I’ll confess it: my husband and I pay a premium to upgrade our cable television package. It’s not the sports channels or even the music channels. Yeah, Turner Classic Movies tipped the scales, but what really made it a no-brainer was that the premium package had BBC America.
And I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a Dr. Who fanatic. Already this season we’ve had dinosaurs on a spaceship and a cyborg gunslinger in the old American west. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Who, he’s the last of the Time Lords from Galifrey. He travels the universe with a variety of human companions in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which looks remarkably like a British police call box. He protects Earth and humanity with a sonic screwdriver, a sharp problem-solving mind and the ability to run.
Seriously, they run from or to something in every episode. There’s a lot of running.
But Dr. Who is not the only British character or story that has captured my imagination over the years. Harry Potter now sits on the list, but so does Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Jane Austen books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, James and the Giant Peach, Charles Dickens books, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw plays and the poetry of Rudyard Kipling and W. H. Auden.
There’s something I find so appealing about the British world-view. Protagonists who rely on their wits and their friends instead of super-human powers or guns. A culture that once ruled an empire spanning the globe and now embraces the diversity and complexity of its citizens. A society that celebrates the family unit and where the sense of community always seem to shine.
Maybe it’s because Britain is an island. For centuries the Brits have defended their land from invasion and this indomitable spirit becomes a key element in so many of their heroes and heroines. Maybe it’s the long and rich history of a monarchy that lends an air of nobility, honor, duty and sacrifice to so many of the characters.
So tell me, do you have a favorite hero or story from Britain?