With the news that BBC Three is returning as a TV channel, we remember 12 of the best series it has given us – and you can watch them all right now on BBC iPlayer.
Hurrah! The BBC just announced it is bringing back BBC Three as a regular TV channel, six years after it was taken off air and moved online.
It first launched on TV in 2003 with hit shows including Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey, but you can currently only watch its offerings on BBC iPlayer. The platform continues to give us groundbreaking new documentaries, comedies and dramas – you only need to look at the recent adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You as proof of this.
To celebrate the news of the iconic channel’s return, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best BBC Three shows.
1. This Country
This Country is a mockumentary style look at life in a Cotswold town, through the eyes of cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe. Siblings Charlie and Daisy May Cooper created and wrote the comedy, and it brilliantly skewers what it is to live in the countryside in modern Britain where nothing happens. It is sharp, tender, wonderfully observed and very funny.
Well of course Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s iconic Fleabag appears on this list. The flawed but very funny Fleabag first came to life in Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. Although the humour is murky and dark, the series is a total delight to watch – with special thanks to Fleabag’s sister Claire and the arrival of the Hot Priest in season two.
3. Gavin & Stacey
One of the channel’s original programmes, many of us have a soft spot for Gavin & Stacey. The show was created by the brilliant Ruth Jones and James Corden. It’s about Gavin (Matt Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page) who embark on a long-distance relationship between Barry and Billericay. Quite simply: it is one of the nation’s most beloved series.
4. Stacey Dooley
Stacey Dooley first rose to prominence in 2008 when she appeared as a participant on Blood, Sweat and T-shirts, and she has been making groundbreaking documentaries for BBC Three ever since. From On The Psych Ward to Face to Face with ISIS and Hate and Pride in Orlando – she uncovers stories around the world with her empathetic approach.
5. Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
Originally broadcast on BBC 2, Two Pints of Lager moved onto BBC Three where it continued to run for ten glorious years. Sheridan Smith, Ralf Little, Will Mellor and Natalie Casey starred in this northern comedy about the lives of five twenty-somethings. We’ve loved everything Smith has done every since.
6. Him & Her
Him & Her is a sitcom about a lazy twenty-something couple: Steve and Becky, who live in Walthamstow, London. It’s an intimate anti-romantic comedy about real-life love in its lazy, messy, everyday glory. Starring comedy gold actor Joe Wilkinson, it was always going to be very funny.
7. The Mighty Boosh
You want weird, you’ve got it, with Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt’s The Mighty Boosh. It follows the surreal adventures of Vince Noir and Howard Moon, who work in the dysfunctional Zooniverse under the slightly crazed Bob Fossil. It’s perfect escapism and downright bizarre.
8. Nighty Night
Julia Davis excels in this dark comedy about a woman who sees her husband’s terminal illness as an opportunity to move up the social ladder. She also has an unhealthy obsession with her new neighbour, doctor Don (and the fact that he has a wife is not about to stand in her way).
Doctor Who fans found themselves in sci-fi heaven when Russell T Davies created spin-off series Torchwood in 2006. It became so popular during its five year run that it found a new home on BBC One. The story follows Torchwood, which is a team of people whose job is to investigate the unusual, the strange and the extraterrestrial.
Before Catastrophe, the brilliant and hilarious Sharon Horgan created Pulling. It’s about three single female friends who live in Penge, south-east London, starring Horgan, Tanya Franks and Rebekah Staton. Despite Horgan winning a British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Entertainment Actress in 2008, Pulling only ran for two seasons.
11. I May Destroy You
I May Destroy You was, without question, one of the best things we watched on TV last year. The series, which was written, co-directed by and stars Michaela Coel, made huge waves both in the UK and the USA for it’s nuanced and searing look at consent and modern dating. It was also threaded with Coel’s sharp humour and it had a brilliant soundtrack that helped get us through summer.
12. Normal People
Set in Sligo and later in Dublin, Normal People explores the passionate, complex, and at times awkward relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal) from secondary school through to their university years. Based on the book by Sally Rooney, it’s the gripping show that got us through the first lockdown.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…