British TV Shows That Were Cancelled Before Their Time



We all love sitting down to watch a good bit of television but Leo thinks these shows left our screens far too soon.

We miss you, television shows.

Don’t you hate it when you’re binge-watching your favourite show and an episode finishes and there’s a long awkward pause while you stare at your reflection in the dark screen of your laptop when suddenly you realise you’ve finished watching the entire season? Even worse, not only is the season over but it’s the most recent season and there are no more episodes left.

But, wait for it, here’s the ultimate disappointment: not only are there no more episodes left but there never will be more episodes because whatever show you’re watching got cancelled before it came to its rightful conclusion.

Isn’t that just the worst? Well, I think it is. So I compiled a list of British television shows that left our screens too soon. We miss you, television shows.

‘Utopia’ 2013, Channel 4

Photo Credit: Channel 4

Photo Credit: Channel 4

corrupt governments and conspiracy theories, all in over-saturated comic book colours.

After finding themselves in possession of an unreleased sequel to a cult graphic novel, a group of comic book fans start being hunted by a mysterious organisation called The Network. Aren’t you hooked already? ‘Utopia’ is a genius display of storytelling. It masters intricate interwoven plots involving corrupt governments and conspiracy theories, all in over-saturated comic book colours. It has a big plotline that jettisons off in all directions: mystery diseases, sinister vaccinations, machine-like hit-men and school kids on the run. Yet what makes ‘Utopia’ so brilliant is that both series manage to finish on succinct satisfying endings, with most plotlines tied up but with just enough mystery to leave you longing for a next series. This makes the agony of not getting a third series all the more heartbreaking. It has been optioned for a US remake, however, so if that goes well there might be more ‘Utopia’ to come.

‘Lip Service’ 2010, BBC Three

Photo Credit: BBC

Photo Credit: BBC

two things rarely seen often on British television: lesbians and Glaswegians

When ‘Lip Service’ hit screens in 2009 it featured two things rarely seen often on British television: lesbians and Glaswegians. ‘Lip Service’ which revolves around a group of friends and their intertwining love lives in Glasgow, is both gritty and funny, and, to top it all off, there’s a hint of mystery too. However, after the first series toys with a will-they-won’t-they relationship between two of the main characters the second series opens with one of them being promptly killed off. After this, what had been one of the most subversive new BBC dramas in years became a bit of a soap-like dud. The BBC cancelled it with no explanation.

‘The Fades’ 2011, BBC Three

Photo Credit: BBC

Photo Credit: BBC

 I will never forgive BBC Three for cancelling this show.

This critically acclaimed supernatural drama ran for six episodes and even won a BAFTA before it was cancelled to make room for the bazillionth series of ‘Being Human’ that nobody watched. I’m still bitter about this one. ‘The Fades’’ main character is a 17-year-old guy called Paul who has a ‘Star Wars’-obsessed best friend, a crush on his twin sister’s mate, and a bothersome bedwetting problem. Oh, and Paul can also see dead people. It sounds amazing, right? This is a teen drama that combines clever quips with pop culture references and a solid supernatural plot. I will never forgive BBC Three for cancelling this show.

‘Sugar Rush’ 2005, Channel 4

Photo Credit: Channel 4

Photo Credit: Channel 4

Based on the hit novel of the same name by Julie Burchill, ‘Sugar Rush’ is the first in a long line of successful Channel 4 shows revolving around teenagers. Without this drama to pave the way, there very well may not have been any ‘Skins’, ‘Misfits’ or ‘Fresh Meat’ to follow. ‘Sugar Rush’ follows the life of Kim, a teenager who moves to Brighton and develops feelings for her new best friend Sugar. This show encompasses what it’s like to be a teenager, to develop first crushes and buy into the tongues out, cherry lipbalmed attitude of uninhibited teenage girls. It also put LGBT+ visibility on primetime television. For such a punk show with two incredible leads, it’s a surprise that it only lasted two short seasons. Not even available to watch again on Channel 4’s website, ‘Sugar Rush’ seems to have been lost to the ether.

‘Torchwood’ 2006, BBC Three

Photo Credit: BBC

Photo Credit: BBC

This one doesn’t count exactly as it wasn’t cancelled but did take an ‘extended hiatus’. The sad thing about this is that when it eventually returns it probably won’t be in the way that was promised. The last series of ‘Torchwood’ is a rollercoaster ride that crosses continents. The well-loved Scooby gang from the Torchwood base in Cardiff team up with some American friends to determine what exactly is going on when suddenly everybody around the world stops dying. The climactic ending suggested the series would expand further in the US and likely follow the 20+ episode per season format that viewers have become accustomed to over there. Unfortunately, for personal reasons, Russell T Davies pulled out of that idea. Now, when ‘Torchwood’ returns, the US-UK extravaganza seems an unlikely move and it will probably arrive in the form of no more than six episodes.

‘White Van Man’ 2011, BBC Three

Photo Credit: BBC

Photo Credit: BBC

This show isn’t necessarily as well deserving of its space on television as some of the other shows on this list, but I’m still going to vouch for it any case. When a good sitcom comes along in the UK we have a habit of obsessing over it so heavily that we squeeze every last bit of humour out of it until it becomes a dreary chore to avoid watching the repeats when there’s nothing better on. I can no longer hear the words ‘What’s occurring?’ without cringing. Luckily, that will never happen with ‘White Van Man’ because I feel like I’m the only person that watched it. It’s about a guy called Ollie who drives around in a white van doing his job as a handyman, trying to cope with how ridiculous everyone in his life is. The first series was really funny in a dry, sarcastic, slightly over the top way, but the second series went full on BBC Three slapstick humour and lost its charm somewhat. I feel like it had the potential to overcome that, but I guess BBC Three disagreed. It was cancelled after two series.

‘Nearly Famous’ 2007, E4

Nearly Famous

Photo Credit: E4

It features a much younger and less successful Aaron Taylor-Johnson doing ‘angsty dreamboy’ very well

This is a typical E4 show about teenagers getting up to teenage things. It features a much younger and less successful Aaron Taylor-Johnson doing ‘angsty dreamboy’ very well as well as many other talented young actors. It’s set in a weird performing arts school that seems to put an unnecessary amount of pressure on pupils to not get kicked out. It follows a group of teenagers who are all very eccentric in their glamour/weirdness/moodiness/style as they try to navigate the school’s intensely competitive ethos while trying to cope with other teenage things, like fancying more than one person at the same time. It was great teen drama with lots of wistful staring and melodramatic metaphors. Perhaps it was just a little too on the cliché side, though, as despite a small cult following, it was axed without much fuss after one season.

It’s sad that these shows didn’t go as far as they could, especially considering we live in a world where ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’ aired for a decade despite all of the original cast members leaving, and don’t even get me started on the American TV shows that got cancelled before their time (‘Flash Forward’ for example. It seems like Sci-Fi just can’t catch a break). The good thing is that we live in the age of digital data and there will be somewhere out there where these shows can be rented or re-watched until I never want to see another episode of them again. It’s the simple pleasures that count.

What shows would you resurrect if you could? Did we miss any crucial ones out? Let us know @rifemag

Ways into the TV industry from Creative Skillset

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