Are You Being Served Your Favorite Britcoms?

Most towns of any size in the US seem to have a PBS station that runs Britcoms (here in the NY area, they’re generally on weekend nights). I must admit—I know I shall be flamed for this—I have never caught onto the charms of “Fawlty Towers” or “Are You Being Served?”

But I have become a fan of the following:

• “Blackadder.” Well, 'nuff said.
• “Waiting for God.” Diana Trent is just the bloody-minded old bitch I hope to be one day.
• “The Vicar of Dibley.” Brilliant!
• “Red Dwarf.” Varies greatly from season to season, but at its best it’s the nibs.
• “Goodnight Sweetheart.” Time-travel comedy about a modern bloke going back to WWII. Any show with George Formby jokes is aces in MY book.

I’m sure I’m forgetting others . . . Any Brits among you have favorite Yank sitcoms?

My favorites:
Waiting for God (Eve: I, too, aspire to such heights of grumpiness.)
Keeping Up Appearances
The Good Life (I think this is what it’s called…it’s about a couple who drop out of the rat race and lead a toned down, organic lifestyle…and then wackiness ensues.)

And my guilty pleasure, although not a sitcom:
Hettie Wainthrop Investigates (I know this is very Angela Landsbury-ish of me, but I just really like this show).

My favorite one currently being shown is “Keeping Up Appearances.” I love Hyacinth Bucket (“Bouquet”). A couple that I used to enjoy and have not been mentioned are “Chef” and “Yes, Minister.” Of course, “Black Adder” and “Fawlty Towers” are both funnier than just about anything I’ve seen on American TV.

That was “Good Neighbors.” It was enjoyable, but not outright funny. I remember it more for the way “The Young Ones” (that was another good one) talked about the star, Felicity Kendall.

WGBH has two channels in Boston and they still don’t show any of my favorites! They must have run through all the episodes of “Keeping Up Appearances” and “As Time Goes By” a dozen times, but I still haven’t seen the latest season of “Red Dwarf”

“Waiting for God” was excellent, as was “Yes, Minister”. There’s a pair of books based on “Yes, Minister” written in the style of James Hacker’s political memoirs.

And check out “Murder Most Horrid” if you have the chance. It’s an anthology comedy. It pretty much has to be because the main characters are killed in nasty ways in every episode. The episode where Amanda Donohoe plays an assassin who has to explain what a blow job is to Dawn French is priceless. That may also explain why the show doesn’t run here very often.

I used to love ’ Butterflies’ when it was on. Haven’t seen it in many years.

CHEF!!! It has been so long! Can’t forget the wife’s regret at not having been “rogered” in the car before they sold it!

The husband & I are also diehard “Eastenders” addicts. And just when we thought we might someday “catch up” on episodes, the show is now on three times a week in Britain?!? Now we’ll never catch up! I hear that one of the cute Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet is the new villain- we haven’t seen him yet.

I’m completely with you on “Are You Being Served?”…a more witless array of sleazy sex-jokes I’ve never encountered. But “Fawlty Towers” has had me falling out of my chair with laughter. How can you NOT like John Cleese?

Right now I’m picturing him peeking out from under the covers after suffering a massive head wound in the episode titled “The Germans.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA clunk

I have to agree with Eve – I’ve never caught the attraction of Fawlty Towers or Are You Being Served?, but my wife introduced me to Blackadder, and I’ve liked The Vicar of Dibley when we’ve seen it. (I was in Ireland the month before last, and I picked up “Cunning”, the unofficial history of Blackadder. Highly recommended! IIRC the writer for Vicar also worked on Blackadder.)I haven’t been able to get into other Britcoms, although a lawyer friend of mine is a big fan of “Yes, Minister”. I kind of like “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” through its first season.

I like John Cleese; but “Fawlty Towers” just doesn’t do it for me. Hey, I don’t like Charlie Chaplin, either!

I’ve never seen “Eastenders,” they don’t run it where I am. I’d forgotten “Chef!,” which was indeed worth a look-see.

I was horrified when in England to see their TV stations running “classic” American shows such as “Happy Days” and “Three’s Company.” Jee-zus, I hope they don’t think THAT’S the best we can come up with!

“He’s from Barcelona.”

“Chef put basil in the ratatouille.”

“Papers in yet, Fawlty?”

“Walnuts! Apples! Celery! Mayonnaise!”

C’mon, you two! You can’t tell me those lines don’t have you roaring with laughter!






