I Like A Bit Of Comedy, Me
December 31, 2008 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Can you help us with our British TV Comedy addiction?

My husband and I have stopped watching American TV completely, instead we have become totally addicted to British comedies. We have about 40 minutes or so a day to watch TV but we are running out of comedies available on Netflix. We are crazy about The Office, The Royle Family, Spaced, Smoking Room, and Peep Show,. Other, lesser favorites, are Green Wings, Yes, Minister, , AbFab, Clatterford, and Ballykissangel. In our queue we have Black Books, Saxondale, Shameless, Doc Martin, and The Mighty Boosh. We hated Chef in large part because of the laughtrack. We also don't like Mr. Bean, Blackadder, Vicar of Dibley, Keeping Up Appearances, and a Bit of Fry and Laurie.

High on our wish list is the 3rd season of The Royle Family, Smoking Room (BBCAmerica only ran a few episodes) Phoenix Nights, and dinnerladies. The last two comedies we have heard great things about but this point, it looks like we will have to invest in a multi-regional player and buy the DVDs if we ever want to see them. Is it worth the investment do you think? Any idea if there will be a release of season 3 of The Royle Family? Are there any series that we are missing? Any suggestions or ideas are welcome, bearing in mind that, yes, we do watch other things such as American shows and non-fiction shows, but I'm really only asking about British comedies.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Media & Arts (76 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I loved Coupling until the last season.
posted by cooker girl at 7:48 AM on December 31, 2008

I'm having a hard time trying to place the exactly where your tastes are as the ones you don't like are IMHO some of the best comedy the UK has produced. With that on you might want to try Red Dwarf and Last of the Summer Wine. What do you feel about comedy gameshows as you might want to try to get hold of copies of Shooting Stars and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. There are clips of all of these on youtube as a taster

or yeah and of course Monty Python
posted by rus at 7:49 AM on December 31, 2008

I'd say Jeeves and Wooster (also starring Hugh Laurie) is stellar, and I also enjoyed James Herriot's series about the veterinarian in the countryside. Both series were first fantastic books, so go to town! I found them at the libraries in Boston, but I'm sure Netflix may have them.
posted by big open mouth at 7:50 AM on December 31, 2008

My husband's been watching 'Allo 'Allo!. Don't know how it would fit on your list of likes and dislikes, though.
posted by Lucinda at 7:51 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding Coupling. Great show. LAst season was weak, but still had some good material.
posted by wile e at 7:52 AM on December 31, 2008

Ballykissangel stands out as a bit of an anomaly there, not least for being a twee drama rather than a comedy and being set in Ireland with a mostly Irish cast. I'm trying to figure out the common thread, but you might like Teachers, I think.
posted by carbide at 7:55 AM on December 31, 2008

Outnumbered is an absolute joy, with largely unscripted performances from the cast, even the children.
Gavin and Stacey is very funny although some of the humour might be a bit too British.
I loved Marion and Geoff with Rob Brydon but I think I'm in the minority (it was given a late night slot on BBC2 rather than prime time).
posted by ceri richard at 7:55 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's a bit dated, but I've enjoyed Are You Being Served.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:57 AM on December 31, 2008

Best answer: The 'IT Crowd' was written by the same guy who wrote Father Ted - both of which I adore. The IT Crowd is a bit like the Office in some ways, in the sense that it observes excruciating office politics, but it is done through the eyes of characters who have lol cat posters on their wall, and would not be without metafilter log ins. What more can you want.
posted by Augenblick at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2008 [6 favorites]

Have you tried the The Good Neighbors called The Good Life in the UK. Also To the Manor Born. How aboiut Fawlty Towers with John Cleese.
posted by tman99 at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2008

Just thought to add some YouTube clips of the above:

Gavin and Stacey
Marion and Geoff

Also, I've not seen it yet but am told that The IT crowd and Black Books are very funny.

I think you'll get some cracking recommendations here and should definitely go ahead and get a multi-region dvd player :-)
posted by ceri richard at 7:59 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Father Ted, Phoenix Nights, The League Of Gentlemen and mix it up with a bit of Australian by getting the very excellent original version of Kath and Kim.

