This evening, the BBC’s youth-oriented channel BBC Three will leave terrestrial television and move online-only, a victim of budget cuts across the corporation. Aside from being home to border-crossing sitcom Gavin & Stacey, teenagers throwing their guts up in Malia on the ever-compulsive Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and blokes disappointing their partners on Don’t Tell The Bride, the channel was also home to a whole host of fantastic programming that will be sorely missed. To bid farewell, the NME team got a bit sentimental and remembered some of BBC Three’s most underrated shows – no Family Guy re-runs allowed.
Him & Her
Him & Her is the most real depiction of a relationship on the telly we’ve seen in years. Becky and Steve like to sit around in their pants, eat disgusting food and watch boxsets – like every single one of us. It made us laugh, it made us sad and it taught us that when short on time, washing just your fringe makes it look like you’ve washed your entire head. Invaluable.
If you’ve seen Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed cuddly toy movie Ted then you’ll be familiar with the much better concept of foul-mouthed dog sitcom Wilfred, which predated it by more than five years. BBC Three aired only three quarters of this dark, gross-out US series based on a pre-existing Australian one, starring Elijah Wood as a suicidal man who sees his neighbour’s dog as a slovenly human in a onesie, when everyone else just sees a horny canine. It’s much more hard-hitting and smart than it sounds, even if it does a few too many jokes about anus sniffing and dog vomit.
In The Flesh
If, when watching a zombie movie, you stop and think ‘Ooh, I hope nobody hurts that marauding monster’s feelings’, then In The Flesh is the one for you. Part of BBC Three’s raft of superior sci-fi dramas (Being Human, The Fades), In The Flesh is about Kieran, a gay teenager who committed suicide only to return to his humdrum northern home as part of ‘the uprising’. He re-enters society, and his parents house, existing in a gory state of purgatory. Vilified by the locals, he must find comfort with himself and his surroundings; hard enough for any teenager, never mind one being hunted by the HVF, the gun-toting vigilantes, whose mission it is to wipe out zombies like him. Here’s hoping the new-look BBC Three continues to invest in shows like this.
Summer Heights High
The eight-episode mockumentary picked up a particularly strong cult following in the UK, which was in large part thanks to BBC Three’s wise decision to air it in 2008. Chris Lilley’s three comic creations dominated the Sydney high school-set series, following the dysfunctional trio of private school fish-out-of-water Ja’mie, rebellious Tongan Jonah and eccentric drama teacher Mr. G, who were all played to perfection by Lilley himself. Still as hilariously funny nearly a decade later.
Off-the-wall coming-of-age sitcom Pulling was like a bible for all 20-somethings struggling to deal with their shit in noughties Britain. Co-created by Catastrophe star Sharon Horgan, the series follows three female friends as they get smashed, stalk potential love-mates (unsuccessfully) and generally fail at life. It’s tragic but hilarious stuff that’ll remind you nobody else has a clue what they’re doing either.
Life And Death Row
This three-part documentary series originally aired in 2014 and interviewed some of the youngest people on death row in the American penitentiary system. An inquisitive investigation brought to the UK’s attention how our cousins across the pond view capital punishment, and introduced to the harrowing arguments – from both sides – about the tricky topic. A new series is set to begin on BBC Three in the coming weeks in what will be a welcome return during this current rekindling of the True Crime phenomena.
Proving that the BBC Three commissioning department didn’t immediately go on holiday rules on receiving news that their channel was being pulled from air, this ongoing sitcom is far more subversive than its classic dim one/clever one setup suggests. Tom Stourton is dippily cheerful Dan, Charlotte Ritchie is the gleefully mean Hannah – the kind of person who’d pull off a spider’s legs one by one. The over privileged pair breeze through their horrible lives oblivious to the misery they cause to those around them, all soundtracked by incidental music from a 1950s washing-up liquid commercial. Series two came to an end with a bang last week, as an incidental character went the full Pulp Fiction in a Mercedes.
A ghost, a werewolf and a vampire rent a house together. It sounds like the start of a lame joke, but this supernatural comic drama genuinely was funny and emotionally engaging, as each character attempted to cope with their respective ghoulish identities. Annie the shy ghost (Lenora Crichlow), George the mild-mannered werewolf (Russell Tovey) and Mitchell the tortured vampire (a pre-Poldark Aiden Turner, still baring flesh at every opportunity) were trying to lie low in Bristol, but vampire badlad Herrick (Jason Watkins) just wouldn’t let them be. It all went a bit wrong after series three, when Tovey and Turner jumped ship, but for those three series Being Human was pure, high-concept escapist fun.