Quintessentially British Film & TV

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: June 17, 2022 (Last updated: December 14, 2023)
quintessentially british film and tv

We have compiled a list of our favourite films and TV shows that are undeniably British, many of which are available on popular streaming services. 

Think country houses, quaint London suburbs and awkward romantic encounters. If you are looking for something to watch with a cup of tea and a scone or two, then look no further.

Iconic British TV

TV is an inherently British pastime, and many people in the UK even sit down every week to watch other people watching TV on Gogglebox. But some television is more cemented into the UK psyche than others, and there are a few shows that radiate Britishness from their core.

Doctor Who

British eccentricity at its finest. Doctor Who manages to bring terrifying action, quirky Britishness and wholesome fun to our screens in a neatly wrapped package. Having been on the UK’s screens since the 1960s, Doctor Who has stood the test of time. Featuring an iconic police telephone box in almost every episode, with countless plots heavily featuring British landmarks, Doctor Who is as British as it comes. 

The Crown

The historical drama presents the trials and tribulations of the royal family from the 1940s to modern times. The whole series, which can be binged on Netflix, shows what life is like for the most famous family in Britain, covering huge events in the UK’s collective history.

Vicar of Dibley

The Vicar of Dibley portrays the eccentric characters that can be found in villages the length and breadth of Britain, and perfectly encapsulates the mundane realities of small town living. The wholesome relationship between Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) and Alice Horton (Emma Chambers) is infinitely relatable and ensures that the show continues to be infinitely rewatchable.

Classic British films

When you think of classic British films, more often than not, quirky characters, awkward exchanges, and various London boroughs come to mind. When debating what is considered the best British film, the following choices are likely to be top contenders.

Love Actually

It may often be classed as a Christmas film, but Love Actually is one of the best British films to have been released in recent history, for a variety of reasons. The feel good rom-com cleverly portrays how the lives of a variety of characters, including the UK’s Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) are entwined, in the run-up to Christmas. The film exudes Britishness, giving the audience many happy endings in its separate story lines, with characters even exclaiming that “It’s almost enough to make you feel patriotic.”

Notting Hill

Hugh Grant is one of the most quintessentially British film actors, which is probably the reason he has appeared on this list twice. Set in the beautiful London suburb, Notting Hill follows the unlikely romance of a famous actress and a bookshop owner. Featuring awkward situations, dry wit and scenes shot around affluent areas of London and a stately home, Notting Hill ticks all the boxes of a classic British film. You can watch the film today on Amazon Prime.


This 2014 live-action animated comedy brings a beloved British character to life for a modern audience. Mainly set around London, Paddington perfectly portrays British eccentricity and love for adventure, and focuses on middle-class characters that are sometimes hesitant to change, but eventually show their open side. Paddington is available to stream on Disney+.

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