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Why we love Britain: Our ‘Best of Blighty’

For many of us, wherever we've ended up, Great Britain continues to play a significant role in our lives – and remains a huge source of pride.

Why we love Britain: Our ‘Best of Blighty'
Crumpets have long been a favourite of Britons and Anglophiles around the world. Photo: Getty Images

Whether you’re native-born, or simply a keen anglophile, there’s something about the UK – its music, food, culture and history – that is loved by many. That’s because the British Isles are, despite their relatively small size, still a global giant in many respects.  

Together with British Corner Shop – an online supermarket that delivers British food all over the world – let’s sit down with a nice cuppa and celebrate what’s (more than) OK about the UK. 

Music: From Music Hall to Acid House 

Music has always been the pulse of Britain. From the songs of bards, to bawdy music hall ballads, the British have always loved exploring the world (and themselves) through song.

For the rest of the world, it was the ‘British Invasion’ of the sixties that was the first real exposure to the sound of the UK. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen – each of these bands redefined popular music, along with the rhythm and blues sound brought from the US. Then came the raucous sound of punk – The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks defying social convention in their own unforgettable way. 

As time progressed, new waves of bands came to rewrite the songbook when it came to their specific style. In the eighties, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead hammered out a new metal sound, as The Smiths, The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays pioneered the alternative Indie sound. 

During the nineties, the ‘Battle of Britpop’ between Oasis and Blur established the idea of ‘Cool Britannia’. Elsewhere, in warehouses and fields across the country, acts like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Underworld played raves and club nights that shaped the endlessly evolving world of dance music. 

To this day, the UK music scene is a massive export, with new acts constantly storming worldwide charts – from Adele to Harry Styles, Dua Lipa to the King of Grime himself, Stormzy! – the Brits are a constant powerhouse when it comes to music.

What’s your favourite British export? If it’s tea and treats you’re missing, British Corner Shop has got your covered

The Rolling Stones, along with other ‘British Invasion’ acts, redefined popular music. Photos: Getty Images

Film: Reel Britannia 

While most of us automatically think of Hollywood when film is mentioned, Britain’s screen industry has been captivating audiences for over a century. 

Charlie Chaplin was truly one of the worlds’ first true movie stars and had crowds roaring with laughter in the twenties, while in the thirties, Cary Grant and Errol Flynn smouldered – when not doing a little bit of swashbuckling. 

You can’t talk about cinema for long without mentioning Pinewood and Elstree Studios, such are their legendary reputations as centres for movie magic. From Alfred Hitchcock thrillers to the spectacle of Star Wars, without these classic sound stages and the film professionals working there, we’d be without some of our favourite flicks. 

Today, James Bond continues to shatter box office records with his Walther PPK, while Harry Potter (and the Fantastic Beasts crew) enchant new generations of kids.

Comedy: Are you having a laugh? 

Ask people what shaped their sense of humour and Monty Python will be a very common answer. From a bunch of mates having a laugh in university reviews, they would go on to conquer the world with their absurd, surreal, yet insightful brand of comedy. They’re not messiahs though – they’re just very naughty boys! 

Brits are known for their wit, dry sense of humour and keen eye for satire. Subsequent generations would have their sides split by TV shows such as The Young Ones, I’m Alan Partridge, political satire show Spitting Image, the wonderful comical duo of French and Saunders, and of course the various iterations of Britain’s most cunning schemer, Blackadder

Recently, we’ve seen another renaissance in British comedy, with shows like The Mighty Boosh, Peep Show, Friday Night Dinner and Fleabag brilliantly skewering various aspects of British life. 

Comedy of all kinds remains one of Britain’s most potent cultural exports. Fringe festivals like the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe (now in its 75th year!) and small-venue stand-up nights are fertile ground for new talent, with many of today’s biggest acts finding their big breaks that way. Today, stand-up comedy giants like Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr, Russell Howard and Sarah Millican are loved by audiences globally.  

Heritage: A real Game of Thrones

When George R. R. Martin was looking for inspiration for his series A Song of Ice and Fire, he borrowed heavily from the real-life ‘War of the Roses’ that raged across England in the fifteenth century. 

That’s because British history is cool. It’s full of heroic battles, vicious scheming, impressive castles and inspirational moments. It’s a story of family feuds and the struggle for greater freedoms – and often stranger than fiction! 

