The following is a guest post.
When Melissa asked if someone would like to write a guest post about his or her top ten British sit-coms (or Britcoms) I jumped at the chance. I love British comedy and I happen to think that we’ve created some raucously witty and clever TV programmes over the years. I’ve always personally thought that the best sitcoms are the ones with a simple premise and basic humour that feature people going about their every day lives.
Due to their success, many of our Britcoms have been taken over to the US and for reasons I’ve never been able to understand – perhaps down to differences in humour – have been completely remade and rarely resemble the programme they once were.
I’m sure they are fab in their own right but after watching The Office over here, there was no way I could embrace the US version. Could you imagine the production of an English version of Friends or Frasier? It just wouldn’t work for me.
Without further ado, I am going to introduce you to my Top 10 Britcoms. There may be a few controversial omissions like The Good Life, Fawlty Towers & Only Fools and Horses but I have thought long and hard about this, and here we have the definitive list of my personal favourites.
10. Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em was first broadcast in 1973 and ran for three series, ending in 1978. The series followed accident-prone Frank Spencer and his wife Betty and every episode was carnage, chaos and ended in disaster. The programme coined the phrase “Ooh Betty” and the character of Frank Spencer has been one that impressionists have mimicked time and time again. I wasn’t born until 1979 so this had finished by the time arrived however I grew up watching re-runs on the BBC and some of the clips still bring tears to my eyes.
The sitcom Coupling ran from 2000-2004 and centres around the dating adventures of six mid-30s friends. It’s been often compared to shows like Friends although I think the humour is very different. For me, my favourite character was Jeff, and whilst I still enjoyed the programme, after he’d left it wasn’t quite the same.
8. Phoenix Nights
Peter Kay is one of the few comedians that makes me cry laughing and his observational sitcom about The Phoenix Club, a northern working men’s club had me in stitches. It was first broadcast in 2001 and the writing is absolutely fabulous. The characters are real and all the actors give great performances. Anyone who has ever been anywhere near a working men’s club will be able to relate to this!
7. Keeping Up Appearances
First broadcast in 1990, this is a sitcom that portrays the social hierarchy or British society, Keeping Up Appearances features uber-snob Hyacinth Bucket (which if you’ve watched it, you’ll know this is pronounced “Bouquet…”, her long-suffering husband Richard and the trials and tribulations of her working-class family. The humour is dry and there’s an element of slapstick comedy. The character of Hyacinth, with her withering looks and snipe, is totally believable; I’ve known a few similar characters in my time!
6. The Inbetweeners
You’ll either love or hate The Inbetweeners, a British sitcom that has aired for three series since 2008. The programme centres on the lives of four teenage boys and as you might expect is very adolescent and juvenile, but also very very funny. If you are offended by the use of expletives, derogatory terms and sexual innuendo then it’s probably not for you, however I think it captures those awkward late teenage years perfectly and reminds me what they were like!
5. ‘Allo ‘Allo
Set in a café in Nazi-occupied France during World War II – it doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs does it? However this BBC sitcom broadcast from 1982 to 1992 is slapstick comedy at it’s best – full of innuendo. How I used to laugh at the Englishman disguised as a gendarme with his famous greeting “Good Moaning” and his many hilarious mispronunciations and I still use Michelle’s “listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once” regularly!
4. The Office
The Office is a British sitcom that has been exported all over the world. The UK version was first broadcast in 2001 and was a mock fly-on-the-wall documentary set around the day-to-day lives of the office employees of a fictitious company – the Wernham Hogg Paper Company. I don’t think there’s a single person who has spent time working in an office environment that cannot relate to this programme. There many character types I recognised and many episodes had me cringing behind a cushion. It was completely accurate in depicting office life for many of us!
Outnumbered has been airing since 2007 and at the time of writing this, is still a current programme. The sitcom focuses on the family life of Brockmans who consist of a father and mother who are outnumbered (and outsmarted) by their three children. As a parent of small children I can feel the pain. The pain of when they outsmart you, pick up on your little white lies and generally run circles around you! What I like most about Outnumbered is the semi-improvisational scripting which makes the characters that the child actors play seem more realistic and believable.
2. The Royle Family
First broadcast on the TV in 1998, since 2000 The Royle Family has only produced seasonal specials. The programme takes place almost exclusively in the Royle family’s living room, in front of the TV. I think everybody can relate on some level to the characters in the Royle family – we all know someone like Denise or Jim and we can all sympathise with long-suffering Barbara.
1. Gavin and Stacey
Gavin and Stacey, a sitcom about the long-distance relationship of Gavin (from Billercay, Essex) and Stacey (from Barry Island, Wales) ran from 2007 to 2010. You can’t help but love all the characters in Gavin & Stacey – from the hapless Uncle Bryn to hilarious next-door neighbour Doris – they’ve all got some redeeming or endearing features and are totally loveable!
So tell me, what do you think of my list and which favourite Britcoms would you put in your Top Ten?
Joanna is a mother of two unruly but cute children and wife to one wonderful husband. Living in the countryside with eight cats, two dogs, two in-laws and countless bird-nut-pinching squirrels. She has a wide range of interests from genealogy to fashion to interior design to history to celeb gossip meaning absolutely anything can and will appear on her blog http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.com/