The BEST BBC Two Shows
The top 50 shows on BBC Two
#1 - Horizon
Horizon is BBC Two's flagship 50-minute science documentary series. In September 2014 it celebrated its 50th anniversary and it continues to enjoy outstanding critical acclaim. Recognised as the world leader in its field, it regularly wins a sweep of international science, medical and environmental film accolades, and has recently won the Royal Television Society Award and the Prix Italia. In 2002, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts presented Horizon with the BAFTA Television Award for Best Factual Series or Strand. In 2003 it won the prestigious Images et Science award for best medical documentary and the Carl von Linne Award at the Living Europe film festival in Sweden. That year, a Horizon co-production with WGBH Boston won the Emmy for best documentary.
#2 - Wonders of the Universe
Having taken on the Wonders Of The Solar System, Professor Brian Cox takes the next step – the laws of the Universe in Wonders Of The Universe. In another epic series, Brian visits some of the most dramatic parts of the globe to explain the fundamental principles that govern the laws of nature – light, gravity, energy, matter and time. With the world's most profound science at its heart, Wonders Of The Universe reveals how the story of humanity is intimately entwined with that of the complex story of the origins of the universe.
#3 - Life on Earth
Life on Earth (1979) is an epic 13-programme series, presented by David Attenborough, offering a chronological account of the flora and fauna of planet Earth over a period of 3,500 million years. Whether recounting the first journey from the sea to the land, the development of insects and flowers, or "The First Forests" and "The Lords of the Air", Attenborough's enthusiasm is infectious. He guides us through The Infinite Variety of life from microbes to marsupials, via an unforgettable meeting with mountain gorillas, to conclude with The Compulsive Communicators, mankind itself. Three years in the making, involving 1.5 million miles of travel and featuring some of the most beautiful, breathtaking and ambitious photography then seen on television, Life on Earth was the first natural history blockbuster. It redefined TV by showing that an epic, serious wildlife documentary could be a massive success. As such, it remains a true television landmark and paved the way for further entries in what became known as his Life series.
#4 - Top Gear
This fast-paced and stunt-filled motor show tests whether cars, both mundane and extraordinary, live up to their manufacturers' claims. The long-running show travels to locations around the world, performing extreme stunts and challenges to see what the featured cars are capable of doing. Celebrity guests appear on some episodes to help test the vehicles. Things don't always go as planned, though, with broken bones and mechanical mishaps sometimes part of the experiments. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May hosted the show for more than a decade before giving way to a new crew in 2016, including actor Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid. In the summer of 2019 a new crew take up the Top Gear reigns. Two likely lads from Lancashire - Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff (England Cricketer) and Paddy McGuinness (from Max and Paddy fame) along with Chris Harris who survived from the previous series. Be prepared for some good old fashioned northern 'laddish' humour.
#5 - QI
QI is a BBC panel show that both educates and entertains. QI Masters Stephen Fry [Seasons 1-13] and Sandi Toksvig [Season 14+] ask questions that are very difficult and award points for answers that are either Quite Interesting or correct. However, points are deducted for answers commonly thought to be correct but are in fact quite wrong. Four Bantermeisters, including permanent panelist Alan Davies, try their best to separate the fact from the fiction.
#6 - Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle
The show marks the triumphant television return of one of the finest stand-ups working in Britain today, enthralling a live audience with his uniquely cynical and hilariously condescending take on the world around him. Each episode sees Stewart exploring a different theme in a stand-up routine, often illustrated with sketches featuring an ensemble cast. They are performed in a way that deconstructs comedy itself; literally a vehicle for Lee's idiosyncratic style. Starring alongside Stewart are: Tony Law, Tara Flynn, Paul Putner, Kevin Eldon, Miles Jupp, Simon Munnery, Job Angus and Michael Redmond. Peter Serafinowicz provides voiceovers.
#7 - Wonders of the Solar System
Experience the extraordinary…in our planet’s own backyard. Wonders explores some of the most amazing features of our very own solar system – how the forces of nature carved out beauty and order from the chaos of space; how our home planet doesn’t sit in magnificent isolation but is intimately connected with the rest of the solar system; and how these connections have created the haven we call Earth. Using the latest scientific knowledge and breathtaking images beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, this gorgeous imagery, paired with some of the most spectacular and extreme locations on Earth, help to reveal wonders never thought possible.
#8 - Fawlty Towers
Hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.
#9 - Yes Minister
This is the story of the endless battles between the Government in the form of Jim Hacker, a brand new Cabinet Minister and the Civil Service of his department run by Sir Humphrey Appleby. Stuck in the middle of it all is civil servant Bernard Woolley.