Of course, much of Britain’s heritage is still there to be enjoyed. From The Tower of London to Stonehenge or Hampton Court Palace, millions flock to historical attractions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to immerse themselves in the adventure. 

Fish and chips are a British invention and a favourite shared meal. Photo: Getty Images

Food: No, really, the food is pretty great! 

Honestly, for all the jokes that people make regarding its blandness and stodginess, British food has plenty to offer. 

The UK produces stunning cheeses, meat and ale, with farmer’s markets selling farm-fresh ingredients for the table each week. Who doesn’t love a good roast beef, with a crispy Yorkshire pudding? 

It’s not just fresh produce that Britons love. Whether it’s a toasty buttered crumpet, shortbread biscuits, or a sandwich with a spread of Branston Pickle, British snacks and bakery goods keep the world turning for Brits and UK-lovers.

When it comes time for a treat, for example, Cadbury chocolates are a classic that have been satisfying sweet tooths since 1831. For a wide range of high-quality, delicious dishes, snacks, sauces and staples, all Brits know and love Marks & Spencer – it’s long been the place to turn. 

The good news is, for those missing a taste of home – British Corner Shop can deliver thousands of the UK’s most loved food and drink brands right to your doorstep in the EU.

Plus, in 2018 British Corner Shop partnered with M&S Food, allowing them to deliver over 600 quality M&S products all over the world, including their famous Percy Pig sweets, delicious crumpets and quality hot cross buns within their bakery range, and beautifully unique seasonal products.

The best part is, you can order all these delicious treats into the EU without having to worry about paying additional VAT or customs fees, thanks to British Corner Shop’s new European warehouse.

So, whether you’re craving a hot slice of buttery toast slathered in Marmite, or a McVitie’s Hobnob dunked in a steaming cup of M&S Luxury Gold tea, British Corner Shop have you covered! 

Get a taste of the UK delivered to your front door with British Corner Shop

Member comments

  1. We used BCS for a time and they were very good until Brexit. They ran into supply and delivery problems and opened an EU operation to fix the issues. It’s fair to say we were sympathetic as many things were out of their direct control. However, when things are down to them, they take a very strange and poor stance to clients when issues arise. They commonly short shipped orders which are weight based for delivery but flatly refused to supply the missing items FOC and fulfill the original order. This meant we had to reorder the missing products but pay another delivery charge, totally unfair indeed! The products also rocketed in price when we last looked so we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. We also managed to find Heinz baked beans at our local store for Euros 1.20 a tin and our choice in France is very very good for replacement UK favorites. The BCS is not a patch on its former self, a great pity but “C’est la vie”

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OPINION & ANALYISIS

What’s behind Germany’s obsession with roundtable politics talk shows?

Forget the Bundestag. If you want to understand German politics - and see how lively it can really be - turn on your (almost nightly) talk show.

What's behind Germany's obsession with roundtable politics talk shows?

It may well be one of the most German things imaginable – a roundtable discussion designed to give a fair amount of time to a wide range of viewpoints before (maybe) achieving some sort of consensus.

Failing that, viewers – theoretically anyway – walk away better informed and open to changing some of their opinions after a, again theoretically, respectful discussion.

Welcome to the German political talk show circuit – a collection of moderated roundtable discussions.

Whether its Anne Will on Sunday nights, “Hart aber fair” or “tough but fair” on Mondays, or Maybrit Illner on Thursdays and Markus Lanz on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays – you can tune into several political panels a week if you fancy.

If you have politically-minded German friends or co-workers, you might ask: “Did you watch Lanz last night?” Anecdotally, at least as many people who watch will have strong opinions about why they don’t.

Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk makes a video appearance (left video) on the Markus Lanz show on 10 March 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/ZDF | Cornelia Lehmann

“Lanz is a disgrace!” and “I don’t watch Anne Will out of principle!” are both phrases I’ve heard myself more than a few times over the years.

But if you are a fan and you miss an episode, don’t worry – many news outlets will run summaries of what happened during said roundtable the next morning.

“Newspapers regularly publish these recaps almost as if they were relevant parliamentary meetings,” says Peter Littger, a columnist on language and culture in Germany. “It’s super relevant politically. It can increase your voting base and certainly your book sales if you appear there.”

READ ALSO: Tatort to Temptation Island: What do Germans like to watch on TV?

