Today we are back to stereotypes. Social psychologists tell us there’s nothing wrong with stereotyping, and sometimes what we think is true. They give the example of young men committing more violent crimes than other male age groups, or women. It’s just a fact. Statistics back this up. As we saw in other shows, not all Americans are overweight, carry guns, or are patriotic, but a good number of people in the states can tick some of those boxes, often all three. We also saw that while Russian men are not all macho, there is some truth to how Russian culture has propagated the image of the tough guy. But what about those Brits? Are they all tea-drinking, cricket-loving geezers with a stiff upper lip? That’s what we’ll find out, in today’s episode of the Infographics Show, Common Stereotypes about the British.
Let’s start with the tea. Do Brits drink the stuff like water, imbibing their Tetleys and Yorkshire tea throughout each and every day? Well, according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, 165 million cups of tea are served daily in the UK, which is 60.2 billion cups per year. The population of the UK is about 65.6 million, so those Brits are consuming almost three cups a day each! According to an article in The Atlantic, the biggest tea drinkers in the world are the Brits, with China, Turkey and Ireland also big on tea. Unlike some other countries, though, the Brits stick mainly with what is sometimes called English tea. 96% of the time it comes from a bag, and 98% of the time it’s drank with milk. According to Statistica, 37 percent of Brits drink 2 or 3 cups a day, 21 percent said 4 or 5 cups, 7 percent said 6 to 8 cups, and a few folks 9 or 10 cups. There’s no doubt about it, those Brits are hooked on their cuppas.
Ok, so now let’s get down to perhaps a more unappealing stereotype; after all, we’ve picked on Americans enough. We noticed that when we last mentioned that Brits had bad teeth, a lot of people expressed in the comments that this was not true at all. Was the Simpsons wrong to laugh at British teeth when they created ‘The big book of British smiles’ as a warning to cartoon American children? Was the Seattle grunge band, Mudhoney, wrong to name an EP ‘Boiled beef and rotting teeth’, jokingly prodding the Brits? According to dental statistics, yes, they were. According to 2015 OECD data, in terms of decayed, missing, or filled teeth, the Brits along with Germany actually have the best teeth in the world. According to the DMFT (decayed, missing, filled, Index), the worst oral hygiene in the world is in Ecuador, Cambodia, and worst of all, Grenada. The same data says the Brits have the fourth best teeth in the world, while the Americans come ninth. So, take that Simpsons! Denmark came first on the list. The BBC writes that the myth of bad British teeth is mostly American-made. It may have held some truth in the 70s, says the BCC, but it’s all changed now. The Brits can now stand tall and smile wide, and proudly cite any number of statistics that say their teeth are in a better state on average than those yanks over there in TV smile land.
So, when they are not drinking tea or brushing their teeth, those Brits are obviously talking about the weather…especially those in rainy Manchester. Do they really go on and on about the weather? According to most websites we can find, yes, they do. The reason is the unpredictability of the British weather due to its maritime climate. The Brits can’t be sure what’s going to happen from one hour to the next, so they chat about what’s happening and what might happen. In fact, it borders on insanity how much they talk about the weather. In 2015, the BBC cited research that said all over the UK, 94 percent of people will have talked about the weather in the last six hours. That’s every day of the week, all year, almost the entire country is weather small-talking. When website Expat Insider took a poll on worst weather in the world by country, the UK was 58th out of 64 countries. Belgium came last. The weather is so bad in the UK that if they have a few days of sunshine and heat, it’s first greeted with cheers and later there are droughts and pink-skinned northerners passing out muttering the words, “It’s cracking the flags…” Some Brits might understand what that means, and also know it’s pronounced in the north, “Crackin’ flags”.
Talking about how those Brits talk, do they really all have accents no one outside of Britain can understand? This is true and not true. Some Brits speak very clearly, and you could say these are all mostly your middle and upper class variety of Brits. Yes, they still talk about class over in that funny old land. According to the Telegraph, Britain indeed is a country of very complex accents. They mention the accents of Cockney (London), Brummie (Birmingham), West Country (Somerset and beyond), South Wales, Scouse (Liverpool), Scottish and Geordie (Newcastle), among others. Imagine travelling through Yorkshire and someone tells you, “Put wood in t’ole! Was tha’ born in a barn?” That means “Please close the door.” You go up to Scotland and someone turns to you and says, “It’s boiling oot.” He’s trying to tell you today the weather is hot. All over the UK you’ll find accents that you can’t believe are the English language. Not everyone speaks with the BBC accent, or Queen’s English. Why does the UK have so many regional accents compared to the rest of the world? It’s complicated, but has a lot to do with social standing, communities that identify with accents, and of course all the tribes that lived on the British Isles, including Celts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, German and Norse tribes. Medieval French became the language after Olde English, and Latin was spoken as well. All those tribes and all those languages, have led to this confusion of British accents.
As for the Queen, do all Brits love her? Actually, that’s hardly even close to the truth. She’s probably more popular in the US than she is in the UK. In Scotland, the Queen is less liked than in England. While polls suggest that about 75 percent of Brits are in favor of keeping the monarchy, the days are long gone when the UK population worshipped the royal family. The queen is more of a novelty these days, fodder for those infamous tabloids.
Are the Brits overly polite? Well, there is certainly a culture of yobbism over there on the small island, but you will find that Brits agree that they know better than anyone how to form an orderly queue. In fact, most people there are so polite, they apologize even when they are in the right. When the Independent cited a British Council report about what the rest of the world thinks about the Brits, the answer was, “Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite.” You’ll find Brits do binge drink, but the country is only 25th on the world alcohol consumption list. Are they intolerant? Well, Brexit might answer that, but we won’t go there today. Polite is probably true as good manners are important in the UK, and that goes across all classes. We can trace some of this back to the Victorian era in Britain when etiquette and manners were expected from everyone.
Finally, is British food really that bad? This isn’t easy to answer. You can find restaurants from two of the world’s most famous chefs in the UK, those of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey. Amazing cuisine can be found in every city, but you’ll also find many poorer people living on a diet of Tesco Value Foods, cheap, sweet ciders that come in massive plastic bottles, and basically eating a lot of bad processed food that comes out of boxes and tins. Yes, Britain is home to the greasy café and fried egg sandwiches, but you’ll also find some of the best Indian food in the world, as well as great French and Italian food. Traditional British food, such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, is not bad at all. Still, if we put British cuisine against other countries’ cuisines, it might be said to be lacking. We checked a number of websites for best cuisines in the world, and British food wasn’t on any of them.
So, Cheerio for now; let us know in the comments if we’ve missed any common British stereotypes. Also, be sure to check out our other video called FBI vs CIA?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!