UK SciFI and Comedy TV recommendations
February 21, 2010 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some UK TV recommendations. Specifically comedy and SciFi shows.

So, I have watched and enjoyed quite a bit of UK TV. I'm looking for SciFi and comedy shows. Bonus for newer stuff. Here's what I've already seen:

Monty Python
Fawlty Towers
The Young Ones
The IT Crowd
The Mighty Boosh
Garth Marenghi's Dark Place
How Not to Live Your Life
That Mitchell and Webb Look
Peep Show
Little Britain
Brass Eye
The Day Today
I'm Alan Partridge
Nathan Barley
The Office
Danger! 50,000 Volts!
Gavin and Stacey
The League of Gentlemen
My Family
A Bit of Fry and Laurie
Red Dwarf
Black Books

Doctor Who
Primeval (OK, but didn't love it)
Survivors (both new and old)
Edge of Darkness
Being Human
Life On Mars

This isn't everything that I've seen, its just what pops to mind and can hopefully guide you in giving me the heads up on something that I haven't seen.
posted by anansi to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite!
posted by EtzHadaat at 1:29 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

While not strictly a comedy, I seem to get more laughs from Top Gear than anything else lately.
posted by fairmettle at 1:31 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you seen The Thick of It? Hilarious cast and great writing...

And shit! How did I not hear about the third season?!
posted by pilibeen at 1:33 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Snuff Box (has Matt Berry from Darkplace, Mighty Boosh, and The IT Crowd, and Rich Fulcher from Mighty Boosh)
Father Ted (done by the same guy as IT Crowd and Black Books)
Doc Martin (it's a dramedy, really, it can be a bummer sometimes)
Keeping Up Appearances is from the '90s, and is not edgy, but it's still hilarious to me, and I like all the kind of stuff you listed.

It's Australian, not from the UK, but if you haven't seen it already on TV in the US, you might like Summer Heights High.
posted by ishotjr at 1:34 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: You've probably also seen Green Wing and League of Gentlemen not-quite-spin-off Psychoville, but they're worth trying if you haven't.

Otherwise, Sean Lock's 15 Storeys High doesn't nearly get enough attention and if you like Fry and Laurie, you should definitely try the ITV Jeeves and Wooster adaptation.

For sci-fi, the second series of Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes was quite good, and though it's hard to get hold of nowadays, modern vampire thriller Ultraviolet plays like Being Human without the comedy element (plus bonus pre-Wire Idris Elba).
posted by permafrost at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2010

One more: Last of the Summer Wine. It's not edgy at all. With the exception of two middle-aged people, the entire cast is made of elderly people, and it's been on for like 30 years. BUT, it's actually really funny, and absurd in its own way.
posted by ishotjr at 1:36 PM on February 21, 2010

Comedy you might like:

Green Wing
The Inbetweeners
Monkey Dust

I suspect that you may already have seen Blackadder and just missed it from your list, but I included it just in case. (Series 2-4 are much stronger than series 1, BTW).

AOn preview, also seconding Father Ted and The Thick of it , which are both brilliant.
posted by Jakey at 1:36 PM on February 21, 2010

I'm tempted to assume that you left Blackadder off your list by mistake....
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:38 PM on February 21, 2010

Anything involving Armando Iannucci. And if you liked the Mitchell and Webb Look, check out their previous series (Bruiser; the Mitchell and Webb Situation) and their radio show (that Mitchell and Webb Sound).
posted by jtron at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not a single mention of The Goodies or Big Train?
posted by meehawl at 1:45 PM on February 21, 2010

Your list is pretty comprehensive but these are all great. Hopefully not too many have already been mentioned.

Human Remains
15 Storeys High
Nathan Barley
Look Around You
Black Books
The Inbetweeners
Green Wing
The Thick of It
Absolute Power
Time Trumpet
The Fast Show
Snuff Box
Big Train
posted by turkeyphant at 1:47 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Leonard Rossiter is a comedy god. For that matter, Rising Damp is still worth watching.

