I might have lived in the US for five years, but I still eat crumpets, drink proper tea with milk, and consider fanny a childish nickname for a woman's genitals. While I love this brave new land of HBO, Hulu and enough Real Housewives to trample a village, I miss British television with a vengeance. Usually catching up on my Googlebox, bleak crime dramas and episodes Alan Partridge requires either some fiddling around with a VPN service or the patience to wait and see if one of the US channels or streaming services or picks it up. Then I heard about Britbox.
The service has been available in American for a while - I added it to my Amazon Prime video service for the princely sum of $6.99 - but the BBC and ITV are launching it in the UK as a rival to Netflix (opens in new tab). I imagine that means it will be packed with brilliant British shows like Doctor Who, Love Island, all those stunning BBC wildlife documentaries, all released soon after they air on live TV. I'm sad to report, that is not the case with the US version of the service.
Crackers and crappiness
The selection of stale British crime shows was so out of date it felt like I had accidentally time travelled to the dusty video rental selection of a village shop in the Cotswolds. Yes, there are a few nuggets of new among the balls of fluff, you can watch daytime TV show Good Morning if Piers Morgan doesn't make your undercarriage seal over, there are the misery soaps we Brits love because we can't feel emotion unless it happens in a pub, but mostly you're staring down the barrel of nineties 'classics' like One Foot in the Grave, Cold Feet, and Cracker.
Not that these don't have a place, but it all feels a bit second hand shops, especially when you think that the shiny new shows are all just another monthly subscription away on other services. The best and the brightest are sold off to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime - Derry Girls, The Great British Bake Off, Bodyguard, Fleabag - and some even make it to cable, like Killing Eve or Downton Abbey. For $7 a month you want a piece of that steak and kidney pie. It might not seem much, but that's close to a $100 a year for shows that are just used these days to fill the 2am gaps in the television schedules on a bank holiday Monday.
Me? I'm happy to pay for great British TV shows, are would gladly stump up a fee to the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, a dodgy bloke called Ian who swore he could get me up to the minute Love Island for a small monthly fee - instead of constantly having to go into secret agent mode with a VPN just to see if Wes and Megan do the dirty deed. Take my dollars England, take them and just let me watch.
So bad news, my English friends, while iPlayer and Channel 4 and the ITV Hub still exist Britbox is about as much use to you as a chocolate teapot. Unless you have a crush on Victor Meldrew.
Forget about Britbox for now, here's everything we know about the new Disney+ streaming service (opens in new tab) launching later this year.