In this house we became really devoted to GBBS because it’s anodyne and gentle, and (speaking as a crass American) the funny-talking British people are very entertaining. British dramas are great, but it’s the lightness and charm of GBBS that has cheered many a dark evening this Covid-tide. It’s just a good, cheerful diversion-watch, nothing stodgy or claggy about it. What else has a similar vibe?
Secret Scotland, with Susan Calman is equally as charming and light. Full episodes are on YouTube. Love Your Garden, with Alan Titchmarsh, is also delightful, but harder to find. I think at least one season is on Amazon Prime.
I believe it’s available on Netflix
Oh! And how could I forget Taskmaster! (Full episodes on YouTube)
Great Railway Journeys
QI, but the earlier seasons with Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry’s America
Older seasons of Top Gear, before they fired Jezza
Also, damn near anything with Jacques Pepin. He is so damn relaxing and charming it isn’t funny.
You might try The Repair Shop, which is on Netflix. It has a certain similar feel to me.
NBC has a show called Making It, hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. I have not seen it but my understanding is that the goal was for something in the mood of The Great British Bake Off.
Grand Designs. It’s a show that follows the construction of people’s (mostly Brits) dream houses hosted by an architect who puts it in the context of traditional and contemporary design theory. I think most seasons are available on US Netflix.
Yes, Making It is a hoot, fun and light hearted. I was going to recommend it if no one else had already done so.
These all sound great. Much to check out. Thanks!
There’s also the Great British Sewing Bee
I’ll second this one. This was the first year I saw it and we both really liked the positivity of the host and judges.
And we like the newer seasons of QI with Sandi Toksvig and the episodes of Top Gear with Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff.
I was coming in to suggest this - it’s cut from the same cloth as Bake Off (as we call BGGS this side of the pond, and 'scuse the pun), and yes, we do have a habit of calling things ‘The Great British X’. Just like baking, but with ardent sewing hobbyists vying to make the best dress/waistcoat/bikini.
Another series of programmes with great charm are the BBC ‘Back in Time’ series, where an ordinary (but generally very charming) family are asked to live in a house through different decades, experiencing the different foods and home lifestyles. They are generally horrified by the food.
Off the top of my head, series include:
Back in Time for Tea
Back in Time for Dinner
Ah, here’s the wiki link. Lovely hosts too.
For Top Gear, you kind of need to aim for around Season 3 to 18, for a few reasons.
Initially, it was a car show. But it realised after a few seasons that the silly stunts and comedy gave it it’s niche, the viewers liked it as well as the presenters. It trashed cars. Later it started doing specials where they’d have a holiday in some places, Vietnam, across middle east, USA. In general, entertaining.
However, over the seasons, the back team came and gone. There were better researchers and producers, but the stars became more popular and most importantly, older. They started saying controversial things in substitute for interesting things. A lot of times Clarkson got the stick, but they managed to make a diplomatic incident with Mexico, and it was Hammond and May who did that.
On the back of that some people wanted it to be a car show again, so it did that, and lots of driving about in cars none of you could ever afford and it got boring after that for a few seasons. I think Clarkson had got frustrated with that, and the show in general, and after a bunch of twattish incidents he assaulted a producer over a stupid gripe and he was fired.
I’ll not cover after that. As far as I’m concerned, the show ended there.
Neither was their amazon prime show, with Clarkson, Hammond and May. They tried to do the classic stuff, but the talent was the backroom staff and those were long gone.
Their specials were classic comedy though, and even if you watch one of those, Bolivia and Vietnam. The US one was rather a damp squib with them trying to wind up the local “redneck” population by painting things on their car, and predictably, nobody in the US cared.
However, when they “pretended they didn’t realise that their cars license plate was offensive” in the Falklands, there was a good chance of them being killed, and arguably that would have been the best career choice for them…
Ugh, I hate Top Gear, boys playing pranks whilst driving cars.
Another lovely BBC series (the BBC are great at this stuff) is the Supersizers series. This is where Sue Perkins (host from the first number of Great British Bake Off series) and Giles Coren (food writer) spend a week eating food from a certain period, dressed in period dress (Victorian, Edwardian, Restoration etc). Sounds a bit mad, but it’s fun.
Slightly similar vibe (although not about construction, just visiting already-built houses) is The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, presented by actress Caroline Quentin and architect Piers Taylor. It’s on Netflix. Quentin is the stand-in for the audience, while Taylor does a very good job of explaining the design aspects.
Oh, add The Repair Shop! Episodes on Netflix.
It’s set at a heritage farm. People bring in meaningful objects for repair - anything from WWII teddy bears to a 17th century clock. Sounds boring, but it’s very interesting.
It’s very much in the same vein as “Great British Baking Show”, in that it’s competitive, but it’s also a sort of happy community show, in that they help each other out when someone’s having a problem, etc… Basically it’s good competition- they don’t want to win because their competitor had a technical problem and ran out of time, if they can help each other.
Plus, Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler are surprisingly funny on here.
I also kind of liked “Blown Away” on Netflix; it’s the same sort of competition show, but about glass blowing, which was an art form that I wasn’t familiar with at all. A little higher strung than “Making It”, but more interesting to see the artistic process and execution with the glass blowing.