Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Questions

Closing out a rather soggy week in Tinsel Town, here are this week’s FQ’s.

Xmastime is up first.

Thanks! My question: what are your thoughts on British sitcoms? Thanks to streaming services I've discovered dozens over the last few years, including the greatest of all, "Only Fools and Horses." Would love to know if you've ever had any favorites.

I love British sitcoms. They never write down to the audience. And yet they often manage to combine sophisticated comedy with sheer silliness.  They're allowed to be political, historical, deal honestly with sexuality, and feature age groups over 27. 

Another thing I appreciate about British sitcoms is that great actors will do them without feeling like they’re “slumming.” Judi Dench can go from an Oscar winning movie to AS TIME GOES BY, a sitcom.

My three all-time favorites are COUPLING by Steven Moffat, BLACKADDER by Richard Curtis and Rowen Atkinson, and YES, MINISTER by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

UPDATE: Make that four.  How could I forget FAWLTY TOWERS?  That's maybe my number one.  

I must confess, I haven’t seen the current crop. Feel free to recommend some.

Steve Hoffman has a question regarding my recent post on pilot updates.

The article you posted here describes the premise of this new pilot, and I'm struck by how this reads as the same exact premise as "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." Does this happen often? Wouldn't networks want to green light pilots that don't sound like exact duplicates of something that's already out there and is reasonably successful? Or do they really not care?

It baffles me too, but that happens more frequently than you would expect. Sometimes the same network will develop projects similar. Remember when NBC had STUDIO 60 and 30 ROCK? Both were behind-the-scenes looks at SNL. Usually though, the network will pick just one of the two contenders. In this case NBC ordered them both.

This also happens in features. Suddenly you’ll have two Snow White movies or Wyatt Earp movies that come out around the same time. And in both cases – why????

From ODJennings:

How common is it for actors to get stuck on a show they hate? The reason I'm asking is that the Steppenwolf Theatre comment reminded me of a story I once heard from someone in Chicago who was in a position to know.

He swore that a supporting actor on a popular sitcom only took the part because they were 110% certain that the show would be a flop. They bragged to their friends and coworkers that the money would pay for their home remodeling, and they'd be back in Chicago before anyone even noticed they were gone. The show became a hit and they were stuck in LA for 6 seasons hating every minute of it. (And no, it wasn't John Mahoney although I've read that he didn't think much of LA either.)

John didn’t love LA (he was a Chicago boy), but he did love working of FRASIER.

As for the Steppenwolf actor – Fuck him.

You know how many actors would KILL to be on a hit series? You know what a privilege it is to be on a hit series?

If an actor thinks a part is wrong for him or the series is beneath him then don’t take the role. Make way for an actor who will appreciate the opportunity.

Sometimes actors will grow unhappy during the course of a series, but in most cases the producers are happy to let them out of their contracts. Who needs that cancer hanging around?

But I see how hard actors try to get on series, how few openings there are, and when I hear of one who took a pilot just for the money, hoping it would fail I again say Fuck You!

Liz asks:

Jennifer Lawrence says that she is gonna take a year off to educate young people about politics. What's your take on that? 

God bless her. A whole giant subculture is reaching voting age. Let them get involved and begin carving out a better world for themselves. And cleaning up the one we left them.  Unlike 2016, Millennials can now really make a difference.


And finally, from Kirby:

I recently saw a "Wings" episode where David Schramm appeared in the background but had no lines. I seem to recall a similar situation on "Cheers," where Kelsey Grammer could be seen sitting at the bar, but Frasier didn't speak the entire episode. In these instances, would the characters have had lines that were cut during editing? Or are there occasions where there isn't room for a main character to speak, but the actor is called in anyway just to be present in the background?

Almost ALWAYS, when that occurs it’s because their lines were edited out for time. On both of those shows we would NEVER ask an actor to appear in a scene where he didn’t have lines and contributed.

There’s the common misconception that all actors want as much screen time as possible, but that’s not true. Most actors would much prefer to not be in a scene rather than having little to do with it other than lobbing in a line. And I have to say, I absolutely agree with them. It’s hugely disrespectful to ask an actor to just sit in a scene and do nothing.

What’s your Friday Question? I answer as many as I can.


Aaron Sheckley said...

I love British comedy, and my tastes run the gamut from "As Time Goes By" to shows like "Fresh Meat" and "The Inbetweeners". British panel shows and talk shows are wonderful places to see good comedy; I've never been a fan of shows like Leno's or Letterman's, but Graham Norton leaves me in stitches on a regular basis. It's hard to quantify why I can't stand "Big Bang Theory" yet love "The IT Crowd", or why the Americanized versions of shows like "Fawlty Towers" were abysmal failures while the original is an all time classic. I think the English have a fundamentally different take than Americans on such basic things as life, sex, happiness, relationships, etc, and that their viewpoint resonates more with me than a lot of US comedy does. I'm not a slavish fan of all britcoms; for example, Greg Davies is a wonderful comedian, but his show "Man Down" was a waste of his talent (though he personally is always watchable).

SteveS said...

My father will be gone 20 years this May, but I fondly remember watching MASH with him. He served in the Army in the 1950's (even served under an obnoxious Major like Frank Burns), but he was always bothered by the BJ's long hair and moustache, whice he said wouldn't be seen on officers of that era. Was that a concern for the creative staff?

Leilani said...

When you're writing a script that could make big changes to a show, for example characters breaking up, or characters losing jobs, for instance, do you consult anybody before possibly leading the show in a direction they may or may not want to go?

Steve Bailey said...

Great British sitcoms? Leave us not forget John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers," one of the funniest shows of all time.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

It's not current but MIRANDA starring Miranda Hart is an absolute gem, and funnier than anything on TV at the moment.
You can stream it. "such fun"

Anyone remember when the movie studios released 2 films about Comets hitting the Earth. Nothing Cupid about that. At least we got a great Diane Warren song from one of them.

Jennifer Lawrence:
I honestly don't think the studios will care if J-Law takes time off. All of her movies have been domestic flops.
Btw, who is willing to take a year off to teach her about politics?

Mitchell Hundred said...

My personal favourite British sitcom is The Young Ones, although my impression is that people who prefer more conventional shows won't like it as much. It has a very anarchistic sensibility (for instance, this is what happens when the main characters go on a popular quiz show).

Unknown said...

Hi Ken

While Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson wrote the first series of Blackadder, all subsequent episodes (ie when it got great) were written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

Jace said...