That should set you right for a while.
posted by merocet at 7:59 AM on December 31, 2008

And a previous question with some good suggestions.
posted by ceri richard at 8:00 AM on December 31, 2008

Best answer: Oh and on the subject of multi-region dvd players. Most if not all DVD players are already multi-region requiring only a few key presses on the remote control to unlock their international dvd playing glory. A search for the full name of your dvd player along with the words "region hack" normally fixes the crippling done by the manufacturer.
posted by merocet at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

They've been repeating a lot of Dad's Army here recently. I'd forgotten how good it was. Same with Porridge.

One Foot in the Grave was consistently funny.

Also if you only watched the first series of Blackadder it might be worth checking out series 2 (or beyond) as they are very different to the first series.

If you like Phoenix Nights then check out That Peter Kay Thing is it's very much its precursor... though skip the follow up to Phoenix Nights, Max & Paddy's Road to Nowhere - as imho it's awful (two of the writer/performers on the other show had jumped ship)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:11 AM on December 31, 2008

It's not comedy, but you could also try Agatha Christie's Miss Marple :) It's a great show to watch on rainy days with a nice hot cup of tea.
posted by big open mouth at 8:13 AM on December 31, 2008

Father Ted is fantastic - even after seeing them all several times I still laugh hard at them. Also good is Men Behaving Badly - except the last couple of series (6 and 7) where it had jumped the shark and they were all a bit old to be acting like that. It's a bit puerile, but then I laugh at b3ta.
posted by essexjan at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2008

Best answer: Dark Place
Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan
As mentioned above Coupling (seasons 1-3) and the IT Crowd.
posted by travis08 at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

A bit of a cockup on the what you like front, but I didn't get to where I am today by not knowing what a great British sitcom is, so, I recommend The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin Arizona.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thirding I.T Crowd. Maybe Little Britain as well (UK version) though I personally find it a bit much sometimes.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 8:24 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding fearfulsymmetry - your dislike of Blackadder was sticking out a mile given the other stuff that you DO like until it occurred to me that you'd maybe only seen the first season.

All the seasons have different characters and settings (and time periods) and Season 1 is completely missing the quintessential dynamic of a haughty, sarcastic Blackadder with a likeable, idiotic Baldrick, instead having a very tedious and somewhat Mr. Bean-esque cowardly Blackadder. Season 3 is my personal favourite, but 2-4 are all classic - just to hammer this point into the ground, I'd note that UK TV constantly repeats seasons 2 to 4 but never season 1.

Father Ted is probably my favourite British sitcom after Peep Show. You don't list Fawlty Towers although you have tagged the question with it - this is generally voted the best British sitcom in public polls, and is classic. Usually coming in second is Only Fools and Horses, the early stuff of which can be quite funny but is maybe more of an acquired taste.

If you like Peep Show, you should maybe get That Mitchell and Webb Look, which is a sketch show by the same people (two series so far I think). Possibly a stupid question, but if you like Yes Minister are you aware that the later series were released under the name Yes Prime Minister?

Oh, and I haven't seen anyone mention Extras, which was the follow-up to the Office. Hope some of that can help.
posted by Kirn at 8:24 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ooh, and definitely seconding travis08 in terms of Dark Place and I'm Alan Partridge, both of which are classics. Chris Morris's stuff is very worth seeking out (although it's fairly different from the other stuff mentioned): particularly Brass Eye and Nathan Barley.
posted by Kirn at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by jbrjake at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2008

In addition to the many excellent suggestions here, you might like Lead Balloon.
posted by WPW at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Extras is good. nthing IT Crowd. The Thick of It was pretty funny.. also even though its a bit off the wall Look Around You is hysterical. I watched Black Books and it was good but not great. I am eagerly awaiting the next season of Peep Show which I think I heard they are filming.
posted by zennoshinjou at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, Top Gear is not technically a scripted comedy -- it's an automobile "info-tainment" program. But they got me to actually enjoy a program entirely about cars, and that's saying something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2008 [4 favorites]

I loved Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and Still Game. I don't know what availability is like, but maybe they might show up on tv?
posted by Gor-ella at 8:53 AM on December 31, 2008

If you love the Royle Family you could check out Early Doors.
posted by tomcooke at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2008

For me, I'm going to nth The I.T. Crowd (this most recent season has been incredibly funny), and as jbrjake mentioned, check out iDEAL, one of my current faves.
posted by smitt at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry to be so confusing in our likes/dislikes. Ballykissangel, for example, is one I liked more than he did. Right now our absolute favorite is The Royle Family and it kills us to have to wait for the 3rd season.

