Today’s English language lesson we talk about TV series as we practice listening to English being spoken by a native English speaker. Although I watch less TV than I used to, I’m still watching various TV series being recommended to me, by friends, during the UK lock-down.
TV in the UK has changed a lot. When I grew up, we only had 4 TV channels and a tremendous fuss was made when they added Channel 5. The problem was you had to watch most things live or miss them.
Then satellite TV came along, with 10s of channels and the ability to pause and record TV. It felt amazing to decide what you watched the selection was amazing. It was probably around here I stopped watching live TV.
But now it’s gone insane. At our house we have Netflix, Disney+, NowTV, Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer, all of which have thousands of programs we can watch whenever we like. So we now just browse for a TV series and watch it from start to finish whenever we find time to sit in front of the TV (which isn’t as often as it was). If we want the news or weather, I just pull it up on my iPhone. If I want to watch Gardeners world I just pull it up on iPlayer.
I wonder what it’s like in other countries. TV viewing habits have definitely changed a lot.
Astounding Commissioned Factual Pleasurable
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Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We are here, helping you improve your English. Learning language, learning English with Adept English podcasts – we aim to make it pleasurable, easy and interesting to listen to! So today a podcast which is mainly for interest – one of those topics with surprising statistics. And it will help you practice your numbers and perhaps expand your vocabulary with words we use about television programmes. Adept English – learning language through listening and the place to come to learn English online.
I had a chance conversation the other day with my son after school as we had our afternoon ‘tea break’ around 3.30pm. He was talking about a Japanese anime series that he’s watching – a long series – and he’d looked up how many episodes it had. A ‘series’, SERIES is the word for a TV drama – the kind of thing you might watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime – where it’s made up of lots of episodes, that’s EPISODE. So typically an episode of a series will be 45 minutes to an hour long. And when a group of episodes are released at the same time, typically that’s called ‘a season’, SEASON, just like a ‘season of the year’.
So there will be Season 1, Season 2 and within that episode 1, episode 2, episode 3 etc. and each episode will have a title. So a common conversation topic, might be ‘What series are you watching at the moment?’. My son was asking ‘What’s the longest series you’ve watched?’. And he was interested in what particularly long series I remember watching? He’d looked up how many episodes there are in the series he’s watching – and was surprised. He’s currently watching a Japanese anime series called ‘ONE PIECE’.
So I said ‘off the cuff’ – that means ‘without doing any research’, that recently I’d watching Breaking Bad and that’s quite a long series. I’d also watched the series The Sopranos at the beginning of lockdown, because I’d always intended to watch it and never got around to it – and that had seemed long. And I’d also watched Homeland – whose latest series we finished a few weeks ago – that also had seemed quite long. So of course, we looked them up.
Breaking Bad has 62 episodes in 5 seasons, The Sopranos has 86 episodes over 6 seasons and Homeland has 96 episodes over 8 seasons. So these are all programmes which have a ‘winning formula’. When one season is popular, another season will be commissioned and writers have to think up new story lines to keep the series going. So all of these are American series, things I’ve watched recently.
So my son and I were then interested in what are the longest running series and which series has the most episodes? Apologies if this seems very UK or US-centred, but of course, we tend on the whole to watch English language series. We did watch The Bridge which has 4 seasons and has 38 episodes – and that was the original Swedish/Danish version, not the US spin off. That was one of my favourite series. (#and Money Heist too – La Casa De Papel)
So what other long-running series did we find? And which had the most episodes? And have you heard of them?
Before we get into that, just a reminder that our Course One, Activate Your Listening is available on our website. If you want to work on your vocabulary in a more structured way – and you would like to work on understanding English conversation between two speakers – then buy our Course One! You’ll be glad you did – it will keep you busy with English language learning for quite a while.
How to learn English faster? Well, buy one of our courses or our podcast bundles – and Course One, especially if you’re keen on improving your English conversation.
Anyway, back to the conversation with my son. I recalled my podcast from last week, where I was talking about Gardeners’ World – and how it’s been running since 1968. This is slightly different of course, because it’s a factual programme – not fiction, not a story. We couldn’t actually find how many episodes of Gardeners’ World there have been, but enough to say that currently we’re on Season 54 and each season has 26 or more episodes! University Challenge would be another similar British series – currently on season number 50.
A photograph of a person holding a TV remote control. As we talk about amazingly long TV series in today's English lesson.
A more recent programme on UK TV, Gogglebox is becoming a contender – so far there are 17 seasons of that – so another winning formula. So I was trying to think of other long-running series, drama series for my son to look up – to see what we could find with an astounding number of episodes.
So our starting point was my son’s series ‘ONE PIECE’, which he was amazed to find has 971 episodes – that’s a lot! We then moved onto the series The Simpsons – Bart Simpson and his family. This has been running since 1989 and has a total of 706 episodes at this point and they’re still making them of course. We were looking in our search for the programmes with the most episodes, rather than necessarily the longest running series.
I suggested Star Trek – as a long running series. And yes, it is – but Star Trek is hard to count in terms of episodes. There have been various iterations – so there’s the original series, there’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager and The Next Generation. Not sure how you count that one then.
I was then thinking about British soap operas – or ‘soaps’ as they’re known. Things like East Enders, which I do remember starting. And when we looked it up, it began in 1985. And so far there are over 6,000 episodes of East Enders. I don’t have time to watch it – and when you look at these statistics, I can understand why! What a time commitment it takes to follow a series like this.
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I also question ‘Is it the best use of your time – over 6,000 episodes?’ Hmmm. I’m mentioning these English speaking series, because you may know some of them – I know they are exported and East Enders is sold on, to other countries. And I’m sure you’ll have heard of Star Trek.
Another long-running UK soap - Coronation Street, and that’s been going since 1960! So it’s been running since 1960 – and to date there have been over 10,000 episodes, 10,308 at this point – and of course, they’re still making it. Again, what a time commitment to watch this!
Finally the ‘pièce de resistance’ – that’s a French phrase meaning ‘the most outstanding example’ – there is a BBC Radio 4 series, called The Archers. I’ve never listened to it – it’s a radio series. Sorry to writers of The Archers, but I’m not a fan – it just doesn’t appeal to me. It does take the record though, I think. The Archers has been going since 1951 and there are over 19,000 episodes of this series!
That’s crazy – it’s all about a farming community. How can it be so interesting? As far as my son and I got in our research – The Archers is the longest running British series we could find and the one with the most episodes.
I did some further research online and internationally, the only other series I could find that had more episodes than this – a German series called Unser Sandmännchen, which is a children’s bedtime story series. It’s what’s called ‘stop motion animation’ – with puppets, and that one’s run since 1959 and it has over 22,000 episodes! Just imagine how many people must have grown up with that programme! If you know of any series with more episodes than this – let us know!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.