Is British TV comedy lost in the wilderness?

Written by AndrewMusgrove1


A good drama or thriller is not hard to come by these days when flicking through the BBC, ITV or any other of the numerous channels available—new and exciting programmes are always emerging. Only last week, ITV’s ‘Broadchurch’ gripped the nation as the killer on little Daniel Latimer was revealed. The same can be said for the BBCs ‘The Village’ which gained equal amount of plaudits for its sensation portrayal of early 20th century life in Peak District.  Both shows have been commissioned for a second series, and with numerous of new or returning shows coming to our screens the future looks good for those who like a good ‘whodunit’ or a trip back in time.


Yet for those craving a bit of comedy and a few laughs, its becoming increasingly frustrating to satisfy their appetite as the mainstream channels pan us off with sitcoms that fail to lay a finger on the old classics let alone live up to them.

In the past fortnight both the BBC and ITV have hired successful writers to produce new sitcoms and both have failed miserably.  The Beeb commissioned Ben Elton, famous for Blackadder to write ‘The Wright Way,’ a sitcom about a health and safety officer. While ITV dragged in Gary Janetti for ‘Vicious,’ a show based upon two gay characters played by Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jackobi, as well as creating ‘The Job Lot’, a show based in a Birmingham job centre.

Signs of promise

All three failed to hit the spot with critics and viewers alike.  ‘The Wright Way’ is one of the worst attempts by the BBC of a sitcom in a long time and sadly confirms just how far Ben Elton has fallen. Within moments of the pilot episode I wanted to switch it off, and did so just ten minutes later without laughing once. ‘Vicious’ was equally as bad, although forcing a few smiles it’s a long way from Jenetti’s hit show ‘Will and Grace’ and will have to do something miraculous to keep viewers interested.  ‘The Job Lot’ was slightly better and showed signs of promise but if the theme tune was some sort of tribute to Britain’s funniest double act, Morecambe and Wise would be very disappointed. If ITV were hoping to hold onto the viewing figures of previous weeks that accompanied Broadchurch, which peaked close to 8m, they’ll quickly realise it won’t be done with these two shows.

Its seems long gone are the days of Only Fools and Horses, Open All Hours and the Royle Family, sitcoms that made you laugh and cry, storylines that made you think about the world—shows that will live on for decades to come.  Instead the latest attempts by the BBC and ITV are a sign of desperation—unrealistic characters, rude, offensive, unfunny and most importantly unoriginal comedy.

Recent hits such as ‘Not Going Out’ or ‘Miranda’ are on their last legs, with the former’s new series failing to survive without the departure of Tim Vine and the latter getting more and more ridiculous: British television is screaming out for a Del Boy or Jim Royle. It speaks volumes when the best comedy on the box is repeats of OFAH. There are countless comedy shows in London that are much more entertaining than what is on television at this point.

It seems with the death of comedy geniuses like Ronny Barker and John Sullivan came the death of the good old British comedy.

What do you think? Is the British TV comedy over? Or can it be revived, and how? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.