15 UK Comedies You Should Already Be Watching

15 UK Comedies You Should Already Be Watchingfeatured

It’s getting colder, which means it’s knitting season. So that means a little bit of television to accompany me while I sit and make. Only, I haven’t watched free-to-air tv in a long time. In fact I prefer to just watch the shows I enjoy rather than sit through reality show after reality show of women and men with fake tans, tits (not so much the men) and personalities. And don’t get me started on the commercials.

If you’re like me and a little selective, then here’s a list of 15 great UK comedies you should already be watching while you knit that beanie or crotchet that blanket. Lucky for me, they churn out some solid stuff on the regular. Unlucky for me, they don’t make the series lengths the US do and often end things too soon. I think this is actually a good thing and keeps the character and content fresh and story lines aren’t dragged out the way American shows tend to do, but the downside is sometimes you only get one season of something that you wanted more of.

I’ve been meaning to put this together for a long time, since I’m constantly telling friends and family to watch this or that show. Now I’m just sending them a link to this and telling them to work their way through! Happy watching!

Fresh Meat

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

It’s both funny and slightly realistic at the same time – the characters are for the most part awkward and tend to wind up in unusual situations which they then screw up and have to face consequences. It has freaking solid cast of characters you’ll love/hate/love to hate and there’s already 3 seasons of 8 x 1 hour long episodes.

Summary

Six students, Vod, Oregon, Josie, Kingsley, JP and Howard, all freshers – with the exception of Howard, are strangers thrown together to live in a share house off-campus because they were late applying for university halls….hilarity ensues. My favourite character is probably JP (played by Jack Whitehall). He has some of the best lines (let’s get a mother fucking baked potato), but closely followed by Vod (I’ve been off grid, I haven’t done any laundry since June).

 

Bad Education

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Jack Whitehall. Okay, that’s probably not enough of reason for some of you but if you’ve seen Fresh Meat, then it might be. There’s 2 seasons of 13 x 30 minute long episode out already. It’s a little more of an exaggerated comedy style to Fresh Meat, slightly more obvious jokes but it suits the setting.

Plot

Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) is a recently graduated teacher, taking a history class that he is constantly trying to impress, always ending in trouble/shenanigans that put him in front of his nemesis deputy headmistress, Isobel Pickwell (Michelle Gomez – Greenwing’s Sue White). He also has a massive crush on fellow teacher Rosie Gulliver (Sarah Solemani – Him & Her’s Becky) and is constantly requested for banter with Shaquille “Simon” Fraser (Mathew Horne). It’s ridiculous and funny and the cast of students is great too!

 

Green Wing

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

This is a few years old and ended kind of abruptly with everything wrapping up in a Christmas special, but the two seasons (17 x 50 minute long episodes) you do get are solid, if a tad surreal/dark, comedy gold. Great one liners, bizarre situations, and an endearing cast (for the most part). The cast is quite large and with actors you’re sure to recognise, each character brings their own special brand of crazy.

Plot

Dr Caroline Todd (Tamsin Greig) is a new surgical registrar at East Hampton Hospital Trust, and through a series of unfortunate events, is locked out of her flat and slept in her car the night before beginning her job. Her first day is not ideal to say the least, but she meets surgeon “Mac” Macartney (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and Guy Secretan (Stephen Mangan), a half-Swiss, womanising anaesthetist. The series follows a bit of a love triangle with these three amongst a cast of unusual to possibly clinically insane characters that all have jobs within the hospital. Unlike most shows set in a hospital, this one focuses on the staff and their lives with no mention of the patients they are treating. The editing on this is superb, with great transitions between scenes. My favourites are Michelle Gomez as Sue White, the hospital’s staff liaison officer, who is completely nuts and Oliver Chris as Boyce, a student doctor who makes Dr Alan Statham’s (Mark Heap) life a living hell, although he kind of deserves it.

 

Pramface

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Because it’s funny and sweet and awkward about a completely mismatched couple that kind of, almost work some of the time. There are 3 seasons available and they just seem to keep getting better!

