World

The British TV shows that are watched all over the world

By Katy Scott, CNN

Updated 9:10 AM ET, Wed November 15, 2017
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Making TV shows is big business for the UK. Tens of millions of viewers around the world follow Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who and other iconic British characters.

And interest is growing. Sales of British television shows around the world rose to $1.7 billion (£1.3 bn) in 2015/16. Flip through the gallery to see British TV's biggest global hits.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television/Masterpiece/PBS
Set in modern-day London, "Sherlock" is one of the best-loved British programs worldwide. The fourth season of this contemporary adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories has sold to 230 territories around the world.

The show has spawned fan sites around the world. South Korean pop group SHINee even released an EP and single titled "Sherlock" in 2012, inspired by the show.
Todd Antony/Hardwood Films/Masterpiece/PBS
The original series of "Planet Earth" first broadcast in 2006, narrated by English veteran broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough.

Each episode of the nature documentary ventured into a different habitat, from tropical rainforests to the icy poles. Ten years later, Attenborough returned to present the sequel.

"Planet Earth II" sold to 154 territories, with both series now licensed to a total of 233 territories.
BBC 2016
Quiz show "The Weakest Link" sees a team of contestants answering general knowledge questions for money. At the end of each round contestants vote out the weakest team member, and host Anne Robinson utters the catchphrase, "You are the weakest link, goodbye."

The original British version broadcast in the UK from 2000 to 2012, and the format sold to just under 100 countries.
NBC/Getty Images
Sci-fi show "Doctor Who" revolves around the adventures of an extraterrestrial Time Lord who travels through space and time in a TARDIS (which looks like a 1960s police phone box) to fight a host of enemies.

The cult series was first broadcast from 1963 to 1989, and was revived in 2005. It has since been distributed to over 200 territories around the world, amassing a loyal following of "Whovians."
Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Costume drama "Victoria" chronicles the first few years of the reign of Queen Victoria, from her ascension to the throne at age 18 in 1837, to her marriage to her cousin Prince Albert, and the birth of their child.

While screenwriter Daisy Goodwin drew inspiration from Queen Victoria's own diaries, she has taken a few liberties by painting a more passionate and modern version of the young queen.

The first series (2016) drew in an average of 7.7m viewers in the UK and has been sold to more than 150 countries.
ITV/Masterpiece/PBS
Global smash hit motoring show "Top Gear" has been around since 1977, but was relaunched and rebranded in 2002. The famous line-up of hosts -- Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May -- provided comic relief for 22 series to an audience of 350 million viewers worldwide.

In 2015 Clarkson was dismissed following a "fracas' with a producer, and, together with Hammond and May, quickly signed up to present a new car show on Amazon, while "Top Gear" continued with new hosts on the BBC.

At its height, "Top Gear" showed in 214 territories worldwide and was the most widely watched factual television program in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Various local versions of the show have been produced in Australia, Russia, France, China and South Korea.
Wayne Coetzee/Gallo Images/Getty Images
This quintessentially British baking show, where participants compete in various baking tasks, complete with humor, fun, and sexual innuendo aplenty, is followed by viewers in approximately 200 territories around the world.

"The Great British Bake Off" format has been reproduced in over 20 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, India and Ukraine.

The French version ("Le Meilleur Patissier") features a grueling two hours of baking each week, and the Turkish version ("Ver Firina") comes with an additional side of dancing.
Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/PBS
Period drama "Downton Abbey" follows the romances and fortunes of the fictional aristocratic Crawley family and their servants at a grand Yorkshire estate.

Set between 1912 and 1926, it delves into the dealings of the aristocrats upstairs and the servants downstairs, and how their lives intertwine.

It's shown in 250 territories worldwide. There's even a "Downton Abbey" exhibition touring the world, kicking off in Singapore earlier this year. Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed, is now a tourist attraction in its own right.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE
Another period drama, "Mr Selfridge" tells the story of the American founder of London department store Selfridges.

Set from 1908 to 1928, the show follows Harry Selfridge's attempts to make his store a success, as well as as his and financial troubles, and his ultimate unraveling.

It was first broadcast in 2013 and has since been sold to over 150 countries.
REX/ITV/AP
This cartoon television series aimed at young children follows Peppa, her family and friends as they play in the mud, snort, and go about their daily lives.

The program is shown in 180 countries. There is a heap of "Peppa Pig" merchandise on the market, from stuffed toys to video games and even food, clothing and jewelry.

There is even a dedicated Peppa Pig World within a family theme park in Hampshire, England, with over 60 Peppa-themed attractions. Milan, Italy, is home to another attraction, Il Mondo Di Peppa Pig, in a theme park.
Rob Stothard/Getty Images
The original British "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" game show, where host Chris Tarrant ran contestants through a series of multiple choice questions leading up to the million-pound question, debuted in 1998.

Since then, over 100 different local versions have been produced all over the world, from Afghanistan to Vietnam.
Tim Ockenden/PA Images/Getty Images
Detective drama "Midsomer Murders" is set in the bucolic fictional English county of Midsomer and features a healthy dose of dramatic comedy.

It is based on the "Chief Inspector Barnaby" book series by Caroline Graham, and adapted by author and scriptwriter Anthony Horowitz.

First broadcast in 1997, "Midsomer Murders" has sold in over 220 territories, and goes by the name "Inspector Barnaby" in some countries.
ITV/REX/Shutterstock/AP
This adaptation of Winston Graham's romantic novels takes place in 18th century Cornwall, in south-west England, and follows ex-soldier Ross Poldark as he returns from war to discover he has lost his childhood sweetheart to his cousin.

