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woodnymph2_gw

Slightly off topic

7 years ago

So many of us here are Anglophiles. We have already discussed Downton Abbey. What are your favorite British TV series?

I am late to the party as I am only just now discovering "Cranford" which I am finding delightful. What others like it can you recommend?

I should add that I've enjoyed the series on Cromwell, Monarch of the Glen, Midsomer Murders, New Tricks, Foyle's War, Brideshead Revisited, among others.

Comments (65)

  • 7 years ago

    A series that proved very popular over here was Blackadder tracing through several centuries the fate of a cowardly, pompous and sarcastic Edmund Blackadder. We see him at the Court of Elizabeth I trying to curry favour with the Queen and avoid execution. In the late eighteenth century he became butler to the Prince Regent and his last incarnation was in the series Blackadder Goes Forth set in a dug-out in a WWI trench.

    You may need to understand the English sense of humour to appreciate the jokes.

    Played by Rowan Atkinson (better known in the US as Mr Bean?), the officer trying to avoid 'going over the top', Hugh Laurie, the eager and foolish young man looking forward to trouncing the Hun, Stephen Fry the gun-ho General safe behind enemy lines and Tony Robinson the hapless batman/servant Baldrick, who always had a cunning plan to get them out of trouble.

    Quite relevant today as we have been commemorating the terrible Battle of the Somme, which started on July 1st 1916. Within less than an hour it is reckoned 14000 men had lost their lives, by the end of the first day the casualties were about 20,000 and after it had dragged on until November over a million men, from Great Britain the 'old' Empire and France had lost their lives or been badly wounded. And all for a few yards of no-man's land.



    Blackadder Goes Forth

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
  • 7 years ago

    Woodnymph/Mary I don't want to hijack your thread but have noticed mainly on the Hot Topics thread that many people in the US have little, if any, knowledge of the First World War. Someone suggested it was some sort of ethnic cleansing . . .

    which is as nothing compared to their thoughts on BREXIT the recent vote by the UK to leave the European Union. If I were less of a coward I would write something on their site but the English have already been called pigs and expression such as "My Grandmother was from Ireland so I hate the Brits" don't fill me with confidence . . .

    As Frieda mentioned on another thread in the UK left or right of centre is quite the opposite to the understanding of the meaning in the US, so those wanting to leave the EU are not necessarily bigots/racists/down-right-stupid/right-wing extremists holding closely to the opinions/values of a certain Presidential candidate, anymore than the 'STAY' lobby were left-wing 'liberals', wanting to fill the country with displaced persons or put up with European Laws and bureaucracy taking precedence over our judiciary and Parliament.

    OK, I'll shut up and wait to be thrown to the dogs . . or off this site, whichever comes first. ;-(

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
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  • 7 years ago

    Vee, I don't know enough about the various parties in the UK to even comment on Brexit. I am wondering, however, if there will be a re-vote, since there have been protestors.

    I finished watching "Cranford" twice. I just loved all the characters in it! And I have been wondering why I had never heard of author Elizabeth Gaskell. I read a good deal of English literature during school years but her name never came up. I am wondering if it was because she was a female. In those times, men writers usually seemed to take precedence in terms of making a long lasting name for themselves....

  • 7 years ago

    Woodnymph, Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte was the first full-length biography of any of the Bronte family. It was first published in 1857, only a couple of years after Charlotte's death, and, as result, many of the legends and myths about the Brontes were instigated by Gaskell and have been perpetuated because The Life of CB has not been out of print since. Many of the subsequent biographers relied heavily on Gaskell's interpretations (Gaskell knew Charlotte personally and met and corresponded with Charlotte's father, Patrick) because many of the primary sources were not yet available to biographers -- in some cases, many did not come to light or were not properly catalogued until after the mid-20th century.

    Gaskell was well-known and well-respected as a novelist in the 19th century. Perhaps she didn't compete as well with male novelists, but she seems to have never felt the need to hide her gender in the way that many female novelists did (including the Brontes) during that age. Gaskell was a great favorite in the feminist studies classes I took in the 1970s, so I am quite surprised that you never heard of her. I have liked several of her books already mentioned, but I have also gotten bogged down in her descriptions of and preoccupations with the industrialization of the north and midlands of England. Most of the television adaptations of her novels lightly skate over that stuff, however -- probably a good way not to bore audiences too much. ;-)

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vee, I didn't feel that I should vote on Brexit as I have been away for too long to understand the complexities.