Plot

Best friends Jamie, Mike and Beth finish their exams and go out to a party to celebrate. Also in attendance is 18-year-old Laura,with her best friend (though why they are besties is baffling) Danielle. Both Jamie and Laura are determined to have a good time. They meet and have super drunk sex. The next morning Jamie writes Laura a note with his phone-number on it and leaves. Not long after, Laura discovers that she is pregnant, and that Jamie is only 16. They are also from opposite ends of the class spectrum, her coming from a wealthy family with parents who are lawyers, while he is from a family struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Awkward hilarity ensues as they struggle to come to terms with the pregnancy and what it means for their lives and relationship… or lack there of.

 

Bluestone 42

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

If you have to be told why to watch this, I think you might need a good slap in the face. Let’s start with the fact that is a comedy with just a hint of drama. It’s that subtle blend that makes the situations they face that little bit tense and little bit funny. As of right now, there are two seasons and the third season will begin filming shortly!

Plot

Bluestone 42 is a British bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick. Oliver Chris (Boyce in Greenwing) is Captain Nick Medhurst, their fearless womanising leader who handles the dangerous task of defusing the bombs they find on roadside ops. The show centers around Nick and his team, their camaraderie and ridiculous antics, as well as the relationship between Nick and the only woman he is yet to bang, the completely off limits Padre, Mary Greenstock. The show is filled with quick cheeky banter, one liners and just a hint of slapstick courtesy of childish stunts performed by the Mac and Rocket, the jokers of the team. Now, off you fuck.

 

Plebs

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Because you don’t have enough sitcoms set in Ancient Rome in your life. There’s one season with 6 x 25 minute long episodes but it has been renewed for a second season!

Plot

Set in Ancient Rome, as the title suggests it follows three plebs (the general population of Ancient Rome who go about their day to day life) as they struggle through life, trying to hold down a job, get the girls, make money and just generally survive. The main characters are Marcus (Tom Rosenthal – Johnny in Friday Night Dinners) and Stylax (Joel Fry), who work in a scriptorium as a copier and a shredder. Grumio (Ryan Sampson – the yogurt bar guy in Fresh Meat) is their lazy slave. There is also a Water Boy who works with them at the office, reinforcing the office equipment reference, in case it’s lost on you (copier, shredder and water cooler)! There is no real overarching plot so you can drop in at any point in the series, but there is a hot neighbour in their apartment block that Marcus is constantly trying and failing to impress and a crooked landlord who is always finding new ways to rip them off.

 

Chickens

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

It’s kind of unique in that you don’t usually see the perspective of war from those who stayed behind. There’s only one season of 6 x 30 minute long episodes of light hearted entertainment! Plus you’re sure to spot a few familiar faces!

Plot

The show is about three men who don’t go off to fight in the First World War and consequently become social outcasts in their village. Simon Bird (Friday Night Dinners & The Inbetweeners) is Cecil, a young man who was rejected by the Army due to his flat feet and whose family now despise and avoid him. Joe Thomas (Fresh Meat & The Inbetweeners) plays George, a young man who is a conscientious objector and refuses to participate in the war and in violence all together. George is also engaged to a woman who is embarrassed to be seen with him because of this, often hiding from him and removing her ring. Rounding off the group is Bert (Jonney Sweet) the dimwitted man of the trio of Chickens. Bert does tend to forget that the war is actually going on, focusing mainly on women and booze. Being the only three men in the village while all the women’s husbands, brothers and sons are off fighting the war means they cop a far amount of flack, and this is often a plot point in each episode. Despite the hatred, the three men still try to impress the women, though fail miserably.

 

Friday Night Dinner

UK Comedies You Should Already be Watching

Why?

It has a solid cast of familiar faces playing out normal scenes at home… sort of. It has two seasons and a third on the way plus Christmas special floating around. Again, this is a show without a real over arching plot, so you could pick it up at any time, but is great none the less with a few long running gags!

