Can you tell different British accents apart? Train your listening skills and dive into British culture with these TV shows…
Are some accents easier to understand than others, or is it just about exposure? The UK, like most countries, has a history of favouring one accent over all others. When BBC radio started in the 1920s, newsreaders thought it was their duty to sound like the monarch (see: The King’s Speech). This English (or a Hugh Grant English) is the kind which was exported to English learners for decades and decades – which is a problem if you want to know how Britain really speaks.
These days you can find every accent on British TV, often a bunch at the same time. I’ve spoken to many people who are confident about understanding English, and then describe a shock when they arrive in London and think “maybe I don’t???”. Do not worry! With some reality TV, you can simulate being surrounded by a bunch of accents and slang. Sometimes even Americans cannot understand us…
Gogglebox seemed like a very dumb concept when it launched in 2013. In this reality show, we look at ordinary Brits sitting in their living room, reacting to the TV. They feature families and friends all over the country, so you get a real accent map. Against all odds, this show gets massive viewing figures.
This is one of the London soap operas, on air since 1985, and truly iconic – but I have never seen it! What I can guarantee is that the strong East London accent will give you some training for a trip over. One of the actors, Danny Dyer, is turning into a national treasure.
Want to watch a bunch of reality show relationship drama set on a Spanish island? This show is massive right now and has a lot of awkard conversations and fights between young Brits. The situation is artificial but this is how (some) 20 year olds talk.
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF
I saved the best until last! This amateur baking competition lasts 10 weeks starting in August every year, and you would not believe how dramatic it can get. You might want to stock up on cake before you start.