Updated: Nov 29, 2022
When I am out and about touring, I frequently chat to my tour guests about British TV - mostly murder mystery series and comedy series. Whilst we do have some great murder mysteries (Midsommer Murders, Father Brown etc), my personal favourites are our British comedies.
Here’s a few absolute gems you might not have come across before.
1. This Country (BBC)
"This Country is a British mockumentary sitcom, first broadcast in the United Kingdom on the BBC in 2017. The series is about the day-to-day lives of two cousins living in a small village in the Cotswolds. The programme centres on themes of social clumsiness, the trivialities of human behaviour, the eccentricities of living in rural England, and the boredom and social isolation of young people in small communities."
I loved this long before I decided to have my own Cotswold Teacup Tours business centered around the Cotswolds. We form such a view of perfect countryside idyll for those lucky enough to live in the Cotswolds, but for bored teenagers with lack of public transport options, this is quite the opposite experience. This is a very funny, rather rude insight into how they live their lives.
2. Detectorists (BBC Four)
"Detectorists is a British television series first broadcast on BBc Four in 2014. It is written and directed by Mackenzie Crook who also stars alongside Toby Jones. This should tell you enough already, both actors are national treasures.
The series is set in the fictional small town of Danebury in northern Essex; the plot revolves around the lives, loves, and metal detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club. The main filming location for the series is Framlington in Essex."
Detectorists is gentle, observational humour, with such a brilliantly written script. Not fast action in any way. The scenery of Essex is stunning, the theme music is wonderful, this series is totally delightful.
3. Ghosts (BBC)
"Alison Cooper unexpectedly inherits the vast but crumbling Button House from a 99-year-old distant female relative of hers. The house is haunted by numerous squabbling ghosts from across the ages who died on its grounds and are invisible and intangible to the living. Ignoring their solicitor's advice to sell the property, Alison and her husband Mike decide to move in and renovate it, with the idea of turning the house into a luxury hotel.
At first, the ghosts are not very happy with the living couple's plans and conspire to get rid of the newcomers. After various failed attempts to scare them, one of the ghosts pushes Alison from an upstairs window, resulting in her being clinically dead for three minutes. When she awakes two weeks later from an induced coma, Alison discovers her husband has arranged a huge mortgage, and that her near-death experience has given her the ability to see and hear the ghosts.
Initially believing the ghosts to be an after-effect of her accident, Alison eventually accepts the truth and confronts them. Because the Coopers can't leave for financial reasons and the ghosts are bound to the mansion’s land until they can ascend into the afterlife, both sides eventually agree that they have to coexist as best they can. Meanwhile, the house requires a lot of work, and Alison and Mike devise several schemes to assist their perilous finances." (Wikipedia)
This is utterly brilliant tv. The ghosts are from all different periods of history and therefore are portrayed still in the costume from their time, complete with clues as to how they died. It’s light, funny, a bit macabre, and just really good fun. Not for younger audiences.
4. Bad Education (BBC Three)
"Bad Education, co-written by and starring Jack Whitehall, follows Alfie, the worst teacher ever to grace the British education system. Alfie definitely has the best intentions for his class but the truth is he is a bigger kid than any of the kids he teaches so his good intentions always seem to end up out the window. He really does care though.
Despite his obvious shortcomings, Alfie's position at the school is stable thanks to Fraser, the school's headmaster, who tragically longs to be as cool as Alfie. He's the teacher who just wants to be everyone's 'best mate' and is prone to massive and very public mishaps." From BBC.com
This one is a bit rude, but very funny. Jack Whitehall is a lovable rogue and total idiot in this.
5. The Cleaner (BBC)
"Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (played by Greg Davies), is a state-certified cleaning technician with a very special field of work: as a crime scene cleaner he is responsible for the removal of any signs of death.
Wicky works for Shropshire-based cleaning contractors Lausen and is usually found, together with his baby-blue pickup truck, at crime scenes after the police have concluded their detective work.
Armed with chemicals, scrubbing brushes and cleaning rags, Wicky removes the gruesome mess at the scene of the crime. When carrying out his duties, he stumbles across the strangest of people: from the victim’s relatives, employers, neighbours and acquaintances, to occasionally even the murderers themselves. And because he’s a sociable type, he sometimes gossips more than he cleans." From BBC
I’m biased here because I am a huge fan of Greg Davies – I do love a funny man. He is in The Inbetweeners, Bad Education and Man Down. It's dark, and again, is observational humour. It has been described as an acquired taste, but give it a go and see if we're on the same humour wavelength!
6. Clarkson’s Farm (Amazon Prime)
"Clarkson’s Farm was the surprise TV hit of 2021, turning motoring journalist and the country’s most unlikely farmer, Jeremy Clarkson, into the new face of British agriculture.
Previously known for shouting out of supercars on Top Gear and The Grand Tour, Clarkson is now just as likely to get asked about sheep shearing and crop rotation as he is the horsepower of the latest Ferrari.
The series won critical acclaim, earned Clarkson and his agricultural advisor Kaleb Cooper recognition at the British Farming Awards and Prime Video quickly signed up the Diddly Squat team for a season 2."
Oh dear. If you know who Jeremy is, and you’re not a fan, forgive me for this inclusion. He is a man who incites a marmite response – you either love him or you don’t. I personally think he’s a bit of a lovable wally, but in this series about his farm he has done a huge amount to raise awareness of the difficulties British farmers endure today, more so than any other country themed tv show. It is fun, light viewing. Plus it’s set in the Cotswolds, just outside of Chipping Norton (‘Chippy’ to the locals) I might be persuaded to take you to his daft Diddly Squat shop for a pint of 'Cow Juice', if you ask me nicely!