View Full Version : 'Old' British comedies..

4th Mar 2006, 11:26
Will there ever be programs as brilliant as Monty Python, Spitting image,In sickness and in health,Fawlty Towers etc, ever again?

Can Little Britain and other similar series, which all seem to follow the same types of script and genre ever match up to the older ones which did not rely on profanity or sexual innuendo?

Can the same be said for todays comedians also?

Charlie Foxtrot India
4th Mar 2006, 13:10
The old ones were brilliant - but a lot of the things they made fun of would be considered unacceptable today I guess, and different things make people laugh now.

Little Britain comes close to being as funny.

4th Mar 2006, 13:27
I would be inclined to wholeheartedly agree with you ex matelot, were it not for the current re-run of Dave Allen.

I thought he was great at the time, but I do find now that some of his humour has not stood the test of time, and seems a bit feeble.

Onan the Clumsy
4th Mar 2006, 13:52
Pointless question really I'm afraid. Beauty after all is in the eye of the beholder, and so too is humour. If you could analyze the craft behind the programmes then perhaps a comparison might work, though you'd have to adjust everything for the context in which it was written, performed and appreciated.

The world doesn't necesarily get better or worse, it just gets different.

Krystal n chips
4th Mar 2006, 14:02
And there was me thinking this was a thread about the House of Windsor----:rolleyes: :E

Lon More
4th Mar 2006, 14:05
Krystal, the thread's about old comedies, not old jokes.;)
where's the fox hat?:E

4th Mar 2006, 14:10
If all you've ever been fed is processed cheese, and fine Camembert is something you've never experienced, how would you know what you're missing?

4th Mar 2006, 16:26
In my humble opinion there can never be another "Fawlty Towers".

The biggest problem with that show was that there were not enough episodes,:(

eastern wiseguy
4th Mar 2006, 16:52
Con...agree absolutely that it was very funny,BUT,it finished at the top of its game...the way to do it.

Father Ted was another series which did it. As for some of the other old pap that is recycled as funny...Keeping up appearances!! If I had Luger I would reach for it!!:yuk: :yuk:

4th Mar 2006, 16:59
To the Manor Born and The Good Life were good programmes. :ok:

4th Mar 2006, 17:00
Public telly in the Washington area plays reruns of so-called "Brit Wit", quite amusing. Are You Being Served, Days Of Wine And Roses, Waiting For God, Keeping Up Appearances (grates my nerves), As Time Goes By (my fave), and occasionally others including the Flying Circus. Didn't realise for years that these were mostly from the 80's - recently some of the stars were being interviewed concerning Fawlty Towers, and boy have they aged, some more gracefully than others (better than I will I suppose). I look forward to them on the week-ends, funny stuff.:p

Cheers, y'all.

4th Mar 2006, 18:35
Bluey, I agree The Good Life was great, and I love Felicity Kendal BUT, I've seen them all so many times I know exactly what is going to happen, and often, exactly what is going to be said.

A great show, done to death by endless repeats, and often out of sequence too!

4th Mar 2006, 18:44
Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister - still relevant, still bloody funny Humphrey!

4th Mar 2006, 19:00
I was watching Monty Python on BBC America last week whilst on hols, and it did occur to me how many of the sketches were either not funny at all, or incomprehensible. Still, I suppose that can be classed as "ground breaking humour".

The last two funny comedies in my book were Father Ted and Phoenix Nights, although Peep Show has a certain bizarre quality to it.

Richard Spandit
4th Mar 2006, 19:22
Was watching a Monty Python DVD yesterday - a lot of the hilarity comes from the complete randomness and the way they string the various sketches together.

Little Britain was funny but is getting on a bit now - they seem to have less of the character comedy and more of the gross visuals - vomiting, urination etc.

Peep Show is brilliant, as was Nighty Night. Phoenix nights too.

As for the classics, Yes, Minister is still very funny...

4th Mar 2006, 20:06
To the Manor Born was brilliant, not so much for the hilarity,but it had a massive feel good factor.... the scenery, the lifestyle etc. it was a relaxing program! The Liver Birds, Man about the House, Rising Damp, Only when I laugh all great at the time but watching re-runs now and not so funny. Our humour has evolved in a different direction I guess, but I certainly don't find the new comedy much better. I totally agree with you ex-matelot! TV sucks and I wish they would start making GOOD, IMAGINATIVE programs again and dump the cheap reality TV format! Loved Fawlty Towers, can't be beaten, although the Office comes close to being a classic for same reasons, ended at the right moment!......oooops, nearly forgot Only Fools and Horses, the first few series at least, no offense to the ladies out there, but when the two wifes came in, it all went to pot in my opinion!
Good thread:ok:

4th Mar 2006, 20:34
I have been away from home (the UK) for quite a while, & I have been watching BBC America. I still find some sketches of Monty Python to be absolutely hilarious even now.

