British TV dramas, with their unique sense of humor, delicate plots and rich cultural connotations, are attracting more Chinese audiences, especially young people. As they say, those who watch British series despise those who watch American ones; the Americans despise those who watch Japanese shows; and the Japanese disdains those who watch South Korean ones. Let's have a look at some of the most popular British TV shows in China.
Talking about the top ranking British TV series, Sherlock will be definitely on the list. According to statistics provided by Youku.com, the video website where the TV program was initially released with Chinese subtitles, viewership for Sherlock's third season premiere totaled 89.73 million people, making it one of the most popular TV shows on the web.
The BBC-produced videos are based on the classic detective stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and yet this time the setting is moved from the 19th century to the 21st century. The actors portraying the protagonists, Holmes and Dr. Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, have become new favorites for young people.
这部电视剧由英国广播公司（BBC）出品，内容改编自亚瑟•柯南•道尔的《福尔摩斯探案集》里的经典推理故事，不过这次故事背景从19世纪换成了21世纪。扮演主角福尔摩斯（Holmes）和华生医生（Dr.Watson）的分别是本尼迪克特•康伯巴奇（Benedict Cumberbatch）和马丁•弗里曼（Martin Freeman），他们现在都是中国年轻人心目中的新晋男神。
With its deep sense of British culture, complicated plots, historical background and high production quality, Downton Abbey won the hearts of many Chinese fans. On Youku.com alone, the program's nine-episode fifth season has been viewed nearly 20 million times in total.
The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era- with the great events of history affecting their lives and the British social hierarchy. It has won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.
Satirical themes, high technology, the uncertainty of modern life and humanity - yes, that is the British series hit Black Mirror. The speculative fiction enjoys increasing popularity in China season after season since its first release in 2011.
The TV series earned a super big wow among Chinese audiences for its film-like editing and production quality, its creative and unexpected plots, delicate and stylish narrative approach, and satirical yet thought-provoking themes. It discusses and explores the relationship between new technology and human life, media and society, morality and ethics. Each episode is an individual story, with different settings and casts.
The Black Mirror was created by English satirist Charlie Brooker and was first aired on British Channel 4 in 2011. Charlie Brooker once explained the series' title to The Guardian: "If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. "
The Mr. Bean series has been a global craze for years and China is not an exception. Rowan Atkinson, the British actor who created the humorous character, is quite a star among Chinese audiences. The creative yet daily-life plots and his unique British personality make Mr. Bean one of the most successful British TV characters.
Mr. Bean and the animated series are available on many video websites in China, such as Youku, Tudou, Iqiyi and Letv. On Iquiyi alone, the 26 episodes of the 2002 Mr. Bean animated series received 3,390 million viewing times.
Meanwhile, the image of Mr. Bean has also been used in funny stickers on social media, such as Weibo and QQ.
Hustle is the British TV drama made by Kudos Film and Television and broadcast on BBC One in the UK. First aired in 2004, the series produced eight seasons and ended in February 2012. On Douban.com, a Chinese online social community where many fans review films and TV dramas, Hustle received nearly 70,000 comments, with an average rating point reaching 9 out of 10.
《飞天大盗》由Kudos影视公司（Kudos Film and Television）制作，在BBC第一频道播出。该剧在2004年首次播出，总共制作了8季，2012年2月结束。豆瓣网是中国在线社交社区，许多粉丝在这里评论电影和电视节目。《飞天大盗》在豆瓣得到了近7万条评论，平均评分高达9（满分为10）。
The series follows a group of con artists who specialize in "long cons" - extended deceptions which require greater commitment, but which return a higher reward than simple confidence tricks. The victims of their defraud are often those who are greedy or have misgotten wealth or tainted fortunes.
Merlin, the British fantasy-adventure television program, plays a large role in many young Chinese audiences' spare time, especially among colleague students. From the first season to the fifth, the TV series received around 40,000 comments, with the average rating point reaching above 8/10. The derivative videos, such as Merlin: Secrets & Magic (2009) and The Real Merlin and Arthur (2009) also enjoy high popularity due to people's love of the original TV episodes.
