Being a student in the UK is not quite like the experience anywhere else in the world. There’s weird customs and things only the Brits do, and thrown in with our slightly strange sense of humour, sometimes the best way to acclimate (especially with things going on at the moment… you know what I mean) is to watch some iconic TV. So here I present to you all the very best of British TV to teach you all you need to know about student life. Although there certainly isn’t as much to offer as the US, the following give a valuable insight into British student culture.
A staple of British TV culture, Fresh Meat portrays the life of a group of students living in a houseshare in Manchester. The breakthrough for now iconic actor and comedian Jack Whitehall, who was himself a student in Manchester, the series presents important truths and realities not only about how students in the UK really live, but also an invaluable insight into the workings of universities across the country.
Although not technically set in the UK, Normal People is an essential gateway into the workings of student life. Following the love story of two schoolmates, Marianne and Connell, as they progress through school and into Trinity College, Dublin. We see the heartache, money-concerns, flat parties and society meet-ups that are all too familiar to students across the UK in a realistic and stark way. The popularity of the show after it was released this year skyrocketed, and there’s plenty of great laughs and moments to shed a tear. Also, Connell. And his chain.
Skins is a series following a group of school friends as they discover themselves, and each other, in the midst of their final years before university. Despite being set just before most people head off to uni, it gives a valuable insight into the culture and attitudes of being a young person in the UK and the ways school life shapes most people before they head off for further education.
Filmed and released in the 1980s, The Young Ones was written and starred some of the leading comedic figures of their generation and launched the career of Ben Elton as a major writer. The series followed the lives of four dislikable characters who attend university together. Laced with British humour, it gives a valuable view into the foundations of today’s university experience here in the UK. And if it’s your cup of tea, it’s pretty hilarious too.
The Riot Club was originally a play written by leading playwright Laura Wade. Although not a TV series, it offers an important insight into teen culture in the UK. Not necessarily because of what is portrayed in the film (starring Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Sam Claflin and Holliday Grainger) but because it portrays what many people in the UK view to be the behaviour of elites at Oxford and Cambridge. Understanding the fundamental issues within UK society and their relationship with Oxbridge allows you to understand the nature of the relationship many students have with their own university experience.
Lily is a Content Writer and Editor based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about travel, literature and higher education.