Once upon a time, Shakespeare lorded over the creative writing scene. He still does, undisputedly, and till now, we still care about the English bard because of the effortless way he connects with the human psyche, through his expressions of love, loss, tragedy and humour. As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – generations after, we know where this classy British sitcom humour stems from.
These days, audience are more discerning too and would rather watch ‘smart TV’, which has in part contributed to a resurgence of British TV locally and abroad. Taking American by storm and growing in popularity around the world, is Downtown Abbey, which gives us a glimpse into the lives of British aristocrats then. The sitcom even counts Michelle Obama and Tom Hanks as fans . From deceit, betrayal, to rape and war – Downtown Abbey deals with scandalous, dark themes that draw in the viewers because of universal themes, such as “tensions of social status” and “unabashed romance.”
Benedict Cumberbatch has ladies swooning over him and it is not merely due to his charismatic, sharp persona on-screen as Sherlock Holmes, but his off-screen persona too too. He is well-loved for being humble yet witty, the perfect husband to Sophie Hunter; and also, for moments like this:
Another well-known British starlet is none other than Emma Watson, who first turned as Hermoine Granger. She didn’t let her early childhood fame get to her head, and went on to clinch an ivy league degree, and recently gave a moving speech at the United Nations conference as part of the He for She gender equality campaign, in hopes of galvanizing tangible change. Her accomplishments thus far are a stark contrast to some other child stars of her era, who have faded away, got lost in fame or in the world of drugs.
Let’s not forget the unparalleled Mr Bean. Who is quirky and supremely hilarious in his quiet ways. Any child who grew up in the 90s would be familiar with his yellow beetle, his awkward gait, Teddy whom he confides in (i.e. his only best friend), and of course how he manages to get himself in trouble and out of it because of his scrooge mentality. In fact, people tend to forget Rowan Atkinson’s role in mock-historical comedy Blackadder, as Edmund Blackadder, a well-spoken generous man, who has to deal with the scrupulous people that surround him.
Americans naturally identify him as a funny guy and might assume he is nothing more than a talented actor – but little did they know that beneath his humorous persona, is a highly intelligent man who received an electrical engineering masters from the prestigious Oxford University. Seriously, a jack-of-all-trades.
In fact, the widely popular political drama, House of Cards taking USA by storm now, was adapted from BBC’s mini-series and based off British author, Michael Dobb’s book. It really does seem like the Brits have a flair of writing intellectually stimulating content.
In celebration of all that jazz, the British Council is holding a GREAT British Carnival on 21 March 2015, from 11am – 4pm. What’s happening? From live Gurkha performances, to English language workshops, to savouring scones and teacakes with characters from Jane Austen novels, to playing dressp-up as Sherlock holmes or Lady Mary in Downtown Abbey – there is something for everyone.
To register for free British TV themed free 90-minute English language workshops at the British Council (30 Napier Road), please call +65 6653 7995 or find out more details on their website: www.britishcouncil.sg/GreatBritishCarnival.