Essential TV

Essential TV


Some TV shows never receive the praise they deserve on broadcast, and World on Fire is one of those shows. This hidden BBC gem immerses its audience in the horrors of fascism, the bravery of rebellion and the darkness of war through truly stunning cinematography, performances and direction. World on Fire gives a voice to those brave souls who stood up against the rising tide of hate from all backgrounds, risking their lives to combat oppression while politicians did nothing.


Dominic Mitchell’s 2013 BBC series stands tall among its contemporaries for its unique take on the Zombie sub-genre. Here the complex discussions behind its zombie invasion go far beyond TV horror as the experiences of young Kieran dovetail with those of minority communities as Mitchell explores the social foundations of discrimination, oppression and hate.


The crime drama has been a mainstay of British TV ever since Dixon of Dock Green. However, few TV shows in the genre, with the exception of Prime Suspect, have had the cultural impact of Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty. Mercurio’s ongoing drama reinvented the police drama for a modern age by wrapping the audience in a web of deceit and corruption.


Bathed in history, nostalgia and coming-of-age themes, The Wonder Years is one of the best family dramas of the 20th Century. Each delightful 30-minute episode explores the complex dynamics of family life against the backdrop of a changing America as we follow Kevin’s journey from boy to man in an ocean of social and cultural change.

Deutschland 83 & 86 (RTL)

Deutschland 83 and 86 may not have been highly successful in their home country, but the mix of espionage, tongue-in-cheek humour, action and 80s tunes struck a cord in the UK as Jonas Nay’s Martin Rauch transformed from a wide-eyed twenty-something into a killer spy.

don’t ever wipe tears without gloves (SVT)

Numerous TV dramas have explored the HIV/AIDS epidemic, from Angels in America to A Normal Heart. However, this three-part Swedish mini-series is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally powerful and fascinating. By the 1980s, Sweden led the way in equality for LGBTQ+ communities, with same-sex relationships decriminalised in 1944 and the age of consent equalised in 1972. Yet despite this, AIDS stripped away many of the rights Swedish young men held so dear.


Eerie Indiana’s legendary status was born over a mere 19 episodes. Combining fantasy and horror, Eerie would pay homage to Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone, with each gloriously dark and delicious tale set in a world of weirdness and wonder. Written by Jose Rivera and Karl Schaefer, the creative hand of Joe Dante sits centre stage, providing us with one of the most innovative children’s TV shows ever made.

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