British popular culture is vast, expansive and influential.
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The UK has long been known as a nation that asserts itself in cultural production from The Beatles to Sherlock. But if you move to the UK you will soon find a wealth of references to popular culture well beyond what is exported abroad, many of which will be television shows the person speaking has never seen, or music that she has never seen before. simply because these words, phrases and concepts are deeply embedded in language and culture.
For example, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, recently made allusionsElection campaignto the 1970s sitcom The Good Life, which first aired when I was nine years old and is therefore a reference that is likely to be lost entirely to a significant segment of voters. Tabloids often run headlines with puns that are completely incomprehensible unless you know what they're referring to, like the Scottish Sun's famous football news headline: 'SUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS' (pun on 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious', by Mary Poppins).
With that in mind, we've put together this A to Z guide to British popular culture, hoping to give those visiting these shores a chance to understand what we're talking about.
the archersis a Radio 4 soap opera described as "contemporary drama in a rural setting". It is based on the trials and tribulations of a group of farmers in the Midlands, in the fictional town of Ambridge. Sandi Toksvig described it as "a memorable theme song followed by fifteen minutes of peasant noise and sighs," and most of his five million listeners seem to enjoy it for precisely that undramatic, unvarying quality. when someone humsIt isand makes a comment about pigs, it probably isthe archersto which they refer.
Blue Peteris the longest-running children's television show in the world, dating back to 1958. It's an entertainment show with presenter and craft challenges, as well as a variety of pets including dogs, cats, and turtles (which sometimes caused havoc on live footage). ). The most common expression that arisesBlue PeterIt's "Here's one I've made before" from the crafting portion of the show when presenters, filming in real time, skip to the next part of the crafting process by working on a previously prepared example.
the coconutis another children's television show from Great Britain. It originally only ran for two seasons but has become a classic. The little pink clangers live on a moon-like planet and speak in whistles and howls, which are then interpreted by the narrator. The script featured the English version of the Clangers' speech, which included light swearing (in the first script, Major Clanger struggled to open a door and yelled, "Oh damn, that damn thing is stuck again."). and that, along with Clanger whistling in general, is what you will most likely refer to.
Doctor Whois one of the most internationally recognized items on this list. It's worth noting, however, that most of the series' international exposure has come from the revived version (from 2005) rather than the original series (1963-1989), and yet the latter is more deeply rooted in the cultural backdrop of British life. As such, anyone with a long scarf is likely to be told that they "look like Doctor Who" because Tom Baker's version of the Doctor was a major influence on the role. But the most common reference of all is the TARDIS, the boxy police spaceship that's bigger inside than outside, even being used as a point of comparison on the first page of Google results for "like a TARDIS". for everythinga cafe in LeicesterAThe genome of the carnivorous cicadas.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a bit British in nature. It is a televised international music competition involving most of the countries in Europe plus a handful, expanding the definition of 'European' (it will extend to Australia in 2015). Great Britain has won the competition five times, finished last three times and once received no points at all: "zero points" in the mandatory French translation. The latter is most commonly referred to. For years, BBC commentary was directed by Terry Wogan, who was once expelled from Denmark for referring to his hosts as "Doctor Death and the Tooth Fairy". Graham Norton has now taken the reins but he maintains the same style of not taking the quiz seriously which is why UK quiz viewership remains high despite our poor performance.
This classic sketch show lived up to its name (no sketch lasted longer than three minutes).the fast shipmentwas the forerunner of catchphrase-based comedylittle britain(see 'Vicky Pollard', below) and many of her catchphrases have seeped into everyday usage, such as "I'll get my coat", used on the show to get out of an awkward situation and in real life to make her laugh to bring cover up an embarrassing situation.
Unlike everything else on this list, the point isn't how much the Brits reference something, it's how little. Irish humor abounds with references to Saint Patrick and snakes (usually self-deprecating that getting rid of snakes isn't best for a saint), but Saint George is almost entirely absent from the British cultural landscape. Seeing a conspicuous St. George's Cross flag is usually a sign that the World Cup is taking place or that its owner is a supporter of far-right politics, and on St. George's Day, April 23, it is not a national holiday.
Douglas Adams Sci-Fi-Comedy-Serie,The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, about the unfortunate Everyman Arthur Dent, who ends up traveling the universe in his dressing gown, began as a radio series but has since grown into a book series, TV series and film. A variety of words and phrases from the show are in common use, but by far the most popular is "42," the show's enigmatic answer to questions about life, the universe, and everything.