His unlikely relationship with his strong-willed servant Demelza plays out against the backdrop of the sweeping Cornish coastline.

An earlier version of "Poldark" was broadcast between 1975 and 1977. The new series debuted in 2015 and has been sold to over 150 countries.
Mammoth Screen/BBC/Masterpiece/PBS
Reality singing competition "Pop Idol" was created by British TV executive Simon Fuller in 2001.

After two seasons, "Pop Idol" was axed and replaced by series judge Simon Cowell's "The X Factor." But the "Pop Idol" format was still adapted in just under 50 countries, and the ever popular "American Idol" version reportedly sold to 150 territories.

Notable winners include UK "Pop Idol" winner, Will Young, and "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, both pictured above.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
This hugely popular talent show created by Simon Cowell (right) sees singers compete for a recording contract. Since the original British version released in 2004, winners like One Direction, Leona Lewis, Olly Murs, Little Mix and Ella Henderson have gone on to sell millions of records.

Globally, 147 territories have tuned in to the UK version of "The X Factor," and there are 51 local versions around the world, from Albania to New Zealand.

In 2013, Indonesia produced "The X Factor: Around The World," a special featuring contestants and judges from various versions.
FOX/Getty Images
Animated television show, "Bob the Builder" follows building contractor Bob and his colleague Wendy as they complete their construction tasks. The series debuted in 1999 and remained unchanged until 2015 when Bob's world transitioned from stop-motion animation to CGI.

Bob's famous catchphrase (and the title of the hit theme song) is "Can we fix it?" to which his team responds with "Yes we can!"

Since launching in the UK in 1999 "Bob the Builder" has been translated into multiple languages and has aired in over 30 countries.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, created by English author Agatha Christie, has appeared in countless novels, radio plays, films, television shows and animations.

The primetime television series "Agatha Christie's Poirot," aired from 1989 until 2013, and has been watched in over 200 territories worldwide.

Poirot is also the central character the new movie "Murder on the Orient Express," starring Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz.
ITV/Everett Collection
Period drama "Call the Midwife" chronicles the lives of a group of nuns and midwives in London's impoverished East End in the 1950s and 60s.

Loosely based on the memoirs of a real midwife, the series is shaped by the events and social issues of the time, including the post-war baby boom and the introduction of the contraceptive pill.

First broadcast in 2012, "Call the Midwife" had reached viewers in nearly 200 territories in its first two years.
PBS/Everett Collection
The multi-award winning wildlife documentary series "Blue Planet" narrated by David Attenborough first aired in 2001.

Five years in the making, "Blue Planet" explores underwater worlds and fascinating species. It sold to more than 150 territories around the world. The seven-parter sequel, "Blue Planet II" was filmed over four years, covering every continent and every ocean.

"Blue Planet II" debuted in October this year, and was pre-sold to over 30 countries. The first episode drew 14 million UK viewers.
BBC Natural History Unit
Dance contest "Strictly Come Dancing" sees celebrities team up with professional ballroom and latin dancers.

It debuted in 2004 and has since given rise to 53 local formats around the world.

In many countries the show goes by the name "Dancing with the Stars." Other versions include "Let's Dance" in Germany, Slovakia and Sweden, and "Bailando por un Sueno" (Dancing for a Dream) in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images
Crime drama "Vera" is centered around the disordered but brilliant Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope.

Based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, "Vera" is set in Northumberland and showcases the beauty of England's northernmost county.

It has sold in over 290 territories since it first broadcast in 2011, with key markets including the US, Australia, France and Germany.
ITV/REX/Shutterstock/AP
First airing in 1981, "Postman Pat' follows Pat and his black and white cat Jess in the fictional town of Greendale.

The stop motion animated children's series has been sold to over 100 countries.

In France, Postman Pat is called "Pierre Martin" and in the Netherlands the series is called "Pieter Post."
Dreamworks Animation
Dinner party show "Come Dine With Me" follows a group of strangers who visit one another's homes for dinner, with the best host winning a cash prize.

It first broadcast in 2005 and there are local versions in 36 territories including South Africa, France and Australia. The Slovakian version of the show is called "Without a Napkin" while the Norwegian version goes by the name "Eight O'clock At My Place."
ITV Studios
Detective drama "Endeavour" is a prequel to the long-running "Inspector Morse" series, based on novels by Colin Dexter.

Viewers are introduced to the young Detective Constable Morse in 1960s Oxford, and the show has plenty of nods to how the iconic Inspector Morse developed his personality.

First broadcast in 2013, the series has been sold in over 150 countries.
ITV/Masterpiece/PBS
The original MasterChef first aired as a lazy Sunday cooking contest in the UK back in 1990, before a major revamp in 2005.

There are now 52 locally made versions of "MasterChef" around the world, with 200 territories showing the series.

The US version features British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (right) as a judge, who also hosts the US version of UK TV show "Hell's Kitchen."
David Buchan/Getty Images
First broadcast in 1990, British political television mini-series "House of Cards" follows fictional chief whip of the Conservative Party Francis Urquhart's scheming to become Prime Minister.

The US version,set in Washington D.C. and first broadcast in 2013, was the first online-only web televisions series to receive major Emmy nominations.

Both versions are inspired by the novel by Michael Dobb, a former chief of staff at Conservative Party headquarters.
BBC