    I think it is a pity that the EU passport will be phased out and I presume we will have the British one back with necessary visas!

    I have been asked if we will still be competing in Eurovision! I replied that if Australia, Norway and Switzerland ( all non-EU ) can, I am sure Britain can too!

    I don't think everyone quite understands that it is a music competition, separate from EU membership!

  • 7 years ago

    Vee, if I have extra time, I will read some of the Hot Topics 'discussions'. I use inverted commas with discussions, because I don't find much there of the substantive debate in a true discussion. Among North American posters (mostly from the U.S. and a few from Canada), the emphasis, as you alluded, is on the cult of personality or celebrity -- people choose the personality of the candidate they find most compelling, much as they choose to support a football team and then they "talk trash" to the opposing side and make ad hominem attacks on any poster with whom they disagree.

    Re Brexit, many Americans are having trouble coming to terms with their idealization and romanticization of Europe and the European Union as some sort of utopian experiment. Some U.S. politicians and political activists have ballyhooed the EU as something the U.S. should wish to emulate and attain. Now that the cracks are beginning to show in the EU (they have always been there), most Americans, who thought the EU was the be-all, end-all, are struggling to re-identify it.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mary, the interesting thing about the BREXIT vote was that it wasn't fought on political party lines. MP's from both sides found themselves in alliance with their usual opposite numbers and went round the country together speaking at rallies, canvassing voters etc.

    The only area of England that was in favour of 'remaining' within the EU was London; understandable as it is such a cosmopolitan city with more people living there born outside the country than born within.

    Very large parts of the North East and West, Midlands, Wales and rural districts wanted out. Many of them the old traditional Labour (ie blue collar) heartlands.

    I can't see how there could be a re-vote as everything was democratically carried out and the dividing line has always been 50%. Some student protesters, mainly from Militant Tendency and the Socialist Workers Party have claimed the result isn't fair, presumably because their side didn't win.

    Certainly the country is in political turmoil. The PM has fallen on his sword and a new one must be chosen, while the Opposition has taken the opportunity of sticking the knife into the back of their leader Jeremy Corbyn with over 80% of his MP's telling him to go but, as yet, he has refused to budge saying he has the support of those far-left party members listed above.

    No doubt it will all be sorted out before too long!

    Anne, the Eurovision Song Contest is SO terrible I am amazed you can sit through it!

    And as for passports I still have my dark blue GB one (long out-of-date) which says "Her Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

    What does the US passport say?

  • 7 years ago

    My passport says, "The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection."

    Rose, Grantchester is growing on me, and I don't enjoy Father Brown. Horses for courses, huh?


  • 7 years ago

    My Australian passport says:

    "The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need."


    Vee, I considered recommending Blackadder but thought it might be a bit much of an acquired taste.

    Jeeves and Wooster, starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is very good too. It's hard to believe Bertie Wooster (and all his Blackadder characters) and Gregory House are played by the same person.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Kath, I agree about that the Blackadder series maybe being a bit out at left-field for our American friends.

    Ben Elton who co-wrote it has written a new series about Shakespeare, who has moved to London but often pops back to Stratford where his family fail to appreciate his artistic endevours. The cast manage the (modern) Stratford accent quite well. ;-) Has it reached Australia yet?

    Upstart Crow

  • 7 years ago

    No,Vee, I haven't heard of that yet - but I will keep a lookout. Thanks for the heads up.

  • 7 years ago

    Vee, I truly enjoy the awfullness of Eurovision! It is so popular here that we are now allowed to compete and did come second this year...

  • 7 years ago

    I second the praise for "House of Elliot," and I really liked the "Rumpole of the Bailey" series that aired on PBS/Masterpiece Theatre in 1980, I believe (starring Leo McKern); I've seen the DVD series advertised here and there. I've been picking up Rumpole books when I see them at book sales and used-book stores so I can reread them. [I'm gingerly stepping back into Readers' Paradise -- with TBR titles filling a small notebook, I know it's dangerous to lust after more!]

  • 7 years ago

    Woodnymph, try reading Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters I picked up a copy after watching the TV series and found it easily 'readable' and quite true-to-life even after a hundred and fifty years.


    Frieda I am sorry I didn't reply to the follow up you wrote of the BREXIT campaign but I think it must have appeared 'late' on this site . . . something you have commented on before.

