The Sopranos has been voted the top television show of all time by American screenwriters.

The HBO gangster drama series, starring James Gandolfini as New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano, was chosen as the best written TV series by the Writers Guild Of America, coming top of the list of 101 shows including Mad Men, Friends and The Wire.

US sitcom Seinfeld, created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, took second place, with The Twilight Zone, All In The Family and M*A*S*H rounding out the top five.

Mad Men, Cheers, The Wire, The West Wing and The Mary Tyler Moore Show all appeared in the top 10.

The list, which was compiled by the members of the WGA, is filled with old and new shows including The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development and 30 Rock, although programmes in the past tended to dominate. It also combined comedies with dramas, sci-fi, thrillers and children’s shows.

Julian Fellowes’ period drama Downton Abbey took 43rd place, while Homeland – which stars Damian Lewis and Claire Danes – came in the 48th spot.

Other UK shows that made the list included Ricky Gervais’s The Office, Upstairs Downstairs and Absolutely Fabulous, which starred Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.

WGA presidents Chris Keyser and Michael Winship said in a joint statement: “At their core, all of these wonderful series began with the words of the writers who created them and were sustained by the writers who joined their staff or worked on individual episode. This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft.”