British humour has got to be one of, if not the best humour out there, little Britain, Fawlty towers, the British office, & Extras that as recently aired on HBO. The Ricky Jervais tomato soup sketch had me in hysterics for ages. Coming back to the UK to convert my Canadian lic to JAR very soon. Looking forward to what British humour has to offer now

Fly Safe Everyone:)

Onan the Clumsy
4th Mar 2006, 20:44
The biggest problem with that show was that there were not enough episodes,I understand what you mean, but really a large part of its success was that there were not too many episodes :8

4th Mar 2006, 21:00
Oh, nearly forgot Open All Hours/Porridge and obviously programs like The Two Ronnies, Dave Allen, Morc and Wise etc

4th Mar 2006, 21:56
More recently, how about Black Books, or The Fast Show?

TV is consumed by "Reality" shows :yuk: and other banal rubbish, such as "Lost" and "Six Feet Under", and there doesn't seem to be time for decent humour. Maybe the programmers don't think it's important.

4th Mar 2006, 23:02
Did anyone catch 'The secret policeman's ball' over the Christmas? Absolutely brilliant.

No matter what Rowan Atkinson does, he will never again match the pinacle which was 'the school register'.

I am glad I caught this thread - I was beginning to think I was the only person on the plannet who did not find people funny because they shouted, or were obscene, or both.

tony draper
4th Mar 2006, 23:21
Uk comedy has become much darker and vicious this last decade,best recently? The Thick Of It,Yes Minister for the 21 century
Humour also dates very quickly,when I see episodes of Monty Python apart from a couple of sketches just seems silly to me now, best of the last twenty years?, IMHO Father Ted,and League of Gentlemen,bit then humour is a very personel thing,frinstance never thought much of Faulty Towers or any of Ronnie Barkers series,liked some of his sketches in the two Ronnies though.

Conan the Librarian
5th Mar 2006, 01:21
Python, I agree Mr. D does age, but still has a certain quality that that defies time. The Feature films, were wonderful. The Holy Grail, Life of B and errrr. the other one - were and are brilliant. TV? Yes Minister/PM win by loads. Terribly sad that Radio 4 which I migrated to many moons ago, lost its brightest star Linda Smith, earlier this week. RIP Linda.


PS You TV viewers need to have a listen to Jeremy Hardy's rants. That chap is bloody funny and so often, spot on.

5th Mar 2006, 02:22
Like all marketing the TV heads want the 'tried-and-true', what sells the most. It appears the real genius of comedy has died with the novelty of the media on which it was introduced. So long as the show's gross, has 'humour' ( in the broadest possible sense of the word) that reaches the most and doesn't require an IQ higher than the sandbox it's a safe bet. With the TV came the gradual dumbing-down of social awareness.
The concurrent shackle on true sparkle in comedy stems from the Zeitgeist strangled by relative moralists. "You can't say that!" "You can't say this!". Offence was the foundation of the classics, yet done with such style or clever absurdity that it didn't turn the audience to disgust.
Inevitably the lesser comics tried to box above their weight, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the greats. Why not use vulgarity, or sex, or bodily functions for impact? "Adapting" old styles was huggy-speak for dragging the sublimely ridiculous into the gutter, for those unable to access the subtelties of intelligent social satire.
Who wants to listen to 30-40 minutes of witty, developing dialogue? "We want the laughs now! I don't wanna wade through a full show. If it doesn't catch my attention in the first 8 secs it's not good."
Like its government the proletariat gets the entertainment it deserves.

My t'p'nth

henry crun
5th Mar 2006, 02:41
At the recent memorial service for Ronnie Barker the clergy were led in by vergers carrying four candles. :D

Loose rivets
5th Mar 2006, 04:18
On my last few episodes of 'couplings', moments of brilliance, punctuated with a lot of bums and bits.

Solid Rust Twotter
5th Mar 2006, 07:27
Father Ted, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, The New Statesman and a couple of others in that vein for TV but radio has to be the home of the truly great.

Who can ever forget The Goon Show or Pete and Dud?

5th Mar 2006, 10:11
I believe that Steptoe and Son and `Til Death Do Us Part both deserve honourable mentions in this area.