British advertising has a well-deserved reputation for brillianceThe famous commercials from The EconomistACadbury Drummer Gorilla(nearly 8 million views on YouTube!). But the Ronseal catchphrase has become so well known that many people don't realize that the catchphrase came first and the language second. Anything that does what it says on the tin in a reassuring and uncomplicated way is described as "doing exactly what it says on the tin".
Another Radio 4 production,Just a minuteis a comedy panel that has been running since 1967. In it, each panelist is asked to speak on a topic that can be quite somber or difficult, without pausing, repeating words (except for very common words like "and"), or changing subject. Or as the show itself says, "No hesitation, no repeat, or deviance." Dedicated Radio 4 fans can also mimic the synonymous speaking style, which is the best way to score a win.
Compared to Saint George above, King Arthur is a much more acceptable patriotic hero to refer to in normal British conversation. However, the references mostly relate less to the great Arthurian mythology and more to the 1975 film.Monty Python and the Holy Grail(his later film from 1979,Brian's life, is referenced almost as often). Still, expect to find generic references as well, e.g. B. References to a strange and challenging task that is "like pulling a sword out of a stone".
Sometimes a reference is so deeply rooted in the language that hardly anyone knows its origin. Such is the case with the phrase "You are [insert name] and I claim my five pounds," which is commonly used to indicate that the person is behaving in a way that is unusually similar to another person. For example, someone who says they've never ironed their own shirt might get the reply, "You're Prince Charles and I want my five pounds." This is from a fictional character, Lobby Lud, invented by the Westminster Gazette (which was eventually acquired by the Daily Mail). The newspaper included a description of Lobby Lud that day and anyone who saw the person playing Lobby Lud that day could claim £5 (quite a lot of money at the time) at the above rate.
Many of the major internet forums have oneJargonits own, bordering on becoming its own code language. Mumsnet is one such site. they also haveYour own list of acronyms, many of which unsurprisingly have to do with pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. With the site comfortably having over a million users, Mumsnet terms like DD and DS (for "dear daughter" and "dear son") are slowly being used elsewhere online, and it seems likely that they'll make the leap to reality create world use soon enough.
Tabloids in the UK are very influential. The Sun, with its three million readers, supports the political party that has won every election since 1979. The effect of the Daily Mail is comparable. We decided to highlight World News. Published from 1843 to 2011, this newspaper was discontinued after its involvement in the wiretapping scandal. Any conversation about newspapers is likely to require some level of knowledge of each newspaper's weaknesses and flaws (everyone in Liverpool hates the sun, The Guardian is riddled with misspellings, etc.), but in the case of News of the World, its flaws are all there is to it that everyone will probably remember.
IsOxfordEnglish Dictionary or OED as it is affectionately knownIsDictionary in Great Britain. Other dictionaries for sale (Cambridgealso has one), but the OED is treated as the supreme authority. It is descriptive rather than prescribed; in his own words: "Their content should be seen as an objective reflection of English usage, not as a subjective collection of 'do's' and 'don'ts'." Because the OED is such an institution, it ultimately contributes to the essence of the English as a language.which does not easily submit to prescriptivism.
Private Eye is an anti-establishment satirical news magazine, known for its impressive investigative journalism and tendency to hint at potential scandals before another mainstream newspaper has enough evidence to publish on it, meaning they are heavily sued. The magazine is full of nicknames and recurring jokes, a surprising number of which (given their small circulation) are in common use, such as "tired and emotional" as a euphemism for drunk, "Torygraph" for the Telegraph, and "Brenda." for the queen
A staple of British political broadcasting, BBC Question Time features a panel of political figures and questions from a studio audience. It's another long-running show, dating back to 1979 as a TV show, but the format of "Any Questions?" assumes that has been on the radio since the 1950s. Its format and the style of its host David Dimbleby are instantly recognizable in parodies.
Round the Horne is another major influence on the English language that most people are completely unaware of. It was a 1960s BBC radio comedy show starring the skit Julian and Sandy, two unemployed actors. Nothing special about British comedy so far, except that Julian and Sandy often speak Polari, a slang used by the gay community, actors, sailors and entertainers in the early 20th century. A considerable variety of words in mainstream slang usage today derive from Polari, such as B. Drag, Naff, Barney and Ogle, and much of this can be traced back to the influence of Round the Horne.
