British Comedy Television has had a large influence on my life. As a gay boy growing up in a small country town, Hutto Texas, I needed some influence of culture in my life. Lucky for me, BBC America opened the doors to a fabulous show: Absolutely Fabulous. This show helped define a way of life that I yearned for. Combined with my love of the Spice Girls, an Anglophile within was born. Soon I started to discover just how hilarious British television could be. Below is a list of British shows that I love and why I love them.
This epic series began in 1992 and has changed the life of millions of people ever since. Gaining worldwide fame, numerous celebrities have died to be a part of the amazing show. Fashion was revitalized because of this show, and risen to a new status level because of the hard work that Eddy & Patsy sacrificed. The show starred Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, & Jane Horrocks. The show is about two women who are both past it, but try desperately to stay with the in crowd and pretend to be better than everyone else, and will do anything to stay hip and above everyone.
Aside from the main cast, the show also had reoccurring guest who were fantastic: Christopher Ryan, Christopher Malcolm, Mo Gaffney, Naoko Mori, Helen Lederer, Harriet Thorpe, Gary Beadle, Kathy Burke, Lulu, Miranda Richardson, Patrick Barlow, Celia Imrie, Eleanor Bron, Kate O’Mara, Marianne Faithfull, Christian Lacroix, Twiggy, Tilly Blackwood, Antony Cotton, Emma Bunton, Felix Dexter and then some. When the movie finally came out, the entire world was lucky enough to enjoy the hilarity the show provided. I could really go on forever about this show, as it really is amazing, but I could never give justice to it as watching it provides. So, if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch every episode in order with the specials including but not limited to: The Last Shout, Gay, The Olympics, and also the Movie. I have three friends & myself, who can attest to: doing coke, ingesting numerous bottles of wine, playing table tennis, skiing, trashing a hotel room, (almost) being evicted from said hotel, and then starting over again, that we can and do tribute to this amazing show. “Sweetie, darling!” “Tickets! Money! Passport!”
French & Saunders
This comedy series is incredible! I kid you not, this comedy will introduce you to a world of amazingness to which your life will be forever changed. Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders started this series in 1987, and comedy was changed forever. They take on, parody and influence all celebrities, shows, movies, musicians, artists and more in a way that keeps you laughing for ages. Although, I do not care for pop-culture, at all, this show pays great tribute to pop-culture legends spanning decades and centuries to many greats. This sparked my love for France and my Francophilia, and really brought a change of how comedy was approached throughout the ages. Of those parodied, include are, but are not limited to: Titanic, Madonna, Gone with the Wind, Thelma & Louse, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, ABBA, Little House on the Prairie, Baywatch, Lord of the Rings, Mamma Mia, Bjork, The Corrs, Misery, Braveheart, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and a Fellini Number that will make you question art, entirely.
The Vicar of Dibley
Dawn French stars as a female Vicar who is sent to a small farm town where the residents feel uncertain about having a female vicar. The cast of this show is diverse and pretty damn funny.
Keeping Up Appearances
In this show a middle class woman annoys everyone around her by pretending/aspiring to be an upper class woman. Her last name is Bucket, but she insists that it is pronounced “Bouquet.” Her son who is never seen but obviously gayer than John Inman is the only one who indulges her in her flights of fancy. The ensemble cast make this a terrific show and worth the watch. “The Bucket residence, the lady of the house speaking.”
Are You Being Served?
Classic! 1970’s indulgence to the max. This show is based in Grace Brothers, a fictional department store in London where the eccentric cast peddle cheap wears. No matter what the length, it will either ride up with wear or ride down with wear. Many fun gay puns with John Inman’s character mixed with the older Mrs. Slocombe talking incessantly about her pussy will make you giggle like an elementary school kid. After the show there was a sequel called “Are You Being Served, Again?” or “Grace & Favour” depending on which country you are in. The remaining cast from the original series spend their retirement running a country estate.
As Time Goes By
Oh my gosh. I LOVE this show. Jedi Dench & Geoffrey Palmer are the greatest on air couple to EVER exist. This show spans 9 seasons, and each one is beyond awesome. A couple who lost touch over 30 years ago, reconnect and find that they still love each other. With the help of Moira Brooker, Jenny Funnell, Philip Bretherton, Joan Sims, Frank Middlemass, Moyra Fraser, Paul Chapman, Janet Henfrey & Tim Wylton, this show will touch you and make you laugh for ages. If one TV show was going to be made in to a movie, it should have been this. Sadly, some of the supporting cast as passed away, so it can not be done.
A Fine Romance
Staying on the Judi Dench train, let’s go back to an earlier show where she and her Husband Michael Williams played an unlikely couple. With the help of Susan Penhaligon and the dishy Richard Warwick, this show is a must see.
A comedy about the women who run a small canteen in a factory. The lead is Victoria Wood, and the rest of the ensemble stars Thelma Barlow, Andrew Dunn, Shobna Gulati, Celia Imrie, Maxine Peake, Duncan Preston & Anne Reid. The greatest part of this show is seeing how tragic Julie Walters plays her character. It’s incredibly difficult to imagine it is the same woman who is Molly Weasley, because she is that an amazing of an actress.
The IT Crowd
My sister Kristina got me hooked on this show. It’s a comedy about the poor stressful life of those IT folks who drive everyone crazy in the office. Chris O’Dowd, Rihard Ayoade & Katherine Parkinson keep the audience laughing their asses off with the relatable and some very unrelatable issues.
This show lasted 11 seasons and had over 120 episodes. For british sitcom, that is a big deal. It’s actually 1 out of 12 to hit that mark. Zoe Wanamaker & Robert Lindsay lead this show and keep it hilarious throughout. I don’t know why Zoe Wanamaker isn’t in more, but she should be. The cast changed pretty frequently in the show, which makes it a little difficult to follow, but the immediate family members are worth it. The youngest son, played my gorgeous Gabriel Thomson, comes out as gay and keeps the show relevant. Although this might be hard to track down, if you can watch it, you should.
Miranda is a show about an eccentric woman in her thirties, still single, harassed by her mother and old school mates to act normal, get a job and get married. Her best friend Stevie is almost as eccentric as she, but a little more mainstream. We get to see the gorgeous Tom Ellis looking as yummy as ever throughout the series.
There you have it, my friends. My list of must watch British Comedy Television. Not that anyone has time to watch television anymore, but if you happen to sneak aside 30 minutes to an hour, give one of these a shot. Happy Watching.