    Your mention of cult of personality hit the spot; it has been mentioned by various journalist/pundits recently as an unsettling trend, or should I use the modern idiom trend/conversation/almost anything "going forward"

    Now the talk is all about the CHILCOT report. Seven years in the making and heaven knows how many millions of £££'s and man-hours, looking into all aspects of the Iraq War, the hows the whys and the wherefores of the British involvement. The flawed 'intelligence', the more-haste-less-speed, lack of military equipment and 'preparedness' and the horrible outcome still being felt to this day.

    This in no way looks at the US, except inasmuch as it was conceived in that country. UK politicians of the Blair era are under belated pressure to justify their actions.

    Apparently the US Govt have no plans for a similar enquiry.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vee, yes, my post about Brexit apparently appeared late. I had given up on it -- thinking it had evaporated like so many of my other posts. Thank you for noticing and acknowledging to me that it finally came through. I probably wouldn't have bothered after a couple of days to check to see if it ever did.

    In the U.S. there's a reasonable amount of interest in the Chilcot Report, mostly among political junkies, journos, and historians. The old saying, "Before it was history, it was news", applies to this investigation and report, I think: What was understood in the beginning, as things were happening, on reevaluation seems to be one, big chaotic mess. I'm not sure that the expense of producing these reports will ever seem justifiable to 'ordinary folk', but I don't think there's any doubt that future historians -- after the sting of paying for it (moneywise and timewise) has been forgotten -- will appreciate it, for no other reason than it provides insight on how the thinking evolved. And how it will continue to evolve. Revision is the meat and potatoes of history.

    I suspect there won't be an enquiry sponsored by the U.S. government similar to Chilcot's any time soon, if ever. U.S. citizens are weary of investigations, enquiries, and resulting reports -- we've had so many lately. Besides that, enough time has passed, that most of it has moved into the realm of history, the place in time for historians to take over and kick it around for as long as there's interest. In the long run, that's much cheaper. ;-I

  • 7 years ago

    Frieda, I think in the UK it was the ordinary folk, in this case the parents, siblings, spouses, children of those who had lost their lives who kicked up the most fuss and got this 'investigation' under way. Rather less than 200 British military personnel lost their lives in the initial conflict though many more have since fallen in Afghanistan, to say nothing of the truly horrible terrorist attacks world-wide aimed at civilians.

    I imagine the US casualty list was much higher.

    "Lessons will be learned" is the politicians mantra.




    Chilcot Enquiry Take Your Pick

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vee, by 'ordinary folk' I mean those without the direct, personal interest of the parents, siblings, spouses, children of those who had lost their lives. I think it's natural for those people to put up the most 'fuss'. Other people, however, make the argument that the money and time invested in those investigations and reports will have diminishing returns and probably will never be settled to everyone's satisfaction, anyway. Examples of that in the U.S. are the various investigations and reports on the attack of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which, of course, are of the utmost importance to the families of those killed, injured, and involved.

    I did a quick search of the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq. From 2003 through 2014 (Iraq Body Count project), there were 4,491 U.S. service members killed in Iraq. There have been in the tens of thousands of U.S. personnel injured in Iraq. The numbers of Iraqis are estimated to be from 175,000 killed to 500,000 injured -- largely unverifiable. Those figures don't include all those victims of terrorism in various parts of the world that can be linked to the Iraq War in some way.

    Thanks for the link to the various Chilcot articles. I will probably read most of them because I'm interested, but I really don't blame anyone who can't take very much of that sort of thing.

  • 7 years ago

    Back on topic: Vee, I'm also interested in Ben Elton's series about Shakespeare. I love the title already, an homage to Robert Greene's Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance. Is Elton a bit Ben Jonsonish? I imagine that sort of satire which I love. I'll watch it as soon as it's available to me. I always enjoyed Blackadder, too.

  • 7 years ago

    Ben Elton is clever. One might go as far as calling him a smart-arse but in this Shakespeare thing he paints a picture of WS using twenty words when two will do, getting tied down with unsuitable plots that his 'ignorant' family can clarify in a moment and a running gag about the state of his journey between London and Stratford. The only 'off' note for me is the comedian/fool Kemp played as a sound-alike Ricky Gervais . .. and so-called comedian who I find totally unfunny . .. although I know many people role in the aisles as soon as he opens his mouth.

  • 7 years ago

    Mary, I think you would enjoy the BBC series The Barchester Chronicles adapted from the books of Anthony Trollope. They were first shown sometime in the '80's with a fine cast of actors. I'm sure they are available on remastered DVD's.



