The greatest 100 TV shows ever made REVEALED (and number 1 will come as no ... trends now
Dear readers, drum roll please… the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine has reached yet another magnificent milestone – this month we turn 30!
To celebrate our anniversary, we asked you to send us your top ten TV shows so that we could compile the definitive list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows – as voted for by you.
And how you rose to the challenge. We were inundated with entries covering all manner of shows (yes, we even got votes for The Partridge Family and DIY SOS), and having spent days sifting through them they've finally been counted and verified.
So here then, you'll find the best TV shows ever made, and details of how you can watch them if you missed them first time around, or simply want to see them again.
There are plenty of surprises among the dependables. Of course, Morse and Strictly are in the Top Ten, but the only American show up there is Friends.
Frasier is there, Seinfeld isn't. Minder makes the cut, The Sweeney does not.
I, Claudius, packed with major stars, is forgotten despite its recent repeat on BBC4 – yet you still remember Tenko and Brideshead Revisited with deserved affection.
When it comes to comedy, it appears we don't make 'em like we used to.
Vintage sitcoms Only Fools And Horses, Dad's Army, Fawlty Towers and Porridge all make the Top 20, but more modern classics such as Gavin & Stacey and Fleabag only came in at 64 and 77 respectively.
I'm a little saddened that Steptoe And Son, the template for all great sitcoms, has just missed out… especially when 'Allo 'Allo!, which is amusing but shallow, merits inclusion.
But perhaps that's because the shows we love most are those we watched as children, the ones that bring a nostalgic rush – which explains our everlasting affection for Blue Peter, Thunderbirds and The Simpsons.
Since our very first issue back in 1993, with Loose Woman and consumer queen Gloria Hunniford on the cover, we've been meeting the superstars of the small screen week in week out.
By far Britain's most popular weekly TV guide – comprehensive, easy to follow and always entertaining – we've been steering you through each week's viewing to make sure you never miss a minute.
And we've helped you navigate the ever-changing TV landscape, as catch-up and streaming services have muscled in on traditional terrestrial output, by cherry-picking the very best of the thousands of programmes now available digitally.
That's why your favourite programmes' actors and creators are happy to spill their secrets to Weekend. And what stories they've told us over the past 30 years!
The Daily Mail's Weekend magazine has reached yet another magnificent milestone – this month we turn 30!
Because we love your No 1 show Only Fools And Horses as much as you obviously do, we never miss a chance to chat to Sir David Jason, aka Del Boy. 'If I went to the Moon, a chap would pop up from behind a crater and say, 'Lovely jubbly!' he told us in 2008.
'Once I was relieving myself in the gents' and a bloke said, 'Can I have your autograph? I didn't want to embarrass you out there.' So he waited till I was mid-flow in the toilets. Unbelievable! But it didn't occur to us that the show could go on like it did and still be held in such affection. It never entered our minds.'
And his co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, or Rodders (now starring opposite Kelsey Grammer in the Frasier reboot), told us he was accosted in the street daily with 'Oi, Rodders!'. 'But the papers loved it,' he recalled. 'They could say 'plonker' now!'
Kevin Whately, who played Sergeant Lewis on Inspector Morse before taking the lead in its spin-off Lewis, revealed, 'Morse's maroon Jag was an old stunt car that John Thaw himself had written off more than once in The Sweeney. You could see the road through the floor. It was hell on wheels.'
Morse and Endeavour are both on the list, though good old Lewis isn't.
And Martin Compston, whose Line Of Duty character DS Steve Arnott is known for his natty waistcoats, revealed the terrible cost of lockdown over-indulgence.
Before the final series began filming, he'd been starring in a thriller called The Nest which included several scenes with his shirt off, so naturally he'd made sure he was in great shape.
When the Line Of Duty wardrobe department measured him for his clothes he was a 30in waist. Then came six months indoors… and when shooting started he could no longer squeeze into his trademark three-piece.
'It was horrible – I'd totally changed shape,' he told us. He then hit the gym, a worthwhile investment of energy because Line Of Duty has come in at No 2.
