#1Nov 16th, 2006
It's easy to find 50 great things about Britain. All you have to do is give us a list of 50 great things about YOUR country.
Here are Britain's fifty.....
Fifty great things about Britain
We invented humanity's most popular sport and our top teams are followed across the globe. Oh, and England won the World Cup in 1966.
2. Coronation Street
The world's best-loved TV soap opera and a quintessential part of British life. Funny, poignant, dramatic and absolutely of its time, Corrie is what Dickens would be writing if he were around today.
3. The English Language
The German dialect that started off in the swamps of Holland is now the closest thing we have to a world language.
4. The Armed Forces
Britain's military is renowned for its professionalism, and its tradition of staying out of politics is a model for countries worldwide.
It takes days to play and there’s often no winner, but with its languid pace and quirky rules, England’s summer game symbolises the country’s calmer, more eccentric side.
6. Chicken Tikka Masala
Our most popular food is supposedly Indian but is actually a dish dreamt up in Blighty's curry houses (probably in Birmingham) along with the balti, another recipe unknown on the subcontinent.
The Bard of Stratford is not only considered history’s greatest playwright, but is also credited with creating the idea of human personality - which is pretty impressive if you think about it.
8. The Beatles
The Fab Four were pop's original supergroup and their influence on music and the wider culture continues.
9. The Fry-Up
There’s no better way to cure a hangover - period.
Who, how and why? Questions that have never really been answered about the monument that is one of the oldest man-made structures around.
11. Brown Sauce
Quite simply the king of condiments and an essential part of the great British breakfast.
12. Olympics in 2012
We beat the French - enough said.
13. The BBC
So much part of a national life that we call it Auntie. The Beeb provides the UK and the world with unrivalled news, drama, documentaries and comedy.
14. Houses of Parliament
The fake Gothic palace on the Thames with its slightly bizarre clock tower is one of the globe’s most famous buildings and symbolises parliamentary democracy worldwide.
15. Fish and Chips
Is there a taste combination like it? Succulent fish cased in crispy batter and soggy chips drenched in salt and vinegar - heaven!
16. The Proms
An amazing institution designed to bring music to the masses - and who can't smile as the British do nationalism with irony on the Last Night.
17. Winston Churchill
A leader without whose fortitude and charisma the history of the world would have taken a dark and hopeless turn.
18. The Cuppa
The world may be crashing all around you but when the kettle’s boiled and the teabag's soaked, you know you’re going to survive.
19. The Queen
Her Majesty is one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world and is genuinely revered for her devotion to duty - if not her parenting skills.
20. The Weather
We can’t stop talking about it because it’s so changeable. Who would want the boredom of sun every day?
21. Monty Python
The relatively short-run late '60s/early '70s show still has legions of fans and influences comedy worldwide.
22. The Union Flag
Our national flag is one of the most famous and distinctive symbols around and is used in popular culture the whole world over.
23. The Forth Rail Bridge
The copper-coloured bridge is a remarkable cantilever structure that is still regarded as an engineering marvel and is recognised the world over.
24. Hadrian's Wall
It didn’t keep the Scots out, but, hey, it’s the second-longest wall in the world! And no, you can’t see this one from space, either.
Scots are the only Western people whose menfolk dress in skirts. Whether this is down to self-confidence in their masculinity or just plain eccentricity is an open question.
Along with a pot of tea and a plate of cucumber sandwiches, what better way to enjoy a summer’s afternoon?
27. Charles Dickens
Along with some dour Russians, Dickens helped to turn the novel into the dominant art form of the 19th and 20th centuries, thus bringing literature to newly literate millions across the globe.
The sour taste, the heat as it enters the stomach, the rapid feeling of well-being, Scotland’s 'water of life' is the monarch of spirits.
29. The Lake District
It's no wonder that Windermere is the second-most-visited part of England outside London. Even on the dreariest of days, the magical mix of mountains, green dales and, of course, the shimmering expanse of water is enough to bring out the poet in you.
30. The NHS
Free health care from cradle to grave. It may have its shortcomings, but no one can deny the place it has in the nation’s heart.
31. The London Eye
To some an oversized Ferris wheel but for millions of Britons and tourists alike, London’s biggest attraction.
We didn’t invent it, but our version of it has now been admired and copied for more than 200 years. And we've kept to it: no flirting with strutting dictators for good old Blighty like they do on the Continent and elsewhere.
33. York Minster
It’s the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps and houses Britain’s largest stained-glassed windows.
34. Youth Culture
After America, Britain probably has the biggest influence on global music and fashion thanks to our vibrant, edgy youth culture.
35. Stiff Upper Lip
Whether it's Bony Bonaparte, Kaiser Bill or the easyJet check-in desk, Britons are rightly famous for their stoicism in the face of adversity.
36. Eden Project
Built into the wall of an abandoned china clay pit, the Eden Project's bio-domes house a lush jungle of 10,000 trees and plants from all over the world.
37. Oxford and Cambridge
England's oldest universities are the only two European (and non-American) institutions in the global Top 10.
38. The Scottish Highlands
The majesty of the mountains, the sublime calm of the lochs, the absence of restaurants serving food past 6pm, some of us often forget this region of outstanding natural beauty on our doorstep.
39. British Inventions
We’ve been responsible for many great inventions and are still commonly acknowledged to be among the best in the world when it comes to inventing. Over the past 50 years, according to research, more than 40 per cent of discoveries taken up on a worldwide basis originated here.
40. Jane Austen
Rom-coms? Chick-lit? Thirty-something single women with cats? Where would they be without the author of Pride And Prejudice?
41. Kew Gardens
Since the 18th century, the Botanic Gardens of Kew have been closely associated with the best of botany and this is reflected in the richness of its collections.
42. St Paul's Cathedral
Wren’s masterpiece is not only an astounding example of Baroque architecture, but its miraculous survival during the Blitz has made it an international symbol of resilience.
British players may be fated never to win it, but the two-week tournament in south-west London remains the best tennis competition in the world.
44. Carry On Films
Sid James’ laugh, Kenneth Williams' sneer, Barbara Windsor’s, er, assets – they may be the ultimate in camp naff, but the films bring a smile to your face every time.
45. HG Wells
Scared by Doctor Who? Thrilled by ET? Stunned by 2001: A Space Odyssey? Then you owe a big debt of thanks to the Victorian writer of The War Of The Worlds and The Shape Of Things To Come, who helped establish popular science fiction.
46. Prince William
Good-looking, charming and, one day, our king, Prince William is set to be one of the 21st century’s most famous people and is already a credit to the nation.
47. Pop Music
We may not top the Eurovision poll every year but everyone knows that Britain is a pop superpower.
Okay, it may now be owned by BMW, but the ultimate in motor cars is still lovingly handmade in Sussex. Along with the aeroengine company, the name Rolls-Royce continues to symbolise British engineering excellence.
Love 'em or hate 'em, the papers are avidly devoured by Britons. We have the biggest newspaper readership in the world.
Whatever you think of the Big Smoke's overweening influence on national life, it's hard not to be proud of the fact we have the greatest capital city on earth.
Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 16th, 2006 at 01:32 PM..