I’m a Celeb … Get Me Out of Right here! (2002-)

Crocodile penis consuming within the outback with Ant and Dec didn’t precisely sound interesting, however this long-running actuality collection pushed the style to entertaining new heights.


Life on Mars (2006-07)

The Beeb’s Bowie-referencing, time-travelling cop present invigorated the style – and launched one of many nice British TV characters within the type of the swaggering, sweary Gene Hunt.

The Mighty Boosh (2004-07)

Some loathed its quirky outlook, however there was no disputing the creativeness of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt’s sticky-back-plastic comedy, filled with memorable grotesques and endlessly quotable skits.

The Shadow Line (2011)

Containing next-to-no hand-holding, Hugo Blick’s sprawling drama plunged you right into a world of crime and corruption as Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston investigated the identical homicide from totally different sides of the detective/felony divide.


Broad Metropolis (2014-19)

Yassss kweens ... Broad City.
Yassss kweens … Broad Metropolis. {Photograph}: Comedy Central

Abbi and Ilana’s adventures round New York Metropolis gave us 5 years of japes and scrapes, telephone wigs and Bingo Bronson – plus essentially the most shifting depiction of the mutual neediness of friendship in TV historical past. Yass kweens!


The Journey (2010-)

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon someway satisfied first the BBC, then Sky, to allow them to dine in Europe’s greatest eating places whereas doing Michael Caine impressions. Much more amazingly, that self-importance venture turned one of many funniest reveals of this decade.


Skins (2007-13)

Euphoria often is the teen present of the second, however a decade earlier than it this drama was pushing boundaries for adolescent behaviour on TV. But crucially – and in contrast to so many reveals of its ilk – it by no means talked all the way down to the viewers it depicted.


RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-)

Serving realness ... RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Serving realness … RuPaul’s Drag Race. {Photograph}: Logotv

The right present for queens with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and expertise, RuPaul has been serving realness and throwing shade since 2009.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004)

“Blood? Blood. Blood! And bits of sick.” The dictionary definition of cult viewing, Matthew Holness’s spoof of shonky British horror barely made a dent when it aired, however has since develop into thought to be a contemporary traditional.

Silicon Valley (2014-)

Mike Choose’s genius comedy concerning the travails of a motley gang of builders mercilessly sends up the world of tech bros … and but everybody from Mark Zuckerberg to Google founder Sergey Brin are superfans.

24 (2001-10)

The most gripping TV drama of the noughties ... 24.
In thrilling real-time … 24. {Photograph}: Fox

The longest day of Jack Bauer’s life turned essentially the most gripping TV drama of the 00s, because the hard-nosed CTU agent tried to cease terrorists, turncoat colleagues and even the odd treacherous president in thrilling real-time.

The L Phrase (2004-09)

The shamelessly soapy and specific LGBT drama about Bette, Shane and their impossibly glam leather-vest-clad gang in Los Angeles.

Justified (2010-15)

The primary and most interesting of a wave of recent small-screen westerns, this elegant Elmore Leonard adaptation was stocked filled with memorable characters and dizzying dialogue.


The Leftovers (2014-17)

Daring and dumbfounding, Damon Lindelof’s drama about survivors of a rapture-like occasion threw all the pieces into its three acclaimed seasons, from homicidal cults to a mass orgy on a ship.


Contemporary Meat (2011-16)

Winning comedy ... Fresh Meat.
Profitable comedy … Contemporary Meat. {Photograph}: Ray Burmiston

About as correct an outline of the debauchery, alienation and awkwardness of scholar life because it’s attainable to think about, this profitable comedy-drama launched us to one of many century’s true model icons within the type of the sensational Vod.

Gogglebox (2013-)

Why would anybody watch another person watching telly? The reply quickly turned clear with this brilliantly executed actuality present, which launched viewers to a number of hilarious, to not point out surprisingly TV-literate, households.


Trying (2014-16)

Andrew Haigh’s cruise via the San Francisco homosexual scene skipped the LGBT lesson-learning in favour of a thrillingly human relationship drama.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

A ropey B-movie was reimagined as a superb subversion of fantasy tropes in Joss Whedon’s beloved collection, which launched the world to a feminist pop icon in Sarah Michelle Gellar’s teen slayer.


Strictly Come Dancing (2004-)

Glitterati ... Strictly Come Dancing.
Glitterati … Strictly Come Dancing. {Photograph}: BBC/Man Levy

The movie star ballroom dance competitors that quickstepped on to our screens in 2004 and has made our lives extra fab-u-lous by the 12 months. Glitterati, assemble!


Gavin and Stacey (2007-10)

The effectively lush Anglo-Welsh sitcom about Gav’n’Stace, Nessa and Smithy that turned a BBC phenomenon then propelled James Corden to world stardom. Meet up with them once more in a particular this Christmas. Bang tidy.


Veep (2012-19)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus served as completely shambolic fictional foil to the real-life catastrophe that’s US politics, in a Stateside companion piece to The Thick of It.


