A few months ago, I counted down to my top British sitcom. Here, I present my top ten list in full. Click on the links to go to the post for each of the sitcoms.
10. The Vicar of Dibley – The traditional English village of Dibley is assigned a woman vicar.
9. Father Ted – Three priests of the Roman Catholic Church living together with their housekeeper on a remote island.
8. The Office – A fictional documentary about the employees working in the office of Wernham Hogg Paper Company.
7. Yes Minister – A look into the political career of Jim Hacker, the minster for the Department for Administrative Affairs.
6. Peep Show – Peeping into the eyes and minds of Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usbourne, two very different flatmates.
5. Only Fools and Horses – Two brothers making a living selling dodgy goods on the mean streets of London.
4. Fawlty Towers – Basil Fawlty is a snob in charge of a hotel.
3. Red Dwarf – The last human, a humanoid evolved from a cat, a mechanoid and a hologram are lost in deep space.
2. Blackadder – A journey through English history with the cunning Edmund Blackadder.
1. One Foot in the Grave – Following his retirement, whatever can go wrong, does go wrong for Victor Meldrew.
It has been a while since I have posted on here. Now I am a bit less busy than I was so I think it is high time for a bit of blogging.
I may (or perhaps may not) have mentioned on this blog last summer that there was a film crew on my university campus, filming a new sitcom called… Campus. Anyway, after months of waiting, Campus has finally arrived on the small screen. You can see the first two episodes on 4oD here. Since I walked through a few scenes during filming, there is a chance that I may feature in an episode. Please let me know if you spot me!
So here we are. After nine weeks of counting down through some of the very best British sitcoms, it is almost time to reveal my number one. It has been a long journey, but an enjoyable one all the same. Researching and writing about these programmes has made me appreciate British sitcoms even more than I did before I started this list. Click below to find out which British sitcom has claimed the top spot.
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.
At number three is a cult comedy that I have loved since I was about twelve years old.
Number three – Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf is set on a mining spaceship in deep space 3,000,000 years in the future. The main character is Dave Lister who, due to a radiation accident on board the spaceship (from which he was protected), is the last remaining human in the universe. Accompanying Lister is a bunch of eccentric misfits. Arnold Rimmer was responsible for the radiation accident that killed the rest of the crew; including himself. Rimmer was resurrected as a hologram by the ship’s onboard computer (Holly) to keep Lister sane. This is despite the fact both men despise each other. Cat is a humanoid that, over 3,ooo,ooo years, has evolved from the cat that Listed illegally stowed onto the spaceship. Kryten is a mechanoid who is rescued by the crew in Series Two from a crashed spaceship upon which he served. Finally is Kristine Kochanski, a navigation officer originally killed in the radiation accident who was found in an alternative dimension in Series Seven.
Like all good comedies, Red Dwarf is all about the main characters and the relationships between them. What really makes Red Dwarf stand out from other British comedies however, are the unique situations in which the crew often find themselves. The science fiction setting (which is taken very seriously by the show) allows Red Dwarf to explore such themes as time travel, artificial realities and parallel universes. Perhaps the only real criticism that I can level at Red Dwarf are the inconsistencies between series, with the Eighth Series perhaps not as funny as the rest. I am pleased to hear that recently, another series (the first full series since the Eighth Series in 1999) has recently been announced for 2012.
You can buy all eight series of Red Dwarf here.