The Radio Times recently published an article by Dominic Sandbrook that
celebrates Britain's television heritage. The historian mourns the loss of the
nation's status as the greatest superpower in history, but rallies with the
claim that Britainnia now commands a new Empire, that of Imagination.
Sandbrook explains that in the last 70 years, no other medium, "not fiction,
pop music, video games, even film" has rivalled "the sheer power on the box".
Britain is a major TV exporter, and since 2011, we have sold six times more
programming than Germany, a larger economic power. "Our cultural success is based partly on our penetration of the [all important] American market, where [hits] like The Avengers and Downton Abbey have come to define not just Britain's global brand but Britishness itself".
The author then lists his own most influential television shows, were Doctor
Who is only beaten to the top spot by that other iconic veteran of British TV,
Coronation Street. Of the former, Sandbrook writes: "When I was growing up,
most people regarded Doctor Who with contempt. I never imagined that one
day [it] would become a colossal international brand. That's testament to the brilliance of the basic idea, as well as the skill with which it's been updated. The Doctor has become one of the great fictional embodiments of Britishness, rivalled only by Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. The show itself - sentimental, spine-chilling, silly, earnest, clever, populist - could surely only have been made in Britain". The complete top ten is:
- The X Factor (ITV, 2004-present)
- Cathy Come Home (BBC, 1966)
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC, 1969-74)
- That Was The Week That Was (BBC, 1962/3)
- The Avengers (ITV, 1961-69)
- Dixon of Dock Green (BBC, 1955-76)
- Brideshead Revisited (ITV, 1981)
- Dad's Army (BBC, 1968-77)
- Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-present)
- Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-present)