Halt and Catch Fireplace (2014-17)

The thrilling 80s computer-whiz drama that landed within the Mad Males slot on AMC, however by no means received the fanbase it deserved.

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Impeccable ... Freaks and Geeks.
Impeccable … Freaks and Geeks. {Photograph}: NBC/Getty

Judd Apatow’s impeccable cult present concerning the Bionic Lady-loving nerds and burnouts, disco dancers and Dungeon Masters of McKinley Excessive in 1980 that was canned after only one brief season.


The Protect (2002-08)

A key half, alongside the Sopranos, The Wire and Deadwood, of the golden age of antihero drama, this thriller about likable – and totally corrupt – cops broke new floor for daring, risk-taking tv.


A Very English Scandal (2018)

Rollicking ... A Very English Scandal.
Rollicking … A Very English Scandal. {Photograph}: Kieron McCarron/BBC/Blueprint Tv Ltd

Hugh Grant was on rollicking kind because the Liberal occasion chief Jeremy Thorpe on trial for conspiring to homicide his younger lover, Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw). As Thorpe would say, “a really heaven”.


It’s At all times Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-)

Inarguably essentially the most gleefully offensive present on this checklist, the sitcom concerning the despicable homeowners of a Philly dive bar can also be one of the vital constant: every of its 13 seasons incorporates a truckload of laugh-out-loud moments.


The Inbetweeners (2008-10)

The present that launched a thousand cries of “ooh mates” stays one of the vital pleasing sitcoms of the previous decade, with its relatable story of 4 suburban normies negotiating sixth kind.

Spiral (2005-)

Regularly in comparison with The Wire, this French crime saga supplied a forensic view of France’s justice system, albeit with sufficient twists and turns to maintain followers completely hooked.


Planet Earth (2006 and 2016)

Groundbreaking doesn’t even start to explain this globe-straddling documentary epic, which for the primary time confirmed the world’s wildlife in gleaming HD. A decade later, with death-defying iguanas, its sequel wowed us yet again.


Misplaced (2004-10)

Bonkers … Misplaced. {Photograph}: Allstar/ABC/Sportsphoto Ltd

From the murderous black smoke to the button that needed to be pushed each 108 minutes to save lots of the world, this was the bonkers plane-crash drama that received us all going within the 00s.


Shameless (2004-13)

All hail Frank Gallagher and his magnificent Mancunian ne’er-do-wells! Paul Abbott’s drama might need dragged on a little bit too lengthy however at its greatest it supplied a refreshing burst of authentically working-class TV comedy-drama.


The Good Place (2016-)

Heavenly sitcom ... The Good Place.
A heavenly sitcom … The Good Place. {Photograph}: NBC/NBCU Photograph Financial institution by way of Getty Photographs

One other heavenly sitcom from Mike Schur (The US Workplace, Parks and Recreation), this collection a couple of miscreant mistakenly despatched to a paradisiacal afterlife managed to mix philosophical questions, jaw-dropping twists and a deluge of gags.


Band of Brothers (2001)

Steven Spielberg’s supersized second world conflict epic expanded the horizons – and budgets – of status TV.


Proof that Scandinavian drama doesn’t need to be about glowering detectives, this Danish political saga adopted glowering politicians as an alternative. Nonetheless, it was by no means lower than engrossing and boasted an enchanting determine in glass ceiling-battering prime minister Birgitte Nyborg.


Inside No 9 (2014-)

Dizzying ... Inside No 9.
Dizzying … Inside No 9. {Photograph}: BBC/Sophie Mutevelian

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s anthology collection continues to amaze, every episode delivering a dizzyingly ingenious horror-comedy one-off. Everybody has their favorite, however the Sheridan Smith-starring 12 Days of Christine may simply be the present’s masterpiece.


Flight of the Conchords (2007-09)

A real TV authentic, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement’s musical comedy a couple of hopeless New Zealand band floundering in NYC mixed stoner comedy and inescapably earwormy songs to totally charming impact.


Six Toes Underneath (2001-05)

Alan Ball’s profound drama concerning the Fisher household and their funeral residence was gloriously shifting and unnerving, and made us deal with our personal mortality head-on.

Present Me a Hero (2015)

Winona Ryder in Show Me a Hero.
Masterful … Winona Ryder in Present Me a Hero. {Photograph}: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

David Simon was on usually masterful kind on this epic concerning the housing disaster in 80s Yonkers that was tragically underwatched.


Succession (2018-)

The most recent present on our checklist, Jesse Armstrong’s comedy-drama a couple of dysfunctional media dynasty already appears like a contemporary traditional, filled with magnificently malignant characters and devastating one-liners.


State of Play (2003)

Much better than the shiny movie adaptation that adopted it, Paul Abbott’s taut, twisty corruption drama felt like the proper political thriller for the New Labour age. And no, we didn’t similar to it as a result of the heroes have been journos!

Sherlock (2010-)

Event television ... Sherlock.
Pure occasion tv … Sherlock. {Photograph}: BBC/Hartswood Movies/Robert Viglasky

The Baker Road reboot that made us all step inside Benedict Cumberbatch’s thoughts palace. At its greatest, few reveals may match it when it comes to pure occasion tv.

