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Made in Britain

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2015-10-31 Radio Times.jpg

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Dominic Sandbrook says the sun never sets on Britain's new empire of the imagination


WHAT ARE WE British really good at? A century ago, answering that question would have been easy. In 1915, Britain was still the world's greatest superpower,. a political and economic giant whose might rested on its naval supremacy, its titanic manufacturing industries and its vast colonial empire. Today all that is gone. But we do still command a mighty empire: an empire of the imagination.

It's hardly surprising that TV has played a crucial role in our mission to entertain. But I would go further: I think that in the last 70 years, nothing - not fiction, not pop music, not video games, not even film - has come close to rivalling the sheer power of the box. Today we are one of the world's greatest TV exporters: since 2011, we have sold six times more shows abroad than Germany, a country with a bigger population and bigger economy. Our cultural success is based partly on our penetration of the American market, where programmes from The Avengers to Downton Abbey have come to define not just Britain's global brand but Britishness itself.

Choosing my top ten programmes was inevitably arbitrary. I was surprised how many of my choices were made before I was born. But that tells its own story. Perhaps there is no more telling sign of TV's power to shape our national life and define our national character than the fact that, even today, so many people can still recite sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus, a show that ended when I was only two months old.


2 Doctor Who

1963-89, 1996, 2005-PRESENT

When I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s, most people regarded Doctor Who with a kind of amused contempt. I never imagined that one day my favourite programme would become a colossal international brand. That's testament to the brilliance of the basic idea, as well the skill with which it's been updated for a new century. The Doctor has become one of the great fictional embodiments of Britishness, rivalled only by Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. And the show itself - at once sentimental and spine-chilling, childishly silly and painfully earnest, unashamedly clever and unrepentantly populist - could surely only have been made in Britain.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Sandbrook, Dominic (2015-10-31). Made in Britain. Radio Times p. 28.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Sandbrook, Dominic. "Made in Britain." Radio Times [add city] 2015-10-31, 28. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Sandbrook, Dominic. "Made in Britain." Radio Times, edition, sec., 2015-10-31
  • Turabian: Sandbrook, Dominic. "Made in Britain." Radio Times, 2015-10-31, section, 28 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Made in Britain | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Made_in_Britain | work=Radio Times | pages=28 | date=2015-10-31 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Made in Britain | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Made_in_Britain | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 June 2024}}</ref>