Late at night and very early in the morning, BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a weather forecast for the seas around the British Isles. It is aimed at those involved in the broadcast and, with its short telegraph format, is difficult to understand for anyone who does not know what each part of the forecast refers to. An example might be: “Tyne, Dogger. Northeast 3 or 4. Occasional rain. Fair or bad". However, the soft tones of the forecast mean that many people enjoy hearing it, despite being completely irrelevant to what the wind speed might be off the Orkney coast. Poem by Carol Ann Duffyprayer', for example, refers to areas of shipping forecasting without any explanation, confident that your readers will understand the reference, and they usually do.
Another advertising slogan that has crept into common use comes from Tango ads from 1991 to 1997. In it, someone is drinking Tango from a can, someone dressed in orange walks up to them and hits/yells/shocks them in some way. and then the slogan: "You know when you've played tango". Through a strange evolutionary process and association with tango's orange hue, the phrase "You were made tango" has become a way of mocking someone who's gone a little overboard with the wrong tan.
While television on this list has further revealed the BBC's strong influence, University Challenge began with rival broadcaster ITV from 1962 to 1987 before being revived by the BBC in 1994. Questionnaires. Teams from different universities, shown one above the other on the screen, questioned by a test master in a challenging variantgeneral knowledge topics. The most well-known phrase from University Challenge is the opening: "Your starter for ten is...". Game show shows have a remarkable way of getting their catchphrases into the public consciousness, from "Call a Friend" and "Ask the Audience" to "Who Wants a Millionaire" to "I Started So I'll Finish..." by Mastermind.
Another contributor to catchphrase comedy, Vicky Pollard was the listless teenager on the BBC series Little Britain, played in disguise by Mark Lucas. While other catchphrases on the show have gained traction (like "The computer says no"), Vicky Pollard's refrains like "Oh my god! I can't believe you said that!” and shut up! I've never, not even dun nuffin' or nuffin'!' effectively define a certain stereotype of a horrible youth.
Wimbledon is the annual British tennis tournament which takes place in early summer and is therefore subjecta thousand jokes about the rain. The main yard now has a retractable roof, which spoils the fun. Wimbledon excels at two things: driving British support for the underdog to ridiculous heights (or maybe we just can't admit we're not very good at tennis) and showing the wonderful flexibility of national identity: when Andy Murray wins , he is a British hero; if he loses he's useless and a Scot.
It's exhausting trying to figure out exactly where the X Factor stands among the plethora of reality TV talent shows. Suffice it to say that it is one of the most popular and influential. Judge Simon Cowell set the standard for nasty TV judges, and because of the X-Factor's tremendous popularity, his brand of nasty comments have been repeated, repeated, repeated, both on and off screen.
Another famous BBC sitcom, this time about a long-suffering government minister (later, as the title suggests, prime minister) who finds himself at constant war with the civil service, frustrating any attempt he makes to bring about real change. It's been meticulously researched, so it's hard to know which of its influences actually came from reality; For example, his description of public service nicknames for various honorifics (e.g. KCMG - Kindly Call Me God; GCMG - God Calls Me God) is taken entirely from real life. But he is probably best known for his impeccable use of overly convoluted euphemisms, as when one character says, "It is responsible discretion exercised in the national interest to avoid unnecessary disclosure of fully justified procedures involving a premature disclosure would seriously undermine public confidence. "public". - all to avoid the use of the word "cover-up".
Z-Cars is just one of many examples of police drama on British television; Another famous example is the bill. These and their close relatives, crime dramas and crime dramas (which are even more popular) are interesting because they spawned a whole range of misguided jargon. We're talking about the jargon that the police actually useHere, but the crime drama has brought many things into the popular lexicon that were not used at all before, such as:Cops call each other "Reg"as a tribute to the character of The Bill, Reg Hollis.
We have covered just a small sampling of the rich lexical heritage of British popular culture in this article. If you would like to share any of the things we missed, please leave a comment below!
Television and film stills used in accordance with the fair use doctrine. Photo credit:the archers; Blue Peter Copyright BBC; Copyright Clangers BBC; Doctor Who copyrighted by the BBC and the Daleks copyrighted to the Nation legacy created by Terry Nation;Eurovision Singing Competition;Saint George;The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Ronseal Ronseal Advertising Copyright;Just a minute;König Arthur;daily post clock;mother and son;world news;Oxford University Press; Private detective1,2j3; Question Time Copyright BBC;Pride Flags;Radios;Tango;University Challenge;Vicky Pollard;Wimbledon;X Factor; Yes, BBC Copyright Secretary;Police Car.