"Laugh Out Loud: Top British TV Comedies in the Past 15 Years"
Alan Partridge returns to BBC television in "This Time", first as a stand-in and then as a permanent co-host to Jennie, played by Susannah Fielding, a perceptive presenter. Along with long-standing sidekick Simon, played by Tim Key, they welcome a series of guests and specialists who inevitably get on Alan's nerves. The guests, including Simon Farnaby, Katy Wix, and Jamie Demetriou, deliver excellent comedic performances, but it's Coogan himself who steals the show with his Irish nationalist medley performance. The second series is available on BBC iPlayer.
"Friday Night Dinner" (Channel 4, 2011 – 2020) takes a simple premise of brothers Adam and Jonny returning home for Friday night dinner with their parents and turns it into a hilariously tragic series. From banal beginnings, each episode escalates into farce, filled with hubris, horror, and big laughs. The Goodman family can never have a normal dinner, which makes for endless pranks and intrusions from neighbor Jim, a man afraid of his own dog. The tragic death of Paul Ritter led to the end of "Friday Night Dinner," but it remains a nearly flawless comedy filled with calamity, catchphrases, heart, and hilarity.
BBC's "Motherland," which aired three series from 2016 to 2021, is a glimpse into different forms of motherhood in London, including working moms, single parents, and stay-at-home dads. The show is deliciously middle-class, making it a fantastic subject for a sitcom. Despite their financial hurdles, these mothers' real problems and stresses are relatable. Lead character Julia, played by Anna Maxwell-Martin, can be incredibly selfish, but amidst the biting satire, the show has a heart-touching sincerity.
Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You" earned critical acclaim in 2020, leaving fans anxiously anticipating her next project. However, viewers should also look back at Coel's first cult TV hit, Channel 4's "Chewing Gum." The two-series comedy is different from her BBC sexual consent drama but similarly bold, intelligent, and unafraid of exploring difficult topics. Adapted from Coel's play "Chewing Gum Dreams," it follows Tracey, a sheltered woman eager to break free from her restrictive religious household and experience the joys of sex. Coel leads the show brilliantly, supported by Susan Wokoma as her sister and Shola Adewusi as their ultra-religious mother. "Chewing Gum" is streaming on Netflix.
The UK's cherished original masterpiece, "The Office," skyrocketed both in front of and behind the camera, launching Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Martin Freeman to global fame and recognition. One of its stars, Mackenzie Crook, earned a recurring role in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise before carving out his own path. He imbued himself into a quintessentially English mold, most notably showcasing his acting prowess as the iconic and beloved scarecrow in "Wurzel Gummidge." However, if the essence of Englishness, particularly its classic, rustic taste, could be bottled, it would mirror the delightful and hilariously amusing show, "Detectorists." Three seasons of this gem aired on BBC Four between 2014 to 2017, with a brand new 75-minute special recently announced by the creators.
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