As a kid, I was fond of I Didn't Know You Cared -- "I 'eard that!" "Pardon?" and Les Dawson.

If you liked Brass Eye and Alan Partridge and Nathan Barley, you'll have seen Jam and Nighty Night?

Seconding ishotjr's mention of 15 Storeys High -- it's great.
posted by vickyverky at 1:47 PM on February 21, 2010

Also, Attention Scum!
posted by meehawl at 1:47 PM on February 21, 2010

I somehow managed to leave off the best UK comedy show of 2009: Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle
posted by permafrost at 1:48 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: Sketch comedy:
Big Train (early Simon Pegg)
Not the 9 O'Clock News (early Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson, Mel Smith, and Griff Rhys Jones)
Maybe Harry Enfield, although I'd watch some sketches first to ensure it's to your taste.

Chef! (only the first two seasons, though).
The Brittas Empire (if you're a fan of Chris Barrie from Red Dwarf, this is more of the same)
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

The essential:
Yes Minister - the funniest thing to come out of Britain.
posted by Paragon at 1:52 PM on February 21, 2010

Also, viewing Comedy Connections is a good primer for this sort of thing.
posted by meehawl at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2010

I've been enjoying The Inbetweeners lately.
posted by willpie at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2010

Seconding The Thick of It, and I did definitely enjoy Black Books.
posted by General Malaise at 2:02 PM on February 21, 2010

And as you may have already noticed from the suggestions in this thread, British sci fi is virtually non-existent.
posted by afx237vi at 2:17 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: You want to bury yourself in Nigel Kneal, I think.

The Quatermass Experiment / Quatermass 2 / Quatermass And The Pit (and check out the live version with David Tennant and Mark Gatiss)
The 1979 Quatermass series
Day of the Triffids (and, for the love of God, ignore the most recent version - so painfully hideously dull)
posted by Katemonkey at 2:22 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Men Behaving Badly (except the last two series) was great.
posted by essexjan at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2010

The New Statesman, featuring Rik Mayall as Alan B'Stard.

And nthing:
Thick of It
Green Wing
posted by djgh at 2:32 PM on February 21, 2010

Seconding Yes, Minister (and its sequel, Yes Prime Minister) - timeless stuff, in that bureaucracies continue to be dens of iniquity, incompetence and corruption.

If you want to go a little older, there's Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'em.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 2:36 PM on February 21, 2010

You might want to check out Space 1999...
posted by Chairboy at 2:48 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Classic british dark sci-fi:
Blake's 7
posted by Erberus at 2:54 PM on February 21, 2010

Deadset - that's pretty new. Zombies and stuff.

Allo Allo has NOT aged well. Do not go to there.

nthing Big Train. That "no more wanking in the office" skit still has me doubled over.
posted by mooza at 3:08 PM on February 21, 2010

Without a doubt, Dad's Army
posted by A189Nut at 3:11 PM on February 21, 2010

Nightingales. Very odd, very funny, very obscure. Don't confuse it with a duff medical drama of the same name.

Apparitions - more god-fi than sci-fi, but diverting if that kind of thing's your bag. If it is, then you might also look at The Second Coming if you can find it, and the Messiah serials, which are quasi-mystical crime procedurals, but pretty good.
posted by cromagnon at 3:12 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: Outnumbered
posted by martinrebas at 3:19 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Party Animals
Being Human
The new mini series of Day Of The Triffids
Dead Set
The State Within
posted by honey-barbara at 3:38 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: The Catherine Tate Show gets a bad rap for the catchphrase-comedy thing but I think it's hilarious, there's a lot of it on youtube, and it's a billion times better than Little Britain.
You can also watch AD/BC in full on youtube - it's a musical christmas special / 70s jesus musical parody with the people from Darkplace (Matt Berry, Richard Ayode) and Mighty Boosh (Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Rich Fulcher) AND the amazing Julia Davis. It's as incredible as it sounds.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2010

