TV shows and films about politics and the monarchy

The following TV shows and films deal with aspects of British and American politics, as well as general views on political systems. They can help you gain insight into the history and traditions of those countries, as well as increase your vocabulary on the subject.

UK politics: 

Yes, Minister (1980-1984)/Yes, Prime Minister (1986-1988)- (C2)

The Thick of It (2005-2012) [includes lots of profanity and swearwords]

Love Actually (2003)

One of the many subplots the film deals with involves the British Prime Minister:

The Iron Lady (2011):

Would you like to watch the sessions of the British Parliament live? Click here for BBC Parliament.

British Monarchy: 

The Queen (2006) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

The King’s Speech (2010) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

The Crown (2016-) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

A Very English Scandal (2018) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

Years and Years (2019) [show set in Manchester, some Northern accents are noticeable]

US politics: 

All the President’s Men (1976)

The West Wing (1999-2006)

(from 1’30”)

House of Cards (2013-2018)

Veep (2012-2019)

General views on politics: 

The Great Dictator (1940):

V for Vendetta (2005) [B2 and upwards- international cast, but most of them use British English RP pronunciations, regardless of their original accents]

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)

Game of Thrones blooper spotted- Starbucks cup

Apparently, fans were shocked to find a Starbucks disposable coffee cup on the set of the latest Game of Thrones episode. Listen to this news report to know more about this blooper:

Annotated transcript (pay attention to the highlighted expressions)

  • Do you remember other bloopers you might have seen on film or TV?
  • What’s your take on the last part of the report? Would you say this blooper (or others) are intentional, or simply careless mistakes?

Red Nose Day 2019- its ups and downs

Last Friday 15th March it was Red Nose Day (RND) in the UK, this massive BBC telethon aimed at raising funds for the charity Comic Relief. (More about it here).

In the run-up to RND sponsors and partners filled supermarkets and British high streets with merchandise…

…and I was only too happy to oblige, by acquiring yet another red nose, and a ceramic travel mug.

So I felt terribly guilty when, first thing in the morning on RND, I woke up to this news:

There were also reactions on Twitter about the issue:

To make matters worse, RND fell on a Friday, coinciding with a Fridays for Future strike.

Anyway, I still sat down in the evening to watch the telethon live online. Needless to say, the spotlight of the evening was the sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral, 25 years after its release. The cast includes most of the original actors and actresses, as well as Lily James and Alicia Vikander.

‘One Red Nose and a Wedding’:

Other sketches of the evening included a spoof of Mamma Mia- Here We Go Again, featuring Jennifer Saunders, Carey Mulligan (Suffragette) and comedian Miranda Hart.


Cómo grabar “Pasapalabra” con TouchCast Studio para repasar vocabulario

En este video cuento cómo se puede “grabar” un programa de Pasapalabra con los alumnos, para repasar vocabulario, conceptos clave:

Las veces que he realizado esta actividad les he propuesto a los alumnos que concursaran por equipos, y que ellos mismos eligieran las palabras y escribieran las definiciones, para que otro grupo de la clase tuviera que adivinarlas. De ese modo, el repaso es doble, porque al elaborar preguntas también están revisando sus apuntes.

Si tenéis iPad y la aplicación gratuita TouchCast Studio, no os hace falta fondo verde para crear el efecto croma. Resulta muy cómodo, ya que no hay que montar ningún fondo, o llevar a los alumnos a otro aula. Si no, se podría grabar con cualquier otra aplicación de efecto croma (ChromaVid, GreenScreen by Do Ink…más información aquí), pero se perdería la posibilidad de ir marcando sobre el video las respuestas correctas e incorrectas.

Greenpeace-Iceland supermarkets banned Xmas ad

Greenpeace and Iceland supermarkets were banned from showing their joint Christmas 2018 ad on British TV, for being deemed (=considered) ‘political’, and as such, not complying with advertising rules in the UK. Controversy ensued (=followed), with a petition to show it on TV even reaching more than 670,000 signatures. The ad, however, could eventually be shown on social media, attracting millions of views and worldwide support.

