil tale on the scale of Buffy (the Whedon show) and it was creepy, tense, and incredibly well made. The Fades was a British television show about a teenager named Paul who is haunted by apocalyptic visions, and on top of that, can see “The Fades”, which are the spirits of the dead that can’t be heard, seen, touched, or smelt by other humans. It puts Paul at a real disadvantage.

Add into that the “evil” Fade named Polus, who figures out a way to become human again, and suddenly you realize Paul is not only cursed with this “gift”, but pretty much has to figure out a way to save humanity against the Fades, who want to become real again and destroy all of humanity in the process.

See, light-hearted stuff.

No, but seriously, if you are a fan of shows like Buffy and The X-Files, The Fades reminds me of the best aspects of those shows, all while bringing something entirely new to the table as well.

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Misfits

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Okay, brace yourselves for this.

I think that the first two seasons of Misfits might be the best television I have ever seen. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can tell you NO SHOW in history pulled me in like that show did, and it really was the best of everything. It was gritty, funny, and very fucked up, tackling subject matter I never thought I would see in a show disguised as a teen drama.

Misfits also has Robert Sheehan in the first fourteen episodes as Nathan Young, who may be, and I do mean this, one of the most memorable characters from all of fiction. Why he is not a mega superstar is beyond me. I know it sounds like I am going a bit overboard, but really, this show is perfect.

Misfits is about a group of juvenile delinquents serving community service who get granted insane super powers during a freak electrical storm. It sounds silly, but by the end of the first episode, this show will be crack, and you will be reaching for the lighter.

First you have Nathan, whose power I will not ruin because half the joy of season one is trying to figure out what it is. He is brash, cocky, and utterly hilarious. A more engrossing character you are not likely to see anytime soon. Sometimes despicable, but always entertaining, he will draw you in and get you watching.

You have Curtis, the fallen track star who can rewind time when his guilt gets bad enough.

You have the gutter snipe, Kelly, who suddenly goes all Professor-X and can read minds.

You have the very sultry, Alisha, who is cursed with sending people into a sexual frenzy (I have that curse, too).

And you have Simon who, well, you’ll see. He has many layers to his character, and by the end of season two, he will have blown your mind, many times over.

Though the show fell off quite a bit when Robert Sheehan left, it is still well worth watching, but those first two seasons are so good they cast a spell on you. Watch them and try to tell me I’m wrong on this.

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The Mighty Boosh

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Okay, The Mighty Boosh, out of all the British television shows on the list, will be the one least likely to win you over, just due to how odd it can be. So let me give you that disclaimer one more time, this show is odd. Think Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job as fed through the Monty Python machine, and you still have no idea what you are in for. Is it sketch comedy? Or is it an actual show with an evolving story? Well, it is both, and so much more.

But I am here mainly to tell you about Old Gregg.

Old Gregg is a magical soul that every human being needs to experience, and you can only experience Old Gregg through The Mighty Boosh. So what is an “Old Gregg”? Well, if you look at that picture up there, you can SEE an Old Gregg. He is an intersexual merman who likes to drink Bailey’s out of a boot and paint watercolors, and that is him in a tut flashing his “mangina.”

Which is to say, this shit is exactly as awesome as it sounds. Need I say more?

I think not.

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  • Wilfred Rocco

    Yeah, the first two seasons of Misfits is one of the best TV show of this decade.

    Greetings from Chile.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Greetings right back!

  • James

    I use to prefer Bottom to the Young ones which was a spin of where Richie and Eddie move out and get their own flat together.

    You can watch ‘em free on Youtube if you do a search for “BBC Bottom”.

    Quick heads up though: They are as vile as they’re funny… Well worth it though ;)

    • Remy Carreiro

      Will def check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • 7992

    I’m in the uk and have never heard of the fades, but there is so much better tv than the five you have picked out, not to say it isn’t a good list though, him and her and bad education are two brilliant bbc3 comedies, Sherlock of course, hustle was brilliant and ran for 8seasons, also check out it crowd, being human, inspector morse, inbetweeners and Friday night dinner, all excellent, in England, we don’t have tv for idiots

    • Djangooooo

      Hmmm, I think Two pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps may beg to differ…

      • 7992

        Haha lets forget about that, the only thing positive about two pints is it was a spring board for Sheridan smith, I can’t believe it ran for aslong as it did, I’ve just remembered my family two I take my comment back we make just enought tv for idiots

    • LiamT

      “we don’t have tv for idiots” – eastenders, corrie, jeremy kyle, big brother (was interesting the first season when they weren’t whoring themselves to be a celeb)…. :)

      • Remy Carreiro

        Yes, and what about GEORDIE SHORE?
        WORST.
        SHOW.
        EVERRRRR!

