Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

It is always amazing to me how in mid-week, I have no clue as to what I want to chat about on Sunday's Afternoon Teatime. Then, something happens that gives me a "eureka moment" and I know exactly the right topic.

Such a moment happened Saturday afternoon as I was looking through the DVD room of our library, searching for a few British flicks. Hmmm...I know what would be lovely to chat about...favorite British TV shows!

I've already written about my Saturday evening tea ritual, taking tea while watching British shows on my local PBS channel. However, I don't think I've actually talked about my favorite shows.

I've been a fan of British TV since the 70s and watching Masterpiece Theater...such drama! It was as if I had been given expensive tickets to the world's best plays. Around that time, I had two favorite British shows...All Creatures Great and Small and one of my all time favorites...Good Neighbors.

It is rare that I find a movie or TV script as good as the book but I truly enjoyed All Creatures Great and Small. The actors they chose were very much like I pictured in the books. As for Good Neighbors...well, it is to me what the 70s were about for so many...that struggle between daily life as we have known it and that desire to "get back to the earth". This is one of the few shows that I'd love to own the DVD series. Their Christmas episode is a "must watch" if you enjoy British humor. It is also a favorite of my husband.

A show I know many readers are familiar with (from the Comments) is dear Hyacinth on Keeping Up Appearances. I think one of the reasons it is among England's most popular shows is the way we can watch it and we either see Hyacinth in ourselves or in someone we know. I mean honest, haven't you had your own Hyacinth moments? I was watching an episode last night where poor Richard (as everyone calls him it seems) was sent away by Hyacinth to do some filming with his new movie camera with hysterical results. One has to wonder how the man keeps his sanity. :)

Another favorite that I continue to watch on BBC America is As Time Goes By. I'm not as fond of the first season as the rest but once I get past it, I enjoy this show immensely. The first time I watched it through, I was quite happy they decided to get married rather than live together. I guess true TV critics would say something about "smart writing", which it has, but I also enjoy how they've decorated the townhouse. :)

There are three shows I've only come to know within the last few years. My favorite (and another I'd love to own on DVD) is called Darling Buds of May, which is about a family in rural England. It's best known in England as the show that launched the career of Catherine Zeta-Jones (who plays a young married daughter).

However, I think the best review of it came from a British website that said young people in Britain hate the show because it is "old fashioned". He compared it to the Walton's on American TV. He also asked the question that was going through my mind, "What's so bad about old fashioned"? I found it such a charming show and I was so disappointed when the PBS station replaced it with one not nearly as good.

The second "newer" show to me (all of them older in reality, of course) is Last of the Summer Wine and the third is Monarch of the Glen. I enjoyed these very much but I missed the first season of both when they played on PBS (which would have made it much easier to follow the characters). They are on my list of DVDs to check out Season 1...soon.

Rosemary & Thyme used to be played on Saturday evenings (another show I'm sorry they replaced). Both actresses were lead characters in two of my other favorites (Darling Buds of May and Good Neighbors). They play two women who are both going through major life changes and team up to become landscape gardeners. In each episode, there is a mystery to be solved. It's not a very fast moving show but quite good when your brain has worked too hard and you want to put your feet up on the sofa with a cup of Earl Grey and a cookie.

If you want a true British "who dunnit", Agatha Christie's Marple is a gem. It is a fairly recent addition to the Mystery lineup on PBS and so well written. Unlike all the others, it has not been on the Saturday PBS British lineup. In our area, Mystery is shown on Sunday evenings from time to time. It is available on DVD but I haven't seen it at our library.

The last British show is one I'm rather embarrassed to admit I watched on PBS and found it to be "roll off the sofa" funny. That being The Vicar of Dibley. It is nothing like the book and I warn that some might find it offensive because the vicar is a woman who is quite....uh...outrageous at times. So if you think it might offend, stick with the other shows I've already listed. I understand completely because what offends one may not another but we all have to be careful when making a recommendation.

I'd love to hear your opinions on any of these British shows, as well as any other titles to add to list. I'll make a pot of Earl Grey and a pot of English Breakfast, put out a plate of "biscuits" as well as scones...and chat.


smilnsigh said...

