Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Most Influential TV Shows of All Time!

Earlier in the week The Daily Mail had a preposterous list of allegedly 'the top 50 shows of all time', by top they actually meant influential, or at least the compilers of the original list did. I strongly disagreed with the list, where was Secret Army, or Tenko, EastEnders!?

Anyway, to rectify this I'm doing my own top 10 (I don't have time for 50) influential tv shows. Feel free to agree/disagree.....

10. EastEnders. I think it's been hugely more influential than any other soap. Its hard hitting storylines, such as Mark with HIV broke down barriers in ways that few shows could ever manage. It has also produced some of the most memorable moments in television history.

'Appy Christmas, Ange!

9. The Office. One of the best sitcoms ever written, hilariously funny, brilliantly observed and with a real warmth running through it. Unfortunately its influence is so great so many sitcoms now feel like sub-Gervais imitations. Even the ones now written by Gervais himself.

Some brilliant outtakes from The Office Christmas Special.

8. The Avengers. What can I say about this that hasn't already been said?

The opening and closing titles for the colour Mrs. Peel series.

7. Only Fools and Horses. The most loved, if not the best comedy ever written, if only it had stayed where it had been left in 1996. The influence is huge, how many people still say 'plonker' or 'lovely jubbly'?

The famous Batman and Robin scene.

6. House of Cards. One of drama's best machiavellian figures, but by god we want him to win, don't we? Spawned two inferior sequels and an interesting new American version.

Some of FU's best bits.

5. Doctor Who. Its cultural impact couldn't be much bigger, any show that can survive 50 (well, 36) years on tv has to be pretty special. It might have been higher up my list three years ago...

Here's every title sequence in one video.

4. Cracker. I'm not sure I've seen anything more tense than the episode about the after effects of Hillsborough on Robert Carlyle's character. L-I-V.... E-R-P... DOUBLE O-L, LIVERPOOL FC..... Incredible.

The episode is on Youtube, watch if you've not seen it and then buy it all!!

3. Tenko. Mainly female cast, largely female writers, and produced by a woman. That would be rare today, let alone in the early 80s. This amazing ensemble will break your heart each week but still have you laughing and cheering silly little triumphs. Breathtaking television.

Here are the opening and closing titles because I don't want to spoil if for anyone who's not seen it, but go and watch it right this second if that applies to you!

2. Blackadder. To me it's the most consistently funny sitcom ever written, even if it's a bit repetitive by the end. I could almost quote the entire series.

Some good quotes.

1. Secret Army. Not only is it the finest drama ever written, not only does it make you feel sympathy for one of the most evil people in the show, not only does it have three of the strongest female characters ever seen on screen, but it inspired a comedy spoof ('Allo, 'Allo) so good, everyone forgot the drama it was spoofing.

I'm just giving the titles again, because no-one should know anything more before watching.

There we go then, that's my list, I hope you like. Special mentions also go to The Prisoner, Blake's 7 and Fawlty Towers (and others) , but hey, I could only be bothered to do 10.


  1. A cracking line-up of TV goodness there, Laurie. I maintain that it's one of the greatest sins in TV history that Secret Army has been largely forgotten.

    In fact, I think I might have a think and post my own 'most influential' list of shows while I'm still off work...

    1. You so should, Paul. Would love to see your views on this!

  2. But is this influential or shows you like? Cos I'm not sure how influential I'd say The Avengers is, to be honest.

    Secret Army was, of course, influential because it gave us 'Allo, 'Allo!

    1. Well, obviously they're shows I like, one of the rules was I had to have seen each show, so no I, Clavdivs, however, I still maintain that each show on there has had huge cultural influence, or influence on its genre etc. I don't think you can argue the influence of The Avengers, I guarantee most people know who John Steed is for example. Not to mention the huge success it had abroad, in France and America etc. Plus, without The Avengers you probably wouldn't have had shows like The Professionals. Just my opinion obvs.

      I think the only show whose influence you could question is probably Tenko. It didn't really lead to anything like it, is hugely forgotten etc, but I felt the power of what it did and being mainly female in most aspects with the incredible drama merited its position.

    2. Oh, I see that, I guess I'd just argue that things like Star Trek and Corrie (whatever you think of them) would be more influential than The Avengers or even Secret Army.

    3. Well, I've only ever seen Next Gen, so wouldn't be fair to comment on Star Trek really, obviously can't doubt its cultural impact, though would argue that's largely in America, but I haven't seen it, so by my rules it couldn't go on the list. I didn't see the point of making a list with shows in that I couldn't actually comment on.

      Corrie, would have made a top 20, however, I feel its impact, certainly in my lifetime is lesser than EastEnders, so couldn't be in my top 10, and again, I've not seen enough to judge it properly...

    4. Ha!! Well, I'd argue that "Influential" is possibly not the right term to use then. I'd certainly argue that Star Trek has even more of an influence over here than The Avengers. I think more of the general public would be able to name/remember Captain Kirk than John Steed.

      But I never liked The Avengers so I might be biased myself :)

    5. That is why I made a point of saying they're what I consider to be the most influential, I think if 100 people did the same each list would be different. But that's why I love these sorts of things, seeing the different views and things different people love. People are so defensive of the shows they hold dear, too. I have had people, mentioning no names, telling me I'm wrong. To me and opinion can't be wrong and I've backed up each show with why I think they deserve to be there. Still, you've got to laugh.

    6. I suppose the one thing I would say is that with some you do say why they're influential but with others, you don't.

      But it has reminded me of a few shows that I do want to catch up on. Once I've finished New Dallas!!

    7. Fair point, it was only a bit of fun, though glad it's sparked some debate though, it's been fascinating to see what people think.

      (I nearly put Dallas on the list but thought people would go mad, fancying John Ross probably isn't good enough reason to justify a show's influence.)

    8. Good grief! Forget John Ross! I've just seen Episode 12! Bo McCabe!!

    9. You can have him, it's John Ross all the way....

    10. He would crush John Ross like a bug. As he threatened to do to Drew.

  3. A great list, but the pedant in me wants to say 'The Top 10 *UK* TV shows' - as otherwise genre-creating shows like Star Trek, Hill Street Blues, Larry Sanders would surely also feature.

    But as a list of UK shows I would only add Morecambe & Wise, not just as the greatest show of all time, but also leading to Vic 'n Bob, Ant & Dec, Miranda etc.

    1. US shows were considered (West Wing would make a top 20) but I just prefer UK, but I wasn't excluding them. And see previous comments for why shows like Star Trek and all the others you mentioned aren't on the list.

      Morecambe and Wise may be a glaring omission actually, but don't think I could sacrifice anything form my list.... hmmmm.