Sherwood Schwartz wrote that Robert Reed spent his five years on THE BRADY BUNCH griping because he was on THE BRADY BUNCH, as he felt the show was beneath his abilities as an actor. Similarly, Schwartz wrote that Tina Louise spent her tenure as Ginger on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND sulking because (a) she thought the scripts were silly, and (b) the show wasn't called GINGER'S ISLAND. In both cases, Schwartz felt sympathy for neither. "They read the scripts. They knew exactly what kind of shows they were getting into when they agreed to do them."

The eighth and last season of BEWITCHED, while pretty bad overall, is interesting to watch just for Elizabeth Montgomery, who plays Samantha as more or less pissed off throughout the year and whose acting makes it pretty clear that she'd rather be anywhere than on that set yelling, "Mother, you get back here and take that spell off Darrin immediately" for the fiftieth time.

Carson said...

I've always heard the story that the only reason Tina Louise agreed to play Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island is that she believed the show, despite its title, was going to be centered around her character. However, once she realized it wasn't, she was miserable the rest of the time and refused to appear in any of the reunion movies. I don't know how much truth is in that.

Kevin In Choconut Center said...

Sharing the love for what some call "Brit-Coms". Thanks to my local PBS station, I've seen the entire run of many of these. My three most watched favorites are "As Time Goes By", "Are You Being Served?", and "Keeping Up Appearances". All three have some great writing and fine acting, and even though the last few seasons of "Are You Being Served" are a bit weaker, they're still worth the time I spend watching them.

Ane said...

Someone beat me to it, but I was going to say - "Miranda" is great fun. And I really liked "My family" which was on a few years ago. Our whole family loved that show.

Earl Boebert said...

My favorites of British comedy, other than those already mentioned:

Detectorists ( gentle, loving humor. A masterpiece.

Upstart Crow ( Works on two levels. If you don't know your Shakespeare, it's a bunch of potty jokes and overacting. If you know even a bit, it's roll on the floor funny.

A Touch of Frost (britbox): A police procedural with a lot of humor.

The Last Detective (britbox): Ditto.

Hamish Macbeth (acorn): Close to Detectorists. The episode "A Perfectly Simple Explanation (season 2, episode 1) may be the greatest parody of over-convoluted plots ever written.

QI (britbox): Ad lib so uneven, but when it clicks there's nothing like it.

Closed captioning a must for some of the accents.

Andrew said...

I find the Jennifer Lawrence thing ironic. Her most famous and successful movies are The Hunger Games series. I wonder if she's ever reflected on how those movies (and the novels) compare to the present political situation.

Here are the Districts in the Hunger Games fictional universe:

The Capitol; District 1 (luxury items); District 2 (masonry, weaponry, law enforcement units); District 3 (electronics); District 4 (commercial fishing); District 5 (hydroelectric power); District 6 (transportation); District 7 (forestry, lumber); District 8 (textiles); District 9 (agriculture (grain)); District 10 (agriculture (livestock)); District 11 (agriculture (fruits and vegetables))); District 12 (mining (coal)); District 13 (mining (graphite), military technology, nuclear technology).

The people who live in those "Districts" outside of the Capitol, who did most of them vote for in the past election? Who are the coal miners, farmers, manufacturers and blue-collar workers supporting, by and large? What does the phrase "drain the swamp" actually mean?

Jennifer Lawrence belongs to the Capitol, with all of its elitism, luxury and decadence, and doesn't know it. The proles in the other Districts are not on her side, which is one reason why her recent movies are tanking.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Steve S asked about BJ's hair and mustache. I have a feeling that's just part of working in the 1970s, even for those actors in a period piece.
The Happy Days gang's hair was also too long for 1962/63 era.
And Michael Landon's hair for both Bonanza and Little House seemed screamed 1970s

Liggie said...

-- I love "Coupling". Great writing, acting, and laugh-out-loud funny, and am thankful for BBC America for showing it stateside. It's also responsible for my still-huge celebrity crush on Sarah Alexander. Problem is, BBC America seems to have stopped showing all new Britcoms. I remember the last decade seeing relatively obscure Britcoms there like "Manchild", "Gimme Gimme Gimme", "Peep Show" and "Come Fly with Me", but now, the only British programming they show are mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, and Graham Norton. Instead of Britcoms, they're showing the various "Star Trek" spinoffs. If you don't have Netflix, how else can we know what the new Britcoms are?

-- British talk shows seem easier-going because they usually do just one a week, for just half the year, while American ones have to crank out four or five episodes a week for at least ten months each year. The other big plus is that British talk shows have all the guests on at the same time, which leads to great improvised interactions. I love how James Corden has brought that aspect to his show here. I'm less into the "My next guest ..." aspect in American talk shows, where the guest only appears for their segment and doesn't stick around for the others.

-- The pilot similar to "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" may be tonally or thematically different. It may be a straight-up sitcom, while "Ex-Girlfriend" is known for full-fledged musical and dance numbers each episode. Likewise, "30 Rock" was a joke-filled sitcom, while "Studio 60" was a serious drama involving boardroom politics and combative characters.

Xmastime said...

Thanks for answering my question! :) Love your picks, although I haven't gotten around to "Coupling." I assume you're aware of most of the "Golden Age classic" shows, but I think the last 15 years have been really, really great too. Here's a few I've loved, with particular favorites asterisked. Hope you find a few faves yourself:

The IT Crowd
Black Books*
The Inbetweeners*
Peep Show
Gaven & Stacey*
Fresh Meat
The Other Man(s)*
Moone Boy*
Count Arthur Strong

Xmastime said...

Aaron Sheckley I totally agree re: Greg Davies - was fantastic in The Inbetweeners and Cuckoo, but can't for the life of me get into Man Down.

Earl Boebert YES - totally forgot Upstart Crow :) Great pick.

Xmastime said...

Liggie - I find almost all of my favorite Britcoms on Hulu, or Amazon via Britbox or Acorn. :)

Unknown said...

The first thing about Britcoms:
They're selling the writers.
I can't think of any that I've seen that don't give at least primary billing to the writers - sometimes (not always) even over the star actors.

Of ones that haven't been mentioned yet, I'll talk about two from the same writing team: David Renwick and Andrew Marshall (if you're reading this aloud, the 'w' in Renwick is silent).

They did one some years back that I've been trying to get on a Region 2 DVD (no luck so far) called Hot Metal, a satire on Fleet Street tabloid papers, with some of the wildest plotting I've ever seen in any show of this type.
It's a hard show to describe briefly; our local PBS station ran the 12 episodes (two series of six) with their usual wondrous disregard for announcing when they were going to show them.
I tried to tape them back in the day, and ran into the PBS wall; YouTube has been no help, and I told you about trying to get the DVDs.
I haven't given up - yet.