Weekend loves royalty, both showbiz and the real thing, and Dame Maggie Smith certainly qualifies as the former.
She makes our Top Five playing the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, the greatest of all costume dramas, which gave her such acerbic lines as, 'I wonder your halo doesn't grow heavy, it must be like wearing a tiara round the clock.'
And perplexed by a piece of new-fangled slang, she once queried, 'What is a weekend?'
Of course, everyone knows the answer to that – it's Britain's best weekly television magazine, and it's free with your Daily Mail every Saturday!
Drum roll... it's the Trotters who have been crowned YOUR all-time TV favourite
As a young West End actor, David Jason used to walk down Oxford Street from his digs, stopping to listen to the patter of the market traders. 'Come round a bit closer, would yer? At these prices, I can't afford to deliver.'
He loved weaving lines like that into his performance as Del Boy, but admitted, 'I could never get my head round our viewing figures... nearly 17 million.' Only Fools And Horses has earned its place at the very top of our poll, by distilling the essence of our national character and bottling it – like Trotter's Peckham spring water, straight from the tap.
Del and his brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) bicker but always defend each other against the rest of the world. Their fine disregard for authority is combined with a strong sense of fair play.
And they respect their elders... however annoying Grandad and Uncle Albert might get. This unbeatable sitcom represents Britain on three wheels.
Writer Sally Wainwright admits that her heroine Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is everything she most admires in a woman: forthright, compassionate, motherly, independent and nobody's fool. There's a flavour of the Wild West to this brilliantly conceived crime drama set in West Yorkshire... and the Sarge is our modern-day sheriff.
The sensational plot twists in this fast-moving police serial kept us in suspense during every moment. Major stars, including Jessica Raine, Jason Watkins and Daniel Mays, were killed off without a second's warning.
And as for Keeley Hawes... we're still reeling. But Line Of Duty, starring Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure, was equally outstanding for its police interviews, which could take 30 minutes to build to an explosive climax.
The tension as we waited for a suspect to crack could be exhausting – but so addictive that fans binged whole series obsessively. On top of all that, there were the catchphrases... Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey, what a show!4. DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-2015) Netflix, ITVX Premium, BritBox, Amazon Prime Video
If ever a TV show deserves to be preserved by the National Trust, it's this splendid family drama, set in a grand country house in the early 20th century. The dynasty's future hung on the stormy love affair between Lady Mary and her cousin Matthew, but the broken hearts below stairs mattered just as much.5. FAWLTY TOWERS (1975-1979) DVD
Fawlty Towers stars Prunella Scales as Sybil (right), the wife whose nerves have been sandpapered down to raw stumps by her manic, bullying husband Basil (John Cleese, centre), with the hilarious Andrew Sachs as poor Manuel (bottom centre), the waiter caught in the middle of their rows
Sheer joy in just a dozen episodes. Set in a Torquay hotel, Fawlty Towers stars Prunella Scales as Sybil, the wife whose nerves have been sandpapered down to raw stumps by her manic, bullying husband Basil (John Cleese), with the hilarious Andrew Sachs as poor Manuel, the waiter caught in the middle of their rows.
Cleese is threatening to make another series, half a century on – please, please don't. It's just too perfect as it is.6. STRICTLY COME DANCING (2004-) BBC1, BBC iPlayer
Last year's glitterball champion Hamza Yassin with his partner Jowita Przystal
After two TV bigwigs pitched the idea of reviving Come Dancing, the BBC launched this sensation, now in its 21st series.
Viewers just love seeing celebs learning to cha-cha – last year's glitterball champion Hamza Yassin was bottom of the leaderboard in the final but the public adored him and his partner Jowita Przystal, and gave them the win.
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly were a winning combo as hosts and Claudia Winkleman has been a quirky successor to Brucie.7. INSPECTOR MORSE (1987-2000) ITVX
You'd never have seen The Sweeney's Regan discussing cryptic crosswords or Wagner, possibly one reason why John Thaw agreed to play another, very different, detective.
