British TV comedies

The following British comedies had an impact on me and I've been very happy that Lan has had the opportunity of seeing reruns so they can be part of our shared experience. I've finally found a link for The Two Ronnies and I was happy to see how much is out there on some of the other programs.

If you haven't seen the them, very little on any of the linked sites will make much sense but I've given a little summary just so you know what we are laughing at. There were others too: The Good Life, It Aint Half Hot Mum, Some Mothers Do Have 'Em, Porridge, The Dave Allen Show and The Young Ones come to mind.

The Goodies

Possibly the silliest show ever made ... and all the better for it. Slapstick comedy at its best. Bill Oddie, Graham Garden ("BOGG" for short) and Tim Brook-Taylor will do "anything, anytime" which usually involves solving an implausible mystery. I've asked for reruns on our local PBS station but the program manager had never heard of the program.

More:
The Goodies (Oficial BBC site)
The Goodies on Wikipedia

Kitty Kong in which The Goodies seek to cure sick animals which includes making one kitty bigger and stronger (if you can't wait for the set-up, fast-forward to 4m:50s when they set out to get patients):

"Goodie, goodie, yum, yum"

Fawlty Towers

This show, featuring John Cleese as a maniacal Basil Fawlty running a hotel in Torquay, is sometimes too painful to watch as he gets himself into extremely awkward situations through his sheer stupidity and arrogance. As with many shows, phrases used in the program pass into the general language, at least in limited circles. "He's from Barcelona" was used at one place I worked when someone did something stupid.

The idea for the show came while filming Monty Python. The crew stayed at a hotel that was so awful that everyone moved out—except John Cleese who stayed to watch the owner and take notes. When Monty Python finished, an idea for a new series was ready but no one at the BBC had any idea how popular it would be and John Cleese was paid only £1000 for the first series and £9000 for the second.

I should mention that one of my grandfathers was called Basil and shortly after we got married a friend of my aunt (and the aunt) came to have dinner with us. We had spoken about Fawlty Towers earlier in the evening and then, without warning, she said to me, "You remind me of Basil". I thought this was rather rude, especially in front of the whole family. I obviously looked shocked and then she clarified that she was referring to my grandfather, not Mr Fawlty!

More:
Fawlty Towers (Official BBC site)
Fawlty Towers on Wikipedia

The Germans in which Basil who has escaped from hospital attempts to take a lunch order from some German tourists (perhaps this isn't funny in isolation but this is arguably the most famous scene in British comedy):

Are you being served?

"Are you free?" Need I say more? I will though: Mrs Slocombe's references to her "pussy" become a bit tiring and the show relies excessively on silly costumes but the relationship between the members of Grace Brothers sales staff is heart-warming. How could you not love "young" Mr Grace ("old Mr Grace doesn't get about much these days")? Or Miss Belfridge (who appeared in some of the later shows), though for different reasons? Who can't laugh at Mr Rumpold's stupidity? Reruns are still being shown on our local PBS station. And don't forget, "It will ride up with wear".

More:
Are You Being Served? (Official BBC site)
Are You Being Served? on Wikipedia

Shoulder to Shoulder

Yes [Prime] Minister

This British comedy exposes how politics really works. Make sure you check the quotations and Sir Humphrey's longest sentence.

One scene that I found particularly revealing was Sir Humphrey showing the minister showing how misleading polls can be. The question was whether conscription should be introduced and Sir Humphrey asks the minister to pretend he is approached by an attractive woman conducting a survey who first asks a series of questions starting with "Do you think that too many young people today lack direction in life?", then leading through questions like, "Do you think believe young people would benefit from a period of national service where love of country and discipline would be encouraged?" and ending with, "Do you support conscription?". The minister answers "yes".

The role play is repeated but this time the questions start with "Are you concerned with the level of crime on the streets?", lead through, "Do you think that every young man should be trained to use a gun?" but end with the same question, "Do you support conscription?". Of course, this time the minister answers "no". He is rather surprised!
Yes Minister (BBC)
Yes Prime Minister (BBC)

Dad's Army

Lan and I find this show absolutely delightful and sometimes sing, "So who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?"whenever World War II is mentioned on the TV. Dad's Army covers the exploits of the Warmington-On-Sea Home Guard, England's first line of defence if the Nazi's storm the beach to invade Britain. Of course they would not have lasted five minutes but they try so hard and the interaction of the characters is so much fun. If I had to pick a favourite episode, I'd choose the maritime patrol when the team thought they had drifted across the Channel to France. They weren't sure whether to be confused, embarrassed or overjoyed when they found they were still in England.

More:
Dad's Army (Official BBC Site)
Dad's Armyon Wikipedia

Battle School in which the platoon learn how to engage the enemy:

'Allo 'Allo!

Life in occupied France centering on René Artois cafe. Utterly absurd but with a clever plot, recurring themes and silly accents—especially British Intelligence officer Crabtree, the town policeman, attempting to speak French.

More:
'Allo 'Allo! (Official BBC site)
'Allo 'Allo! on Wikipedia

The Poloceman Cometh in which the two British airmen are disguised (badly) as a cow expecting to escape but Officer Crabtree arrives instead:

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