Whilst many British stereotypes involve the Queen, a lot of tea, and red telephone boxes, the reality couldn’t be much further from this. Although a small group of countries, each region has their own quirks and cultural differences. The following are 4 TV shows that perfectly portray British life in each different country.
Gavin & Stacey (2007 – 2010)
Wales & England
This TV show is where James Cordon made his name. Co-written by him and welsh actress/writer Ruth Jones, it came to be one of the most popular comedies of the last decade. It was so popular that it’s one-time Christmas revival in 2019 placed it as the UK’s 9th most watched TV programmes of the decade.
The show follows the tale of a young man (Gavin) from Essex, England, who falls in love with a woman (Stacey) from Barry, Wales and the coming together of both their families. The sitcom perfectly captures the working class life in these parts of their respective countries, and the contrast between their cultures.
Whether it be the strange neighbours, hysterical mothers (see Gavin’s mum Pam), or ordering an Indian, this TV show gives a scarily true-to-life view on what life in the UK is really like. A show full of iconic UK TV moments as well as it’s fair share of tear jerking scenes, it is sure to warm your heart.
“This is an absolutely brilliant series with wonderful characters saying hugely funny things. I’m Welsh and I have never seen anything which captures the rhythm of the way Welsh people speak like this, but the Essex characters are just as good in their ways. This isn’t just the best comedy the BBC has done for a long time; it’s the best series of any kind for a very long time. Everyone will have their favourites amongst the characters but I defy anyone who has ever been west of the Severn Bridge not to see Bryn as the ultimate hero. Lots of the success lies in the timing, because the actors don’t stand around for hours trying to milk laughs. All in all a very tidy show.”
Derry Girls (2018 -)
Set in the 90’s Northern Ireland, Derry Girls captures the Catholic point of view during the Troubles with a lighthearted perspective. Surprisingly, many Brits don’t know much (if at all) about the conflict that went on in Northern Ireland over the last few decades, so this show has shed some light on this dark time in a refreshingly comedic way. Whether it be the strict Catholic nuns, tensions between Catholics and Protestants, or the tense British army checkpoints, the show doesn’t miss a detail in what life was like only a few decades ago. Thankfully Northern Ireland is a lot more peaceful nowadays, but evidence of The Troubles hasn’t been completely erased. You might need to watch this with subtitles however, as even some native-English speakers have trouble understanding the thick accent.
“A thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious addition to channel 4’s comedic offerings. The extreme success of ‘Derry Girls’ lies deeply rooted in the effective well-rounded development of the main and recurring characters. With all four of the Derry Girls being totally antithetical to each other, the show seemingly appeals to a wide and diverse audience without losing sight of its purpose as a comedy. Set in 1990s Derry, McGee intricately intertwines the treacherous and realistic political undertones as an effective backdrop to successfully juxtapose the comedic on-goings in the lives of the core characters. It should win lots of awards.”
Our Country (2017 -)
This mockumentary style captures the peculiarities and boredom encountered by those living in rural England. It follows cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklow as they lead life in a typical village in the Cotswolds, England. Whilst the TV show may be exaggerated in the stupidity of it’s characters, many viewers can recognise the sheltered day to day of rural English life.
“Very funny! Everything is true to life of an British village. Great actors, very well put together.”
Scot Squad (2014 – 2018)
Following the Scottish police force that spoofs popular British crime-reality TV shows such as Road Wars and Police Interceptors. The audience will be able to recognise the individuals the police officers encounter during the show in those in their life and the more casual nature in which law enforcement goes down in rural British life. For those outside of Britain, the show is a great way to get used to the Scottish accent!
“I really like this series. It is very funny and at the same time very informative. I have never been a criminal but I have been thinking about it. Being a criminal here in the states doesn’t sound very fun but after seeing this series I think I would really like to be a criminal in Scotland. Thanks for the encouragement!”
If you’re looking for a taste of real British life or you just want a good laugh, any of these shows are worth a watch!