Celebrating the BBC centenary with the top programmes of the last 100 years, from Call the Midwife to Only Fools and Horses
Showing items 1 to 21 of 21
Around the World in 80 Days
Michael Palin emulates the circumnavigational journey made by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in 80 Days. His adventure includes stops in Saudi Arabia and Japan.
I May Destroy You
Drama exploring the question of sexual consent in contemporary life, written by and starring Michaela Coel.
Life on Earth
"Life on Earth" finds naturalist David Attenborough travelling around the world to tell the story of the evolution of life on the planet. It begins in the South American rainforest, where Attenborough explains the theories of Charles Darwin and the process of natural selection, using the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands to illustrate his message. The acclaimed 13-part series premiered on BBC Two in 1979.
"Porridge" stars Ronnie Barker as habitual criminal Norman Stanley Fletcher in Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais's hugely popular British sitcom from the 1970s. The series revolves around Fletch as he serves his time at the fictional Slade Prison in rural Cumbria. He takes younger cellmate Lennie Godber (Richard Beckinsale) under his wing and tries to secure little victories against the prison officers, notably Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde), who Fletch is able to manipulate easily, and the militaristic no-nonsense Mr Mackay (Fulton Mackay). Fletch's world is populated by an ensemble of characters that includes Harry Grout (Peter Vaughn), Blanco Webb (David Jason), "Bunny" Warren (Sam Kelly), Jim McLaren (Tony Osoba), Lukewarm (Christopher Biggins), "Horrible" Ives (Ken Jones) and Harris (Ronald Lacey). Fletch's attractive daughter Ingrid (Patricia Blake) occasionally features on prison visits, much to the enjoyment of the other inmates. She eventually strikes up a relationship with Godber and the two become penfriends. "Porridge" originated in 1973 as a one-off episode in "Seven of One", a vehicle for Ronnie Barker that saw him starring in seven different sitcom pilots. The series proper premiered on BBC One in 1974 and ran for three series. Barker later reprised his role of Fletcher in the spin-off "Going Straight" and the feature-length film version of "Porridge". Barker appears as Fletch in the last few minutes of "Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher," a docudrama shown in 2003 that reveals how Fletcher's later life panned out. "Porridge" is repeated regularly on the main BBC channels and Gold.
Strictly Come Dancing
Celebrities paired with professional dancers perform ballroom and Latin routines. Viewers vote for their favourite couples and these totals are combined with the ranking of the judges. The two couples with the lowest totals compete in a dance off and the judges then decide who makes it through to the next round. Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman co-present the show. Bruce Forsyth co-presented the show from 2004 until 2013, although he continues to front specials. The judges are Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell. Previous judges have been Arlene Phillips and Alesha Dixon. Created by Fenia Vardanis, "Strictly Come Dancing" premiered on BBC One in 2004. Companion series "It Takes Two" is shown daily on BBC Two. Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli also judge the US version, "Dancing with the Stars".
Only Fools and Horses
"Only Fools and Horses" is a British sitcom following the misadventures of Peckham market trader Derek `Del Boy" Trotter (David Jason) and his younger brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst). In the beginning, they share a high-rise council flat with their elderly Grandad (Lennard Pearce) and scratch a living flogging `hooky" gear to anyone who will buy it. Created by John Sullivan ("Citizen Smith", "Just Good Friends", "Dear John"), it was slow to catch on with viewers initially but the BBC stuck by it and it went on to achieve the highest ever UK audience for a sitcom episode (24.3 million in 1996). After Pearce's death in 1984, his character was replaced by World War Two Navy veteran Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield), who usually began long-winded anecdotes with the words "During the war…" As the series developed, it moved away from the confines of a situation comedy and became more of a comedy drama as the length of episodes expanded and story arcs added an ongoing dimension. It was also notable for having a strong supporting cast of memorable characters, including dopey road sweeper Trigger (Roger Lloyd Pack), pretentious car salesman Boycie (John Challis) and his flirty wife Marlene (Sue Holderness), pub landlord Mike (Kenneth MacDonald), lorry driver Denzil (Paul Barber), young spiv Mickey Pearce (Patrick Murray), Del's partner Raquel (Tessa Peake-Jones) and Rodney's wife Cassandra (Gwyneth Strong). It premiered on BBC One in 1981 and ended in 2003. Sixty-three episodes were made, including a number of feature-length Christmas specials. In the final years of his life, Sullivan also created the spin-off "The Green Green Grass" and prequel "Rock & Chips".