-sigh- I have not been away from reading blogs, for _that_ long! Have not. Have not. Have not. -stamps foot- Have not. -grin-

But Brenda, I just began reading a few blogs and..... you _must_ have been posting 3-4 times a day! Really! You *must* have been! There are so many here, I haven't seen.

And I didn't think I was away _that_ long. -sighhhhhhhhhhhh-

Mmmmm... Maybe I was, hu? -looks ashamed-

OK. OK. I guess I was. Sorrrrrry.

But at least, the baby didn't pop in and make an appearance, in my absence. :-)))) Bet you all wish that had happened thought. :-)

Hugs, Mari-Nanci

Betty @ She's Sew Pretty said...

I am definitely going to have to start watching more on PBS. My favorite show on PBS is Antiques Roadshow. I do watch Mystery every now and then. I've been watching English movies lately. Undertaking Betty is one I stumbled on lately. I usually don't like madcap comedy but it was so funny. It has Alfred Molina and Christopher Walken along with Brenda Blethyn. I laughed and laughed. Thanks for the recommendations. I am going to check them out.

Anonymous said...

LOL... my hubby comes into the room and asks, "Are you watching one of those high-brow British shows again?" Most of the ones you've listed are my favourites, too. I taped and watched Good Neighbours over and over again many years ago. The new Marple is fabulous, except that they've changed the stories so much. Oh well, I still love them. Geraldine MacEwen is now tied with Joan Hickson as my favourite portrayer of Jane Marple.

I love pretty much all the British mysteries. I will confess that I have to tape Morse because I can never follow the story the first time. Once I know how it ends, I watch it again and it makes sense. So I'm not that "high-brow" after all ;o) Murder, She Wrote is more my speed.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Oooh...the comments remind me of another good PBS "mystery" show based on the Cadfael books.

I saw a couple when we were living in Detroit and they were quite good (as are the books).

Anonymous said...

My local pbs station doesn't play any of the shows you mentioned-not to my knowledge, anyway. I LOVE british movies though, so would it count if I post those?
Tonight Masterpiece Theatre is on (Sundays at 9 p.m. here) and it begins the first episode of "Bleak House", which I haven't seen but is on my wish list at Amazon. After that, on May 20, is a movie on Mrs. Beeton.
My favorite movies from England, besides the Jane Austen ones, are "Wives and Daughters" and "North and South", both novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. I recommend them both very HIGHLY. I also have "Middlemarch", another old novel but I haven't watched it yet. It's 420 minutes long.
Brenda, I had "All Creatures Great and Small" on my wish list until a friend lent my boys the book on tape. It had alot of language so I deleted the series from my list. If I go ahead and buy it someday, would it be appropriate for a family to watch?

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I don't remember any "language" in the TV show. My daughter was a little concerned because one of the characters gets "tipsey" once in awhile but in such a way that kid's don't have a clue what is going on.

She never mentioned anything else.

Sandra said...

Another British comedy fan here! I enjoy all the comedies you mentioned, Brenda. We have The Good Life or Good Neighbours as it's called in N.America on dvd as well as Vicar Of Dibley, Keeping Up Appearances and some of As Time Goes By. We watch them all quite frequently and still laugh even though we know what's coming.

I have to admit I don't like the recent Miss Marple series as they changed the story alot from the original books. I still prefer Joan Hicks as Miss Marple.

We watch pretty well anything British...comedies, dramas and mysteries (love Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes!). I think they are just so well written.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I'll have to check out the older Miss Marple series. Does anyone know if it is on DVD?

I do like many of the British movies, too, and I have new titles to look for!

Patti said...

Has anyone read M C Beaton's "Agatha Raisin" cozy mystery books? Very enjoyable series set in a quaint English village. Agatha is quite a character and nothing like Miss Marple. Speaking of characters series 1 of the hit Brit program 'Doc Martin' will be released in the USA June has an amazing and extensive British category of televison and film rentals available. I've been renting all the 'Rumpole of the Baily' DVD's..Remember that one? Rumpole's wife "She who must be obeyed".. love it.