To make things cooler, they answered two of my questions during the past two shows. My first question was posed to Ryan on Twitter ("@brittvpodcast I'm curious. Outside PBS & BBC America, how do we Yanks catch new Britt shows like what I hear about on yr podcast?") and answered by Ryan both on Twitter and on the show's 52nd podcast ("There's the legal way and the not so legal way..."). My second question was posed by e-mail and answered two days later on the 53rd podcast/anniversary episode:
I was just catching up on your latest podcast and was reminded of the news. Happy One Year Anniversary Ryan and Chrissy for your wonderful British TV Podcast! I look forward to each new podcast every week. :)The answer was pretty simple, as anticipated: "Marketing".
Quick question for you both which probably has an equally quick answer: Why do so many British TV shows change their names when they get imported to the US? (example: "Grace and Favour" --> "Are You Being Served Again?" or "Jam & Jerusalem" --> "Clatterford")
I look forward to your next year of podcasting!
Check out the show on their website or on iTunes. It's a great way to learn about excellent television programming, as well as various actors and actresses.
Updated: I just got back from the gym and was thinking about some of the different British television shows that I've watched and enjoyed over the years. I thought it might be fun to re-visit this blog entry and -- in honor of British TV Podcast's first anniversary -- share my first favorite British programs. These aren't my all-time British shows. These are my first favorite British shows (based on different categories). These are programs that I really digged at the time and that sucked me into British programming. In some cases, there are some really wonderful (and frankly much more wonderful) British shows that have come out since the programs listed below (such as Being Human, The Office, Keeping Up Appearances, Midsomer Murders, Poirot, etc.). These are my firsts, and as such hold special spots in my jaded bleeding heart.
Doctor Who. Might as well get that out of the way. I was introduced to Doctor Who by Randy, an older boy who used to tolerate me as a child when our parents got together for whatever parents do when they get together. He introduced me to classic Doctor Who: Tom Baker during his golden years. I think my first Who episode was "The Robots of Death". The robots were super creepy and managed to live up to their reputation. Since then, I've seen pretty much every available episode of Doctor Who, except for a few missing Patrick Troughton episodes.
First Favorite American Remake of a British Television Program: Three's Company. Looking back, I have no idea why I was allowed to watch Three's Company as a 7-year-old boy. Looking back, I might concede that this sitcom about a raging het man who poses as a gay man so that he could live with two hot chicks might have had some influence over my future affectionate development. And looking back, I had absolutely no idea that Three's Company was a remake of a British sitcom called Man About the House. All I know is that I loved Three's Company and watched it all the way from season one through Three's a Crowd. I liked it so much that I even named my pet hamster after the often-spoken-of-but-rarely-seen Greedy Gretchen. That said, I've never seen an episode of Man About the House and I'm sure I likely never will.
Are You Being Served?: I worked in a group home from my senior year in high school through the end of college. I worked there pretty much every other Saturday evening. This was the evening routine: We ate. We took care of hygiene needs. We then watched Lawrence Welk and Are You Being Served? on Iowa Public Television. I never could get into Lawrence Welk and his crew, but I absolutely fell in love with the employees at Grace Brothers department store. Each episode, the ladies and gents would struggle with management's scheme-of-the-week or find themselves hip-deep in sexual innuendo. Several years later, the crew reunited to run an English manor in Are You Being Served? Again!, which I never really got into. A few years after watching the reunion program, I came across a 1977 Are You Being Served? movie. Here's the plot: Mr. Grace forced all of the staff to go on vacation to a run-down resort in Costa Plonka. It was campy, crude, silly, and repetitive. And I loved every moment of it!
First Favorite British Mystery/Crime Drama: Prime Suspect: I'm a huge murder mystery/crime drama fan know, but I really didn't get into that genre or program or book until the mid-90s and I owe much of that to the talented Helen Mirren and Prime Suspect. The series tells the story of newly promoted DCI Jane Tennison, as she fights to overcome institutional sexism and cronyism and solve a baffling rape and murder. Tennison was wonderfully complex and not terribly likable. Her struggles with personal isolation and alcoholism ultimately killed her career. But you can't help but admire her instinct or professional drive. The storylines were brilliant and not to be missed.
Teletubbies: I absolutely love the Teletubbies. The costuming is bizarres and the giant rabbits adorable. They were pretty much out of fashion by the time D'Angelo came around. Fortunately, Leslie enjoyed watching them way longer than what was age-appropriate. Jerry Falwell single-handedly made Tinky Winky a gay icon, which was an extra bonus.
Queer as Folk: Back in the late 90s/early 00s, I used to get together with a group of guys every week to watch episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Somehow, one of the guys got hold of QAF and showed it to the bunch. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It tells the story of three gay guys living in Manchester's gay village. It was sexually graphic and definitely risque with its depiction of recreational drug use and sexual intimacy between 29-year-old Stuart and 15-year-old Nathan. It ended up spawning a US version of Showtime, which grew into its own program but was never quite so earnestly edgy as its UK predecessor.
Rev.: Here's my final category for the night. Rev. is a sitcom about a vicar who's transferred with his wife to serve a tiny congregation in a crumbling inner-city London church. The humor is sufficiently dark for my current tastes. Rev. Smallbone struggles to connect with his neighborhood and make his church both relevant and morally instructive to his new community. It looks like the show has been picked up for a second series.
What are your favorite first British television programs?