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Top 10 BBC Shows

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris It’s the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation, and these are its best bits! Welcome to and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 BBC shows! For this list, we've looked at all BBC shows. There are no criteria limitations in terms of genre or era, as long as the show is on BBC, and not ITV or any other British TV channel, then it is in contention. Special thanks to our user Deathmatch1959 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 BBC Shows

It’s the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation, and these are its best bits! Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 BBC shows!

For this list, we’ve looked at all BBC shows. There are no criteria limitations in terms of genre or era, as long as the show is on BBC, and not ITV or any other British TV channel, then it is in contention.

#10: “Fawlty Towers” (1975-79)

A show that spans just two series – one in 1975 and one in ‘79 – there were but 12 episodes of “Fawlty Towers” ever made! But, those 12 episodes helped shape modern-day comedy, and especially sitcom writing. The show centers on Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese, the erratic owner of the eponymous hotel. Set upon the ‘English Riviera’ in Torquay, Basil is joined by Sybil (his wife), Polly (the chambermaid) and Manuel (the Spanish waiter). If it all sounds like the components of a really good joke, that’s because it is!

#9: “The Graham Norton Show” (2007-)

A multi-award winning chat show, Graham Norton never fails to get big names to appear on his sofa, and he never fails to get them doing ridiculous things in the name of entertainment! Norton himself rose to fame on the UK’s Channel 4, but moved over to the BBC in 2005. And “The Graham Norton Show” itself began life on BBC 2, before knocking Jonathon Ross out of BBC One’s prestigious Friday night slot in 2010. The rest is hilarious A-list history!

#8: “The Office” (2001-03)

In large part, we have the BBC to thank for Ricky Gervais in general… “Extras” is probably considered one of the channel’s greatest ever comedies, but it’s just overshadowed on today’s countdown by Gervais’ first major outing, “The Office”! Who’d have thought that the dull daily lives of employees at a Slough-based paper company would make for era-defining comedy?! “The Office” takes a look at the tiny trivialities, details and desperations of human behavior, and blows them up into a show that can have you laughing, cringing and crying all at the same time!

#7: “Yes Minister” (1980-84)

“Yes Minister” takes us behind the scenes at the British government. Said to be the favorite TV program of the then actual Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, it follows the eternal struggles of MP Jim Hacker, an aspiring politician, who works as Minister of Administrative Affairs. Most episodes revolve around Hacker’s proposing legislation before having it beaten down, or else Hacker’s desperate attempts to blockade another’s ideas. It’s in-house squabbling at its best, and it absolutely gets our vote!

#6: “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (1969-74)

Perhaps the most pioneering British comedy show ever made, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was originally broadcast between 1969 and 1974. Its blend of observational gags, innuendo and surreal sketches was unlike anything else before it, and anything similar since is often described as ‘pythonesque’. So good it inspired its own adjective, “Flying Circus” was its very own variety show! A philosophical, intellectual, satirical stab at everyone’s sense of humor, the Spanish Inquisition wasn’t expected, but Python’s place on this list must’ve been!

#5: “Luther” (2010-)

Idris Elba takes the lead for our next show, an award-winning crime series that has achieved international success. “Luther” centers on the titular character, Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, a man who is both skilled at his job, but a little psychologically damaged because of it, as well. This is a police drama, but it’s not just about fast cars, gunfights, and the odd explosion. There’s a deeper, more complex story here, which has had critics raving with every series released.

#4: “Sherlock” (2010-)

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is probably one of the best known, and most loved, literary characters ever created; and ever since its first series in 2010, “Sherlock” has turned that classic story into a contemporary saga. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and the unerring Watson, the show has achieved massive worldwide success. Set primarily in London, it’s often cited as the most quintessentially British thing on TV today. The UK’s most watched drama series since 2001, it’s ‘elementary’ viewing!

#3: “Blackadder” (1983-89)

British TV is awash with period dramas, but “Blackadder” bucked the trend in the ‘80s, establishing itself as a period comedy. The show, which stars Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder, ran for four full series, which were set at four significant points in British history. However, no matter where you are on the timeline, “Blackadder”’s always cynical, and his dogsbody, Baldrick, always has a ‘cunning plan’! The cast of characters here are literally incomparable to any other sitcom. It really is the best of British comic acting.

#2: “Top Gear” (1977-)

It started as a fairly routine motoring magazine programme, but over time, and especially since a 2002 re-launch, “Top Gear” has become one of the most successful entertainment shows on the BBC. Of course, everything on the show revolves around cars. There are road test reviews, features covering the world’s most prestigious manufacturers, and then there’re lots of funny, farcical, and often controversial road-trips, races, and automobile experiments. In general, this show rarely lets its finger slip from the pulse, and never lets its foot off the pedal!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (1979)
- “The Young Ones” (1982-84)
- “Wallace and Gromit” franchise (1990-)
- “Only Fools and Horses” (1981-2003)
- “Are You Being Served?” (1972-85)
- “QI” (2003-)

#1: “Doctor Who” (1963-89; 1996; 2005-)

You could search through all of time and space, sift through all the ‘timey wimey stuff’, but you’ll never find a BBC show better than “Doctor Who”. First aired in 1963, and re-introduced for modern audiences in 2005, it’s become a hugely significant part of British popular culture. Millions tune in every week to follow the Doctor, his TARDIS, and his companions, as they fight Daleks, Cybermen, and anything else the universe can muster. Bowties are cool, but this show is brilliant! And now, to quote the Time Lord himself, ‘Allons-y’!

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite BBC show? For more best of British top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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