A recent BBC poll has revealed that the world's most popular BBC character is Sherlock. So, by extension, does this give Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal the title of the best BBC character?
Now, I'm sure there's a good chance of me facing the wrath of the Sherlock hive mind, but in my opinion, with the BBC's rich back catalogue, Sherlock is not numero uno. So, without further ado, here are some more appropriate candidates for the top spot:
1. The Doctor
It's obvious that I'm not a diehard Sherlock fan — although the first two series were good — but I'm not a Doctor Who obsessive either. However, a character that's been around for over 50 years is surely more deserving of "best BBC character" than one that's been around for 13 slightly longwinded episodes.
This longevity has allowed for The Doctor to be portrayed by some premium British acting talent, becoming just as much of a global phenomenon as Sherlock. Yet, the ever-present Time Lord placed second on the official BBC poll list.
I doubt it's any coincidence that the fandoms are so closely associated — Steven Moffat is a showrunner for both the shows, and the stylistic notes that both shows hit are similar; I'd go as far to say that without the success of Doctor Who, Sherlock may never have reached such heady heights.
2. Basil Fawlty
I'm slightly contradicting myself here since I just knocked Sherlock for only having 13 episodes and Fawlty Towers only has 12, but Basil Fawlty is a character that ended too soon.
Like The Doctor, Basil Fawlty is on the BBC's official most popular list — coming in fourth place — but that's underselling a comedy icon. Created and portrayed by Monty Python legend John Cleese, Basil Fawlty manages to personify that inner conflict of British politeness and our ironic disdain for having to always be polite. Every episode is utterly hilarious no matter how many times you watch it, and Basil Fawlty's calamitous antics make it that way.
3. Edmund Blackadder
Another character that made the official list — coming in at lowly number 7 — is Edmund Blackadder. Portrayed by British comedy legend Rowan Atkinson, the character of Blackadder has been a prince, a lord, a plain old mister, an Ebenezer, a captain, and even a king.
The genius of the character's writing and performance is highlighted by the fact that in every historical setting, Blackadder is as witty and hilarious as he was in the previous one. Despite now only occasionally returning to TV screens in Christmas specials and charity sketches, Blackadder could release a new series and still maintain the razor-sharp wit it always had.
4. Gene Hunt
Now for a character that shockingly didn't even make the top 10, Gene Hunt. If somehow you're unfamiliar with the man affectionately known as "The Guv," then stop what you're doing and go watch the BBC's Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes...
Done? Good, back to it. It may seem unlikely that an un-P.C., foulmouthed dinosaur could be considered as potentially the best BBC character, but Philip Glenister's superb portrayal makes it worth considering. Gene Hunt's charm originates from his genuineness. His arrogant, upfront demeanor is the part that draws you in, but the layered character that's revealed shows a lot more beneath the surface. I won't say any more than that; you really should go watch those series and find out for yourself.
5. Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter
You Plonkers! To not have Del Boy on the official list at all is a travesty to not have him at the top is perhaps just has bad. There is no character that I've named here that is more ingrained in not only the BBC, but British culture as a whole. Now it may have been an internationally voted-for list, but Del Boy — portrayed by the legendary David Jason — was the face of the most beloved program to ever appear on the BBC, Only Fools and Horses.
For 22 years — plus one more in 2014 — Only Fools and Horses was in the living rooms of homes across Britain. The character of Del Boy represented the aspirations, failures and (brief) successes of everyone watching, all the while being presented in the self-deprecating, witty humor that is the bedrock of British comedy.
Ask anyone from Britain what their favourite moment from the Only Fools and Horses is and they'll have an answer. Del Boy represented the everyman, the best friend, the hopeless romantic and the have-a-go attitude. Despite his ability to always say and do the wrong thing, his perseverance and his charming brash demeanor made you root for him no matter what. Now I think that's a pretty cushty note to end on, lovely jubbly!
Disagree with me? Who are your favourite BBC characters?