Wednesday, 30 March 2016

19 Comedies from the 1970s that Will Get You Hooked on British Humour

The Brits have a very interesting sense of humour. Anyone who has watched a sitcom from there will understand that quite well. However, many people haven't had the good fortune of doing so. With this post, I hope to change that. Here are 19 British comedies from the 1970s that you'll want to check out.
An Infographic/Poster Showing An Example of a British Comedy from the 1970s

1. Fawlty Towers (1975 - 1979)

Fawlty Towers Image with the Four Main Characters
Fawlty Towers is a 12-episode, BBC sitcom written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. The series is rather short as it has only two seasons with 6 episodes per season. The story takes place at the titular hotel, Fawlty Towers (a fictitious location in Devon, England). The show features over-the-top scenarios that occur at the hotel and chronicles the lives of the four main characters. More specifically, they are Basil and Sybil Fawlty (the married couple who owns Fawlty Towers), Polly (the maid) and Manuel (the foreign waiter from Spain).

2. Are You Being Served? (1972 - 1985)

Are You Being Served Image of Full Cast
Are You Being Served? is a sitcom that was born from the minds of Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Like Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served? was originally broadcast by the BBC. The show is ten seasons long with 69 episodes in total. The show takes place in the clothing section of a department store called Grace Brothers. It portrays the hilarity that ensues as the employees of the store go about interacting with both the customers and each other.

Are You Being Served? has garnered a large international audience and it is still regularly broadcast to this day.

3. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969 - 1974)

A Montage of Scenes from Monty Python's Flying Circus
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (also known as just "Monty Python") is a sketch comedy series starring the Monty Python group. The sketches on the show are often surreal in nature and feature various types of comedy including bawdy jokes and purely visual humour. The series also contains animated portions done by Terry Gilliam (one of the Pythons) who was a cartoonist early on in his career.

4. Open All Hours (1973 - 1985)

A still from Open All Hours showing two of the main cast members
Open All Hours is a sitcom that was made by Roy Clarke for the BBC. The entire series is four seasons long with 26 episodes in total. Even though the first season only began in 1976, the show originally started in 1973 with a pilot that was broadcast as part of a comedy anthology series called Seven of One. The show is set in a small grocery store in South Yorkshire.

5. Dad's Army (1968 - 1977)

A group photo of the cast of Dad's Army
Dad's Army is a BBC television sitcom written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. The sitcom ran for nine seasons and 80 episodes in total. The show takes a comedic look at the British Home Guard during the Second World War. The Home Guard was a group of local volunteers who were not fit for the military often because of age (which is why the show is called "Dad's Army"). The series consistently generated large audiences of millions of people during its original run and it is still shown worldwide today.

6. Porridge (1974 - 1977)

A still from the UK TV series "Porridge"
Porridge is another sitcom that was written for the BBC, this time by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. It is composed of three seasons and there were also two Christmas specials and a feature film made for the series. The setting of the show is a fictional prison called the HMP Slade. The stars of the show are two inmates played by Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale. The name of the show comes from the British slang phrase "Doing porridge" which refers to doing time in prison as porridge was once a staple meal in UK prisons.

7. Steptoe and Son (1962 - 1974)

A still photograph showing Albert and Harold Steptoe
Steptoe and Son was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. The show spans eight seasons and was initially broadcast on the BBC. The show follows a father and son as they run their rag-and-bone (i.e., junk trading) business. The series was remade in several countries such as the United States (Sanford and Son), Sweden (Albert & Herbert) and the Netherlands (Stiefbeen en zoon). There were two film adaptations released for the series: one in 1972 (Steptoe and Son) and one in 1973 (Steptoe and Son Ride Again). Additionally, a documentary (When Steptoe Met Son) and a TV play (The Curse of Steptoe) were made about the series.

8. Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973 - 1978)

A still from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em depicting Frank Spencer
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em is a another BBC release, created by Raymond Allen. The show ran for three seasons. It stars Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice as Frank and Betty Spencer. It follows Frank's journey to find a suitable job and all of the mishaps that accompany it. The show was well-received by viewers, being ranked as Britain's 22nd all-time best sitcom in a 2004 poll. Furthermore, many of the sayings on the show have received frequent usage in popular culture.

9. The Good Life/Good Neighbours (1975 - 1978)

An image of the two main characters from The Good Life: Tom Good and Barbara Good
The Good Life (also known as Good Neighbours in the US) was written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde. The show spans four seasons with 30 total episodes. The story of the show centers on Tom (Richard Briers) and Barbara (Felicity Kendal) Good as they try to become economically self-sufficient and escape commercialism. The show was rated Britain's 9th best sitcom in a 2004 poll.

10. The Benny Hill Show (1969 - 1989)

A black and white picture of Benny Hill and a woman
The Benny Hill Show is a sketch comedy series starring Benny Hill. The show's sketches covered a variety of different comedic angles including slapstick, mime, parody, and double-entendre. It is famous for it's main theme (Yakety Sax) and the sped-up chase scenes that became a recurring motif throughout the series. It was cancelled in 1989 with one last special episode (Benny Hill's World Tour: New York!) being broadcast in 1991.

11. To the Manor Born (1979 - 1981)

A picture of Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, the stars of To The Manor Born
To the Manor Born is a show created by Peter Spence for the BBC. The series totals 22 episodes (including the Christmas specials) and spans three seasons. The premise of the show is that the main character, an aristocrat named Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (played by Penelope Keith), is forced to move out of her manor into an old lodge after her husband dies. The manor is then bought by a rich foreigner named Richard DeVere (played by Peter Bowles). The show revolves around the relationship between these two characters.

12. On the Buses (1969 - 1973)

A cartoon poster of the UK comedy series, On the Buses
On the Buses was created by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney for ITV in the UK. It was originally pitched to the BBC but they rejected it. The program became a big success internationally especially in countries like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The show follows the life of bus driver Stan Butler (Reg Varney) who, together with his friend and co-worker Jack (Bob Grant), spend a bit too much time womanizing. The two friends often have a difficult time at work, as Bus Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis), who disapproves of their antics, always keeps a close eye on them.

13. Rising Damp (1974 - 1978)

A still from Rising Damp depicting Ruth Jones, Rupert Rigsby and Philip Smith
Rising Damp is a British sitcom produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV. The show was adapted for television by Eric Chappell from his 1971 stage play "The Banana Box ". The plot centers on Rupert Rigsby (Leonard Rossiter) the stingy landlord of a old Victorian town house who rents out property to a variety of characters. Specifically, Alan Guy Moore (Richard Beckinsale), a friendly medical student occupies the top room of the house. Philip Smith (Don Warrington) is another student who resides at the house. The last of the main characters is Miss Ruth Jones (Frances de la Tour) a spinster and college administrator who occupies another room.

14. Last of the Summer Wine (1973 - 2010)

A photo of Compo, Cleggy and Foggy from Last of the Summer Wine
Last of the Summer Wine was created and written by Roy Clarke and originally broadcast on the BBC. It has been shown in more than twenty-five countries worldwide. The series was set and filmed in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire and the surrounding area. The story followed three older men and the various youthful antics that they involved themselves with. Last of the Summer Wine holds the record for being the longest-running comedy show in Britain and the longest-running sitcom in the world.

15. Till Death Us Do Part (1965 - 1975)

A black and white photograph showing Rita and Mike from Till Death Us Do Part
Till Death Us Do Part is a 7-series long sitcom that aired on the BBC. It ran from 1965 to 1975 and was followed by a sequel series, Till Death..., in 1981. In 1985, that series was subsequently followed by a third series called In Sickness and in Health. The story of Till Death Us Do Part centered on the East End Garnett family, led by patriarch Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell).

16. The Goodies (1970 - 1982)

An image showing the three members of The Goodies next to a person in a costume
The Goodies is a British television comedy series created by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The series involved surreal comedy sketches as well as situation comedy. It was broadcast by the BBC from 1970 until 1980 and by LWT between 1981 to 1982.

17. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976 - 1979)

A picture showing Reginald Perrin and Doc Morrissey
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin is a sitcom that was based on a series of novels. Both the books and television series were written by David Nobbs. The story follows a middle-aged manager named Reginald "Reggie" Perrin (Leonard Rossiter) and his odd activities.

18. Mind Your Language (1977 - 1986)

A still of the cartoon introduction sequence of Mind Your Language
Mind Your Language is an ITV series created by Vince Powell that premiered in 1977. The show follows Jeremy Brown (Barry Evans), an English teacher in an adult college who teaches English as a second language to foreign students. The show lasted for three seasons (from 1977 to 1979) and was revived for a short period in 1986.

19. Man About the House (1973 - 1976)

A picture of Robin Oswald Tripp, Chrissy Plummer and Jo from Man About the House
Man About the House was created and written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer. It was shown on ITV for six seasons. The show follows Richard O'Sullivan, Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett who play three room-mates. Among other things, the series is notable for being the precursor to the American TV show "Three's Company".

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