#10 - The Power of Nightmares
This documentary argues that during the 20th Century politicians lost the power to inspire the masses, and that the optimistic visions and ideologies they had offered were perceived to have failed. The film asserts that politicians consequently sought a new role that would restore their power and authority. Writer Adam Curtis, who also narrates the series, declares in the film's introduction that “Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us: from nightmares”. To illustrate this Curtis compares the rise of the American neoconservatives and radical Islamists, believing that both are closely connected; that some popular beliefs about these groups are inaccurate; and that both movements have benefited from exaggerating the scale of the terrorist threat.
#11 - Yes, Prime Minister
Yes, Prime Minister is the sequel to the popular British series Yes Minister. It aired from 1986 to 1988 and is the story of the continuing battles between Jim Hacker, who is now Prime Minister, and Sir Humphrey, who has been promoted to Cabinet Secretary.
#12 - The Thick of It
The Thick of It is a British comedy television series that satirises the inner workings of modern British government. It was first broadcast in 2005, initially with a small cast focussing on a government minister, his advisers and their spin-doctor. The cast was significantly expanded to coincide with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as prime minister in 2007, which saw a number of new characters forming the opposition party. These characters continued for its third series in 2009, and the fourth and final series about a coalition government was broadcast in Autumn 2012.
#13 - Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe
The writer and broadcaster offers a satirical look at the latest news from politics, the media and the internet, casting a critical eye over trends in TV, cinema, computer games and social media. Charlie will be joined in the studio each week by guests and there will be regular contributions from American comedian Doug Stanhope.
#14 - I, Claudius
Based on Robert Graves' epic novels about the decline of Roman civilisation in the first century AD, this award-winning drama redefined the boundaries of television when it was broadcast in 1976. Jack Pulman's brilliant script conveys the unrelenting depravity during the reigns of the four Emperors who succeeded Julius Caesar: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. The star-studded cast includes Derek Jacobi as Claudius, John Hurt as Caligula and Brian Blessed as Augustus.
#15 - The Ascent of Man
Dr Bronowski's magnificent thirteen-part BBC television series The Ascent of Man traces our rise both as a species and as moulders of our own environment and future. It covers the history of science, but of science in the broadest terms. Invention from the flint tool to geometry, from the arch to the theory of relativity, are shown to be expressions of man's specific ability to understand nature, to control it, not to be controlled by it.
#16 - The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom is a BBC documentary series by British filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares. It began airing on BBC Two on 11 March 2007. The series consists of three, one-hour programs which explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically "how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom." What does freedom actually mean today? This series of films by BAFTA-winning producer Adam Curtis argues that our freedom is a limited kind of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom. This model was apparently derived from techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War. Genetic biologists, anthropologists, radical psychiatrists and free market economists took it further until it became a new system of invisible control.
#17 - The Planets
The incredible story of the discovery and exploration of our solar system, revealing the deepest secrets of our neighbours in space.From the first faltering attempts to magnify the sky with crude telescopic lenses to the sophisticated probes revealing even the most distant planets today, this amazing footage relive the gripping stories of adventure and discovery.
#18 - Last Chance to See
A follow-up to the 1990 Radio 4 series in which the late Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine travelled around the world in search of endangered species. 20 years later Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine go back to see what has become of the animals in two decades, and to discover what has affected their fortunes.
#19 - Natural World
Conceived by Sir David Attenborough in 1967, Natural World is the longest-running nature documentary series on British television. 2008 marked the series’ 25th anniversary under its present title, though its origins can be traced back to its predecessor The World About Us which began over 40 years ago. Natural World is broadcast on BBC Two in the autumn and spring seasons, with 17 episodes commissioned by the BBC each year. Production duties are shared between its in-house Natural History Unit, independent UK production companies and leading wildlife filmmakers from around the world.
#20 - Red Dwarf
Three million years after the demise of humanity, third technician Dave Lister awakes aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. Sentenced to a period of suspended animation for smuggling his pet cat on board, he is joined by just four fellow survivors: second technician Arnold J Rimmer, a sneering-yet-inept hologram based on his one-time superior; Holly, a ship's computer reduced to near-senility by eons adrift in space; a humanoid descendant of the cat obsessed with fashion and fish; and Kryten, a salvaged android programmed to serve his useless companions. Together, this bickering band must come to terms with an existence which, in terms of productivity and purpose, isn't that far removed from its old one.
#21 - The Day Today
The Day Today is a surreal British parody of television current affairs news programmes. It is an adaptation of the radio programme On The Hour. The series is composed of six half-hour episodes and a selection of shorter, five-minute slots recorded as promotion trailers for the longer segments. Only six episodes were made, and were originally broadcast in January and February 1994 on BBC2. The Day Today won many awards and Chris Morris won the 1994 British Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. All six episodes are available on BBC video and DVD.
