The BEST BBC Two Shows
The top 50 shows on BBC Two
#1 - 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.
#2 - 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.
#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 - 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.
#5 - 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.
#6 - 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.
#7 - 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.
#8 - Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
Screenwipe is a television programme about television programmes; the cost, the surprising amount of work and bureaucracy involved, how programmes are selected for broadcast, and, usually scathing, analysis of specific programmes and genres. Brooker often pays particular attention to more obscure channels on satellite, freeview and cable, such as those dedicated to gambling, shopping, horoscopes, and pornography. He explores the probable effects of television in society, and how often programmes can create in the viewer feelings of inadequacy, depression, fear, and anxiety. To balance things, usually one segment of each show is dedicated to positive reviews, with analysis on why the style and content is so absorbing.
#9 - The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion
Michael Mosley takes an informative and ambitious journey exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society's historical path.
#10 - 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.
#11 - Monty Python's Flying Circus
And now for something completely different: Monty Python's Flying Circus was simply the most influential comedy program television has ever seen. Five Englishmen, all working under the constraints of conventional TV shows such as The Frost Report (for which the five Englishmen wrote), gathered together with an expatriate American in the spring of 1969 to break the rules. The result, first airing on BBC-1 on October 5, 1969, has influenced countless future men and women in the media and comedy since.
#12 - 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.
#13 - 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.
#14 - 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.
#15 - 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.
#16 - Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
"Monty Python" veteran Terry Jones hosts "Terry Jones' Medieval Lives", a series that delves into the lives of different medieval occupations, including kings, knights, and minstrels.
#17 - 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.
#18 - Newswipe
Charlie Brooker returns to train his sights firmly on news and current affairs.
#19 - Worricker
Since September 2011, the public every day reads of encroachments on their liberty which are justified in the name of security. David Hare's trilogy, ripped from the headlines, focuses on the internal divisions and arguments which have been raging inside an increasingly controversial intelligence community.
#20 - 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.
#21 - 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.
#22 - 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.
#23 - 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.
#24 - Fawlty Towers
Hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.
#25 - 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.
#26 - Robot Wars
Robot Wars is a British game show modelled on a US-based competition of the same name. Teams of amateur and professional roboteers make their own robots to fight against each other in both friendly and tournament matches.
#27 - 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.
#28 - 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.
#29 - Galapagos
Galapagos is a three-part BBC nature documentary series exploring the natural history of the Galápagos Islands and their important role in the formation of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. It was first transmitted in the UK on BBC Two in September 2006. The series was filmed in high definition, produced by Mike Gunton and Patrick Morris of the BBC Natural History Unit and narrated by actress Tilda Swinton. The series was proposed to the BBC by the principle cinematographers Paul D. Stewart and Richard Wollocombe.
#30 - 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.
#31 - 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.
#32 - 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.
#33 - Great British Railway Journeys
Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with a copy of George Bradshaw's Railway Guidebook. Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country to see how the railways have changed it, and what of Bradshaw's Britain remains.
#34 - The Century of the Self
Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty. To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests? The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud. Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.
#35 - 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.
#36 - 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.
#37 - 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.
#38 - Frankie Boyle's New World Order
In a time where Donald Trump can be president, who better to dissect the week's news than Frankie Boyle. The show features Frankie at his brilliant best doing stand-up, review, discussion and audience interaction - all in an attempt to make sense of what's going on around us. Each week Frankie makes a series of bold and often outrageous statements about the week's news.
#39 - 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.
#40 - Hebburn
Hebburn is a warm and affectionate tale of north east family life. It tells the tale of the Pearson family and their impetuous and ambitious son, Jack, who has left Tyneside for the bright lights and glamour of Manchester. He has secretly married a middle class Jewish girl, Sarah, and realises that it is about time he introduced her to his family.
#41 - Natural World
Conceived by Sir David Attenborough in 1967, Natural World is the longest-running nature documentary series on British television. Production duties are shared between its in-house Natural History Unit, independent UK production companies and leading wildlife filmmakers from around the world.
#42 - The Goodies
Put simply, The Goodies was a live-action version of a typical Warner Bros cartoon, replete with speeded-up footage, film trickery and violent slapstick. The characters bore the same names as the players and were caricature exaggerations of their real selves, hence Tim was the respectable establishment figure, an effete man who grew into a manic royalist; Graeme was the scatty, back-room boffin, the inventor of all manner of weird devices; and Bill was an aggressive, earthy, hairy individual who eventually tended towards environmentalism, socialism and feminism. Each week the three climbed aboard and promptly fell off their customised bicycle for three (the 'Trandem') before remounting to pedal off to their task.
#43 - Miss Marple
Miss Marple, the spinster detective who is one of the most famous characters created by English crime writer Agatha Christie, is portrayed by Joan Hickson who starred in a dozen television mysteries about Miss Marple over the course of a decade.
#44 - 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.
#45 - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thief. George Smiley, the aging master spy of the Cold War and once heir apparent to Control, is brought back out of retirement to flush out a top level mole within the Circus. Smiley must travel back through his life and murky workings of the Circus to unravel the net spun by his nemesis Karla 'The Sandman' of the KGB and reveal the identity of the mole before he disappears.
#46 - Louis Theroux
The documentary work of British-American journalist Louis Theroux.
#47 - The Catherine Tate Show
Perrier Award nominated for her performance in Lee Mack's sketch show at The Edinburgh Festival 2000 and critically acclaimed for her one-woman sketch show at Edinburgh 2001, Catherine Tate now writes and stars in her own sketch show. Catherine's irreverent characters include the rancid pensioner, the overprotective new parents and the randy nurse. The show's theme tune is "In These Shoes?" by Kirsty MacColl.
#48 - Match of the Day 2
Match of the Day 2 (otherwise known as MOTD2) is a football highlights programme shown on BBC Two in the United Kingdom. It was created in 2004 when the BBC regained the right to broadcast Premier League highlights. Broadcast on Sunday evenings, usually later than 10 p.m., it is advertised as a "light-hearted look at the Premier League's action", referring to its more fan focused presentational style than the Saturday night version. Launched with an anchor of Adrian Chiles and analysis from two pundits. Adrian Chiles became popular in this role. In 2010 he was replaced by Colin Murray who left Channel 5 to take up the position at the beginning of the 2010/11 season and to also host the BBC World Cup coverage in 2010.
#49 - Cambridge Spies
The true story of Britain's most infamous spies as it follows them from their iniitial recruitment by the KGB in the mid 1930's, as students at Cambridge University, through the end of their careers in the 1950's. The series attempts to look beyond their crimes by focusing on their dedication to their cause and to each other and how they belived they were serving their country. Four-part drama telling the story of Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and Kim Philby.
#50 - MasterChef: The Professionals
Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing and vegetable expert and MasterChef veteran Gregg Wallace are on the hunt for a young chef who wants to make it to the top of the culinary world.