    • Remy Carreiro

      No, I appreciate the feedback. I only get to see what I seek out and am exposed to, so I will look these up.

      • MIXTER

        Please! you need to check out, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace!! Followed by its spin off, Man to Man, with Dean Learner.

        Also, Alan Partridge. Saxondale. And recently a new series called Cuckoo.

        Also, even though its Canadian, if you’ve never seen the entirety of Trailer Park Boys…. Get it done!!

  • MrSatyre

    It’s been decades since I watched and loved The Young Ones, but if memory serves, each episode had some sort of musical performance by some popular group of the day, didn’t it? I distinctly remember Motorhead being on there.

    • NocomplyUK

      yeah this was definitely true of series one at least. If I remember correctly it was because the BBC’s budget for comedies was spent for the year so they got it made from the musical output budget, so they needed to have a band play to fill the requirements due to bizarre BBC rules.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Well played, you know your stuff, as does the gentlemen who commented below you as well. Impressive.

  • Sara Cole

    The Mighty Boosh is one of my favourite TV shows ever. So glad to see it on this list!

  • Matt Donato

    I can’t get away from The IT crowd. Favorite British TV show ever man. Peep Show is up there too. But these area all solid. Spaced for the win

    • Remy Carreiro

      I have been saving IT for when TV hits a really bad spot, which it is bound to after BB ends.

  • LiamT

    i would also add blackadder (series 1 not so great, 2+ are masterpieces) and ‘the fast show’. 2 of my all time favourites. we also do stuff like mock the week and QI that are much funnier than anything on USA TV.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Great show, and completely agree.

  • Future Sailor

    I have one word: Mangina.

    Okay, seriously though, this reads like a list of my favourite shows ever to be created. I mean you won me over with “Spaced” (dude, Tim prays to BUFFY I need say no more) and I genuinely thought you couldn’t make it better and then you went and did it. I am kinda cheating ’cause I AM British, but they’re just as underrated here (other than Misfits, my friends have seen none).

    And in the spirit of the other comments listing other amazing shows, I will add an honourable mention: Garth Marhengi’s Darkplace. It’s one of the biggest cult comedies of all time. It has only six episodes. A guy explodes in the first one.

    And, interesting fact, Julian Barrat from The Mighty Boosh was originally supposed to play Brian in Spaced.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Hahaha, you win with MANGINA.

  • Jane Glenister

    PEEP SHOW. Best friggin UK comedy TV show. Ever.

    But you should also check out Father Ted and anything to do with Alan Partridge, and yeah the young ones were funny but Bottom (which was kind of a follow up in that Rik & Viv became Richie & Eddie Hitler) just goes waaay beyond TYO.

    FYI Ade Edmondson is currently on Celebrity Masterchef..I tweeted him and asked if he was going to be serving Vodka Margarine and Sprouts Flambe. Hahaha…but lost on you if you never watched Bottom.

    And as for “stuffy”… I object. I think that the element of our humour that you across the pond tend not to get is the sarcastic take-the-piss-out-of-ourselves and sometimes just plain wrongness of it.

  • Danny Craine

    I’m British love all of these bar “The Fades”, haven’t seen it yet. I think “15 Stories High” is one of the most underrated British comedies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, then check it out.

  • majorcunt

    Hi Remy,
    Im from the UK and had never watched misfits. Thanks so much for introducing it to me. I have a couple of suggestions for you to check.
    “mongrels”: Dirty version of the muppests, written by one of the “misfits” writers. Stick with it mate, it gets dark!
    “bottom”: viv and rik from “the young ones” sharing a flat as adults. better than “the young ones” though!
    “utopia”: A fucked up horror/thriller. Slice of fried gold my friend!
    “the league of gentlemen”: modern python, with a black heart.
    Hope you enjoy

  • JBonkerz

    The only shows I haven’t seen are The Young Ones and Fades. Definitely going to check them out. To note I thought it was a huge cop out the way they removed Nathan from Misfits. I understand what they were aiming for however it just didn’t work for me.

  • CKT76

    I LOVE Misfits!!

  • demoncat_4

    the only two on this list i have not seen is the fades and the young ones. and surprised garth maringeies dark place did not make the cut. mostly because of the old joke about the female lead having gone missing and presumed dead.and no doctor who or torchwood either