The Show That Shaped Me


Tony Tackaberry: Castaway

BBC1’s bold and innovative constructed reality show changed the factual landscape - and helped the Lion exec crack the US


Aaqil Ahmed: Network East

The former BBC and Channel 4 exec recalls bhangra’s ‘punk’ moment on BBC2’s attempt to mix contemporary and traditional British Asian culture


Piv Bernth: LA Law

Steve Boccho’s way with an ensemble cast and entwining storylines convinced The Bridge producer to swap theatre for TV

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Stephen Land: Behind The Music

The VH1 show’s precision format points and dramatic hooks exerted a strong influence on how the Jupiter Entertainment exec shapes crime docs

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Marnie Dickens: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The writer’s love for Sunnydale’s heroine and her gang was all-consuming. Just don’t tell her how it ended

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Sarah Kendall: M*A*S*H

The creator and star of Sky 1’s Frayed celebrates a comedy that trusted viewers to follow it from high farce to tragedy

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Jes Wilkins on QED: John’s Not Mad

Beyond sixth-form giggles over its subject’s swearing, the landmark doc inspired the Firecracker exec to explore extremes of the human experience

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Ursula Macfarlane: Mad Men

The AMC drama’s seductive surface masked a tale of melancholy and broken dreams - and taught the documentary-maker about the elasticity of time


​Catherine Oldfield: Chancer

Tall Story Pictures’ creative director put all distractions on hold for Clive Owen’s loveable rogue’s witty and ingenious adventures


Iain Coyle: The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross

C4’s ‘ramshackle and irreverent’ series ripped up the rule book for British chat shows, says UKTV’s head of comedy entertainment


Mat Steiner: Blackadder

The Primal Media boss loved the ‘explosively funny’ comedy so much he themed his wedding around it

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Simon Dickson: Fourteen Days in May

The shades of grey in Paul Hamann’s death row film taught the Label1 creative director the power of documentaries

Sons and Daughters Rowena Wallace, Peter Phelps and Ally Fowler

Damien Timmer: Sons and Daughters

Wholeseome yet depraved, the propulsive narrative of the melodramatic soap convinced the Mammoth Screen founder that TV drama was his future

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Jessica Ruston: 24

The Harlots writer salutes the audacious high-wire act of the ultimate ‘crack-cocaine’ binge-watch

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Ana de Moraes: Big Brother

Raised on tacky Brazilian entertainment shows, the Multi Story Media creative director felt the full force of the reality show’s British launch

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David Glover on Horizon: Brave New Babies?

His on-screen debut as a young ‘pint-sized philosopher’ taught the 72 Films co-founder that TV is the best way to bottle the human experience

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Jim Reid: Budgie

Impressions of Adam Faith’s chirpy Cockney became a playground staple for the Channel X director of programmes

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Sam Barcroft: The Word

C4’s chaotic 1990s show oozed an in-the-moment celebrity sexiness that has now dropped off our screens, laments the Barcroft TV founder

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Christian Wikander: The Wire

The Twelve Town drama head hails the authenticity, original characters and unconventional storytelling of HBO’s groundbreaking drama


Martin Pope: An Englishman Abroad

Fed up with earnest, preachy dramas, the Magic Light Pictures managing director was transported by Alan Bennett’s wit and imagination

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Ross Bentley: Thunderbirds

Sylvia Anderson’s personal invitation to the Marionation studio was one of the best days of the Rightstracker chief executive’s childhood

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Emma Scott: Only Fools and Horses

Del Boy’s catchphrases, slapstick and deadpan delivery combine to make John Sullivan’s comedy endlessly rewatchable, says the Beano Studios chief exec

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Brian Hill: Black Daisies for the Bride

Peter Symes and Tony Harrison’s almost unbearably poignant and radical mix of visuals, poetry and music left the Century Films boss reeling

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Jez Nelson: Tomorrow’s World

The seat-of-the-pants nature of the BBC’s science staple had the Somethin’ Else chief - and one-time presenter - enthralled


Fiona O’Sullivan: Sex and the City

In HBO’s New York fantasy, life was for living - but the characters didn’t stand still, says True North’s fact ent chief

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Ed Coulthard: The Thin Blue Line

Errol Morris’ revolutionary blurring of factual and drama casts a long shadow over documentary forms, says the Blast! Films chief executive

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Kevin Cecil: The Goodies

The comedy trio’s visual gags and elastic reality continue to delight and astonish the Year of the Rabbit co-creator

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Rhys Thomas: Cracker

If you haven’t seen “the best crime drama of all time”, the actor and writer/director has an offer you cannot refuse

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Lisa McGee: Murder, She Wrote

Growing up, the Derry Girls writer dreamed of being as cool and clever as Jessica Fletcher. She still does to this day.