Wolf Corridor (2015)

Mark Rylance cemented his standing as one of many best dwelling actors with this efficiency as Thomas Cromwell in a luxurious status TV tackle Hilary Mantel’s historic doorstop.

Orange Is the New Black (2013-19)

Jenji Kohan revolutionised tv for ever along with her gripping girls’s jail drama about Piper, Poussey, Taystee and the Litchfield Penitentiary inmates.


Intercourse and the Metropolis (1998-2004)

Sex and the City.
Cosmos all spherical! … Intercourse and the Metropolis. {Photograph}: HBO

“I’m courting a man with the funkiest tasting spunk.” Confronted so just lately with the film SATC2: Calamity in Abu Dhabi, it may be simple to overlook simply how hilarious and refreshingly candid Samantha, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte have been after they first graced our screens.


The Jinx (2015)

The perfect of the glut of status true-crime programmes which have emerged in recent times, this forensic docuseries about Robert Durst, the property inheritor accused of homicide, featured one of the vital jaw-dropping closing moments of TV ever.

Utopia (2014)

Six years on, we’re nonetheless wincing on the considered that eyeball scene, however Dennis Kelly’s conspiracy thriller about an apocalypse-predicting graphic novel was extra than simply ultraviolence: gorgeously shot and endlessly beguiling, it stays like nothing else on TV.

Parks and Recreation (2009-15)

Twenty minutes every week of pure optimism, this Amy Poehler-starring sitcom a couple of fizzingly enthusiastic civil servant someway did the miraculous: it made native authorities appear enjoyable.


Black Books (2000-04)

Black Books.
Delightfully foolish … Black Books. {Photograph}: Channel 4

No contest within the award for essentially the most misanthropic character of the century: Dylan Moran wins palms down for his bile-flecked bookshop proprietor Bernard Black on this delightfully foolish sitcom.

The Good Battle (2017-)

Like its predecessor The Good Spouse however dialled as much as 11, that is essentially the most daring authorized drama of all of them – with gobsmacking plots about #MeToo monsters, Donald’s pee-pee tape and Melania’s bid to get a stealthy divorce.


Patrick Melrose (2018)

A unprecedented self-flagellating efficiency by Benedict Cumberbatch as a drug-dependent aristocrat anchored this very good adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novels. Certainly the best portrayal of habit ever seen on TV.


Downton Abbey (2010-15)

This was TV drama as consolation blanket: at a time of austerity, Julian Fellowes’s nation home epic supplied elegantly realised solace within the homilies of the previous. If the plotting felt formulaic, the performances have been solely convincing – from Maggie Smith’s dowager countess Violet Crawley to Jim Carter’s impossibly decorous butler Carson, everybody knew their place. PH
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Insecure (2016-)

One of many largest web-to-screen hits thus far … Insecure. {Photograph}: HBO

Issa Rae began her appearing profession with an online collection referred to as The Misadventures of Awkward Black Lady. Whereas fashionable, Rae was in a position to have her seat on the desk for actual with Insecure. A present about black feminine friendship and relationships that isn’t filtered via a white gaze and doesn’t play into drained stereotypes, this HBO collection refuses to compromise on authenticity, and, regardless of altering viewing habits, has proved one of many largest web-to-screen hits thus far. HJD
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Higher Name Saul (2015-)

The Breaking Dangerous prequel, centred on a ducking, diving lawyer referred to as Jimmy McGill who will at some point develop into Saul Goodman, is a wholly totally different drama – albeit exploring the identical theme of what actions persons are prepared to take when their American desires refuse to return true. A supremely measured character piece that has steadily improved as its central tragedy has materialised. JS
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Nathan Barley (2005)

Deeply prescient ... Nathan Barley.
Deeply prescient … Nathan Barley. {Photograph}: Channel 4

In 2005, Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s twatcom appeared oddly dated – a satire of a cultural second that had already handed. However time has rendered it deeply prescient: Barley occupied a wonderfully sealed echo chamber of self-conscious idiocy, and he self-branded furiously, lengthy earlier than social media got here for our souls. Earlier than there have been hipsters, Nathan and his fellow self-facilitating media nodes have been already maintaining it Mencap. PH
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Physician Who (2005-)

The revitalised Physician Who occupies its rightful place within the TV firmament: not often the perfect present in any week or 12 months however all the time there, all the time altering, all the time providing fodder for evaluation, arguments and lists. Jodie Whittaker’s arrival as the primary feminine Tardis-jockey maintained the present’s file of refreshing itself simply when its relevance threatens to wane – and with a lot goodwill behind it, its standout episodes are nonetheless a celebratory shared expertise. JS
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The Bridge (2011-18)

None extra noir however containing flashes of sudden humour, this was one of many extra spectacular of the grim dramas that flooded out of Scandinavia. The bridge of the title was the Øresund, which linked Sweden and Denmark and led to multinational cooperation on a homicide enquiry. Step ahead ill-matched cops Martin Rohde and extra curiously Saga Norén, a superb however weird investigator in contrast to any maverick TV detective ever seen. PH
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The Crown (2016-)