5th Mar 2006, 11:06
There were also some '50s series such as 'The Army Game' and 'My Wife's Sister' which were gems in their time. The US also produced some good ones before the unfunny present crop (ie after about 1975), eg I Married Joan, the immortal I Love Lucy, and the Beverley Hillbillies.

5th Mar 2006, 14:16
I love the earlier Absolutely Fabulouses.

And I'm not gay, I'm relatively sure....

Rick Storm
5th Mar 2006, 15:22
My favourite tv comedy was "It ain't arf hot mum" but I doubt in these days of pc it's not on dvd.

5th Mar 2006, 19:07
Fret not, Rick, the PC wallahs haven't won yet!
Search on Amazon.co.uk for
Ain't Half Hot Mum

(I can't get the direct link to work).

5th Mar 2006, 20:10
Whilst "I'm Alan Partridge" is not particularly old, I rate it as the funniest comedy I have ever seen

Little Blue
5th Mar 2006, 20:24
Agree, Alan Partridge is a rare work of comic brilliance, although my missis hates it with a passion. As did the ex-wife, so maybe it's a female thing.
The Goodies were on BBC2 last night, and it was the 1st time I've watched an episode since the 70's. It was a bit dated, but it brought a warm glow to me heart. Like welcoming home an old friend.
Otherwise, there's not much around at the moment that makes me laugh out loud.
I know it's a Yank comedy, but how good is "My name is Earl" ?
Sheer genius, IMO.

5th Mar 2006, 20:52
I think I must be a bit strange..............I always seem to like totally off-the-wall comedies, none of which have been mentioned here.

Does anyone remember any of the following??

That's Love
Colin's Sandwich
The Fast Show
Chelmsford 123
Cardiac Arrest
Surgical Spirit

Where did they all go?? :{

I also liked Python, Fawlty Towers, Benny Hill, The 2 Ronnies and currently Little Britain and No Angels.

5th Mar 2006, 21:05
Certainly remember Cardiac Arrest - enjoyed that! Always remember the line spoken to junior nurse saying 'she wasn't very old' - 'she's dead, you don't get any older than that'. What happened to Helen Baxendale?

5th Mar 2006, 21:23
Agree with Drapes that "The Thick of It" was well up there at the top of the recent crop. Also think C4's "Green Wing", and series one of "The Office" will stand up well to the test of time.

Favourite oldie for me... Dad's Army. Every one a winner.

5th Mar 2006, 22:29
Green Wing is returning with a new series soon.

Romeo Charlie
5th Mar 2006, 22:48
Does anyone remember any of the following??

Chelmsford 123

Yep, I remember that one well, it starred Rory McGrath if I remember correctly. I used to watch it in my student days.

6th Mar 2006, 04:58
Oooh, Helen Baxendale. ;) 'Friends' dint do 'er no 'arm.

Waiting for God was brilliant. The chap reminds me of a school teacher from me yoof. Straight up and down, Guardsman voice. Took no lip.
Must say, I'm Alan Partridge, the few times I caught it, had some hilarious moments.
And it had to be Yes, Minister for the wit and pacing of the dialogue, which only the Brits can do well.

6th Mar 2006, 08:43
A colleague told me about this 'Fast Show,' which I had never heard of. The little sketches with the weather lady, her magnet stickers and 'Scorchio!' were tiny jewelled masterpieces of the comic genre. Well that's what I thought. The whole schtick of a cheesy TV news show, with the men being so full of themselves and laughing at poor Carla when her stickers wouldn't stick, plus they had plywood rostra and she didn't. It cracked me up because it used basic human nature as its point of departure.

Every generation has its own brand of humour. I have a book somewhere, 'Mark Twain's Anthology of American Humor' from about 125 years ago. Some of the stuff is funny and still fresh but other pieces, you wonder what the point was. And yet that stuff was making audiences roll in the aisles back when. Of course, popular taste is a poor judge of quality.

When I was still commuting to Africa I used to watch 'Little Britain' and 'Alan Partridge' on the IFE. Not bad, not bad... I see Vicky Pollards every day on Mile End Road and I have worked with several Alan Partridges. Just the other day there was a headline about some mother trying to sell her baby in the local rag. I didn't bother to buy it to find out if she wanted a CD in exchange.

6th Mar 2006, 08:54
Never liked Alan Partridge but then I never liked comedies based on a leading character that was stupid. Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em was, I suppose, the daddy of the genre but there have been others - Ever Decreasing Circles springs to mind. Richard Briers was great in The Good Life but when he came to play a bit of a dick in Ever Decreasing Circles it just made me cringe. Likewise, The Britas Empire which is a bit odd as I liked Chris Barrie in Red Dwarf where he played a similar sort of twit. He wasn't the lead in that, though.

