Friday, 6 June 2008

Top 5 British Sitcoms (21st Century)

Bang up to date and into the 21st Century then. It's harder to be objective about these show as they've not had the passage of time to help sort the great from the good. There does seem to be a resurgence in good comedy though, possibly thanks to the increase in channels wrought by the digital age.

1. Extras (2005-2007)
2 Series written by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
"The Office" may have been more groundbreaking but for me Extras wins out as it's got more laughs per episode. Stephen Merchant is outstanding as inept agent Darren Lamb, and the episode where Kate Winslet, whilst dressed as a nun, gives Maggie advice on how to talk dirty to attract a man is enough to claim first place on it's own.

2. Black Books (2000-2004)
3 Series written by Dylan Moran & Graham Linehan
A hidden gem in the Channel Four listings. Dylan Moran wrote and starred in this comedy about life in a small independent book shop in which the proprietor (Bernard Black) was more interested in downing quantities of red wine than selling books. Some great interaction between Moran, Bill Bailey and Tasmin Greig (often the only three participants of the episode) who bicker and goad each other to escape their insulated world only to repeatedly get sucked back in to old habits. Bernard's foul-mouthed, eccentric, misanthropic and nihilistic views on the world are oddly pretty accurate and in many ways chime pretty closely with my own.

3. Peep Show (2003 - ongoing)
5 Series written by Jesse Armstrong & Sam Bain
When I first started watching Peep Show it was on late at night which usually meant having to read the subtitles with the sound off. I think I properly discovered it flicking through the channels for anything to watch when I really should have been getting a good nights sleep. The "eye level" point of view created something a bit different that caught my attention as I flicked through endless channels of rubbish. Somewhere between then and now it's actually become quite successful and, having been moved to a more accessible time slot, is currently pushing the boundaries of taste during it's 5th series with a 6th series already commissioned.

4. The League of Gentlemen (1999-2003)
3 Series written by Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith
As I write this I've realised that this is possibly more of a sketch show than a sitcom. Too late for me to take it out now, and in any case whatever genre you might think it belongs it's a show that pushes the boundaries of both.

5. The Office (2001-2003)
2 Series written by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
Wasn't sure I really wanted to have two shows written by the same team in the Top 5 but it's impossible not to have this series included. Painfully cringeworthy at times but still very funny indeed.

Bubbling under but not quite making the final cut are The I.T. Crowd (2006 - ongoing - 2 Series written by Graham Linehan) which I may enjoy more than I should as it so closely resembles my own working life and The Mighty Boosh (2004 - ongoing - 3 series written by Julian Barrett & Noel Fielding) which I'm only just getting to grips with and still haven't decided if it's genuinely funny or just plain weird (could also be a sketch show not a sitcom. Damn! I think I'm losing the plot after 4 weeks of comedy).

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