Call the Midwife
"Call the Midwife" is a drama series based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, offering an insight into the world of midwifery and family life in 1950s east London. The community is seen through the eyes of newly qualified nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) who arrives at Nonnatus House to live and work as a midwife alongside an Order of Nuns. She is supported by Sisters Julienne (Jenny Agutter), Evangelina (Pam Ferris), Bernadette (Laura Main) and Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt); nursing colleagues Trixie (Helen George) and Cynthia (Bryony Hannah); and handyman Fred (Cliff Parisi). In the first episode, Jenny is allowed to handle her first case alone - the care of a woman during her 25th pregnancy. Miranda Hart joins the cast in episode two as clumsy new midwife Chummy Browne. Vanessa Redgrave provides narration as the voice of older Jenny. The series quickly resonated with viewers, attracting around 10 million viewers, and a second series was commissioned shortly after the second episode aired. It premiered on BBC One in January 2012.
DCI John Luther is a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.
"The Black Adder" is a BBC sitcom set in 1485 at the end of the Middle Ages. It begins with the cowardly Edmund Plantagenat (Rowan Atkinson) arriving late for the battle of Bosworth Field and accidently beheading his uncle, King Richard III. This leads to Edmund's father, Richard IV (Brian Blessed), becoming the king. In a bid to toughen up his image, the now Prince Edmund adopts a new title, the Black Adder. He is aided by his sidekicks Lord Percy Percy (Tim McInnerny) and Baldrick (Tony Robinson). Written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, "The Black Adder" is the first series of "Blackadder", the collective name given to the four series of the period sitcom (the others being "Blackadder II", "Black Adder the Third" and "Blackadder Goes Forth") and various one-off editions, including "Blackadder Back and Forth". It premiered on BBC One in 1983.
"dinnerladies" is a British sitcom set in the canteen of a fictional factory in Manchester following the interactions of the staff as they go about their daily business. The main character is the ever dependable deputy manager Bren (Victoria Wood), who has an ongoing relationship with sarcastic canteen manager Tony (Andrew Dunn). They are joined by prim and prudish Dolly (Thelma Barlow) and her waspish friend Jean (Anne Reid), young slacker Twinkle (Maxine Peake) and dim-witted Anita (Shobna Gulati). Maintenance man Stan (Duncan Preston) likes to regale his colleagues with unlikely stories about his father's antics as a Desert Rat and cheery human resources manager Philippa (Celia Imrie) makes a number of well-meaning attempts to streamline the workplace but they usually end in disaster. Julie Walters pops in on occasion to steal the show as Bren's self-centred and delusional mother Petula (real name Brenda). Created by Wood, it premiered on BBC One in 1998 and ran for two series. Re-runs appear regularly on Gold.
Comedy with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Colman. A woman named Fleabag wrestles with the demands of modern living in contemporary London through a mixture of bravado and casual sex.
Crime drama by Sally Wainwright, with Sarah Lancashire as a police sergeant in the Yorkshire valleys battling her own demons when she becomes involved in the hunt for a kidnapped girl.
Line of Duty
Crime thriller with Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure about a police anti-corruption unit led by Superintendent Ted Hastings. Each series follows one multi-stranded inquiry.
"Sherlock" brought iconic detective Sherlock Holmes firmly into the 21st century in a contemporary version created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the astute detective, with Martin Freeman as his companion Dr Watson. The first 90-minute edition sees Watson returning from a tour in Afghanistan where he was injured. He meets Sherlock who needs a flatmate and moves into 221B Baker Street. A series of apparent suicides baffles the police, so they turn to Sherlock for his unique investigative skills. It premiered on BBC One in July 2010.
The Royle Family
"The Royle Family" is revolves around the lives of a working class Manchester family whose members like nothing better than sitting in front of the TV and discussing everyday subjects. Patriarch Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson) is a slob who can usually be found in his armchair. He regularly yells "my arse!" at celebrities on TV or when he's scolding members of his family. His hard-working wife Barbara (Sue Johnston) is the main breadwinner. Their daughter Denise (Caroline Aherne) shares Jim's aversion to work and her henpecked husband Dave (Craig Cash) is generally not too bright but friendly and easygoing. Jim and Barbara's son Antony (Ralf Little) is the family dogsbody, ordered to do any menial errand without complaint, although he does go on to become a successful businessman. Other characters pop in and out of the Royles' living room, including neighbours Mary and Joe (Doreen Keogh and Peter Martin), friend of the family Twiggy (Geoffrey Hughes) and Denise's plump best friend Cheryl (Jessica Hynes). Barbara's demanding mother Nana (Liz Smith) makes regular visits, much to Jim's annoyance, until she is forced to move in with the Royles when her health declines. Nana passes away in the memorable 2006 Christmas special, The Queen of Sheba, and Mary's death was reported in a later episode. Created by Aherne and Cash, the programme premiered on BBC Two in 1998 and transferred to BBC One for the second series in 1999. After the third series ended in 2000, it returned for occasional Christmas specials from 2006 onwards.
