|Rowan Atkinson as the Prince.|
C - Coronation Street. It's the longest-running soap opera currently on the airwaves anywhere in the world. Set in a fictional working class community, Coronation Street debuted in 1960 and quickly built a loyal fan base. A Christmas Day episode in 1987 was seen by over 28 million viewers!
|McGoohan as John Drake.|
E - Elizabeth R. This 1971 six-part saga starring Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I of England garnered plenty of awards. In fact, it was the first British TV program to win an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. Jackson won an Oscar as Best Actress for Women in Love that same year.
F - The Forsyte Saga. I have relatives who would lobby for Fawlty Towers in this spot. However, it's hard to dismiss the first TV version of James Galsworthy’s three novels about the Forsytes, a nouveau riche Victorian family. When originally broadcast, this series was a huge hit in Britain and was picked up by local PBS stations in the U.S. In fact, its success in America is generally believed to have led to the creation of Masterpiece Theatre.
|Grigson as Gideon.|
H - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams' popular radio series and novel were transformed into a six-part television show in 1981. Simon Jones starred as Arthur Dent, who travels the universe after the end of the world. And remember, the answer is 42.
I - I, Claudius. Politics and devious plots (wait, am I being redundant?) made this tale of Roman rulers appointment television for millions of viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. However, it's best remembered for giving the marvelous Derek Jacobi one of his first leading roles.
J - The Jewel in the Crown. The final days of Britain's rule in India formed the basis of this engrossing 1984 miniseries based on the novels by Paul Scott. Peggy Ashcroft won the British Academy of Film & Television Arts award for best supporting actress. Interestingly, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar that same year for A Passage to India.
|Hyacinth in a flower print dress.|
L - Lovejoy. Ian McShane played the charming title rogue, an antiques dealer with a talent for uncovering hidden treasures. Supporting cast members included Phyllis Logan (now best known as Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey). The series lasted for six years, although there was a big gap between the first and second seasons.
M - Monty Python's Flying Circus. The comedy troupe's groundbreaking sketch comedy series debuted in 1969. Forty-five episodes were broadcast over the next five years before the gang graduated to films (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and other projects. Every fan has their favorite sketch; mine is "The Funniest Joke in the World."
|Carmichael and Houston.|
O - The Omega Factor. This short-lived 1979 science fiction series was about a journalist with psychic powers who became a member of the mysterious Department 7, a government agency that investigates paranormal activities.
P - Poldark. There are several fine choices for "P", such as The Prisoner, The Pallisers, and later Prime Suspect. However, we'll go with Winston Graham's addictive historical drama about two Cornish families in the 18th century. We're not picking Poldark just because Robin Ellis is the friend of the Cafe...we loved the show when we first watched it on Masterpiece Theatre in the 1970s.
Q - The Quatermass Experiment. The first of Nigel Kneale's four science fiction miniseries about Professor Bernard Quatermass made quite a splash in 1953. In Halliwell's Television Companion, film critic Leslie Halliwell wrote that "the Quatermass Experiment became the first TV serial to have the whole country (or such parts as could receive television) agog." Hammer Films made feature film versions of three of Kneale's miniseries, starting with 1955's The Quatermass Experiment.
|Rumpole at the Bailey.|
S - Sapphire & Steel. Although originally intended as a kid's sci fi show (think Doctor Who), this saga of two time-traveling agents (David McCallum and Joanna Lumley) morphed into something totally different. Using a small budget to its advantage, this slowly-paced series was sometimes baffling, sometimes disturbing, but always interesting.
T - Till Death Do Us Part. This 1965-75 sitcom chronicled the working-class Garnett family and its bigoted patriarch Alf (Warren Mitchell). If the premise sounds familiar, that's because it was adapted for U.S. television as the equally successful All in the Family.
|The Upstairs cast.|
W - Whoops Apocalypse. A pending apocalypse provides the background for this offbeat 1982 cult series that poked fun at world politics. To provide a sample of its humor: The Soviet Premier is actually a series of clones--as each clone dies, it has to be replaced by another. The series, which was just six episodes, was later adapted into a 1986 film with Loretta Swit and Peter Cook.
X - The XYY Man. William "Spider" Scott is an ex-con who can't leave his cat burglar past behind. Part of the reason is that he possesses an extra "Y" chromosome which predisposes him toward criminal activity. Stephen Yardley played the title character for all 13 episodes.
Y - Yes Minister. This immensely popular political comedy followed the career of the Right Honourable Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) in the fictitious Department of Administrative Affairs. Its fans included Margaret Thatcher. The first three seasons were broadcast over 1980-84. Yes, Prime Minister, a sequel series with the same cast, ran from 1986 to 1988.
Z - Z Cars. This long-running drama chronicled the exploits of uniformed police officers who patrolled in Ford Zephyrs (then considered rapid response vehicles) in a Lancashire town. The series produced an amazing 803 episodes over a 16-year period. The cast changed over the years with the exception of James Ellis as Sergeant Lynch.