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British Comedy TV - Best British Comedies on Television

Updated on April 19, 2017

My Best British Comedy TV Top 25 List

There have been so many great British comedy TV shows over the years. This list is my pick of the best British sitcoms that I particularly enjoy. Sit coms or situation comedies are TV series that are set in a particular situation and have an ongoing storyline and regular characters. My favorite British comedy TV series list features some of the best British stand up comedians and comedy actors. My choice varies in themes, situations and comedy styles but are those that have particularly suited my taste of comedy, from political satire to the surreal!

If you love comedies, you might also like to visit my 10 Best Comedy Movies of All Time lens!

What Makes a Great British Comedy TV Show?
What Makes a Great British Comedy TV Show?

What Makes a Great British Comedy TV Show?

I have chosen the following for my best British comedies list because they are consistently good comedy throughout each episode. They are also easily watchable, whether they are old comedies or recent TV shows. In fact, many of the comedies on my list could be called comedy classics but I have also included a few great new comedy shows as well.

What I particularly enjoy is the way that these comedies make fun of particular character traits, situations or events that are familiar to everyone. And what these comedy shows do best is to exaggerate these familiar aspects of life and put a whole new comic twist to them!

I've split up my list of best British comedy shows into sections, defined by the type of comic style.

Surreal and Weird British Comedy Shows

Only in the weird and obscure corners of comedy, lurk such surreal characters as these! Perfect comedies for those with a warped sense of humor.

The League of Gentlemen - a bleak, dark and very funny comedy TV series, set in the town of Royston Vasey. This is the story of the local inhabitants of the very weird world of the League of Gentleman - starring Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith who play many of the strange characters. This is a comedy show like no other, you'll either love it or hate it.

The Mighty Boosh - stars Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, as Vince and Howard. And follows them in their surreal every-day life and other weird adventures from being zoo-keepers to working in a shaman's boutique.

My favorite off-the-wall and surreal British comedies:

  • The League of Gentlemen
  • The Mighty Boosh
  • Psychoville
  • Absolutely Fabulous
  • Ideal

Top British Comedies with an Historical Twist

Alternative British comedy set in different time periods:

Jeeves & Wooster - based on the the hugely funny PG Wodehouse novels is the story of Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie) - an upper class twit and his manservant Jeeves (Stephen Fry). Wodehouse's keen ridiculing of 1920's upper classes and their view of the real-world.

Blackadder - starring Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder and his ever faithful servant Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson. Follows Blackadder in different time periods as they deal with life and historical peoples of the time. Including a series during Elizabeth I reign and in the trenches of World War I.

'Allo 'Allo - Its WWII and in a cafe in France, Rene a long suffering cafe owner struggles to balance his loyalites to his country with the French Resistance and his fear for his life with the occupying German officers. And inevitably lurches into one ridiculous situation after another!

All the Best British Comedies Have a Misfit

One of the things I love about British comedies, is how they make fun of the tragically misguided misfits:

Alan Partridge - Steve Coogan's most famous alter-ego, surely must be one of the most tragic and lonely of all the comedy characters? Alan Partridge who starts of with a own chat show on the BBC but ultimately ends up living at a motel. This is pure cringe-worthy comedy-tragedy. And played brilliantly by Coogan, who manages to make you feel sorry for Alan, even when he really has no redeeming qualities!

Black Books - starring Dylan Moran as the most obnoxious book shop owner ever and cruel employer to assistant Bill Bailey, who is ever the optimistic shop! This show is so funny!

Also checkout Marion and Geoff - about a very lonely taxi driver who basically monologues optimistically about his 2 kids and his estranged wife. Black comedy and an excellent performance by Rob Brydon.

Nathan Barley who desperately wants to be cool and the next big thing. You can watch this on YouTube - though this might be just for the UK.

Plus another tragic misfit, Saxondale also a great creation from Steve Coogan, possibly more likeable than Alan Partridge but still a very grumpy sad old man struggling to fit in!

Political and Satirical British Comedy

From the comic genuis of Ronnie Barker in Porridge which is set in Slade prison. To Absolute Power, with Stephen Fry, a master of spin and managing reputations in his PR company. British Comedy at it's Best!

