1. After three years off the air, The IT Crowd is coming back for a finale special.
If you need me, I’ll be busy breathing heavily into a paper bag.
Here’s the deal: I am very certain of one thing. No matter how long, no matter how detailed, no matter how painstakingly perfected and poured over… I could never make a post that full expressed what an enormous nerd I am about The IT Crowd.
Well, okay. Maybe I could. I often doubt my ability to express my enthusiastic nerdiness and then I look back on things like my Spaced post and I think “ya know, I bet they get it just fine”. 
The IT Crowd follows the often ridiculous hijinks of a small IT department, located in the rarely-visited basement of a large corporation. The department is made up of three main characters: Roy (Chris O’Dowd), a cranky Irish IT specialist, Moss (Richard Ayoade), a socially awkward computer genius, and Jen (Katherine Parkinson), a computer-illiterate bossypants who fibs her way into a job as their supervisor. 
There’s something weird about The IT Crowd.The show is a textbook example of absurdist British humor, the kind that usually alienates American audiences, and yet it’s one of the few British shows that I find other people have seen. And not just TV nerds like myself - normal people! I don’t have any sort of explanation for this - I mean, the most quoted episode I know of is “Are We Not Men?”, which focuses on Roy and Moss accidentally getting wrapped up with a group of soccer hooligans who moonlight as Guy Ritchie style criminals. No, that sentence couldn’t have been more British.
The explanation for its popularity could be the same thing that’s contributed to The Big Bang Theory's success: nerd culture is in right now. There's a demand for shows about video games and comic books and people who aren't considering traditionally “cool”. All the same, for me The IT Crowd doesn’t have quite the same tone as The Big Bang Theory, in that the nerds actually still retain power. TBBT's Penny is effectively a stand-in for the mainstream, someone through which non-nerds can mock and laugh at the nerds on the show like animals in a zoo. Meanwhile, The IT Crowd’s Jen is decidedly not that person - her attempts to be cool fall flat on their face because of her desperate desire to seem competent in spite of her lack of experience and she is embarrassed just as often as the nerds she shares the screen with. In one notable episode, her desire for a pair of beautiful red heels overrides all reason and she purchases a pair two sizes two small, resulting in a nervous breakdown and horribly mutilated feet. Each character on this show is disparaged as much as the next, leaving you without the bitter taste in your mouth that can come from watching nerds be stigmatized and stereotyped in the name of capitalizing on their current popularity.
The programme’s not perfect, of course - none is. I will admit to not being a huge fan of Matt Berry’s character Douglas Reynholm, the spoiled son of the company’s founder. But take that with a grain of salt, Matt Berry is a staple in many British sitcoms and appears to be a fan favorite, he’s just a little too over the top for me. Booming voices and bizarre hip movements are not an automatic laugh for me - but his interactions with Roy and Moss are usually well worth watching. If you’re a Mighty Boosh fan, you’ll love him. Speaking of Boosh, Noel Fielding has a recurring role as the boss’s ex-golden boy, a yuppie turned goth who may or may not live in the company’s server room. Perfect or not, it is an easy watch - ridiculously funny, and endlessly quotable. They even do catchphrases well, like the show’s famous “have you tried turning it off and on again?”
So you may be asking yourself - why would a show that’s popular, BAFTA and Emmy Award winning, hilarious, and generally awesome and quotable go off the air after four seasons? Unfortunately, there’s no clear explanation. The most likely culprit was scheduling conflicts, as Chris O’Dowd’s career has enjoyed a significant boom over the past few years, especially in the US (you may remember him from Bridesmaids, Girls, and my dreams. Wait, what?). Another potential answer is that this is Britain, and they are rarely one to beat a dead horse as far as programming goes - each series of The IT Crowd runs for only six episodes.
So while The IT Crowd was certainly the victim of an untimely demise and us fans would happily take far, far more seasons, I will happily settle for a reunion finale to offer us some much needed closure on Roy, Moss, and Jen. No word yet on an air date, but I’ll be right over here on the edge of my seat.
—————
Where to StartYesterday’s Jam - Series 1, Episode 1The Red Door - Series 1, Episode 4Are We Not Men? - Series 3, Episode 2Tramps Like Us - Series 3, Episode 3
Where to WatchNetflix - Series 1-4Hulu Plus - Series 1-4Amazon Instant - Series 1-3Amazon DVDs - Series 1-4
—————
Pictured: Richard Ayoade as Moss, Katherine Parkinson as Jen, and Chris O’Dowd as Roy. 
Image is property of Channel 4.
    High Res

    After three years off the air, The IT Crowd is coming back for a finale special.

    If you need me, I’ll be busy breathing heavily into a paper bag.

    Here’s the deal: I am very certain of one thing. No matter how long, no matter how detailed, no matter how painstakingly perfected and poured over… I could never make a post that full expressed what an enormous nerd I am about The IT Crowd.

    Well, okay. Maybe I could. I often doubt my ability to express my enthusiastic nerdiness and then I look back on things like my Spaced post and I think “ya know, I bet they get it just fine”.

    The IT Crowd follows the often ridiculous hijinks of a small IT department, located in the rarely-visited basement of a large corporation. The department is made up of three main characters: Roy (Chris O’Dowd), a cranky Irish IT specialist, Moss (Richard Ayoade), a socially awkward computer genius, and Jen (Katherine Parkinson), a computer-illiterate bossypants who fibs her way into a job as their supervisor. 

    There’s something weird about The IT Crowd.The show is a textbook example of absurdist British humor, the kind that usually alienates American audiences, and yet it’s one of the few British shows that I find other people have seen. And not just TV nerds like myself - normal people! I don’t have any sort of explanation for this - I mean, the most quoted episode I know of is “Are We Not Men?”, which focuses on Roy and Moss accidentally getting wrapped up with a group of soccer hooligans who moonlight as Guy Ritchie style criminals. No, that sentence couldn’t have been more British.

    The explanation for its popularity could be the same thing that’s contributed to The Big Bang Theory's success: nerd culture is in right now. There's a demand for shows about video games and comic books and people who aren't considering traditionally “cool”. All the same, for me The IT Crowd doesn’t have quite the same tone as The Big Bang Theory, in that the nerds actually still retain power. TBBT's Penny is effectively a stand-in for the mainstream, someone through which non-nerds can mock and laugh at the nerds on the show like animals in a zoo. Meanwhile, The IT Crowd’s Jen is decidedly not that person - her attempts to be cool fall flat on their face because of her desperate desire to seem competent in spite of her lack of experience and she is embarrassed just as often as the nerds she shares the screen with. In one notable episode, her desire for a pair of beautiful red heels overrides all reason and she purchases a pair two sizes two small, resulting in a nervous breakdown and horribly mutilated feet. Each character on this show is disparaged as much as the next, leaving you without the bitter taste in your mouth that can come from watching nerds be stigmatized and stereotyped in the name of capitalizing on their current popularity.

    The programme’s not perfect, of course - none is. I will admit to not being a huge fan of Matt Berry’s character Douglas Reynholm, the spoiled son of the company’s founder. But take that with a grain of salt, Matt Berry is a staple in many British sitcoms and appears to be a fan favorite, he’s just a little too over the top for me. Booming voices and bizarre hip movements are not an automatic laugh for me - but his interactions with Roy and Moss are usually well worth watching. If you’re a Mighty Boosh fan, you’ll love him. Speaking of Boosh, Noel Fielding has a recurring role as the boss’s ex-golden boy, a yuppie turned goth who may or may not live in the company’s server room. Perfect or not, it is an easy watch - ridiculously funny, and endlessly quotable. They even do catchphrases well, like the show’s famous “have you tried turning it off and on again?”

    So you may be asking yourself - why would a show that’s popular, BAFTA and Emmy Award winning, hilarious, and generally awesome and quotable go off the air after four seasons? Unfortunately, there’s no clear explanation. The most likely culprit was scheduling conflicts, as Chris O’Dowd’s career has enjoyed a significant boom over the past few years, especially in the US (you may remember him from Bridesmaids, Girls, and my dreams. Wait, what?). Another potential answer is that this is Britain, and they are rarely one to beat a dead horse as far as programming goes - each series of The IT Crowd runs for only six episodes.

    So while The IT Crowd was certainly the victim of an untimely demise and us fans would happily take far, far more seasons, I will happily settle for a reunion finale to offer us some much needed closure on Roy, Moss, and Jen. No word yet on an air date, but I’ll be right over here on the edge of my seat.

    —————

    Where to Start
    Yesterday’s Jam - Series 1, Episode 1
    The Red Door
    - Series 1, Episode 4
    Are We Not Men? - Series 3, Episode 2
    Tramps Like Us - Series 3, Episode 3

    Where to Watch
    Netflix - Series 1-4
    Hulu Plus - Series 1-4
    Amazon Instant - Series 1-3
    Amazon DVDs - Series 1-4

    —————

    Pictured: Richard Ayoade as Moss, Katherine Parkinson as Jen, and Chris O’Dowd as Roy.

