As BBC Three makes the move from a linear TV channel to an online only platform, I’ve decided to look back on the channel’s 13-year history and pick out my 10 favourite shows.
Of course the channel will continue to make programmes, and hopefully some of those will break through when they’re repeated on BBC One/Two, but for me BBC Three will always be about these 10 shows (in date order)…
Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (2001-2011)
There are three programmes I instantly think of when people mention BBC Three, and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps is one of them – despite it originally starting on BBC Two in 2001, then BBC Choice before settling on BBC Three for eight years in 2003.
The series followed a group of twenty-somethings in Runcorn, and featured a great cast including Will Mellor, Ralf Little, Natalie Casey, Kathryn Drysdale, Luke Gell and of course national treasure Sheridan Smith!
Little Britain (2003-2007)
Another show I always think of when someone mentions BBC Three is Little Britain, which started out on BBC Three in 2003, making household names of its creators and stars, David Walliams and Matt Lucas, before moving to BBC One from 2005.
The show originally started off as a BBC Radio 4 series before making the transition to TV, and was a sketch show which poked fun at British people, with larger-than-life characters.
Characters which include Vicky “Yeah, but no, but” Pollard, Carol “Computer says no” Beer, Daffyd “Only gay in the village” Thomas, Dennis “Write the theme tune, sing the theme tune” Waterman, leader of Fat Fighters, Marjorie Dawes and of course Lou and Andy!
Ideal ran for seven series, yet so many people haven’t even heard of it. Moz, played by Johnny Vegas is a small-time cannabis dealer and most of the series takes place inside his Salford flat.
The flat is where people come to either score or to hang out, including PC Phil Collins, played by Tom Goodman-Hill, who is Moz’s biggest supplier, regularly handing over weed which he had seized on various raids.
When I spoke to Johnny Vegas in 2013 he told me “I’ve been trying for like four or five months to sit down with Graham (Duff) and find out what’s happening on that, but he’s locked away, I’m locked away but it’ll be nice for us all to get closure.” – Fingers crossed!
Gavin & Stacey (2007-2010)
One of my favourite sitcoms of all time is Gavin & Stacey, which began on BBC Three before moving to BBC One for the Christmas special and third and final series.
The series made stars out of Mathew Horne, James Corden, Joanna Page and Ruth Jones as it told the love story of 28 year-old Gavin (Mathew Horne) from Billericay in Essex and 23 year-old Stacey (Joanna Page) from Barry in Wales.
Having spoken on the phone for months, they agree to meet up in London and go on a double-date. Gavin brings his best friend Smithy (James Corden) and Stacey brings her best friend Nessa (Ruth Jones). The night ends back at the hotel where both couples sleep with each other, Gavin and Stacey in the bedroom and Smithy and Nessa in the bathroom… classy!
And it all sort of evolves from there. Gavin and Stacey get married, and the final series ends with Stacey finding out that she is pregnant!
Picking a favourite moment from Gavin & Stacey is difficult but one which always sticks in my mind is Smithy and his sister Rudi (Sheridan Smith) singing Estelle and Kanye West’s American Boy down the phone to Gavin.
There’s ALWAYS talk about the possibility of Gavin & Stacey returning… whether it will or not is anyone’s guess (they’re all pretty busy) but it sure would be good to find out what sort of parents Gavin and Stacey turn out to be and whether or not Smithy and Nessa stayed together!
Him & Her (2010-2013)
Him & Her was an excellent sitcom that ran for four series and followed young couple Becky and Steve, played by Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey and their bedsit in Walthamstow. They’re both lazy, and neither of them work, but that doesn’t seem to bother them, they’re both happy to just laze around the flat all day.
Then there’s Becky’s sister, Laura, played by Kerry Howard. She’s not exactly Steve’s biggest fan, finding him odd, and when it comes to her own partner, fiancé Paul (Ricky Champ) she’s not overly keen on him either but she enjoys the glamour of being with him… So much so in fact, that the fourth and final series of Him & Her is stretched across Laura and Paul’s wedding day, with Becky playing bridesmaid and Steve as best man.
My favourite thing about Him & Her was how real it was, a real-life relationship played out in the most beautiful way. The characters were never overplayed, the storylines were as believable as you can get and the jokes came out of the way the characters interacted with one another and often it was the smaller moments which were the funniest.
Will Him & Her ever return? I hope so… there’s definitely potential.
Bad Education (2012-2014)
Running for three series (and a movie spin-off), Bad Education is BBC Three’s most recent success story when it comes to sitcoms. At the time, the series broke BBC Three’s record for the highest-rated first episode of a comedy.
Set in the fictional Abbey Grove school, the sitcom stars Jack Whitehall (who also co-wrote the series), as the worst teacher ever Alfie Wickers, Mathew Horne as Fraser, the school’s headmaster and Sarah Solemani as biology teacher Miss Gulliver.
