Top 10 British Comedy Shows
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
February 9, 2012
Filed Under TV
Contributed by Tim Brugger, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
It’s more than just the accents that make British comedy a hit around the world.
The combination of believable and slyly funny characters, excellent acting and top notch scripts have captured the funny bone of U.S. audiences for generations. Say “British comedy,” and everyone has a contribution to this list, whether they are a devotee of public television or just an occasional viewer.
Let’s start with this list of comedy hits for the Anglophile:
10. Father Ted
Sometimes crotchety, always inept and recently banished priests set the tone for this hilarious show. Another, like a couple others on our list that only ran for a few seasons. But what seasons they were. Father Jack is particularly funny; constantly yelling, cussing and seemingly upset at everyone and everything around him. It may fly under the radar on lists of many British comedy shows, but not this one.
9. Till Death Do Us Part
Think Archie Bunker with a strong British accent and that pretty well describes Till Death Do Us Part. If you’re easily offended, probably not your cup of tea. Just as All in the Family wasn’t here in the State. Why the strong correlation between these two groundbreaking shows? Because All in the Family was the most famous remake of the original, Till Death Do Us Part.
8. As Time Goes By
As much heart as humor, but with Judi Dench as the female lead you can be it was done right. And perhaps not surprisingly, she’s actually very funny. Though this long running show (it lasted 14 years beginning in ’92) was the antithesis of some of the other, crude British comedy shows on our list. But for those with an enjoyment of lighter fare, you could do a lot worse than As Time Goes By.
7. The Office
Another popular U.S. show with its roots in the U.K., The Office first kicked off in 2001 and was an immediate hit. Just as with the copy here, the same quirky characters, humor and filming style gave this show a feel all its own. Even if you’re not immensely fond of The Office (though it seems most are) you have to admit there’s nothing else like it. And there’s something very appealing about that.
6. Men Behaving Badly
Though the U.S. version didn’t make quite the impact, it was an absolute success for 8 strong years in England. If your particular type of humor requires an intelligent, snappy repartee with well-developed characters and plot lines; this ain’t it. As the name implies, it’s essentially about two guys well, behaving pretty badly. If they’re not drinking and causing havoc at the local pub, they’re drinking and causing havoc at home. Highbrow? Nah, just good brainless humor; and we can all use that sometimes.
5. The Thin Blue Line
I don’t know about you, but Rowan Atkinson absolutely slays me. You’ll remember him as Bean, but his time as the uptight, bumbling police chief of Gasforth Station in The Thin Blue Line will have you rolling. If you get the chance, catch one of the few episodes available. It was and still is amazingly popular across the pond even today, which is a real testament to the show because it only ran for two years.
4. Fawlty Towers
A member of one of the highest rated British comedy shows on our list, you can still catch the occasional re-run even here in the states of this absolute classic. Man, I love PBS! There’s a reason John Cleese seems like he’s been making people cough soda back up their nose for years; he has. The guy is just flat out funny. And talk about a roll, he winds up the #2 show on our list, and steps into the grumbling role of Basil Fawlty the next year. Why anyone would actually stay at Fawlty Towers and subject themselves to an endless string of insults is beyond me. Luckily it doesn’t matter, people did and we’re all better off for it.
3. Absolutely Fabulous
Okay, now we’re moving into the big time. This show was, and is with the new web released episodes, all that’s right about british comedy shows. The restrictions we in the States feel compelled to impose upon ourselves are no where to be found in England. Ab Fab is proof-positive they’re operating under a whole, new set of rules. You don’t see her much, but the daughter (Saffron) is an absolutely (sorry about that) perfect complement to Mom Edina and her drug addicted, narcissistic friend Patsy. Some of the interactions are priceless; not to mention drop dead funny.
2. Monty Python
What a classic. This and the #1 British comedy show on our list could just about be a toss up. Monty Python set English, and then American TV and movies on their collective ears with the 1969 introduction of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Now, I’ll be the first to admit some of the humor escaped me; I mean, these guys were off the wall! But the wackiness was infectious, and ended up carrying over to very successfully movies. Not to mention individual careers for the entire cast. Classic.
1. Benny Hill
I remember growing up with Saturday evening re-runs of The Benny Hill show. He reminded me a bit of Jonathan Winters with this characters and skit TV. And man, those songs. There were times I laughed so hard I cried, and I could only understand half his bloody accent! And you want to talk popular, there were variations of the show on for 40 years in something like 140 countries. If that guy would of pulled an Oprah and started producing his own shows using his own studio he’d be Bill Gates-like rich. Though he may be glossed over when discussions of great comedians are discussed, few comics had the abilities of Benny Hill.