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Ross McCarthy: TFI Friday

Chris Evans’ ‘feral and wild’ parade of Britpop, fat lookalikes and ugly blokes thrilled the Gobstopper chief executive as a teen


Fraser Ayres: The Real McCoy

By inviting us to laugh at, and with, each other, BBC2’s groundbreaking sketch show reached out with open arms to the TriForce Creative Network chief


Malcolm Brinkworth: Strangeways

British TV’s first unfettered inside look at prison life convinced the producer that his future lay in telling society’s hidden stories


Basi Akpabio: Brideshead Revisited

Beautiful leads, gay role models and iconic fashions: ITV’s classic period drama had it all, says the creative director of Agatha Christie Ltd

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Mel Bezalel: Red Dwarf

BBC2’s sci-fi comedy threw the RDF TV development head a lifeline in her daily battle for survival against her brothers’ onslaught


Danny Fenton: A Question of Sport

The Zig Zag chief executive marvels at the longevity of a show whose vital ingredients survived its many on-screen changes

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Alice Nutter: Deadwood

David Milch’s profane Western laid out a roadmap for the former Chumbawumba singer to take up screenwriting in her 40s


Colin McKeown: Made in Britain

Alan Clarke’s ‘fast and furious’ drama dared to depict a reality that many would have shied away from, says the LA Productions founder

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Vanessa Engle on Louise Bourgeois: No Trespassing

Nigel Finch’s awkward Arena encounter with a strong-willed subject taught the documentary-maker a vital lesson in authorship and tone


​Nicola Shindler: Dallas

Through the gritty early episodes of the US soap, the Red chief executive learned about plotting, cliffhangers and painting characters in shades of grey

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Pippa Harris: Survivors

The languid mundanity of Terry Nation’s plague drama filled the Bafta chair with dread - and fired her imagination


Lucy Pilkington: Roots

Scary, brutal and shocking, Kunta Kinte’s visceral tale was an awakening for the Milk and Honey managing director

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Jeff Pope: Law And Order

Cliché-free and with pin-sharp dialogue, the story instantly had its hooks in ITV Studios’ head of factual drama

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Alex Horne: The Krypton Factor

A childhood longing to scale the fearsome assault course of ITV’s show sowed the seeds for Taskmaster’s fiendish challenges

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John Smithson: Life Story

This ‘Horizon on steroids’, from Threads director Mick Jackson, turned the Arrow Pictures exec on to factual drama


Kate Beal: That’s Life!

Esther Rantzen’s consumer staple was so much more than talking dogs and funny vegetables, says the Woodcut Media chief executive

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Sophie Petzal: Life on Mars

In her teens, the creator of Channel 5’s Blood was drawn by the sci-fi premise of BBC1’s drama. Its heart, humour and mystery kept her hooked

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​Jon Plowman: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

The comedy producer celebrates a chat show titan whose recovery from flat gags was often funnier than the zingers that landed

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Emma Frost: Behaving Badly

Judi Dench’s essay of a ‘delightful and deliciously subversive breakdown’ inspired the writer to put women centre stage

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Helen Nightingale: The Tube

Was anything ever cooler than C4’s ‘anarchic, funny and spontaneous’ 1980s music show, asks the UKTV commissioner

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Jim Allen: The Adventures of Robinson Hogg

In enduring a public meltdown on a remote island, Nationwide presenter James Hogg was the father of reality TV, argues RDF’s managing director

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Rhe-an Archibald: The Office

Gervais and Merchant’s comedy of the mundane has seeped into everything the Mo Gilligan Show producer has done since


Sam Vincent on Star Trek: the Next Generation

The co-creator of Humans felt his horizons expanded by the sci-fi show’s unlimited belief in human potential

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Rob Clark: Blind Date

When ITV first pulled back the screen on Cilla’s dating show, it was love at first sight for Fremantle’s director of global entertainment

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Harry Marshall: The Temple Troop

Mark Linfield’s magical Natural World film is a masterclass in storytelling, reckons the Icon Films chairman


Kieran Doherty: Columbo

The detective classic couldn’t rely on the usual tropes - and was all the better for it, says the Stellify Media joint managing director

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Abby Ajayi: The House of Eliott

Long before she joined Shonda Rhimes’ team, the writer got an early education in ‘women getting shit done’ from BBC1’s 1920s fashion drama

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Will Hanrahan: Seven Up

Granada’s groundbreaking series is a lasting reminder of a bygone era of regional ambition, argues the FirstLook TV creative director

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Joel Morris: A Bit of Fry and Laurie

Stephen and Hugh’s barking businessmen saved the Philomena Cunk writer from joining the corporate world


Steven D. Wright on Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV

As a teenager, seeing the comic perform live at TVC - including four long takes of her most iconic song - set the Kerfuffle MD’s career on track

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Anna Symon: Six Feet Under

The humanly flawed characters of Alan Ball’s witty funeral home drama inspired the Mrs Wilson writer’s move from factual to scripted

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Sunil Patel: BBC Test Match Cricket

The swagger of India’s 1980s players, set to Richie Benaud’s droll commentary, sparked the Whisper Films chief executive’s love of TV sport

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Simon Nye: Up Pompeii!