The other Renwick-Marshall series was a few years earlier - Whoops Apocalypse!
This was The End Of The World, at the hands of world leaders who were patently out of their minds (back in the '80s, this was actually considered unlikely to happen in real life).
They had an All-Star British cast, with many familiar faces for buffs, but one piece of casting stood out for me when I first saw it:
The US President, a former movie actor named Johnny Cyclops, is played by Barry Morse - and if all you remember him for is Lt. Gerard on The Fugitive, his comic playing here will knock you on your tail.
I do have a DVD set of the six episodes, and frankly I'm scared to watch it again, for fear of prophecy.

These shows were from the '80s; I don't know if Renwick and Marshall still write as a team.
In the years since, David Renwick has had success as a solo writer, with a mystery series called Jonathan Creek, about a magician who solves impossible crimes (these proved easier to get on DVD than Hot Metal).

Any and all added information is welcome.

VincentS said...

LOVE YES, MINSITER and YES, PRIME MINISTER. That's why it irks me that as popular and good as VEEP is it never tackled issues. Those Britcoms proved that politics can be funny. In fact, Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Hay said that their biggest problem in writing those shows was the stuff they had to LEAVE OUT that the government was doing because it was so far-fetched audiences would never believe it. One real-life plotline that barely made the cut, for example, was of a "successful" government-run hospital that had no doctors, nurses, or patients. Just administrative staff! Talk about a built-in punchline!

Michael said...

I remember a profile of Laurie Metcalf at the time she was getting attention for being so brilliant on "Roseanne," and she was asked why, with her great theatrical reputation, she did a sitcom. She waved at the nice house they were sitting in, and talked about that, but also that acting is acting.

Now she's being viewed as this great new discovery, according to The New York Times.

Xmastime said...

I agree, Mike. Particularly in older sitcoms, be it the great John Sullivan, or Eric Chappell, or Graham Linehan, Roy Clark etc. The shows were the complete vision of one, maybe 2 writers. Of course them only having to do 6 episodes every other year or so was a big factor. I honestly don't know how they do it - 6 episodes of a show, and then you might hafta wait years for the next season. I'm spoiled in that it's all there, streaming for me.

Also for to us Americans is how famous actors could be in two shows at the same time, such as David Jason in Open All Hours and Only Fools and Horses. Imagine if David Schwimmer had been on both Friends and Frasier - our minds would've imploded! ;)

Xmastime said...

Mike, I've never even heard of "Whoops Apocalypse! - I just looked it up, wow what a cast! :)

Bud Wilkinson said...

Possible Friday question (or not): I was once on the set of the Bob Newhart comedy "Bob" on which Cynthia Stevenson played his daughter. Guesting that day was a pre-Friends Lisa Kudrow, whose personality was such that even a dolt could have predicted her future success. However, having also enjoyed her on "Dead Like Me," I've always thought that Stevenson deserved a higher profile career - that her sparkle and talent would have taken her further. I know luck, timing, etc. often play a huge role in success but can you name some actors who you think "deserved more." This may have been asked before and, if so, sorry.

Aaron Sheckley said...

I won't even begin to list the British comedies that I've loved, because the list would go on and on, though I kick myself because I didn't mention "The Detectorists" in my earlier post. What a delight that show is, and also a sterling example of a show that could NEVER be made for a US audience. Dammit, now I want to mention "Catastrophe", and "Fleabag" and "Black Books" arghhhhh!

One thing I think British writers pull off well that American writers don't is sarcasm without venom. If I watch an episode of "The Inbetweeners", the characters' interplay with each other is always laced with sarcasm, but never do you get the idea that they hate each other; they're just mates ranking on each other. When I watch the sarcastic interplay between, say, Leonard and Penny on BBT, the underlying current that always stands out to me is that she genuinely doesn't like him. The same goes for the interplay between Howard and Bernadette. If I didn't know the backstory of the characters, never would it occur to me that Penny and Leonard or Howard and Bernadette were even friends, let alone married. Compare this to the interplay between Rob and Sharon on "Catastrophe"; they can be absolutely vile to each other, but because of the superior writing talents of Horgan and Delaney, never once do you get the idea that they don't care about each other.

British writers seem to also avoid one of the most annoying US sitcom tropes; the slob manchild husband and the impossibly hot wife who spends all her time as the shrewish fun-killer perpetually cleaning up after her infantile spouse. I hate that trope with a passion, and the fact that it's still being trotted out in new comedies like "Kevin Can Wait" is another reason I look for my comedy fix beyond US network TV.

For a stellar recent example that American writers don't share British comedy sensibilities, look no further than the godawful American remake of "The Inbetweeners". Even when following the same general plot of the British episodes, just by interpreting it through an American comedy writer's lens, they turned it into a catastrophically unfunny mess.

Robert S said...

Good Neighbors and To the Major Born, both starring Penelope Keith.

DwWashburn said...

I've always heard that Cindy Williams was one of those actors who was convinced that her series would only last one season or less and was disappointed when it became the blockbuster that it was.

Liz said...

Thanks Ken for the answer :)

David Simpson said...

Going further back in time we have Dad's Army, Porridge and Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads from the seventies, The Likely Lads from the sixties and the first great British sitcom, Hancock's Half Hour, from the fifties.

For Americans, all are available to buy from that well-known South American river, and presumably from other retailers.

Charlie said...

J Law isn't educated enough to educate others. Just another conceited Hollywood a**hole.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Mrs. Brown's Boys.

Paul Duca said...

Dear Mr. Pendant...I was disappointed with MIRANDA--especially since I adore Ms. Hart in CALL THE MIDWIFE.

Xmastime said...

Robert S: I assume in Britain Penelope Keith is a national treasure, she sure deserves to be :)

David Simpson, I love Porridge so much (and the sequel, Going Straight) I actually watched the recent reboot with his "grandson." It's a shame because on it's own it was pretty funny, but the whole time I couldn't stop thinking how amazing Ronnie Barker was. I wanna start Dad's Army but am overwhelmed by what looks like 412 dvds looking back at me ;)

Rich Shealer said...

Father Ted and My Hero are favorites of mine. Ardal O'Hanlon was on both shows, one as a priest and the other Thermo Man a bumbling super hero.

Ron Rettig said...

Ken, Check out "Dad's Army" available on YouTube and "Man Down" by/with Greg Davies on Netflix.

Xmastime said...

BTW I'm so pathetic, a coupla years ago I made up a BBC sitcom tournament bracket :)

Nora said...

Jennifer Lawrence is trying too hard to be in news and trying to appear very interesting all the time.