    Image is property of Channel 4.

  2. topgear:

Jeremy, James and Richard – and Phineas and Ferb!
Top Gear may be the most-watched factual program in the entire world, but you know the show has really made it when its hosts are asked to make a guest appearance on the animated show Phineas and Ferb.
Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond will voice the characters of car race commentators in an upcoming episode of the Disney kids show called “Live and Let Drive.”
“I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. I did Phineas and Ferb as a way of impressing my children. They think I’ve done something cool for once!” Hammond said, according to a Press Association story.
“Impressing my girls as a bloke off a car show is impossible. They are not impressed by fancy cars or motorcycles or me flying a helicopter or any of the things I like doing,” explained the Hamster. ”They have grown up with having a dad on the telly, it has always been the case for them, so there’s little novelty in it for them, but when it’s a show that they watch independently of my being in it and then I crop up on it, that’s much cooler.”
Richard will also do a guest spot on the spin-off Take Two With Phineas and Ferb.

    topgear:

    Jeremy, James and Richard – and Phineas and Ferb!

    Top Gear may be the most-watched factual program in the entire world, but you know the show has really made it when its hosts are asked to make a guest appearance on the animated show Phineas and Ferb.

    Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond will voice the characters of car race commentators in an upcoming episode of the Disney kids show called “Live and Let Drive.”

    “I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. I did Phineas and Ferb as a way of impressing my children. They think I’ve done something cool for once!” Hammond said, according to a Press Association story.

    “Impressing my girls as a bloke off a car show is impossible. They are not impressed by fancy cars or motorcycles or me flying a helicopter or any of the things I like doing,” explained the Hamster. ”They have grown up with having a dad on the telly, it has always been the case for them, so there’s little novelty in it for them, but when it’s a show that they watch independently of my being in it and then I crop up on it, that’s much cooler.”

    Richard will also do a guest spot on the spin-off Take Two With Phineas and Ferb.

    (via bbcamerica)

  3. Cars, Madness, and an Explosion or Two - BBC’s Top Gear
It’s official, I cannot put it off any longer. We need to talk about Top Gear.
You may have noticed a theme in my posts: a lot of scripted television and panel shows. The vast majority of my time, both professionally and personally, is invested in these genres. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.
That being said, in the world of British television programmes dear to my heart, there is one that doesn’t quite match the rest. There are no time-traveling aliens or hunky noblemen. You see, Top Gear is a show about cars. And a damned good one at that.
A Bit of Background
Technically, Top Gear has been around since the 1970s but the style and format we see today started with the programme’s relaunch in 2002. The show is presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, with special assistance by an enigmatic racing driver known only as The Stig. What started as a simple informative show about cars has evolved into something of a monster, where you’re just as likely to see a car explode as you are to see it driven around a track.
You may be asking yourself why a show about cars would spend a significant amount of time blowing them up. I’m of the belief that you can’t expect anything but explosions when you put three car-obsessed middle aged men together with a (presumably) massive budget and tell them to make a television show. The presenters themselves come together like a bunch of teenage boys, egging each other on to the next stupid idea.
Clarkson is often the centerpiece of the show, a loudmouth know-it-all who has been labelled by the other two as the least practical man in the world. Hammond is charismatic, prone to goofiness, and frequently picked on for his being, well… short. And finally you have James May, the long-suffering third presenter, known as “Captain Slow”, who spends most of his time being picked on for his careful driving and interest in the minutiae of automotive design. 
There are a few things you can count on in each episode: a review of a new car, recent car news, some sort of feature or challenge, and they will send a celebrity guest around their racetrack for the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment. Other than that, buckle up. Lord knows what they’ll throw at you this week.
Why You Should Watch
If I’m being honest, I’m not much of a car person. Sure, I’ll ooh and ahh over a pretty Ferrari with the best of them. And yes, some would say that I have an unhealthy obsession with my Mini Cooper (shocker, right?). All the same, I don’t particularly understand what makes one better than the other or what you’re talking about when you start discussing torque and under steer and liters.
When asked how many liters my Mini’s engine is, I responded “I don’t know, like 4 or something?”
Um, yeah - it’s 1.6. 
Despite my ignorance about and relative disinterest in cars, one of my favorite things to do is still sitting on the sofa watching Top Gear for hours with my little brother. Why on earth would I want to watch a television show that focuses almost exclusively on cars? The answer is pretty simple. Top Gear is hilarious, exciting, and you really never know what you’re going to get.
They have done everything from touring the French Riviera in classic Ferraris to driving on Death Road in Bolivia, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, in ancient and crumbling SUVs. They have played soccer with cars (yes, you read that right), created their own amphibious vehicles, turned normal cars into stretch limousines, and drove specially adapted pickup trucks to the Magnetic North Pole.
It is immensely fun to watch what the producers will throw at them next and man, there’s just something so satisfying about watching Jeremy Clarkson drive a lorry (semi-truck) through a brick wall. Whether you’re a car lover or just like watching middle-aged men embarrass themselves, I promise you’ll be just as addicted to this ridiculous show as I am.
Where to Start
Series 13, Episode 2The presenters are given £2500 and the challenge to purchase a car that’s perfect for a 17 year old, their parents, and insurance companies. The challenges associated with this assignment had me in tears I was laughing so hard.
Bolivia Special This special is full of hilarity, mayhem, and moments full of suspense and terror. May nearly takes Clarkson’s head off with a machete, which is wonderful.
Where to WatchNetflix - Series 2-18Amazon DVDsAmazon Instant VideoBBC America - check local listings
—————
Pictured: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May
Image is property of the British Broadcasting Corporation
    High Res

    Cars, Madness, and an Explosion or Two - BBC’s Top Gear

    It’s official, I cannot put it off any longer. We need to talk about Top Gear.

    You may have noticed a theme in my posts: a lot of scripted television and panel shows. The vast majority of my time, both professionally and personally, is invested in these genres. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.

    That being said, in the world of British television programmes dear to my heart, there is one that doesn’t quite match the rest. There are no time-traveling aliens or hunky noblemen. You see, Top Gear is a show about cars. And a damned good one at that.

    A Bit of Background

    Technically, Top Gear has been around since the 1970s but the style and format we see today started with the programme’s relaunch in 2002. The show is presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, with special assistance by an enigmatic racing driver known only as The Stig. What started as a simple informative show about cars has evolved into something of a monster, where you’re just as likely to see a car explode as you are to see it driven around a track.

    You may be asking yourself why a show about cars would spend a significant amount of time blowing them up. I’m of the belief that you can’t expect anything but explosions when you put three car-obsessed middle aged men together with a (presumably) massive budget and tell them to make a television show. The presenters themselves come together like a bunch of teenage boys, egging each other on to the next stupid idea.

    Clarkson is often the centerpiece of the show, a loudmouth know-it-all who has been labelled by the other two as the least practical man in the world. Hammond is charismatic, prone to goofiness, and frequently picked on for his being, well… short. And finally you have James May, the long-suffering third presenter, known as “Captain Slow”, who spends most of his time being picked on for his careful driving and interest in the minutiae of automotive design. 

    There are a few things you can count on in each episode: a review of a new car, recent car news, some sort of feature or challenge, and they will send a celebrity guest around their racetrack for the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment. Other than that, buckle up. Lord knows what they’ll throw at you this week.

    Why You Should Watch

    If I’m being honest, I’m not much of a car person. Sure, I’ll ooh and ahh over a pretty Ferrari with the best of them. And yes, some would say that I have an unhealthy obsession with my Mini Cooper (shocker, right?). All the same, I don’t particularly understand what makes one better than the other or what you’re talking about when you start discussing torque and under steer and liters.

    When asked how many liters my Mini’s engine is, I responded “I don’t know, like 4 or something?”

    Um, yeah - it’s 1.6. 

    Despite my ignorance about and relative disinterest in cars, one of my favorite things to do is still sitting on the sofa watching Top Gear for hours with my little brother. Why on earth would I want to watch a television show that focuses almost exclusively on cars? The answer is pretty simple. Top Gear is hilarious, exciting, and you really never know what you’re going to get.

    They have done everything from touring the French Riviera in classic Ferraris to driving on Death Road in Bolivia, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, in ancient and crumbling SUVs. They have played soccer with cars (yes, you read that right), created their own amphibious vehicles, turned normal cars into stretch limousines, and drove specially adapted pickup trucks to the Magnetic North Pole.

