Top British TV Moments Revealed: From Del Boy To Diane

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In the history of British television, certain moments transcend time, embedding themselves into the cultural fabric of the nation.

A recent survey, conducted in anticipation of Sky Max’s latest offering, Rob Beckett’s Smart TV, has meticulously catalogued these instances, offering a panoramic view of the UK’s collective memory bank.

From the comedic mishap of Del Boy tumbling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses to the poignant silence of Rose Ayling-Ellis’ dance on Strictly Come Dancing, these scenes are milestones in the journey of British TV – and even Diane from the most recent series of The Traitors has made the list (see the full list below).

This exploration into the heart of British television serves not just as a trip down memory lane but as a testament to the medium’s power to unite, provoke, and entertain.

Only Fools and Horses - BBC
Only Fools and Horses (Photo: BBC)

With over 2,000 participants weighing in, the survey reveals a fascinating cross-section of the nation’s viewing habits and preferences – with different age groups preferring different moments (see the full list below).

The Magic of Television: Top 25 Unforgettable Moments

The survey results read like a who’s who of British television, spanning genres from comedy and drama to reality TV and documentaries.

Leading the pack is the iconic scene from Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy (David Jason) falls through the bar, a moment etched in the collective memory of the nation.

Not far behind is the Fawlty Towers “Don’t Mention the War” scene (which will soon be seen on a West End stage), showcasing British humour at its finest.

Other top moments include Susan Boyle’s astonishing audition on Britain’s Got Talent, the poignant dance by Rose Ayling-Ellis on Strictly Come Dancing without music, and David Brent’s (Ricky Gervais) unforgettable dance in The Office.

These moments underscore the diverse tastes of British viewers, highlighting a blend of humour, drama, and reality that defines the nation’s television landscape.

From the dramatic exits in EastEnders to the comedic genius of The Inbetweeners and the gripping revelations in Line of Duty, each moment has left an indelible mark on audiences.

Rob Beckett's smart tv illustration
Most Memorable TV moments (Illustration: Bill McConkey)

The Role of TV in British Culture

The survey also sheds light on the cultural significance of television in the UK.

With 80% of respondents agreeing that the best moments in TV remain timeless, it’s clear that television plays a pivotal role in British society.

Iconic moments from TV shows have not only defined childhoods but have also sparked conversations, debates, and laughter across generations.

Family watching TV shocked surprised 120

Interestingly, the survey revealed a generational divide in what is considered memorable, with Gen Z respondents favouring Gino D’Acampo’s humorous remark on This Morning, and Millennials citing Peter Marsh’s meltdown on Come Dine with Me as their top TV moment.

A New Era of TV Quizzing: Rob Beckett’s Smart TV

Rob Beckett’s Smart TV promises to be a celebration of these iconic moments and more. With Rob Beckett at the helm, and team captains Alison Hammond and Josh Widdicombe, the show aims to test their knowledge of TV trivia across a myriad of genres.

Rob Beckett's smart tv sky
Rob Beckett’s Smart TV

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Entertainment at Sky, expressed his enthusiasm for the show, highlighting it as a platform for sharing and discussing our favourite TV moments:

“That’s exactly what Rob, Alison and Josh will be doing on Rob Beckett’s Smart TV, unpicking everything from the unlikeliest accidents in Casualty to iconic lines in Game of Thrones.”

Top 25 Memorable TV Moments: The Complete List

According to the study, these are the top British TV moments of all time:

1. Only Fools and Horses – Del Boy falls through the bar
2. Fawlty Towers – ‘Don’t Mention the War’ scene
3. Britain’s Got Talent – Susan Boyle’s first audition
4. Strictly Come Dancing – Rose Ayling-Ellis dances without music
5. The Office – David Brent dance scene

6. Planet Earth II – baby iguanas are chased by racer snakes
7. The Inbetweeners – Bus wankers
8. EastEnders – Dirty Den’s death
9. EastEnders – You ain’t my muvva
10. Line of Duty – Dot exposed as the Caddy
11. Gavin and Stacey – Nessa’s proposal
12. Coronation Street – Tram crash
13. This Morning – Gino D’Acampo “If my grandmother had wheels she would’ve been a bike”
14. BBC live interview of Guy Goma, who was wrongly mistaken for an interviewee

15. Celebrity Big Brother – “David’s Dead”
16. Come Dine with Me – “What a sad little life, Jane”
17. Sherlock – Sherlock falls from building (apparent death)
18. I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here” – Gillian McKeith collapses
19. BBC reporter gives the camera the middle finger
20. This Morning – Alison Hammond pushes a sailor into the Albert Dock during weather report

21. ‘X Factor – Rylan crying after making it through to the next round
22. Downton Abbey – Lady Sybil’s death
23. ‘The Great British Bake Off – Baked Alaska in the bin controversy
24. Doctor Who’s regeneration in 2023 with David Tennant and Ncuti Gatwa
25. Traitors Series 2 – Diane gets murdered

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