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Classic British Comedy Gift Ideas

Revisit all the classic British comedy TV shows from your childhood, or why not treat a friend to a retro DVD Box Set as a gift?

 

 

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Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)
This very popular and camp 70s comedy was set on a retail floor in the traditional Grace Bros. department store. Characters included John Inman as Mr. "I'm Free!" Humphries, Mollie Sudgen as the man-hungry Mrs. Slocombe (who was obsessed with her pussy!), Frank Thornton as the rather pompous Captain Peacock and Wendy Richard as the attractive cockney assistant Miss Brahms.

Bless This House (1971-76)
This popular ITV comedy ran for six series and starred the Carry On star Sidney James (as ravelling salesman Sid Abbott) and Diana Coupland as his wife, Jean. Interestingly, it was produced by William G. Stewart who went on to host the 15 to 1 gameshow.
Bread BBC Comedy - The Complete Series 1-8
Bread (1986-1991)
This successful BBC comedy series was written by Carla Lane who had previously penned The Liver Birds and Butterflies. It followed the lives of the devout Catholic family The Boswells from Liverpool. My favourite character was Joey who was often dressed from head-to-toe in leather and had the catchphrase "Greetings!".
Brush Strokes DVD Box Set - BBC comedy starring Karl Howman

Brush Strokes (1986-1991)

This BBC sitcom ran for six series and followed the antics of the cheeky, anti-authority house painter Jack (played by Karl Howman). The theme tune "Because Of You" was by Dexys Midnight Runners.
Citizen Smith DVD series 1 & 2
Citizen Smith (1977-1980)
This BBC comedy featured Robert Lindsay as the left-wing revolutionary Wolfie Smith, the leader of the Tooting Popular Front, which was just his pretty gormless group of friends! His girlfriend's mother annoyed him by calling him "foxy"!

Clarence (1988)

This one-off six-part comedy series was Ronnie Barker's final sitcom, in which he starred as a short-sighted furniture removal man. Also starred Josephine Tewson as Jane Travers.

The Best of Dave Allen
Dave Allen

I'm a big Dave Allen fan, and I adored the Irish comedian's relaxed, care-free style, sitting on a bar stool and bringing us some very funny observational comedy, ocassionally puffing on his cigarette and sipping from a glass of whiskey. He wasn't afraid to voice his strong opinions on controversial subjects such as religion, sex and the media, showing us how absurd life really was (and still is!). One of his best-remembered lines is "I'm an atheist, thank God". 

Dick Emery
The non-pc English comedian became popular from the 1960s to the 80s, and I have fond memories of watching his shows back in the 70s where he dressed-up as a range of characters, from the stereotypical buck-toothed vicar (shown here) to the camp and flamboyant Clarence with his catchphrase "hello honky tonks". However, his most memorable character was, arguably,  Mandy the buxom blonde with her catchphrase "Ooh, you are awful, but I like you!".
Ever Decreasing Circles with Richard Briers, Penelope Wilton
Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-89)
Richard Briers, Penelope Wilton and Peter Egan starred in this 1980s BBC comedy about a rivalry between two neighbours. Martin Bryce is extremely jealous of  Paul Ryman who is everything Martin is not! The amusing comedy ran for four series.
Father Ted (1995-98)
The critically-acclaimed Channel 4 nineties comedy which starred Dermot Morgan as the eponymous Father Ted Crilly, Dermot Morgan as the dense and childlike Father Dougal McGuire, Frank Kelly as the ill-tempered drunkard Father Jack Hackett and Pauline McLynn as the hyperactive housekeeper (who is obsessed with making huge amounts of tea and sandwiches!) Mrs Doyle.
Fawlty Towers with John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs and Polly Booth
Fawlty Towers (1975-79)
The classic BBC series has been completely remastered for this DVD release which includes many new extras. Starred John Cleese as the rude hotel owner Basil Fawlty, Prunella Scales as his dictatorial wife Sybil, Polly Booth as Polly the chambermaid and Andrew Sachs as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel.
Filthy, Rich and Catflap with Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Adrian Edmondson
Filthy, Rich & Catflap (1987)
This Ben Elton sitcom featured The Young Ones stars Nigel Planer, Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson and included many interesting guest appearances by top stars of the day inc. Midge Ure and Anne Diamond.
George & Mildred (1976-79)
This classic Thames TV series starred Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce as the ill-,matched couple George and Mildred Roper. 38 episodes were made in total, as well as a film in 1980 which premiered just after the sad and sudden death of Yootha Joyce. A planned sixth series was cancelled.
Kenn Dodd - The Laughter Show (1979)
How tickled I am for showing you the DVD for this very funny 1979 series which features six tattifilarious episodes with the wild-haired comedian from Liverpool Mr. Dodd and his trusty tickling stick.