    It is immensely fun to watch what the producers will throw at them next and man, there’s just something so satisfying about watching Jeremy Clarkson drive a lorry (semi-truck) through a brick wall. Whether you’re a car lover or just like watching middle-aged men embarrass themselves, I promise you’ll be just as addicted to this ridiculous show as I am.

    Where to Start

    Series 13, Episode 2
    The presenters are given £2500 and the challenge to purchase a car that’s perfect for a 17 year old, their parents, and insurance companies. The challenges associated with this assignment had me in tears I was laughing so hard.

    Bolivia Special
    This special is full of hilarity, mayhem, and moments full of suspense and terror. May nearly takes Clarkson’s head off with a machete, which is wonderful.

    Where to Watch
    Netflix - Series 2-18
    Amazon DVDs
    Amazon Instant Video
    BBC America - check local listings

    —————

    Pictured: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May

    Image is property of the British Broadcasting Corporation

  4. Lost in Time - Britain’s Missing Television
Well - here we are. Finals are over and I am officially on Spring Break! That means that my obligation to this blog is no longer rewarded with good grades and praises and instead with my own pride and enjoyment in writing it!
The posting schedule is likely to shift by a few days, but I do have the full intentions of maintaining this blog for the foreseeable future! So where do we go from here? I vote we go back to the beginning - Doctor Who.
I know, I know. How many times can I possibly go on to you about Doctor Who, right? But the topic of this post is not Doctor Who itself - it’s part of the bizarre history of the good old BBC, a part that has resulted in devastation, frustration, and incredulity from its viewers.
As I’ve mentioned before, this year is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who's first airing on November 23, 1963. Naturally the BBC has been spending a lot of time recently trying to get people psyched for the 50th Anniversary special that will be airing later this year. Fair enough, right? The show has been on for fifty years, one would think there’s plenty of material.
Turns out that BBC’s past is coming to bite them in the ass. Out of the 790 episodes of Doctor Who that have been broadcast in the last half-decade, 106 of them are gone forever. The BBC is now desperately reaching out to fans, trying to locate these long-lost episodes which include such historic events as the First Doctor’s regeneration into the Second Doctor and the existence of a few companions. You may be wondering how - HOW?! - can one of the largest, oldest, most reputable television networks on this planet of ours could lose over a hundred episodes of a television show that many consider a British institution.
The sad reality is that Doctor Who is not alone. During the 1960s and 1970s, a staggering portion of classic British television was lost. Doctor Who's 106 missing episodes sounds bad, but there were entire programmes from this time period that are completely lost, only alive in stills and memory. There's no single culprit either - this tragedy can be blamed on everything from budget constraints, storage issues, and, in my opinion, a shocking lack of foresight.
Throughout this period, it was common practice to wipe original tapes and reuse them for new programmes as a cost-saving measure and poor storage conditions lead to significant degradation of BBC’s existing stores of film and video tapes. In fact, it wasn’t until 1978 that the BBC finally stopped their practices of wiping old tapes and destroying the copies!
As I mentioned earlier, this dark time in BBC’s history has long been a thorn in the side of fans of classic television. For years, fans and the BBC alike have been desperately searching for those programmes missing from their collection. It hasn’t been in vain - this search has turned up some gems from around the world. Unfortunately, these gems are pretty few and far between, so it seems pretty unlikely that all of these lost episodes will ever be found again.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty sad - historic episodes and entire programmes produced in the early days of British television are gone forever. The silver lining is that they’re not all gone, and if you do decide to delve into Classic Who, the remaining episodes are pretty easy to find. For us Whovians, it’s worth dealing with what’s missing to be able to embrace what’s left behind.
—————
Pictured above: the modern British Film Institute’s film storage facility. This level of storage is a far cry from the conditions that destroyed many tapes and film
    High Res

    Lost in Time - Britain’s Missing Television

    Well - here we are. Finals are over and I am officially on Spring Break! That means that my obligation to this blog is no longer rewarded with good grades and praises and instead with my own pride and enjoyment in writing it!

    The posting schedule is likely to shift by a few days, but I do have the full intentions of maintaining this blog for the foreseeable future! So where do we go from here? I vote we go back to the beginning - Doctor Who.

    I know, I know. How many times can I possibly go on to you about Doctor Who, right? But the topic of this post is not Doctor Who itself - it’s part of the bizarre history of the good old BBC, a part that has resulted in devastation, frustration, and incredulity from its viewers.

    As I’ve mentioned before, this year is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who's first airing on November 23, 1963. Naturally the BBC has been spending a lot of time recently trying to get people psyched for the 50th Anniversary special that will be airing later this year. Fair enough, right? The show has been on for fifty years, one would think there’s plenty of material.

    Turns out that BBC’s past is coming to bite them in the ass. Out of the 790 episodes of Doctor Who that have been broadcast in the last half-decade, 106 of them are gone forever. The BBC is now desperately reaching out to fans, trying to locate these long-lost episodes which include such historic events as the First Doctor’s regeneration into the Second Doctor and the existence of a few companions. You may be wondering how - HOW?! - can one of the largest, oldest, most reputable television networks on this planet of ours could lose over a hundred episodes of a television show that many consider a British institution.

    The sad reality is that Doctor Who is not alone. During the 1960s and 1970s, a staggering portion of classic British television was lost. Doctor Who's 106 missing episodes sounds bad, but there were entire programmes from this time period that are completely lost, only alive in stills and memory. There's no single culprit either - this tragedy can be blamed on everything from budget constraints, storage issues, and, in my opinion, a shocking lack of foresight.

    Throughout this period, it was common practice to wipe original tapes and reuse them for new programmes as a cost-saving measure and poor storage conditions lead to significant degradation of BBC’s existing stores of film and video tapes. In fact, it wasn’t until 1978 that the BBC finally stopped their practices of wiping old tapes and destroying the copies!

    As I mentioned earlier, this dark time in BBC’s history has long been a thorn in the side of fans of classic television. For years, fans and the BBC alike have been desperately searching for those programmes missing from their collection. It hasn’t been in vain - this search has turned up some gems from around the world. Unfortunately, these gems are pretty few and far between, so it seems pretty unlikely that all of these lost episodes will ever be found again.

    At the end of the day, it’s pretty sad - historic episodes and entire programmes produced in the early days of British television are gone forever. The silver lining is that they’re not all gone, and if you do decide to delve into Classic Who, the remaining episodes are pretty easy to find. For us Whovians, it’s worth dealing with what’s missing to be able to embrace what’s left behind.

    —————

    Pictured above: the modern British Film Institute’s film storage facility. This level of storage is a far cry from the conditions that destroyed many tapes and film