All these statements are just cheap PR stunts. And you - a hardcore Hollywood BS detector - are buying it Ken?

Every interview (too many nowadays) she talks about being a normal person and talks about farts and her imagined deficiencies and some non-sense to appear that she is one among the unwashed masses.

On SNL, when Ariana ridiculed her by impersonating her and called herself "regular person", J Law was pissed. She hit back saying that she will kill herself than speak like that.

She tries to befriend people just to be in news.
All these days she was with another trash Amy Schumer, thick as thieves, till that one ditched J Law for her sister to collaborate on her movies.
Then now she is with another star Emma Stone. Wonder how long this will last, given Emma's white feminism backlash.

She used to make fun of Kim Kardashian, but seeing that Kim's popularity might help her, became an overnight fan and hitched herself to that bandwagon.

Used to be Harvey's favorite actress, now calling for his incarceration, to be on the right side.

J Law and these celebrities are just wallowing in their own imagined prowess to change the world.

God Bless us, if our society has to depend on her "education".

The worst part of her is that she is a homewrecker. I hate such women who ruin families. Imagine the pain those women go thru. No sorry! Not many can imagine.

Jennifer Aniston because of Angelina and now Anna Faris due to this scum. And this scum is gonna change the world?

gottacook said...

Regarding actors' hair length: Check out the noticeably longer hair and larger (although still pointy) sideburns on Captain Kirk et al. in the final season of Star Trek (filmed starting in summer 1968) versus the earlier two seasons. To some extent I assume some of this was the actors saying "I don't want to look like I did back in uncool 1966" even the show took place hundreds of years hence.

Dave Creek said...

Re: J-Law: "Used to be Harvey's favorite actress, now calling for his incarceration, to be on the right side." Well, YEAH! When the right side is not the side of sexual harassment and abuse, more power to her!

I'm prejudiced in favor of J-Law, because she's from my hometown of Louisville, but I appreciate, in general, her choice of movies. She's done a couple that could've been better, or more successful (separate things), but in general I think she does a good job of picking material other than unfunny comedies or franchises just to be in a franchise. And we haven't gotten involved in DUIs or other awful public behavior, unlike some others of her generation. Her worst aspect may be that she comes off a bit silly in interviews. I wish others could say the same thing.

And although it seems she isn't actually going to take the whole year off to be politically active, I appreciate that she's going to do SOMETHING. Any ally against the current administration and the direction its trying to take the country is appreciated.

Rich said...

Hi, just thought I’d join in the Britcom recommendations

Only Fools and Horses
The New Statesmen
The Young Ones
Red Dwarf
Father Ted
I’m Alan Partridge
The League of gentlemen
The fall and rise of Reginald Perrin
Dads army
Goodnight sweetheart

Men behaving badly

One foot in the grave

michael said...

I would add Red Dwarf and Nightingales (with Robert Lindsay and David Threlfall as security guards). As for hour long comedies the British has done some good ones such as A Touch of Cloth.

Xmastime said...

Yay, finally some Only Fools and Horses love!!!! :)

Tammy said...

One that hasn't been mentioned yet: THE TRIP. Comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan play versions of themselves on a road trip. It's basically just them having conversations (about comedy, fame, family, aging...) and doing impresssions. Lots and lots of impressions. It's half improvised so the best part is when they genuinely laugh at each other's jokes.

While we're on the topic of British TV, I'd like to ask fellow readers (Ken, hope it's okay), could you recommend some dramas? I've recently watched a string of excellent ones back to back, and now suddenly can't find anything good. Have already seen Broken, Happy Valley, Line of Duty, No Offense, Broadchurch, and Unforgotten (I know most of these are crime dramas but I'm open to anything). Thanks!

Buttermilk Sky said...

Despite being begged for more, John Cleese and Connie Booth refused to write more than twelve episodes of FAWLTY TOWERS, believing the quality would inevitably drop off. That kind of discipline is rare on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thanks, Rich, for reminding me of REGINALD PERRIN and the great Leonard Rossiter. There was also a sequel called THE FAIRLY SECRET ARMY, with Geoffrey Palmer as Reggie's brother-in-law organizing a bumbling militia "to fight for England when the balloon goes up." If they didn't blow themselves up, I'm pretty sure they all voted for Brexit.

(I play DVDs on my computer so I don't have to bother with all this Region 1, 2, whatever. Lots of good stuff available from

Y. Knott said...

While the original six episode series "The Black Adder" was written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, Atkinson dropped out of the writing process after that. The follow-up series and specials featured different generations of the Blackadder clan ("Blackadder II", "Blackadder The Third", "Blackadder Goes Forth"), and are where Blackadder as a show really finds its footing. "The Black Adder" is itself a bit of a misfire ... the later series are much stronger. All of those later series were written by Curtis and Ben Elton.

Andy Rose said...

Harrison Ford famously wore a cowboy hat in his American Graffiti cameo specifically because he didn't want to cut his hair 60s-style. The other actors weren't so lucky, although Charles Martin Smith got the worst of it. George Lucas decided that Terry should have a "ducktail" cut, where the hair is fairly short on top, but very long on the sides so that it can be slicked all the way to the back of the head. Unfortunately, there's not really any other haircut that calls for those particular proportions. The other actors could temporarily restyle their hair on their off-days to something vaguely contemporary, but Smith was stuck with that look all through the filming.

Tracye said...

I adore British situation comedies. I cannot watch American sitcoms. British sitcoms are simply superior in every way to what American television has produced.

Xmastime said...

Michael, speaking of Robert Lindsay I realize I left off the great Citizen Smith. Power to the people!!! :)

Xmastime said...

Buttermilk Sky don't forget Rossiter also starred in Rising Damp, along with Richard Beckinsale from Porridge and Frances de la Tour, who's in the recent, great show Vicious with Ian McKelllan and Derek Jacobi (okay now my head is spinning) ;)

YEKIMI said...

Britcoms that made me almost wet myself laughing: Vicious, The Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous, 'Allo 'Allo, Are You Being Served, Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine, One Foot In The Grave, Red Dwarf, The Young Ones, Waiting For God, Black Adder, Mulberry. Not Britcoms but more like sketch shows: Mr. Bean, Monty Python, Benny Hill. I'm sure I'm missing a few that I cannot remember right now. Stumbled across some of these which I saw on PBS when I was vacationing in Maine because the PBS station was the only one that came in. Once I got home I started checking out the PBS channels [we had two within viewing distance, Cleveland & Akron] that ran a lot of Britcoms and still do.

Xmastime said...