    The Barchester Chronicles

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love so many of the series mentioned. But I don't think anyone mentioned one of my very favorites Lark Rise To Candleford.

  • 7 years ago

    Vee, I have the DVD of the Agatha Christie "And then there were none" series. Very well done, although I winced at some of the rather modern vulgarities of speech. Perhaps they were around in the 1930s but they just seemed modern!

    Also would a British army officer say "...a good friend to my wife and I"? which had me shouting "and me!" to the screen...

    The DVD had interesting extra footage about the making of the show, decor, costumes etc. and apparently the men found the high waisted trousers strange after being used to low riding jeans!

    I am shortly getting "Upstart Crow" to watch on DVD and look forward to seeing that.

  • 7 years ago

    Ann, do you remember when HM Queen used to start her Christmas Day broadcast with "My husband and I . . ." These days, over here many people say "Me and him/her/Jim/Jane " We were always taught that the 'me' comes after everyone else, not before!

    Ann I am glad to be of an age where 'fashion' no longer matters. My son-in-law, who takes these things very seriously told me last Summer, on returning from his South America expedition, that he was finding suitable 'seasonal wear' very diificult in the few shops in our small town. I suggested he just wore his 'last year's clothes, which he found a quaint idea ;-(

    I have noticed that from wearing VERY tight narrow jeans/leggings the fashion has now swung to baggy cut-off legs, though I would happily see far less of the female butt, especially the large tattoed variety.


  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Did the UK follow the fashion popular in the US, where young men and boys wore their pants so loose and baggy that they rode low on the hips with about 5 inches (or more) of undergarment exposed, and the crotch of the pants down around their knees? They could barely walk but it was the height of in-your-face fashion for simply years. It seems to have finally passed. I once met someone with a truly wicked sense of humor who would try to set up situations where someone dressed like this would have to jump, and his pants would fall down in public.

    Back to favorite British shows. Toms' and my ultimate favorites would have to be the David SuchetPoirot series and the Joan Hickson Miss Marple series. And I grieved when Jeremy Brett died. He was Sherlock Holmes to me. Not that I don't also enjoy the latest version with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

  • 7 years ago

    Vee, I have now viewed all six episodes of "Upstart Crow" and thanks for the tip! I enjoyed it very much and am watching it again as I missed some of the references about Marlowe. Not being very familiar with his work, I had to look him up.

    I particularly enjoyed the problems Will had in getting to Stratford, I too have missed getting a refreshment cart on a journey!

    Susanna is so true of a teenager, I am sure they are much the same now. "Dur!"

  • 7 years ago

    I've never seen or heard of "Upstart Crow."

    Finally! I was able to locate and watch the last part of "Grantchester." I must say that after "Foyle's War", this is the best British TV series I've ever seen! I love the gray areas of moral ambiguities that the young priest must deal with. And the fact that it is set in the 1950's just adds to the interest. It does not hurt that the village is exquisite and that "Sydney" is drop-dead handsome, at least in my opinion. I thought this far, far better than "D'ton Abbey."

  • 7 years ago

    Mary, dealing with moral ambiguities should come naturally to the writer of the original 'Grantchester' books as the author James Runcie is the son of Robert Runcie the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
  • 7 years ago

    I thought I would mention that my old favorite House of Elliot, long unavailable on DVD and unaffordable when it could be found used, has just been re-released. I got my copy in the mail the other day. I plan to watch it while I sew my 1920's dress for the Gatsby Picnic in Oakland next month. It seems very appropriate!

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Since we're talking about areas besides Britain/UK, I am going to give two thumbs up to Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries!! Wonderful show, great cast, amazing locations/costumes and lots of fun! :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkgRyDO6HDg

  • 7 years ago

    Lavender, I think that Essie Davis is perfect as Phryne! I am re reading the early books as there hasn't been a new one for a while. I think there could be a movie in the pipeline.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ann-That would be wonderful. I hope for a Season 4 AND a movie : )

    Almost forgot...Rose, this is for you!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCMaaC1tyPg

  • 7 years ago

    I was given a download dubbed onto a DVD. I think it was from U tube. I don't know anyone that would enjoy it so that I can share my pleasure...even the friend who did this for me didn't care to watch after the first episode! (Sighs!)

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vee, that was very funny! So sorry we don't have it here.