  5. The Brits* Talk Back
Most of the time, you get to listen to me ramble about how I, an American, feel about British television. This week I wanted to bring you something different, so this is when the Brits get their say. On Wednesday, you heard from my best friend Michelle as she filled you in on Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day. 
Today, I asked a few United Kingdom natives to give me some feedback about their own television. The responses are from Charlie of Nottingham, Michelle of Hartfordshire, and Rebecca of Northern Ireland.
When you think of British television, what’s the first thing that springs to mind and why?
Rebecca:Comedy. It’s the most unique aspect of British television’s identity and is very ‘silly’, just watch Monty Python, or Blackadder, which, despite its wit and sharpness still falls back on over the top characters or silly situations. There is also an almost obscurity to some of the humour that I imagine would be tricky to transfer to other cultures as it is a small island, so jokes from Doctor Who at ITV1’s expense may be lost on those in America, yet in an American sitcom a joke about Walmart would still be laughed at over here, despite the fact that there are no Walmarts in the UK, because American culture is well known. The goofy, almost in-jokes, of British humour is what makes British television unique.
Michelle:Doctor Who. It’s a practically a British institution! I don’t believe there’s a British person in the world that wouldn’t recognise the TARDIS call and be scared of a dalek! I was really too young for it first time round, but I watched a lot of reruns and mostly I remember being scared to death by the daleks! It being brought back and doing so well is just really exciting and shows how timeless and awesome british television can be.Charlie:The thing I think of immediately is Doctor Who, because it’s so iconic and tied to British history. In more general terms I think of the detail paid to British television, the intricacy and the amount of work put in to things most people (unless they’re super observant tumblr users) wouldn’t see. For example, in an episode of Sherlock, Cumberbatch is holding a newspaper and the article starts with the phrase ‘a tale worthy of Conan Doyle himself’.  I accept the many flaws in Sherlock but that really stood out to me, it shows how much work gets put into television that relies solely on the public for funding - the BBC gets its revenue from us paying our tv licence, not from adverts or faceless companies.
What is your opinion about American Television?Rebecca:I think it is widely accepted in British culture as a large part of our television and in a way it makes it harder to identify it by itself. I think that American TV takes more risks and when it pays off, just like British television, it really pays off; however, when it doesn’t you are more likely to get something bad to watch, whereas I think that when British television fails it is because it has created something boring with very few risks involves (with a few notable exceptions when it becomes laughably painful). American television is very notable for its larger scale which means that it takes more commitment to sit down and watch a series every week, especially when a lot of American drama has ongoing plot arcs. I think this is why box set culture has started over here, as of the people I know, and myself included, our DVD boxsets would contain many more American series such as Dexter, House or X Files than Doctor Whos, Torchwoods or Red Dwarfs. British tv with shorter series and often shorter episodes makes it easier for casual viewing. While a lot of American tv shows with long episodes and long series runs are really high quality, I sometimes feel that the short series and episode length gives some British tv shows a better quality and makes them snappy and memorable. 
The gap between series airing in America and those airing in Britain is often insanely large so I will sometimes follow American series as they are released in America and it very different to how shows are aired here. Once a series starts it will be on every week unless an important sporting event clashes with it, and this is very rare, whereas in America series gaps of a week or two appear to be fairly common. Finally as much as I hate to generalise I find American reality tv shows a little too hard to watch. I think the drama is exaggerated far beyond that of similar British reality tv shows and that the video log footage that is cut in with the ongoing action is done very poorly and comes across as cheesy.
Michelle:On the most part, I like it. I’m much more of a fan of American scripted television than unscripted as sometimes American reality TV shows tend to use the term “unscripted” very loosely (which you don’t get so much of on UK reality shows). I’m not always a fan of American comedy, but there are a few very good shows that appeal to my sense of humour (Scrubs being a big one). My all time favourite TV show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is American, so I’m definitely a fan! It’s pretty cliche to say that America doesn’t get Britain’s sense of humour, but I think America at least attacks comedy different to the brits so very different shows come from each side of the pond.
Charlie:There are quite a few American shows I watch and I enjoy them for different reasons to British television. New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls…. they’re all funny and heart warming, not to mention how sucked into Suits and Hawaii Five-0 for the drama and excellent characters. I enjoy those and use them to switch off after a long day at uni, to veg out in front of my laptop and just have a laugh. That’s not to say American television is dumbed down, you only have to watch Elementary to realise that is definitely not the case, but I’m aware of the different reasons and circumstances in which I watch British and American television.
If you were only allowed to recommend one programme to an American interested in British TV, which programme would it be?
Rebecca: Doctor Who. It is such a large part of British Culture, has a very British feel to it but doesn’t exclude those of other cultures too much. It’s a high quality show and covers a lot of genres and, as it began back in 1963, it covers many different eras of British television and goes through many different styles.
Michelle:It would depend what genre really, but overall I’d probably recommend Doctor Who, it’s a great drama with lots of twists and heartstring pulls so it’ll definitely get you hooked. And it’ll also give you a bit of an insight into our silly sense of humour (stick with the terrible effects and costumes, it’s part of the charm!)
Charlie:I think I would like to recommend Outnumbered because it’s such a brilliant portrayal of family life and there are parts of that show I think I’ve broken ribs laughing at. The problem is it’s so dependent on British culture that I think a lot of the humour might be missed, the subtlety of Hugh Dennis might get overlooked and that would be a shame, so unless the American had previous knowledge of British humour and context, I would have to go with Mr Selfridge, my personal favourite at the moment. It’s full of drama and even centred around an American family, but does British 1900’s excellently. Period dramas done well are always pleasing (Gregory Fitoussi doesn’t hurt either, especially that French accent…) and when I’m not paying attention the multi layered storyline or clapping in delight at Lady Mae’s wit, I’m absorbed in the beauty of the set. The costumes, the insight into British culture/history, and the way each episode leaves you wanting more is nothing short of, well, as Nine would say, ‘fantastic!’.
—————-
So there you have it! Thank you so much to the Charlie, Rebecca, and Michelle. Especially thanks to all of you for recommending two of my favorite shows! 
What are your favorite British television shows? Is there one you just plain don’t get? Let me know in the comments! 
—————
*I’m using “Brits” here a bit liberally as one of the responders is from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but not Great Britain. It is, however, part of the British Isles. So… close, I guess?
    High Res

    The Brits* Talk Back

    Most of the time, you get to listen to me ramble about how I, an American, feel about British television. This week I wanted to bring you something different, so this is when the Brits get their say. On Wednesday, you heard from my best friend Michelle as she filled you in on Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.

    Today, I asked a few United Kingdom natives to give me some feedback about their own television. The responses are from Charlie of Nottingham, Michelle of Hartfordshire, and Rebecca of Northern Ireland.

    When you think of British television, what’s the first thing that springs to mind and why?

    Rebecca:
    Comedy. It’s the most unique aspect of British television’s identity and is very ‘silly’, just watch Monty Python, or Blackadder, which, despite its wit and sharpness still falls back on over the top characters or silly situations. There is also an almost obscurity to some of the humour that I imagine would be tricky to transfer to other cultures as it is a small island, so jokes from Doctor Who at ITV1’s expense may be lost on those in America, yet in an American sitcom a joke about Walmart would still be laughed at over here, despite the fact that there are no Walmarts in the UK, because American culture is well known. The goofy, almost in-jokes, of British humour is what makes British television unique.

    Michelle:
    Doctor Who. It’s a practically a British institution! I don’t believe there’s a British person in the world that wouldn’t recognise the TARDIS call and be scared of a dalek! I was really too young for it first time round, but I watched a lot of reruns and mostly I remember being scared to death by the daleks! It being brought back and doing so well is just really exciting and shows how timeless and awesome british television can be.

    Charlie:
    The thing I think of immediately is Doctor Who, because it’s so iconic and tied to British history. In more general terms I think of the detail paid to British television, the intricacy and the amount of work put in to things most people (unless they’re super observant tumblr users) wouldn’t see. For example, in an episode of Sherlock, Cumberbatch is holding a newspaper and the article starts with the phrase ‘a tale worthy of Conan Doyle himself’.  I accept the many flaws in Sherlock but that really stood out to me, it shows how much work gets put into television that relies solely on the public for funding - the BBC gets its revenue from us paying our tv licence, not from adverts or faceless companies.

    What is your opinion about American Television?

    Rebecca:
    I think it is widely accepted in British culture as a large part of our television and in a way it makes it harder to identify it by itself. I think that American TV takes more risks and when it pays off, just like British television, it really pays off; however, when it doesn’t you are more likely to get something bad to watch, whereas I think that when British television fails it is because it has created something boring with very few risks involves (with a few notable exceptions when it becomes laughably painful). American television is very notable for its larger scale which means that it takes more commitment to sit down and watch a series every week, especially when a lot of American drama has ongoing plot arcs. I think this is why box set culture has started over here, as of the people I know, and myself included, our DVD boxsets would contain many more American series such as Dexter, House or X Files than Doctor Whos, Torchwoods or Red Dwarfs. British tv with shorter series and often shorter episodes makes it easier for casual viewing. While a lot of American tv shows with long episodes and long series runs are really high quality, I sometimes feel that the short series and episode length gives some British tv shows a better quality and makes them snappy and memorable. 

    The gap between series airing in America and those airing in Britain is often insanely large so I will sometimes follow American series as they are released in America and it very different to how shows are aired here. Once a series starts it will be on every week unless an important sporting event clashes with it, and this is very rare, whereas in America series gaps of a week or two appear to be fairly common. Finally as much as I hate to generalise I find American reality tv shows a little too hard to watch. I think the drama is exaggerated far beyond that of similar British reality tv shows and that the video log footage that is cut in with the ongoing action is done very poorly and comes across as cheesy.

    Michelle:
    On the most part, I like it. I’m much more of a fan of American scripted television than unscripted as sometimes American reality TV shows tend to use the term “unscripted” very loosely (which you don’t get so much of on UK reality shows). I’m not always a fan of American comedy, but there are a few very good shows that appeal to my sense of humour (Scrubs being a big one). My all time favourite TV show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is American, so I’m definitely a fan! It’s pretty cliche to say that America doesn’t get Britain’s sense of humour, but I think America at least attacks comedy different to the brits so very different shows come from each side of the pond.

    Charlie:
    There are quite a few American shows I watch and I enjoy them for different reasons to British television. New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls…. they’re all funny and heart warming, not to mention how sucked into Suits and Hawaii Five-0 for the drama and excellent characters. I enjoy those and use them to switch off after a long day at uni, to veg out in front of my laptop and just have a laugh. That’s not to say American television is dumbed down, you only have to watch Elementary to realise that is definitely not the case, but I’m aware of the different reasons and circumstances in which I watch British and American television.

    If you were only allowed to recommend one programme to an American interested in British TV, which programme would it be?

