Best of British: Roast dinner, fish and chips and BBC voted top icons

Sunday roast is the top British icon

Sunday roast is the top British icon

  • New study reveals our most popular national icons

  • Roast dinner, fish & chips, the BBC and a cup of tea top the list

  • 2012 Olympics voted proudest British moment in recent history

  • 82% Brits feel proud to be British

  • 62% would rather live in Britain than any other country

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A new study has revealed the number one British icon is the roast dinner, followed by fish and chips and the BBC.

The 2016 Britishness Audit was commissioned by Tetley an the audit includes analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey by NatCen Social Research and a poll of 2,000 people identifying typical British traits and our most popular national icons by OnePoll.

Fish and chips is one of the top icons

Fish and chips is one of the top icons

The most common national behaviours that emerge from the audit include wearing summer clothes at the first sign of sun and making a cup of tea in response to a crisis.

The famous British stiff upper lip is also highlighted in the top 10, as well as declaring ‘its fine’ when faced with poor customer service and queuing for absolutely anything.

And, when asked what the country’s national emblem should be, most Brits say a cup of tea (32% of those asked), closely followed by Big Ben (31%), with the Queen’s face coming third (21%).

The NatCen report reveals that the majority of Brits (82%) are proud of their nationality and 62% of people who live in Britain say they’d rather be citizens of Britain than anywhere else.

A nice relaxing cuppa

A nice relaxing cuppa

The report also reveals that the older people are, the more positive their feelings about Britain appear to be, with 66% of those aged 75 and older saying they were ‘very proud’ of being British, compared with just 20% of those age 18-29.

Ian Simpson, Senior Researcher at NatCen, said: “The notion that the people who inhabit this particular set of islands have strong emotional attachments to our nation is an enduring one.

“Our report delves a little deeper into these feelings of national pride, and who exactly is feeling them. Differences in age, gender and education have an impact on the depth of patriotic feeling – but the report reveals that feelings of national pride still run high, with eight in ten people saying they feel proud to be British.”

When it comes to recent events, the poll shows that British pride was at its peak during the 2012 Olympics, which was voted the most rewarding time to be British. This chimes with the NatCen report findings that national pride is linked to our sporting achievements, with 73% of Brits feeling proud when the country does well in international sports.

The Queen becoming our longest serving monarch and the 70-year commemoration of VE Day also make the top of the list of events that make us feel most proud of Britain.


Wearing summer clothing at the first sight of sun

Apologising automatically

Ability to talk at length about the weather

Making a cup of tea in response to a crisis

Finding queue-jumping the ultimate crime

Forming a queue for pretty much anything

The typically British ‘stiff upper lip’

Grumbling throughout a meal, but not telling staff so as not to cause a fuss

Making sarcastic/dry jokes

Having a beer at the airport even though it’s before 8am

Giggling at innuendos

Making a cup of tea when you have no time to drink it

Getting sunburnt on the first warm day of the year

Finding the American forwardness ‘a bit much’

Avoiding eye contact on the tube

Binge drinking at the weekends

Insisting the other person goes through the door first

Searching for a fry-up when on holiday abroad

Mistaking brightness for warmth

Finding nothing better than a bacon sandwich

Not asking for help so as not to ‘put anyone out’

Insisting the barbecue will still go on despite rain

Bringing out fancy biscuits on a plate for visitors

Feeling extremely patriotic during sports events

Indulging in a pint and a packet of crisps

Reading newspapers in the morning

Feeling at home to the tune of EastEnders or Coronation Street

Wearing extra layers rather than putting the heating on

Feeling appreciative that the person in front put the ‘next customer’ barrier on the conveyor belt

Doing anything possible for a light tan

Owning a picnic hamper but only ever using it once a year

Starting a controversial statement with ‘I’m not being funny, but...’

Being vague about your plans rather than decline an invitation

Thanking someone when you’ve done them a favour

Not correcting someone when they pronounce your name wrong

Loving your cat/dog more than your child

Searching your pockets when asked for spare change

Feeling extreme excitement over a Sunday roast dinner

Having mixed feelings towards the ill colleague who is still coming to work

Being skilled in writing a letter of complaint


Traditional Roast Dinner

Fish and chips


Union Jack


A British cup of tea

The London Underground

The Royal Family

Only Fools and Horses

The Beatles


The City of London

Buckingham Palace

Red buses

Winston Churchill



Cream tea

James Bond


For more information about the audit visit the Tetly website at or join the conversation on Twitter @Tetley_Teafolk #ItStartsWithTea.

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