As Americans continuously extoll the virtues of HBO, it’d be easy to come to the misunderstanding that the famed cable network invented the prestige drama and miniseries. But as a new commercial-cum-tribute makes clear, the BBC has had a long and storied tradition of long-form dramatic storytelling.
Benedict Cumberbatch may be lining up franchise role after franchise role but the “Sherlock” actor still found time to star in a new spot for the network that has been home to some of his great performances —his superb turn as Stephen Hawking in the 2004 biopic “Hawking” familiarized Cumberbatch’s very posh-sounding name a full six years before his more buzzy showing on the popular Steven Moffat-run show. Anchored by Cumberbatch’s game recitation of the iconic “All the World’s a Stage” monologue from William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” the two-minute-long spot cuts together clips from a decades-spanning swath of programs like 1979’s Alec Guinness-starring “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” miniseries and the original “House of Cards” miniseries to more recent fare like “Luther” and “The Fall” or even the various incarnations of “Doctor Who.”
Watch the spot below and see how many BBC shows you can recognize.