Here in Britain we have always made sterling TV drama, from mainstream staples that are beamed the world over (Doctor Who, Downton Abbey), to more eclectic yet still unmistakeably British ‘indie’ vehicles (Channel 4′s recent Run). I’ve tried to strike a balance between the two, but inevitably I’m more bias to the latter category.
Britain has always led the way in grimy, soul-searching kitchen sink drama, taking influence from the cinema of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. To this day we Brits do a fine line in grim realism. But as a nation we also struggle to accept a drama schedule that is completely devoid of (even starkly black) humour. So many of these shows have a comic side; one even flirts with the dangerous category of comedy-drama.
The essence of all good drama is conflict, and in most cases the harsher the conflict the more we’re sucked in. As these ten shows illustrate, what British drama has done consistently over the last 7 years is gradually take the conflict to darker places, heightening emotional involvement and, as a result, producing shattering drama.
This list is in no particular order.
This article was first posted on August 21, 2013