Five MORE British TV couples I love to love.


Back around Valentine’s Day I was feeling mushy-gushy, and so put together a list of Five British TV Couples I Love to Love. Evidently the onset of spring (sort of–our weather in the American Midwest hasn’t quite yet received the memo that it’s time for warmer weather) has me feeling all mushy-gushy again, so here we go: Five More British TV Couples I Love to Love!

5. Archie and Lexie (Monarch of the Glen)

Okay, I know this one is going to be controversial. Monarch of the Glen*, set on an estate in Scotland and featuring the misadventures of the aging laird (Hector MacDonald), the sometimes-painful “save the estate” schemes of Archie the to-be laird (Alastair Mackenzie), and a supporting cast of characters who are supposed to be the household help but act more like family, originally began with trying to set Archie up romantically with Katrina Finlay, an old schoolfellow of his, and current politically minded local (who is not impressed by Archie). Eventually, however, the cook/housekeeper Lexie McTavish (Dawn Steele) proved more adept at keeping up with Archie’s mercurial turns. I don’t know that I really do wish Archie on Lexie; he’s kind of a moody bitch and I just love Lexie’s sassy attitude (and wardrobe!)–but still–they’re cute together. I’m helpless before a really cute couple. Also? Lexie’s a brunette and I always, ALWAYS cheer for the brunette.

4. Demelza and Poldark (Poldark)

I’m actually not a big fan of the latest remake of Poldark, but that’s only because the books by Winston Graham were SO AWESOME. The basic story is: Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns to his family’s estate in Cornwall after fighting on the losing British side in the American Revolution. Sadly, he returns to find his true love marrying his cousin and his dead father’s estate crumbling to ruins and being squatted in by his father’s drunken servants. Nice welcome back party. But Ross is determined to stay and make a go of it, and so he does: generally wowing everyone around him with his brains his chutzpah, his extreme dislike for the newly wealthy and unprincipled Warleggan family, and his general all-around Poldarkiness. He also finds new love when he takes in a young girl, Demelza, as additional domestic help.

But could I just note? Demelza is also supposed to be a brunette. (See above: I always cheer for the brunette.) I should get over it, I know, and red-haired Eleanor Tomlinson’s doing a nice job with the role, but still. Poldark’s another hero that I don’t know that I wish on our heroine–he’s sometimes a bit too, well, Poldarky, and would it kill him to laugh once in a while?–but Demelza seems to like him, so I’m pulling for them.

3. Jean and Lionel (As  Time Goes By)

One of my earliest forays into British television was through the great series As Time Goes By, as it has now been running on my local PBS station on Saturday nights for at least the last fifteen years. And there’s a reason they just keep showing it: it’s so good. It tells the story of Jean Parjeter (Judi Dench) and Lionel Hardcastle (Geoffrey Palmer), who were young lovers during the Korean War, until Lionel was posted overseas, letters went astray, and they lost touch. Forty years later they find each other in London once again: Lionel having been through a stint coffee-farming in Kenya and a divorce, and Jean a widow with an adult daughter who works with her in the temp/secretarial agency Jean founded. Judi Dench as Jean is just so awesome: cuddly and yet beautiful, often quick to take offense at Lionel’s bumbling attempts to re-start their romance, even though he thinks everything is just a little “too late,” but still fierce in her love for him. A true classic. I know everyone else has moved on to Last Tango in Halifax, but this show (and this couple) remain my benchmarks for “love later in life.”

2. Fiona Gallagher and Steve McBride (Shameless)

Okay, I could take or leave the show Shameless, because urban poverty really just scares the shit out of me. Although it did have its moments, and you had to love all the Gallagher kids loving and looking out for one another (not always in overt ways) because their Dad couldn’t be bothered. But the love story between Fiona and Steve? Complete with Steve’s confession that he fell in love with Fiona while she was dancing, because she wasn’t dancing for anyone besides herself? As Veronica says, delightfully, in this clip, “Top-fucking-notch!” And: total bonus points for this series being where Ann-Marie Duff and James McAvoy first met one another, started an off-screen romance, and eventually married.

1. Miranda and Gary (Miranda)

Oh, I do so love Miranda Hart. I dream of meeting her in person and just looking up and up and trying to talk to her across our height divide. Her series Miranda is delightful. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing that’s subverting any genre tropes, but just a nice comedy series about a very tall and hilarious woman, the handsome and immensely likable chef that she has a crush on (Tom Ellis), and a strong cast of friends, co-workers, and parents. Will Miranda and Gary ever successfully stop mucking about as merely friends and find their happily ever after? You’re just going to have to watch and find out.


  1. Well, looking back at Archie and Lexie was great. They actually were a strangely well-matched couple, despite being very different personalities. Lionel and Jean, wow. There is hope for the dragging his feet husband and the quick to take offense wife. Miranda is perfect on her own. Could she be on American TV do you think?

  2. Yeah, weren’t Archie and Lexie fun? I will also always feel warmly towards Monarch of the Glen because Archie’s first girlfriend, Justine, was also a brunette with–get this–short hair. Brunette girls with short hair as attractive feminine characters in their own right is rare on American TV (and has been at least since “Three’s Company,” when dark-haired Joyce DeWitt was never considered any kind of temptation to Jack Tripper).

    Miranda Hart is so great. Don’t know how she or her series would play here. I think we’re about as accepting toward tall girls (or anyone with a “different” body type, actually) in America as we are toward short-haired brunettes. Can you think of an American show that’s just a nice comedy showcasing a strong single woman and a fun ensemble cast? I can’t–but I hardly watch any TV any more!

  3. Ah, Justine. I had to think about that for a minute. Who was the blonde school teacher after her–not really a girlfriend, but an interest? Thinking of all three of those girlfriends, what was amazing is that they all seemed to be real, thinking, separate people, with faults but mostly grown up. Now that I remember it, I really liked how they handled not just the breakup of Archie and Justine, but how she related to his family. She seemed rather cold at first, but was actually a nice, real person when it came right down to it.
    No, nothing like that on American TV, so definitely no Miranda. Too tall, hair wrong color and too thin, no gun.

  4. Archie’s blonde love interest was Katrina Finlay, as played by Lorraine Pilkington. She was okay, but no Justine or Lexie, frankly.
    Justine (Anna Wilson-Jones) still turns up in a lot of things and I’m always glad to see her (she was recently in Victoria, and in several other series as well). Perhaps she will be the subject our next Underappreciated Actor post!

    Yeah, no guns. It’s so refreshing watching British TV.

  5. Well, I haven’t seen Miranda, but from your description (and your question asking for an American tv show with a funny single woman and a fun ensemble cast of co-workers, parent, and friends, along with her no-longer-secret crush), I immediately pictured one of my favorite shows, “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”, which also offers the additional quirkiness of hilarious musical numbers. I don’t think that Rachel Bloom is particularly tall, but, hey, you can’t have everything.

  6. Cardo,
    I haven’t seen all the episodes of Miranda (I’m finding it hard to track down the finale, for some reason, although I already know what happened), but I’m hopeful that I will soon!

    If I do ever make it back around to American TV, you can bet “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” will be at the top of my list. Is it hour-long episodes? I’ll confess part of the appeal of “Miranda” is its 30 minute comedy format. But for hilarious musical numbers I’ll watch a longer show! Thanks!

  7. “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” was ordered as a 30-minute show by Showtime, then for some reason they decided to move it to the CW network, which made it a one-hour show instead.

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