Anyway, enough negativity. My all time favourite has to be Blackadder. Series One wasn't brilliant but once Ben Elton had joined Richard Curtis to write series two onwards, it became an absolute classic. Intelligent writing combined with nob jokes, the perfect combination :}

6th Mar 2006, 10:25
Balix : agree, can't stand Alan Partridge. The best has to be Flowery Twats er sorry; Fatty Owls; oh what WAS it called.

6th Mar 2006, 10:29
I'm putting in another vote for Dad's Army. Great stuff and perfect for a wet Sunday Afternoon.

'What is your name'?

'Don't tell him, Pike'.


Fawlty Towers and Only Fools And Horses.

Worst was that awful PC BBC 1 programme with Jasper Carrot married to an Indian Lady who had a handicapped son :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk:

6th Mar 2006, 10:40
Not a single mention for 'The Office' or unforgivably, 'The Day Today'. (The birthplace of Alan Partridge for those who have yet to see the light).

6th Mar 2006, 11:09
Has anybody ever watched any comedians performing at that edinburgh show thing??I think they are just trying to stretch the notion of 'comedy' as far as they can in order to change their 'art' as they see it.99% of it is un-bloody-funny and its rather obvious that the majority of the audience who clap and cheer dont know wtf the punchline is but seek to appear cultured,forward thinking and bohemian by their attendance.

6th Mar 2006, 12:02
The Day Today - ah yes! "The whirling blades of death approached the childrens heads" about a helicopter landing on a school playing field. I often think of that quote when I read media reports about the aviation industry!

As for the best - Yes, (Prime) Minister

Followed by Dad's Army.

Every time they're on UK Gold, I watch them without fail.

6th Mar 2006, 13:25
Anything with Ronnie Barker. He did a feature film once called 'Futtocks End'; lasted about one and a half hours; it was almost entirely visual gags, the actors muttered but you couldn't understand what they said and it was HILARIOUS! Written by Gerald Wiley, and we all know who he was don't we?

6th Mar 2006, 13:30
Do you always keep your pocket shepherd in a safe place, Panda?

6th Mar 2006, 14:43
I think I must be a bit strange..............I always seem to like totally off-the-wall comedies, none of which have been mentioned here.
Does anyone remember any of the following??
That's Love
Colin's Sandwich
The Fast Show
Chelmsford 123
Cardiac Arrest
Surgical Spirit
Where did they all go?? :{
I also liked Python, Fawlty Towers, Benny Hill, The 2 Ronnies and currently Little Britain and No Angels.

I remember "Colin's Sandwich" and also "The Fast Show" from those two.
We did have many shows that fell into shadow over the years.

Does anyone remember "So Haunt Me" with Maureen Lipman? or "A Small Problem" with Christopher Ryan and "Private Schulz" with Michael Elphick and Ian Richardson.
The trouble these days is that a lot of ideas have been done and it's very difficult to make something that is entirely original.
I hate it when a new comedy show is advertised and it's always listed as being "from the writers of...." usually when that happens, you know 9 times out of 10 that it won't be funny.
One of the main reasons why a lot of British comedies are successful is that they stop before they run out of ideas. eg "The Office" and "Fawlty Towers" both shows lasted just 2 series and then that was it, apart from the 2-part special of The Office.
The US version of The Office has been dragging out for week after week, I'm surprised it's still being aired. The first few episodes were a direct reading of the same BBC script, with just names and places changed. There was no comic timing and they had to hurry it slightly to make room for 2 commercial breaks.
I'm surprised no one here has also mentioned "Hancock's Half Hour" which did just as well on tv than it did on the radio.

eastern wiseguy
6th Mar 2006, 15:09
"So Haunt Me" with Maureen Lipman

Funny show ...but I don't think it was Maureen Lipman....I think it was the woman who was in THE RAG TRADE .....years old that show...but I can't remember her name!!

6th Mar 2006, 15:13
Ah who could forget the class of 'On the Buses' and 'Love thy Neighbour'

6th Mar 2006, 15:18
Slightly off-topic but..does anybody else think that the standards of cartoons has dropped over the years where special effects and graphics seem to have overtaken the need for substance and quality?

Similar in computers also,I downloaded a zx spectrum emulator the other day and spent quite a while playing my favorite game of 'jetpac' from 25 years ago.Much more playable than the super charged graphical overdoses many games today have to offer.

