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Just don't tell the Major, Fawlty is our favourite.

John Cleese's hilarious run-ins as cantankerous hotel boss Basil Fawlty have made Fawlty Towers the greatest British TV show of all time, according to a poll today.

The show, about the Torquay hotel with its dysfunctional staff and guests, topped a list of all-time favourites in a survey by the British Film Institute.

Gritty Sixties drama Cathy Come Home finished runner-up in the poll of 1,600 figures from the TV industry - programme-makers, TV executives and critics - who took part.

The list of classics also features another Cleese contribution at number five with Monty Python's Flying Circus, whose surreal sketches changed the shape of British comedy.

Pioneering sci-fi series Doctor Who, which ran regularly from 1963 to 1989 and led several generations to cower behind the sofa on Saturdays, finished third.

Another children's show made it into the top 10; Blue Peter finished in sixth position.

It is one of two programmes to make it into the list which began in the 1950s and are still going strong today - the other This Is Your Life is at number 85.

No Nineties creations made it into the top 10, with the highest rated series from the past decade, Absolutely Fabulous managing number 17.

The most recent TV show to score highly in the poll was Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which figured at number 23.

Many of the entries were one-off dramas which were simply part of a series like Play For Today or The Wednesday Play.

They include Cathy Come Home - directed by award-winning filmmaker Ken Loach - whose portrayal of social injustice led to increased awareness about homelessness.

Abigail's Party (at number 11) was another TV play, as was Edna The Inebriate Woman (57).

Coronation Street is the top soap at number 40, but its arch rival EastEnders fails to get a mention in the entire top 100.

The earliest programme to make it into the list is the BBC production Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was made way back in 1954.

Newcomer Channel 4, formed 18 years ago, managed to squeeze into the BFI TV 100 list with six programmes, while Channel 5 - just three years old - failed to get a mention.

Some of the listed programmes have appeared both on ITV and also on the BBC. These include University Challenge, This Is Your Life and Thunderbirds.

Voters were also asked to name their top overseas programme with radio psychiatrist Frasier - screened in the UK by Channel 4 - taking the top slot.

Presenter Michael Parkinson - whose long-running chat show finished in eighth place - announced the results of the poll today.

He said: 'The particular significance of this list of programmes is that it reflects the votes of the televisions industry, those involved in programme-making, and they can be a tough audience to satisfy.'

BFI director John Teckman said: 'The BFI TV 100 is a wonderful celebration of quintessentially British programmes which have entertained us over the years. It serves as a timely reminder that we have a television heritage to be proud of.'

The BFI, which preserves and distributes TV images as well as film, launches a photographic exhibition of images from the top shows at the National Film Theatre at London's South Bank.

The Top 100

1. Fawlty Towers (BBC).

2. Cathy Come Home (The Wednesday Play) (BBC).

3. Doctor Who (BBC)

4. The Naked Civil Servant (ITV)

5. Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC).

6. Blue Peter (BBC).

7. Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC).

8. Parkinson (BBC).

9. Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (BBC).

10. Brideshead Revisited (ITV)

11. Abigail's Party (Play For Today) (BBC).

12. I, Claudius (BBC).

13. Dad's Army (BBC).

14. The Morecambe and Wise Show (BBC).

15. Edge of Darkness (BBC).

16. Blackadder Goes Forth (BBC).

17. Absolutely Fabulous (BBC).

18. The Wrong Trousers (BBC).

19. The World at War (ITV).

20. The Singing Detective (BBC)

21. Pennies from Heaven (BBC).

22. The Jewel in the Crown (ITV).

23. Who wants to be a Millionaire? (ITV).

24. Hancock/Hancock's Half Hour (BBC).

25. Our Friends in the North (BBC).

26. 28 Up (ITV).

27. The War Game (The Wednesday Play) (BBC).

28. The Magic Roundabout (BBC).

29. That Was The Week That Was (BBC).

30. An Englishman Abroad (BBC).

31. The Royle Family (BBC).

32. Life on Earth (BBC).

33. The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC).

34. University Challenge (ITV/BBC).

35. Porridge (BBC).

36. Blue Remembered Hills (Play For Today) (BBC).

37. Mastermind (BBC).

38. I'm Alan Partridge (BBC).

39. Cracker (ITV).

40. Coronation Street (ITV).

41. Top of the Pops (BBC).

42. Inspector Morse (ITV).

43. Grange Hill (BBC).

44. Steptoe and Son (BBC).

45. Only Fools and Horses (BBC).

46. Auf Wiedersehen Pet, series one (ITV).

47. Tiswas (ITV).

48. Elgar (Ken Russell - Monitor) (BBC).

49. Nuts in May (Play For Today) (BBC).

50. Father Ted (C4).

51. The Avengers (ITV).

52. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC).

53. The Forsyte Saga (BBC).

54. Hillsborough (ITV).

55. Dennis Potter: The Last Interview (Without Walls special) (C4).

56. Bar Mitzvah Boy (Play for Today) (BBC).

57. Edna, The Inebriate Woman (Play for Today) (BBC).

58. Live Aid (BBC).

59. World in Action (ITV).

60. Thunderbirds (ITV).

61. Talking Heads/Talking Heads Two (BBC).

62. Ready, Steady, Go! (ITV).

63. Z Cars (BBC).

64. Culloden (BBC).

65. Ascent of Man (BBC).

66. A Very British Coup (C4).

67. Civilisation (BBC).

68. Prime Suspect (ITV).

69. The Likely Lads/Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (BBC).

70. Have I Got News For You? (BBC).

71. The Snowman (C4)

72. Walking with Dinosaurs (BBC).

73. Nineteen Eighty-Four (BBC).

74. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (BBC).

75. Quatermass and the Pit (BBC).

76. Between the Lines (BBC).

77. Blind Date (ITV).

78. Talking to a Stranger (BBC).

79. The Borrowers (BBC).

80. One Foot in the Grave (BBC).

81. Later with Jools Holland (BBC).

82. Tutti Frutti (BBC).

83. The Knowledge (ITV).

84. House of Cards (BBC).

85. This is Your Life (BBC/ITV).

86. The Tube (C4).

87. The Death of Yugoslavia (BBC).

88. Till Death Do Us Part (BBC).

89. A Very Peculiar Practice (BBC).

90. Michael Moore's TV Nation (BBC).

91. This Life (BBC).

92. Death on the Rock (This Week) (ITV)

93. The Nazis (A Warning From History).

94. Drop the Dead Donkey (C4)

95. Arena (BBC).

96. The Railway Children (BBC).

97. Teletubbies (BBC).

98. Spitting Image (ITV).

99. Pride and Prejudice (BBC).

100. Made in Britain (ITV).
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Article Details
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Author:Barnes, Anthony
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 6, 2000
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