The Vicar of Dibley
"The Vicar of Dibley" is a British sitcom set in a sleepy Oxfordshire village. When the resident vicar, a 107-year-old man, dies, the stuffy villagers are in for a shock when he is replaced by fun-loving female vicar Geraldine Granger (Dawn French). The congregation react to her with a mixture of wonder and horror. Her appointment appals David Horton (Gary Waldhorn), chairman of the parish council and respected pillar of the community. Once it becomes clear that Geraldine has no intention of towing the line, he resolves to have her removed. Her other parishioners include dippy church verger Alice (Emma Chambers), David's dim-witted son, Hugo (James Fleet), likable, but boring parish council secretary Frank Pickle (John Bluthal), stuttering parish council member Jim Trott (Trevor Peacock), church organist Letitia Cropley (Liz Smith) and strait-talking farmer Owen Newitt (Roger Lloyd Pack). Created by Richard Curtis, the hugely popular series premiered on BBC One in 1994 and ran for 20 episodes in three series, with several specials across a 13-year period.
Gavin & Stacey
"Gavin & Stacey" is a British sitcom about an Essex boy who falls in love with a Welsh girl. It follows the key milestones in the lives of Gavin Shipman (Mathew Horne) and Stacey West (Joanna Page) as they meet for the first time, spend time with each other's families, get married and try to settle down. It also follows the contrasting relationship of Gavin's best friend Smithy (James Corden) and Stacey's close friend Nessa (Ruth Jones). Smithy and Nessa dislike each other but it doesn't stop them having a number of one-night stands. Further complications arise when Nessa has Smithy's baby and becomes engaged to another man. The supporting cast includes Gavin's parents Mick (Larry Lamb) and Pamela (Alison Steadman), and Stacey's Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon) and mother Gwen (Melanie Walters). Written by Corden and Jones, the series premiered on BBC Three in 2007. As its popularity grew, it became a mainstream success on BBC One and ran for three series.
The adventures in time and space of the Doctor, a Time Lord who changes appearance and personality by regenerating when near death, and is joined by companions in battles against aliens and other megalomaniacs.
"EastEnders" was the brainchild of Julia Smith and Tony Holland, and premiered on BBC One in 1985. Storylines centre on people living and working in the fictional London borough of Walford. The series was originally screened as two half-hour episodes per week. Four episodes have been broadcast each week since August 2001. Within eight months of its launch, it reached number one in the ratings and has remained one of the top-rated programmes on British TV ever since. At the height of its popularity, more than 30 million viewers tuned in on Christmas Day 1986 to see Den Watts hand divorce papers to wife Angie. Large families have always been a strong feature of the long-running soap. The first central family was the Beale and Fowler clan consisting of Pauline Fowler, her husband Arthur, and teenage children Mark and Michelle. Pauline's twin brother Pete Beale, his wife Kathy and their son Ian lived nearby. Lou, Pauline and Pete's domineering mother, resided with Pauline. Strong female characters are central to the programme. Such characters have included Angie Watts, Kathy Mitchell, Sharon Rickman, Pat Evans and Peggy Mitchell. Macho male personalities such as Phil and Grant Mitchell have rubbed shoulders with bad boys including Den Watts and Dennis Rickman and handsome figures such as Simon Wicks and Jamie Mitchell. EastEnders has always featured a culturally diverse cast and never shied away from gritty storylines. For its 25th anniversary in February 2010, a live episode was broadcast where Archie Mitchell's killer was revealed. Ian Beale, played by Adam Woodyatt, is currently the only character to have been in the show from the first episode.
Pride and Prejudice
"Pride and Prejudice" is a six-part British drama adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen's 1813 novel of the same name. Set in England in the early 19th century, the opening episode sees wealthy bachelor Mr Bingley (Crispin Bonham-Carter) renting a property in Hertfordshire, causing a flurry of anticipation among the unmarried ladies of the district. It transpires he has also brought along a friend - the haughty and aloof Mr Darcy (Colin Firth). Bingley fits in straight away in his new surroundings, but Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer Ehle). The series was extremely well received when it was first shown on BBC One in 1995, attracting between 10 and 11 million viewers for each episode. It also inspired Helen Fielding to write her popular Bridget Jones novels.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.