Threads: Sheffield nuclear war drama named in top 100 BBC shows of all time

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Harrowing Sheffield nuclear war drama Threads has been named as one of the top 100 BBC shows of all time.

The corporation is preparing to celebrate a century of broadcasting – and TV and film experts have drawn up a list of some of the most influential programmes of all time.

Focusing on shows which were gamechangers for British TV, the 1984 drama about the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Sheffield has been named in the top 100 by experts from the British Film Institute.

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Written by Barry Hines and directed and produced by Mick Jackson, the programme was a dramatic account of nuclear war and its effects in Britain and centres on two families as a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union erupts.

Threads has been named as one of the top 100 influential BBC programmes of all time.Threads has been named as one of the top 100 influential BBC programmes of all time.
Threads has been named as one of the top 100 influential BBC programmes of all time.

Shot on a budget of £400,000, the film was the first of its kind to depict a nuclear winter and has been called "a film which comes closest to representing the full horror of nuclear war and its aftermath, as well as the catastrophic impact that the event would have on human culture."

It was nominated for seven BAFTA awards in 1985 and won for Best Single Drama, Best Design, Best Film Cameraman and Best Film Editor.

The list highlights the best in comedy, drama, light entertainment, documentaries, sports shows and natural history – but popular favourites like Fawlty Towers, Only Fools And Horses and Line Of Duty aren’t included.

Here’s the full list

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1. Television Comes to London (1936): A newsreel showing the construction of BBC television studios at Alexandra Palace and the opening night of BBC TV

2. Ballet Negres (1946): Excerpts from the repertoire of Europe’s first Black dance company presented with live music.

3. BBC Proms (1947-) The festival that finally brought classical music to the masses through our screens

4. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)

5. The Quatermass Experiment (1953)

6. Panorama (1953-)

7. Zoo Quest (1954 to 1963)

8. The Sooty Show (1955 to 1992)

9. A Man From The Sun (1956) A play telling the story of immigration from the point of view of the Windrush arrivals

10. Hancock’s Half Hour/ Hancock (1956 to 1960)

11. The Eurovision Song Contest (1956-)

12. The Sky At Night (1957-)

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13. Monitor (1958 to 1965) Innovative arts magazine programme edited and presented by Huw Wheldon

14. Grandstand (1958 to 2007) Sports show updating fans on all the latest action.

15. Blue Peter (1958-)

16. Morning In The Streets (1959): A gritty documentary directed by Denis Mitchell and Roy Harris exploring life in north-west England.

17. Face To Face (1959 to 1962): One of the first ever “chat shows”

18. An Age Of Kings (1960): Shakespeare plays serialised

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19. That Was The Week That Was (1962 to 1963): Irreverent, satirical news programme.

20. Steptoe And Son (1962 to 1965, 1970 to 1974)

21. Z Cars (1962 to 1978)

22. Doctor Who (1963 to 1989, 2005-)

23. The Colony (1964): Documentary on the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in Birmingham

24. The Great War (1964): One of the first TV history shows

25. The Wednesday Play (1964 to 1970): A weekly play showing modern Britain

26. Vision On (1964 to 1976): A children’s TV show that appealed to deaf youngsters

27. Play School (1964 to 1988)

28. Top of the Pops (1964 to 2006)

29. Horizon (1964-):

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30. Apna hi ghar samajhiye (Make Yourself at Home) (1965 to 1968): First TV show aimed at South Asian people

31. Man Alive (1965 to 1982): Explored contemporary issues

32. Camberwick Green (1966): One of the first time-motion animation shows for children

33. Theatre 625 – Talking To A Stranger (1966): Gritty play starring Judi Dench.

34. The Forsyte Saga (1967)

35. The Morecambe And Wise Show (1968 to 1977)

36. Gardeners’ World (1968-)

37. Civilisation (1969): Landmark history series

38. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969 to 1974)

39. Nationwide (1969 to 1983): News magazine shows

40. The Liver Birds (1969 to 1979, 1996)

41. The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1970): Series of six 90-minute plays, each featuring a different wife and seen through the eyes of a different writer

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42. Play For Today (1970 to 1984): Helped launch careers of Kenneth Branagh and Dennis Potter