Ha! When my husband moved here from Australia, he had this vision of everyday life being like Happy Days and Bruce Springsteen songs. He did not, however, believe that yellow schoolbusses really exist.

Eve, I’m exactly with you on “Are You Being Served?” and “Fawlty Towers.” I love John Cleese, but somehow I could never get into FT; everyone was just too mean-spirited and unlikable, sort of a British “Married With Children.” There was only one line I liked, and I think of it whenever I see John Cleese: his wife compares him to “an aging brilliantine stick-insect.” Pfffffff!

Having said that about being mean-spirited, go figure on why I adore “Blackadder.” I mean, you can’t get meaner than Edmund! Somehow he stays likable no matter how vitriolic he gets.

When in Europe, I saw a series I rather liked, but I can’t remember its name. Can someone help me? It was about an excitable, kind of cranky guy living with his dad, sort of a Frasier Crane-Martin Crane relationship, with the younger guy being into all the things yups like, and the dad being more blue collar and old school. I’d like to see it on Britcoms in the states. Any guesses?

Anything with Rowan Atkinson is worth checking out IMHO. I also like AbFab quite a bit, though the characters can be somewhat wearing when watching back-to-back episodes.

Actually, Purd, “Blackadder” in the ONLY Rowan Atkinson show I like. “Mr. Bean” makes me gag, and “The Thin Blue Line” is only so-so.

Likewise, I can’t abide anything Jennifer Saunders ever did, except for “AbFab.”

Well, well…BritComs…

Firstly, US Sitcoms. Having spent some time over your side of the water, I know what agony you all go through each Autumn when the new crop of sitcoms get aired. Thankfully, we only get the Darwinist survivors – and those a season or so later. Oddly, I don’t think you get to see most of our best stuff. Maybe the networks think it doesn’t travel well, maybe it’s a bit too raunchy…

Don’t get much chance to watch tv at the moment but of the oldie’s I still find Frasier to be classy, and occasionally, supremely well crafted. Simply the best of its genre for a long time. Did like that Alaskan thing ‘something North’ (?) but not much else grabs me.

Eve, I’m with Ike on ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Being Served’ – Fawlty Towers is my favourite of all time, just rib hugingly funny. I have genuinely been wasted, rolling on the floor watching that. I suspect Cleese just wanted a vehicle to explore some visuals – wonderful, wonderful – maybe visual stimulation isn’t your thing…. By contrast, ‘Being Served’ is more of the traditional working-class seaside humour genre – you might remember what you are now seeing is about 20 years old. Funny, it ain’t.

One of my best friends is married to the son of Mr Bucket of ‘Appearances’ and he, rather eirily, looks just like his father. I’ve never seen the show – just the trailers – so can’t comment on that one. Likewise, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’

Glad someone mentioned ‘Butterflies’ – that was a curious little programme. Quite distinct and, at times, surreal in a bizarre homely, middle-class kind of way.

Good Britcoms of the moment (I’m a little out of touch): ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’…….anyone else want to chime in ??

So, I guess it’s only ‘Frasier’ for me at the moment.

I love Red Dwarf! I’m afraid I’ve never seen enough of the other shows mentioned to get much of a taste for them.

Oh, and I’ve never seen Blackadder, even though everyone I talk to who has seen it says it’s absolutely hilarious.

London_Calling, are you talking about Northern Exposure when you speak of the Alaska thing? Just wondering.

I’ve seen The Vicar of Dibley a few times and it is hysterical. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

Blackadder (after the first season or so) is classic. “I’ve got a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.” or “They are as dissimilar as two dissimilar things in a pod.” are some of the best lines written.

Anyone else recall a show called “No Honestly”? About a young married couple, PJ and Clara IIRC. Most of the humor revolved around her being quite scatterbrained. I recall it being quite amusing, but that was several years ago. I wonder what I would think today.

Eve, you cut me to the quick. If you persist in maligning Fawlty Towers, I may have to replace my wallpaper with something other than your photo. Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances have no redeeming qualities. Not opinion, simply fact.

Yep Tommy, ‘Northern Exposure’ - really liked it. Offbeat and kind of got into the standard hook thing of will they / won’t they between the gal and the Doc.

I miss “Bless Me Father”, especially the episode with the cursed chair. (Didn’t the atheist neighbor have a dog named ‘Judas Iscariot’?)

Another vote for “Faulty Towers” - Basil the rat. Heehehehehe!

As for “Keeping Up Appearances”, Hyacinth is the spitting image of my late grandmother (also a ‘social climber’). I watch to see how close the writers got - pretty darned close!