It's well known British comedy has a rich and vibrant history, with numerous iconic shows which have left audiences in stitches for decades. From classic sitcoms to irreverent sketch shows and the dry humour of mockumentaries, our comedy shows have a unique charm which have captivated viewers for decades. But which are the most iconic? Here's our picks - you know it makes sense...
1. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979):
Created by the comedic genius of John Cleese and Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers is widely regarded as one of the finest British sitcoms ever made. Set in a dysfunctional hotel run by the cantankerous Basil Fawlty (played by Cleese), the show masterfully combines farce, wordplay, and physical comedy as things continuously go wrong. With its brilliant writing and impeccable performances, Fawlty Towers remains an enduring masterpiece, constantly cited as a comedic influence by generations of comedians.
2. The Inbetweeners (2008-2010):
Possibly one of the most relatable comedies for millennials, "The Inbetweeners" is a coming-of-age sitcom that follows the misadventures of four socially awkward teenagers navigating the trials and tribulations of adolescence and sixth form. Created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, the series captures the hilariously awkward moments of teenage life, from embarrassing encounters to very misguided attempts at romance. With its sharp writing, relatable characters, and cringe-worthy humour, "The Inbetweeners" strikes a chord with audiences, resonating with anyone who has experienced the awkwardness of growing up. The show's blend of irreverence, heartfelt moments, and genuine camaraderie among the main characters has made it a cult favourite.
3. Blackadder (1983-1989):
"Baldrick!" Blackadder, created by Richard Curtis, Rowan Atkinson and Ben Elton, takes a unique approach to historical satire. The series spans several centuries, following the misadventures of the cunning anti-hero Edmund Blackadder (portrayed brilliantly by Atkinson) and his dim-witted sidekick Baldrick (played by Tony Robinson). With its sharp wit, memorable characters, and hilarious repartee, Blackadder stands as a testament to the enduring brilliance of British sitcoms and is still memorable today, having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with the very first broadcast of the original pilot. Series two (the Elizabethan era) and four (World War I) are particular highlights of the show.
4. The Office (2001-2003):
When it comes to mockumentaries, The Office takes the crown. Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, this iconic series offers a cringe-worthy yet hilarious look into the mundane lives of office employees. Set in the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company, Gervais's portrayal of the bumbling and self-obsessed manager, David Brent, became an instant classic. The Office not only spawned successful international adaptations (its biggest success in the USA) but also redefined the comedy landscape with its innovative style and painfully relatable humour.
5. Absolutely Fabulous (1992-2012):
Absolutely Fabulous, often referred to as Ab Fab, is a brilliant sitcom that showcases the antics of two outrageously self-indulgent women, Edina Monsoon (played by Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley). This irreverent and unapologetic series humorously explores consumerism, aging, and the pursuit of a glamorous lifestyle. With its sharp writing, memorable catchphrases, and stellar performances, Absolutely Fabulous has become a cult classic and an essential part of British comedy history.
6. Only Fools and Horses (1981-2003):
Regularly voted number one at the top of British comedy lists, Only Fools and Horses, created by John Sullivan, is a beloved sitcom that follows the lives of the Trotter family and their pursuit of get-rich-quick schemes. Set in Peckham, South London, the series stars David Jason as Derek "Del Boy" Trotter and Nicholas Lyndhurst as his younger brother, Rodney. The show expertly blends humour with some emotionally poignant moments, capturing the ups and downs of the Trotters' lives. With its endearing characters, iconic catchphrases like "Lovely Jubbly!" and memorable comedic moments, Only Fools and Horses has earned its place among the greatest British comedies of all time.
What's your favourite comedies? Let us know in the comments!