Robert Jackman

The British shows beloved by Europeans

The British shows beloved by Europeans
Image: Sherlock, BBC
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Forget the sausage war; could the real Brexit battle be over streaming services? After all, surely even hardened Remainers will have been appalled by the European Commission's plan to make it more difficult to stream British shows on the continent.

Will it happen? Only time will tell. But here are eight shows that are a hit on the continent and that European viewers will really miss:


Sky Atlantic/Now TV

Keenly watched pretty much everywhere, Sky’s superlative disaster drama is amongst the biggest British televisual exports to the EU (another accolade to add to its various Baftas, Emmys and Golden Globes). What's more, Chernobyl is one drama that really went out of its way to ensure cultural accuracy. Even running its scripts past a focus group of older Ukrainian residents to ensure the small details were as true-to-life as possible. Which really makes a nonsense of the Commission's bluster about 'imperialism'.



Perhaps fittingly, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s vampire legend is a complicated beast - being both spectacularly creepy and visibly in thrall to its gothic predecessor, yet also absolutely preposterous at the same time. But even its sillier moments (largely concentrated towards the end) can’t take away from an absolutely superb first-episode; not to mention Moffat’s most audacious cliffhanger since his days with Matt Smith and the Tardis. Given its Carpathian origins and Irish author, we can probably split custody of this one.

It’s A Sin


Having already become the most streamed show in the history of All4, Russell T Davies’ AIDS-era epic is now picking up a following further afield. And long may that continue. For It’s A Sin is a series so glorious and wonderfully life-affirming that any attempt to block its export would be the cultural equivalent of sanctioning essential medicines. Years and Years singer Olly Alexander heads up a cast that also includes Neil Patrick Harris and Keeley Hawes, alongside breakthrough talents Lydia West and Omari Douglas. All are absolutely superb.

His Dark Materials


Jack Thorne’s big-budget adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy novels was greenlit for its third and final series six months ago. Now it faces being cut off from its fast-growing continental fan-club. And, without wanting to over bang the hypocrisy drum too much, let’s remember who starred in the series: a teenage, Madrid-born actress who now looks to be on a one-way journey to Hollywood success. Add in Pullman’s solidly pro-EU credentials, and perhaps there’s hope this one will get a pass.

Mr Bean


Like Madame Tussauds and Camden Market, Mr Bean is one of those British mega-brands you can never fully understand if you actually live here. But it isn’t just bobble heads and naff bench sculptures in Leicester Square. Did you know that, at the height of the Tito regime in Yugoslavia, Mr Bean was one of few Western programmes deemed as suitably non-subversive for mainstream broadcast? Even the films remain ridiculously popular across Europe and Asia, typically grossing more than $200m a piece.

The Feed

Amazon Prime

Have you ever seen The Feed? It’s fair to say that this homegrown series, first broadcast on Virgin’s equally obscure streaming service, hasn’t exactly been a cultural phenomenon in its homeland. It’s a different story on the continent, where the science fiction thriller has been pushed big time by dual-language network Starz. Based on the debut book of novelist Nick Clark Waldo, it tells the story of a telepathic social network that gets dangerously out of control.



Back in the early 2010s, London was riding on a bit of a cultural high. While the Olympics and their opening ceremony certainly did their bit, it was the BBC’s slick reincarnation of Sherlock - set in 21st century London and starring newfound heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch - which persuaded a wave of obsessive teenage tourists to flock to Britain. While the walking tours and impromptu shrines of fan art might have fallen away over the years, the show’s popularity remains strong.

Top Gear


Back in its Clarkson-era heyday, Top Gear was - for some sections of the press at least - a byword for a slightly toxic British jingoism. And between those terrible Third Reich gags, and that famous drive through Argentina, perhaps they had a point. But it turns out the hard-wringing was unnecessary. Just like the similarly off-colour remarks of the late Duke of Edinburgh, Top Gear's patter turned out to be just as popular with non-Brits too. Either that or certain countries are doing a lot of hate-watching….