6th Mar 2006, 15:19
Funny show ...but I don't think it was Maureen Lipman....I think it was the woman who was in THE RAG TRADE .....years old that show...but I can't remember her name!!

You're right, I just looked it up on imdb.co.uk
It was Miriam Karlin who played the character of Yetta Feldman

How about The Likely Lads and Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads?

6th Mar 2006, 15:20
and...The young ones??? Auf wiedersehen pet??


6th Mar 2006, 15:28
Slightly off-topic but..does anybody else think that the standards of cartoons has dropped over the years where special effects and graphics seem to have overtaken the need for substance and quality?
Similar in computers also,I downloaded a zx spectrum emulator the other day and spent quite a while playing my favorite game of 'jetpac' from 25 years ago.Much more playable than the super charged graphical overdoses many games today have to offer.

Yes, I hated it when they "updated" Captain Pugwash and used computers to do the graphics. Also when they tried to be all PC with The Wombles.

6th Mar 2006, 15:58
Cartoons certainly not what they were, and they seem to be 'resting' two of my favourites - Road Runner, and The Red & The Blue.

6th Mar 2006, 16:47
Oooohh, I nearly forgot...............Perfect World.

I thought it was very amusing - not that old but seemingly never to be repeated. :{

6th Mar 2006, 17:37
When I was a kid, paradise was watching Wile E. Coyote trying to exterminate the Roadrunner. Every gadget, every scheme... it all backfired. Sort of like George W. Bush, except that no one is laughing. Oh, they are?

When I was newly married I tried to convince my German wife that the 'English' did too have a sense of humour. I went off to Verden to check out the 'Videotheque' across from the British barracks, hoping to find 'Fawlty Towers' or something similar. All they had, aside from thousands of horrible, violent or else soft porn films, was 'Personal Services,' based on 'the Luncheon Voucher madame,' Cynthia Payne.

I was creasing myself watching the transvestite Wing Commander, 'Unhand me! I flew 100 missions over enemy territory in bra and panties!' being hauled off by two beefy coppers with his little legs dangling. Meanwhile my wife was sat there sober as a judge.

She finally turned to ask, 'I do nott understand! If this is meant to be funny I do nott find it amusing. If it is meant to be erotic, I do nott find it stimulating!'

What, 'Slave Rodney' set to cleaning the cooker was something to be taken seriously? Okay, but....

I don't have a television at present. It's something to do with not having the time to watch or the money for a set plus the license fee. And, anyway, a lot of the stuff I like, what I am used to, is long gone. I think one really must be in tune with the 'Zeitgeist' to enjoy what's on nowadays. Otherwise one just doesn't get the jokes.

We have a couple of biochemistry students sharing the flat. One is from China and the other is from Korea. The other night one asked me, 'Aaah, what so funny about orange juice?' They both nodded earnestly, looking for me to explain this cultural artifact.

'I'm sorry, but did you say "orange juice?"'

'Yes, on TV. Man just say, 'orange juice' and everybody laugh. What so funny about orange juice?

All I could figure out, from what they told me, is that it was a sketch where the character went into a pub and ordered an orange juice instead of a pint. It took a little while to get across the idea of what a 'pub' is, what a 'pint' is and why it might be funny to ask for an orange juice in a pub. Whew!

Next perhaps we should run the restaurant sketch from 'Monty Python' where the customer complains about a dirty fork and see what they make of that!

6th Mar 2006, 18:28
I know it's not British, but anyone a fan of "Kath & Kim"?

6th Mar 2006, 22:00
In addition to (most of) those mentioned, a vote for...
I Didn't Know You Cared
The Young Ones
and 'Allo 'Allo (which has its own thread somewhere)
"the British bummers are still farting for freedom"

7th Mar 2006, 02:55
Cor dear me! Here we are on page four and Eric and Ern have only had a passing mention.

Brilliant stuff, and Eric was one of the nicest blokes ever.

Sad, but a search for Morcambe and Wise on Amazon returns nowt.

Happy days,


henry crun
7th Mar 2006, 03:54
PaperTiger: You mention "I Didn't Know You Cared".

The lad asked Uncle Mort what sex was like, "Well" says he, "It's not as good as rugby league and only marginally better than whippet racing". :D

Loose rivets
7th Mar 2006, 04:11
So you think that's funny do you??!!!!!


9th Mar 2006, 18:08
Had a girlfriend once who worked in a large department store in Croydon (PA to GM). Ernie Wise and several others often appeared there for special promos. She says he always demanded his fee cash in hand before appearing.