Plot

The Goodman family are Jewish and have Shabbat dinner every Friday night – hence the title. Every week, the episode starts just as the two brothers, Jonny (Tom Rosenthal – Plebs) and Adam (Simon Bird – The Inbetweeners & Chickens) arrive at their parents house. Their father, Martin (Paul Ritter) is usually pottering about the house without a shirt on and being scolded by their mother, Jackie (Tamsin Grieg – Green Wing, Black Books & Episodes) while she prepares dinner. What usually follows is a comedy of errors and at least one interruption by their creepy neighbour, Jim (Mark Heap – Greenwing, Spaced) and his dog Wilson. Jim is also terrified of his own dog, oblivious to social cues and has a crush on Jackie. He’s also constantly angling for an invite to dinner.

 

My Mad Fat Diary

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

I wouldn’t necessarily call this show a comedy but it straddles that fine line between comedy and drama very well. Set in the 1990s, it has some pretty fantastic if somewhat nostalgic music. This show is some ground breaking stuff in my opinion and handles serious issues with finesse. There are two seasons out so far, with 13 x 45 minute long episodes available for your viewing pleasure.

Plot

The show tells the story of a 16 year old girl, Rae Earl, as she is about to leave the  psychiatric hospital she has stayed in for the last four months after having a mental break down and harming herself. The specific details unfold gradually, and we understand what Rae’s mental health problems and body issues are specifically. Rae weighs 16 stone or roughly 100kg and is not your average high schooler. She likes good music, which is reflected in the show’s soundtrack, a solid collection of 90′s rock. Upon her release, she is told by her doctor to keep a diary of her thoughts and emotions to help her with recovery – hence the title of the show. Rae then reconnects with her best friend Chloe who knows nothing about where Rae has been or what she has gone through. Chloe introduces Rae to her group of friends and Rae slowly but surely fits in, bonding over music. Rae continues to hide her mental illness and body image issues, struggling terribly as she gets closer to one of the boys, Finn. It’s big and dramatic but also sarcastic and funny. Great show!

 

How Not to Live Your Life

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Because it shows everything you could and should never do in various social situations. And there’s a hint of romance. There are 3 seasons, 20 x 30 minute long episodes.

Plot

Don Danbury is twenty nine years old, can’t hold down a job and is basically incompetent at life. He fails to navigate the most simple social situations and often plays out what he should and shouldn’t do in his mind. These short cutaways are scattered through the show and are often a tad surreal but always amusing. After his nan passes, he moves into the old house she leaves him and somehow winds up with her old carer, Eddie. Eddie begins to take care of Don, cooking, cleaning and even bathing him – there’s basically no boundaries with Eddie and Don. At first Don resists but eventually sees the benefits. Don is need of cash and decides to get  lodger to help pay the bills. The lodger he chooses is Abby, a girl he knew at school who he has always had a crush on. Despite Abby’s boyfriend, Karl AKA cockface, Don is constantly trying to win her over with his ridiculous antics. Also, he swans about in his dead nan’s dressing gown and thinks pick and mix candy is food.

 

Miranda

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Because there just aren’t enough slapstick family friendly (almost) comedies around! This is one of those shows that has those cringeworthy-but-can’t-look-away random outbursts of song from Miranda at the most inappropriate of times. And she often looses items of her clothing. Like, a lot! 3 seasons are out, giving you 18 x 20 minute episodes of Miranda time!

Plot

Miranda, played by herself (Miranda Hart), is a single, thirty something, 6 foot tall woman who often gets mistaken for a man. She owns a joke shop but has no idea how to run a business, nor does she have any interest in running it and so allows it to be managed by her BFF, Stevie Sutton (Sarah Hadland). Her mother, Penny, is constantly trying to find her a husband and a real job. Miranda is constantly screwing said opportunities up. Miranda is also secretly in love with Gary Preston (Tom Ellis), an old friend from university who is now the chef of the restaurant next door. Such fun!

