The UK has produced some amazing situation comedies over the years which are often recognisable for their central characters being luckless and stuck in situations they can’t get out of. Here are the 10 best:
‘Red Dwarf’ takes the sci-fi genre and spins it on its head. First broadcast in the UK back in 1988, ‘Red Dwarf’ tells the story of an unambitious slob from Liverpool Called Dave Lister waking up following a radiation leak while travelling in space. None of the crew survived, except for Kryten, a loyal robot, Cat, a life-form evolved from Dave’s cat, and a hologram of Arnold Rimmer, a dead bunkmate who continues to annoy Lister despite his demise.
The show dealt with the comedic outcome of everyday life when those with conflicting personalities are forced to live within the same space every day, all while avoiding attacks from a plethora of weird and wonderful aliens.
Only Fools and Horses
‘Only Fools and Horses’ told the story of Del Boy and his younger brother Rodney as they operate a number of dodgy businesses in order to find financial success. The series was renowned for the dodgy goods offered by Del Boy, which often found him in a series of comedic scrapes. However, it was also one of the first few sitcoms to show real heart, meaning that although Del Boy was no saint, viewers really got to know him and the characters giving the show a more realistic feel, despite the comedic nature of the show.
One Foot in The Grave
After being forced into retirement, Victor Meldrew struggles with the traits of everyday life, much to the dismay of his long-suffering wife Margaret. The show reflected just how frustrating life can be, and even went to coin its own catchphrase which is still recognised to this day. ‘I don’t believe it!’
Nowadays, Ricky Gervais is a force to reckoned with when it comes to sitcoms, however back in 2001, Gervais was still climbing the comedy ladder. Filmed in mockumentary-style, the series often highlighted Gervais’ character, David Brent, and the awkward situations he would often find himself in when attempting to become popular amongst his co-workers at a paper suppliers based in Slough.
The show initially found cult status before finding a larger viewer base in the US, which itself received its own adaptation in 2005 starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott, based on the original Gervais character.
By the time ‘Extras’ came along, Gervais was something of a household name. In 2007, Gervais introduced us to Andy Millman, a British actor trying to get his series made while working on a number of film sets as an extra, along with his loyal but ditzy friend, Maggie.
As well as instilling a similar comedy engine to that of ‘The Office,’ ‘Extras’ also allowed for the casting of numerous guest stars, including Robert De Niro, David Bowie, Ross Kemp and Coldplay. This certainly gives the series the edge over its competitors.
We’ve all heard of a period drama, but a period sitcom? Before gaining recognition as ‘Mr Bean,’ Rowan Atkinson made himself a household name thanks to this ground-breaking comedy. Each series highlighted a different period of a British dynasty, ranging from the Middle Ages to the Great War.
Each dynasty also highlighted Blackadder’s comedic sidekick, Baldrick. The loyal servant played by Tony Robinson always meant well, but was often met with severe consequences due to his limited intelligence, much to the annoyance of the impatient Blackadder.
The Royle Family
A comedy set within a living room is a premise that probably doesn’t offer much to fans of comedy, but ‘The Royle Family’ set a precedent when it first premiered in 1998. The series focused on the Royle family, a dysfunctional North West family with Jim Royle at its helm, played by the great Ricky Tomilson.
The series often highlighted the dizziness of daughter, Denise, as well as son Anthony being subjected to a number of chores throughout the day while still being labelled as lazy. The series hit home thanks to its realistic tones and its more heartfelt moments that sees the family pull together in times of crisis.
‘Peep Show’ has been yet another series that looked to offer a fresh approach to comedy and offered viewers to be at the forefront of the lead character’s thoughts.
The lead characters, Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usbourne, are often shown in a number of situations that range from awkward to surreal, with the punchline seasoned with a series of comedic thoughts narrated by the lead character.
The series was met with much applaud and a total of nine series were produced.
A comedy set within a prison. You would be right in thinking that comedic occurrence can rarely be found by those who are imprisoned. However, Ronnie Barker and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais sprinkled their magic and came out with a robust comedy that not only showed the tormenting of prison wardens, but also the close bonds that can be made with others.
The series focuses on Norman Stanley Fletcher, who often has his fingers in a lot of pies, but is loyal to those close to him. The series went on to inspire a feature film, also starring Barker, as well as a series sequel, ‘Going Straight,’ which focused on Fletcher’s life following his release.
We’ve had a number of series inspired by the events of World War II, but a series focused on the Home Guard? ‘Dad’s Army’ first hits screens back in 1968 and became an instant hit, and has even been nominated as one of the best series ever produced.
There were a number of winning aspects that made the show such as a success. The upbeat animated intro was partnered with a catchy song ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler?’ which warned the opposition of its defence plans.
The series also dealt with the struggle of class conflicts within the home front, as many of the Home Guard were in different positions. For example, Captain Mannering was the manager of a bank, where Sergeant Arthur Wilson was his deputy at the bank. The two have a close bond, although Wilson would often question Mannering’s methods.