Definite No to : Jeeves and Wooster, Red Dwarf, and Are You Being Served. Also "The James Herriot series" (All Creatures Great and Small.) We watched a few episodes of Extras and it didn't particularly strike our funny bone.

We haven't tried Coupling-- I guess it just didn't sound like our cup of tea. Does it have a laughtrack?

I'll check out the hacking of the DVD player when I can get into the bedroom to check the make and model (my husband is asleep right now.)

are you aware that the later series were released under the name Yes Prime Minister? Yes, we saw that.

Fawlty Towers and Monty Python are both old favorites.

We haven't seen Phoenix Rising or dinnerladies but we have heard such great things about them. Even if we can hack our DVD player, the DVDs themselves all run about $30.00 a piece so we will have to preview them on YouTube, I guess.

The IT Crowd sounds intriguing and I added it to our queue. It wouldn't hurt to try the 2nd season of Blackadder, I guess.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:00 AM on December 31, 2008

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the weekly block of Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show that's on Friday nights on BBC America. (Or it might be Sunday nights. I dunno. We DVR it.)
posted by greenland at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2008

It wouldn't hurt to try the 2nd season of Blackadder, I guess.

If you've only seen the first season, definitely give the second a try. The show changed quite considerably - Rowan Atkinson is less Mr. Bean and more totally awesome.
posted by Lucinda at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2008

Also check out The Young Ones, Bottom, Absolutely Fabulous and The New Statesman
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:10 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and Ideal both sound like possibilities, but again they are only available on DVD.

Thanks for all the suggestions and opinions-- that is exactly what I am looking for. I have to go out for a bit, but I will be checking back.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:15 AM on December 31, 2008

It seems like you really dislike laugh tracks. I'm guessing you disliked the ones you did because of that? At least 3 of those are generally considered to be among the highlights of British TV comedy (Blackadder, Vicar, Fry and Laurie. Actually I think Fry and Laurie had a live audience) but have little in common except for...that laugh track thing.

So I should warn you, dinnerladies for one has a laugh track, and also stars a highly regarded comedienne (Victoria Wood) like Vicar of Dibley (Dawn French). I can't really imagine liking dinnerladies and not liking Vicar, so you may really *hate* dinnerladies. (I thought dinnerladies was ok, and Vicar is one of my top 5 favorite TV shows ever.)

Oh yes, and Little Britain, Catherine Tate, Coupling, AbFab, The Young Ones...all laugh-tracked.

So..current /recent sitcoms with no laugh track that are pretty good would be Lead Balloon, Gavin and Stacey, Outnumbered, Ideal...etc. (I like Lead Balloon the best) but none are All Time Best material either. For classics, see this list for example and pick and choose.

My favorite currently running British show that is funny and vicious is Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, but it's not a sitcom or scripted.
posted by thread_makimaki at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2008

The Thin Blue Line (Rowan Atkinson series that ran two seasons).
posted by Zambrano at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2008

I came in here to recommend Black Books, so it's great that it's in your queue, that is easily the most hysterical thing I've seen in a long time. Nthing Alan Partridge. Little Britain is hit-or-miss, but some of it is pretty funny.

We've been watching Waiting for God (streaming instantly on Netflix!), and it's funnier than I'd expected.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2008

You are going about this all wrong. Spend about a decade watching 'Porridge', 'Open All Hours' leavened by the occasional Royal Command Performance. Report back with your findings.
posted by zemblamatic at 9:21 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The usual meta-analysis here: you like the new breed of single-camera(ish) comedy without laugh tracks; not so fond of the old-school sitcom, but also not going with the stuff that's very dark and off-the-wall. So Father Ted should be top of the wanted list. My gut feeling is that you'll end up filing Phoenix Nights and dinnerladies in the second tier, where you've placed more standard-issue sitcomes (though Phoenix Nights is slightly less conventional.)

