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Telly for Anglophiles | Teachers

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Teachers is a British television sitcom, originally shown on Channel 4. The series follows a group of secondary school teachers in their daily lives.

While the first series centers heavily around probationary teacher Simon Casey (Andrew Lincoln), later series have a more balanced ensemble approach. The cast changes dramatically over time, with few original characters remaining by the fourth series. While some of these disappearances are explained, others happen between series without explanation.

The first three series are set in the fictional Summerdown Comprehensive, which merges with another school in the fourth series to form Wattkins School. The series was filmed at the former Lockleaze school, and other locations around Bristol, England.

Teachers was nominated for six BAFTA awards between 2002 and 2004, and was nominated for Best British Comedy Show at the British Comedy Awards in 2003.

In January 2005, after a muted reception to the fourth series, Channel 4 announced that Teachers would not continue for a fifth series. A short-lived U.S. version was aired in 2006.

Telly for Anglophiles | Extras

Extras is a British sitcom about extras working on TV and film sets and in theatre. The series was co-produced by the BBC and HBO, and is created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, both of whom also star in it. Extras charts the lives of Andy Millman, his friend Maggie Jacobs and Andy’s substandard agent and part-time retail employee Darren Lamb, as Millman rises to fame.

Extras has two series of six episodes each as well as a Christmas Special. The first episode aired in the UK on 21 July 2005 on BBC Two and on 25 September 2005 on HBO in the US. The second series premiered in the UK on BBC Two on 14 September 2006 and began airing in the US on HBO and in Australia on ABC on 14 February 2007. The Christmas Special aired on 27 December 2007 on BBC One and on 16 December 2007 on HBO. Both series are available on DVD in the UK and the US.

The series is filmed in a more traditional sitcom style than the mockumentary style used by Gervais and Merchant in their previous series The Office. Each episode has at least one guest star; a television or film celebrity, who play what Gervais and Merchant have referred to as “twisted” versions of themselves;an exaggerated or inverted parody of their famous public personas.

The show has been critically acclaimed, and has a Metacritic score of 81/100.

Overall, Extras has been received very well by critics in the UK. The show received 3 BAFTA Award nominations in 2006 including Best Comedy Performance for Ashley Jensen, Best Writer for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and Best Situation Comedy. In 2007, both Gervais and Merchant were nominated, separately, for Best Comedy Performance, with Gervais ultimately winning the award.

The show has also received high accolades in the US. In 2006, the show received four nominations for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart received nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series and both lost to Leslie Jordan on Will & Grace. Kate Winslet received a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and lost to Cloris Leachman for Malcolm in the Middle. Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode with Kate Winslet. They lost to Greg Garcia for writing the pilot episode of My Name Is Earl. In 2007, the show received four nominations for the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Gervais was nominated for and won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Ian McKellen was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for “Daniel Radcliffe” and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for “Orlando Bloom”. Extras made the Top 10 list of Outstanding Comedy Series, but was not nominated in the Top 5.

Telly for Anglophiles | Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises eight series (plus a ninth smaller series named Back To Earth) of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999 and on Dave in 2009 and 2012. It gained cult following.  It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who also wrote the first six series. The show originated from a recurring sketch, Dave Hollins: Space Cadet part of the mid-1980s BBC Radio 4 comedy show Son of Cliché, also scripted by Grant and Naylor. In addition to the television episodes, there are four bestselling novels, two pilot episodes for an American version of the show, a radio version produced for BBC radio 7,tie-in books, magazines and other merchandise.

In 2008, a three-episode production was commissioned by the digital channel Dave. These episodes were screened in April 2009 during the Easter weekend and comprised a three-part story titled Red Dwarf: Back to Earth.Unlike the majority of the original BBC episodes, this mini-series was a comedy drama filmed without a studio audience or an added laugh track.

Despite the pastiche of science fiction used as a backdrop, Red Dwarf is primarily a character-driven comedy, with off-the-wall, often scatological science fiction elements used as complementary plot devices. In the early episodes, a recurring source of comedy was the “Odd Couple”-style relationship between the two central characters of the show, who have an intense dislike for each other and are trapped together deep in space. The main characters are Dave Lister, the last known human alive, and Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of Lister’s dead bunkmate. The other regular characters are Cat, a lifeform that evolved from the descendants of Lister’s pregnant pet cat Frankenstein; Holly, Red Dwarf’s computer; Kryten, a service mechanoid; and, as of Series VII, Kristine Kochanski, an alternative-reality version of Lister’s long-lost love.

One of the series’ highest accolades came in 1994, when an episode from the sixth series, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category, and in the same year the series was also awarded “Best BBC Comedy Series” at the British Comedy Awards. The series attracted its highest ratings, of over eight million viewers, during the eighth series in 1999.

Series X will consist of six episodes, recorded in front of a studio audience in December 2011-January 2012 and will air in September 2012 on Dave and also on Dave HD.

