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Anglophenia logo © BBC 2016
ANGLOPHENIA - the YouTube videos
(With thanks to Ania P. for bringing this to my attention)
As well as being a website featuring the best of British culture for an American audience (produced by BBC America), ANGLOPHENIA also produced a series of short videos for YouTube on the same theme.
The series began on May 14, 2014, and its original host was comedian Siobhan (pronounced Sher-vorn) Thompson, a Brit based in New York who also wrote many (if not all) of the episodes. She handed over the series to London-based Kate Arnell (from MTV and CBBC) from episode 28 onwards, who has appeared in all videos since but one. The series appeared to come to an end with the 45th episode on December 23, 2015, but Kate is back - apparently after becoming a mum - with a 46th episode, first broadcast August 8th 2016, about the coffee shops in Shoreditch, London. It's a very different episode to normal, so see what you think. (I prefer the old logo.)
Although it was a series about Britain as explained to an American audience, there were episodes that would prove useful to learners of English. However, it’s fair to say that many of the episodes were a little ‘hit and miss’, that is, some worked, some didn’t. Indeed, towards the end, the series looked like it was ‘running out of steam’, that is, there wasn’t much left for the series to talk about – all the best subjects had now been covered.
But there is much that is positive about the series, and I’m going to be talking about the top ten episodes in terms of YouTube hits, with my own personal rankings mentioned. But I’m going to include the bottom four as well. Just because.
I did the first list back on the 29 March 2016, and here's the latest according to figures published by YouTube at 0900 on 5 October 2016. The top ten hasn't changed, but the order has. The position back in March is in brackets.
NOTE: I have included the latest viewing figures as of July 18 2017, and there have been a couple of changes to positions. I have noted them but not yet changed the order: that will be done at a future date.
10 (10). Nine British dishes everyone should try (Siobhan Thompson)
The second video produced in the series, and also in my top five because, as Siobhan says, British food has got (ok, she says gotten, but it is for an American audience) a ’bad rap’, meaning that it has received a lot of unnecessary criticism. But it has allowed me to introduce to the Polish world steak and kidney pies, bangers and mash, curry (yes, it’s Indian really), crumpets, bacon butties, sponge puddings, and scones to my students as an alternative to broths (rosol), meat cutlets (Kotlet schabowy) and pierogi (pierogi). Yes, I like, and often miss, many of the suggestions here!
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 740,866
9 (8) How to make breakfast like a Brit (Kate Arnell)
I'm surprised to see this one slip down one position in the chart. How can you argue with sausage, bacon and beans?
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 864,580
8 (9) British schools explained (Siobhan Thompson)
And this is the one that has swapped places with the breakfast. But why? well, it's perhaps doing rather well because, as Siobhan says, the Americans are very curious about our schooling system. And I think, to a degree, so is the rest of the world. But I don’t really feel it that relevant in my lessons, so it’s not in my top ten.
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 962,100
7 (7) How to have a British Christmas (Siobhan Thompson)
This one is about the major differences British Christmas has compared to the US, but also to the rest of Europe. Christmas crackers, Christmas dinner, Christmas pudding. Delicious, gorgeous, Christmas pudding. Mmmmm. Sorry. What else? The pantomime, presents under the tree on the morning of December 25, and so on. The one video I play only at one particular time of year. Obviously.
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 985,802
6 (6) How to swear like a Brit (Kate Arnell)
Fortunately almost all of these won’t offend too many people, and Kate explains the history of many of them. But not one I use in class. I wonder why this subject is so popular?
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 1,472,374 (This has now moved up to number 5, overtaking the one below)
5 (4) How to speak British (Siobhan Thompson)
A series of British words and phrases that are frequently used in the UK but many of them are unknown in the US. (I must admit I didn’t know Away with the fairies, I would normally say Head in the clouds.) But it seems that speaking proper British is not as good as those wonderful words and phrases to use when you don't like someone...
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 1,429,705 (has now moved to number 6 in our list)
4 (5) How to insult like the British (Siobhan Thompson)
It seems the world loves a British insult as this has climbed one position and overtaken proper British. So why is it always the controversial ones we love? Siobhan somehow is able to retrieve ten insults that do not offend a particular group. With this, and the swearing, it's no wonder that English language students seem to know all these things before understanding the present tense...