    Rebecca:
    Doctor Who. It is such a large part of British Culture, has a very British feel to it but doesn’t exclude those of other cultures too much. It’s a high quality show and covers a lot of genres and, as it began back in 1963, it covers many different eras of British television and goes through many different styles.

    Michelle:
    It would depend what genre really, but overall I’d probably recommend Doctor Who, it’s a great drama with lots of twists and heartstring pulls so it’ll definitely get you hooked. And it’ll also give you a bit of an insight into our silly sense of humour (stick with the terrible effects and costumes, it’s part of the charm!)

    Charlie:
    I think I would like to recommend Outnumbered because it’s such a brilliant portrayal of family life and there are parts of that show I think I’ve broken ribs laughing at. The problem is it’s so dependent on British culture that I think a lot of the humour might be missed, the subtlety of Hugh Dennis might get overlooked and that would be a shame, so unless the American had previous knowledge of British humour and context, I would have to go with Mr Selfridge, my personal favourite at the moment. It’s full of drama and even centred around an American family, but does British 1900’s excellently. Period dramas done well are always pleasing (Gregory Fitoussi doesn’t hurt either, especially that French accent…) and when I’m not paying attention the multi layered storyline or clapping in delight at Lady Mae’s wit, I’m absorbed in the beauty of the set. The costumes, the insight into British culture/history, and the way each episode leaves you wanting more is nothing short of, well, as Nine would say, ‘fantastic!’.

    —————-

    So there you have it! Thank you so much to the Charlie, Rebecca, and Michelle. Especially thanks to all of you for recommending two of my favorite shows!

    What are your favorite British television shows? Is there one you just plain don’t get? Let me know in the comments!

    —————

    *I’m using “Brits” here a bit liberally as one of the responders is from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but not Great Britain. It is, however, part of the British Isles. So… close, I guess?

  6. Do Something Funny For Money!
I’ve talked about my British best friend several times before on this blog, but today you get the treat of an actual post by Michelle! She took on a topic that I know next to nothing about: Comic Relief and Red Nose Day.
—————
If you happen to find yourself in Britain during the third week of March this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking we had all lost our minds. Adults wandering the streets with red noses that look like dinosaurs, anybody and everybody in random costumes and people taking a bath in baked beans in the local supermarket!
But worry not, this just the way we raise money to help disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa. This is Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day! 
What is Comic Relief and Red Nose Day?
Comic Relief is a British charity founded by scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in 1985, in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Comic Relief’s big appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon (alternating years with it’s sister charity, Sport Relief). Red Nose Day this year is Friday March 15th on BBC One, but there’s a whole bunch of fundraising (or “fun-raising”) all over the country and special red nose day episodes of some well loved TV Shows. Basically, we all buy and wear silly red noses, eat a cake for a good cause and sit down in front of our TV’s and watch a marathon comedy event until the early hours and donate some money when they show the sad videos that make us cry! 2013 is the 25 year anniversary, so it’s gonna be a big one!
What’s Going On?
Well, there are three TV Shows that have done special RND series. The first was The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief. The regular show is a bunch of wannabe bakers crying and stressing to impress the scary and awesome judges (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood) with each task. The RND special is the same but with celebrities, BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney won (I don’t know who she is either). The second is Great British Menu Does Comic Relief, this is a show where some fancy chefs compete for the chance to create a banquet for some high profile guest, in this case that guest is Red Nose Day. This is one the public can take part in too, a number of restaurants are donating money from dishes or having RND themed menus. The third show is probably to help you work off all your interpretations of the recipes featured on the first two, Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, a celebrity dance competition!
As well as TV specials. there are celebrities doing challenges for sponsorship. Miranda’s Mad March starts on Monday March 11th and will feature comedian Miranda Hart attempting 5 different challenges each day in 5 different UK cities. If you can find a way to watch any RND stuff, this one would be my pick. Other challenges happening are Helen’s Magnificent 7, where TV presenter Helen Skelton attempts 7 big fundraising challenges over 7 weeks. You can watch the first four here. And there was Hell and High Water where a bunch of celebrities battle the Zambezi (and survive) for sponsorship. You can watch some clips here.
There is much more going on, plus fundraising events happen all across the country with celebrities, big companies and us normal folk too. If you wanna check out some of it, you can do so here. 
The non-tv based big money spinner is the Red Nose Day song. This year it fell into the hands of those boys we just can’t seem to get rid of, One Direction. They have done a cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another”. I’ve not yet listened to it so I’ll only silently judge (I can tell you it’s not as good as 2011’s single though)! You can watch them perform it at the Brits right here though. 
Give It Up!
This year, Comic Relief are taking a leaf out of Children in Need’s book (Children in Need is our other annual big fundraising telethon for, well, children that are in need) and are holding a live music and comedy gig. Hosted by comedian Russell Brand and featuring music from Kasabian, Noel Gallagher, Paloma Faith, Jessie J and Nick Grimshaw and comedy from Jason Manford, Eddie Izzard, Jimmy Carr, Simon Amstell and Frankie Boyle (plus more). It should be a good one, it’ll be on BBC Three at 10pm (GMT) tonight, March 6th, so get in touch with your internet savvy friends to hook you up with a live stream! 
The Serious Stuff
Red Nose Day is a great unofficial holiday that brings communities together and brings us extra episodes of some of our favourite shows. But it isn’t just for our entertainment, there’s a deeper reason behind it all. The money raised each year is used to help and support people in the UK and Africa. In the UK, the money goes towards helping young people that live on the streets, protection for those living with domestic abuse, drug & alcohol abuse support, support for young carers and more. In Africa, the money goes towards protection from malaria, providing vaccines, support and care for those affected by HIV & AIDS, fair trade and more. 
Now, there are many valid criticisms of Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, but criticisms aside the whole thing always raises a lot of money for inherently good causes. In 2011 the total raised was over £100million and it’s likely they’ll smash that total this year (they always do). 
The Day Itself
Red Nose Day is Friday 15th March at 7pm (GMT) on BBC One. It’s hosted by the ever charming Dermot O’Leary and Claudia Winkleman, and will include hosting appearances from Alan Carr, Lenny Henry, Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, John Bishop, David Walliams and more. The telethon runs until the early hours of the next morning and will have a variety of famous guests, special performances from unlikely performers, music and comedic mini-episodes of TV shows. There will also be plenty reminders of why we’re here and how we can donate. 
Can I Watch?
It’s not a serial or anything like that so you won’t find it on Netflix or in a DVD box set. To watch RND you’ll need to find a BBC live stream. If you’re a British TV fan (as you’re here, I’m assuming you are!) it’s definitely worth watching if you can, you’ll see specials of some of your favourite shows you wouldn’t normally see and appearances of some of your favourite British and Irish comedians. Just note there will likely be a plethora of celebrities you won’t recognise, but don’t worry, most Brits won’t either! 
While you’ll have trouble finding whole recordings of previous telethons, you’ll have no issues finding clips of TV specials on youtube and DVD specials. There’s a lot to wade through, but if you liked the show you’ll love the special.
My Recs on What to Watch
Doctor Who: The Curse of the Fatal Death - From 1999’s Red Nose Day. This special Doctor Who episode pits The Doctor (played by the British household names Rowan Atkinson, Richard. E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley) and Emma, his companion (played by BBC’s Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia aka Julia Sawalha) against The Master (played by Jonathan Pryce). This episode, though a parody, was a gateway to the revival of the classic show in 2005 and was in fact written by the now lead writer, Steven Moffat. A must watch for any Whovian. 
The Catherine Tate Comic Relief Show - From 2007’s Red Nose Day. The Catherine Tate Show is a sketch show and this Comic Relief special is some of my favourite material from it! It features the well GIF-ed sketch where Lauren Cooper (played by Catherine Tate, the then companion of The Doctor, Donna Noble) terrorises her new English Teacher (played by David Tennant, the then Doctor. Yes, it always comes back to Who). And the same character, Lauren, butting heads with then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. 
Barry Islands in the Stream - From 2009’s Red Nose Day. A special from Welsh comedy Gavin & Stacey and also the RND single for that year. Nessa and Bryn head off to a karaoke final and Las Vegas where they meet Tom Jones. Of course!
Smithy to the Rescue - From 2011’s Red Nose Day. We Brits just really love Gavin & Stacey okay! One of my favourite sketches Smithy saves Red Nose Day amongst a plethora of actual famous people. Just watch it!
    High Res

    Do Something Funny For Money!

    I’ve talked about my British best friend several times before on this blog, but today you get the treat of an actual post by Michelle! She took on a topic that I know next to nothing about: Comic Relief and Red Nose Day.

    —————

    If you happen to find yourself in Britain during the third week of March this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking we had all lost our minds. Adults wandering the streets with red noses that look like dinosaurs, anybody and everybody in random costumes and people taking a bath in baked beans in the local supermarket!

