In the light of The Guardian's top 50 television dramas of all time, I thought of the dramas that I remembered fondly and also remembered being, well, top. So, here's a list which is not in any order except for the first mentioned.
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer life-changing and worthy of a blog post or two
I, Claudius the best British drama, completely studio bound yet full of vigour and gripping stories; the acting is astonishing and it was clever, sexy, violent and funny
Edge of Darkness yes, it is dated in many ways but the story is what matters (as well as Bob Peck's mesmerising performance) [oh my, while looking for clips of this I have found it has been remade (by the same director) with Mel Gibson as Craven]
Mad Men best show on TV, it may be more style than substance to some but not for me and for the moment I am in love with it
Fortunes of War oh, Ken and Em, how did I love you? a lot and this very expensive drama was worth every penny
The Jewel in the Crown it's the characters that make this particularly Daphne Manners, Sarah Layton and Ronald Merrick although the backdrop of the Raj is always fascinating
Dead Like Me I have only seen this once but it was an instant classic to me; I adore the characters
Survivors I rewatched this recently and it was slow and frankly boring in parts but Carolyn Seymour as Abby simply owned the series and for that, thank you!
Tenko this was compulsive viewing when I was a teen, character driven and all those characters were women; I loved Louise Jamieson, Veronica Roberts and Stephanie Beacham
Firefly one series of highs and lows: "Out of Gas" is among the best episodes of anything of all time
Battlestar Galactica I do wish the Cylons really had had a plan but putting nitpicking the entire series aside, parts of this were flipping brilliant
Blake's Seven I last saw this when I was a teen but it has stayed with me and I do think I should revisit it just to see how it stands up dramatically and to see if I can work out the reason why Avon was attractive (I don't want to think about the special effects)
(wow, that looks, um, well...the theme music's good)
Tutti Frutti Emma Thompson again and I remember loving this very British drama
The Life and Loves of a She-Devil this was outrageous and although I enjoyed the majority of it, I always hated the ending which probably means I missed the point
Taking Over the Asylum Ken Stott is magnificent in this and the setting is certainly unique
When the Boat Comes In we really used to make brilliant lengthy historical series like this, Poldark, The Onedin Line and The House of Eliot and make them seem effortless
Carnivàle okay, I have only seen eight episodes but I think this has potential to be very high on my list (if it was in any order)
A Very Peculiar Practice I thought this was fabulous when i was young, I was less enamoured with it when it was repeated relatively recently but Barbara Flynn was the business as Dr Rose Marie
Testament of Youth seen once but I remember it made me cry a lot
Therese Raquin this was filthy, I remembered that very well but on rewatching I appreciated even more the performances of Brian Cox, Kate Nelligan and a very youthful looking Kenneth Cranham
A Very British Coup this felt like a documentary and the ending is so tragic
[I think I had a rather odd crush on Alan MacNaughtan who was also in To Serve Them All My Days]
The Crow Road great stuff, thoroughly Scottish with a standout perfomance by Bill Paterson
Fanny and Alexander, Berlin Alexanderplatz I am shamefully putting these together but both are examples of great foreign TV series directed by people better known as film directors, both were gripping and both were more mature than anything on British TV at the time
A Kind of Loving my forgotten gem in this list
A list of other things I watched when I was younger: To Serve Them All My Days, Upstairs, Downstairs, Angels, Juliet Bravo, The Gentle Touch, All Passion Spent, Driving Ambition, The Beiderbecke Affair, Jonathan Creek, Chandler & Co, Bergerac, Shoestring, Between the Lines - bloody hell, telly was good in the old days!* What I think is interesting is that I didn't watch many American imports (notably The Rockford Files and Cagney & Lacey) when I was young because they were all rather rubbishy. How things have changed.
*Of course, it wasn't. This is a list from approximately forty years of TV and I don't think I have even listed one series a year. And I'm sure Spooks or Life On Mars/Ashes to Ashes are to other people as good as, say, The Gentle Touch...