You can watch the ad below. The second version features onscreen subtitles.


Full text here (p.8)

The text has been written in rhymed poem form. The voice over is by Emma Thompson, in my view one of the best RP (received pronunciation, Standard British English) speaking voices in the English speaking world. Both her accent and intonation provide a great example to be imitated by students of English.

Given both the relevant message and the enchanting prosody of the ad, the following activity could be carried out: before watching the video, just show some screenshots from the ad, like the ones below:

  • Where is the ad set?
  • What is the ad going to be about?

Then, hand out the worksheet below to students. Ask them to guess the missing word(s) in each gap in pairs. That way, their expectations about the message that the ad will be conveying will be activated before actually watching the ad.

You can then play the original ad for students to check their answers against the original text. Which version do they like best?

You can finally ask them to pay attention and try to imitate the stress and rhythm of the poem, as well as the pronunciation of keywords and rhyming words.

Some primary schools in the UK worked alongside Greenpeace and created new versions of the poem of their own:

Using ads for teaching/learning English

Ads (both print and TV) can be a helpful tool to teach/learn languages. Basically, because businesses want you to remember their product or service. That’s why they use a whole range of strategies, to make an impact on potential buyers. In the field of language learning, we can use those strategies to our advantage, to help us remember key vocabulary/collocations, and associate pictures to words.

First of all, TV ads tend to be short, so the same ad can be watched several times, and at different points in time, to reinforce relevant vocabulary, pay attention to stress and pronunciation…

On top of that, they create a context, or a short fiction: that context may be helpful to remember dialogues, slogans…

Last but not least, advertising campaigns tend to have a catchy slogan, sometimes playing with alliteration or rhyme, which can help us remember words/expressions. Besides, the same slogan is used over and over again.

These websites can be useful for both teachers and students as resources:

  • Comprehensive website for UK TV ads since 2006 (although it does have some vintage ads as well). It tends to be updated daily. You can search by brand name (alphabetically), or just have a look at the 20 most recent ads.
  • You can also use

World ads:

Some of my favourite TV ads:


Specsavers (Opticians)- Should’ve gone to Specsavers (a good way to practise perfect infinitives with modal verbs)



Sainsbury’s- Mog’s Christmas Calamity




An activity I’ve done some times is to play some ads to students: then, ask them to identify certain strategies which feature frequently in ads, as well as write down interesting / relevant vocabulary / collocations.

Exercise- associate ad- strategy used – vocabulary

The objective was twofold: Ss were expected to be able to analyse the kind of persuasive strategies and language that advertising uses to entice consumers into buying; later, they were asked to write and perform their own ads, using some of those strategies, and trying to use language they had seen in the ads.

Uso eficaz de recursos audiovisuales para el aprendizaje de idiomas

Aquí podéis encontrar la presentación que he preparado para la sesión “Uso eficaz de recursos audiovisuales para el aprendizaje de idiomas”, realizada en la EOI 1 de Zaragoza el 7 de Noviembre de 2018. Haced click en la primera imagen para acceder a ella.

En este vídeo está la presentación con el audio grabado durante la sesión:

Este es el resumen de las estrategias que podéis utilizar:

  • Apunta, registra en tu cuaderno / cuaderno digital. 
  • Busca expresiones desconocidas que puedan ser relevantes en el diccionario. 
  • Si escuchas la palabra / expresión, o la buscas en el diccionario—-> repítela (imita pronunciación, entonación)
  • Escucha…aunque no prestes atención.
  • Si puedes, escucha el mismo fragmento varias veces (seguidas + alejadas en el tiempo)—>recordar vocabulario
  • Si tienes memoria visual, intenta asociar imágenes a nuevo vocabulario. 
  • Intenta ir incorporando expresiones nuevas en tus redacciones / producciones orales. 
  • Elige material relacionado con el tema que estáis trabajando en clase.
  • Elige un fragmento de película / serie, y habla “solo”, grábate, o cuéntale a alguien en casa / amigo: describe qué ha pasado en el fragmento / noticia / ….