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Great British Obsessions

Britain's Greatest Obsessions: Episode Guide

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Britain’s Greatest Obsessions will see a host of top celebrities explore uniquely British preoccupations and passions in an attempt to find out what makes the British tick,

Each episode sees one celebrity guest presenter undertake a journey through British culture and history, to find out how and why these particular subjects have become so embedded in our collective psyche and national identity

Episode One: Harry on Humour - Monday 12th September, 9pm

In this episode, Harry Hill explores why the British think they have a better sense of humour than anyone else in the world, and in particular the Germans…. Harry questions why the Brits think it’s so important to have a good belly laugh and, with the help of experts such as Dr Sharon Lockyerof Brunel University, delves into the colourful worlds of pantomime, Punch and Judy, slapstick, and European comedy.

Harry meets up with other comedians, including Germany’s comedy ambassador to the UK, Henning Wehn, to find out what having a sense of humour means to Brits, and what the future of comedy in the UK looks like. Along the way he is joined by the likes of Bonnie Langford, Nida Manzoor, Paul Wheeler and trailblazing comedienne, Holly Burn. Harry talks his findings through Chris, Reginald, Liza, Lorraine, and Suggs.

Episode Two: Suggs on Pubs - Monday 19th September, 9pm

Madness front man Suggs has a long history with pubs. Not only did his mum serve behind the bar at The French House in Soho for years, but without the opportunities that pubs have provided for live performances, Madness - and Suggs’ career - might never have taken off.

In this episode, Suggs discovers the history of the British love of the humble hostelry and gets stuck into a load of interesting issues along the way, from women’s role in brewing, and the community role of the pub, to the pub as a place of literary and musical creativity, as well as some of the most notorious ghost stories. Along the way, Suggs meets fellow pub obsessives, including journalist and beer sommelier Marverine Cole, and celebrated Camden musician, Frank Turner, before dissecting all he has discovered with Harry, Reginald, Lorraine, Chris and Liza.

Episode Three: Chris on Pets - Monday 26th September, 9pm

Wildlife expert and presenter Chris Packham is a self-confessed dog obsessive, doting on his two poodles, Sid, and Nancy. But he wants to know more about when animals stopped being useful to humans and started to become companion animals. When did animals first become our “best friends”, and which kind of pets do Brits prefer?

Meeting experts and fellow animal-lovers, Chris’ investigation takes him into all sorts of weird and wonderful places – from a cave where he meets an expert on witches and familiars, a pet psychic Jackie Weaver and a real-life pet detective Lisa Dean, to a rescue centre for exotic pets and reptiles in particular, where Chris is reminded of his younger self by the centre’s enthusiastic owner. Along the way, Chris talks through his pet obsession with Harry, Reginald, Liza, Lorraine, and Suggs.

Episode Four: Lorraine on WW2 - Monday 3rd October, 9pm

Journalist and presenter Lorraine Kelly never got to hear about her grandfather’s war – it was only after he died that she found out more about it from friends and family. As an honorary colonel in the cadets, Lorraine felt she needed to find out more and to separate the facts of WWII from the enduring fiction and find out why, after 80 years since VE Day, Brits continue to be so obsessed by it.

In this episode, Lorraine meets experts who tell her true stories of reluctant spies and breathtaking bravery; the importance of women’s roles in the war; and the reality of being an evacuee. On this fascinating journey, Lorraine visits the Dad’s Amy Museum to find out more about the legendary Home Guard and learns about the problem with creating a heroes vs villain narrative, bringing her fascinating findings back to base to chew the fat with Harry, Reginald, Liza, Chris and Suggs.

Episode Five: Reginald on Class - Monday 10th October, 10pm

US comedian Reginald D Hunter takes a thought-provoking and sometimes moving trip through history, exploring the origins of the class system in Britain and why, even now, it continues to infuse all sorts of areas of British life. As an American who has lived in Britain for the past 25 years, Reginald is uniquely placed to understand the nuances surrounding class in Britain and to be able to compare them to some of the enduring challenges in America of race and discrimination.

Meeting experts including comedy “national treasure” Alexei Sayle, Reginald broaches everything from capitalism to suffragettes, and from regional accents to afternoon tea. Etiquette expert William Hanson reveals how the way you hold your teacup, and your cutlery can be telltale giveaways to your class and “breeding”. Reginald examines our attitudes to working class heroes with author and Spurs fan David Goldblatt, who imparts the homespun wisdom of the football terraces, before wending his way back to discuss his findings with Harry, Chris, Lorraine, Liza, and Suggs.

Episode Six: Liza on Weather - Monday 17th October, 10pm

Liza Tarbuck has long been fascinated by the weather and why we all talk about it quite so much. Is it merely a pleasant way to pass the time, or is it now much more important than that? Now we all have weather apps are we self-proclaimed experts or do we in fact understand much less than before? And just how important was the weather to the success of British naval history, explorations, and war?

From applying sun cream to a pig on an inner-city farm, to recreating the experiments of pioneering scientist, Nikola Tesla, Liza’s journey of discovery takes her from the hallowed halls of the Greenwich maritime museum to a deserted forest and a session of spiritual enlightenment with an earth mother. Chatting to experts ranging from drumming weatherman Owain Wyn Evans to Met Office meteorologists and maritime history curators, Liza delves into this very British obsession and returns to discuss it further with Harry, Chris, Reginal, Lorraine and Suggs.