10 Best British TV Shows

The 10 best British TV shows are an eclectic mix of comedy, drama and science-fiction. The best British TV shows are typically comedies. British comedy translates well to audiences around the world, although some series never seem to make it in North America while others do.

  1. "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969 – 1974) was a relatively short-lived comedy series, but it has had a lasting impact. This surreal sketch comedy series showcased the Monty Python troupe, and gave birth to many a television and film career. This is certainly one of the 10 best British TV shows ever aired.
  2. "The Office" (2001 – 2003) was successfully remade for American audiences, but the original British series had its own unique charm. Ricky Gervais was behind this best British TV show, and he stayed on as a writer and creative force for the American remake.
  3. "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" (2004 – 2010) features chef Gordon Ramsay. His television acclaim began with this British series, depicting Ramsay swooping from one failing restaurant to the next, and offering his business, culinary and often psychological advice to the owners. It has been remade for American audiences.
  4. "Da Ali G Show" (2003 – 2004) gave birth to the creative talent of Sacha Baron Cohen, who would later go on to great success in film as the character Borat. This comedy show featured Cohen as ignorant, wannabe-Jamaican Ali G whose schtick was to place real people in awkward social situations.
  5. "The Mighty Boosh" (2004 – 2007) was only aired for three seasons. The show has a cult following, and those who have seen it would definitely consider it one of the best British TV shows ever aired. It tells the surreal adventures of Vince and Howard.
  6. "Fawlty Towers" (1975 – 1979) has lived on far longer than the original series aired. It is the prototypical British comedy to many American audiences. The series is about a hotel owner Basil Fawlty, whose incompetence, temper, and arrogance ensure that accidents and trouble are close at hand.
  7. "Doctor Who" (1963 – 1989; 2005 – present) is a long-lived science fiction series about an eccentric time-traveller and his companions. Tenure alone places this at the top of any list of best British TV shows, regardless of genre.
  8. "The Avengers" (1961 – 1969) was a quirky British spy show about a special agent and his female interests. This show predates the James Bond films, and it delivered an atmosphere and style that have been often imitated.
  9. "Peep Show" (2003 – 2009) is virtually unknown in North America, which is unfortunate because it is extremely innovative. The comedy series features two 20-something roommates with nothing in common. It is shot entirely with point-of-view angles from the perspective of the character speaking.
  10. "The Kumars at No. 42" (2001 – 2006) never made a splash in North America. The series may not translate well culturally, but it can be riotously funny. It features Sanjeev Kumar as an aspiring talk-show host who brings celebrity guests home, where his mother, father and grandmother hone in on the interviews.
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