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My Favourite TV Programmes

This page updated Sunday 1st January 2017

For episode guides to most series of importance go to:

epguides.com

Below is a list of my all-time favourites (in rough alphabetical order):

The Avengers, Bewitched, Blakes 7, Butterflies, Cheers, Chocky, Clown White, Dad's Army, Dallas, Danger Man, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Doctor Who, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Fireball XL5, For The Love of Ada, The Goodies, Hill Street Blues, I Spy, It's Your Move, L A Law, The Likely Lads/Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, Lost In Space, Man In A Suitcase, M*A*S*H, The Monkees, Only Fools and Horses, The Outer Limits, The Phil Silvers Show, The Prisoner, Robinson Crusoe, Randall and Hopkirk, The Selfish Giant, Shoestring, Sons and Daughters, Star Trek (The original), Steptoe and Son, The Tomorrow People, The Twilight Zone, Worzel Gummidge

Overall favourites (in order of preference):

Doctor Who, The Avengers / The Prisoner, Star Trek / M*A*S*H / Dallas, Bilko

Tim Harris, Sunday 1st January 2017

See also: Rose-Tinted Spectacles

My Top Programmes of 2016

(in order of preference, top being the highest)

Game of Thrones (Series 5 & 6) It all kicked up an even higher gear for these two series, with series 6 proving to be an especial delight. It's building up to a final fantastic series albeit there's actually two final series to come with 13 episodes spread over those last two series. An amazing experience watching these series and for once I believe it's a series that deserves the hype.
The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba Although this is from 2006 and I'd seen it at least twice before, this particular episode was shown near Christmas this year and it remains one of the finest hours of TV I've ever seen. Humour, drama and pathos magically combine together and it is very much near the top of my list of all-time great episodes of anything.
Mum (Series 1) Wasn't overly aware of what the series was about before watching it, missed the first one, caught the second one and fell in love with it almost instantly. Lisa McGrillis as the girlfriend of the Mum's son was just brilliant, hilarious, delightful, adorable and just bonkersly wonderful. The relationship between the mum and Kelly is simply fantastic, with Kelly adoring the woman because she's nice to her. Add in unrequited love from a male friend and annoying relatives this is simply a divine series.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Mischief Theatre) Well this was a nice surprise! I'd heard of it but not seen it, and it was incredibly good fun when it turned up on New Year's Eve. The appearance of the Tellytubby was just brilliant and I hope we see more of this kind of thing. This would have been perfect viewing for Christmas Day just after The Queen's Speech, and that's likely when I'll watch it again. An absolutely wonderfully daft, clever, genius hour of fun.
Versailles (Series 1) This was a series that caught my attention just from the trailer, whoever edited it did a mighty fine job because I could so easily have skipped it. Loved the series, it's not often I watch historical dramas but this one was a step above a lot of others. Great casting (the King's brother is brilliant) and very good scripts along with masterful production values, can't wait for series two.
Westworld (Series 1)

Wasn't sure what to make of it for the first few episodes though the odd twist here and there kept me watching. By the end of episode five I was hooked and looked forward to each must-see episode. Fantastic twists along the way: the whole thing about William caught me by surprise, and not knowing if Hopkins' character was good or not made it very interesting. My only real question is how do guests know who is human and who is a robot? Anyway roll on series two.