The Crown.
An opulent indulgence … The Crown. {Photograph}: Robert Viglasky/AP

Filigree telly, with each painstakingly staged scene a luxurious indulgence – however Netflix’s more-or-less true story of the British royal household has sufficient grit to make it greater than only a luxurious. Claire Foy’s steely Elizabeth II launched a fantastic examine of individuals uncertain easy methods to stay lives made extraordinary by enormous privilege and vague energy. JS
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The Individuals (2013-18)

Terminally neglected in favour of flashier, flimsier fare, Joe Weisberg’s story of suburban subterfuge rewarded the few who did tune in with six seasons of attractive, slow-burning drama. Actual-life husband and spouse Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell satisfied as a pair of Russian spies taking part in home in picket-fence 80s America, combating notions of loyalty, constancy and household. The present’s finale, which shifts between toe-curling pressure and devastating poignancy, must be thought to be one for the ages. GM
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South Park (1997-)

Fantastically inventive … South Park.
A gleeful dismantling of the American dream … South Park. {Photograph}: Allstar/Comedy Central/Sportsphoto

A starburst of fantastically ingenious offence, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s crude animation mixed grotesque hilarity with a deceptively severe goal. South Park was each a gleeful dismantling of the American dream and a laser-guided exploration of the tender spots the place freedom of speech and liberal sensitivities collide. As such, it has proved surprisingly prescient; lots of America’s present cultural fault strains first turned obvious right here. PH
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Friday Evening Lights (2006-11)

A young, truthful have a look at the beating coronary heart of small-town America, shone via the prism of one in every of its most engrained establishments: highschool soccer. It had us all rooting for the Dillon Panthers, for Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor, quarterback Matt Saracen, cocky working again Smash Williams, badboy fullback Tim Riggins, endlessly lovable nerd Landry Clarke and Tyra Collette, the city’s solely anti-football fanatic. We adopted them for each triumph and each landing, all of the whereas screaming at our screens: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” KA


The Energy of Nightmares (2004)

Arriving in 2004, when US president George W Bush was turning into nearly as a lot of a priority as Al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, Adam Curtis’s startling documentary collection explored the shockingly congruent goals of fundamentalist Islam and American neo-conservatism. Equally hanging was Curtis’s trademark model, all logical provocations and uncanny juxtapositions; it’s historic documentary as polemical artwork set up. PH
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The Good Spouse (2009-16)

The audacious authorized drama took on a ripped-from-the-headlines case each week, tackling all the pieces from pretend information to election tampering, police racism and the terrors of surveillance tradition. It responded so staggeringly quick to occasions that it typically felt too actual. Nevertheless it was additionally a uncommon drama that centered on girls – rounded, advanced, nice, flawed, fantastic girls – from the eponymous Alicia Florrick, who moved to date past the pained good spouse of the opening episode, standing by her man via a humiliating intercourse scandal, to Diane Lockhart, the barnstorming firebrand in fabulous jewelry (one of the vital wonderful characters of the century). An thrilling, exhilarating slap within the face to the very finish. KA
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Detectorists (2014-17)

Profound ... Detectorists.
Profound … Detectorists. {Photograph}: BBC/Channel X/Chris Harris

What initially gave the impression to be an enthralling muse on the lives of two eccentric metal-detecting hobbyists quickly revealed itself to be one thing extra profound. Mackenzie Criminal’s labour of affection was very humorous, but it surely turned ever extra shifting and thought-provoking. It was underpinned by a deep however open-minded and inclusive respect for our collective previous, and animated by one of the vital sweetly convincing friendships in tv historical past. PH
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Brass Eye: Paedogeddon (2001)

Even viewers conversant in Chris Morris’s authentic 1997 present affairs satire raised a number of startled eyebrows at Brass Eye’s one-off return in 2001. Morris plunged into what, on the time, was one of the vital emotive points in British life – press protection of paedophiles – and steamrollered each taboo he may get his tooth into inside half an hour. Newspapers howled, commentators pontificated, politicians blustered – and maybe that was the purpose. PH
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The Nice British Bake Off (2010-)

Great British Bake Off
An autumn staple … The Nice British Bake Off. {Photograph}: Phil Fisk/The Observer

With actuality TV shifting from catty to comforting in latest instances, each the BBC and Channel 4 have loved the candy odor of success with Bake Off. Mel and Sue’s exodus was a blow to its softly-softly attraction and Prue Leith is a extra straight-talking decide than Mary Berry. However 10 collection in, the novice baking contest continues to be an autumn staple. As with most long-running actuality reveals, there’s nonetheless a way of familiarity regardless of some adjustments; this 12 months’s collection options its youngest ever set of contestants. HJD
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That is England (2010-15)