‘Consensus-oriented political culture’

If the nationally-focused ones aren’t enough for you, there’s a good chance you can find a show on a regional broadcaster focusing on issues in your federal state, again in – you guessed it – roundtable format.

As you might have gathered, the show’s name is often the same as its host, who functions first and foremost as a moderator there to facilitate and mediate a discussion between guests who are chosen specifically to balance a panel.

For a discussion on Ukraine, for example, you’ll regularly have people from every political party, from ministers and high-ranking parliamentarians who chair important Bundestag committees to pro-Russian voices from the German Left Party and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

And no one is too high-ranking not to make at least the occasional appearance. Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself joined a Maybrit Illner roundtable on July 7th this year.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz appears on the Maybrit Illner show on 7 July 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/ZDF | Svea Pietschmann

Both European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have also made appearances on Anne Will this year.

In characteristically German fashion, state broadcasters have extensive written regulations to ensure a panel also has a balance of people from relevant expert disciplines. For instance, a coronavirus panel may well feature a notable doctor alongside a civil liberties lawyer.

“Germany has a more consensus-oriented political culture than you might see in a country like the UK, for example, which is more confrontational and even adversarial,” says Sebastian Ludwicki-Ziegler a PhD researcher at the University of Stirling’s Department of Communications, Media, and Culture.

“You’ll still get some invited guests who are very contrarian and even aggressive – like Thilo Sarrazin (a former politician who wrote a controversial book in 2010 about Muslim immigration to Germany) for example. But even then, the moderator often tries to maintain a softer, more civil tone.”

Ludwicki-Ziegler says that while the roundtable format reflects German political culture, it also reflects its institutional setup. A show producer can simply get more obvious ranges of political opinion in a country with Germany’s proportional representation, which has seven parties in parliament.

Historic roundtables

Unlike the often subdued German Bundestag though, German talk shows can certainly get lively, or even historic.

Perhaps the most notable TV roundtable happened right after the 2005 federal election. With then incumbent Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder having finished only one percent behind Christian Democrat Angela Merkel when all the votes were counted, party leaders gathered in the traditional “Elefantenrunde,” or yes, the “Elephant’s round,” to discuss the results.

READ ALSO: Talking elephants and grumpy politicians: Four things that will happen after the German elections

With the final election result having been so close, observers still discuss whether Schröder lost his chancellorship at the ballot box or during the 2005 Elefantenrunde. In contrast to a calm Merkel, Schröder insisted he would stay on as Chancellor.

Brash and arrogant, some observers have asked whether he was drunk at the time. German media outlets ran anniversary pieces looking back at his disastrous roundtable performance 5, 10, and 15 years later. One such anniversary piece from 2020 called the roundtable “Schröder’s embarrassing end.”

The 2005 post-election roundtable, or “Elefantenrunde,” is considered by many German political observers to be the disastrous end to former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder;s political career. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | ZDF/Jürgen_Detmers

Mastering the roundtable appearance is a big plus for a German politician, or anyone else looking to move the needle of German public opinion.

Satisfying a particularly German impulse, you can certainly also walk away feeling like you’ve considered all sides. But are there drawbacks?

On 8 May 2022’s edition of Anne Will, social psychologist Harald Welzer appeared to lecture Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk that 45 percent of Germans were against delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine because of German war history. Many observers criticised Welzer for patronising the Ambassador of a country at war about the need to have weapons for its own self-defense.

The exchange, and a fair few others, lead some experts to wonder whether the roundtable format so many German political talk shows seem to love gives too big a platform to pro-Russian voices or to controversial writers like the aforementioned Thilo Sarrazin.

“If we take Germany and Ukraine as one example, you can get some great guests who come on and really set things straight with facts, data, and plain talk,” says Benjamin Tallis, a Fellow in German Security Policy at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

“But you can get false balance. You’ll get people on with rather fringe opinions given a platform against people who have a lot more experience and evidence. That’s true in a lot of places now, sure, but this talk show format really lends itself to that because of the amount of guests you need on a nightly basis,” says Tallis.

“Unfortunately in Germany, many guests are invited on based on their opinions about an issue rather than the level of their expertise, in order to try and achieve balance,” says Minna Alander, a specialist in German foreign policy who recently joined the Finnish Institute of International Affairs after more than a decade working in Berlin.

“When you start equating opinion with knowledge, it makes it way more difficult to have a fact-based debate. On matters of life and death, like in Ukraine, that can have a polarising effect.”

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