Best answer: You might like Never Mind The Buzzcocks, a comedy quiz show about pop music. Bill Bailey was a team captain for a while (now replaced by Noel Fielding) & David Tennant recently guest-hosted. Most of the episodes are up on YouTube.
posted by mia_farrow at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

A lots been covered, but I will enthusiastically second Deadset, anything by Nigel Kneale and Yltraviolet if you can get it.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on February 21, 2010

Drop the Dead Donkey.
posted by penguin pie at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2010

Response by poster: For those that mentioned Dead Set and Ultraviolet, you're on point. But I've already seen them, I just left them off the list. I keep hearing that Blackadder is good but . . . I've never liked Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean (which is the only thing that I've seen him in) and it kinda puts me off. I've tried Yes, Minister but it didn't take. Maybe I'll have to try it again. Thanks for all of the great suggestions. Please, keep 'em coming.
posted by anansi at 5:29 PM on February 21, 2010

Being Human
posted by mollywas at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2010

Blackadder is so far removed from Mr. Bean you'd have a hard time believing that the same actor is in both. In my experience, most people love one and hate the other, so if Bean's not your thing definitely give Bladders a try.
posted by Paragon at 5:36 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing The Inbetweeners (Friends! Football friends!) and Yes Minister. Speaking of Yes Minister, today I watched the movie 'In the Loop'. Truly astounding screenplay. Just to give you an idea of how whacked it is: James Gandolfini plays a pacifist general. It has a mostly British cast.
posted by Pennyblack at 5:58 PM on February 21, 2010

If you like old-school Who, you might enjoy Sapphire and Steel. It's got some of the same old-school charm (read: bad special effects) and is genuinely creepy.
posted by immlass at 6:14 PM on February 21, 2010

You missed Absolutely, the best sketch comedy of the 90s.
posted by scruss at 6:15 PM on February 21, 2010

David Mitchell's Soapbox!
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:24 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recommend 'Man Stroke Woman' ( Nick Frost is brilliant in it!
posted by stevanl at 6:43 PM on February 21, 2010

Can't believe I forgot Absolutely Fabulous (and that it hasn't been mentioned yet.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:03 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

The first three seasons of AbFab. Not so much the fourth.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:04 PM on February 21, 2010

Chris Morris's Jaaaaaaaaammmm
posted by tumples at 7:26 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Jam is phenomenal (and there's a lot on youtube) but to me it plays less like comedy sketches and more like short films of skincrawling horror. s'good, though!
posted by moxiedoll at 7:36 PM on February 21, 2010

Nobody's put a shout out yet for The Mary Whitehouse Experience, so I'll do that here. One of the alumni from that, Mark Thomas, did a fairly successful stand up show for years as a sort of agit-prop absurd situationist thing, The Mark Thomas Comedy Project. That was mostly good. Another TMWE offshoot, the more conventionally sketch comedy Newman and Baddiel, was *huge* for a while but in retrospect was a bit shite.

Finally, the OP lists Bottom among the viewed. Filthy Rich & Catflap is a kind of prequel to this. Bonus: FR&C has the Federation guards from Blake's Seven running around being all menacing.
posted by meehawl at 8:18 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Catterick's rather good.
posted by Drexen at 2:56 AM on February 22, 2010

A Very Peculiar Practice
Ripping Yarns
posted by Coaticass at 3:02 AM on February 22, 2010

I don't think it's been mentioned yet - The Vicar of Dibley is pretty funny, and aired from 1994-2007. It can get a little corny and repetitive, but at times I laughed so hard that milk flew out my nose.
posted by bookgirl18 at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2010

Also, I don't know if it's exactly what you're looking for, but no list of British comedy shows (imo) is complete without As Time Goes By. Long live Dame Judi.
posted by bookgirl18 at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2010

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