The characters launched in Shane Meadows’s 2007 movie of the identical identify have acquired a vibrant small-screen lifetime of their very own. No surprise: they’re extremely resonant – they depict the sorts of British lives which are not often explored in any respect, not to mention with such tenderness and knowledge. We’ve taken That is England’s characters to our hearts however the collection additionally capabilities as a parallel historical past of our nation, warts and all. PH
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Disaster (2015-19)

A hardcore sitcom traditional … Disaster. {Photograph}: Mark Johnson/Channel 4

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan made their comedy nice by by no means taking part in secure. At first it was a grimy gutbuster a couple of careless sexfest; then it frankly confronted the grim actuality of parenthood with out shedding its soiled grin. Lastly, killing their darling simply earlier than it may flag, the pair delivered among the finest TV endings ever. A hardcore sitcom traditional. JS
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Huge Brother (2000-2018)

The latest tenth anniversary of Jade Goody’s demise sparked a lot dialog across the authentic lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key-for-a-bit actuality present. Huge Brother was in some ways one of the vital heinous reveals ever broadcast, from “Nasty Nick” Bateman fleeing the nation to flee the tabloids to Kinga’s wine bottle and Shilpa-gate. Nevertheless it was additionally a present that might change TV – and our idea of movie star – for ever. HJD
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The Workplace (US) (2005-13)

Cross-continent reboots are notoriously garbage. However after they evolve past by-the-numbers remakes and discover an identification of their very own, they’ll develop into glorious. A living proof: The Workplace US (initially subtitled “An American Office”) discovered its toes as soon as it stopped making an attempt to be Gervais Half Two and as an alternative established its personal perpetually bored protagonists, led by Michael Scott, Steve Carell’s self-proclaimed “world’s greatest boss”. HJD
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Blue Planet (2001/2017)

two male kobudai fighting in Blue Planet.
Pure psychedelia … Blue Planet. {Photograph}: Display Seize/BBC

It could be simple to take David Attenborough’s startling odysseys into the pure world as a right. However technological developments have solely elevated their surprise, whereas the exponential destruction of the setting has lent them a polemical edge. Attenborough’s two Blue Planet collection have offered extra mindblowing, naturally occurring psychedelia – lengthy, unusual journeys into lovely however inhospitable realms beforehand unexplored (and all-too-often degraded) by humanity. PH
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Killing Eve (2018-)

Few reveals in TV historical past have scythed on to the display screen with as a lot elan as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s spy v spy thriller, which arrived with dialogue as impossibly sharp and funky because the European places and Jodie Comer’s couture costumes. The demise dance between Comer’s psychopath and Sandra Oh’s coiled-spring MI5 nerd means every episode has a handful of outlandish payoffs that different dramas spend complete seasons working in the direction of. JS
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Spaced (1999-2001)

It might need ended again in 2001 however Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Jessica Hynes’s flatshare sitcom can stake a reliable declare as essentially the most influential comedy of this millennium: its fast cuts, style parodies and geek humour have been adopted by all the pieces from Group to Preacher. But for all of the Star Wars homages, Spaced was, at its coronary heart, a terrific character comedy, boasting a cracking forged that included Mark Heap’s tortured artist Brian and Julia Deakin’s formidable, chianti-powered landlady Marsha. GM
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The Killing (2007-12)

The Killing.
One of many nice TV enigmas … Sarah Lund in The Killing. {Photograph}: NBC/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Monitoring a single homicide case throughout 20 hours of subtitled drama might need appeared a tough promote. However this Danish procedural had a secret weapon in detective Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Lund’s knitwear turned an unlikely totem of the present, however the true enchantment was Gråbøl’s outstanding efficiency. Over three gripping seasons, Lund instructed us all the pieces and nothing about herself, turning into one of many nice TV enigmas. PH
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Clear (2014-19)

Amazon has struggled to get its TV originals proper, but it surely made an ideal begin with this mercurial, millennial dramedy. The plaudits for breaking new floor by centring on a transgender character have been deserved, and no TV present earlier than or since has dealt with variety of gender and sexuality so assuredly. On high of all that may be a severely humorous have a look at individuals failing to show fluid fashionable maturity into happiness. JS
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Crimson Driving Trilogy (2009)

Set within the Ripper-plagued Yorkshire of the Nineteen Seventies, David Peace’s authentic novels are strewn with feverish inner monologues. Adapting them for tv was all the time more likely to show tough. Nonetheless, this trilogy rose to the problem beautifully, drawing on the various however complementary visions of three totally different administrators (Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker) and a number of very good performances to carry the period unnervingly to life. PH
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The Handmaid’s Story (2017-)

Remarkable ... Elisabeth Moss as Offred.
Outstanding … Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid’s Story. {Photograph}: Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Arriving on our screens with nearly eerie timeliness three months into the Trump presidency, this adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel serves as a useful reminder that, if we’re not cautious, issues may get much more like Gilead. The present’s patriarchal hellscape, the place the chaste tradition of stored girls sits uneasily subsequent to the machine weapons and fight gear of the lads doing the maintaining, is terrifyingly well-realised, whereas Elisabeth Moss delivers a outstanding efficiency as Offred, the Handmaid who desires of blowing it up. GM
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The Day by day Present with Jon Stewart (1999-2015)