  • Thick of It
  • Yes Prime Minister
  • Absolute Power
  • Drop the Dead Donkey

Geek Comedy

I'm a bit of a geek, this is probably why I love comedies like Red Dwarf, Spaced and IT Crowd!

IT Crowd Video Clip

Where Moz tries to cope with the office fire:

Best New British Comedy TV of 2010

Couple of recent and very good comedies that I have started watching are The Inbetweeners (started in 2008 but this latest 2010 series is the best so far) and Phoneshop (new in 2010).

For more of my fave Britcoms from 2010, check out my new lens, listed below.

What are your favorite British comedy TV shows? Have you seen any of the ones I've listed above?

Your Favorite British Comedy TV Shows?

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    • Spirality profile image

      Spirality 3 years ago

      The Vicar of Dibley

    • wulfguard profile image

      wulfguard 4 years ago

      Fools and horses was the best British comedy I have ever seen, its also rumoured that there is going to be an american version, however that will pan out, a lot of great comedies listed, great lens!

    • James1978 profile image

      James1978 5 years ago

      As a Brit myself, I have lots of favourites. I would put Only Fools and Horses, The Royle Family, Fawlty Towers, One Foot in the Grave and The Likely Lads at the top of the list.

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      My favourites are all old school British comedy like Mr Bean and Fawlty Towers. But one recent one that I love is the IT Crowd. I have featured this page on my British comedy Lens "Classic English Comedy TV Shows"

    • IQplusone profile image

      IQplusone 5 years ago

      I love Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Dad's Army & Only Fools and Horses are two to name a few but there are so many to choose from.

    • Surreymagic profile image

      Surreymagic 5 years ago

      A great compilation of great British comedy! I will add this to my "British Squidoo lenses" lens!

    • Surreymagic profile image

      Surreymagic 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes! Green Wing was up there with "Peep Show" in innovation. Just about everything was excellent in Green Wing- perfectly cast, written and filmed..and hilarious!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      So many classic shows to choose from. I added this to my Classic British Television Comedies lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Not bad, but how on earth could you make a list like this and not have Green Wing on it?!?

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 6 years ago

      You have so many of my favourites here - League of Gentlemen, Psychoville, Black Books, Red Dwarf, Blackadder. In fact you are only missing Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Goodies, Bottom and The Young Ones. Great lens.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 6 years ago from Michigan

      I got hooked on "Dad's Army" when it ran on my local PBS station many years ago. Seems like it only had one run, unfortunately.

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      One of my favorites is Keeping Up Appearances. And I've always loved Jeeves & Wooster.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago from Redcar

      Good choices. Enjoyed your lense

    • singlemaltdram profile image

      singlemaltdram 6 years ago

      Nice Lens! I'm Alan Partridge is my all time favourite. Really love Berry and Fulcher's Snuff Box though, for a bit of off colour stuff.

    • profile image

      HarrisonTheMod 6 years ago

      Richard Ayoade does some great acting in The IT Crowd

    • JoolsObsidian LM profile image

      JoolsObsidian LM 6 years ago

      Great choice of British comedies!!! Have you seen 'Misfits' it is worth checking out, it is outrageous and funny.

    • profile image

      inksquid9 6 years ago

      Thumbs up and lensrolled.

    • bestcomedyfilms profile image
      Author

      bestcomedyfilms 6 years ago from UK

      @rewards4life info: Thanks! yeah I love Brass Eye also and Chris Morris is very funny in the IT Crowd too!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 6 years ago

      Some good comedies here, love them all. Very hard to pick a favourite but League of Gentlemen and Alan Partridge are certainly up there. Should check out Brass Eye by Chris Morris, same sort of humour, he's a genius. Nice lens.

    • gideon43 profile image

      gideon43 6 years ago

      The Inbetweeners, The Office, Only Fools and Horses, Extras, Blackadder, many more.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have only seen Fawlty Towers so thats what I can suggest.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I like the old Monty Python series and also The Office ...