These inspirational shows demonstrate the strength of the industry
When we began planning Broadcast’s 60th anniversary celebrations, we drew up an ambitious list of ideas: high-concept articles about TV’s most pressing issues; interviews with its most senior executives; truly perceptive future-gazing predictions. Then we considered what really drives the industry, and quickly realised, “It’s the shows, stupid”.
So we decided to ask some of TV’s leading lights a simple question: what was the show that shaped them?
Not which show represented their big career break, nor their favourite show of all time. Instead, we wanted to know: what was the programme that made them fall in love with telly in the first place? The response – almost 100 entries online to date – was overwhelming and impressive, and this supplement is effectively a love letter to British TV.
Actor/writer/director Rhys Thomas took an unusual approach. Rather than write about his devotion to Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker, he offered to buy all three eps of To Be A Somebody (Robert Carlyle as a scarred, psychopathic Hillsborough survivor) for anyone who hadn’t seen it. Broadcast’s budget doesn’t quite extend to making the same offer across all 60 shows featured here, but you could do a lot worse than hunt them out.
“Dynasty and Columbo might not top too many critics’ lists, but they are exactly the type of programmes that inspire devotion”
A smattering of US shows have made the cut – the cultural impact of The Sopranos and Mad Men is too great not to have featured – but there are less celebrated titles from across the Atlantic too. Dynasty and Columbo might not top too many critics’ lists, but they are exactly the type of programmes that inspire devotion.
The same is true in the UK. There are plenty of Bafta winners and acclaimed series on our list, but lots of populist programmes too – it’s impossible not to think of The Krypton Factor or Coronation Street, Big Brother or Blind Date and smile.
Affection and nostalgia are my overriding feelings when I read these pieces, as well as pride. The whole industry should be proud of its heritage – its ability to make viewers laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time – and feel confident of the future.
The spiritual successors to these shows are not hard to spot – it’s easy to imagine the next generation of execs picking out Fleabag or Bake Off, Chernobyl or Inside No. 9, Line Of Duty or 24 Hours In A&E as the shows that shaped them.
So here’s to Broadcast, British TV and the next 60 years.
- Chris Curtis is the editor in chief of Broadcast