If you like Saxondale, you won't necessarily like the various Alan Partridge series, but you'll know whether you can stand Steve Coogan; if you like watching David Brent's embarrassment, then you should enjoy Alan Partridge's.

But let's say "Linehan, Serafinowitz, Pegg": that gets you The IT Crowd, Look Around You (though S1 and S2 are very different), Big Train, Smack The Pony. See how that does you, because if you like Mighty Boosh but hate Black Books, that tweaks things towards the surreal and away from the merely quirky.

(And if you have cable, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace has shown up on SciFi Channel.)
posted by holgate at 9:25 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some of Bill Bailey's standup DVDs are definitely worth a look. Part Troll is brilliant; Bewilderness also. (Tinselworm & Cosmic Jam didn't do it for me so much.)

And nthing Father Ted & Coupling, and the later series of Blackadder.
posted by handee at 9:27 AM on December 31, 2008

Ms. Electric_Counterpoint and I are huge into "I'm Alan Partridge." If you like it, Steve Coogan originally created the Alan Partridge character for the "Knowing Me, Knowing You" series, which had a longer run.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 9:28 AM on December 31, 2008

Like others, came in here to rec "I'm Alan Partridge" & "Shameless". Also, "French & Saunders" (perhaps not for you, though, if you don't like Fry & Laurie, either) and "The Vicar of Dibley" (although I'm not so hot on "Jam and Jerusalem"). Also, nothing's as great as "Abigail's Party" and "Nuts In May" though they're tv plays, not series.
posted by theefixedstars at 9:36 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding Catherine Tate and Mitchel and Webb Look/Situation. Pure comedy.
posted by hylaride at 9:39 AM on December 31, 2008

The Fast Show was very popular in the UK but it's a sketch show somewhat similar to A Bit of Fry and Laurie so I'm not sure it would appeal. It's pretty cheap though.

I'll definitely second fearfulsymmetry's recommendation of One Foot in The Grave.

League of Gentlemen is rather mixed. Very dark, gothic-toned humour, sometimes cringe-inducingly puerile or cruel, sometimes brilliantly funny or tragic. Worth considering.

And of course anything by Graham Linehan: Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd.
posted by BinaryApe at 9:45 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding Nathan Barley
posted by shamble at 9:46 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding thread_makimaki on Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe and just about every episode is available on YouTube (and has been for a while so isn't likely to disappear overnight). Profanity wise, it's not for the fainthearted though.
posted by ceri richard at 9:50 AM on December 31, 2008

Oh and Stephen Fry's QI is a quiz show with a healthy dose of comedy, depending on the line-up.
posted by ceri richard at 9:52 AM on December 31, 2008

Nthing the I.T. Crowd, Gavin and Stacey, and Black Books. As mentioned above, if you like Peep Show, you may enjoy the That Mitchell & Webb Look (though the latter is sketch comedy, which may not be what you're after). Richard Ayoade from the I.T. Crowd also had a shortlived spin-off from Garth Marenghi's Dark Place called Man to Man with Dean Learner - it was silly but had its moments.

Blackadder's first season is unwatchable, in my opinion, but the second and third seasons are terrific.

The League of Gentlemen is total genius, but quite dark in nature and not to everyone's taste. The Mighty Boosh is also brilliant, especially from the second season onwards. Nathan Barley was, in my opinion, a great idea poorly executed, but still fun.

Mock the Week and Never Mind the Buzzcocks are also hilarious, though they are panel "gameshows" rather than sitcoms. Worth a YouTube preview at least.