Oxford's cerebral, unlucky-in-love Morse was based on the character in the books by Colin Dexter – who had cameos in all but three of the 33 episodes.
Morse was partnered with Lewis (Kevin Whately) and their chemistry, along with impeccable writing, direction and music, meant 18m tuned in at the show's peak.8. FRIENDS (1994-2004) Netflix
There are few shows that never go out of style but this is one. Friends was the comedy of the 1990s, even sparking the 'Rachel cut' hairstyle trend, when every girl wanted to look like Jennifer Aniston's character.
The show's 2004 finale was the most watched TV episode of the 2000s.
When the rights to the show, about the lives of six New York friends, were bought by Netflix in 2018, dissenters stuck the boot in saying it lacked diversity and was sexist, but none of that has had an impact on its enduring popularity.
From left: Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buff
Based on the Home Guard experiences of writer Jimmy Perry, who created the show with David Croft, the show was beloved from the start, and it's remained in viewers' hearts ever since.
Telling the little-known stories of the volunteers who were not eligible to fight in WWII, the series set the template for a particular type of British comedy about over-confident incompetents, later seen in everything from Fawlty Towers to The Office. Ratings regularly topped 18 million.
Based on the Home Guard experiences of writer Jimmy Perry, who created the show with David Croft, Dad's Army was beloved from the start, and it's remained in viewers' hearts ever since
Although critic Clive James dismissed the original series by pointing out it was an anagram of 'Old Krap', viewers disagreed.
The nation went into a collective swoon over the saga of a dashing 18th-century Cornish army hero played by Robin Ellis, and most of your votes came in for his version.
Lightning struck twice when Irish actor Aidan Turner went once more into the breeches for a revamp, which made a great feature of his bare chest.
Lightning struck twice when Irish actor Aidan Turner (pictured) went once more into the breeches for a revamp, which made a great feature of his bare chest
Few TV series have become such a cultural phenomenon as the adaptation of George RR Martin's fantasy novels, recipient of 59 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Its creators went all out to make Martin's world authentic: Northern Ireland, Croatia and Iceland formed its backdrop.
And the actors played their part too: Kit Harington trained for two hours a day and ate 5,000 calories to bulk up as Jon Snow, and Charles Dance learned how to skin a deer as Tywin Lannister.
Kit Harington trained for two hours a day and ate 5,000 calories to bulk up as Jon Snow (pictured)
David Chase's modern Mafia show set a new standard for TV drama.
For starters it broke the sacred rule that violent characters must pay for their murderous ways. These mobsters? Fuhgedda-boudit.
Inspiration for the tale of New Jersey capo Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) came from Chase's suburban childhood – his family had distant Mafia connections. The Sopranos hinges on Gandolfini's masterful portrayal, but it could have been so different: Gandolfini walked out of his first audition over insecurity about his performance.
It's not an ultimate TV show list if The Sopranos isn't on it...
Still regarded as Britain's greatest comedy duo, they were particularly loved for their Christmas specials, which they used to spend a year planning. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise first became a double act in 1940 when they were teens, at the suggestion of Eric's mother Sadie.
After the war they began touring the variety circuit, honing their skills until taken up first by radio and then television. Their first show was a flop but it made the pair even more determined.
The 'third member' of the team was Eddie Braben, who wrote many of their shows.
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise (pictured) first became a double act in 1940 when they were teens, at the suggestion of Eric's mother Sadie
A spin-off from ITV's Inspector Morse, this cleverly crafted crime thriller featuring a younger version of John Thaw's character ran for nine series but never forgot the debt it owed to Colin Dexter's brilliant original.
Thaw's real-life daughter Abigail was a series regular as journalist Dorothea Frazil, and the final episode ended with a never-to-be-forgotten scene in which the younger Morse (Shaun Evans) drove his stylish black Jaguar past the famous red Jaguar driven by Morse.
A ghostly but familiar face in the rear-view mirror confirmed the identity of the vehicle's owner...15. PORRIDGE (1974-1977) Sky/Now
Writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais struck gold by mining comedy from a group of disparate inmates, led by Ronnie Barker's Norman Stanley Fletcher, at fictional HMP Slade.