    But worry not, this just the way we raise money to help disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa. This is Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day! 

    What is Comic Relief and Red Nose Day?

    Comic Relief is a British charity founded by scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in 1985, in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Comic Relief’s big appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon (alternating years with it’s sister charity, Sport Relief). Red Nose Day this year is Friday March 15th on BBC One, but there’s a whole bunch of fundraising (or “fun-raising”) all over the country and special red nose day episodes of some well loved TV Shows. Basically, we all buy and wear silly red noses, eat a cake for a good cause and sit down in front of our TV’s and watch a marathon comedy event until the early hours and donate some money when they show the sad videos that make us cry! 2013 is the 25 year anniversary, so it’s gonna be a big one!

    What’s Going On?

    Well, there are three TV Shows that have done special RND series. The first was The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief. The regular show is a bunch of wannabe bakers crying and stressing to impress the scary and awesome judges (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood) with each task. The RND special is the same but with celebrities, BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney won (I don’t know who she is either). The second is Great British Menu Does Comic Relief, this is a show where some fancy chefs compete for the chance to create a banquet for some high profile guest, in this case that guest is Red Nose Day. This is one the public can take part in too, a number of restaurants are donating money from dishes or having RND themed menus. The third show is probably to help you work off all your interpretations of the recipes featured on the first two, Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, a celebrity dance competition!

    As well as TV specials. there are celebrities doing challenges for sponsorship. Miranda’s Mad March starts on Monday March 11th and will feature comedian Miranda Hart attempting 5 different challenges each day in 5 different UK cities. If you can find a way to watch any RND stuff, this one would be my pick. Other challenges happening are Helen’s Magnificent 7, where TV presenter Helen Skelton attempts 7 big fundraising challenges over 7 weeks. You can watch the first four here. And there was Hell and High Water where a bunch of celebrities battle the Zambezi (and survive) for sponsorship. You can watch some clips here.

    There is much more going on, plus fundraising events happen all across the country with celebrities, big companies and us normal folk too. If you wanna check out some of it, you can do so here

    The non-tv based big money spinner is the Red Nose Day song. This year it fell into the hands of those boys we just can’t seem to get rid of, One Direction. They have done a cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another”. I’ve not yet listened to it so I’ll only silently judge (I can tell you it’s not as good as 2011’s single though)! You can watch them perform it at the Brits right here though. 

    Give It Up!

    This year, Comic Relief are taking a leaf out of Children in Need’s book (Children in Need is our other annual big fundraising telethon for, well, children that are in need) and are holding a live music and comedy gig. Hosted by comedian Russell Brand and featuring music from Kasabian, Noel Gallagher, Paloma Faith, Jessie J and Nick Grimshaw and comedy from Jason Manford, Eddie Izzard, Jimmy Carr, Simon Amstell and Frankie Boyle (plus more). It should be a good one, it’ll be on BBC Three at 10pm (GMT) tonight, March 6th, so get in touch with your internet savvy friends to hook you up with a live stream! 

    The Serious Stuff

    Red Nose Day is a great unofficial holiday that brings communities together and brings us extra episodes of some of our favourite shows. But it isn’t just for our entertainment, there’s a deeper reason behind it all. The money raised each year is used to help and support people in the UK and Africa. In the UK, the money goes towards helping young people that live on the streets, protection for those living with domestic abuse, drug & alcohol abuse support, support for young carers and more. In Africa, the money goes towards protection from malaria, providing vaccines, support and care for those affected by HIV & AIDS, fair trade and more. 

    Now, there are many valid criticisms of Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, but criticisms aside the whole thing always raises a lot of money for inherently good causes. In 2011 the total raised was over £100million and it’s likely they’ll smash that total this year (they always do). 

    The Day Itself

    Red Nose Day is Friday 15th March at 7pm (GMT) on BBC One. It’s hosted by the ever charming Dermot O’Leary and Claudia Winkleman, and will include hosting appearances from Alan Carr, Lenny Henry, Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, John Bishop, David Walliams and more. The telethon runs until the early hours of the next morning and will have a variety of famous guests, special performances from unlikely performers, music and comedic mini-episodes of TV shows. There will also be plenty reminders of why we’re here and how we can donate. 

    Can I Watch?

    It’s not a serial or anything like that so you won’t find it on Netflix or in a DVD box set. To watch RND you’ll need to find a BBC live stream. If you’re a British TV fan (as you’re here, I’m assuming you are!) it’s definitely worth watching if you can, you’ll see specials of some of your favourite shows you wouldn’t normally see and appearances of some of your favourite British and Irish comedians. Just note there will likely be a plethora of celebrities you won’t recognise, but don’t worry, most Brits won’t either! 

    While you’ll have trouble finding whole recordings of previous telethons, you’ll have no issues finding clips of TV specials on youtube and DVD specials. There’s a lot to wade through, but if you liked the show you’ll love the special.

    My Recs on What to Watch

    • Doctor Who: The Curse of the Fatal Death - From 1999’s Red Nose Day. This special Doctor Who episode pits The Doctor (played by the British household names Rowan Atkinson, Richard. E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley) and Emma, his companion (played by BBC’s Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia aka Julia Sawalha) against The Master (played by Jonathan Pryce). This episode, though a parody, was a gateway to the revival of the classic show in 2005 and was in fact written by the now lead writer, Steven Moffat. A must watch for any Whovian. 
    • The Catherine Tate Comic Relief Show - From 2007’s Red Nose Day. The Catherine Tate Show is a sketch show and this Comic Relief special is some of my favourite material from it! It features the well GIF-ed sketch where Lauren Cooper (played by Catherine Tate, the then companion of The Doctor, Donna Noble) terrorises her new English Teacher (played by David Tennant, the then Doctor. Yes, it always comes back to Who). And the same character, Lauren, butting heads with then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. 
    • Barry Islands in the Stream - From 2009’s Red Nose Day. A special from Welsh comedy Gavin & Stacey and also the RND single for that year. Nessa and Bryn head off to a karaoke final and Las Vegas where they meet Tom Jones. Of course!
    • Smithy to the Rescue - From 2011’s Red Nose Day. We Brits just really love Gavin & Stacey okay! One of my favourite sketches Smithy saves Red Nose Day amongst a plethora of actual famous people. Just watch it!
  7. Brent is Back - The World’s Worst Boss Revisited
He’s baaaack! Britain’s boss from hell will be returning to TV for one night only, so prepare to catch up with David Brent and find out what he’s been up to the past 10 years.
Odds are that any American interested in British television is at least somewhat familiar with The Office (U.K.) and its lead moron, David Brent (Ricky Gervais). After all, The Office (U.S.) is arguably the most successful American adaptation of a British series, and David Brent is the crude, awful predecessor to our much softer Michael Scott (Steve Carell). 
In fact, David Brent is a pretty great example of a major difference between British and American comedy: the fear factor. Brent’s awkward scenes tend to go on far longer than Scott’s comparable ones, and he’s about a thousand times slower to any sort of regret than Scott. David Brent is mean without misunderstanding and lacks all of the good intentions that lie underneath Michael Scott’s most insensitive moments. There’s no heart of gold. There’s no desperate need to be loved. He’s just a dick.
Luckily, being a dick and being funny are not mutually exclusive.
Now, a decade since we last saw Brent, he will be returning to TV with The Office Revisted, a one-off special premiering on Red Nose Day, the fundraiser for the British charity Comic Relief. Check back in next week when my guest blogger and best friend Michelle will be filling you in on Red Nose Day itself! Watch the trailer here and tune in to BBC One on Friday, March 15th for The Office Revisited!
—————-
Image is property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Sources: (1) (2)
    High Res

    Brent is Back - The World’s Worst Boss Revisited

    He’s baaaack! Britain’s boss from hell will be returning to TV for one night only, so prepare to catch up with David Brent and find out what he’s been up to the past 10 years.

    Odds are that any American interested in British television is at least somewhat familiar with The Office (U.K.) and its lead moron, David Brent (Ricky Gervais). After all, The Office (U.S.) is arguably the most successful American adaptation of a British series, and David Brent is the crude, awful predecessor to our much softer Michael Scott (Steve Carell).

    In fact, David Brent is a pretty great example of a major difference between British and American comedy: the fear factor. Brent’s awkward scenes tend to go on far longer than Scott’s comparable ones, and he’s about a thousand times slower to any sort of regret than Scott. David Brent is mean without misunderstanding and lacks all of the good intentions that lie underneath Michael Scott’s most insensitive moments. There’s no heart of gold. There’s no desperate need to be loved. He’s just a dick.

    Luckily, being a dick and being funny are not mutually exclusive.