Lastly - and admittedly this is not exactly what you asked for'cause it's not British, but it may fit within your tastes - you might like the Australian show Summer Heights High. I think it was one of the best comedy offerings of recent years.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:57 AM on December 31, 2008

You SO need to see The It Crowd. :-) Little Britain (the original series, not the ones they did for the US) is also great, though it has to grow on you. Same for The Fast Show. Try Harry Enfield and Chums too (Only the BBC series - anything else is crap). And Red Dwarf perhaps?
posted by pootler at 10:08 AM on December 31, 2008

nth to the xth "Father Ted"
posted by Rumple at 10:21 AM on December 31, 2008

Many great suggestions here. Saxondale is not the best place to start with Steve Coogan in my opinion. Try Alan Partridge if you can, or Coogan's Run.
posted by col_pogo at 10:23 AM on December 31, 2008

Adding As Time Goes By, Love Soup, Hardware, and French & Saunders.
posted by terranova at 10:31 AM on December 31, 2008

You might try the Canadian series Slings and Arrows, especially season 1. Also, don't forget the oldie but goodie British comedy "To the Manor Born."
posted by gudrun at 10:54 AM on December 31, 2008

Because I don't think they've been mentioned yet: To the Manor Born, After Henry, Fresh Fields and French Fields, Ripping Yarns (it's essentially Monty Python, and mostly the same people). Only When I Laugh is OK too. All aging, but funny - although I'll warn you right now that laughtracks are prevalent.

On preview: I've been beaten to To the Manor Born, but I'll second it.
posted by pemberkins at 11:21 AM on December 31, 2008

It wouldn't hurt to try the 2nd season of Blackadder, I guess.

Yes, definitely give the later seasons a shot. I find Blackadder's first season barely watchable, but adore everything that came after (third season is probably my favorite).

This might be a longshot -- I can't quite figure out a common thread between what you like vs. what you dislike, either -- but possibly you might find Mapp and Lucia amusing.
posted by scody at 11:39 AM on December 31, 2008

Nthing Still Game, one of the best comedies of recent years. The guys behind that also did an hilarious sketch show Chewin' The Fat. And on a Scottish theme there's also Rab C Nesbitt which was originally a spin-off from Naked Video (though some of the accents may be a bit impenetrable)

And the various Harry Enfield series had some of the best character sketches ever.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:46 AM on December 31, 2008

Best answer: Order the third season on UK Amazon.

shipping is surprisingly low, and they won't charge VAT, so often shipping's a complete wash.

and while you're there, might as well stock up on lots of other DVDs. There are lots of amazon-only specials, e.g. I sprung for this Simon Schama Collection that, woops, is now unavailable, but I scored for just 50 pounds including shipping
posted by jimmyjimjim at 11:55 AM on December 31, 2008

Best answer: woops, just noticed this:
"this point, it looks like we will have to invest in a multi-regional player and buy the DVDs if we ever want to see them".

The good news is that most DVD players can be made multi-region with a simple hack (sequence of inputs with the remote control). Do check your model (or let me know the model number and I'll dig it up for you). If not, you can buy this ultra-compact swiss army knife dvd player at amazon for $30. It plays PAL (European video format). And SVCDs. And homegrown DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs. And just about anything else you throw at it.

To make it multiregion, follow these steps:

Press "Setup" button on remote.
Scroll to "Preferences" using the LEFT/RIGHT arrow key.
Press "138931" and a pop-up screen will appear.
Use the UP/DOWN arrow key to choose the desired number.

A more expensive alternative is to buy an Oppo upconverting DVD player. They're reasonable (though not cheap), they make standard DVDs look like hi-def on hi-def tvs, and they play all regions and types.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 12:00 PM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Nthing watching the 2nd series of Blackadder. The first series is very different to the others, and I can see why you don't like it. Something that I find very funny, if you like Rob Brydon is 'Director's Commentary'. Of course if you don't find him funny then you're going to hate it, but he makes me weep with laughter.
posted by ob at 2:30 PM on December 31, 2008

Mapp & Lucia is a great recommendation. I loved the books and the miniseries is fun too. I think Waiting for God has a laugh track, but you might want to give it a try. Maybe not though, since you didn't like Vicar of Dibley (shocking!). I also have to agree that Blackadder gets way better in seasons 2-3.

