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25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed

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2000-09-06 Daily Telegraph.jpg


THE television industry's favourite British programme is Fawlty Towers, according to a poll published yesterday.

The BBC comedy series, whose 12 episodes have been repeated up to 10 times since was made in 1975, topped a list of 100 programmes compiled for the British Film Institute.

The popular belief that television is becoming worse appears to be shared by those in the industry. The upper reaches of the survey - which questioned 1,600 programme makers, television executives and critics - contained barely a handful of programmes made in the past decade.

The top five covered a variety of programme types, with the gritty 1966 BBC drama Cathy Come Home voted runner-up, followed by Doctor Who, which ran from 1963 to 1989.

Next came the 1975 Thames Television drama The Naked Civil Servant and Monty Python's Flying Circus, which appeared from 1969 to 1974.

Predictably, the BBC dominated the list, accounting for 17 of the top 20 programmes.

In the top 10, the BBC also accounted for Blue Peter, the 1982 drama Boys From The Blackstuff, Parkinson, and the Eighties political comedy Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister. Granada's lavish 1981 adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited came tenth. Blue Peter was one of only two programmes in the list which began in the Fifties and are still going strong today - the other, This Is Your Life, was at number 85.

Other timeless favourites in the BBC's comedy catalogue fared less well than Fawlty Towers: Dad's Army was 13th, Porridge 35th and Steptoe and Son only 44th.

Television soaps may win huge ratings but they fared badly - Coronation Street came a lowly 40th while its BBC rival, EastEnders, did not even make the list.

Announcing the results, the broadcaster, Michael Parkinson, said: "The particular significance of this list of programmes is that it reflects the votes of the television industry, those involved in programme making, and they can be a tough audience to satisfy."

John Teckman, the director of the BFI, said the list amounted to a "wonderful celebration of quintessentially British programmes which have entertained us over the years". He added: "It serves as a timely reminder that we have a television heritage to be proud of."

The top 100 TV shows

1. Fawlty Towers (BBC)

2. Cathy Come Home (The Wednesday Play)(BBC)

3. Doctor Who (BBC)

4. The Naked Civil Servant (ITV)

5. Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC)

6. Blue Peter (BBC)

7. Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC)

8. Parkinson (BBC)

9. Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (BBC)

10. Brideshead Revisited (ITV)

11. Abigail's Party (Play For Today) (BBC)

12. I, Claudius (BBC)

13. Dad's Army (BBC)

14. The Morecambe and Wise Show (BBC)

15. Edge of Darkness (BBC)

16. Blackadder Goes Forth (BBC)

17. Absolutely Fabulous (BBC)

18. The Wrong Trousers (BBC)

19. The World at War (ITV)

20. The Singing Detective (BBC)

21. Pennies from Heaven (BBC)

22. The Jewel in the Crown (ITV)

23. Who wants to be a Millionaire? (IN)

24. Hancock/Hancock's Half Hour (BBC)

25. Our Friends in the North (BBC)

26. 28 Up (ITV)

27. The War Game (The Wednesday Play) (BBC)

28. The Magic Roundabout (BBC)

29. That Was The Week That Was (BBC)

30. An Englishman Abroad (BBC)

31. The Royle Family (BBC)

32. Life on Earth (BBC)

33. The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC)

34. University Challenge (ITV/BBC)

35. Porridge

36. Blue Remembered Hills (Play For today) (BBC)

37. Mastermind (BBC)

38. I'm Alan Partridge (BBC)

39. Cracker (ITV)

40. Coronation Street (ITV)

41. Top of the Pops (BBC)

42. Inspector Morse (ITV)

43. Grange Hill (BBC)

44. Steptoe and See (BBC)

45. Only Fools and Horses (BBC)

46. Auf Wiedersehen Pet, series one

47. Tiswas (ITV)

48. Elgar (Ken Russell - Monitor) (BBC) 49. Nuts in May (Play For Today) (BBC)

50. Father Ted (C4)

51. The Avengers (ITV)

52. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC)

53. The Forsyte Saga (BBC)

54. Hillsborough (ITV)

55. Dennis Potter: The Last interview (Without Walls special) (C4)

56. Bar Mitzvah Boy (Play for Today) (BBC)

57. Edna, The inebriate Woman (Play for Today) (BBC)

58. Live Aid (BBC)

59. World in Action (ITV)

60. Thunderbirds (ITV)

61. Talking Heads/Talking Heads Two (BBC)

62. Ready, Steady, God (ITV)

63. Z Cars (BBC)

64. Culloden (BBC)

65. Ascent of Man (BBC)

66. A Very British Coup (04)

67. Civilisation (BBC)

68. Prime Suspect (ITV)

69. The Likely Lads/Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (BBC)

70. Have I Got News For You? (BBC)

71. The Snowman (04)

72. Walking with Dinosaurs (BBC)

73. Nineteen Eighty- Four (BBC)

74. The Fail and Rise of Reginald Perrin (BBC)

75. Quatermass and the Pit (BBC)

76. Between the Lines (BBC)

77. Blind Date (ITV)

78. Talking to a Stranger (BBC)

79. The Borrowers 113BC)

80. One Foot in the Grave (BBC)

81. Later with Jools Holland (BBC)

82. Tutti Frutti (BBC)

83. The Knowledge (ITV)

84. House of Cards (BBC)

85. This is Your Life (BBC/ITV)

86. The Tube

87. The Death of Yugoslavia 1880;

88. Till Death Do Us Part (BBC)

89. A Very Peculiar Practice (BBC)

90. Michael Moore's TV Nation (BBC)

91. This Life (BBC)

92. Death on the Rock (This Week) (ITV)

93. The Nazis (A Warning From History) (BBC)

94. Drop the Dead Donkey

95. Arena (BBC)

96. The Railway Children (BBC)

97. Teletubbies (BBC)

98. Spitting Image (ITV)

99. Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

100. Made in Britain (ITV)

Caption: Clockwise from top left: Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister, Brideshead Revisited, Cathy Come Home, Boys from the Blackstuff. Blue Peter, Doctor Who, The Naked Civil Servant, and Parkinson

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Leonard, Tom (2000-09-06). 25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed. The Daily Telegraph p. 4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Leonard, Tom. "25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 2000-09-06, 4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Leonard, Tom. "25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 2000-09-06
  • Turabian: Leonard, Tom. "25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed." The Daily Telegraph, 2000-09-06, section, 4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed | url=,_Basil_Fawlty%27s_antics_cannot_be_surpassed | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages=4 | date=2000-09-06 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 November 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=25 years on, Basil Fawlty's antics cannot be surpassed | url=,_Basil_Fawlty%27s_antics_cannot_be_surpassed | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 November 2023}}</ref>