Sensible-ass however regularly simply plain sensible, Jon Stewart was a broadcasting pure with such vary that he was equally convincing whether or not presenting a present within the aftermath of 9/11 or excoriating Chicago’s fondness for deep-pan pizza. For greater than a decade, he was a novel and persuasive liberal voice in American affairs; we shudder to think about what he would have made of the present US political scenario. PH
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Black Mirror (2011-)

Ambition might be Charlie Brooker’s highest quality as a author: he had the balls to start out his sci-fi anthology with an episode concerning the prime minister being pressured to violate a pig, then took the prospect to take Black Mirror world by shifting from Channel 4 to Netflix. Now each new serving to of his dystopia is occasion telly, drawing in A-list expertise and, with one-offs such because the interactive Bandersnatch, persevering with to push on the medium’s limits. JS
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Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)

Baffling ... Twin Peaks: The Return.
Thrillingly baffling … Twin Peaks: The Return. {Photograph}: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Nobody knew what to anticipate from the reappearance, after practically 30 years, of David Lynch’s thriller drama. From its first body to its soul-rending primal scream of a conclusion, The Return proved thrillingly baffling, filled with indelible photographs (nuclear explosions, demonic cockroaches, David Bowie as a large kettle) and dizzying dream logic. On the centre of the chaos was Kyle MacLachlan, radiating beforehand untapped ranges of magnificence as each the valiant Agent Cooper and his breathtakingly evil doppelganger. GM
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Arrested Improvement (2003-19)

The underwhelming Netflix reboot of Mitch Hurwitz’s comedy, a couple of dysfunctional and on reflection vaguely Trumpian dynasty, shouldn’t detract an excessive amount of from the legacy of its sensible first three seasons, which raised the bar for intricate, clever sitcommery. Such was the density of references, callbacks and gags that Arrested Improvement proved to be that uncommon factor – a present that turned funnier on repeated viewings. GM
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OJ: Made in America (2016)

A startling treatise on race, gender, celebrity and capitalism itself ... OJ: Made in America.
A startling treatise on race and movie star … OJ: Made in America. {Photograph}: Sipa Press/Rex/Shutterstock

It was the story of a US footballer, accused of homicide and subsequently acquitted. Nevertheless it was a lot extra moreover. Over seven compelling hours, Ezra Edelman pulled again from his rapid topic by homing in on its trivialities. Exploring the context of OJ Simpson’s rise and fall, Edelman constructed a startling treatise on race, gender, movie star and capitalism itself. The outcome was an alternate historical past of recent America. PH
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The Vietnam Struggle (2017)

Extra like a definitive historic doc than a TV collection. Whereas Vietnam stays a scab at which America is compelled to choose, this panorama by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick feels just like the final phrase. Starting a long time earlier than the conflict and following its echoes as much as the current day, the collection plunged into the quagmire, illuminating the horror for all to see however concluded with threads of humanity reclaimed from the carnage. PH
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Ladies (2012-17)

Out of control ... Girls.
Uncontrolled … Ladies. {Photograph}: Sky

For all its issues (and there have been many, from an absence of variety to Lena Dunham’s spectacular propensity for foot-in-mouth moments), Ladies modified the half-hour sitcom for the higher. Initially billed as an up to date Intercourse and the Metropolis, it grew into one thing extra troubled and extra troubling, bringing the perfect of mumblecore to the small display screen by way of a spaghetti-slurping, usually half-naked antihero (Dunham’s Hannah Horvath), who proved as relatable as she was solely uncontrolled. HJD
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Deadwood (2004-6)

David Milch’s distinctive, picaresque western earned its spurs within the early levels of the HBO TV gold-rush. Nevertheless it was extra singular and ornery than any of its contemporaries. Milch created a universe that was concurrently recognisable and totally alien – then peopled it with extraordinary characters corresponding to Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen. Sacred, profane and effectively deserving of its wonderful feature-length decision this 12 months. PH
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Nighty Evening (2004-5)

Nighty Night.
Monstrous … Nighty Evening. {Photograph}: BBC/Babycow

Julia Davis’s Jill Tyrell is essentially the most grotesque comedy creation in dwelling reminiscence. Jill responded to her husband’s most cancers analysis by trying to interrupt up the wedding subsequent door, then staging an exceptionally excruciating mock funeral for her partner (who had recovered however been forcibly dedicated to a hospice) and making an attempt to seduce a 12-year-old. An absolute monster and an absolute masterpiece of provocation and dangerous style. PH
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The West Wing (1999-2006)

Aaron Sorkin’s sparky, witty and (some would say excessively) erudite political drama achieved the unimaginable: it made area of interest US laws, from lame-duck periods to filibusters, totally compelling. Plus it gave us the most well-liked president in US historical past, Josiah “Jed” Bartlet. Followers should watch it now and weep into their pretend newspaper on the Trumpian state of issues. There have been sure missteps (the patronising 9/11 episode, we’re you), however this was TV that confirmed America it’s attainable to hope for higher, even the perfect, from the chief of the free world. KA
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Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-)

