The Friday Question: Half Hour British Comedy

by

Onslow

This great nation of ours used to be home to the best not-very-good sitcoms in the world. Recently, however, we’ve seemingly run out of just-about-watchable half hour comedy. They’ve all been replaced by reality shit, documentaries about babies with five foot long heads and clip shows.

So what’s the best rubbish sitcom from yesteryear? Which weakly written half hour British comedy has given you the most pleasure over the years?

Keeping Up Appearances?
The Good Life?
Bread?
Last of the Neverending Summer Wine?

Have your say…

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114 Responses to “The Friday Question: Half Hour British Comedy”

  1. Napoleon Says:

    Now then …

    I’d say my top ten crap but still watchable sitcoms would be:

    Last of the Summer Wine
    ‘Allo ‘Allo
    You Rang, M’Lord?
    2.4 Children
    Keeping Up Appearances
    On The Up
    Brush Strokes
    Three Up, Two Down
    Don’t Wait Up
    Waiting For God

    OH YES!

  2. Swineshead Says:

    Fuck me – that was a good answer.

    Does Butterflies count? I liked that when I was a kid. It was shit.

    Me & My Girl was pretty bloody great as well. And Home to Roost with Inspector Morse and the bloke out of ID.

  3. Napoleon Says:

    Butterflies counts, but it wasn’t a favourite of mine. It’s a Carla Lane job like Bread, and I can’t stand the woman’s writing. Nicholas Lyndhurst was in that – a shit sitcom god.

    I watched Me & My Girl religiously. Tim Brooke-Taylor and Richard O’Sullivan were great, but it was ‘My Girl’ that held my attention at that age.

    Home To Roost is an ITV comedy classic that’s just jogged my memory to another ITV classic – Never The Twain with Windsor Davies and Donald Sinden. Great show.

  4. Swineshead Says:

    And the mention of Lyndhurst brings me to Goodnight Sweetheart – a TV show with such a stupid conceit it only just avoided crashing in on itself every episode.

    What was that other Lyndhurst vehicle about newlyweds (I think) that featured that woman who had an affair with Phil Mitchell when he was an alcoholic?

  5. Napoleon Says:

    The Two Of Us. The girl in it showed up on The Invisibles last week.

  6. Swineshead Says:

    I heard The Invisibles is terrible. Is it terrible?

    The Two of Us was terrible. What was that bad sitcom with that blond idiot, the cockney curly blond idiot who thinks he’s David Essex?

  7. Napoleon Says:

    Just Good Friends with Paul Nicholas. Not a bad one, that. Penny was nice.

    The Invisibles is alright. It’s written by the same bloke who wrote Common As Muck.

  8. Mikey Says:

    Dear John.

  9. Swineshead Says:

    You’re an expert, I notice.

    I’m racking my brains for more…

  10. Swineshead Says:

    Ah – Dear John. A good entry there Mikey, right out of the leftfield.

    If you can’t remember the theme tune to Dear John, you’re not truly British.

  11. goodbyetoallfat Says:

    Can I just repeat all of Napoleon’s first answer?

    Secondly, in a blatant attempt at self promotion of my brand new bloggie, if any of you have time today … (and something gives me this weird idea that the chaps and chapesses who frequent WWM do seem to have quite a bit of time on their hands, the frequency with which they are able to add comments to WWM all day long!) … you might like my latest blog entry all about tortuous teenage embarrassing unrequited love.

    Or you might not …. entirely up to you.

    ttfn
    Sharon

  12. Napoleon Says:

    Dear John
    Da-da-da-da-da-daa
    Life goes on
    Di-do-bi-di-doo-bi
    After all is said and done …
    Deeeear John

    Good one, that. Ralph Bates off of the Hammer Horror films in the 70s.

    If you’re racking those brains, how’s about:

    Bless This House – Escaping to the shed to drink home made wine with Trevor from next door.
    Sorry – Language Timothy!
    The River – Essex and a mad Scotch woman.
    Clarence – Barker’s last hurrah.
    Only When I Laugh – Bolam and Bowles in bed ill forever.
    Duty Free – Keith Barron on holiday forever.

    I’m addicted to shit but watchable sitcoms.

  13. Napoleon Says:

    Bless This House should have been No Place Like Home. Bless This House was Sid James.

  14. Napoleon Says:

    Oh! And remember So Haunt Me with George Costigan off of Rita, Sue and Bob Too? That was strangely watchable, and they used to alternate it with 2.4 Children like they do now with My Family and After you’ve Gone.