The Walking Dead (Series 6B & 7A) More or less a return to form, it's not really about zombies anymore though is it. Humans versus humans, with Rick sidelined in favour of the new main character Neegan in series 7A. Having said that Neegan is simply fascinating to watch, the evil evil character that he is. He's going to be around for some time I should think, and it has taken the series into a very dark direction. Fascinating stuff. Fear The Walking Dead I still find a bit of a chore, I've still got 7 episodes of series 2 left to watch and whilst it is a contrast form the main series, it's not as captivating, and hence not in my top programmes of either 2015 or 2016.
The Saint (Roger Moore B/W episodes) Other series such as The Avengers with Patrick Macnee or Doctor Who have heroes whose lives we might not-so-secretly wish to live, but it's the life of Simon Templar that appeals to me most. A fun-loving playboy who sticks up for the underdog while making money along the way from grateful people (amongst other ways), it's this character I like most. He's not working for an agency, he's not alien, he's a human being who wanders through Europe helping people he comes across. He's my favourite hero and the black and white episodes have had me hooked for several years. I only watched a few episodes each year and only finished them in November 2016 but I find this series highly entertaining and addictive.
Brooklyn Nine Nine (Series 3) The more I watch this the more I love it, I think the characters bond well and it manages to feel fresh. It's such a joy. A perfect cast, excellent characters, great scripts.
American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson One of those series I was either going to like or hate. I liked it, the casting was interesting and I particularly grew to like John Travolta's performance which at first seems odd but eventually seems more oddly enjoyable. It was a good drama and it kept me interested all the way.
Spooks (Series 1 & 2) Never really watched this when it was on originally, finally started watching it properly this year. It's mostly very good, I did tire towards the end of series 2 though and I haven't rushed onto series 3 yet.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio The only new episode this year not counting the 3 minute introduction to new companion Billie. I enjoyed it, it was fun and easy to follow. Some pathos too and nice to see Matt Lucas back as Nardole.
The Big Bang Theory (Series 9) A series that still manages to stand up well even after this amount of time. I definitely am not as drawn to it as I was for earlier series and I now enjoy Brooklyn Nine Nine more, but that tends to be the case after a series has been on so long. I still enjoy it.
Mrs Brown's Boys (Live Show, Christmas Show) The live edition shown early in the year was great and I liked this year's Christmas Day episode more than I'd enjoyed the last few years worth.
Love, Nina The excellent Faye Marsay as Nina was great, she was also good in Game of Thrones series 6 and excellent in 2014's Doctor Who: Last Christmas. I certainly hope we see more of Nina as this was an enchanting series.
The Fall (Series 3) This was one heck of an anti-climax for a series. With the bad guy feigning memory loss for most of this series it came to a complete standstill. The final episode then ran at a much faster pace and I have no idea why the bad guy did the things he did in that episode. An unsatisfactory ending to a story began three years earlier. Having said that, I came back for every episode and I'd still like to see more of Gibson. I'd like to see another version of series 3 where the bad guy doesn't feign memory loss and which provides an exciting end to the series with a stupendous court case.
The Apprentice I watched it, enjoyed it but wasn't fussed who won, suggesting I'm probably losing overall interest in a series that's been on for over 10 years now. I'm wondering if I'll be that bothered with the next series.
Still Game (Series 7) Nice to have this series back, wasn't quite as sharp as series 2 to 6 but it's good to have them back after a lengthy gap.
Family Guy (Series 14) Another series that seems to be running out of steam. It doesn't help having gaps between episodes but they're never gonna listen to that advice so hey ho. Sensing that it's getting a bit stale, I wouldn't be too upset if the series took a break for a year or two and came back refreshed. Maybe I'll give it a break anyway.
Ice Road Truckers (Series 8 & 9) The law of diminishing returns also applies to this once wonderful series. A sense of 'seen it all before' was particularly felt by me when watching series 9. Using the exact same drivers each series tends to make them all the same, there's less drivers now anyway and some drivers tend to get more air time than others. Also the competition element is now missing from the series and this has greatly diminished my interest in it.

It looks like series 10 will be the last if the internet can be believed, I've started watching this one and once again it mostly comprises the same drivers yet again with one new one. The early series' were simply more enjoyable than these later ones. It'll be a sad end for a once-great series.


My Top Programmes of 2015

(in order of preference, top being the highest)

Game of Thrones (Series 3 & 4) Tyrian has got to be one of the greatest fictional characters ever and the perfect casting of the role is unparalleled. Series 3 had an amazing episode 9 that caught me by surprise. Brilliant.
Brooklyn Nine Nine (Series 2) What surprises me most about this rewarding series is that the viewing figures don't appear impressive, yet this is a greatly entertaining series.
Doctor Who (Season 9) A much better series than the previous one.
The Apprentice Still manages to keep me watching even if it's all been done many times before.
The Big Bang Theory (Series 8) I liked this a great deal, I'm not sure the many gaps in broadcast helped general audiences though. When you can see episodes from previous series' every day of the week, waiting weeks to see a new episode is surely destructive. However, this is one series that, for me, somehow manages to survive the broadcaster's irritating scheduling.
Batman (Adam West) (Series 1) I'd got bored of watching this series back in the late '80s so had avoided it until 2015 when I finally got in the mood to watch it again. I loved it, that first series is highly entertaining. It remains a high budget series throughout that first year and stands up incredibly well. I haven't rushed to watch the second series though, you can have too much of a good thing.
The Beverly Hillbillies (Series 1) It's from the '60s,it's in black and white and is simply marvellous. Perfect cast, storylines that run through several episodes, occasional flashes of pathos, just wonderful. As with Batman, I haven't rushed to watch series 2, I suspect that at some point this series must start to feel 'samey'.
Ice Road Truckers (Series 7) I started off with some disinterest in this particular series as I'd enjoyed series 6 so much and this one had a few changes in truckers. It didn't seem familiar but by the middle of the series I'd warmed to it and enjoyed the rest of the series.
Family Guy (Series 13) Some clever episodes that I really enjoyed.
The Walking Dead (Series 5 & 6A) I didn't enjoy series 5 as much as the previous 4 series': too much chit chat and not enough tension. I liked series 6A though.
Broadchurch (Series 1 & 2) Watchable, with excellent performances by David Tennant and Olivia Coleman. Couldn't work out what the hype was about though. I liked series 2 more than series 1 overall.

