I had not watched any of the Street until Series Three. My interest was only elicited when I heard an interview with Jimmy McGovern shortly before this series was due to air on BBC1 on the radio. The interviewer asked him if he was surprised by the all the acclaim he had received for the first and second series of The Street. He brazenly replied "No, not at all, we deserve all the commendation we have received as we've worked bloody hard to make a decent series". I thought: "Cheeky bugger, I'm going to watch an episode, and I'll be the judge". Naturally I was expecting the usual tosh that gets served up on TV, but after the first episode of Series 3 (Bob Hoskins as a landlord standing up to the local hard nut's son for smoking in the loos) I was hooked. The cast is outstanding and the material hard hitting and relevant. They are effectively one hour 'Plays for Today'. The reason the format is so effective is that they are both standalone drama - you can get into it very quickly, but there is also cross-referencing between the episodes which just provides additional richness.
It is a terrible shame that the third series of The Street will be the last. UK television needs more of this calibre of drama. As for me, I've already ordered the DVDs of series 1 & 2 to catch up on what I missed first time round on TV.