They initially struggled to figure out how to make a show about prison lags funny until they were introduced to an ex-con who told them that during prison stretches he'd strive for 'little victories' to buoy him, so the writers made Fletcher's modus operandi to outsmart the system daily.
Barker frequently offered his own jokes, which helped the sitcom to become a classic.16. PLANET EARTH I, II & III (2006, 2016, 2023) BBC1, BBC iPlayer
It's David Attenborough's peerless narration that makes this epic nature show – which paints a sumptuous picture of our planet and its inhabitants and highlights their struggles with man's increasing impact on their environments – stand out from the crowd.
Attenborough, 97, writes his own scripts but edits himself ruthlessly. 'You mustn't be too wordy,' he says. 'The one key is that a picture is more powerful than a spoken word.'17. FRASIER (1993-2004, 2023-) Original series Channel 4, revival Paramount+
Guest stars in the original included Robbie Coltrane, Elvis Costello and The White Lotus's Jennifer Coolidge but the main attraction of this witty comedy was always Kelsey Grammer, who played Seattle-based psychiatrist and radio host Frasier Crane.
Grammer has inhabited Crane since 1984, originally in sitcom Cheers (see No 78) and now in a revival of Frasier on Paramount+.18. DOCTOR WHO (1963-89, 2005-) Classic episodes BritBox, 2005- episodes BBC iPlayer
A sci-fi show with a seemingly indestructible time-travelling hero who has outwitted deadly foes such as the Daleks, Cybermen and The Silence since first appearing on screen in 1963.
As head of BBC1, Michael Grade did what the Doctor's enemies had failed to do when he axed the series in 1989, only for a slick reboot to arrive in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston then David Tennant in the lead role.
Appropriately, it's the Scotsman who will be back as the 14th incarnation of the Doctor to celebrate the programme's 60th birthday with a three-part anniversary special on BBC1 later this month.
A slick reboot arrived in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston then David Tennant (pictured) in the lead role
This comedy about a conniving assistant (creator and star Rowan Atkinson) to a dimwitted aristocrat at various periods in history was almost consigned to the bin after its pricey and not very successful first series.
It took three years to persuade the BBC to sign off on series two, and they only did when co-creator Richard Curtis and his new writing partner Ben Elton agreed to slash the budget – and make it funnier.20. THE GOOD LIFE (1975-1978) BritBox, Sky/Now
The adventures of Tom and Barbara Good and their neighbours the Leadbetters were so popular that the final episode in 1978 was filmed live in front of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
But anyone in search of the house where the Goods lived in Surbiton, south-west London, will be out of luck.
The exterior is actually in Northwood, north London. The owners allowed programme-makers to dig up their garden as long as they returned it to normal after filming.
The adventures of Tom and Barbara Good (pictured) and their neighbours the Leadbetters were so popular that the final episode in 1978 was filmed live in front of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh
At its peak, 20 million British viewers were hooked on the saga of the Texan super-rich and the bitter battle between former business partners JR Ewing and Digger Barnes and their families.
Larry Hagman's ace schemer JR undoubtedly became the most memorable character, and the legendary Who Shot JR? storyline inspired EastEnders and The Simpsons' quests to find out who shot their own characters, Phil Mitchell and Mr Burns respectively.
Was bringing Bobby back from the dead in that shower crazy? Hell, yeah. Did we care? No!
At its peak, 20 million British viewers were hooked on the saga of the Texan super-rich
Eric Spear's theme tune might be called Lancashire Blues, but there's nowt sad about Corrie. Tony Warren's kitchen sink drama set on a Salford back street was commissioned for just 13 episodes, but in 2010 became the world's longest-running TV soap, with memorable characters such as barmaid Bet (Julie Goodyear).
Russell Harty once said, 'There was life before Coronation Street, but it didn't add up to much.' By 'eck he were right!