My Top Programmes of 2013

(in order of preference)

An Adventure In Space and Time (outstanding)

The Big Bang Theory (Series 1 to 6)

Lizard Lick Towing (Series 1 to 4)

Pinky and the Brain* (Series 1 to 4)

Dallas (Revived Series 2)

Family Guy (Series 1 to 10)

Derek (Series 1)

The Great Train Robbery (2-part BBC drama)

The Five-ish Doctors (reboot)

The Walking Dead (Series 1)

Lucan (2-part ITV drama)

Doctor Who (Season 7B)

The Fall (Series 1)

* I only got into this during 2013 although the series was made in the '90s.

My Top Programmes of 2014

(in order of preference)

The Walking Dead (Series 2 to 4)

The Best of Men (shown in 2012, I watched it for the first time this year)

For The Love of Ada (Series 1 to 4 and Christmas Special)

The Big Bang Theory (Series 7)

Brooklyn Nine Nine (Series 1)

Lizard Lick Towing (series 5 & 6)

Game of Thrones (Series 1 and 2)

Family Guy (Series 11 and 12)

Derek (Series 2 and Special)

Space Patrol (1960's puppet series)

Bert and Dickie (One-off BBC drama)

The Apprentice (10th anniversary series)

Sherlock (Series 3)

Spartacus (Blood and Sand, Gods of the Arena)

The Fall (Series 2)

Ice Road Truckers (Series 6)

Doctor Who (Season 8)

Dallas (Revived Series 3)


The Avengers

Honor Blackman's my favourite Avengers girl.

A very way-out series that evolved throughout each of its series. No two series are quite the same and it's one of the greatest achievements in television history. It has a charm that's very appealing.

Steed himself is different in the sries that were shot on film, he's less brash, less manipulating, but Patrick Macnee plays him with a steely poise throughout the series' run.

Favourite episodes include 'Traitor In Zebra', 'The Hour That Never Was', 'Man-Eater of Surrey Green', 'The House That Jack Built', 'The Living Dead', 'The Forget Me Knot', 'The Morning After', 'Fog', 'Bizarre'.

Right: Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman's no. 1 single!

Kinky Boots

Bewitched

Elizabeth Montgomery was born to play Samantha, Dick York was born to play Darrin, as was Dick Sargent. A very light series to watch but very entertaining.

With its easy mix of fun, mischief and fantasy 'Bewitched' is almost certainly the most accessible programme for any mix of people of any age.

Montgomery's character Samantha is well known for her nose twitching ability but Montgomery is visually very expressive all the time, her face can convey a wonderful mix of emotions and expressions.

She is simply one of the finest actors to ever grace a screen, large or small and her untimely death in 1995 was a sad blow to her many fans.

Dick York is also extremely expressive in facial matters and, after many years, I have also warmed very strongly to Dick Sargent's subsequent portrayal of Darrin. In some ways Sargent's Darrin is more accepting of Samantha's powers and is all the bestter for it. Except for the last episode which is a bad throwback to the early days of their marriage: they'd been through too much together by that time to go back to an earlier point.

My two favourite episodes are: 'A Is For Aadvark' (series 1) and 'A Bum Raps' (series 2).

In the first one Samantha gives Darrin powers and it goes to his head. Ultimately he regrets having the powers and the scene where he asks Samantha to take the powers away is fantastic. Montgomery is superb and realistically emotional when she realises that Darrin is happy to be, well, just Darrin. Brilliantly acted. Just before they start speaking Dick York's face tells the whole truth of his unhappiness and it is his best moment in the series.

In the second one a case of mistaken identity causes Samantha and Darrin to take in a tramp who is in fact happily thinking of robbing them. All turns out well in the end and the tramp is a good guy at heart. In one scene he sings a touching version of 'When You Were Sweet Sixteen' to their daughter Tabatha and it is a lovely moment in the series.

