History of British sitcoms


The chief intent of this thesis is to give penetration into British temper, more specifically, the temper of British situational comedies ( situation comedies ) . The paper deals with a brief history and chief subjects of British situation comedies, gives illustrations of said comedies and illustrates the development of sticoms from 1970’s to the early 2000’s by showing three popular Television shows of that period. Those three shows will besides be used as illustrations of assorted types of typical British temper as they all possess chief qualities that are mentioned in the debut of the paper.

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Keywords: temper, British temper, situation comedies, comedies, Television shows


Since the center of the 20th century, Britain’s peculiar temper has become well-known throughout the universe. Due to a fast widespread of telecasting, people around the universe were able to acquire in touch with series and movies that possessed gags and buffooneries typical for the British. The temper, frequently described as dry, sarcastic, acrimonious and dark, evokes in people strong emotions that are normally at the opposite sides of the spectrum – the audience either adores British temper or strongly despises it. Either manner, no 1 is apathetic towards it. The two really first definitions on www.UrbanDictionary.com seem to hold different sentiments about it ; the first stating that it is normally something that is non easy apprehensible to the members of different civilizations, whereas the 2nd one calls it “actually rather funny” and saying that is typically better understood by “those of a more intelligent breed” . Another outstanding feature of British wit is the alleged “deadpan” bringing which means that the comedian ( or the histrion ) presents a gag with a consecutive face, non demoing any marks of laughter or emotion whatsoever.

British situation comedies foremost appeared on BBC after the World War II, but they had non truly grown on the audience until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. At that clip BBC aired many shows, most celebrated beingMonty Python’s Flying Circus, The Benny Hill ShowandFawlty Towers. In the 1980’s three shows were foremost aired –Blackadder, ‘Allo ‘Allo!andMerely Fools and Horses– and they all gained a legendary position.Merely Fools and Horseswas even named Britain’s best situation comedy in 2004. Modern twenty-four hours comedies ( from 1990’s until present twenty-four hours ) finally made a kind of via media by seting to suit the norm of American comedies. This resulted in comedies that were in format similar to American situation comedies (Coupling, Cold Feet, Men Behaving Badly, The Office, IT Crowdetc. ) Possibly the best illustrator of the popularity of these shows is the fact that all of them were remade in the United States, normally with small or no success. In add-on to Television shows, many comics were able to “make it” in the United States doing little or large alterations in their public presentations. Most celebrated are Hugh Laurie ( as physician House ) , Sasha Baron Cohen ( Ali G, Borat ) , Russell Brand, John Cleese, Stephen Merchant, Simon Pegg and Rowan Atkinson.

Even though all of the aforesaid comedies ( and many more ) are considered to hold the characteristic British temper, there are many types of comedy shows that feature different sorts of temper, so to talk. Wikipedia entry for British Humour cites several classs of humourous shows, the most outstanding being:

  1. Sarcasm
  • Not the Nine O’Clock News
  • Yes Minister
  • The Young Ones
  1. Absurd
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy
  1. Everyday life temper
  • Merely Fools and Horses
  • The Office
  • Work force Acting Badly
  • Matching
  1. British category system
  • Black Adder
  • Fawlty Towers
  1. Social awkwardness
  • Mr. Bean
  • Benny Hill
  1. Race and regional stereotypes
  • Fawlty Towers
  • ‘Allo ‘Allo!

As we all know, British temper is widely accepted and loved in Serbia.Merely Fools and Horsesand‘Allo ‘Allohave been rerun on our channels about every bit much as the “record breaking” series from RTS ; Dell Boy, a loveable knave, has become a fable, a hero amongst people in Serbia.Black Addergot its Serbian version in the signifier of Television showCrni Grujaand even a characteristic movieCrni Gruja one kamen mudrosti.Mr. Beanwas aired multiple times, last clip in a signifier of a sketch on children’s plans. The crew from Monty Python is still considered to be the best comedy crew in series. I have hence decided to give a more elaborate presentation on three Television shows that were besides aired several times on our channels, but that are non every bit popular as the 1s I had mentioned. These shows cover the three outstanding periods of British comedy ( the 1970’s, 1990’s and 2000’s ) and therefore are a good illustration of the development ( or possibly degeneration ) of the British situation comedies. In add-on to that, these series screen multiple types of temper and through them I will be able to demo illustration of it in more item.

