4 great TV shows from across the pond

British tv shows

Thanks to streaming services, we can access programming from around the world. For example, The Crown, Downton Abby, and The Great British Bake Off, and of course Bridgerton, are wildly popular British shows that draw a huge following in the US. I haven’t indulged in those yet, but here are a few of my favorites from the UK.

After Life (Dark comedy)

I should not care much for the humor of Ricky Gervais. He’s crass and flippant and has a potty mouth that can shock even those who aren’t bothered by foul language. But for some reason, I (usually) find him hilarious. That’s true even in his show After Life which has the poignant premise of a husband struggling to endure life following the death of his beloved wife. Yeah, I know, I typically stay away from sad shows; they tend to catapult me into depression. There’s just something about this one that I found weirdly hope filled. Gervais’ character, Tony, is raw and unfiltered, so I don’t always like him. Still, I find myself rooting for him in spite of his despicable behavior.

After his wife passes, Tony is essentially living for his dog. Because he has to care for his pet, he gets out of bed, even though he can barely stand this new life without his wife. As a feature writer for his brother-in-law’s paper, Tony interviews people who think they have a story of great interest. Meeting these regular folks with mostly unremarkable tales, Tony begrudgingly moves through life. He develops friendships that matter in spite of himself and these relationships carry him to a place of relative peace.

Here’s another thing I like about the series: it comes to a satisfactory close. The ending is not a rosy “and everyone lived happily ever after with all life’s problems completely resolved” which is a flat-out lie even in sitcoms. But it does not leave you with frustrating loose ends either. With streaming allowing us to watch every episode of a series end to end, I want to know going in that it’s worth my investment. This one definitely is.

Quotes from British TV ShowsDoc Martin (Mostly comedy, though occasionally dramatic)

The British television production, Doc Martin, is absolutely hilarious to me. Though some may not think the dry humor and sarcasm are funny, I find myself laughing aloud throughout each episode. Martin Clunes, the actor with the title role, plays a big city surgeon made village general practitioner. The quirky characters Doc Martin encounters are so authentic that they might just as well be found in small town USA as in this quaint English village.

Dr. Martin Ellingham is a renown surgeon who develops an aversion incompatible with his profession. The sight of blood causes him instant nausea that prevents him from carrying on with his task. Consequently, he loses the right to perform surgery and is placed in a tiny practice in the fictional town of Port Wenn. There he meets the love of his life, Louisa, and a host of other village folk who work there way under his skin, if not into his heart.

Doc Martin is mostly G-rated (by me) except for a few adult situations that push it into the PG zone. It’s lovely to watch a quality show that is also pretty much devoid of debauchery. In the US, it comes on PBS; I’ve watched it on streaming services like Acorn, Netflix, and Hulu.

Call the Midwife (Drama with deep content)

I was late to the Call the Midwife craze. It deals with some pretty heavy topics that I tend to avoid when seeking out entertainment. When I gave in and started watching it, I was hooked immediately.

Set in East London in the 50s and 60s, the show follows a team of midwives on their rounds. Their home base is a convent whose ministry is to the women of this poverty-stricken area. The needs of the region have grown to the point that the nuns cannot cover all responsibilities, so professional midwives from outside the faith join their efforts.

The show touches on topics such as infertility, abortion, racism, infidelity, same sex attraction, and more. The midwives don’t always agree on how situations should be handled; their interpersonal relationships add dimension to the storylines and teach us something about conflict management. Interesting characters with complex lives make this one a real masterpiece. Plus, in 22 episodes, you’ll find Miranda Hart playing Nurse Chummy–reason enough to watch any show.

Miranda (Comedy, silly)

You know how some people have watched Friends or Seinfeld all the way through multiple times? That’s how I feel about Miranda Hart‘s loosely-biographical sitcom Miranda. I love this show!

Caveat: There are bits and pieces that do not age well. For example, Miranda’s mother Penny, played by the inimitable Patricia Hodge, sort of bullies Miranda about her love life. She also comments with annoying frequency about Miranda’s appearance.

That said, it’s comedic genius if you ask me. It’s slap-sticky in parts, absurd in places, but all-around good, (mostly) clean fun. Miranda also regularly breaks the fourth wall, a theater technique that includes the audience in the performance. I thought it was clever in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and in this sitcom they use it brilliantly.

Miranda is the owner of a joke shop somewhere in London which she runs with her best friend Stevie played by Sarah Hadland. Miranda at 6’1 towers over 5’1 Stevie, a variance that creates great comedic moments. The two women are equally unlucky in life and love and alternate between bonding and bickering over their similar circumstances. Next to the joke shop is a restaurant where Gary, Miranda’s love interest, starts as a chef and later becomes the owner. The misadventures experienced by the cast of Miranda are often preposterous, holding just enough potential in real life to make them hilarious.

What are your favorite British shows? Comment below and let me know what to stream next!


By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.