18 British TV Series That Set the Gold Standard

The United Kingdom has a storied history of producing television that’s not only groundbreaking but also endlessly entertaining. From the gritty streets of British crime dramas to the eccentricities of British humour, these series have captured the imagination of viewers both at home and abroad. Let’s switch on the telly and countdown the 18 best UK TV series, including cult classics and those that have set the bar for television excellence.

18. The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007)

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A heartwarming comedy about a female vicar managing her eccentric rural parish, “The Vicar of Dibley” blends humor with poignant moments, showcasing the best of British charm and wit.

17. The Young Ones (1982-1984)

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A anarchic sitcom that smashed the boundaries of traditional comedy, “The Young Ones” follows the bizarre lives of four university students living together. It’s as much a piece of ’80s pop culture as it is a riotous comedy.

16. Red Dwarf (1988-1999)

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Set in deep space, “Red Dwarf” is a cult sci-fi comedy that combines the mundane with the intergalactic, proving that the final frontier can be as hilarious as it is endless.

15. Blackadder (1983-1989)

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Spanning four series, each set in a different historical period, “Blackadder” delivers sharp wit and a dark sense of humor, with Rowan Atkinson leading a stellar cast through some of history’s most satirical moments.

14. Spaced (1999-2001)

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A unique blend of pop culture references, eccentric characters, and surreal moments, “Spaced” explores the lives of two London flatmates. It’s a cult classic that has inspired a generation of comedies.

13. Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)

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A gritty and stylish drama about a criminal gang in post-World War I Birmingham, “Peaky Blinders” combines compelling storytelling with a striking visual style and a magnetic lead performance by Cillian Murphy.

12. The Office (UK) (2001-2003)

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The original mockumentary sitcom that spawned countless adaptations, “The Office” captures the mundane yet hilarious aspects of office life, making it a landmark in British comedy.

11. Sherlock (2010-2017)

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A modern take on the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, “Sherlock” offers a brilliant combination of mystery, drama, and character development, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman leading the charge.

10. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)

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John Cleese’s masterpiece, “Fawlty Towers,” is a masterclass in comedy, set in a dysfunctional hotel run by the rude and eccentric Basil Fawlty. Its timeless humour has left an indelible mark on British TV.

9. Doctor Who (1963-1989)

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An iconic sci-fi series that has thrilled generations, “Doctor Who” follows the adventures of the Doctor, a time-traveling alien Time Lord. Its ability to continually reinvent itself has made it a staple of British television.

8. The Crown (2016-2023)

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A lavish historical drama, “The Crown” delves into the life of Queen Elizabeth II, offering a sumptuous look at the trials and tribulations of the British royal family.

7. Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

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A global sensation, “Downton Abbey” offers a glimpse into the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, blending historical drama with soap opera elements to captivating effect.

6. Line of Duty (2012-2021)

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A riveting crime drama, “Line of Duty” focuses on the investigations of AC-12, a controversial police anti-corruption unit. It’s known for its gripping plot twists and complex characters.

5. Broadchurch (2013-2017)

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A compelling mystery drama, “Broadchurch” explores the impact of a tragic death on a small coastal town, with superb performances and a tightly woven plot.

4. Absolutely Fabulous (1992-2012)

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A comedic look at the lives of Edina and Patsy, two fashion-obsessed, self-indulgent best friends, “Absolutely Fabulous” is a satire of the fashion world and celebrity culture.

3. The IT Crowd (2006-2013)

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Set in the offices of the fictional Reynholm Industries, “The IT Crowd” is a hilarious take on the misadventures of the company’s IT department, blending nerd culture with situational comedy.

2. Black Mirror (2011-)

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“Black Mirror” is a dystopian anthology series that explores the dark and often disturbing implications of technology on modern society. Each episode is a standalone narrative, offering a provocative and often chilling vision of the future.

1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)

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Topping the list, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” revolutionized comedy with its surreal, absurd, and utterly hilarious sketches. This seminal series not only influenced generations of comedians but also became a cornerstone of British cultural identity.

TV Triumphs

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That’s a wrap on our tour through the crème de la crème of UK television. These shows have left an indelible mark on the landscape of TV, blending wit, drama, and innovation. Here’s to endless rewatches and the discovery of future classics

The post 18 British TV Series That Set the Gold Standard first appeared on LoveLists.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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