Fawlty Towers

The series premiered on BBC2 in 1975 with 6 episodes and the following season brought six more episodes in 1979. It was co-written by John Cleese who besides starred as the hotel proprietor and director Basil Fawlty, and his then-wife Connie Booth who was besides a portion of the dramatis personae, although a smaller 1. The show is set around a little hotel near the seaboard run by Basil Fawlty and his married woman Sybil ( played by Prunella Scales ) . The show was inspired by real-life events. While touring with Monty Pythons, Cleese and the remainder of the pack stayed in a hotel ran by an proprietor Donald Sinclair similar to Cleese’s portraiture of Basil Fawlty. In an interview in Parkinson chat show on BBC1, Cleese described Sinclair as “ the rudest adult male I ‘ve of all time come across in my life. ” Basil Fawlty was, hence, an atrocious hotel proprietor, invariably irritated with the invitees and extremely intolerant towards his married woman and a foreign server Manuel. In many instances Basil is ill-mannered and rough on Manuel who barely speaks any English, yet Basil expects him to understand and be helpful at all times. Manuel truly tries to be a good server, but ever messes up, therefore making many amusing minutes. Basil’s married woman, Sybil, seems like a capable director of the hotel as she gets Basil to make many things by stamping him about, but is seldom present when of import and difficult work is being done. That resulted in Basil’s making several monikers for her – “ the firedrake ” , “ toxic dwarf ” , “ my small kommandant ” , “ my small piranha fish ” , “ my small nest of vipers ” etc. The character of Manuel, a disorganized server whose catch phrase is “Que? ” serves to demo how intolerant and insensitive Mr. Fawlty is towards different nationalities and racial stereotypes.

The show ended after the 2nd season largely because of Connie Booth who was loath to take portion even in the 2nd season. Cleese decided that it is best to stop the show before destroying it, continuing it in good memory of the audience. Several reboots were attempted ( largely American ) , but none of them were succesfull.

Work force Acting Badly

The series premiered in 1992 originally on ITV but was subsequently moved to BBC1. Based on a book by Simon Nye, the show focused on the lives of two flatmates Gary and Tony ( who replaced the original flatmate Dermot after first season ) played by Martin Clunes and Neil Morissey, severally. Both of them are in their late mid-twentiess, early mid-thirtiess, stuck on dead-end occupations, fighting with doing terminals run into and all they do is imbibe beer, watch Television and enjoy in their racy duologues with subjects such as “Are little and pointy dumbbell better than big unit of ammunition ones” . Gary has a somewhat better occupation, a long-run “on once more, away again” relationship with Dorothy ( played by Caroline Quentin ) , a nurse who lives with her female parent who “threatens to kill herself if she moves out” . Tony, on the other manus, is described as a better looking of the two and a “semi-stud” which helps him with the misss, one miss in peculiar – Deborah ( played by Leslie Ash ) . Deborah, frequently called “the hot biddy from upstairs” is Gary and Tony’s neighbour who finally falls in love with Tony. Both Deborah and Dorothy are annoyed by the guys’ immatureness and their inconsiderate behaviour, but they love them anyhow.

In a BBC article about the show it was pointed out that the show is “a reaction against the oncoming of the lovingness, sharing ‘new adult male ‘ , [ it ] appeared to delight in a politically wrong universe of liquor, belch and boobs.” Indeed, the show set a new criterion in the country of vulgar comedies with racy, yet intelligent temper. It aired for six seasons, with entire of 42 episodes including a Christmas particular titled “Jingle Balls” . The series was so popular in the United States that it was remade in the 1996 starring Rob Schneider, but failed to make the criterion the British show had set.