Man About The House (1973-76)

This 70s British sitcom starred Richard O'Sullivan as a young student chef, Robin Tripp, who shares a flat with young flatmates Chrissy (Paula Wilcox) and Jo (Sally Thomsett). Their landlord is George Roper (Brian Murphy) who is hen-pecked by his wife Mildred (Yootha Joyce) - they went on to have their own spin-off series.

One Foot in the Grave - Richard Wilson
One Foot in the Grave (1990-2000)
The classic 90s sitcom starred Richard Wilson as the very grumpy and unfortunate retired security guard Victor Meldrew, with Annette Crosbie as his exasperated wife, Margaret. The comedy is laugh-out-loud (it's pretty surreal at times) and this was definitely one of the BBC's funniest comedy series.
Only Fools And Horses

Ask anyone to name an 80s comedy and this one will be mentioned 9 out of 10 times. An absolute classic from the BBC and there are too many memorable moments to fit onto one page. From the blow-up doll scene to Del Boy and his gang unscrewing the wrong chandelier during their stint as "expert" cleaners, everyone has a favourite moment. And the characters were fantastic, too, with David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst on top form as Del Boy and Rodney, and there was also the unforgettable dopey roadsweeper Trigger, played by the late Roger Lloyd-Pack, amongst many others. At just £35 (as I write), the complete collection DVD is a complete bargain, although, unlike in the series, this one is genuine!

Porridge starring Ronnie Barker
Porridge (1974-77)

This was, quite possibly, the funniest comedy of the 70s and ran for three series with two Christmas specials and a film. Porridge starred Ronnie Barker as prisoner Fletcher, Richard Beckinsale as his young and naive cellmate Godber, Fulton Mackay as the stern Scottish Principal Officer Mackay, and Brian Wilde as the more timid officer Mr. Barrowclough who could easily be manipulated by Fletch and the other prisoners. A true classic.

Rising Damp Box Set
Rising Damp (1974-78)
Leonard Rossiter starred as the miserly landlord Rigsby, who rented out ramshackle bedsits to a variety of tenants. Frances De La Tour played the educated, pretentious spinster Miss Jones who Rigsby was besotted with. Also starred Richard Beckinsale and DOn Warrington.
Solo (1981-82)
This gentle, but very funny sitcom starred Felicity Kendall as Gemma Palmer and was created by Carla Lane. It had a similar feel to her other hit comedy from the 70s Butterflies. The complete two series are now available on DVD with an interview with Felicity Kendall.
Sorry! (1981-88)
The classic 80s comedy starring Ronnie Corbett as the 40 something librarian Timothy Lumsden, who still lives at home with his old-fashioned parents. Barbara Lott plays his overbearing mother from hell, with William Moore as the henpecked father, Sidney, who repeatedly shouts "language, Timothy!" throughout the series.
Steptoe & Son
I adored this British comedy as a child of the 70s, although I was too young to have seen the earlier four series from 1962-1965 which makes buying the complete box set an essential buy for me, at least. Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell were just brilliant as the rag and bone merchants who lived in the grimy Oil Drum Lane.
Terry & June (1979-1987)

Terry Scott and June Whitfield played the middle class couple who lived in the suburbs of Purley, London. The comedy was a reworked version of the 70s sitcom Happy Ever After and ran for nine series with four Christmas specials on BBC1, attracting large viewing figures. It's quite odd that a box set of the complete series isn't available yet, but you can buy each series on separate DVD sets.

The Good Life DVD - BBC Comedy
The Good Life (1975-78)
Another 70s gem in which Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall star as Tom and Barbara Good, a middle-class couple who are attempting to escape the rat race and live a self-sufficient lifestyle. Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington played their more conventional neighbours Margo and Jeremy Leadbetter, who have difficulty understanding the Goods way of life, but become close friends, nonetheless.
The Thin Blue Line (1995-1996)
The classic Ben Elton BBC comedy series featured laugh-out-loud moments with Rowan Atkinson on fine form as the devoted Inspector Raymond Fowler who likes to dot the i's and cross the t's.
The Young Ones BBC DVD
The Young Ones (1982-84)
The completely chaotic BBC comedy from the 80s starring the late Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Christopher Ryan and Alexei Sayle.
Watching ITV comedy series
Watching (1987-1993)

This underrated ITV comedy series starred Paul Bown as Malcolm, a reserved biker from the posh area of Merseyside who likes to watch birds (the feathered variety) and Emma Wray as Brenda, a loud, fun-loving scouser from a more working class area of Liverpool. They are an unlikely couple and Brenda is forced to endure Malcolm's hobby during their unstable relationship. The 9 disc DVD includes all 56 episodes of the much-loved series.