Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons You Should Watch The BBC

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Awhile back, I posted on five reasons you should listen to BBC Radio. Today I’d like to complement that post with some thoughts on why you should also watch BBC television:

1. It has the most amazing mini-series. Back when my husband and I first met, I knew that we were well-suited to one another when we both dove in with two feet to watch the six part BBC mini-series Reckless, about a young man who falls for an older (married) woman. A few years later, we watched State of Play, a contemporary thriller about a political-media scandal (later re-made into a less satisfactory feature film set in America.) Just this past weekend, we finished the trilogy House of Cards, a political drama about Westminster intrigue set in post-Thatcher England. All three series combine superb acting, fine writing and a willingness to explore the messy interface between love and power. Fabulous.

2. It has the most amazing documentaries. I’ve got a 9-year-old son, which means that prying him away from violent computer games is no mean feat. But I can’t tell you how many spellbinding afternoons we’ve spent this year watching the most compelling documentaries about science and nature on the BBC I-player. I’m particularly taken with the series How Earth Made Us. Watch this one entitled Deep Earth to learn why civilizations sprung up along fault lines. Incredible.

3. The presenters look like us. Despite charges of ageism and sexism, the vast majority of the people presenting and reporting the news on the BBC just aren’t all that attractive, at least by American broadcast standards. Rather, they look like – gasp – normal people. At first, I found this shocking and vaguely disconcerting. (What’s up with that guy’s teeth? How can she possibly go on air in that top?) But now that I’ve gotten used to it, I find it quite refreshing. The people who report the news look a lot like the people they’re reporting on. How…appropriate.

4. It Employs Jonathan Ross. At least for now. If you’re *so* over the late night television wars in the United States, I’d urge you to tune in to this weekend staple over here in the UK: Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Yeah, he looks a bit like Leno and – at first glance – acts a bit like him, with his bumptious grin and easy way with the ladies. But make no mistake. Ross is clever and funny and seems to really enjoy what he’s doing. (Even if he occasionally steps over the line.) I’ve never watched late night TV with any regularity in my life until now. I will sorely miss him when he goes.

5. It created The Office. Many Americans don’t realize this, but NBC’s hit comedy, The Office, is actually based on a BBC television show by the same name. (As Ricky Gervais – its star and co-creator – was quick to remind us at The Golden Globes recently. Read here for a terrific comparison of the two.) I love the American version of The Office. But there’s nothing quite like the mixture of humor, pathos and off-beat romance that defined the original series – it’s almost unbearable to watch at times. And Thank Goodness.

*****

For those who are interested, I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com today talking about efforts to improve the enfranchisement of overseas American voters.

Image: Empire Awards 2008 by Claire_h via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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13 Responses to Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons You Should Watch The BBC

  1. daryl boylan says:

    Vote, Dems, vote!

  2. Amber says:

    It would be refreshing to see reporters look like the average person.

  3. betweenthewords says:

    Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Shelley says:

    I agree that Ross is slightly amusing in that sort of ‘ain’t I cute’ way, but I think Russell Brand is disgusting and what the two of them got up to together unforgivable. I guess I find the fact that I have to pay for a TV license to watch even non-government subsidised programming a bit galling. And Ross’s salary even more so. Wish I could better understand why BBC can take the tax money — and the license does seem a form of tax — and yet compete commercially with other stations. If they only did high brow stuff and left the trashy stuff to others I could stomach it a bit better. ‘Fraid I spend most my evenings in front of the fire with a good book.

    • delialloyd says:

      hi shelley-i think you have a point. and i do at times feel “coerced” into watching the BBC (despite how much I love it). I think the license fee thing will come to a head soon and there will be a change. It’s actually something I really want to write about. Thanks for your feedback!

    • delialloyd says:

      hi shelley-i think you have a point. and i do at times feel “coerced” into watching the BBC (despite how much I love it). I think the license fee thing will come to a head soon and there will be a change. It’s actually something I really want to write about. Thanks for your feedback!

  5. Shelley says:

    Oh good! I love hearing another American’s view on these things and up here in Newcastle I’m a bit isolated (unless you count Good Old Bill Bryson down in Durham…). I have heard the odd grumble about the TV license now and again but not lately. Will look forward to your comments on the matter. Best wishes!

  6. Patricia says:

    Oh I love the BBC and watch with Netflix all the series or on the computer. It is just such good quality and the news is the information one needs to know from real reporters…not stars and jockeys.

  7. […] I have in the U.K. for three and a half years, I’ve grown particularly fond of BBC Radio and BBC Television – both of which I think of as gems of adulthood, not to be missed. (As a friend puts it, […]

  8. […] every night to talk about the day and then watch something together – a DVD commentary, a BBC documentary, The Daily Show. Another couple I know makes a point of eating dinner together every night after […]

  9. […] It’s often billed as the U.K.’s answer to Precious. Which is to say that both films treat the subject of poverty, sexuality, dysfunctional families and abuse within an urban setting. But the American film has more of an uplifting, Oprah-esque touch while the British film is raw and bleak. (A bit like the difference between the American and British versions of the television show, The Office.) […]

  10. […] It's often billed as the U.K.'s answer to Precious. Which is to say that both films treat the subject of poverty, sexuality, dysfunctional families and abuse within an urban setting. But the American film has more of an uplifting, Oprah-esque touch while the British film is raw and bleak. (A bit like the difference between the American and British versions of the television show, The Office.) […]

  11. […] first saw Minchin on the erstwhile Jonathan Ross show, which was – until last summer – the top late night talk show here in the U.K. And we […]

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