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HBO turns 40: The network's greatest ever shows - pictures

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HBO celebrates its 40th birthday this month. It's an occasion that all TV fans should rejoice and raise a toast to, because without HBO the world of telly would be a less colourful, less imaginative and poorer place.

From its early groundbreaking and influential cult hits Oz and The Larry Sanders Show to the big budget, cinematic eye-boggling hits of today (Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire), HBO very rarely has a misfire when it comes to making TV shows.

[HBO turns 40: Its greatest ever TV shows - In pictures
The Sopranos and The Wire, the network's most famous creations, changed the way TV bosses, viewers and writers worked and put TV on a level with film for the very first time.

Whether you've wanted comedy (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords), glamour (Sex and the City), dark gloom (Deadwood) or just some sexy vampires (True Blood), HBO has had something for everyone.

AMC and Showtime may now be going head-to-head with hits such as Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Homeland, but HBO was the trailblazer and one of the first to truly prove the potential of small screen drama.

So crack open the champagne, tuck into some birthday cake and keep your fingers crossed for another 40 years with as much awe-inspiring telly.
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