  15. Swineshead Says:

    So Haunt Me with the woman who wasn’t Mo Lippman, I recall. Easily confused with the BT ads.

    *deja vu*

    2.4 children – didn’t the big Dad bloke who was sort of a British John Goodman die very young?

  16. Swineshead Says:

    Oh – and Sharon – I’m all for link-sharing so don’t worry about self-promotion (God knows I do enough of it myself).
    I’ll check your blog later…

  17. Napoleon Says:

    Gary Olsen. I think he was only in his 40s. Played Tony in the Paul Calf video diaries.

  18. Swineshead Says:

    The River with Essex and that Scotch troll was actually unwatchable apart from the title music.

    Clarence was fantastic, but the PC Brigade have rather tainted its memory. The big gays.

  19. piqued Says:

    He did SH, nice chap too by all accounts, Gary something?

    N DUNT SAY WILMOTZS

  20. piqued Says:

    Yes, Olsen, one of the Olsen twins. From America

  21. Swineshead Says:

    Christ – was that Tony?
    Bloody hell…

    You should go on Mastermind.

    Paul Calfs VDs were as good as I’m Alan Partridge if you ask me.

    – What sort of meat is that?
    – Kebab
    – I mean, is it red meat or white meat?
    – It’s er….sort of brown.

  22. Swineshead Says:

    Gary Wilmott has bedded an Olsen twin?
    And there was me thinking he was a paedophile.

  23. Napoleon Says:

    I found The River reasonably watchable. It certainly doesn’t belong in the underworld of British sitcoms – where the likes of The Piglet Files, The Upper Hand, Blessed and My Hero are burning in the flames.

  24. Napoleon Says:

    I’d agree on the Paul Calf diaries. Good stuff.

    “You can’t wear white – that’s fraud.”

  25. piqued Says:

    Jesus NC, do you ever go out?

  26. Napoleon Says:

    Yes, of course I go out. Thing is, I’ve hardly ever worked nine to five like most folk, so I’ve had plenty of time to watch thousands of hours of barely watchable TV. I know it’s a shameful thing, but I used to record the likes of 2.4 Children and So Haunt Me so I could watch them in between spending the odd twenty minutes doing a light dusting of work. I’VE SEEN THEM ALL.

  27. Napoleon Says:

    I could go on about this subject until the cows have not only come home, but have bedded down for the night, and been woken up the next morning ready for milking. Shame I have to go to the estate agents’. See yis all later, yis feckin’ eejits.

  28. Swineshead Says:

    Paul Calf – ‘I like going out, like getting pissed, like ‘aving a laugh, getting in a scrap, beat someone up, break some bloke’s nose… I like life!’

    The Upper Hand was watchably bad simply because it had Honor Blackman in (she’s not honourable and she’s not a black man).

  29. george Says:

    Er

    My Family and my hereo? I was born too late for this topic, they’re both only watchable in the same way Winston Smith finds the two minutes hate watchable.

    I remember some of the names mentioned, though. Last of the Summer Wine is essentially how I spent my childhood.

  30. Swineshead Says:

    You might see Raef at the estate agents… he’s a Foxtons lad.

    Reasons to hate Raef: #1
    He worked at Foxtons.

  31. Swineshead Says:

    George – you were about at the end of the 80s surely?

  32. Clarry Says:

    I used to love ‘Please Sir!’ when I was little, which was on just before the wrestling on a saturday afternoon. And I used to watch ‘Only when I laugh’ and ‘Duty Free’ in the evening after I’d finished Brownies.

    NC – When you said about Sorry I blushed, as mum and I still say ‘language Timothy’ when either one of us swears.

    *cringe*

  33. george Says:

    SW – Yes, as a baby. I turned four in 1990.

  34. Swineshead Says:

    Keith Barron of Duty Free fame – whatever happened to him?

  35. piqued Says:

    … fair enough

    But there is something you clearly enjoy about light entertainment.

    You do realise that you’ve displayed a side of yourself that says much more about you than you would possibly care to admit… and I mean this without any unpleasantness, for once.

  36. piqued Says:

    Oh, he’s gone. Blast

  37. Swineshead Says:

    George – you’re 22 then. Give or take a year. Not so young, really.

    I keep forgetting I’m a fat old bastard.

  38. Clarry Says:

    Keith Barron is on my ‘wanted’ list. Nobody ever did ask to see my list of suspected wrong’uns, did they? I might hand it over to the police one day – it could save them some valuable time, as quite a few on my list have since been exposed.

  39. Swineshead Says:

    Let’s have it then, Clarry.
    Let’s see the list.