All 8 series are out on DVD and is highly recommended viewing, these series are very relaxing to watch after a hard day at work.

Elizabeth Montgomery

Above: Elizabeth Montgomery as everybody's favourite witch.

In 1995 Montgomery was diagnosed with a form of cancer and she sadly died within a couple of months.

One of the most watched actors in television history, Montgomery endeared herself to audiences all over the world. One of the best actors ever, it is likely that Bewitched will still be entertaining many more generations to come.

Bewitched logo

Blakes 7

I recently watched the last episode again along with the DVD extras for Season 4. That last episode still packs a very powerful punch and perhaps second only to the last ever M*A*S*H episode as greatest series ending ever. I've watched Blake so many times and it remains brilliant.

Cheers

There was a time I was hooked on this series and I watched the first five series in particular many times. Now I find it hard to watch, I find Frasier more entertaining, and I struggle to watch it. I include it here as it certainly kept me entertained many times back in the 1980s.

Chocky

Based on John Wyndham's book, I did not like this series when it first aired in 1984 but watched it when it was released on DVD. I was hooked on it and I liked the two sequels too, 'Chocky's Children' and 'Chocky's Challenge'.

See my Chocky page

Clown White

A one-off 50 minute Canadian drama about an unhappy deaf boy who does not make friends easily and does not know how to communicate his frustraions other than by misbehaving. He meets a mime artist and his whole world changes.

Dad's Army

Another series that I have watched so many times that I find it difficult to watch again, and even less so since my father died as I used to enjoy watching this with him. It is a wonderful series though and I remain fond of both the characters and the cast who played them.

Dallas

The mini series, series 1 and 2 are brilliant, and the rest are good, bad and terrible. The series now known as series 11 on DVD almost killed my interest dead on original transmission but thankfully the series after that contained humour and I liked the series once more. I find it addictive to watch, and was pleased to see the series return in 2012. I liked the first two new series very much but struggled with the first half of series 3 as it was a repetition of plots from the original run. The 2nd half was better so was mildly disappointed to hear the series had been axed once more. I'd hoped it would come back for a rejuvenated 4th series but it wasn't to be.

Danger Man

Patrick McGoohan stars as John Drake, secret agent for Nato. It's a very finely crafted series, it has a look of expense which is rare in this kind of series and McGoohan himself is such a good actor it's hard to believe he hasn't been fully acknowledged for this.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore are well cast together as husband and wife in a very amiable, witty series.

Doctor Who

My favourite series of all, watched throughout my entire life and enjoyed immeasurably.

See My Favourite Doctor Who Stories        See Doctor Who's Not-So-Classic Moments

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
Fireball XL5
For The Love of Ada

I've always loved the film that was made in 1972 but it took to 1993 / 4 to see (most of) the 4 series that preceded it. I liked the series and was disappointed that UK Gold didn't show all of them (due to low ratings from what they said on their now defunct teletext service).

Finally the 4 series were released on DVD and I finally got to see all of them. The series is magnificent, with four incredibly good leads and a series brimming with pathos and adorable characters.

The Goodies

Imaginative wackiness. Why the bloody hell hasn't this been released properly on DVD?

Hill Street Blues

Still the best police series ever.

I Spy

Stylish, very intelligent and the two leads are very cool.

It's Your Move

A very funny US sitcom about a scheming teenager, Matthew, ably played by Jason Bateman, who constantly fools his mother, played by the fabulous Caren Kaye.  Tricia Cast plays daughter Julie who tries to wise her mum to what her brother is really like, whilst David Garrison (of 'Married With Children' fame) plays Matthew's arch rival.  A series that should have run for years but sadly only lasted one. This is a series I'd love to see released on DVD.

L A Law

The TV equivalent of a caffeine buzz achieved from drinking a gallon of coffee.

The Likely Lads/Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?
Lost In Space

Amazingly effective series which still endears itself to me due to it's dedicated cast.

Man In A Suitcase

Mean, moody McGill is soooo cool.

M*A*S*H

I rarely think of this as a comedy series, it's much more than that. Comedy drama doesn't even seem to cover it adequately. It's a series that didn't need a fake laugh track, and thanks go to The BBC for asking for episodes without that fake laugh track. Thank 20th Century Fox for releasing the DVDs with both sound tracks. I'd rather the episodes had been in production order but never mind, can't have it all. The DVD extras were entertaining and I only wish the documentary Making M*A*S*H had been included.