43. The Generation Game (1971 to 1982, 1990 to 2002)

44. Parkinson (1971 to 2004)

45. Open University (1971 to 2006)

46. Ways Of Seeing (1972) Innovative arts series

47. Mastermind (1972-)

48. Newsround (1972-): News show aimed at young people

49. The Family (1974): One of the first examples of reality TV, with a crew embedded in the home of the Wilkins family

50. Shoulder to Shoulder (1974): A drama on the fight for women’s suffrage in Britain

51. Pobol y Cwm (1974-) (People of the Valley): The BBC’s longest running soap – made in Welsh

52. Arena (1975-): Arts show

53. I, Claudius (1976)

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54. Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (1976 to 1982): The first major Saturday morning children’s TV show

55. Pennies From Heaven (1978): Edgy drama from Dennis Potter

56. Empire Road (1978 to 1979): Britain’s first serious attempt at a “Black” soap

57. Grange Hill (1978 to 2008)

58. Life On Earth (1979): Sir David Attenborough’s first “big” nature shows

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59. A Change Of Sex (1979 to 1999): First show looking at the life of a trans person

60. The Chinese Detective (1981 to 1982): One of the first cop shows dealing with the issue of race

61. 40 Minutes (1981 to 1994): Documentary series

62. Boys From The Blackstuff (1982)

63. Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery (1982): Show that introduced Brits to the delights of Indian cuisine

64. Police (1982): Fly-on-the wall doc series that helped change the treatment of rape victims

65. The Young Ones (1982 to 1984)

66. Threads (1984)

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67. The Lenny Henry Show (1984 to 2005): One of Britain’s first black comedians bringing comedy to the masses

68. Edge Of Darkness (1985)

69. Live Aid (1985)

70. Real Lives: At the Edge Of The Union (1985): Doc series exploring the Northern Ireland troubles

71. Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV (1985 to 1987)

72. EastEnders (1985-)

73. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1990): One of the first dramas taking a stark look at queer life

74. The Real McCoy (1991 to 1996): Sketch show tackling race and identity issues

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75. Ghostwatch (1992): A Halloween drama, posing as a live TV show, starring Michael Parkinson

76. Absolutely Fabulous (1992 to 2012)

77. The Buddha Of Suburbia (1993): Comic drama about the coming of age of teenager Karim in 1970s South London

78. Cardiac Arrest (1994 to 1996): One of the first dramas from Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio

79. Video Nation (1994 to 2001): A video diary series featuring Brits talking about their lives

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80. The Death Of Yugoslavia (1995): A shocking documentary looking at the plight of people in the troubled corner of south east Europe

81. This Life (1996 to 1997)

82. The Royle Family (1998 to 2000, specials 2006 to 2012)

83. Our Friends In The North (1996): Landmark social drama that helped launch the careers of future James Bond Daniel Craig and future Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston.

84. Teletubbies (1997-)

85. I’m Alan Partridge (1997 to 2002)

86. Goodness Gracious Me (1998 to 2001)

87. Chewin’ The Fat (1999 to 2005): Scottish sketch show proving that regional telly could be a hit

88. The Blue Planet (2001): Sir David Attenborough delivers what many consider to be his finest nature show

89. The Office (2001 to 2003)

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90. Something Special (2003-): A unique kids show produced by a former special needs teacher

91. Strictly Come Dancing (2004-)

92. The Thick Of It (2005 to 2012): Razor-sharp comedy parodying politics in the Blair era

93. Horrible Histories (2009-): Funny and irreverent children’s series exploring the past

94. The Great British Bake Off (2010 to 2016): Baking contest won a legion of fans. The show moved to Channel 4 in 2017

95. Call The Midwife (2012-)

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96. People Just Do Nothing (2014 to 2018): A mockumentary about a pirate radio station in London called Kurupt FM

97. Exodus: Our Journey To Europe (2016): Documentary following refugees and migrants making dangerous journeys across Europe

98. Bitesize Daily (2020): Education programmes for families during the pandemic

99. I May Destroy You (2020): Michaela Coel’s unflinching drama about race, sex and consent

100. Small Axe (2020): Five films looking at the true stories of London’s West Indian community