Meanwhile, British actors Colin Morgan and Bradley James are becoming increasingly known in China for playing the protagonists Merlin and Arthur in the drama. The close ties and brother-like relationship between the two roles became a hot gossip among young audiences. Some of the classic dialogue in the episodes has even been used in as a teaching tool on English education websites, such as hujiang.com.
The show is loosely based on the Arthurian legends of the young wizard Merlin and his relationship with King Arthur but differs from traditional versions.
Doctor Who, another classic British TV series, enjoys great popularity in China. The science-fiction television program has been reviewed with high rating for years, with an average 9/10 mark on Douban.com, one of the most popular websites for film fans and critics.
The show was produced by the BBC from 1963 to the present day. The program depicts the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord - a space and time-travelling humanoid alien. He explores the universe and combats a variety of foes while working to save civilizations and help people in need. The series is the most "longevial" science-fiction TV drama in the world, with the ninth season broadcasting this year.
North and South/《南方和北方》
North & South is another must-see for British TV fans in China. The 2013 series gained more than 14 million viewing times with only four episodes on V.QQ.com, a popular Chinese video website.
The story is described as Pride and Prejudice in the Industrial Age. It follows the story of Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), a young woman from southern England who has to move to the north after her father decides to leave the clergy. The family struggles to adjust to the industrial town's customs, especially after meeting the Thorntons, a proud family of cotton mill owners who seem to despise their social inferiors. The story explores issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy for the town mill workers clashes with her growing attraction to John Thornton (Richard Armitage).
这个故事被誉为工业时代的《傲慢与偏见》。出生在英格兰南部的玛格丽特•海尔（Margaret Hale）（丹妮拉•丹拜-阿什 Daniela Denby-Ashe饰）因为作为牧师的父亲辞了工作，而搬去英国北方生活。整个家庭都在努力适应着北方工业小镇的习俗，尤其是在碰见桑顿一家之后。盛气凌人的桑顿一家是棉纺厂的厂主，看似瞧不起社会地位比他们低的人们。玛格丽特对小镇棉纺厂里的工人的同情与她对约翰•桑顿（理查德•阿米蒂奇）日渐增长的情愫相冲突，这个故事借此探索了阶级和性别的话题。
Barristers, the laws, the ethical dilemmas, "the overlap between the personal and the professional", "principles fought for and principles sacrificed"… Silk is another popular British TV drama.
Silk follows a set of barristers from a chambers in London. The series' main focus is on Martha Costello (Maxine Peake) and her ambition to become Queen's Counsel, as well as on her rival, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones). Martha achieves her ambition at the end of Series One, leaving Clive disappointed. He however becomes a Queen's Counsel in the opening episode of Series 3. The chambers' senior clerk, Billy Lamb (Neil Stuke), also features heavily in the series.
《皇家律师》记录了伦敦一家律师事务室里几位出庭律师的生活。剧集的主角是一直梦想着成为英国王室法律顾问的玛莎•科斯特洛（Martha Costello）（玛克辛·皮克 MaxinePeake饰）以及她的对手克里夫•利德（Clive Reader）（鲁伯特·彭利-琼斯 Rupert Penry-Jones饰）。玛莎最后在第一季的末尾梦想成真，让克里夫大失所望。然而，在第三季的首播集中，克里夫同样成为了王室法律顾问。事务室里的高级职员比利•兰博（BillyLamb）（内尔·斯杜克 Neil Stuke饰）在此剧里也是不可或缺的角色。
The White Queen/《白王后》
British historical dramas are always quite a hit among Chinese fans and The White Queen is one of them. Search "British TV drama" on Baidu.com, the most-used Chinese web browser, and it's easy to find The White Queen on the hottest-series list.
The White Queen is a 10-part television drama series based on Philippa Gregory's historical novel series, The Cousins' War (The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter). The first episode premiered on BBC One on June 16, 2013. It was first broadcast in the United States on Starz on Aug 9, 2013.