    Lavender, thanks for the Game of Thrones clip. Have been waiting years (literally) for volume 6 to be published, if indeed it ever will be. Let's not even talk about the concluding volume. Thank heavens we have the television show to keep us going.

  • 7 years ago

    Did any of you watch the TV series called "Peaky Blinders"? It's a bit rough around the edges, but wow. It's a corker.

  • 7 years ago

    Liz, hope you are 'properly' back now. I think 'Peaky Blinders' has been quite popular over here . . . but, not for me. I'm not much into violence, seems to be enough of it on the news each day. ;-(

  • 7 years ago

    Another series to look out for is the ITV production of Victoria. The first episode was on last night and, I thought, pretty well done, 'though some 'real historians' are doing it down! It starts with an early morning shot of the young V hearing the news of the death of her Uncle William IV meaning she is now Queen and goes on to show the struggle between the gently reared eighteen year old, her domineering Mother as the head of her household and the power-behind the throne Sir John Conroy.

    Rufus Sewell makes a good PM Lord Melbourne (though he should have been older as a father-figure) and the story jollies along with some sub-plotting of servants selling off candles, gloves etc. Albert must come on the scene soon!

    It will be entertaining Sunday night Autumn viewing.

  • 7 years ago

    Anyone ever see Black Books?

  • 7 years ago

    Dyno, yes very funny show, out of a similar stable as Father Ted. I only watched it now and then as it was deemed alternative comedy and on late at night; way past my bedtime.




    Black Books

  • 7 years ago

    I finally was able to watch the entire first series of "Poldark". This one had Robin Ellis and was made back in the 70's, I think. Anyway, I absolutely loved it. I know that a newer version has been made of this but having watched several episodes, I am not sure that I prefer it to the former version. My question is: has anyone read the books by Winston Graham the TV series was taken from? If so, what was your opinion?

  • 7 years ago

    Hi Vee,

    I think Black Books might still be on Netflix. Very very funny. (And that Manny is a freaking musical genius) The British have a very interesting knack of pulling off comedies about dysfunctional people. I mean you have Black Books, the whole Blackadder series, Fawlty Towers ....

    Oh, and has anyone seen Vexed? I'm on the third episode and I find it quite hilarious!

  • 7 years ago

    What do you think of the TV Series called "The Crown" about QEII and co.?

  • 7 years ago

    liz/lemonhead it is only available on netflix here (apparently the BBC couldn't afford to make/buy it) so haven't seen it. The few write-ups I have seen have been surprisingly favourable.

    I suppose it might be difficult for some viewers to realise the conversations are all conjectural ie not based on what really was said.

    I read that Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress for the show cost £30,000 while for the actual dress HRH had to save her ration coupons for the material.




    Wedding of Princess Elizabeth

  • 7 years ago

    I watched the early part of "The Hollow Crown" about Richard the Second from the play by Shakespeare. Brilliant stuff! Although it was produced a few years ago I have only just come across it on a late night broadcast on a TV station which runs European films, docos etc.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My teenage daughter got me watching The Crown, and I have really enjoyed it. They spent a lot of money on the production and it shows. It is not my daughter's typical fare, so when she raved about it I had to start watching it. I also enjoyed The Buccaneers which is an older BBC/Masterpiece production but available on Netflix and DVD.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked merryworld
  • 7 years ago

    Coming late to the thread, but I must mention the old drama, "Upstairs, Downstairs". Very much worthwhile. Other oldies but goodies for me are "The Vicar of Dibley" and, of course, Brother Cadfael. If there is a particular time period you were looking for, I apologize... I missed that detail. And oh... Agatha Christie's Miss Marple.

    PAM


    woodnymph2_gw thanked bigdogstwo
  • 7 years ago

    Bigdogstwo, have you seen the recent Upstairs, Downstairs revival? There are only two seasons, but it was interesting.

  • 7 years ago

    HI Merry,

    No.... I had no idea a more recent version existed! I will be checking my library's DVD collection online tonight! Thank you!

    PAM

  • 7 years ago

    annpan, I see in the November reading you have been enjoying the Mma Ramotswe books by Alexander McCall Smith.

    Have you, or anyone, seen the BBC series made on location a few years ago? Very entertaining.

    A link below to the series and about Botswana (the old British Protectorate of Bechuanaland) just in case your geography is a bit hazy. A fascinating country.





    No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency


  • 7 years ago

    Vee, yes, I got a friend to download it for me and then later it was broadcast on TV. Pity there wasn't a follow up, because I think the director or producer died.