Top 10 British Sitcoms
10. The Office (2001-2003): Written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the series serves as a mock-documentary looking at the daily work at the Slough Branch of the Wernham Hogg Paper Company. British sitcoms have always had a uniqueness compared to other programs, and the mockumentary style of The Office exemplifies that uniqueness. Not as many laughs as the American version, but still worth a watch.
9. Last of the Summer Wine (1973-2010): Written by Roy Clarke, viewers follow the adventures of the pensioners living in the Yorkshire countryside. There's a good reason why this program is the world's longest-running sitcom. Roy Clarke's writing is touching and hilarious, along with the performances of actors like Peter Sallis, Bill Owen, and the slew of Third Men. Of course, the series tended to wane in quality after Bill Owen's passing, but it is still a well-made, laid back program.
8. The Vicar of Dibley (1994-1998): By Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer. What happens if you transplant a female vicar into a backwoods English village? Hilarity. Dawn French is an excellent straight woman to all the bizarre and colorful characters in the village of Dibley, along with providing some great humor to balance the scales for a fun faith-based comedy.
7. Yes Minister (1980-1984): Sir Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn give us a look inside the British government through the work life of a single British Cabinet minister in his triumphs and downfalls. This sitcom came out when the British public's faith in government was at a low and a bit of satire was called for. The show doesn't look down on its audience and gives a good bit of laughter that was much-needed at the time. If only we could get a version of it for modern audiences (that doesn't stink like the 2013 version).
6. The Young Ones (1982-1984): Written by Ben Elton, Lise Mayer, and the late great Rik Mayall, four students at Scumbag College live in a world of insanity, violence, and live performances by top bands of the time. The best way to define the Young Ones is post-modern. All of the insanity occurring in the show is viewed only as another day in the life of the main characters and serves as a voice for the younger generation, going so far as to dis popular sitcoms of the time. Rik Mayall's later sitcoms may be funnier, but The Young Ones remains a trendsetter for shows to come.
5. Are You Being Served? (1972-1985): Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft present Grace Bros. Department Store, where store staff put up with all sorts of daily happenings to help customers and earn a weekly paycheck. This comedy, like many other David Croft comedies, relies heavily on characters to drive the plot. Each character has their own personality and quirks, with the actors delivering the perks spotlessly. Of course, we cannot forget about Mrs. Slocombe's troubles with her pet pussy Tiddles. To be served a good laugh, just say "I'm Free", cuddle up with your pussy and give it a watch.
4. Dad's Army (1968-1977): From Jimmy Perry and David Croft are the adventures of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard as they do their part to protect Britain from Germany's looming threat during the Second World War. Like Are You Being Served, Dad's Army is also heavily character-driven, with much of the show's focus being on the mix of classes coming together against the looming threat from Germany. Give it a watch, and ask "Who do you think you are kidding, Mister Hitler?"
3. Fawlty Towers (1975, 1979): From former Python John Cleese and his wife Connie Booth comes the efforts of Basil Fawlty to run a proper hotel in Torquay, with a domineering wife and bumbling waiter from Barcelona. Fawlty Towers is very much a comedy of errors; whatever can go wrong does go wrong, further brought out by Basil's rudeness and being overall unlikeable. What else can I say except go for a visit, but mind the rat in the biscuit tin.
2. Only Fools and Horses (1981-1991): John Sullivan tells the story of black market traders Del Boy (David Jason) and Rodney Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst) as they try to - as Del Boy says - be "this time next year - millionaires". John Sullivan's writing for Only Fools and Horses is both roll-on-the-ground hilarious but still touching. Viewers laugh at the antics of Del Boy and Grandad or Uncle Albert's not knowing what's going on around them, while also being touched by the death of characters, weddings, and the well-deserved ending for the Trotters. Put it on for a view and find out why only fools and horses work.
1. Blackadder (1983-1989): Richard Curtis and Ben Elton present a look at the Blackadder Dynasty, from its start at the end of the Wars of the Roses, to the Elizabethan Age, Regency period, and World War I. This sitcom stand apart from all other sitcoms in one respect: writing. Blackadder has some of the wittiest, well-timed humor, so cunning you could brush your teeth with it. Rowan Atkinson is flawless as the cunning Edmund Blackadder, Tony Robinson is laughable as Baldrick, and extra special performances are given by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny, and Miranda Richardson. Though the comedy and performances are spot-on, the ending for the series as a whole is both touching and well-deserved, wrapping up 400 bloody years of history. What else to say but "Hurrah!" Except it's not on Netflix anymore. "Hurroo."