Start with English pale malt. My favourite is Maris Otter, but that is the only one I can get in bulk at my LHBS.
Add 5 - 10% English crystal 55L. My favourite is Muntons, but that is the only one I can get at the LHBS.
Use English hops EKG if possible, but I haven't found anybody selling fresh EKG in reasonable quantities, at a reasonable price. The US Goldings are a reasonable substitute, but not quite the same. Willamette is also good for the early additions, but for any additions boiled for less than 15 minutes, you want to use Goldings if possible.
Use an English yeast. My favourites are WLP002 or WY1968, but they both accentuate the malt flavour, and this can sometimes be excessive with an all malt brew. Other suitable yeasts for a bitter are WLP005, WY1098 or WY1275, which are not quite as extreme as the 002/1968. There may be other suitable yeasts, but I have not tried them. If you use liquid yeast, you will need to make a starter. If you use dried yeast then S-04 is the best one you can get, but I find this to be a very poor substitute for the liquid yeasts. Whatever you do, don't use Nottingham or Windsor. They are totally out of character.
For the mash, mash thick and cool (1 US qt water per lb grain, and no higher than 152F), and make sure your water profile is suitable. (Ca 50 - 100 ppm, SO4 100 - 200 ppm, and chloride 20 - 30 ppm)
For an example, see http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f64/alan...-bitter-76478/
The hops were not right for the style, but the recipe was developed at the height of the hop shortage, when the right hops were not available.
The link also specifies no carbonation. The brew was kegged, and stored and dispensed at 4 PSI. This would be pretty horrible for a bottled beer, but for an English special bitter, it is just perfect.
If you find that the beer is too malty, you can add a small amount of turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw) or flaked corn to dilute the maltiness. I don't mind the sugar, but I find the corn adds an unpleasant flavor to the beer. Did you notice the American "flavor" added by the corn, as opposed to the good "flavours" added by the other ingredients?
Hope this helps