Parkinson, The Crown and Brideshead Revisited: Yorkshire programmes in the top 50 from the last 50 years

Yorkshire programmes feature prominently alongside reality programmes Big Brother and mockumentary The Office which have been named as among the top 50 landmark programmes from the last half-century.

Members from the Broadcasting Press Guild were asked for the “shows that changed broadcasting, influenced how we look at the world and made us laugh or think in a new way” during the last 50 years and the rankings are formed from their selections.

Chat show Parkinson – hosted by the Sir Michael Parkinson from Barnsley – featured highly as did The Crown and Brideshead Revisited, much of which were filmed in Yorkshire.

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Number one on the list is ITV and BBC documentary series Up, which began as Seven Up! in 1964 and took a look at a selection of British people’s lives from when they were children to adulthood.

Brideshead Revisited - Diana Quick (centre) with Anthony Andrews (left) and Jeremy Irons outside Castle Howard in this 1979 photograph. Photograph by Mike CowlingBrideshead Revisited - Diana Quick (centre) with Anthony Andrews (left) and Jeremy Irons outside Castle Howard in this 1979 photograph. Photograph by Mike Cowling
Brideshead Revisited - Diana Quick (centre) with Anthony Andrews (left) and Jeremy Irons outside Castle Howard in this 1979 photograph. Photograph by Mike Cowling

Sir David Attenborough’s BBC nature programme Life On Earth, which first ran in 1979, came in at second while ITV’s 1973 series The World At War, documenting the Second World War, came third.

Taking fourth place was The Office, written, starring and created by comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, which spawned the career of The Hobbit film series star Martin Freeman and created the comic character of Wernham Hogg boss David Brent.

The series also spawned an American version, starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski and Ed Helms.

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In at number five is Channel 4’s Big Brother, a ratings favourite from the start in the year 2000 when Davina McCall was host. The first series brought controversial TV moments involving contestant Nick Bateman, dubbed “Nasty” by the media.

Sir Michael Parkinson. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)Sir Michael Parkinson. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Sir Michael Parkinson. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The show moved to Channel 5 in 2010 and was scrapped in 2018 before ITV revived it in 2023. This year, it also brought back the celebrity version, with former X Factor judges Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh among the housemates.

BPG chair Manori Ravindran said: “In our 50 years, members of the Broadcasting Press Guild have been the tastemakers of the British TV industry.

“As such, it felt appropriate to celebrate this milestone birthday with a Top 50 list reflecting the programmes we believe have created landmark TV moments or have been truly significant to the industry over that time.”

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The BBC leads the BPG top 50 landmark programmes of the last 50 years list with 31 shows while ITV and Channel 4 have nine each, while Sky, Netflix and Disney+ also appear.

Dramas make up the bulk of content while comedies and documentaries also place on the rankings.

The BBC rounds out the rest of the top 10 with Sir David’s nature documentary Planet Earth, and comedy panel show Have I Got News For You starring Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and comedian Paul Merton, in at number six and seven, respectively.

In at number eight is Michaela Coel’s consent drama I May Destroy You, while Dennis Potter’s surreal serial The Singing Detective starring Sir Michael Gambon makes ninth place, and comedy show The Day Today – which was created by Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci and launched the on-screen career of Steve Coogan – comes in at number 10.

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Iannucci – for BBC political satire The Thick Of It – and Coogan – for the corporation’s I’m Alan Partridge – are among those who appear more than once in the rankings, including Sir David.

Other BBC shows in the top 50 are psychological game The Traitors and celebrity competition Strictly Come Dancing as well as comedies Blackadder, Fleabag, The Royle Family, Goodness Gracious Me, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Only Fools And Horses, as well as dramas House Of Cards, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Grange Hill and Pride And Prejudice.

Channel 4’s cookery competition The Great British Bake-Off, TV commenting series Gogglebox, drama This is England and comedy Derry Girls were also mentioned.

The Broadcasting Press Guild, which was founded in 1974, marks its 50th anniversary this year.

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