1. THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1999-2002).
Based in a fictional village called Royston Vasey, we follow a rather surreal, interweaving story that chronicles the mundane lives of such diverse, bizarre characters as: a transsexual taxi driver, a high-maintenance restart officer, a couple that never stop arguing, a frightening carnival owner who kidnaps women into marriage, and a xenophobic couple who run a local shop for local people. You will struggle to find a comedy as dark as The League of Gentlemen, so if you have a weak stomach or simply prefer harmless one-liners, this may not be for you.
Friends Daisy and Tim, 30-something Londoners with uncertain futures and lacklustre lives, after a chance encounter, must pretend to be a couple to live in the only flat they can afford. They find themselves living with some unlikely characters along the way. For fans of sci-fi and horror as well as the team that brought you Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this is a must-see!
The show focuses on three staff members of Reynholm Industries’ IT department: the lazy, woman-seeking Roy Trenneman (O’Dowd), a nerdy genius named Maurice Moss (Ayoade), and Jen Barber (Parkinson), the Relationship Manager/department head, of whom a knowledge of IT has clearly escaped. The IT Crowd is nothing short of ideal for fans of character-based comedies, and if you’re lucky/unlucky enough to have ever worked in IT, this is surely pertinent.
A sci-fi comedy featuring the adventures of the last human being alive, a hologram of his former bunkmate, a creature that has evolved from the ship’s cat, and a mechanoid (to name but a few). The crew are stranded 3 million years into deep space on the mining ship Red Dwarf. The eccentricity and vast plethora of wacky storylines and screwball characters are more than enough to keep you intrigued.
Howard Moon and Vince Noir have utterly surreal adventures while working at a zoo managed by the disturbed Bob Fossil (in series 1) and pursuing a career as musicians while living with a mystic and an ape (in series 2 and 3). One word: bizarre. However, the writing/acting of the two protagonists is intellectually flawless and delivered effortlessly.
Larry David is living the life: he has a devoted wife, great friends, a successful career, a large home… what could possibly go wrong? This semi-autobiographical observational comedy presents a self-deprecating, cringeworthy look at his life. This isn’t a show with one-liners. Nevertheless, what we are subjected to is sheer enjoyment – Larry David successfully pissing everyone off through manipulation or tomfoolery.
Alan Partridge is a failed television host whose previous shenanigans had featured in the chat-show parody Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. He is now presenting a daily show on local radio in Norwich. Comedy gold! You can guarantee that at one point in the show, you will be biting your fist due to Alan inexplicably ruining someone’s day with his unrelentingly honest comments.
A 20-something female who moves into a flat next door to two intellectually brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the lab. What shouldn’t really be a successful television comedy, with scientific know-how that is way beyond the grasp of your Average Joe, is ultimately superlative. The balance between the characters’ charm and the unmerciful geekiness is perfect.
Set in a rather run-down bedsit owned by a mean yet cowardly landlord, Rigsby, the show focuses on the exploits of his long-suffering tenants. An all-time classic, Rising Damp was renowned for its quick-witted British humour from the legend that was Leonard Rossiter.
The story of Wernham Hogg, a paper company that is facing closure when the bosses decide to downsize its branches. A documentary film crew follow its staff and the manager, David Brent, as they continue their daily routines. Quite simply, The Office is the quintessential black comedy – there are no jokes as such; nonetheless, we have Ricky Gervais and his masterful performance as the annoying yet irrefutably funny David Brent.