#22 - South Pacific
South Pacific is a British nature documentary series on the natural history of the South Pacific region, including many of the coral atolls and New Zealand. Both wildlife and human cultures developed in a unique variety, largely determined by such natural conditions as huge distances, sea depths, currents and winds.
#23 - Madagascar
Over 80% of Madagascar's animals and plants are found nowhere else on Earth. Discover what made Madagascar so different from the rest of the world, and how evolution ran wild there.
#24 - Coupling
On average, men and women think about sex every six seconds. Shorten that to every second, and you've got Coupling. This series centers around Susan and Steve (who are a couple), and Sally and Patrick join the gang as friends of Susan (and then Steve), while Steve pulls in his best friend Jeff and his crazy ex Jane.
#25 - Stargazing Live
Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain host three nights of stargazing and discussion, live from Jodrell Bank. Featuring guest experts and link-ups to observatories around the world.
#26 - Human Universe
Professor Brian Cox asks the biggest questions we can ask. Are we alone? Why are we here? What is our future? Join him in a stunning celebration of human life as he explores our origins, our place and our destiny in the universe.
#27 - Wonders of Life
Wonders of Life is a five-part television documentary series presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox. It is the BBC science department's follow up to Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System. The series was produced by the BBC and Chinese state television network CCTV-9 and aired from 27 January 2013 at 9 PM on BBC Two.
#28 - I'm Alan Partridge
This classic BBC comedy comes courtesy of Steve Coogan. Alan is a fictional self-obsessed DJ who has had several TV jobs in the past (including chat show 'Knowing Me Knowing You') and has failed to bounce back from his long dead career. Each episode normally sees Alan resorting to embarrassing anecdotes, insulting someone without noticing and failing to revive his career.
#29 - Look Around You
Look around you. Look around you. Just look around you. What do you see? A tree. A weather-vane. A discarded lollipop-wrapper. A traffic shop. All of these things, and any other things you may care to mention, have one thing in common. Can you work out what it is? The first series of this British comedy show, filmed in 2002, was a send-up of the earnest programmes for schools made in the 1960s and 1970s. The second series (2005) is a friendlier spoof of the BBC's own slightly wacky 'Tomorrow's World' programme (1965-2002), and it gives a view from somewhere around 1982 of what life might be like in the early 21st century.
#30 - The Fast Show
The Fast Show is a multi BAFTA award winning sketch comedy show written and produced by Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson.
#31 - Bottom
Richard Richard & Edward Elizabeth Hitler, two men with no hope of fitting in with society. Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall take an anarchic look into the lives of these two friends who are forever commiting violence on each other. This series could be said to be a follow up, of a kind, to The Young Ones. Same stars and same attitude but the young ones are now heading into middle age. A successful series that spawned five live tours [and five videos of these shows] and a big screen film, Guest House Paradiso.
#32 - Limmy's Show
Enter the World of Limmy. Scottish internet sensation Limmy makes the jump to TV in a brand new comedy half-hour that combines character pieces, arresting inserts, diverting visuals, casual violence, cutting observations, animation and sketches.
#33 - The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer
Possibly Vic and Bob's finest hour, The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer displays the madcap duo at their most surreal, anarchic best with characters such as the bra-wearing men Pat Wright and Dave Arrowsmith; awful folk duo Mulligan and O'Hare and flatulent farceurs the Petomanes. Among the many other highlights were occasional visits from Slade, the 1970's glam-rock group, brilliantly imitated by Reeves, Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse and Mark Williams, plus hosts of other guests including Little Britain's Matt Lucas, Caroline Aherne, Charlie Higson and Sting.
#34 - The Hollow Crown
The Hollow Crown brings together four filmed adaptations of Shakespeare's History Plays - Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Starting in the year 1399, this continuous story of monarchy follows events during sixteen years of dynastic and political power play. Kings, with their families and followers, are threatened by rebellion and conflict. The story takes us from the Royal Court at Westminster to battlefields in England and France. These rich films are woven with the finest of Shakespeare's poetry and are filmed in the architecture and landscape of the period.
#35 - The Hour (2011)
With a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle at the heart of the series, it is through the lens of the lives of enigmatic Bel and her rivals, Freddie and Hector, that viewers witness the decade at its most exciting – from the ruthless sexual politics behind the polite social façade to the revelations that redefined the world for a new generation. Over the six episodes, Abi explores the interplay and intense ambitions between our rising news team.