Is it just me or is it incredibly rare for a show's final series to be its best, a la Blackadder?

Nora said...

Dave said "I think she does a good job of picking material other than unfunny comedies or franchises just to be in a franchise."

Well I guess you haven't heard of "Hunger Games" or "X-Men" franchise then.

"Used to be Harvey's favorite actress, now calling for his incarceration, to be on the right side." Well, YEAH! When the right side is not the side of sexual harassment and abuse, more power to her!

Well Yeah, kissed his ass for all its worth to get her Oscar, knowing just like most of Hollywood about him, but conveniently turned a blind eye. Not the only one though.

Not being involved in DUI is an achievement indeed!

Ho and homewrecking is then a OK thing now. Like I said "No sorry! Not many can imagine."

Ron from Up North said...

I once heard John Cleese say that American sitcoms were better than British ones, on average. North American audiences only saw the very best ones from England via PBS, never seeing the average dreck produced there, and came to the wrong conclusion about the output as a whole.

Xmastime said...

I've also been wanting to start Allo Allo. Anyone else seen it?

Honest Ed said...

I'm amazed there's no love for Father Ted. 20 years old, catchphrase heavy, yet still v funny. One of the two writers went on to create The IT Crowd. FT's another example of the classic British sitcom trope of the sane man in a world ruled by idiots. Like Blackadder when it hit its stride. Basil Fawlty is a spin on that - the idiot who thinks he's the sane man in a world ruled by idiots.

Another I'd recommend is Toast Of London. It's something of a marmite show. You either love it of hate it. Depending on whether you find Matt Berry funny. And it's weird seeing Clem Fandango in the new Star Trek show.

jcs said...

British sitcoms less known than COUPLING, FAWLTY TOWERS, BLACK BOOKS etc. but worth a try (IMHO):

An incredible Peter Capaldi (and many other talented cast members) delivering Armando Iannucci's excellent lines. UK politics 101 for cynics. More direct and unforgiving than Iannucci's "Veep".

David Mitchell and Robert Webb are second to none when it comes to portraying neurotic losers who struggle to maintain their dignity. A failed US pilot with Johnny Galecki can be found on Youtube.

Multi-layered plots and a great cast made Graham Linehan's show a hit. A failed US pilot with Joel McHale can be found on Youtube.

Not that original, but actor Greg Davies is a true find as a British lawyer who tries to prevent his family becoming dysfunctional after the arrival of a new son-in-law (played by Andy Samberg).

Darren Boyd stars in this silly secret agent sitcom. No intellectual depth here, the authors successfully go for quick and cheap laughs.

As casting is a regular topic discussed on these pages, I'd like to point out a true classic. If you never heard of the "One-Legged Tarzan" sketch by Cook & Moore, one (newer) version can be found here:

Brent Alles said...

Can't believe no one has mentioned "Spaced" so far, starring a then young Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, directed by Edgar Wright. Awesome stuff, and definitely a harbinger of the "fried gold" to come in "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz," and "The World's End."

Kirby said...

Thank you for your answer :). I figured cutting out their lines during editing was the reason but it's nice to know for sure. Having to sit around with nothing to say or contribute would be disrespectful to their talents.

And allow me to join the others who've recommended Miranda. It's delightful.

Xmastime said...

Great pics, jcs. Nice to see some love for Cuckoo/Spy :)

Matt said...


The interior M*A*S*H set was on Stage 9. Did the set stay up all eleven seasons, or was it taken down between seasons and used for other productions?

flurb said...

I think I've mentioned Jennifer Saunders' JAM & JERUSALEM (2006-2009, and called CLATTERFORD on BBC America) in a previous post's comments, but since our family just watched the first series again, laughing all the way, here I am again recommending it. With a fantastic, largely female cast - in fact there are only two or three male characters - the writing, by Saunders and Abigail Wilson, is the thing. All the characters are sharply delineated, but the gold is in the attention paid to the difference between how they present themselves and how they truly are. Though it sometimes has the snap of Saunders' AB FAB, there are sudden moments of genuine beauty. The third series was given short shrift by the Beeb, alas, but there is still a lot of wonderful and original stuff in the nine or so hours of the show.

For Tammy - some other British dramas... Almost anything by Sally Wainwright, the author of HAPPY VALLEY, is excellent: the terrific LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX has aired in the U.S.; the cop drama SCOTT & BAILEY is also good, with interesting, flawed characters whose flaws are not set dressing, but actively impact the storytelling; and her recent movie about the Brontë sisters, TO WALK INVISIBLE, was great. Other shows we like: VERA, with the great Brenda Blethyn, another good police procedural - though it has some missteps in the early series, it is now regularly excellent. ENDEAVOUR, the prequel to MORSE, is uneven in the writing - sometimes the solutions leave us scoffing - but the acting is always sharp. DOCTOR FOSTER is a gripping drama about a collapsing marriage, with a shattering second series. Benedict Cumberbatch starred in a TV film of Ian McEwan's novel A CHILD IN TIME that was very nicely done. And if you haven't experienced Helen Mirren in PRIME SUSPECT for a while, it holds up beautifully as a revisit.

Dane said...

I just finished watching Detectorists and I'm pleasantly surprised to find so many mention it here. It's maybe not a sitcom, certainly in length but not in pace. It reminded me of a slice of life anime where you get plucked down amongst eccentrics and gradually make sense of it all. When I saw Gareth from the British "Office" I expected something cringeworthy but as someone above described it, the show was gentle and respectful of its characters. Beautiful shots of the countryside. Anyway, it's a life-affirming show and I heartily recommend it.

Michael said...

fyi, when I tried viewing your site at car dealer service department waiting room this morning, their network blocked it because it was classified as 'adult/pornographic'.

Jon said...

Natalie Schafer was quoted as saying that she did the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND pilot just for a trip to Kauai to film it, then she was horrified when it became a series. She did apparently like at least the cast & production staff enough to appear in all the sequel movies & cartoons.

DBenson said...

-- RED DWARF, which in its proud frat boy silliness occasionally latched onto Dougla Adams-level ideas.
-- EXTRAS, a very funny musing on fame and fortune with great cameos (a horny Daniel Radcliffe; Ian McKellen feeling the need to explain what acting is; Patrick Stewart with a creepy idea for a superhero movie). The series finale goes amazingly dark until the last moments.
-- A FINE ROMANCE and TO THE MANOR BORN, agreeable romcoms with stars who carried occasionally lame scripts
-- ARE YOU BEING SERVED, no-frills low comedy by smooth professionals
-- THE GOODIES, aggressively goofy and pulls it off
-- THE AVENGERS, which was the British showing us what BATMAN and GET SMART should have been

I'm Outraged! said...

