Justin arrives back in London this week, but up until now I have had a lot of spare time without him to keep me entertained. In my mind there is an unwritten rule that anything I watch over here should be British; I’d like to share those shows (and more) that I’ve been watching over the past few months. Whether each is based in fact or purely fictional, British content reminds me of the magic of London and the UK and renews my excitement to have moved here.
I’m not even going to pretend that this isn’t the first thing I watched over here. After the NYE fireworks when we first got to our hotel (with 20 minutes to spare – perfect timing!), the following night the new housemates and I congregated in the lounge room to watch one of the HP installments. Honestly, I can’t even remember which one because I fell asleep after ten minutes due to jetlag. About a month later we made our way through every movie over the span of a few weekends. It’s so fun to watch the movies and, despite most of them being set in fictional locations (if only Hogwarts was real), get excited when you see Kings Cross Station or somewhere else where you’ve been.
As already mentioned, Downton Abbey consumed my downtime for a month or so (I made my way through six seasons incredibly quickly). While the events are fictional, it’s very interesting to learn the loose history of England and Europe at the turn of the century. Downton Abbey is set at Highclere Castle in (mostly) post-war England and explores the changing hierarchical structure of the household, which acts as a model of wider society. The costumes are beautiful and it’s very fun to watch the ladies’ changing hairstyles and fashions as they make their way into the ‘20s. Lady Mary’s new bob hairstyle in season five inspired my new, shorter hair (though mine is not quite so dramatic!).
Kevin McCloud takes the viewer on many a journey alongside aspiring house designers, often with complicated hurdles yet outstanding results. The homeowners can be slightly eccentric in their tastes (what else would make good television or spectacular houses?), which makes the ride even more fun and slightly frustrating at times. Kevin reminds me a lot of Louis Theroux (another one to add to the list, but I haven’t watched him over here yet) in his slightly sarcastic style of humour. He has such a soothing voice which makes the show easy watching, especially complemented with a glass of wine. It’s nice to dream that one day we’ll be planning our own project – if not quite Grand Designs worthy – on a Welsh cliff face or on an island on the Thames.
Not quite England, but set in the French court, Mary Queen of Scots navigates the political minefield which comes with being betrothed to the Dauphin of France. This is not a British series but does star Adelaide Kane and Caitlin Stasey who are both Australian (known for Neighbours) so I feel it deserves a mention. It is quite addictive but could best be described as a teenage drama. Reign is part of the way through season three so I’ve given it a break until I can binge on the new season in full.
Ricky Gervais – Out of England
I’ve never been much of a stand-up fan. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because I don’t know where to start. Our new apartment has a smart TV, which means you can access the internet and YouTube without connecting your computer. I’m sure we could have watched TV shows on YouTube but for some reason we decided on comedy. Ricky Gervais is very funny and I’ve always been a huge fan of The Office so we decided to give his stand up show, Out of England, a watch. Definitely recommend!
The Office (UK of course)
My first experience of The Office was with the US version. I love it and have re-watched all the episodes a number of times. The UK version is also very good and the original Office, so I have been re-watching this again. It’s a shame that there are only two series.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, you can access a plethora of great viewing on All 4. One of these shows is Fresh Meat, which stars Zawe Ashton (who I recently saw in The Maids) and Joe Thomas (Simon from The Inbetweeners) as well as comedian Jack Whitehall as the adorably posh JP. Very British, very funny – watch it now!
There are, of course, many more great British TV shows and movies. I can’t possibly list everything but definitely plan to make my way through as much content as I can (while continuing to explore the country outside of the living room). Stay tuned for updates!