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Top 10 Things That Are Weirdly Popular in Britain

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Paul Grover
This goes way beyond toad in the hole! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things That Are Weirdly Popular in Britain. For this list we’ll be looking at things that are popular in Britain but can appear unusual to those from afar. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What may be common place on our shores can seem peculiar if not downright unacceptable to other cultures!
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This goes way beyond toad in the hole! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things That Are Weirdly Popular in Britain.



For this list we’ll be looking at things that are popular in Britain but can appear unusual to those from afar. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What may be common place on our shores can seem peculiar if not downright unacceptable to other cultures!





#10: Mixing Up the Metric System


For the most part, we British have made the bridge from old to new, and embraced the metric system – but we ardently refuse to measure long distances in anything other than miles. Britain birthed the imperial system in the first place, and we’re not about to relinquish it fully. Although we measure most liquids in litres, with milk and beer we still like to use pints. Or sometimes both pints and litres depending on the situation. Pounds and ounces, or kilos and grams? It depends how we feel on the day. Confused yet? You should be.





#9: Roundabouts


Britain loves going round in circles, and no, we’re not referring to international diplomacy! Although France has the exclusive bragging rights of having over half of the world’s roundabouts, the UK has more per road than those across the Channel, or than any other country for that matter. But are they really so necessary? Everyone else manages to avoid “Blues Brothers” style pile ups without them. Perhaps they’re just a long-standing joke made by British road designers, or an elaborate excuse to bust out the spirograph they got for Christmas last.







#8: Cheeky Nando’s


“It’s Friday night and we’re all feeling bit peckish, lads. You know what that means? A Cheeky Nando’s!”, said no one outside of Britain, ever. Sure, Nando’s restaurants can be found worldwide, but the chain has basically become a British institution. Just compare the UK’s 280 plus branches, to the much bigger USA’s only 40 outlets. When you’re a bit tired of Sunday roasts and fish and chips, some Portuguese style chicken dishes are the obvious alternative. Nando’s marinades are available in supermarkets too, so you can have that peri-peri perfection even if you’re having a night in.





#7: The Garden Shed


Inhabitants of more spacious nations may simply store their lawn mowers and other gardening equipment in their garages and such. But in the UK, every square metre – or, that is, every square foot – counts, and a shed at the end of the garden can be highly practical. In addition to the norm however, some residents have decided to pimp out their sheds, even adding home-made bars, art studios or saunas to them. If that wasn’t extravagant enough, the phenomenon has been rewarded with a shed of the year competition!





#6: Public Drunkenness


We may be admired by the rest of the world for our many traditional English pubs, but with a lot of drinkeries comes a lot of drunkenness. And traditionally enough we Brits have seemingly no shame in getting unabashedly intoxicated in public, particularly when there’s a World Cup on! In fact, any sporting event will do just fine. Cricket, rugby, darts, the list goes on – with the crowds getting merrier and merrier. And that’s not to mention music festivals. Or Royal Weddings. Or every lunch break at work.





#5: The Downstairs Toilet


Not only are downstairs toilets untraditional in most places outside the UK, they’re often not even referred to as toilets at all! Apparently, “Going to the Bathroom” is the more polite substitute for when one’s in need of the lavatory. It’s easily lost in translation for an outsider in Britain though, as the so-called ‘downstairs bathroom’ (as in toilet) doesn't usually include the supposedly expected tub and shower. But, beyond that, the downstairs loo is actually seen as an ultra-convenience in the UK – negating the need to climb the stairs every time you need to go.





#4: Football Stickers


Why collect stamps and have all those images of the Queen in a scrapbook, when you can compile football stickers and have the likes of Jonjo Shelvey smiling out at you against a super shiny background!? And, if you don’t have the album at hand, you can stick your favourite player on anything – the possibilities are endless! Many a football fan grew up desperately trying to complete their Premier League sticker albums, though it always seemed you were one David Seaman away from victory. It’s a rite of passage... but it does get a little weird when grown adults shell out hundreds for that Derby County left-back they desperately need…





#3: Eurovision


Eurovision isn’t the only thing in Britain that’s popular despite us not being very good at it. See: international football. But all the same, the UK has won Eurovision far more times than the countries within it have taken the World Cup home – and far more recently as well. British entries to have conquered Europe's mushy pop scene through the years include, Sandie Shaw's “Puppet on a String” in 1967 and Katrina and the Wave's “Love Shine a Light” in 1997. There have been some low points, but that won’t stop us throwing Eurovision parties every single year, for the rest of our lives – will it?





#2: Pancake Day


Shrove Tuesday was originally a day for Christians to make a confession to their priest ahead of starting a 40 day fast. But, similar to how Christmas has essentially become an annual excuse to binge on turkey, Shrove Tuesday has become an excuse to shove your face with fried flour smothered in butter. Hence it’s better-known name – Pancake Day. It is celebrated elsewhere, being more bluntly known as Fat Tuesday in the US, but not many take it as seriously as the British do. Until you’ve seen or compete in a pancake-flipping race, you just haven’t lived!







#1: Second-hand Stuff


Sure, everyone’s got in on the act of purchasing and selling second hand goods for discount prices in the 21st century. But long before the internet took over everything, Brits were hoovering up deals at their local car boot sales. These aren’t subtly-trendy thrift stores ala America… They’re good ol’ fashioned, no nonsense bring-and-buy bonanzas! If there’s not a boot sale on, there’s an abundance of charity stores to rummage through. And, when we Brits aren't poking around for the perfect pre-owned purchase, we’re watching daytime TV shows where people sell the contents of their attics for a profit. No bargain goes unhunted in these parts!



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