    Now, a decade since we last saw Brent, he will be returning to TV with The Office Revisted, a one-off special premiering on Red Nose Day, the fundraiser for the British charity Comic Relief. Check back in next week when my guest blogger and best friend Michelle will be filling you in on Red Nose Day itself!

    Watch the trailer here and tune in to
    BBC One on Friday, March 15th for The Office Revisited!

    —————-

    Image is property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Sources: (1) (2)

  8. From the Mouths of Babes - On Outnumbered
You all know it - that horrific moment when you’re watching TV and the child on the screen is talking like an adult. They’re too witty or too wordy or too focused and all you can think is “what kid talks like that? No kids talk like that!” and you get more and more pulled out of the moment until you’re just flat-out frustrated with the dumb writers and their dumb inability to write dumb lines that actually feel like real children.
Kids don’t talk like we do - they make weird connections and noises and possess endless imaginations that frequently baffle adults. Where Hollywood has struggled to understand this, Outnumbered found a risky solution.
A Bit of Background
Airing on BBC One since 2007, Outnumbered is, at first glance, your typical sitcom about a family of five living in London. Claire Skinner and panel show veteran Hugh Dennis portray Sue and Pete who have been outnumbered by their children: grumpy pre-teen Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), hyperactive and chronically dishonest Ben (Daniel Roche) and, the real shining jewel of the show, the difficult and pedantic Karen (Ramona Marquez).
Why You Should Watch
Okay, so the plot lines are not revolutionary and lord knows the concept isn’t new. And yet Outnumbered still manages to feel like they’re doing something you have never seen before. Why? Because unlike those horribly scripted child actors, Outnumbered is partially improvised and often the children are allowed to create their own dialogue.
When you really think about it, it’s the kind of thing you really think people should’ve caught on to a long time ago. Kids are hilarious! We have all been at a family gathering or standing at the line in the grocery store and overheard some six-year-old running their mouths about something so unbelievably imaginative that a writer’s room on LSD couldn’t come up with it.
This is the problem - writers are not children and children are not 30 year old dudes. Let’s be honest: by the time you’re writing for a major television show, your imagination is no longer the free, untainted thing that it is when you’re a kid. When writers are trying to write funny lines for kids, they’re really only writing half-baked imitations of the kind of insane weirdness that just comes naturally to those under the age of 10. On top of that, these children are trying to wrap their brains around the pseudo-childlike lines the writers have handed them.
A six year old will never be as funny saying a bunch of carefully crafted lines as they will be just being themselves. When you watch this show, I promise you will be absolutely swept away by Ramona Marquez in particular - she has a childlike wonder mixed with strange seriousness and a no-bullshit attitude that makes her so, so funny. If nothing else, watch to see her playing Gordon Ramsey (complete with her own censorship beeps) and Britain’s Got Talent with her stuffed animals and arguing with her parents about Christianity and… actually, just watch it for every single scene the child has ever had. They’re all golden.
Wrapping It Up
Not to put everything on the kids - Outnumbered’s writing is hilarious and the program does a clever job of approaching issues like having to put an aging parent in a home or having trouble at work without making those problems feel gimmicky or unimportant. At the same time, a show about a family with children depends pretty heavily on those children. If you don’t have funny kids, you don’t have a funny show. Thank goodness Outnumbered realized the inherent talent of these actors and let them be themselves - the result is a show that will have you absolutely howling with laughter.
Personal Favorites:"The Dinner Party" - Series 1, Episode 6"The Airport" - Series 2, Episode 4"The Restaurant" Series 3, Episode 5
Where to Watch:Amazon Instant: Series 1Amazon DVDs (UK): Series 1-4Amazon DVDs (US Region 2): Series 1-4iTunes: Series 1
—————
Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
I deliberately did not discuss the recent American remake of Outnumbered because my mamma always told me “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” That tells you everything you need to know.
    High Res

    From the Mouths of Babes - On Outnumbered

    You all know it - that horrific moment when you’re watching TV and the child on the screen is talking like an adult. They’re too witty or too wordy or too focused and all you can think is “what kid talks like that? No kids talk like that!” and you get more and more pulled out of the moment until you’re just flat-out frustrated with the dumb writers and their dumb inability to write dumb lines that actually feel like real children.

    Kids don’t talk like we do - they make weird connections and noises and possess endless imaginations that frequently baffle adults. Where Hollywood has struggled to understand this, Outnumbered found a risky solution.

    A Bit of Background

    Airing on BBC One since 2007, Outnumbered is, at first glance, your typical sitcom about a family of five living in London. Claire Skinner and panel show veteran Hugh Dennis portray Sue and Pete who have been outnumbered by their children: grumpy pre-teen Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), hyperactive and chronically dishonest Ben (Daniel Roche) and, the real shining jewel of the show, the difficult and pedantic Karen (Ramona Marquez).

    Why You Should Watch

    Okay, so the plot lines are not revolutionary and lord knows the concept isn’t new. And yet Outnumbered still manages to feel like they’re doing something you have never seen before. Why? Because unlike those horribly scripted child actors, Outnumbered is partially improvised and often the children are allowed to create their own dialogue.

    When you really think about it, it’s the kind of thing you really think people should’ve caught on to a long time ago. Kids are hilarious! We have all been at a family gathering or standing at the line in the grocery store and overheard some six-year-old running their mouths about something so unbelievably imaginative that a writer’s room on LSD couldn’t come up with it.

    This is the problem - writers are not children and children are not 30 year old dudes. Let’s be honest: by the time you’re writing for a major television show, your imagination is no longer the free, untainted thing that it is when you’re a kid. When writers are trying to write funny lines for kids, they’re really only writing half-baked imitations of the kind of insane weirdness that just comes naturally to those under the age of 10. On top of that, these children are trying to wrap their brains around the pseudo-childlike lines the writers have handed them.

    A six year old will never be as funny saying a bunch of carefully crafted lines as they will be just being themselves. When you watch this show, I promise you will be absolutely swept away by Ramona Marquez in particular - she has a childlike wonder mixed with strange seriousness and a no-bullshit attitude that makes her so, so funny. If nothing else, watch to see her playing Gordon Ramsey (complete with her own censorship beeps) and Britain’s Got Talent with her stuffed animals and arguing with her parents about Christianity and… actually, just watch it for every single scene the child has ever had. They’re all golden.

    Wrapping It Up

    Not to put everything on the kids - Outnumbered’s writing is hilarious and the program does a clever job of approaching issues like having to put an aging parent in a home or having trouble at work without making those problems feel gimmicky or unimportant. At the same time, a show about a family with children depends pretty heavily on those children. If you don’t have funny kids, you don’t have a funny show. Thank goodness Outnumbered realized the inherent talent of these actors and let them be themselves - the result is a show that will have you absolutely howling with laughter.

    Personal Favorites:
    "The Dinner Party" - Series 1, Episode 6
    "The Airport" - Series 2, Episode 4
    "The Restaurant" Series 3, Episode 5

    Where to Watch:
    Amazon Instant: Series 1
    Amazon DVDs (UK): Series 1-4
    Amazon DVDs (US Region 2): Series 1-4
    iTunes: Series 1

    —————

    Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    I deliberately did not discuss the recent American remake of Outnumbered because my mamma always told me “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” That tells you everything you need to know.