#36 - Smiley's People
Adaptation of John Le Carré's novel, following on from the previous BBC adaptation TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. George Smiley returns to the Game. A member of one of George Smiley's old networks seems to have caught on to something big. When he turns up dead the Circus asks George to tie up the loose ends with minimal fuss. But George Smiley does not like loose ends. Especially if they lead to the darkest recesses of the KGB - to Karla, the Sandman.
#37 - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Don’t Panic! This is the story of Arthur Dent, an average Englishman whose life is saved by his friend Ford Prefect when the Earth was destroyed. Ford turns out to be an alien, and tells Arthur about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an interactive and animated book for travelers that contains anything you ever needed and wanted to know. They travel across the galaxy, meeting friendly, and not-so-friendly characters while searching for the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
#38 - That Mitchell and Webb Look
British sketch comedy gets a makeover in this BBC2 show. Comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb elicit laughs through a brilliant mix of mockumentaries, TV parodies, character sketches and more.
#39 - Only Connect
Victoria Coren Mitchell hosts the series where knowledge will only take you so far. Patience and lateral thinking are also vital.
#40 - The Office
A mockumentary about life in a mid-sized suboffice paper merchants in a bleak British industrial town, where manager David Brent thinks he's the coolest, funniest, and most popular boss ever. He isn't. That doesn't stop him from embarrassing himself in front of the cameras on a regular basis, whether from his political sermonizing, his stand-up 'comedy', or his incredibly unique dancing. Meanwhile, long-suffering Tim longs after Dawn the engaged receptionist and keeps himself sane by playing childish practical jokes on his insufferable, army-obsessed deskmate Gareth. Will the Slough office be closed? Will the BBC give David a game show? Will Tim and Dawn end up with each other? And more importantly, will Gareth realize what a hopeless prat he is?
#41 - Wild China
Created in co-operation with China's own national broadcast service, Wild China examines the country's rarely documented range of wildlife. Take a look at some of China's most impressive natural sites such as the ancient Han kingdom, the Mongol steppes, the Silk Road and the Tibetan Plateau.
#42 - How TV Ruined Your Life
Charlie Brooker attempts to explain where it all went wrong and just how wildly the TV and movie ideal differs from life's grim reality.
#43 - Long Way Down
Three years after circumnavigating the globe together, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman undertake another overland motorcycle adventure, this time from John O'Groats to South Africa.
#44 - Inside No. 9
Inside No. 9 invites viewers into six very different No. 9s, where the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre. From a grand country house where a game of 'sardines' leads to some chilling revelations in a wardrobe; to a very oddly haunted house; to a blood-soaked actor's dressing room in London's West End; to the flat of an apparently happy primary school teacher who becomes the victim of a good deed; these unpredictable tales feature high comedy and claustrophobic horror by turns.
#45 - James May's Man Lab
James May's Man Lab sees James attempting redeem the reputation of the modern man by teaching them skills that were cherished by their forefathers.
#46 - The Young Ones
The misadventures of four lunatic students who live in a shared student house. There's Rik, the overblown political one addicted to Cliff Richard, Vyvian the experimental scientific one/part-time anarchist, Neil the worried hippy, and Mike the ladies' man (at least he is in his mind).
#47 - Earth: The Power of the Planet
Dr. Iain Stewart explains the effects and importance of a specific force of nature, such as wind or volcanism. He also examines the various ways in which it shapes planet earth itself and influences life on it, often in conjunction with other natural forces, and sometimes with lifeforms, as in the 'apocalyptically' grave case of global warming.
#48 - The League of Gentlemen
Bizarre comedy set in the fictional English town of Royston Vasey, whose inhabitants include a transsexual taxi driver, a family obsessed with cleanness that despise masturbation, an apathetic priest, a gypsy who kidnaps women to be his wives and a psychotic couple who runs a local shop for local people. Theme song by Joby Talbot.
#49 - Beautiful People (2008)
This glittering and hilarious series delves inside Simon's youthful memories and his desire to escape suburban Reading and live amongst the "beautiful people" - from his perspective as a window dresser in a New York department store. Surrounded by dreams of the big and all the beautiful people that go with it, 13-year-old Simon (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) can't open a fridge door without belting out a show tune. But such behaviour will always fall flat on a family even more eccentric than Simon's latest attempts to be fabulous. The Britain of 1997 might be changing, but the Doonan clan remain consistently nuts.
#50 - Edge of Darkness
This award-winning drama focuses on Yorkshire detective Ronald Craven investigating the murder of his daughter. From there the story spirals into a gripping eco-thriller of political conspiracy, secret service machinations and even shady medieval societies. As he draws closer to the dangerous inner sanctums of organised environmental protests and nuclear power interests, he discovers the ultimate truths at the heart of society.