Nora and whoever the creep was who call Jennifer Laurence an a..hole, you have no idea what she is really like or what goes on in her personal life, or what the circumstances of the decisions she has made were, nor what she is capable of teaching anyone, your comments are shallow and repulsive and belong on the pathetic TMZ comment section, as do you.

Astroboy said...

Pretty much all my favorite British sitcoms have already been mentioned by others, so I'll just add a few, "Doc Martin" (though maybe more a dramedy, but it makes me laugh a lot) and a recent one that I hope gets a second season: "Love, Nina", starring an adorable Fay Marsay, and it has Helena Bonham carter & Jason Watkins (those two are enough for me to watch anything). 'Peep Show' has been mentioned numerous times, but I need to say any show with a character named "Super Hans" is worth watching! Also, I'm surprised "Absolutely Fabulous" isn't getting any love here, I've hurt myself laughing at that show. Also the hospital sitcom "Green Wing," though it only lasted 18 episodes. It had a great ensemble cast including Tazmin Grieg, Mark Heep, Olivia Coleman, Michelle Gomez, & Stephan Mangen. There's more shows I'm sure, amazing how many good ones there are.

Chuck said...

Try the summary first, though

Stu West said...

If you want to check out one of the more recent British sitcoms, LOVESICK is streaming on Netflix. It's about a guy who finds out he has chlamydia and has to contact all of his ex-girlfriends. Surprisingly charming and sweet, and it has a clever flashback structure. Well worth 25 minutes of your time to check out the pilot episode.

Xmastime said...

Ack- how’d I forget Extras???!! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of The Office, Extras and Episodes.Janice B.

Andy Rose said...

@Ron from Up North: Lots of Americans are enchanted with British accents and automatically spot people who have them about 15-20 IQ points.

Another advantage for British sitcoms is that they typically are produced with six episodes per series, while (until recently) American shows were expected to do at least 22 a year. M*A*S*H produced 256 episodes over 11 years. Last of the Summer Wine produced 295 episodes over 37 years.

Mike said...

@Mike Doran: Hot Metal at Region 2 import.
Or as @Buttermilk Sky says search directly and avail yourself of the collapsed exchange rate. Although I think the first option is cheapest for this.

Matt said...

::: FRIDAY QUESTION (revised):::

My early question poorly worded. This is my Friday question - revised final.

The interior M*A*S*H set was on Stage 9. Did the set stay up all eleven seasons, or was it taken down between seasons and Stage 9 used for other productions?

Mitchell Hundred said...

"While we're on the topic of British TV, could you recommend some dramas?"

Hinterland/Y Gwyll (police procedural set in rural Wales).
Shetland (police procedural set on the Scottish Shetland islands).
House of Cards (much more concise and better than its American younger sibling).
Call The Midwife (midwives midwifing in the slums of London in the '50s).
Top Boy (drug dealers in inner-city London).
The Last Kingdom (historical drama about Alfred the Great resisting the Vikings).

Spooks aka MI-5 in some countries, because apparently the term "spook" has some unsavoury connotations depending on where you live. It's about spies and the spying they do. I'm reluctant about mentioning this one because I don't like it at all, but I can see why other people do. I'd recommend at least giving it a shot.

thevidiot said...

Not British but Irish: "Mrs. Brown's Boys" and previously mentioned "Father Ted." Well worth a look!

Tammy said...

flurb and Mitchell - thank you so much for the long lists, will check them out! (Sorry it took me so long to respond, it was night time over here.)

Loosehead said...

Can't believe there is only one mention for Britcom One Foot in the Grave, written by David Renwick and featuring one of the great comic creations in Victor Meldrew played by Richard Wilson. Scream-out-loud comedy, mixed with the pathos of old age and retirement, of being "surplus to requirements". Scenes involving the creative use of copper pipe, and a bag of premixed concrete, still linger in my mind 20 years later.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

That’s too bad Mr Duca. This show had my wife and I in hysterics. We didn’t even binge watch since it was enjoyable just watching only 1-2 episodes a week. Like a weekend treat.

ODJennings said...

Spooks (MI-5) is a great show, but don't get attached to the cast, because as soon as you grow fond of a character they're sure to die a horrible death. To be fair, the very first episode sets the tone with a scene involving a deep fat fryer, so you can't say they didn't warn you, but it's still the gold standard for frequent and ruthless casting changes.

As long as we've drifted over to dramas, take a look at an oldie called Danger UXB about the men of the Royal Engineers who spent WWII crawling into holes disarming unexploded bombs and often failing in the process (It's on YouTube).

Bill Bos said...

Second vote for Only Fools and Horses all eps written by an amazing talent, John Sullivan (creator of Dear John) and starring the fantastically gifted David Jason. Going back further, definitely Dad’s Army. Another favorite, the mockumentary series People Like Us, which started as a BBC radio series. There’s also a series called Hardware that was pretty good.

The original WB said...

Hi, Ken. First time posting here. Agree that you should check out John Sullivan’s “Only Fools and Horses,” especially the Season 8 Christmas special episode “ Heroes and Villains.” My personal favorite of the bunch is the “a day in the life of” BBC “mockumentary” series “People Like Us.” Of older shows, “Dad’s Army,” a good episode to check out being “Royal Train.”

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

YEKIMI, one other great sketch show is LITTLE BRITAIN.
very hilarious.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Agree 100% about DETECTORISTS, which is a wonderful close-up look at male friendship, hobbyists (metal deteccting), elusive dreams, and the ancientness of the history of British land. And it's visually stunning. It's fairly subtle British humor, not broad farce like the sitcoms Ken listed first. It ended its third and final season quite recently, and the series was written to an end, so you're looking at a total of 19-20 episodes.

I loved EPISODES, which was half British.

2012 and W1A are both series from the same group with the same actors mocking the Olympics team and the BBC respectively. 2012 is funnier.

However, avoid the currently running HOLD THE SUNSET. Even though it stars John Cleese, Peter Egan, and Alison Steadman it is god-awful.

Speaking of Peter Egan, I always liked EVER DECREASING CIRCLES, from the same writers as the excellent THE GOOD LIFE. Both 1970s-1980s, and hold up well because they're strongly character-based.


The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

while some actors may not like the show they signed up for, what about the shows an actor signed up for and changed on them? I’m thinling about John Amos who thought Good Times was going to be another Norman Lear show about every day people dealing with real life discussions, but it instead became more of a typical sitcom?
Anyone have thoughts?

Dr Loser said...