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 1,818,021 (Now moved to number 3)
3 (2) How to pronounce UK place names (Siobhan Thompson)
Now I'm kind of sad about this one as it was both number two in my personal list and YouTube views, but sadly it's dropped one place. In this video, Siobhan Thompson is joined by Rusty Ward, who is the lab rat chosen to attempt to pronounce British place names. Now I’m not sure whether he’s putting it on, but the two of them work well together and is generally quite an entertaining video.
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 1,796,649 (Now slipped to number 4)
2 (3) Confusing things about British homes (Kate Arnell)
Well, if any video deserved to take the place of the pronunciation exercise, then this is the one. It's Kate Arnell's first video, and by far her best. Actually, her best videos are when she's away from the studio. This one’s my number one as what this covers is definitely unfamiliar, strange or unusual about a British home. Three pin-sockets, a washing machine in the kitchen, two taps for hot and cold. Even I don't understand why we do that in the modern home when hot and cold water come from the same source. This video could be a serious threat to the number one position as it has gathered more views in six months than any of the other videos, having gathered a total of 1,987,388 views - half a million more than the number three video. But it's still got a long way ago before it beats the number one...
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 2,766,090
1 (1) One woman, 17 British accents (Siobhan Thompson)
With over a million more votes than the second placed video, This is just down to the fact that videos featuring British accents are very popular. Siobhan Thompson attempts seventeen of them. Just in my top eight.
Current views as of 18 July 2017: 4,034,785
And my top eight?
1. Confusing things about British homes (Kate Arnell)
2. How to pronounce UK British place names (Siobhan Thompson)
3. Nine British dishes everyone should try (Siobhan Thompson)
4. Why Brits and Americans spell differently (Siobhan Thompson)
A nice useful video highlighting those differences thanks to Noah Webster. There's a nice spelling twist at the end.
5. 15 British sweets everyone should try (Siobhan Thompson)
As Thompson says, this one brings back childhood memories, and out of these, I love the wine gums. But I can't get Bassetts wine gums in Poland! Only IKEA stock them, but they're not very good.
6. How to make tea the British way (Kate Arnell)
Well, I'm British. What else would you expect? And Bawarka is not even mentioned, even though that's what most Poles think I drink.
7. How to make breakfast like a Brit (Kate Arnell)
8. One woman, 17 British accents (Siobhan Thompson)
And the bottom four?
43 (43). Who deserves an Angly award? (Siobhan Thompson)
A largely pointless video, featuring made-up silly awards for various actors. Current views as of 18 July 2017: 62,678
44 (New entry). What's Hot in Coffee? Let's Hit Shoreditch's Cafés (Kate Arnell)
It's only been online for a month and a half, so it's perhaps a bit unfair to include it here. However, initial reaction to what is a new format has not been too favourable. Still, let's give it time - after all, it's already overtaken what was in last place, and by the time we do the next review I expect it to be out of the bottom part of this chart. But I think it's a rather weak entry in the series. Current views as of 18 July 2017: 100,050 - this has now taken it out of the bottom four to number 42, with Siobhan Thompson's 'My Red Carpet Fail' now slipping to number 43 with 83,467. In fact, only the bottom four have had less than 100,000 views.
45 (44). If celebrities travelled by TARDIS (Georgie Okell)
In my humble opinion, the worst of all the Anglophenia videos, and a sure sign the series was getting tired. Regular host Kate Arnell wasn’t in this one because, I assume, she was based in London. But if she was in the States, would she have done this? I love Doctor Who, but this is embarrassing. And poor Georgie Okell – if this was an audition, the producers couldn’t have given her anything worse. Current views as of 18 July 2017: 58,959
46 (46) Failed Literary Monster Mashups (Siobhan Thompson)
Although I prefer Thompson to Arnell - Thompson is a natural comedian - the jokes just don’t really work. It's not gathered many more views since March. Current views as of 18 July 2017: 51,778
Of course, by clicking on those videos above you're going to put their numbers up and so these may end up out of the bottom four.
There are another 29 Anglophenia videos available for your enjoyment, so you catch up on the YouTube channel here.