    *the upcoming list does not express the opinions of anyone at WWM*

  40. george Says:

    SW – Yeah, so many of these comedies I vaguely remember but I watched at the point when you haven’t formed any kind of critical interrogation skills. I was actually shocked to find out that keeping up appearances was crap, I remember it been brilliant when I was younger. I think the golden age has passed for good/crap British sitcoms though, look what you’ve got post millennial, Ideal and t*o p***s of l***r.

  41. piqued Says:

    I will say that Keeping Up Appearances wasn’t crap purely because of Patricia whatserface who was fucking brilliant

    I liked Sorry too

    But the rest of the list? Sorry

  42. Swineshead Says:

    Ideal’s quite good though. It’s better than just-about-watchable. It’s actually a quite good show.

  43. Swineshead Says:

    Actually, Piqued resembles a grebo Onslow now I think about it.

  44. piqued Says:

    But not as fat, ugly or old and without the hat, vest and trousers

    Apart from his attitude, marital status, location, accent and job you’re quite close

  45. Swineshead Says:

    Glad you agree.

  46. Clarry Says:

    List of creepy blokes and suspected miscriants in show biz (in no particular order):

    Richard Griffiths
    Geoffrey Durham aka The Great Soprendo (fat man now thin)
    Brian Conley
    Matthew Kelly (tick (kind of) suspected paedo – cleared)
    Gary Glitter (tick – paedo)
    John McCririck
    Paul Daniels (cold, dead eyes of a killer)
    Michael Barrymore (tick – bum sex and pool death)
    Richard Madeley (tick – minor shoplifting offence)
    Keith Barron
    Richard Digence
    Christopher Biggins
    Jeremy Beadle (small hand, dead)
    Jimmy Saville (dry cleans dead mother’s clothes)
    Alan Titchmarsh (wondering eye)
    Pete Townsend (suspected paedo – cleared?)
    Giles Brandreth (jumper offences)

  47. piqued Says:

    Uncle Monty! Are you INSANE!!!

  48. Clarry Says:

    I can’t stand the man. His fat, sweaty face…. Ugh!

  49. Clarry Says:

    Big fat pie in the sky man.

  50. piqued Says:

    But like E Grant and McGann (s’ all by default) he’s exempt from anything

  51. Clarry Says:

    You will shout at me, but I can’t stand that film.

  52. Clarry Says:

    P.S This is a working list, please let me know if you have any others to add.

  53. piqued Says:

    *faints*

  54. Swineshead Says:

    Clarry – congratulations on your small mindedness!

    I see from your list that you’ve been proved right on…
    ONE occasion!

    You don’t get a tick for:

    Madeley (we’ve all shoplifted, after all)
    Kelly (cleared as you point out)
    Barrymore (he had a party where a man had a gay moment and then died – cleared)

    And that’s it! Your list doesn’t cut it for me.

  55. Swineshead Says:

    PS – I’m only so angry because you dissed Withnail & I

  56. Napoleon Says:

    Hello again! I enjoyed George’s ‘I turned four in 1990’. I turned four in 1979, just at the right age to grow up watching every single shit sitcom of the 80s and 90s.

    Anyone remember the James Bolam-starring ‘Andy Capp’?

  57. Swineshead Says:

    I do remember that, NC. It was actually pretty good. Very weird seeing a British newspaper comic strip come to life. Why don’t they do a real life version of The Sun’s George & Lynne? Complete with unrealistic domestic scenes wherein a well endowed housewife gets her norks out on every possible occasion?

  58. Swineshead Says:

    http://www.georgeandlynne.com/

  59. Napoleon Says:

    They’d have to put that on late night. And George probably wouldn’t be allowed to smoke his pipe in these puritan times we live in now.

  60. Swineshead Says:

    Yet it’s there, day in day out in The Sun for kids to gawp at, like Page 3. I’ve never understood that.

  61. Napoleon Says:

    Get the boys interested in tits early, I suppose. It certainly made me interested in tits. A useful public service.

    On the subject of sitcoms, I’ll bet none of you remember Close To Home with Paul Nicholas. Hated that, but watched both series anyway. Ditto: Luv with her off of the Royle Family.

  62. Swineshead Says:

    Don’t remember either of those. You’ve tipped into the quagmire of the largely unwatched rather than the just about watchable. You bloody idiot.

  63. Napoleon Says:

    They weren’t largely unwatched! Close To Home (Paul Nicholas as a vet on ITV) had an audience of ten million viewers, and Luv was prime-time BBC1! Just because you don’t remember these shows doesn’t mean a true officionado of the genre doesn’t. Pah! Amateurs!