  9. Oh, That’s Well Lush! - Gavin & Stacey
Have you ever properly listened to a Welsh accent? You should, because despite my friend Liz’s passionate arguments against it, Wales is still an actual country and they have the cutest accents in the world. Like, really. Try to listen to a Welsh accent and not giggle like an idiot at their pure adorableness. This is relevant, I swear.
A Bit of Background
Penned by actors James Corden and Ruth Jones, sitcom Gavin & Stacey aired for 20 episodes on BBC between 2007 and 2010 and follows the long-distance relationship of the English Gavin (Matthew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page), located in Wales. The premise is simple: the couple meets through work, where they speak on the phone day after day, grow to like each other, and eventually decide to meet. It starts off giggly and silly, a simple story of boy-meets-girl, but fortunately it doesn’t stop there.
Why You Should Watch
The awesome thing about Gavin & Stacey is that it’s not about a couple. It’s about two people with passionate, involved, crazy families and the reality of what happens when you try to combine two very different lives. It’s a scenario most people can relate to - you love someone and you want them to fit into your life only to find that your life doesn’t necessarily fit them.
The real focus of this show is not only how their physical lives - jobs, living in two different countries, etc - work together, but the clashing madness of their families and friends. Both Gavin and Stacey live with their parents - Gavin with his overly proud mother (Alison Steadman) and down-to-earth father (Larry Lamb) and Stacey with her eager mother (Melanie Walters). This is where I’m inclined to mention the wonderful Welsh accents of Stacey’s family, because while they are not the reason to watch the show, they are a reason. Welshman Rob Brydon (one of my personal favorite comedians) portrays Stacey’s enthusiastic and relentlessly helpful uncle Bryn (“it’s Welsh for hill”), who is an unbelievable joy to watch. Hilarity comes in the interactions between Stacey’s quaint, easily amazed family and Gavin’s beer-drinking, raucous brood.
Finally, writers Corden and Jones portray Smithy and Nessa, Gavin and Stacey’s best friends respectively. The relationship between the two is a fascinating push and pull that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe - they are both opinionated and territorial forces of personality who are decidedly in control of their surroundings and fiercely protective of their friends. For me, Nessa is the absolute best reason to give this show a chance. She is an overweight woman who is completely secure in her sexuality and for once she is not the butt of the jokes. You are laughing with Nessa rather than at her, and the show takes no issue with her body type, the way she expresses her sexuality, or her confidence in both of those things. She is not a slut or a joke - she is just Nessa, and no one fucks with Nessa. It is refreshing to see a woman not be reviled for being sexually active but it is liberating to have her also be full-figured.
Wrapping It Up
Its packaging may look like your typical rom-com, but you will find this show to be a genuinely funny and touching look at what it means to be a family today. The lesson in Welsh versus English culture is the lovely cherry on top of the cake, with arguments between the two families revealing some major differences between the two. Besides, you’ve always wanted to see James Corden in a thong. Trust me.
Where to Watch:Netflix - Series 1Amazon Instant (free for Prime Members)- Series 1-3Amazon DVD - Series 1-3iTunes - Series 1-3
—————
Pictured: Matthew Horne, James Corden, Joanna Page, and Ruth Jones.
Image property of the British Broadcasting Corporation
    High Res

    Oh, That’s Well Lush! - Gavin & Stacey

    Have you ever properly listened to a Welsh accent? You should, because despite my friend Liz’s passionate arguments against it, Wales is still an actual country and they have the cutest accents in the world. Like, really. Try to listen to a Welsh accent and not giggle like an idiot at their pure adorableness. This is relevant, I swear.

    A Bit of Background

    Penned by actors James Corden and Ruth Jones, sitcom Gavin & Stacey aired for 20 episodes on BBC between 2007 and 2010 and follows the long-distance relationship of the English Gavin (Matthew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page), located in Wales. The premise is simple: the couple meets through work, where they speak on the phone day after day, grow to like each other, and eventually decide to meet. It starts off giggly and silly, a simple story of boy-meets-girl, but fortunately it doesn’t stop there.

    Why You Should Watch

    The awesome thing about Gavin & Stacey is that it’s not about a couple. It’s about two people with passionate, involved, crazy families and the reality of what happens when you try to combine two very different lives. It’s a scenario most people can relate to - you love someone and you want them to fit into your life only to find that your life doesn’t necessarily fit them.

    The real focus of this show is not only how their physical lives - jobs, living in two different countries, etc - work together, but the clashing madness of their families and friends. Both Gavin and Stacey live with their parents - Gavin with his overly proud mother (Alison Steadman) and down-to-earth father (Larry Lamb) and Stacey with her eager mother (Melanie Walters). This is where I’m inclined to mention the wonderful Welsh accents of Stacey’s family, because while they are not the reason to watch the show, they are a reason. Welshman Rob Brydon (one of my personal favorite comedians) portrays Stacey’s enthusiastic and relentlessly helpful uncle Bryn (“it’s Welsh for hill”), who is an unbelievable joy to watch. Hilarity comes in the interactions between Stacey’s quaint, easily amazed family and Gavin’s beer-drinking, raucous brood.

    Finally, writers Corden and Jones portray Smithy and Nessa, Gavin and Stacey’s best friends respectively. The relationship between the two is a fascinating push and pull that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe - they are both opinionated and territorial forces of personality who are decidedly in control of their surroundings and fiercely protective of their friends. For me, Nessa is the absolute best reason to give this show a chance. She is an overweight woman who is completely secure in her sexuality and for once she is not the butt of the jokes. You are laughing with Nessa rather than at her, and the show takes no issue with her body type, the way she expresses her sexuality, or her confidence in both of those things. She is not a slut or a joke - she is just Nessa, and no one fucks with Nessa. It is refreshing to see a woman not be reviled for being sexually active but it is liberating to have her also be full-figured.

    Wrapping It Up

    Its packaging may look like your typical rom-com, but you will find this show to be a genuinely funny and touching look at what it means to be a family today. The lesson in Welsh versus English culture is the lovely cherry on top of the cake, with arguments between the two families revealing some major differences between the two. Besides, you’ve always wanted to see James Corden in a thong. Trust me.

    Where to Watch:
    Netflix - Series 1
    Amazon Instant (free for Prime Members)- Series 1-3
    Amazon DVD - Series 1-3
    iTunes - Series 1-3

    —————

    Pictured: Matthew Horne, James Corden, Joanna Page, and Ruth Jones.

    Image property of the British Broadcasting Corporation

  10. And Then There Were Two: the Second Doctor Revisited
As I mentioned in my Doctor Who introductory post, this is quite the year for the Whoniverse - it marks Doctor Who's 50th year on the air! That's right - Whovians have existed since 1963. The very first episode aired November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination. For even more perspective: fans were watching the Doctor fly his TARDIS to distant times and places before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
The importance of this event is not lost on the Beeb - they have launched a new series titled Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited, a monthly programme commemorating each of the eleven Doctors. These specials are all building up to the premiere of the much-anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year, rumored to feature many fan favorites, including these previous incarnations of the Doctor.
I’ve mentioned before that the sheer breadth of Doctor Who's history can seem intimidating, so these specials are a really great place to start if you're curious about Old!Who but not quite ready to commit to the individual series. You can see an in-depth look at each of the individual incarnations of the Doctor, a character which varies hugely between actors and decades. This is a wonderful way to get a better idea of where the Doctor has been in his long history and enrich your experience with New!Who.  
The series began last month with a look back at the First Doctor, portrayed by William Hartnell. Don’t worry if you missed it - BBC America will be re-airing the First Doctor’s this Sunday at 5pm ET, immediately before the Second Doctor’s spotlight. Hartnell’s real-life illness was the catalyst that created Doctor Who's current format - he was unable to continue in his role but the creators didn't want to take the programme off the air. The solution: regeneration.
This month’s program will take a look at Patrick Troughton’s turn as the Second Doctor, and it should be interesting to see how the show dealt with that first upheaval. Following the special, you can catch a special airing of Old!Who's “Tomb of the Cyberman”! Trust me, you won't want to miss it - these specials are an important step towards getting to participate in my personal favorite rite of passage for Whovians: the passionate debate over who is the best Doctor of all time.
Tune in to BBC America this Sunday at 8pm ET for The Doctors Revisited: The Second Doctor!
—————
Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Sources: (1)(2)
    High Res

    And Then There Were Two: the Second Doctor Revisited

    As I mentioned in my Doctor Who introductory post, this is quite the year for the Whoniverse - it marks Doctor Who's 50th year on the air! That's right - Whovians have existed since 1963. The very first episode aired November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination. For even more perspective: fans were watching the Doctor fly his TARDIS to distant times and places before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

    The importance of this event is not lost on the Beeb - they have launched a new series titled Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited, a monthly programme commemorating each of the eleven Doctors. These specials are all building up to the premiere of the much-anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year, rumored to feature many fan favorites, including these previous incarnations of the Doctor.

    I’ve mentioned before that the sheer breadth of Doctor Who's history can seem intimidating, so these specials are a really great place to start if you're curious about Old!Who but not quite ready to commit to the individual series. You can see an in-depth look at each of the individual incarnations of the Doctor, a character which varies hugely between actors and decades. This is a wonderful way to get a better idea of where the Doctor has been in his long history and enrich your experience with New!Who

    The series began last month with a look back at the First Doctor, portrayed by William Hartnell. Don’t worry if you missed it - BBC America will be re-airing the First Doctor’s this Sunday at 5pm ET, immediately before the Second Doctor’s spotlight. Hartnell’s real-life illness was the catalyst that created Doctor Who's current format - he was unable to continue in his role but the creators didn't want to take the programme off the air. The solution: regeneration.

    This month’s program will take a look at Patrick Troughton’s turn as the Second Doctor, and it should be interesting to see how the show dealt with that first upheaval. Following the special, you can catch a special airing of Old!Who's “Tomb of the Cyberman”! Trust me, you won't want to miss it - these specials are an important step towards getting to participate in my personal favorite rite of passage for Whovians: the passionate debate over who is the best Doctor of all time.

    Tune in to BBC America this Sunday at 8pm ET for The Doctors Revisited: The Second Doctor!

    —————

    Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Sources: (1)(2)