I have to admit, since I came up with the idea for this list, I have been torn as to which order my top two British sitcoms would be in. Whilst it was very close, I have finally made up my mind.
Number two – Blackadder
As a series, Blackadder is set across six centuries of British History. The first series depicts the end of the Middle Ages, the fourth (and final) series depicts the trenches of the First World War. Along the way we get the chance to visit a number of other notable periods in history, including the Elizabethan era and the Regency period. Despite the vast timescale over which this sitcom is set, the two central characters (Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick) remain the same. As the series progress, these two characters represent the descendants of the ones that have gone before. In each series, Edmond Blackadder is a member of the ruling class and associates himself with some very notable figures in British history. From the second series onwards (which is when I started watching), his sole focus is to improve his own lot in life. To do this he will use any means, no matter how deceitful or cowardly. Baldrick on the other hand is Blackadder’s servant. Whilst Blackadder is clever and cunning, Baldrick is incredibly stupid (the roles are somewhat reversed in the first series). Also accompanying Blackadder in each series is an aristocrat whose pomposity far outweighs their intelligence.
I think perhaps that of all the British sitcoms on this list, Blackadder is the one that would get onto most other people’s top ten list. The reason for this is that unlike many of the sitcoms I have listed, Blackadder has an almost universal appeal. The star of the show is of course Blackadder himself and it is from him that most of the laughs (usually via some desperate attempt to gain riches or avoid death) come. A wealth of remarkable supporting characters including Queen Elizabeth I, Melchett and Lord Flashheart make this a truly complete comedy package.
You can buy all four series of Blackadder here.