Telly For Anglophiles | Skins

Skins is a BAFTA award-winning British teen drama that follows the lives of a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England, through the two years of sixth form. Its controversial storylines have explored issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness (such as eating disorders), adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death. The show was created by father-and-son television writers Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain for Company Pictures, and premiered on E4 on 25 January 2007. The show went on to be a ratings winner in its target demographic and to be a success with critics.

Skins began its 6th series in January 2012, following a third generation of Bristolian teenagers. A Skins film, focusing on characters from the show’s first four series, was also in production and had been anticipated for release in 2012. However, at the screening of “Everyone” (episode 6.01) in January 2012, show creator Bryan Elsley hinted that a movie will probably not happen until after the show comes to an end. The cancellation of the UK show was announced on 7 March 2012. The E4 teen drama has been recommissioned for a special seventh run – made up of three films broken up into six parts – to be broadcast in 2013.

Telly for Anglophiles | The 20 Best British TV Shows Ever (Mainly Classics!) [Word Magazine]

20. Dad’s Army

Masterful Perry/Croft creation, rapidly becoming a social document as well as deathless comedy.

19. Fawlty Towers

The most accurate depiction of impotent male rage in telly history, never less than paralysingly funny and better than Monty Python.

18. Doctor Who (so unfair! Only 18th?)

Once described as the perfect TV programme, capable of adapting to any format from western to comedy to avant-garde and even changing its whole cast while remaining consistent.

17. The Office

The comedy classic of the 21st century so far, mirrored in the working lives of cubicle jockeys worldwide. David Brent is a monster for modern times but he’s just one of a marvellous cast, including the widely worshipped Dawn and that eternal stranger to tact Keith.

16. Steptoe and Son

The sitcom “Waiting For Godot” – ‘Arold imprisoned in his poverty-stricken timewarp with Albert but always dreaming of freedom. Seen from today it reaches back to an almost-Edwardian notion of back street England.

15. The Day Today

“Peter, you’ve lost the news!” The credibility of current affairs never entirely recovered from Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci’s satirical blitzkrieg. If you can watch “Newsnight” with a straight face then you haven’t seen enough of this.

14. Top of the Pops

Unmissable for most of its 40 years and the victim of the most scandalous tinkering and mismanagement of a big TV brand that we can recall. If the children of tomorrow want to know what was special about it show them this clip of David Bowie doing “Starman” in 1972. Would anyone let an actual member of the public drift into shot nowadays?

13. Brookside

In both “gritty anti-Thatcher Derek Hatton” phase and “lesbian kisses and bodies under the patio” incarnations, it was fantastic telly. Its high point was in 1990 when the Jordache family at number 10 killed their child abuser father and buried him under the patio.

12. Coronation Street

So ingrained in the national identity that the PM demanded the release from prison of Deirdre Rachid, apparently failing to grasp that “it’s not real, you know”.

11. Porridge

Ronnie Barker’s finest half-hours in a show that never dates and never fails to put a spin on making the best of a bad job.

10. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

Leonard Rossiter is perfect as a man going slowly doolally in the corporate world – and even barmier in its alternative counter-culture counterparts.

9. Father Ted

Both a straightforward sitcom (priest trapped with idiots) and a sprawling psychedelic ramble (rabbit plague? Hairy hands?) It also has the inestimable asset of Father Dougal and the most vacant facial expression in the history of humankind.

8. The Singing Detective

It seems incredible now but Dennis Potter’s complex, multi-layered musical mystery without a solution was a mainstream hit when it first went out. It could have had something to do with Joanne Whalley and the perennial popularity of these songs from the Depression.

7. Harry Hill’s TV Burp (I’m sorry, but I disagree!)

“Cataracts?” Best thing on ITV by a country mile, which is ironic given that it recycles clips of (mostly ITV) shows to have a laugh their expense. If you don’t feel the need to watch the soaps, Harry will do it for you.

6. Top Gear

A not very interesting car show until the Clarkson/Hammond relaunch, whereupon it became a magazine show with the loosest connection to cars. At its best it is constantly answering the question “what would it be like if we did this?”

5. Morecambe and Wise on the BBC

The gold standard of double-act comedy and one of the few shows to be more treasured than most members of the Royal Family. At their best they did sketches that entered the language, as in this routine with “Andrew Preview”.

4. Grange Hill

Coronation Street in blazers and Kickers, just cancelled by the BBC on the grounds that a series set in a school doesn’t reflect children’s lives today.

3. Prime Suspect

Our hardest-nosed cop show proved that grit doesn’t always require flying about in Cortinas or dishing out kickings to “slags”. And, as you can see, in the United States, they accept it as high culture.

2. Ready, Steady, Go!

As the sole source of pop entertainment for much of the country during the 60s, it’s hard to match Ready Steady Go! for a show that truly changed Britain. Here’s Otis Redding, at that time a cult soul singer who was barely known in his own country, let alone here, tears it up in the Kingsway studio. Truly, this is live-er than most of us will ever be.

1. The World At War

Every home needs the DVD box set of Jeremy Isaacs’ breathtaking survey of World War Two, which included last-chance interviews with the likes of Albert Speer, “Bomber” Harris and Lord Mountbatten. It also had the incalculable added value of Laurence Olivier’s narration.