Brit Telly Slang: Lovely Jubbly – 13 Brilliant British Slang Words and Phrases Coined by British TV Shows


It’s often said that William Shakespeare created hundreds of words that we use today (see a small list here). This change to the English language continues today with British TV. We thought it would be fun to put together a list of famous words that have been coined by our favorite British TV shows. We asked on our Facebook page and got a lot of great suggestions.

This list is limited to single or two word phrases. We’ll have another list of famous British TV catchphrases at a later date.


Smeg is a vulgarism or expletive used throughout the sci-fi comedy series of Red Dwarf. Although no specific meaning is ever given, it and its derivatives are regularly used as a derogatory term in place of using actual swear words. The term “Smeghead” is used very commonly throughout as an insult towards characters in the show. Variations of the term include Smeggin’ Hell.


The word which is an acronym that means Time and Relative Dimension in Space, TARDIS for short. This is the spaceship piloted by The Doctor, the main character on the show. It can travel anywhere in time and space and it’s bigger on the inside. This has joined the real estate lexicon and it’s commonly used to describe a property at ‘TARDIS-like’ – meaning it looks small on the outside but is bigger on the inside.


A throwaway line from Doctor Who that has become a phrase meant to explain the unexplainable when it comes to time travel (and the show’s often non-sensical plots).

Am I bovvered?

From ‘The Catherine Tate Show’ and it basically means: “I don’t care!”

Gone Bodmin

From the hit comedy show Doc Martin – gone bodmin basically means someone has gone crazy or lost the plot. The show didn’t coin the phrase, but it made it popular.

Lovely jubbly

Something that is truly excellent. Wass popularized by the classic British comedy ‘Only Fools And Horses’, a sitcom watched by over 30m Britons at its peak. Used when a person hear’s pleasing news, or gets a stroke of good luck.

Don’t panic

This phrase was popularized in World War II comedy Dad’s Army but also entered the lexicon from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


This phrase was also made popular by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What does it mean? Well, everything! The Almighty Answer to the Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. It was calculated by the computer Deep Thought for seven million years and when asked to build a better computer to discover the Question to the Life, the Universe, and Everything, it built the Earth. Before the Earth could tell the Question however, it was destroyed by the Vogons to make room for an interstellar highway bypass.


Originating from a Monty Python, splunge is a way of saying that you have no worthy opinion and that an idea could or could not be good. It could also be a quick comeback if you do not have an answer for a question.

Such fun!

Expressed when something extremely amusing occurs. Can also be used to avert or hinder someone from speaking. Frequently used in the British sitcom Miranda.


While this phrase existed long before it’s use on Doctor Who, Doctor Who has made the phrase mainstream. What does it mean? Knowing the end of a story before everyone else. TV Spoilers have become a huge problem in the days of social media. It was used on Doctor Who by River Song to avoid telling the Doctor messy things about his future… and past.

What’s occurring?

A phrase coined by the romantic comedy Gavin & Stacey used by the character Nessa whenever she greets someone.

Omnishambles (Language Warning for Video!)

This one is one of my favorites and was coined on the political comedy show The Thick of It. The phrase was uttered by Malcolm Tucker (brilliantly played by Peter Capaldi) when referring to a situation of total disorder. It has since joined the political lexicon.

Did we leave anything off the list? Let us know your favorite in the comments below!

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  1. avatarAmanda says

    Not to be gross but—smeghead comes from the accumulation of an uncircumcised man. Also what about “bollocks” from Coupling???

    • avatarPeter B says

      You are quite correct Amanda. Smegma is an accumulation of white and rather smelly matter underneath an unwashed foreskin. That is why it was considered such an insult by the writers of Red Dwarf, no doubt :-)

  2. avatarJo says

    I was always red dwarf used smeg in reference to smegma which collects under the foreskin.??

  3. avatarAngela robinson says

    I thought the saying was lubbly jubbly bad it came from an advert years ago for an orange iced drink!

    • avatar says

      It came from an Orange Drink in a funny shaped carton like a twisted box tube, a decent newsagent would put some in the ice cream freezer so for about 4d (old pennies0 you had the biggest lolly ever. luvly Jubbly

  4. avatar says

    WTF? You’ve missed out the best one “CLUNGE”. If I have to explain what it means, well I won’t. It won’t be in the American version of The Inbetweeners which shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Nor should American Shameless ffs.

  5. avatar says

    First:- I would like to add, as my contribution: “I have a cunning plan.”

    Second:- Imagine my more-than-mild surprise when I saw that “Splunge” is a town in Monroe County, Mississippi! Maybe that splunge came first.

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