Bitesize Episode 15 - Top Ten Most Popular All-time British TV Shows for Baby Boomers (Pt. 1)

Charlie Baxter

Listen to the episode

As you are a Premium Podcast Member you can use the transcripts or interactive podcast player for this episode. Enjoy!
As you are a member of The Academy you can use the transcripts or interactive podcast player for this episode. Enjoy!

What's this episode about?

In this episode, Charlie take a look at the most well known TV Shows in the UK for non-native to better understand pop culture and casual TV references that are likely to appear in conversation amongst baby boomers. We hope you enjoy the conversation!

Sign up to Charlie's FREE Email Lessons & Newsletter to never miss another episode at

By Charlie Baxter

The Bitesize Episodes
Please note: This transcript is only visible to you as you are logged in as a Premium / Academy member. Thank you for your support.

Transcript of Bitesize Ep 15 Transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Charlie Baxter. This is the British English podcast, the show for culture and language and all that stuff, mainly for non-Natives who are coming to the UK and wanting to better understand the folk that they'll be spending time with. I am British, but currently I live in Australia and because I live abroad, I tend to notice things that I might not have if I was still living in the U.K. And that's why I'm doing this this episode today. So this idea came to me after just having a normal conversation with one of my friends from back home in the UK, and I realised that there were at least a handful, if not more, you know, maybe even half a dozen. Maybe even a dozen. Probably not a dozen that's too many casual references to TV shows that we assumed both of us knew about. And I think it's little moments like these assumed commonalities between two or more people that make us feel that bit more comfortable when speaking with someone from our own country. Even if you have a shared language, the cultural aspect is a huge contributor to communication. And having been overseas for quite a few years now, that feeling is exaggerated for me. And I imagine that if I hadn't moved abroad, I wouldn't be as aware of this this feeling or sensation I have when when speaking with a British person, there's this immediate calmness in my in my communication or just my aura.

If you want to be all woo woo and stuff, just knowing that I can relate to that person in so many more ways than I can with somebody who who I don't know, they're the ins and outs of their upbringing, basically. I mean, don't get me wrong, I probably prefer speaking to somebody who I don't have the same background with to better understand their culture and all that. But yeah, there's a certain comfort that I unconsciously feel. And while I'm aware that I'm stating the obvious for many of you, that culture plays a big part in conversation, you know, that's that's fairly obvious. But this phone call I had with my friend really reminded me of the importance of pop culture and specifically television and the culture behind TV shows. So I thought, wouldn't it be good if I could help British English learners with a short cut or cheat sheet to TV culture so that you can either be simply aware of the common references? Or if what I have to say about a certain show tickles your fancy meaning, it sounds nice for you. You can then go and binge watch all of those episodes and then be that bit more in touch with British culture. And let's face it, we all loved it when we were at school and our homework was to watch a good film or TV programme. Oh, delightful, wasn't it? No maths exercises, geography quizzes or to prep for spelling bees.

You can just kick back, relax and unwind with a good bit of telly and call it homework. Your mum says, well, homework. If you got this evening, I've got to watch some telly. The generation above mine might look at that and think that's why your generation are soft, because you were given homework* to watch TV. We didn't have it too often. Just, you know, when you had a shit teacher for a bit or a temp, maybe not that all temps are bad. Anyway, I'm waffling.

So let's get into the episode. We're going to count down through the top ten most popular all time TV shows in the UK alongside my commentary slash drivel. And it's going to be spread over a few bite size episodes, I think, because we've got multiple generations to look at.

Charlie's alter ego:
But why do we need to look at different generations, Charlie?

Well, each generation has their own TV shows that were more popular for them. So let's say we have the baby boomers born in 1946 and 1964 around about, you know, if you were 1945, you could probably still call yourself a baby boomer. But technically, apparently, you know, but yeah, baby boomers, mid 40s to mid 60s. The next generation we call generation X, generation X I quite like that. I'd like to be a Gen Xer and they were mid 60s, up till mid eighties or early 80s apparently. And then in come my generation, the millennials and that's it. There we go.

Charlie's alter ego:
Hang on, Charlie, there's more than just three generations, don't you know?

That is true. But we all know anyone born after 2000 is just watching TikTok and those born before 1946 are considered a vegetable or six feet under.

I'm joking. That was rude. I love and respect all generations, but this website I'm using only provides the data on those three generations. So that is that. And today we will be going through the top 10 most popular all time TV shows in the UK for drumroll please... baby boomers.