I think I'd rather see Kenneth Galbraith or Gore Vidal or Ken Burns or even Richard Nixon "educate da yoof" about politics. In fact, of the four I'd pick Richard Nixon, though obviously in a deeply twisted way. I think Jennifer Lawrence is fabulous, but she's no Gwynnie Paltrow, and I'm scared that she seems to want to be one.

Anyway, enough Brit grumbling about Hollywood Egos. Time for some Brit grumbling about Brit sitcoms. I actually disagree with about 50% of the recommendations above (particularly anything involving Gervais or Pegg), and I think this disagreement is healthy. So, rather than a straight list, I thought I'd try a historical one.

Start with "Hancock's Half Hour," which is the foundation stone. Galton and Simpson apparently met in an outpatients' facility for mental patients, if that helps. They found they could no longer deal with a demanding star (in particular, see the final, solo, episode, which is magnificent but also shows that Hancock had nothing left to give), so they wrote "Steptoe and Son," which is of course the basis for "Sanford and Son." Also brilliant, though you should probably only watch the black and white ones.

Some of the other recommendations were for things that aren't actually sit-coms, so in that vein (and staying in the 1960s), I will recommend "Not Only, But Also," featuring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Uneven, but when it hits, it's like an explosion in your mind.

"Til Death Us Do Part," with Warren Mitchell, was the precursor to Archie Bunker. I never found it that funny, but it was definitely edgy. So edgy, in fact, that Warren Mitchell (who was a left-wing East End Jew) was deeply troubled that a lot of his audience took his character's racist rants to heart. (And yes, there is an exact equivalent to Edie Bunker.)

One little-known comedy you might like is "The Likely Lads," which I can only describe as "The Drew Carey Show" set in Northumbria rather than in Cleveland. Written by Dick Clemens and Ian la Frenais, who went on to other comedies such as Porridge (mentioned approvingly above, and I can concur is one of the greats).

I loved The Goodies when I was growing up, but it's not a sit-com. It's Monty Python Lite, for children.

I've mentioned "Chance in a Million" before. It's a must-watch. As a bonus, Ken, it has a commentary (at least for the marriage episode; haven't checked) by the writers, who are hysterically gleeful about the series of predicaments they put their supporting cast through. I think you would really enjoy both the series and the commentary.

ScottyB said...

Very many Brit sitcoms (Britcoms? Hahaahaha) as well as old TV programs from waywayway back can be found for free at (including 'Only Fools and Horses'mentioned in this day's post.

Dr Loser said...

Not a huge amount recently, although you should watch Red Dwarf series 1-6 even if you have Sci-Fi. Because it isn't really Sci-Fi.

Watch "The Young Ones" to see the British equivalent of "Friends." It's grimy and disgusing and features a foul-mouthed hamster named "SPG," after a notorious and ethically dubious Metropolitan Police organisation of the time. Yes, it really is what we Brits would write if we were asked to do a clone of "Friends."

Do not, under any circumstances, miss "Black Books," by Graham Lineham (he of Father Ted) and Dylan Moran. Words cannot express my undying love for this series. Better than Fawlty Towers.

These days? A few decent sit-coms still being curned out. "Peep Show" would be one, because anything with David Mitchell and Robert Webb is worth watching. "Gavin and Stacey" is weirdly parochial if you don't come from South Wales or Essex, but I think you can get into it. I see Wales as essentially the British equivalent of Indiana, and Indiana never did US chat show hosts any harm. And it has a cast to die for! Ignore the notional lead characters, who are nodescript, and feast your eyes on James Corden, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones, Sheridan Smith, Alison Steadman ... you don't get to see a better cast than this.

I'm distantly related to Sheridan Smith, through an ancestor who played in a banjo band with his daughters. But don't let that fact influence you either way. Just go see it.

unkystan said...

I accidentally caught My Family with Zoe Caldwell and Robert Lindsay on a local PBS station and loved every second. I also think the John Cleese quote is correct. We only see the British A-game here. The Brits must think we’re better at sitcoms because of MASH , Cheers, Frasier, etc. but they’ve probably not seen most of our dreck.

Unkystan said...

Please correct my post about Robert Lindsay’s show My Family. His costar is Zoe Wanamaker (brain freeze on my part)

Peter said...

I live in the United Kingdom, but spent a couple of years in the United States, too. It always sort of amused me that there are a lot of people in America who love British sitcoms but have little use for most American sitcoms. On the other hand, I know a number of people here in the UK who have a derisive attitude toward our own britcoms and prefer most any comedy from America.

Dr Loser said...

A quick call-out for "Allo, Allo," which was actually a parody of a drama series, and which rather unfortunately demonstrates that my country still hasn't got over the "Plucky Little Britain Faces Up To The Hun" thing. But, be that as it may, it's a classic British sit-com, well-written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, and if nothing else the intentionally silly "French" accents should entertain.

It's basically a farce about a cafe owner called René, who is shot by the Germans, except that he isn't because the local Germans are quite nice people, and replaced by his twin brother called ... René. Yes, look, I know. It's daft. It has catch-phrases (used with discretion) such as "Good Moaning!" and "Ah weel say zis only once" -- believe me, they work -- and a lot of very pretty young ladies in skimpy waitress outfits and gaberdines.

Not to everybody's taste, I would agree. But if you like Benny Hill or Are You Being Served, I think you'll find this superior to either.

David Simpson said...

Dr Loser said "...Galton and Simpson apparently met in an outpatients' facility for mental patients..."

That's wrong. I'm currently reading Fifty Years Of Hancock's Half Hour by Richard Webber which says they met in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

Jon said...

I think ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE was the model for the CBS sitcom COSBY.

MikeN said...

Peggy: "Bobby, this is a British sitcom. It is very sophisticated."
Bobby: "That man's wearing a dress."

Dr Loser said...

@David Simpson
Good point. I appreciate the correction.

Dr Loser said...

One more, if I may: "Rising Damp," by Roy Clarke.

Should appeal to anybody who enjoyed "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin," because it's the other great comedy series that featured the incomparable Leonard Rossiter.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had Jennifer Lawrence's publicist.

She's basically in movie jail, but she's trying to play a Get Out Free card by using this education thing to stay on talk shows, say headline making things, stay on talk shows, send sensational twitters that she "writes herself," stay on talk shows, be seen with the right people at the right events and stay on talk shows. It's hard to get booked on talk shows with nothing to plug, unless you've made some news. We have a president whose manipulation of that made the press follow him like lemmings and gained him hours of air and other media time.

