The United Kingdom: land of monarchs, afternoon tea, and refined manners. But it's also the home of English reality television. American programming has a reputation for over-the-top antics, brash characters, and drama, but reality TV from England proves that entertainment is even crazier across the pond.
The best British reality TV shows often have an element of competition. Come Dine With Me, for instance, pits home cooks against each other for the prize of £1000 and nonstop bragging rights. Take Me Out adds romance into the equation, as one hapless suitor faces off against 30 would-be partners. Ex on the Beach isn't a competition, unless you count the race to be the most manipulative ex lover. But not all of these series are about the backstabbing and fights - the Great British Bake Off has won global adoration for its delectable baked goods and sweet, supportive tone.
When it comes to British versus American TV, the Brits take the prize for the wildest reality shows of all. Once you start watching these series, you'll understand why that "stiff upper lip" is all an act.
The Great British Bake Off is a far gentler breed of reality TV that puts heart and sweetness above drama and hook-ups. Between ten and twelve amateur bakers are chosen to compete for the title of "Britain's Best Baker." They all gather inside a tent, hoping to impress national treasure Mary Berry and silver fox Paul Hollywood with their desserts.
If you don't cry during the winner's to-camera speech in the finale, you're made of stone. The subject matter may sound dull, but it was Britain's most watched show of 2016. It has many international fans, too.
Actors: Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc
Come Dine With Me is subtle in its savagery. The premise is simple enough: a group of five strangers go to each other's houses for a dinner party and mark each other out of 10. The amateur chef with the highest score wins £1000.
Seems like it would be perfectly pleasant, no? It isn't - huge amounts of alcohol are consumed, claws come out, and tactical scoring ensues. Almost every episode contains an abrupt heel turn from a disgruntled diner, too.
Twists, turns, and out-and-out fights abound on Ex on the Beach, in which as much alcohol is thrown into rivals' faces as it is consumed. A group of attractive people go to an island under the assumption that they're being sent to find love. But once they arrive, they're confronted by their exes - who enter, in truly spectacular fashion, from the sea. Nonstop conflicts and furtive hook-ups ensue.
Warning: this video clip contains strong language and a lot of questionable behavior.
Actors: Brandon Cyrus
Premiered: 2014Where to watch
Thirty single women stand before a studio audience. Everyone's waiting for the mystery male that will come down the "Love Lift" to meet them. Host Paddy McGuiness introduces him, and then the man descends into a love arena where the women decide his romantic fate. This is Take Me Out, and it takes dating shows to a whole new level.
During the show, the women stand behind illuminated podiums equipped with buttons that turn out the lights. If the woman turns off her light, she's opting out of potentially dating the man. Or, as Paddy McGuiness says, "No lighty - no likey."
If the man makes it through the rounds, he gets to pick one of the remaining women to take on a date to the Isle of Fernandos, a place that inspires excited whoops whenever it's mentioned.