I've had a bit of coffee. Can you tell? We'll be doing baby boomers and then we'll get to Gen X and Millennials in later episodes. But here we go, top 10 TV shows in the UK for baby boomers. So keep in mind, anything on this list is for, well, let's say 1964. So anyone older than 55 years old in the UK, if you're talking to them and TV comes up, they will be very comfortable talking about these shows. Here we go.

Charlie's Promotional Voice:
This episode comes with a free worksheet over on the website, the British English podcast, dot com. So grab that and you can listen along whilst using it.

Coming in at number 10 for British baby boomers is Fawlty Towers, Fawlty Towers. Now, I'm tempted to assume that you've seen this show before, but my one-to-ones and weekly speaking classes with my podcast's Academy members helps me gauge what is and isn't common knowledge across the world.

And yeah, I reckon that not everyone would know what Fawlty Towers is. So here we go. John Cleese was the main man you'll want to associate with this show. And I mean, you might just want to Google him, but if you don't know of his work like Fawlty Towers, then maybe you'll know of his voice through Shrek. He was in Shrek. He was also in Harry Potter. He was the ghost called Nearly Headless Nick. And he also featured in a James Bond film called Die Another Day. But yeah, so he is probably one of the most famous comedy actors in the UK that is still alive. And Fawlty Towers and Monty Python were the things that got him famous, really. So he's a personality that everyone in the UK should know. And he was the face and brains behind Fawlty Towers. There are other people I should technically mention, but I'm here to give you the non-native cheat sheet to our pop culture and not an extensive revision list. So I'll be cutting corners. So as broadcast in the late 70s, Fawlty Towers was. But even the millennials, my generation have seen this one. And what amazed me about this show was that it was only 12 episodes. It was split between two seasons, two really short seasons in my understanding of how long a season should be.

So six episodes per season, just two of them. And it's so famous. To set the scene. I'd like you to imagine a bed and breakfast hotel in a coastal town in the south west of England that often felt very cold and and grey or overcast. Which coming to think of it is a little odd as that part of England is is more likely to get slightly less gloomy weather. I wonder if they filmed it somewhere else, actually. Let me let me just check out, OK, so, yeah, they filmed it near London or in the greater London area and nothing was actually filmed in the south west of England. OK, yeah. And it also says they were so keen on every script being perfect that some episodes took four months to complete the script and they required as many as 10 draughts until they were satisfied. And yeah so John Cleese, he was one of the main writers and he played the main character called Basil Fawlty, who owns this mediocre to terrible bed and breakfast, who was constantly just trying to get through the day without any drama. But he always ended up in the thick of it and often dragged his employees down with him throughout the story in the episode and thinking about it, all he was trying to do was to save the day without letting his wife in on the problems at hand, the main characters that I hear often getting a mention were Manuel and Basil.

Polly was also another main character, as was Sybil. Sybil was Basil's wife, but they were fairly usual characters. Polly and Sybil there's not too much to say about them I don't think. Manuel was Spanish and had a very low level of English and and that often led to Basil being more and more outraged as the episode went on and often ending with him showing a questionable side to his managerial skills by getting physically aggressive with Manuel. So, yeah, if there's ever an outraged Caucasian English boss and a Spanish employee that doesn't understand them, I imagine a lot of baby boomers will start thinking and perhaps referencing Fawlty Towers or Manuel and Basil in this situation. So if you have an amazing show, I laughed a lot at this one of my favourites, I highly recommend if you haven't seen Fawlty Towers already and. Yeah. If you have to apologies for explaining the obvious for you, but now you know, it's one of the top 10 shows that baby boomers will know about and be comfortable referencing in daily conversation.

Charlie's Promotional Voice:
Remember, if you want transcripts of this podcast, then head over to the website and get a huge amount of video lessons, pronunciation, practise, quizzes, assignments, bonus content and much, much more, that will ensure you get comfortable using the advanced language in these episodes. Then head over to the British English podcast Dotcom. Coming in at number nine is Morecambe and Wise, Morecambe and Wise, a comedic double act that have been described as and if your name is Ant or Dec, then you might want to block your ears for this part, they have been described as the most illustrious and the best loved double act that Britain has ever produced.

My dad, being a baby boomer, has always referenced them and I never really get them or appreciated why his references were quote unquote funny. Of course, being his son, it's partly my duty to find his jokes embarrassingly unfunny, but I imagine his generation will get any reference to Morecambe and Wise. In fact, I'm going to watch some of their stuff now and report back to you. So hold on. Okay, so, hmm, it's a bit dated for me to enjoy, to be honest, I laughed a couple of times after watching 15 minutes of their best bits. Their TV stuff seems to mainly be sketches, and I might need to explain this. So sketch comedy comprises of a series of short, amusing five to ten minute scenes, and they're performed by a handful of comedians or comic actors. And the scenes are often lightly scripted, but then heavily improvised, meaning they make the story up as they go and audiences seem to enjoy it when the situation becomes too random or unplanned for the actors to the point where they start to crack a smile and break out of character. So, yeah, in a nutshell, the Morecambe and Wise show was a sketch comedy filled with puns and sexual innuendos.