Frankie Howerd’s Roman sitcom was never cool, but the influence of its fourth-wall breaking and corpsing lives on, argues the Durrells writer

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Kirstie Swain: Smack the Pony

The writer of Channel 4’s Pure celebrates a comedy that turned female TV archetypes upside down

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Mark Wells: Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game

The  game show was a burst of colour amid the brown 1970s, says Double Yellow’s creative director


Ash Atalla: Alan Partridge

As Norwich’s finest wraps up his BBC1 series, the Roughcut TV MD marvels at a fictional career embedded in the hard knocks of the TV industry


Jamie Campbell: Jam

Chris Morris’ fearless, subversive sketch show taught the creative director of Sex Education producer Eleven Film that nothing was off limits

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Peter Salmon: Coronation Street

Growing up in ‘Granadaland’, the streets of Weatherfield were a second neighbourhood for Endemol Shine’s chief creative officer

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Furquan Akhtar: Coronation Street

In his youth, the soap threw a lifeline to the writer as a self-confessed ‘socially awkward British Muslim’


Tania Alexander: Not the Nine O’Clock News

The ‘cerebral titting around’ of BBC2’s satirical sketch show made the Gogglebox executive producer want to join its gang

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Levi David Addai: The Girl From Tomorrow

A gripping Australian sci-fi show persuaded the Damilola, Our Loved Boy writer to put away his toys to dream of writing

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Colm McCarthy: Edge of Darkness

The heady blend of tragedy, crime drama, ghost story and eco horror taught the Curfew director that TV could be cinematic

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Andrew Newman: Hail the New Puritan

The Spelthorne Community Television co-founder joins the dots between C4’s 1986 avant-garde dance oddity, Vic and Bob and Made in Chelsea


Jo McGrath: Tiswas

The Walter Presents co-founder got a taste for the adrenaline rush of live TV after winning a golden ticket to the most anarchic show on telly


Daragh Carville: Spiral (Engrenages)

With a fierce sense of place and commitment to ‘messy reality’, the French procedural is TV drama as psychogeography, says the creator of ITV thriller The Bay


Joe Evans: Eurotrash

Swan Films’ managing director salutes a simpler time, when German adult babies with Geordie accents made a persuasive case for European integration


​Ashley Pharoah: A Very Peculiar Practice

The ‘unapologetically intelligent and odd’ comedy-drama was a radical and stylish antidote to social realism, says the Life on Mars co-creator


Sohail Shah: Dynasty

Raised on Bollywood movies, the entertainment producer and commissioner lapped up their lurid Hollywood equivalent


Samira Ahmed: Newsround

The broadcaster remembers when John Craven and ‘cool auntie’ Lucy Mathen presided over a ‘lighthouse of calm’ that brought the world into her home

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Sue Bourne on Horizon: You Do As You Are Told

Stanley Milgram’s guide to his infamous experiment forever changed the way the documentary-maker saw the world – and kickstarted her TV ambitions

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Diederick Santer: Twin Peaks

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s idiosyncratic fusion of US soap and indie cinema aesthetic held the former Kudos chief executive spellbound

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​Aysha Rafaele: The Singing Detective

The BBC Studios drama exec recalls the impact of Dennis Potter’s otherworldly fever dream

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​Melvyn Bragg: Monitor

Huw Wheldon’s ‘fierce, interfering, yet helpful and inspirational’ style opened the broadcaster’s eyes to TV’s power to make arts for everyone


Jane Root: Culloden

Peter Watkins’ glorious mash-up of historical drama and the language of news reporting inspired the Nutopia chief executive to ‘muck around’

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Jane Millichip: The Two Ronnies

At age five, Sky Vision’s managing director bonded with her dad over Barker and Corbett’s wordplay

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Danny Brocklehurst: Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

ITV’s brickies-abroad comedy-drama taught the Ordinary Lies writer that great characters and humour make social issues easier for audiences to swallow


Shane Allen: Father Ted

The subversive surrealism of Craggy Island showed the BBC head of comedy that the best ideas cannot be contained in a top-line pitch


Jack Thorne: Boys From The Blackstuff

Kiri and National Treasure writer reveals how the warts-and-all approach of Alan Bleasdale’s ’80s drama made it unmissable

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Philippa Collie Cousins: The Singing Ringing Tree

The UKTV drama commissioner explains how a German fairy tale ignited her passion for storytelling

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Penny Woolcock: Eleventh Hour

The Tina Goes Shopping and Ackley Bridge director on the ‘weird and wonderful’ 11pm shows of Channel 4’s early days


Faith Penhale: The Sopranos

The chief executive and creative director of Lookout Point on a ‘novelistic show bursting with wit, energy and drama’