In 2010 Corrie became the world's longest-running TV soap, with memorable characters such as barmaid Bet (Julie Goodyear)
A terminal cancer diagnosis was crushing for hard-up chemistry teacher Walter White until he teamed up with former student Jesse (Aaron Paul) to reinvent himself as king of the crystal meth business. The show gave sitcom star Bryan Cranston the role of a lifetime and viewers a new TV addiction.
While fans were bereft when it ended (it was named the most acclaimed show ever by Guinness World Records), another fix was on the way – thanks to spin-off Better Call Saul based on Walter's shady lawyer.24. THE TWO RONNIES (1971-1987) Sky/Now
Ronnies Corbett and Barker first met at a London club in 1963 where out-of-work actor Corbett was serving drinks. They hit it off immediately and worked memorably together in shows such as The Frost Report, but this smash hit was their big break.
A brilliant collection of sketches, running jokes and comedy songs, it boasted work written by an incredible selection of funny men ranging from Barry Cryer and Spike Milligan to most of the Monty Python gang.
Barker himself wrote many of the show's best moments – he submitted his scripts under the pseudonym Gerald Wiley, though, so that they'd be judged on their merits rather than his status as one of the show's stars.
Ronnies Corbett and Barker first met at a London club in 1963 where out-of-work actor Corbett was serving drinks
Writer Heidi Thomas – wife of Midwife star Stephen McGann – came up with a gem adapting the memoirs of former nurse Jennifer Worth and giving grateful TV viewers this cast of nuns and nurses.
It regularly tops ratings on Christmas Day, but storylines like the death of midwife Barbara from septicaemia prove it's far more than cosy Sunday fare.
Peep Show (see No 53) co-creator Jesse Armstrong conceived Succession as a film about the Murdoch empire.
Instead, with a nod to King Lear, it became the story of Scottish-Canadian media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his children Connor, Kendall, Shiv and Roman's tussle to take over Waystar RoyCo from their ailing father.
Who'd be the chosen one? Or could shady Tom Wambsgans and his bumbling ally Greg triumph?
Critics and viewers relished the impeccable acting and crisp dialogue. And what of the inspirational Murdochs?
When Jerry Hall and Rupert divorced, she was allegedly banned from contacting Succession producers with storyline ideas. Not that they needed them…27. MAD MEN (2007-2015) UKTV Play, Amazon Prime Video
How's a show about cynical ad men going to catch on?
By dramatising the hollowness of the American Dream's how. Jon Hamm's dry-ice-cool Don Draper is the best-paid creative around – and he's also an utter phoney.
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) in Mad Men
Mackenzie Crook's script won him a BAFTA for its charming story about two middle-aged Essex mates obsessed with metal-detecting.
Crook, who starred opposite Toby Jones, was inspired to write it after watching Time Team.29. ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1978-1990, 2020-) Original series BritBox, Sky, reboot My5
James Herriot's books have created animal magic on TV twice.
Christopher Timothy starred as the vet in the 70s and 80s and Ch5's reboot is a hit. In Christopher's day he had to put his hand up real cows' backsides – now they use prosthetic animals.30. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1995) UKTV Play
The sight of Colin Firth in a wet shirt prompted a global meltdown in this Austen adaptation and sparked a sexing-up of period dramas.
'Man steps out of lake, world changes,' said our TV critic Kathryn Flett. Interestingly, fears of Firth contracting Weil's disease prevented him actually diving into the lake: a stuntman did it.
The sight of Colin Firth in a wet shirt prompted a global meltdown in this Austen adaptation
Classy actors including Anthony Edwards, Alex Kingston and Maura Tierney all did shifts in Michael Crichton's exceptional Chicago-based medical drama, the second-longest-running in US history after Grey's Anatomy.
But the breakout star was George Clooney as dishy Doug Ross, with Clooney playing up to his heartthrob status in a Friends cameo with ER co-star Noah Wyle.
George Clooney as Dr. Doug Ross in 1995 in Season 2 of ER
Aaron Sorkin's drama about senior staff at the White House starred Martin Sheen as the principled Democrat President and Rob Lowe as his spin doctor.
Filming had to be pushed back a year after Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light.33.