Coming in at number eight of the top 10 most popular All-Time TV shows in the U.K. for baby boomers is open all hours. Honestly, the name of this show didn't ring any bells for me, however, after pulling some footage up. This was definitely on in the background at some point during my upbringing and looking at some of the stuff on YouTube is actually making me want to watch it properly because some of the scenes are absolutely hilarious. David Jason, who I'd say is a bit of a national treasure, I believe he got an OBE which stands for an officer of the most excellent order of the British Empire. Bloody hell I sound like an imperialist, don't I? I wonder how you can get an OBE. Let me see. Well, it says here a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations and public service outside the civil service. So people who get an OBE are either very talented or very selfless in the eyes of the Queen. I'm going to rephrase that. Who else has an OBE? OK, J.K. Rowling, David Beckham. Frank Lampard. OK, fair enough. Yeah, he was it was a good footballer. Keira Knightley, the actress, and Damon Albarn from Blur. He was he was given an OBE apparently as well. Anyway, back to open all hours. Open All Hours. Number eight on the list for baby boomers.

The setting of this show is a small grocer's shop, so a small shop that sells fruit and veg, which is becoming less and less popular now thanks to the supermarkets. But this small grocer shop was in Doncaster or Doncaster, which for people from around London is considered as very north. But yeah, it's South Yorkshire near Sheffield. And just so you know, the general stereotype, again, for people from around London is that Doncaster, Doncaster, as they would say, the A sound is not the most desirable city (town*) to live in. Let's just leave it at that again, stereotypes. And how can I explain this unfavourable stereotype that might not be accurate? I haven't been to the city. I don't know. But yeah, it was formerly a coal mining industry. But service sector jobs have replaced the industry over the years. So, yeah, they're no longer down the mines picking up coal with their bare hands. But the joke between the north and the south largely revolves around this kind of stereotype of, you know, being in the mines still. It's overdone and people find it annoying. But then again, you'll still find people using it as a way to have a bit of banter. And generally Brits we love to to, you know, take the piss out of ourselves. And I imagine if the person that you're talking to does have a good sense of humour, would find it incredibly funny if you as the non-native at a little dig at them for still being stuck in the coal mines. But yeah, just make sure that none of their ancestors got stuck down a mine and buried alive.

So, yes, open all hours, a small grocer's shop. And the owner was called Arkwright. And this was played by Ronnie Barker, another one of those with an OBE who will surely be mentioned near the top 10 of this list. And he was a middle aged man with a stammer. And hopefully you get the meaning of that word from that delivery, if not become a premium or academy member. And I'll be explaining it for you. And despite having a stammer, he apparently had a knack for selling. And then his nephew, Granville David Jason, who I mentioned earlier, is his put upon errand boy who claims his work schedule for his lacklustre social life good word there kind of meaning uninspiring, lacklustre, not very good social life. And then Arkwright, the grocer, has an obsession with a nurse who lives across the street. And again, from the complications that I just watched to jog my memory, the humour is very sexualised, but nothing too vulgar. It's really what I think the baby boomer generation liked about British comedy in in their day. It was all very clever word play around sexual stuff that allowed the adults to enjoy the naughtiness of it in front of their kids. And because it was so indirect, it was still maybe what they would consider as sophisticated humour.

Whereas if I sat down and watched a show like The Inbetweeners that I'll talk about when the Millennials get their say, if I watch The Inbetweeners with my dad today, I can't imagine he would like it that much because of its direct suggestions to sexual things and to put words in his mouth. Perhaps he would think it's lacking in skill or subtlety. And I get this feeling that they see their generation's comedy as in a in a weird metaphor, as if it was dancing around the genitals but never actually touching them. You know, a bit like a soft porn film, always allowing your imagination to fill in the blanks if you want it to.

Okay, so that was open all hours and I really recommend it. From what I remember, I found it really funny and I'd like to watch it again.

Wow, that was meant to be a bite sized episode, so we've only got through three of the top ten, but we'll have to leave it there because we've run out of time. So we'll continue the list in a future bite sized episode. But I hope you've enjoyed this rundown. We had Fawlty Towers, then we had The Morecambe and Wise show and then we had Open All Hours. So these three shows are very popular amongst people who are 55 years and older as of this recording, which was in 2021.