Deeply meta ... Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Deeply meta … Curb Your Enthusiasm. {Photograph}: HBO

Was Larry David ever flawed? Regularly. However you could possibly often nearly sympathise along with his wrongness and perceive his arrival in a wide range of hideous scrapes. In a sitcom that was each deeply meta (David was taking part in a constructed but in addition deconstructed model of himself) and proudly conventional (it overflowed with sight-gags and traditional setups), the comedy of excruciation reached its peak. PH
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Line of Obligation (2012-)

Tension ... Line of Duty.
A brand new customary in small-screen pressure … Line of Obligation. {Photograph}: Aiden Monaghan/BBC/World Productions

Hardly ever has a drama demanding such dedication from viewers captured the favored creativeness to this extent. It’s testimony to the excellence of Jed Mercurio’s writing however primarily to masterful central performances from Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar who, as anti-corruption unit AC12, symbolize a nonetheless level round which all method of police malfeasance swirls. Line of Obligation’s interrogation scenes have set a brand new customary in small-screen pressure and launch. PH
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30 Rock (2006-13)

Nonetheless badly underrated, Tina Fey’s sitcom rendering of her experiences contained in the US TV machine was a fiery tackle the strain between artistic varieties and cash males, the latter embodied by an all-timer efficiency from Alec Baldwin as an insane community exec. Nevertheless it was as cynical about comedians because it was fits, the outcome being a joke machine with few limits on its satire or its silliness. JS
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Comfortable Valley (2014-)

A corrective to the cliche-ridden and regularly blokey police procedurals that dominated the primary 20 years of this century, Sally Wainwright’s slice of Yorkshire noir pulsated with poignant realness. In Sarah Lancashire’s stoic sergeant Catherine Cawood, it discovered a real heroine for our instances, resourceful, humorous and empathetic. A superb factor too, as a result of the world Wainwright constructed round her – filled with demise, habit and determined poverty – was nearly overwhelmingly, authentically bleak. GM
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Atlanta (2016-)

All-out weirdness … Atlanta. {Photograph}: Alamy

Donald Glover’s foray into dramedy fizzes with pop-culture callbacks, political subtext and darkish lols, following underachieving Earn, wannabe rapper cousin Paper Boi and their black millennial friends. Its greatest episodes are those the place racial battle meets all-out weirdness, amongst them Helen – wherein Earn feels totally adrift at a Germanic competition – and Teddy Perkins, the Shining-inspired, Get Out-style story of Darius’s (Lakeith Stanfield) journey to choose up a piano from a mysterious hermit. HJD
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Peep Present (2003-15)

Peep Show.
At all times, hilariously, an inch over the boundary of fine style … Peep Present. {Photograph}: Angus Younger/Channel 4

The king of 00s sitcoms: formally modern, with its point-of-view filming and audible inside monologues, and unflinching in the way it used that format to be disgustingly sincere about diseased male minds. A textbook contrasting duo in careless Jez and cowardly Mark gave writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain the platform for greatness, and the standard barely dipped throughout 9 seasons. Peep Present was all the time, hilariously, an inch over the boundary of fine style. JS
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Fleabag (2016-19)

Classic British awkwardness ... Fleabag.
Basic British awkwardness … Fleabag. {Photograph}: Luke Varley/BBC/Two Brothers

When Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag arrived on stage in London some six years in the past, critics had their doubts (one even commented “I doubt if this materials will spin off right into a long-running radio or tv collection”). How flawed they have been: in addition to returning to the stage for a sold-out run this 12 months, Fleabag’s two-series TV run noticed Waller-Bridge infuse the nascent sadcom style with traditional British awkwardness, encompassing grief, household breakdown and, in fact, Obama-themed masturbation. HJD
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Sport of Thrones (2011-19)

Thrills and blood spills ... Game of Thrones.
Thrills and blood spills … Sport of Thrones. {Photograph}: HBO

Regardless of the widespread calls by superfans to rewrite the whole final collection, from Daenerys’ descent into insanity to Starbucksgate, Sport of Thrones stays the largest present of the century to date. Even Ed Sheeran sitting by a fireplace singing a ditty about palms of gold can’t irreparably dent its status. And it did provide you with the products all through its eight-year reign: from the thrills and blood spills to the lads baked in pies and the perfect battles ever seen on the small display screen, proper via to Cleganebowl. Solely The Winds of Winter e book will spare us all from Westeros withdrawal. KA
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The Workplace (UK) (2001-03)

Stylistically confident ... The Office.
Twenty years on, persons are nonetheless making pale imitations … The Workplace. {Photograph}: BBC/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

It didn’t invent the mockumentary, however Ricky Gervais and Stephen Service provider’s debut was so stylistically assured it outlined swathes of the comedy that adopted its 2001 premiere: 20 years on, persons are nonetheless making pale imitations. Its creators haven’t topped it both however with time, their casting selections look as extraordinary as their scripts. It’s exhausting to fathom now that Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Criminal and Gervais himself have been all then relative unknowns. JS
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Breaking Dangerous (2008-13)