Bad Education also has a fantastic ensemble cast making up Alfie’s class; Layton Williams as Stephen Carmichael, Nikki Runeckles as Chantelle Parsons, Kae Alexander as Jing Hua, Ethan Lawrence as Joe Poulter, Charlie Wernham as Mitchell Harper, Jack Binstead as Leslie Remington, Jack Bence as Frank Grayson and in series three, Weruche Opia as Cleopatra Ofoedo.
With each series, Bad Education got better and better and it was a shame when the series ended, but as the saying goes “All good things must come to an end”.
In The Flesh (2013-2014)
When In The Flesh launched in 2013 with a pilot/first series (it was only three episodes), I was hooked right away, and could see the long-term potential in Dominic Mitchell’s brilliantly inspired story.
In The Flesh was set in the fictional village of Roarton in Lancashire and depicts life after “The Rising”. Luke Dewberry is outstanding as deceased teenaged Kieren Walker who after being given medication and rehabilitation by the government is able to be reintroduced into society.
They are officially referred to as sufferers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) or “rotters” depending on who you ask! Many are haunted by returning memories of the atrocities they committed while rabid, and face prejudice from the villagers when they return and that’s where the real drama begins!
I’m not really one for zombie dramas or anything that has to suspend my disbelief for too long, so my praise for In The Flesh is high praise indeed! The old BBC Three could only commit to one drama a year so decided to axe the series, something the fans online did not take kindly to.
There have been numerous calls for the likes of Netflix or Amazon to pick up the series and last year Dominic Mitchell hinted that there could be an In The Flesh film on the way! Read that story here.
Whatever the outcome of In The Flesh it would be a shame for it to be left where it was, there is so much potential with where the series could go and with such a strong online community, I have a feeling the series will rise again (see what I did there?)!
Murdered By My Boyfriend (2014)
Murdered By My Boyfriend was a incredibly powerful one-off drama which told true story of a young woman who falls for the wrong guy, losing her heart to a man who eventually takes her life. All incidents in the drama reflected what really happened, but with names changed at the request of the victim’s family.
The girl, Ashley, is just 17 years old and is played brilliantly by Georgina Campbell. She falls head over heels for Reece (Royce Pierreson, Misfits) after meeting at a party. He’s charming, handsome, older, and makes her feel like the only girl in a room. But he is also insecure, jealous and he’ll try to control every aspect of her life.
Murdered By My Boyfriend isn’t the easiest of watches, but it’s possibly the most important. With consolidated ratings of 3.5m when it first aired on BBC Three, the drama has since been repeated several times on BBC Three and BBC One, and if you haven’t seen it yet, PLEASE DO.
So brilliant was Georgina Campbell’s performance in Murdered By My Boyfriend, that it was named Best Single Drama at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2014, and last year (2015) Georgina, beat the likes of Sheridan Smith to win Best Leading Actress at the Television BAFTAs.
People Just Do Nothing (2014-Present)
People Just Do Nothing is a Mockumentary which began as an online pilot in 2012 as part of the BBC’s Comedy Feeds before becoming two very successful BBC Three series.
The series follows the lives of those running a West London pirate radio station called Kurupt FM including founder, MC Grindah (played by Allan Mustafa), his friend DJ Beats (played by Hugo Chegwin and their friend/Kurupt FM DJ, Decoy (played by Daniel Sylvester Woodford).
If I had to pick a favourite character, it would have to be Chabuddy G (played by Asim Chaudhry), a local entrepreneur who runs an internet cafe and has big ambitions in life, but often falls at the execution. The series also touches on their home lives and Lily Brazier plays Miche, Grindah’s long-term girlfriend and mother of their daughter, Angel.
The mockumentary style is one that has been used may a time since the success of The Office, but none apart from People Just Do Nothing has made me feel the same way I did when I first watched The Office, and that’s that I believed it was a real documentary.
Thankfully BBC Three’s move online doesn’t seem to have damaged the chances for People Just Do Nothing to succeed, as a third series is on the way which means it will of course be repeated on BBC One or Two at a later date, which can only be a good thing.
Murder In Successville (2015-Present)
Last year, it was definitely a case of save the best ’til last for BBC Three, as they launched Murder In Successville, a clever improvisational comedy/murder mystery, in which Tom Davis plays DI Sleet.
Each episode sees DI Sleet partnered with a different celebrity sidekick, who has to solve a murder that has been committed in the fictitious Successville.
The first series saw Dermot O’Leary, Louis Smith, Jamie Laing, Deborah Meaden, Kimberly Wyatt and Greg James all sign up for the challenge… each with varying levels of success, but each wonderfully entertaining. If I had to pick a favourite it’s a toss up between Jamie Laing and Deborah Meaden.
The good news, is that although BBC Three might be moving online, they’ve decided to take Murder In Successville with them and a second series will begin later this year with Chris Kamara, Vicky Pattison, George Shelley, Mark Wright and Emma Bunton all having a go alongside DI Sleet.
To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement!