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Top 10 Cult British Sitcoms


Script written by Sean Harris From local radio to local shops, heavy drinking and hospital beds. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 cult British sitcoms! For this list, we’ve gathered some unconventional comedies for a strange and surreal look at the finest and funniest UK shows. All of today’s entries boast a dedicated fan base, but if classic comedy is more your thing, or you’ve a liking for the modern greats, then be sure to check out our other videos to satisfy your sitcom urges. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Cult British Sitcoms


From local radio to local shops, heavy drinking and hospital beds. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 cult British sitcoms!

For this list, we’ve gathered some unconventional comedies for a strange and surreal look at the finest and funniest UK shows. All of today’s entries boast a dedicated fan base, but if classic comedy is more your thing, or you’ve a liking for the modern greats, then be sure to check out our other videos to satisfy your sitcom urges.

#10: “The Mighty Boosh” (2004-07)

We start as we mean to go on, with off the wall humour and confusing-but-quotable jokes. “The Mighty Boosh” is a three-series sojourn through space and time, spearheaded by Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, the most prominent figures in the titular comedy troupe. A mystical, musical celebration of silliness, it sees Howard Moon and Vince Noir muddle through misadventures in the Zooniverse in season one, struggle to get their band off the ground in season two, and expertly mismanage the Nabootique in their third run. We can also thank Boosh for the ‘crimp’, an unorthodox brand of a capella music which, if you haven’t heard already, will quickly become your new favourite thing.

#9: “Nighty Night” (2004-05)

From its opening scene it’s clear that “Nighty Night” knows very few boundaries. Kicking off with a cancer diagnosis, writer and creator Julia Davis gets very dark very quickly, for a show which sees the wife of a terminally ill man break every moral code going. Jill plays the widow but wants her husband to die, and with Terry’s condition gradually improving throughout the first series she pulls out all the stops to get her way. Season two sees Jill further pit her wayward wits against Cath, an MS sufferer and wife to Don, who’s played by Angus Deayton and is apple of Jill’s eye. It’s definitely not for the easily offended, but TV sociopaths are rarely better than this.

#8: “Black Books” (2000-04)

As a two-time BAFTA winner and receiver of widespread acclaim, “Black Books” is one of the biggest critical successes to make today’s countdown. A show created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan, it centres on the day-to-day lives of Bookshop owner Bernard Black, his accountant-turned-assistant Manny, and his only friend, Fran. As Bernard’s shop slowly falls victim to waning sales, pest invasions and his own intolerance for customers, it falls to Manny and Fran to try and inject some enthusiasm into the place. But Bernard is having none of it. A moany, groany, delightfully downbeat meander through the world of retail and the seemingly doomed plight of a print media salesman, “Black Books” hits exactly the right note.

#7: “The Thick of It” (2005-12)

If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of government, and if your local legislation has ever left you struggling to find the right swear word, then “The Thick of It” should be right up your sitcom street. The show uncovers an inside story to British party politics and its routinely problematic relationship with the media, the workforce and the general public. Largely centred on the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, the show’s most famous son is the formidable Malcolm Tucker, a savage spin doctor and overall enforcer. Not since Shakespeare has one man magicked so many new words – only most of Malcolm’s are outrageously offensive. ‘Omnishambles’ did make it into the OED though, so good on him!

#6: “The Young Ones” (1982-84)

A crop of unruly undergrads; a bleak and soiled student house; occasional outbreaks of extreme violence; regular performances by leading rock bands. “The Young Ones” doesn’t comply with typical sitcom conventions, but it led the way for alternative comedy in the early ‘80s. Vyvyan, Rick, Neil and Mike are thrown together for the sake of their education, but chaos quickly descends, with Ade Edmondson’s iconic punk usually at the centre of it. The show served as a springboard for Rick Mayall too, who co-wrote and starred, while the guest cast list reads like a who’s who of comedy at the time. From male pregnancies to casual decapitations and not-so-hardcore parties, this show sure raised some hell.

#5: “I’m Alan Partridge” (1997-2002)

You’d be hard pushed to find a more endlessly quotable comedy character than Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge. A spoof radio star turned TV icon, he’s unashamedly narcissistic and obliviously out of touch. But that’s exactly why we love him. With two series released five years apart, “I’m Alan Partridge” sees the serial showman struggle with low points in his life. Whether he’s working the graveyard shift on local Radio Norwich or recovering from an off-screen mental breakdown and Toblerone addiction, the trademark smirk rarely wavers and the Partridgisms flow freely. He lives in a hotel, he can definitely tell entertaining anecdotes, and he doesn’t like Joni Mitchell. But he’s Alan Partridge, and he can do what he wants.

#4: “Absolutely Fabulous” (1992-96)

Staying on top of the latest trends is a tough business, but Ab Fab’s Eddie and Patsy have devoted their lives to it nonetheless. That and drinking heavily. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley star as the have-a-go socialites, hell bent on staying cool no matter what the cost. With only Eddie’s daughter Saffy to offer any semblance of normality, they’re a double act always one drink away from disaster. And it so easy to get hooked on their melodramatic misadventures. So, if you haven’t already, ‘best notify your next of kin’, invite them all round and take inspiration from Eddie and Patsy’s liquor habit – and binge watch the whole show. You won’t regret it.

#3: “The League of Gentlemen” (1999-2002)

Not to be confused with the similarly-named Sean Connery film, “The League of Gentlemen” is black comedy at its brutal best. It started on the stage before converting to TV around the turn of the century, skirting the line between weird sketch show and even weirder sitcom. The surreal action takes place in Royston Vasey, a closed-off community unlike any other. Every character, regardless of gender, is played by the show’s four male writers, and almost everyone has strange or sinister intentions at their core. A self-confessed local place for local people, the town sign warns ‘You’ll never leave’. But if close to the bone comedy is your jam, then why would you want to?

#2: “Spaced” (1999-2001)

Edgar Wright takes the director’s chair for this early Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes comedy, and a stylised trip into the lives and minds of two twenty-somethings trying to find ways to kill time in their small city flat. Tim and Daisy meet following a random encounter while separately house hunting, and decide to pitch up together in a bid to find a better place. Various friends, lovers and lodgers stop by to spice things up as well, for a series packed with pop culture references, deep and meaningful conversations, and drug-induced daytime raving. It’s today’s runner up, and Tim’s packin’ jaffa cakes to celebrate.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

"A Touch of Cloth" (2012-14)

“Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” (2004)

“Green Wing” (2004-07)

#1: “Red Dwarf” (1988-99)

Sci-fi meets sitcom for today’s winner, with a cult following to trounce anything else in the universe. “Red Dwarf” first took flight in 1988, with eight series completing an original run which lasted over a decade. The show sees the crew of the eponymous spaceship travel through galaxies encountering otherworldly creatures, while the spaced-up setting proves backdrop for some spectacular on-board bickering, especially between Craig Charles’ Lister and Chris Barrie’s Rimmer. The service mechanoid Kryten is another inexhaustible resource for funniness, even if he is hardwired to keep it clean, while well-received reboots in 2012 and 2016 prove it once and for all; “Red Dwarf” is still the best smegging show on TV.
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