99 problems but a sit(uation comedy) ain’t one…
There have been countless lists ranking the UK’s creme de la creme of the sitcom world. But after The Radio Times ranked Mrs Brown’s Boys as the ‘Best Sitcom of the 21st Century’, Ellie Montgomery felt that justice must be served to those comedy classics which often get overlooked…
No. 10 – Ballot Monkeys (2015)
Following Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems and UKIP as they campaign for success in the general election on their respective buses, this The Thick of It-esque series offers a refreshing response to the current political landscape. Episodes were broadcast within hours of writing and production to ensure the most up to date topical references. The series was also followed by the equally hilarious Power Monkeys which depicts the events leading up to the EU referendum.
No. 9 – Wild West (2002)
Dawn French and Catherine Tate play lesbian lovers, need I say more? This quirky sitcom depicts community life in a small seaside town in the West Country. The black comedy exposes the important and intimate relationships which exist amongst those who reject city living, often exploring the insecurities and selfishness which accompanies human nature. Heart-warming and ultimately impossible not to enjoy, this show deserves more recognition.
No. 8 – Twenty Twelve (2011)
A mockumentary following the struggles of the Olympic planning committee as they attempt to make the ever drawing nearer event at least a partial success. The series offers a painfully accurate insight into the ridiculousness of corporate organisation through an eclectic mix of disgustingly incompetent characters. The hilarious contrast of Jessica Hynes’ farcical performance as Head of Brand, Siobhan Sharpe, and David Tennant’s sardonic narration is just one of the many highlights of this programme.
No. 7 – The League of Gentlemen (1999)
Before Mark Gatiss’ dizzying heights as the co-creator of Sherlock, he co-wrote and co-starred in this disturbing yet hilarious black comedy alongside Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson. Set in the terrifying town of ‘Royson Vasey’ in which Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown is inexplicably mayor, this series invokes delight and horror in equal measure.
No. 6 – Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge (1994)
The prequel to I’m Alan Partridge, features an Alan before his chat show was axed yet he’s just as offensive and oblivious as ever. Rebecca Front’s reoccurring appearances as various guests is both faultless and extremely funny. The intentionally shoddy aesthetics alongside Steve Coogan’s calculated inadequacy as Alan illustrates the witty perfection of this show. As it is often overlooked in favour of the subsequent production of I’m Alan Partridge, it is a vital, and in my opinion superior, addition to the list of comedy greats.
No. 5 – Phoenix Nights (2001)
Depicting a Bolton-based working men’s club owned by Brian Potter (Peter Kay), we see the trials and tribulations of the dodgy dealer attempting to make Phoenix Nights the best drinking establishment in Greater Manchester. Gritty and intricately sardonic, this comedy reflects the importance of surreal realism alongside the turn of the century.
No. 4 – Getting On (2009)
Written and starring Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, this dark and often difficult to watch comedy addresses issues faced by both the NHS and the elderly. Set on a geriatric ward in a busy London hospital, the cast explores the difficult relationships that exist between patients, nurses and doctors which are often tarnished by systems of social class and unjust stereotyping.
No. 3 – The Mighty Boosh (2003)
This weirdly wonderful world is full of psychedeic colours, an atmosphere in which modernity collides with fairy-tale. Although this programme has definitely reached cult status, there are few sitcom countdowns which would bother with granting it the acknowledgment it is entitled to.
No. 2 – Black Books (2000)
Focusing on the hedonistic lifestyles of three people taking refuge in an independent bookshop in order to avoid civilised society, Dylan Moran satirises the desire to remain averse to modern living. In this universe, the bleak misanthropy of Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) is accompanied by outstanding performances from Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig, making this a vital comedy which deserves appreciation.
No. 1 – Green Wing (2004)
This surrealist hospital sitcom is one of the most perfectly executed comedies to emerge within the 21st century. An absolutely stellar cast including Mark Heap, Michelle Gomez, Stephen Mangan, Olivia Colman and Pippa Haywood (to name just a few!) propels this unique and innovative series to the number one spot on this list. Intertwining the realities of hospital life with the totally bizarre, audiences can see a woman giving birth to a lion, as well as an anaesthetist taking an ambulance for a joy ride.
(Image: Den of Geek)