British Culture

Holiday Cheer: Have Yourself a British Little Christmas

This is a slightly updated version of a post from Christmas 2011. But, since Christmas crackers and mince pies are always awesome in my opinion, it seemed worth sharing again. Hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Most of the biggest – well at least most important and/or most popular – Christmas traditions in Great Britain are…shall we say very well established, with many having been around in some form or other for hundreds of years. There are certainly more great British Christmas activities that didn't make this list - for example, the Top of the Pops Christmas Number 1 is something that's always fun to speculate about at this time of year, but these are some of the most prominent.

Why Americans Love British TV: Our First Guest Post at British Council USA!

Many thanks to the lovely folks at British Council USA for letting me natter on about Americans and our current love affair with British television on their blog. Thoughts? Head over and let me know what I left out!

Americans can’t seem to get enough of all things British. On US television networks in the past year or so, we’ve seen the debut of several remakes of British television series, some successful (Showtime’s Shameless, Syfy’s Being Human) and some less so (MTV’s Skins). Twenty-three million Americans got up exceptionally early to watch the Royal Wedding last spring and several million more got up not quite so early this past weekend to watch coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations from London.

Americans seem ravenous for imported British television. PBS stations nationwide have been achieving record-breaking ratings with hits from across the pond like Downton Abbey and Sherlock (5.4 and 3.2 million viewers, respectively). I think we’ve all probably experienced a friend (or possibly ourselves) under the influence of some form of Downton mania – the viewing marathons, the lack of sleep, the sudden obsession with Dan Stevens or interest in watching every film Dame Maggie Smith’s ever made. At a Sherlock premiere event for the show’s second series in New York, the cheers and screams for star Benedict Cumberbatch and creator Steven Moffat sounded like those at rock concert. It was pretty incredible.

Masterpiece (and Masterpiece Theatre before it) has always been fairly successful at captivating America with British programming. But lately, it seems that more people than ever are seeking these sorts of shows out. But, why? And why now?

[Insert cruel Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss-style cliffhanger here, mwhahahaha]!

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit this post over at the British Council’s site and let me know what you think!

Amazing Internet Things: The Story Behind “Keep Calm and Carry On”

It feels like a pretty safe guess that most Anglophiles probably own a copy of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster somewhere. (I do!) Some of us probably even own a parody or two of this in some form (Mine is “Keep Calm and Don’t Blink.”) But how many of us actually know the history behind it this saying? Or when exactly this image became so famous?

Barter Books has created a wonderful short video about the history of the iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that’s well worth watching. It’s fun and will leave you with a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling afterward. Check it out after the jump!

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