It's not strictly a comedy, but I found Rumpole of the Bailey very fun and amusing. Footballer's Wives is another one of that ilk, but it didn't get campy and crazy until season 2, and Netflix only has up to season 3.
posted by apricot at 2:33 PM on December 31, 2008

If you liked Peep Show, you'll probably like That Mitchell and Webb Look. Craig Cash's Early Doors is the natural follow on from The Royle Family, if you can find it. Nick Frost from Spaced stars in Hyperdrive. I think you might like Marion and Geoff, too.

One of my favourites from recent years is the brilliant but underrated 15 Stories High from Sean Lock. Another vote also for Still Game - 5 series so far and every episode is genius IMO, but you might want to check it out on Youtube first as they make no allowances for non-natives with the accents/references.

If you like the classics and gentler comedy, have you tried The Two Ronnies? Or the modern classic and not-at-all gentle The Day Today (or anything else from Chris Morris, if you like darker satirical stuff).
posted by boosh at 3:39 PM on December 31, 2008

Try Nighty Night, but be warned, its DARK.
posted by Neonshock at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2008

Even though it's been said, Father Ted is supreme. Like tops, Seinfeld level.
posted by luckypozzo at 4:02 PM on December 31, 2008

Lots of interesting stuff here, but as an east-Atlantic-er I'm stunned by people suggesting utter crap like 'Fresh Fields', produced as an ITV show during the mid-1980s 'where TV went to DIE' category along with Never the Twain and (on the BBC side) Terry and fucking June. Keeping Up Appearances and One Foot can go get buried with them as far as I'm concerned.

Lots of people wax nostalgic about the demise of Thames Television but I lived in London during those dark times and there's an entire generation of us who associate 'ITV sitcom' with 'about as funny as cock cancer'. Rising Damp they ain't.

All those people above talking about Blackadder, however, are right. If you've only seen S1, you haven't seen Blackadder.
posted by genghis at 8:39 PM on December 31, 2008

I LIVE for questions like yours. My pulse quickens, I have trouble breathing, and I can barely type fast enough! Unfortunately (for me), I think you've got a lot of the shows covered. Have you seen: Asylum (Simon Pegg), Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, The IT Crowd (third series which just ended last Friday was the best yet), Snuffbox? If you end up liking the Boosh, you'll like the last three (and you'll see recognizable faces). I'm assuming you've seen Extras, since you're so well covered here. And League of Gentlemen? And Father Ted? (If you watch one Graham Linehan, you've got to watch them all). The Young Ones? Also, even if you're not a Little Britain fan, Rock Profile (especially if you're familiar with the musicians they're spoofing). Gavin and Stacey? I'm not sure if I should recommend Nathan Barley. I'm not sure.. And, as a Peep Show fan, definitely check out That Mitchell and Webb Look. Basically anything with Mitchell and Webb is great.

Also, as time goes on, I really have become addicted to the panel shows like Never Mind The Buzzcocks, QI, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and The Big Fat Quiz(zes) Of The Year. Oh, that Alan Carr! I think there might be dvds of some of them. There's also the Armando Iannucci and Chris Brooker stuff (like Chris Brooker's Screen Wipe). I need to go have a lie down now.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:59 PM on December 31, 2008

Funny stuff that makes me stop and watch when I see it is on, arranged in very approximate new to old:

IT Crowd (genius)
Have I Got News For You
Mock the Week
Lead Balloon
That Mitchell and Webb Look
The Friday/Saturday/Sunday Night Project
Star Stories


Phoenix Nights

Alan Partridge
Harry Enfield (the latest series was eyewatering crap)

and for sheer "just got back from the pub and want mindless braincandy", Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps

If you're dipping into older TV, why not give Rab C Nesbitt a try? Rab at the Dole Office
posted by Grrlscout at 3:54 AM on January 1, 2009

Response by poster: We switched our DVD player over very easily. Thanks for the suggestion.

I was excited to see all the low prices on AmazonUK marketplace for used copies, but it appears that most of the marketplace vendors won't ship to the US, so we will have to pay full price for new copies which will greatly limit what we can buy. I did go ahead and order the 3rd season of the Royle Family and both seasons of The Smoking Room.