The newest of the three shows I will be speaking about,Matchingwas aired from 2000 to 2004 on BBC2. Written by Steven Moffat, the show focuses on a group of six thirty-something-year-olds and their personal businesss. Since the show features three male and three female characters, including one twosome and one “on once more off again” relationship, the show is frequently compared toFriendsbut besides toSeinfeld. Much like in the US situation comedies, the chief subjects are sex and dating and all the jobs they cause, presented from both female and male position, normally in the signifier of either an all-male or all-female treatment. The thought was to show the treatments in a manner that would demo how otherwise work forces and adult females experience and construe the same events.

The chief characters are really similar toFriends’ characters: Steve ( Jack Davenport ) is a author, a voice of ground in this group who seems to be the smartest and likes to give addresss ( and harangues ) , normally at the terminal of an episode in order to sum up it, but these frequently get him in problem with his girlfriend and subsequently married woman Susan. Susan ( Sarah Alexander ) is a autocratic comptroller, neatly organised ( which sometimes annoys the others ) and she frequently has rows with Steve because of their clashing point of views which ever leads to amusing state of affairss. Jeff ( Richard Coyle ) is the cockamamie cat of the group – invariably speaking about sex, he on occasion presents passionate soliloquies about adult females, erotica, chests and similar subjects ; his societal awkwardness and awkwardness gets him into problem every clip which provides a amusing alleviation of the series. Jane ( Gina Bellman ) is Steve’ ex-girlfriend who is frequently called mad by the others because of her sometimes uneven behavior – she is obsessed with sex, frequently being really ill-mannered and pushful when covering with work forces ; she is selfish, self-involved and non really bright which she illustrates by doing unusual comments or non being able to understand irony and sarcasm. Patrick ( Ben Miles ) is the womaniser of the group. He is really well-looking, non interested in relationships ( although he briefly dated Susan ) and a verified Casanova – he has a large closet filled with sex-tapes of him and other adult females. Despite avoiding serious committedness, he will finally stop up with Sally. Sally ( Kate Isitt ) is Susan’s friend who is obsessed with her expressions and insecure, therefore invariably shouting for attending. She is afraid that she will decease entirely because she is incapable of keeping a relationship and her efforts to make so are frequently despairing and black.

The show was good received by both British and abroad audience. It was named “ Best Television Comedy ” at the 2003 British Comedy Awards. In add-on to that, NBC started working on a remaking of the show trusting it would replaceFriends, but the show was cancelled after merely four episodes.


  1. Wikipedia, British humour hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_humour
  2. Urban dictionary, term British wit hypertext transfer protocol: //www.urbandictionary.com/define.php? term=British % 20humor
  3. Huffington Post,10 British Comedians Who Have Made It Big In Hollywoodhypertext transfer protocol: //www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/13/hugh-laurie-british-comedians-hollywood_n_1592379.html # slide=1089338
  4. BBC America, The Brit List: 10 Sharp-Tongued British Comedians hypertext transfer protocol: //www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2012/10/the-brit-list-10-sharp-tongued-british-comedians/
  5. Wikipedia, British sitcom hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_sitcom
  6. Wikipedia, Fawlty Towers hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawlty_Towers
  7. Wikipedia, Men Behaving Badly hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_Behaving_Badly
  8. BBC, Comedy, Men Behaving Badly hypertext transfer protocol: //www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/menbehavingbadly/
  9. Wikipedia, Coupling ( UK TV series ) hypertext transfer protocol: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupling_ % 28UK_TV_series % 29
  10. BBC, Comedy, Matching hypertext transfer protocol: //www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/coupling/

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History of British sitcoms. (2017, Jul 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/history-of-british-sitcoms/