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Five Reasons Why I Love To Watch BBC America On The Telly

I’ll admit that I’ve been fascinated by British culture for a long time. I’ve loved The Beatles as long as I can remember, and I’ll argue any day that much of the best music ever made has come from the UK. When other kids wanted to be superheroes, I wanted to be James Bond. But for too many years I thought British television consisted of stuffy period pieces about old people with old money. That’s what Masterpiece Theatre taught me until I discovered BBC America.

I first watched BBC America a few years back when they premiered Gordon Ramsay’s excellent food series The F-Word. I also discovered Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares long before the U.S. version premiered. As I watched those programs, I saw promos for other BBC America shows, and I began to explore. Soon I was hooked and now BBC America is one of my regular TV destinations.

And here are the five reasons why I love to watch BBC America on “the telly.”

5. Terrific Personalities

BBC America’s slogan boasts “The Best Names In British Television,” and I’ve been pleased to get to know many of them through their shows. There are plenty of amazing actors and actresses playing compelling characters on the network’s series.

The cast of The Hour -- a series, which recently ended but is now available on DVD, set at a BBC News program in 1956

-- is a prime example of the great talents that BBC America has to offer. I’ve fallen in love with Romola Garai, who stars as the good natured yet determined news producer Bel Rowley. I appreciate Dominic West’s honest performance as news host Hector Madden, and I feel every bit of the nervousness in Ben Whishaw’s portrayal of reporter Freddie Lyon.

I’m also head over heels for Law & Order: UK’s Freema Agyeman, who plays Crown Prosecutor Alesha Philips, and Bradley Walsh is as good as the late Jerry Orbach at portraying the grizzled, jaded veteran detective on that show. The guys from Top Gear -- Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May -- are fun and informative, and they’re more entertaining than the hosts of the U.S. version. And then there’s Gordon Ramsay. I truly think that even viewers who are turned off by his loud antics on Hell’s Kitchen would be impressed by his passion for cooking and great cuisine on The F-Word.

4. A Really Cool Website

I’m aware that it may be a bit strange to go on about a network’s website as part of the reason why I like to watch them, but let me explain. The more I watch BBC America, the more I’m driven to their website, which in turns makes me want to watch BBC America even more.

BBC America’s website is a comprehensive, well done source of information. In addition to the UK news and British celebrity gossip, the site has extensive pages devoted to each BBC America show, along with pages about shows that are no longer on the network and previews of coming attractions. Each page contains episode summaries, video clips, and information about the series’ characters and the actors and actresses who play them. Some of the pages even offer handy explanations of UK slang.

What really sets BBCAmerica.com apart are the blogs, which are must-reads for Anglophiles like me. The bloggers share tons of tidbits about British culture, and they often good-naturedly “out” celebrities that most people didn’t know were British. The blogs feature list posts (so near and dear to my heart) about British culture and its differences from and similarities to American culture. I’ve had fun learning about the UK from the BBC America website.

Next: Do TV seasons really need to be 22 episodes? Why not six?