  64. Swineshead Says:

    Ah – Close to Home has stirred a vague memory. But Luv’s done nothing for me. Who out of Royle family was in it? Aherne?

  65. Napoleon Says:

    The mum. It was written by Carla Lane after they cancelled Bread in the early to mid 90s.

  66. Swineshead Says:

    Oh Christ. I do remember it. And it had that fat scouse bloke who sounds like Ringo Starr as the husband.

    I remember an agonisingly long gag about a soft boiled egg in the first episode that forced me to switch off, never to watch it again. Utter, utter shit.

  67. Napoleon Says:

    That’s the one. As awful as Bread, but without the ever-changing grandad actor living next door. You’re right about the husband too – Michael Angelis. Plays scousers with ‘taches in loads of things.

  68. piqued Says:

    You two been eating lead?

  69. Swineshead Says:

    Joey Boswell directed Sliding Doors. And looked a bloody wreck when interviewed about its overnight success.

  70. Swineshead Says:

    *eats more lead*

  71. Napoleon Says:

    He’s got a new one out that I’ve just read about in that awful Metro paper you get on buses. It’s about an alcoholic dying of bowel cancer or something. Got one star.

    May To December, Fresh Fields, French Fields – The Anton Rogers Trinity of Evil.
    Land of Hope and Gloria – American runs country house with hilarious results. Ho ho!
    After Henry – Proof that lightning doesn’t strike twice when it comes to the career of Prunella Scales.

    And how’s about the bizarre Happy Families with Adrian Edmondson and that Comic Strip lot. That was an odd one.

  72. piqued Says:

    Christ you watch some shit

  73. Napoleon Says:

    I’m surpised nobody’s mentioned one of the lions of the just-about-watchable sitcom world …

    EVER DECREASING CIRCLES.

  74. Swineshead Says:

    Jesus, NC. He’s right – you do watch a lot of shit.

  75. piqued Says:

    Jesus fucking wept, please stop, it’s like being reminded of crying

  76. Napoleon Says:

    HA HA! YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE STARTED! HO HO! COLIN’S SANDWICH! HE HE! DAD! HEY HEY! THE HORSE-FACED PENELOPE KEITH PRETENDS NOT TO BE MARRIED TO GEOFFREY PALMER IN EXECUTIVE STRESS! AND THEN PALMER TURNS INTO PETER BOWLES! HA HA HA A HA A HA HAAAAAA!

    *farts*

  77. piqued Says:

    It’s now quite distressing, you’re clearly googling all of this or you’re seriously ill

  78. Swineshead Says:

    Colin’s Sandwich was actually alright. Before Mel’s dark days of Nurofen addiction. The fucking ponce.

    Still NC, I can’t help but feel that your brain’s minute if you can put up with all that shit.

  79. Napoleon Says:

    No need to google anything, Piqued! I’ve a fucking encyclopedia of shit in my noggin when it comes to sitcoms! I’ve devoured and remembered just about everything ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC have put on over the last twenty five years. I even watched Cows, and nobody watched Cows.

  80. Napoleon Says:

    “Still NC, I can’t help but feel that your brain’s minute if you can put up with all that shit.”

    Nope, just a British sitcom obsessive. They’re pretty big places, brains. You can annex off a large section for ghastly comedy, and leave plenty of space for other stuff.

  81. piqued Says:

    You need some sort of help

    as in ‘Help!’ with Chris Langham

  82. piqued Says:

    NC, you’re in a horribly good mood, what’s the matter?

  83. Napoleon Says:

    Help was alright. Mind you, they nicked the title from another show called Help that was broadcast in the 80s (if memory serves). It was about three cheeky scouse scallywags. Ho ho!

    I AM in a good mood, Piqued. No bloody idea why.

  84. piqued Says:

    Well stop it, it’s turning my stomach

    When are you coming to London?

  85. Napoleon Says:

    To live or to participate in Swineshead’s little project?

  86. Swineshead Says:

    Help with Langham was bloody good. I wish he hadn’t been a secret weirdo so we could all enjoy series two.

    Selfish bastard.

  87. piqued Says:

    To live

    I need order in some concrete for my ‘patio’

  88. Napoleon Says:

    I’d agree with that. I know this is a bad thing to say, but I would watch another series. With my arms folded. Tutting. Tutting and chuckling. Then tutting again to cancel out that chuckle.

  89. Napoleon Says:

    Piqued – We’re going down there to look at some houses next month. That means it could be as early as next month. Think about that.