I recommend having a look at these shows. I didn't love The Morecambe and Wise Show. As I said, it was a little bit dated in my opinion, but you might enjoy it. So, yeah, enjoy those three shows and then come back here for the next load of shows. Counting down the top 10 most popular All-Time TV shows in the UK for baby boomers. \

Charlie's Promotional Voice:
Do me a favour if you haven't gone to the website yet. The British English podcast Dotcom and signed up for free to get a taste of the academy, then please do. It's a it's a win win situation. You'll get a lot from it and if you like it, then you have a whole season of academy content to enjoy for an affordable price. So, yes, head over there, try the free sample, learn a lot and then decide if you want to sign up and get access to weekly speaking classes. The learners I have in the academy are doing amazing and I'm really, really happy with the progress that they're seeing in themselves. So if you wanted to join a programme that really helps you level up your English and get active with weekly speaking classes, then head over to the British English podcast dot com. My name's Charlie Baxter. You're listening to the British English podcast. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. And I'll see you next week to continue helping you better understand British English and British culture. Bye for now.

access the free content

Get the FREE worksheet to not forget all these useful tips.

Thank you!

The Academy Speaking Classes

Write your awesome label here.
Get involved in Charlie's brand new weekly speaking calls when you join
The Academy Monthly/Annual Membership.
These Weekly Speaking Calls are fast becoming the favourite part of Charlie's week,
given that the Academy members are so kind, fun and positive towards each other.
↓ Read more below to learn about The Academy ↓

Do you want to join the best online course
 for British culture and British English?

Get access to The British English Podcast Academy
Already a member of The Academy? Sign in here


Drag to resize
1. You struggle to understand British people, their humour and accents!

2. You find it hard to measure your progress when learning English?

3. You want to learn to speak with confidence in front of British people?

4. You find it hard to keep up with multiple speakers in a conversation.

5. You’re looking for an easy to use step-by-step plan to help you improve your English?

If you answered yes, then you already know how challenging it is to keep improving your English after reaching a conversational level!

Don't worry! There's a solution and I think you're going to love it!

What students are saying about The Academy

Student reviews
"Charlie's podcast and academy is easy to follow and helps me remember every word he teaches by following the quizzes and exercises. He is such a good teacher with specific plans for his own lessons who knows the difficulties of a non-native english learner like me."
Hsu Lai
Pharmacist, Myanmar
"The Academy is a very good place to be in! It makes you naturally gravitate towards fluency! Thanks so much for the castle you are wisely building brick after brick, the Academy is just great."
Drag to resize
"It's evident that Charlie has put so much effort into The Academy and I will definitely recommend The British English Podcast to anyone wanting to improve their English and to my subscribers on Instagram! The Academy is really easy to use and it has a lot of useful tasks."
English Teacher, Russia
Charlie is very good at showing people when the new words and phrases can be used. It helps me to really apply the phrases in the future. The rise and fall of his voice also makes the content more interesting as I can feel the different emotions from him.


Want the transcripts?

Access the manually edited transcripts using the world's leading interactive podcast transcript player and get your hands on the
full glossary and flashcards for this episode!
  • Downloadable Transcripts
  • Interactive Transcript Player
  • Flashcards
  • Full Glossary 

Transcript of SAMPLE Premium Podcast Player

Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

Full Length Episodes

Interactive Transcript Player


Downloadable Transcripts

Never miss an episode!

Join the Podcast Newsletter to get weekly updates on newly published shows, courses and more right in your mailbox.
Keep an eye on your email inbox. 😉

Listen to the show on-the-go wherever you get your podcasts.

Drag to resize

Not sure of your 
English level?

Take the free English test, it only takes a few
minutes and you'll receive your results immediately

Latest Post on The British English Podcast Blog:

FREE Resources

All you need to do is to sign up for FREE and all the resources below are available for you to enjoy!

About Your Teacher

Charlie Baxter

Teacher, Podcast Host, YouTuber
Charlie is the host and creator of The British English Podcast & Academy. He has also been an active YouTube English Teacher since 2016 but after seeing how many of his students wanted a more structured, carefully designed way to study he decided to create The British English Podcast Academy.

It focuses on British culture, informal expressions, accent and history that is all unique to the UK.

Charlie has spent 6000+ hours teaching intermediate-advanced students since 2014 privately on Skype and has seen a lot of different styles of learning and while he believes there will never be a single CORRECT way to improve your English there are a large number of methods that people use that do waste people's time and prevent them from improving quickly.

So Charlie decided to create The Academy because he believes he knows a VERY effective way to improve your English quickly and enjoyably.