Unfortunately, I saw Father Ted (season 1) last year and I wasn't impressed. I only rated it 2 stars out of 5. It struck me as being rather old fashioned.

Sad to hear that dinnerladies has a laughtrack. Guess I won't bother with that one.

The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin, Ideal, The IT Crowd, and Early Doors all sound like they might be up our alley. We'll put those on our wish list.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:45 AM on January 1, 2009

Response by poster: I forgot to mention that I really enjoy reading the transcripts of QI-- somehow they come across as funnier than the show itself (which I watched on YouTube.)

Also I remember watching To The Manor Born back in the 80s. It was a bit ho hum back then and I would guess it hasn't held up very well.

On the other hand, Mapp & Lucia is a very old favorite of mine (I also have all the books) but a bit too twee for for my husband, just like Jam & Jerusalem-- I loved it but not his cup of tea. On the other hand he loved The Young Ones, but I did not care for it.

What I need at this point is some sort of address drop in the UK so that I can buy used copies of DVDs and then have them sent on here.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on January 1, 2009

I don't have anything to add show-wise, but you may want to check out UKNova. They aren't accepting new signups now, but that changes day to day. It does not offer anything on DVD or within 6 months of DVD release, but it would help you get things you are anxious for right away or jump on new shows. You also may want to try the Radio Times for new show ideas.
posted by jules1651 at 8:36 AM on January 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also check GUBA for some of these shows.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 4:54 PM on January 1, 2009

for example, here's the (hysterical) first episode of nighty night (which is every bit as dark as Neonshock says):
posted by jimmyjimjim at 4:58 PM on January 1, 2009

Haven't found it anywhere else than youtube, but Posh Nosh is great.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:18 PM on January 1, 2009

If you're allergic to laugh tracks, you won't like IT Crowd. It has a laugh track. Most British sitcoms do, old and new.

They film before a live audience, or screen bits of filmed stuff before the audience. The guys behind League of Gentlemen have a really excellent demonstration of how the prefilmed bits before a live audience thing works, if you check out the season 1 DVD extras.

I think the idea that a laugh track somehow dumbs things down is a hangover from the 70's. Sometimes, the audience really is laughing that hard.

Father Ted has a lot of current culture kinds of references - never quite sure how much of that translates crossculturally. As does Little Britain - lots of cultural in jokes that tip it from being funny to being incredibly funny in bits.

Did anyone else see that TV ad for The Priests CD and think of My Lovely Horse?
posted by Grrlscout at 8:16 AM on January 2, 2009

Response by poster: If you're allergic to laugh tracks, you won't like IT Crowd. It has a laugh track. Most British sitcoms do, old and new.

Ah, what a shame. I guess we have just been lucky in that the few comedies we have seen have had no laugh tracks: The Royles, Spaced, Smoking Room, and The Office. We have dinnerladies coming soon, so we'll see if that is a deal breaker. If you are used to watching things without, a laughtrack is very intrusive and irritating.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:54 PM on January 2, 2009

Just been watching late 90s series People Like Us with the disgraced Chris Langham; if you don't mind that it's one of the funniest things I've seen in ages (was a radio series earlier too).
posted by Abiezer at 12:16 PM on January 4, 2009

Response by poster: Dave, (that's Mr. Gravy to you) is very excited about People Like Us. Saxondale has been ordered as has Two Packets of Crisps, Ideal, and Early Doors.

So many great leads, thank you all for responding. Extra special thanks for those who suggested hacking our DVD players. We have two and both took about 30 seconds, no problem. So far, we haven't been disappointed. Here's what we have seen since this question was posted:

Nighty Night: Fantastic! Jill is the best character invented since David Brent
Black Books: Charming rather than hilarious-- but it does have its funny moments
dinnerladies: Hard to understand the thick Northern accents, but still very watchable. We've only seen one episode, but it has great potential.
That Mitchell and Webb Look: Mixed. Some hilarious sketches mixed in with some dull stuff. But that is always the way with sketch comedy.

We have enjoyed the comedy so much, that I have decided to post another question about dramas.

Ta, very much.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:09 AM on January 12, 2009

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