Since I was a kid, I’ve been watching British television and films and I thought I’d share some of my favourites that I recommend to anyone with a craving for some accents, hilarity and exceptional talent.
It’s kind of impossible to think of British comedy without thinking of Monty Python. This group of six men changed the face of comedy and sketch TV forever with their surrealist vignettes and absurdist situations. This show is great to watch to get a hold on what British comedy really is and where it started to take off. The entire ensemble (except Graham Chapman who died of cancer in 1989) are still creating and making new works and can officially be called some of the funniest men in Great Britain.
Are You Being Served?
I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this show, but the mixture of farce, double entendre, and lovable characters make this show almost like watching a stage play take place inside a department store. Anyone who adores shows that border on slapstick will love this cast and the antics they get up to. Mr. Humphries, was one of the first openly gay characters (never officially said, but definitely camped up and implied) on television, and is probably the best performers on the show, although the entire ensemble is hilarious.
John Cleese (of Monty Python) was inspired to make this show after a horrible stay at a hotel. The result was this wonderful, frustrating show about a husband and wife who run a small hotel in Torquey. Another farce and plenty of fun to watch. With only twelve episodes in all, it makes for a quick watch and there’s still lines I quote to this day. In 2000, it was voted the best British television series of all time by the British Film Institute, and I can definitely understand why. Cleese, and his then wife Connie Booth, wrote a witty and unbelievable show that to this day is emulated.
A Bit of Fry & Laurie
Stephen Fry is a national treasure to the UK, and was pushed to fame with this show, in which he teamed up with former university mate, Hugh Laurie. Many people know Laurie now from his performance on the American TV show “House, M.D.,” but he got his start with Fry, creating this sketch show. Reminiscent of Monty Python, this show is full of weird and crazy characters, with Laurie often playing the “straight man,” and Fry as the more absurd one. Together they made a wonderful team, and it makes me hope they reunite to make some more comedy soon.
Keeping Up Appearances
My mother introduced me to this show when I was a kid, and it’s something I still enjoy to watch to this day. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, according to her), is a nosy, higher-rank aspiring housewife who gets into trouble a lot with her next door neighbor. It basically shows a woman from a lower class family, trying to pretend they don’t exist so she can climb the social ladder in her small English town. I assume she was based off a real person, because her life seems to be something that might actually happen in England quite often.
Stay tuned for Part 2, (2000’s to Present) coming soon!