Anna Gunn as Skyler White and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in season five of Breaking Bad.
Wicked descent … Breaking Dangerous. {Photograph}: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

The present that arguably killed off the antihero drama: nothing since has been in a position to high the wicked descent made by Walter White (a never-better Bryan Cranston), from milquetoast chemistry instructor to meth overlord, and few have dared to attempt. But as grimly engrossing as White’s transformation was, what stored us returning to Vince Gilligan’s low-key epic was Aaron Paul’s efficiency as his reluctant associate in crime, Jesse Pinkman, whose frayed humanity shone via the ethical murk like a beacon. GM
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The Thick of It (2005-12)

The Thick of It.
Scabrous … The Thick of It. {Photograph}: BBC/Mike Hogan/BBC

The craven, idiotic likes of Peter Mannion and Nicola Murray can be paragons of probity and knowledge in as we speak’s parliamentary panorama. However on the time, Armando Iannucci’s scabrous comedy felt like an indictment of all the pieces flawed with the spin and cynicism of British politics. Fortunately, it was additionally hilarious, primarily because of the ingenious invective of Peter Capaldi’s ferocious “Iago with a BlackBerry” Malcolm Tucker. PH
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Mad Males (2007-15)

Modern America ... Mad Men.
A masterwork … Mad Males. {Photograph}: BBC/AMC

The intercourse! The swagger! The fits! Matthew Weiner’s Madison Avenue masterwork went down with all the graceful, smoky attract of one in every of Don Draper’s copious Outdated-Fashioneds. However by spanning the whole 60s, exhibiting the mammoth social shifts in an advert company in minute element – from the arrival of the Tablet and second-wave feminism to the rise of hippies and the dropping of LSD – it turned extra than simply the story of 1 thriller man and compulsive philanderer come good: it was a meditation on how fashionable America got here to be made, one iconic advert at a time. KA


The Wire (2002-08)

TV wrenched from the soul ... The Wire.
TV wrenched from the soul … The Wire. {Photograph}: BBC/HBO

Together with The Sopranos, David Simon and Ed Burns’s Baltimore crime saga confirmed that small-screen leisure could possibly be something it aspired to be: polemical, panoramic, humorous, tragic or all of these issues without delay. Superbly written and carried out, this was each TV as excessive artwork and TV wrenched from the soul. To today, it’s an exemplar of a sure model of clever, bold and uncompromising tv. PH
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The Sopranos (1999-2007)

Vincent Pastore as Big Pussy Bompensiero; James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano; Tony Sirico as Paulie Walnuts; Federico Castellucio as Furio Giunte; Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante in the Sopranos from 2001.
Mobsters arguing over Tupperware … The Sopranos. {Photograph}: E4

It’s exhausting to fathom now, however when Tony Soprano first slumped into an armchair in his psychiatrist Dr Melfi’s workplace, TV was nonetheless largely seemed down upon. The slogan for the Sopranos’ broadcaster – ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO’ – felt telling in its dismissiveness, as if making a tv programme was one thing to be ashamed about. The Sopranos modified all that.

When it first aired, some have been fast to dismiss it as simply one other mob drama. However David Chase took a cleaver to the conventions and cliches of the gangster epic. Its Household wasn’t some pinstripe-clad crew swaggering down Brooklyn again alleys, however a tragicomic rabble reigning over the unprepossessing suburbs of New Jersey. It was a world populated by fragile and petty individuals, arguing over Tupperware like Paulie Walnuts or ordering a success over rumours about their bed room actions like Uncle Junior. And its protagonist was a hulking, ferocious don beset by panic assaults and cowed by his way more ferocious mom.

And what a protagonist! Right here was a person who would break off from his daughter’s school open day to brutally homicide an informant, and we have been alleged to if not actively root for him, no less than comply with him into the abyss. But comply with him we did, due to the qualities that moved him past the mobster stereotype. From the off, this was a present with greater ideas in thoughts: the downfall of the white working class, Jungian psychoanalysis, shifting sexual politics and the everlasting query of whether or not an inside decorator may kill 16 Czechoslovakians. And it performed with kind with the eagerness of Tony tucking into some ‘gabagool’, staging Godot-like one-acters within the Pine Barrens and devoting total episodes to the fever-dream musings of a comatose Tony.

The Sopranos hastened TV’s transformation right into a medium the place intelligence, experimentation and depth have been treasured. Critics nonetheless put it on the high of better of lists like this one. Fevered conversations are nonetheless had on-line concerning the present’s symbolic use of eggs, geese and tooth, and naturally that rug-pull of an ending. For anybody at the moment making TV, the present stands as one thing to aspire to, maybe even higher. That’s simpler mentioned than completed, in fact. Loads of programmes have come on the boss, however none has managed to hold out a profitable hit. GM

This text was amended on 17 September 2019 to make clear that Lynn Novick co-created The Vietnam Struggle with Ken Burns.


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