  90. Swineshead Says:

    I’d watch it and laugh at the good bits as I’m capable of separating art from the artist.

    DO YOU WANNA BE IN MY GANG, MY GANG, MY GANG?

    DO YOU WANNA BE IN MY GANG

    MY GANG

  91. Napoleon Says:

    I tell myself that when I put ‘Johnathan King – The Hits’ on the CD player.

  92. piqued Says:

    Next month eh?

    *books one way flight to Spain*

  93. Swineshead Says:

    *joins exodus*

  94. Napoleon Says:

    I’m a good egg, Piqued.

  95. Napoleon Says:

    BASTARDS.

  96. piqued Says:

    Now you can’t use that sort of language in London you know

  97. Napoleon Says:

    Up yours. I’m off on a Grand Theft Auto IV killin’ spree. That’s right – GRAND THEFT AUTO IV. Ho ho!

  98. Swineshead Says:

    Shelled out did you?
    I’m fucked if I’m paying that much money for a bloody toy.

  99. Napoleon Says:

    I’ve been given a lend of a friend’s PS3 whilst he’s off gallivanting round the whorehouses of Warsaw (business trip, my foot). I wouldn’t pay for one of the buggers – far too much money.

  100. Clarry Says:

    SH – I never said my list was right, it’s just a list of people to watch out for. The ‘crimes’ they’ve committed include:

    a) actual, illegal ones
    b) being deeply irritating
    c) general odiousness

    Plus it’s not smallminded of me, everyone, including you SH, have made sweeping and sometimes inaccurate generalisations about poor, unsuspecting members of show biz land.

    Johnathan King can also go on that list. Thanks Napoleon.

  101. Swineshead Says:

    I thought it was a suspected paedophile / sex criminal list…
    Sorry if it wasn’t.

    I’m in too good a mood to argue now – happy bank holiday!

  102. Clarry Says:

    Happy bank holiday everyone!

  103. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Fawlty Towers – YES, IT FITS THE DESCRIPTION, DAMMIT!

  104. Dave Says:

    I’m chuckled by Napoleon’s encyclopedic knowledge of moderately amusing sitcoms. Hardly surprises me though, we all secretly assumed.

    I think I’m sorrily to young to contribute in a meaningful way. But don’t think that’ll stop me –

    Drop The Dead Donkey
    The Brittas Empire
    Chalk
    The Thin Blue Line
    Hippies

    Birds of a Feather was pretty middle of the road. I’m dropping to sleep just thunking about it. And Gimme Gimme Gimme? Aaaarrggghh!

  105. Bright Ambassador Says:

    Up the Garden Path. Imelda Staunton before she was Oscared-up and the bloke off Last of The Summer Wine and Citizen Smith who looks like my cousin. Mike Grady?

  106. extremelisteningmode Says:

    Wyatt’s Watchdogs. A programme so middle-class it was a repressed homosexual. Aimed at people who fould ‘….Summer Wine’ too edgy. Joy.

  107. West End Wookie Says:

    Hippies, wasn’t that some crap rip off of already crap “that 70’s show”
    I seem to remember watching and and praying for a meteor to come and wipe western civilisation.

    That show ‘Help’ the one about the scousers. That had craig charles in it if i remember right. I also remember thinking it was good.

    I’m sure at one point there was a ‘first of the summer wine’ where it showed all the characters in their youth.

  108. dave Says:

    Remember the show where Craig Charles played a pirate? No, nobody does.

  109. extremelisteningmode Says:

    WEW – I’m pretty sure it was a different guy, Craig Charles wasn’t in it.

    Scouse sitcoms – always shite.

  110. shitbagger Says:

    I didn’t like any of these.

  111. shitbagger Says:

    They all stink.

  112. Swineshead Says:

    Thanks for the contribution there Shitbagger. Clearly designed as a bit of blog promotion, but cleverly disguised as a genuine comment.

    PUT SOME EFFORT IN.

  113. Clarys Says:

    I’m only 25, and I remember 99% of the sitcoms mentioned by Napoleon, so George has no excuse.

    I used to LOVE Second Thoughts with Lynda Bellingham and James Bolam. I had a little crush on the bloke who played the son. I suddenly feel very old.

  114. John Says:

    Can’t believe Hi-De-Hi hasn’t been mentioned yet! Or maybe I missed it and the follow-up Ho-De-Ho!

    If you’re Scottish then you’ll maybe remember that disaster called “City Lights” with Gerard Kelly.

    Some others worth a mention:
    Robin’s Nest
    The Liver Birds
    Two Up, Two Down

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