It took me to the 5th series to really get into the series on its original run, my dad and brother had been into it right from the start but I had found it too weird, too  morbid and was set during a war I had no knowledge about. But their persistence in watching it eventually paid off and I started watching properly during series 5. I loved Frank Burns and his character helped me stick with the series. I also liked all the other characters, but had not known Henry Blake or Trapper John.

I met the arrival of Charles Winchester III with a grimace as he was to me no Frank Burns, I missed Frank and Charles just seemed too snobby to be true. However, many years later and two viewings later, I have warmed to him and like him as much as the others.

I's have liked Radar to have remained with the series until the end, Gary Burghoff's portrayal of the clerk who effectively runs the unit is simply brilliant. It would have been nice to have seen him leave with the others. Never mind.

The last episode of the last series is simply the best ending to a series ever and has replaced Star Trek's City On The Edge of Forever as best episode of anything ever in my affections. Third is Blake's 7's last episode Blake.

My next favourite episode of M*A*S*H also comes from the last series and is titled Hey, Look Me Over. Kellye Nacahara's portrayal of Nurse Kellye is fabulous, touching and real such that we come to see Kellye as special at the same time Alan Alda's Hawkeye sees her for who she is. A beautiful episode that I've watched many times as a standalone episode. Kellye appeared many times in the series but this episode particularly grabbed me upon first viewing back in 1982.

Thanks to the BBC repeating (most of) the series as of 1986, I was able to catch up on Henry Blake and Trapper John. What surprised me was how much comedy there was in the earlier series', but there were seeds of what was to come. Sometimes You Hear The Bullet from series one is a stand-out moment, and a few in series 3 certainly showed signs that the series was beginning to mature. It took me a while to warm to Henry (I think he's excellent now) as he is so different from Colonel Potter but what a brilliant actor Maclean Stevenson was. His last episode is one I've watched many times, it's so affecting and powerful. The salute between Henry and Radar is so touching (and ad-libbed so I believe) that Henry's death soon after is even more devastating.

Trapper always seemed to play second fiddle to Hawkeye, I've never understood why the production team did this; the one episode in his 3 series, from series 3, in which he finally gets the spotlight is another highlight so why hadn't they done this before. It certainly foreshadows the arrival of B.J. who would get a good share of the spotlight. Should have happened with Trapper.

I like those first three series a lot, I've now watched them 3 times and there's a lot to like. I perhaps prefer series 4, 5 and 11 the most though, there were real attempts to show the audience different aspects to characters and with some very affecting episodes.

Fast forward to 2012 and I finally got to see a few episodes of sequel series After M*AS*H and I can see why it has been rarely seen, it seems old-fashioned humour and doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. The W*A*L*T*E*R pilot was also disappointing (almost slapstick comedy) but the master series remains one of the greatest achievements in television history. Just stop televising it with that darn fake laugh track.

The Monkees

Series 2 especially, although as a kid I'd preferred series 1.

Only Fools and Horses

Over-watched and I doubt I'll watch it again for many more years.

The Outer Limits
The Phil Silvers Show

Possibly the funniest comedy of them all.

The Prisoner

The only series I can honestly say contains no bad episodes. They are all classics.

Update 9th May 2014: actually, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling does seem to forget that our anti-hero has escaped the Village at least twice before and wasn't that fussed about dealing with an un-finished mission. Not so keen on this episode these days.

Robinson Crusoe

Seen a hundred times, a black and white classic, thankfully released on DVD.

Randall and Hopkirk (20th Century)

A fondly remembered series with a likeable cast.

Randall and Hopkirk (21st Century)

A likeable cast in remake of a fondly remembered series.


The Selfish Giant

Reader's Digest animated version of Oscar Wilde's charming story. Two other animated features in the series were The Happy Prince and The Little Mermaid.


Shoestring
Sons and Daughters

Excellent Australian soap featuring the Palmers and Hamilton families.

There are two fabulous websites to recommend, Sons and Daughters and Sons and Daughters.co.uk.

Star Trek (The original)

Second favourite episode of anything ever: City On The Edge Of Forever (absolute favourite is the last episode of M*A*S*H). This is a brilliant episode, with superb characterisation and with Joan Collins in excellent form as Edith Keeler.

Steptoe and Son
The Tomorrow People

Cheap, oh so cheap, sci-fi series that got cheaper-looking over eight series. The first three series are my favourites.

See my Tomorrow People page.

The Twilight Zone

The early episodes in particular give the appearance of being expertly made short movies. I even like the 1980's version.

Worzel Gummidge

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