 

Campus

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

If you liked Green Wing, you’ll probably like this. It’s a slightly surreal comedy and has that same hint of darkness about it that Green Wing has, probably stemming from the fact it shares the same 6 writers. Unfortunately this show was canceled after one season but there are still 6 episodes running at 50 minutes and a 30 minute pilot to keep you entertained!

Plot

I’m not even sure I can explain the plot but Campus revolves around the lives of the staff of Kirke University, under the control of vice chancellor Jonty de Wolfe. Wolfe wants Kirke and himself to become greater, no matter how it is done. He often gives out what he sees as the harsh truth to people, but it’s basically him just being offensive. Wolfe decides to use the success of one of the university’s lecturers, the shy Imogen Moffat, to further the school, by ordering her to write a second book. He also makes other members of his staff write books including English literature professor Matt Beer, the lazy womaniser who eventually pursues Moffat. There’s a much bigger cast with a lot going on, so just go and watch this one! You get the gist!

 

Big School

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

David Walliams, Catherine Tate and that giant french woman from Harry Potter. Need I say more?

Plot

Set in the fictional Greybridge Secondary School, the show follows Keith Church (David Walliams, Little Britain. Der.) a chemistry teacher who is socially inept and single, somewhere in his late thirties to early forties. A new French teacher, Sarah Postern (Catherine Tate, everything including US version of The Office) has begun working there and Keith tries to pursue her in his own awkward way. Sarah believes she is hip and happening and can connect with the students, while Keith is passionate and creates elaborate experiments with the help of his creepy lab assistant. The students at the school don’t engage with either teacher despite their efforts, which are often hampered by the heavy drinking and smoking headteacher, Ms Baron (Frances de la Tour, Harry Potter) and the pervy sports teacher, Trevor Gun.

 

Episodes

UK Comedies You Should Be Watching

Why?

Not entirely a UK comedy, since this is set in LA (but filmed in the UK… I think), but gosh I’m glad they made this. If you’ve seen Green Wing, you already know that Tasmin Grieg and Stephen Mangan have insanely good onscreen chemistry. Even though Mangan’s character on Green Wing was a total shit, there were times I felt myself rooting for him to win over Carolin (Grieg). The third season is currently airing, with a total of 24 episodes available for your binge watching pleasure.

Plot

A married couple who are also writers have a successful TV series in UK. American producers buy the rights to remake it and fly them over to help write it for an American audience. Their successful comedy is destroyed in the process, with poor casting choices by the network execs who insist on replacing the character of a doddering old headmaster with a hockey coach, casting Matt LeBlanc (played by himself). Sean and Beverly struggle as Hollywood takes a dump on their hard work, and their marriage suffers as a result. Matt LeBlanc is perfect, playing an exaggerated egotistical version of himself, who is kind of past it, knows it and is trying to find a way back to the spotlight.

 

Him & Her

Why?

Wow. This one is really different in that the entire show takes place in the same place and it is very, very dry. I didn’t expect to become as invested with the characters or outcomes as I did. The last season is easily the best with an unexpected twist! There are 4 seasons, 25 x 28 minute episodes. I wouldn’t necessarily say its a total binge watch… I found myself needing to break it up due to the overwhelmingly cringeworthy moments.

Plot

The show is about a lazy couple in their twenties, Steve and Becky, and their friends and families that sort of force themselves upon them all the time. The entire series (apart from the last season) takes place in Steve’s messy apartment and is often almost unbearable to watch, but you power through it because the writing is just that good – kind of like the Office in that respect. Maybe it hits a little close to home, since I myself am a lazy twenty something that never wants to leave the apartment…

 

Honourable Mentions

These are better known but deserve a mention – the Inbetweeners, Little Britain, Black Books, Peep Show, Spaced, The Mighty Boosh. If you’ve got some suggestions, I’d love to hear them so do leave a comment below! If I haven’t already tried and hated it (Threesome… sorry, I’m not sorry), I’ll give it a go!

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