Her last film, "Red Sparrow," was ill timed. She and everyone connected with it knew it. It was being made before the Weinstein thing happened and it's chock full of the behaviors that now really sicken people, under several guises. The difference was that before last October, few were vocalizing that disgust.

Her character in the movie appears to be suitably "empowered" in the typical kickass Hollywood way, but no matter how they try to spin her nudity, the "school of sex," lines like "you made me a whore!" and a sequence in which her own uncle sends her into a hotel room to be raped by an official (Harvey anyone?), all of this and more came off as the sham it was -- sensationalism packaged as "I meant to do that" feminism. There are millions of Weinstein types in movie theaters getting a lot of sick pleasure from this piece of "art" that's more important than football and is part of "the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life."

I'm not making up the reaction to "Red Sparrow". Check out the numerous negative reviews (from women and men) on Rotten Tomatoes.

So Ms. Lawrence is embarrassed and out from in front of the movie cameras for a while and needs a plan. This one is as good as any other, as being "for the young people" is as popular today as "being for America" used to be a few decades ago. Both got you applause on talk shows depending on the era.

It's hard to see through all that when you deeply admire someone for their talent and apparent sincerity. We have trouble seeing flaws in our own friends and relatives when we really like them, but at some point, after the actions betray the real person behind the facade, sometimes you have to face unpleasant realities you have struggled to overlook.

Liggie said...

@Aaron Sheckley -- I think that British sitcom "sarcasm without venom" thing is a product of the British real-life ability to tell someone to say "screw you" but with eloquent vocabulary and sentence structure. For exampme, see the flowery insults hurled at Prime Minister's Questions at Parliament we Yankees watch on CSPAN. ("Does our right honourable Prime Minister have any shred of compassion in his soul to get this legislation passed, or has he already sold his soul to vested interests?" "Well, if my right honourable colleague had bothered to actually read the legislation, he would have learnt that it would do no favours to the people, and my dark soul would prefer not signing it.") Americans generally are extremely blunt and don't beat around the bush, and that characteristic carries affects things as nondescript as sitcom dialogue.

A changeup: I found a couple of single-camera European-language sitcoms on MHZ, which carries non-Anglophone programming. Germany's "Crime Scene Cleaner" follows regular guy Schotty who cleans up all the mess from a murder scene after the police have investigated, and the people he encounters through work (e.g. a prostitute the victim had scheduled an appointment with; the ghost of a murdered psychiatrist who bothers Schotty as he cleans up his remains). France's "Kaboul Kitchen" shows ardent capitalist Jacky running a restaurant in Afghanistan where expat Westerners get their booze, pork and other excesses satiated; and then comes his estranged daughter Sophie, a human rights activist (she spends the first season trying to establish a girl's school in Kabul). Culture and family clashes ensue.

DBenson said...

Foyle's War: a retired inspector is called back into harness to keep the peace in a seaside town during WWII. Fascinating real history, and a generally intriguing outlook: sleazebags and killers remained in business throughout Britain's Finest Hour.

One episode begins with the search for bodies after an air raid. One body has a knife it in. NOW it's crime. All the episodes focus on some specific aspect of the war (reconstructive surgery for the wounded; top-secret radar bases; black market food; land girls; etc.) Foyle also collides with official cover-ups, pitting the law against the war effort.

The show's last few seasons carried Foyle into the cold war that followed. Haven't seen those, but the wartime episodes are all worth while.

DBenson said...

Almost a comedy: the Australian "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries". Imagine Jessica Fletcher as a sexy young flapper who cheerfully has sex on short acquaintance while ever so slowly bonding with handsome Inspector Robinson. It's an imperfect show; the mysteries often feel crunched and even absurd in the one-hour format. And sometimes the seriousness of the cases -- many of them history-based -- is at odds with the sprightly jazz age tone. Still, Miss Fisher herself makes it all worthwhile.

Retsibsi said...

For the person looking for "Hot Metal" it's also available direct from , which sells a great many British comedy series, including some not mentioned here, such as "Shelley" or "It takes a Worried Man".
Am delighted to see I'm not the only person who remembers "Nightingales", with a brilliant cast and brilliant scripts. Truly surreal comedy about 3 nightwatchmen (4, if you include the corpse whose salary goes to make up the other three... Well, he didn't need it. Except for buying the ever increasing amounts of air freshener...)

D McEwan said...

Jack Larson, who was a brilliant, intellectual man who wrote operas, had no interest whatever in playing Jimmy Olson in a "silly children's show" called The Adventures of Superman. His agent told him, "Do the pilot. It will never sell. No one will ever see it."

Earl Boebert said...

As long as we've pivoted to drama, I recommend "The Sandbaggers" (britbox) in which the superb Ray Marsden plays a senior spook who fights the KGB as well as the cynicism and double-dealing of his own government. Great Cold War stuff, as good as McGoohan's "Secret Agent."

Gary said...

Hi Ken! My partner has been in Georgia for the last six weeks directing a play and to keep myself smiling in L.A., I have been binge watching Cheers. So I have many questions. But here’s the first. In the final season, John Mahoney and Peri Gilpin played roles. Were the producers of Frasier writing in actors they were testing for roles on the future spin off? Also, Robert Prosky played Kirstie Alley’s father and went on to do the same on Veronica’s Closet... also a trial run? Thanks! Gary

John Glynn said...

Peep Show is my favorite 21st Century UK comedy. Two standout performances in the leads and a supporting cast that's just as strong. It's LOL-out loud.

Unknown said...

I was raised on our PBS station only as well as the Radio. I was raised by a very strict Irish family. My Family ran by a Matriarchal system. That meant that if the eldest female in the family refused to have the demon box in the house that meant no television. We were all raised in church 7 days a week from 8 am until 6 pm. we all lived on farms and if we weren't in church we did chores around the house or farm. The only reward we had was the time we were able to either listen to the British comedy on the radio or the music on our radio or watch red green show or Benny hill that my Grandad loved to watch. As I grew older and had children on my own American television was of NO interest to me. I found it vulgar, hostile, plus it taught people how to kill each other.. In other words the complete opposite of what I was TAUGHT. So I raised my children on British television the same as I was. Dr. who, As time goes by, Vicar of Dibley, Mulbery, Red Green show, Fawltey towers, Up stairs Down Stairs and many more. To me that is what TRUE television really is. If I could choose what was to broadcast on our PBS all week long and on the weekends in the evening It would only be ALL BRITISH television I Love.. My Coronation Street, Casualty, and more. IF only my prayers could be answered.

Bryan Thomas said...

Black Books and IT Crowd are my two most recent favs. And they are over a decade old. But I laugh so often watching them that I can just watch them over and over.