The Best British Comedy Shows, Ranked
British comedies might be some of the funniest shows on either side of the pond. The humor is just different than American comedies, and there's something refreshing about it that makes them extra fun to watch, especially relatable series like workplace comedies. If you’ve been looking for the best British comedies that are funny even across the cultural gap, this list of the best British comedy series of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue and what older shows you might need to hunt down and watch immediately.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, many newer British comedies are available to watch even in The States. Both the more recent Derry Girls and Catastrophe are comedies of British origin that are ready to stream and considered some of the best British sitcoms of the past decade. Other series, such as Peep Show, are Channel 4 classics worth hunting down. And, of course, there are the British comedy series, such as The Office and Shameless, that have been remade for American audiences.
Which British shows bring the laughs? Vote up the best British comedies, then vote down the comedies from England that don't even garner even a dry chuckle.
- Premiered: September 19, 1975
Delving into the chaotic world of a seaside hotel, this British sitcom thrives on the comedic misadventures of its eccentric proprietor and his long-suffering staff. The show's brilliance stems from its razor-sharp writing, impeccable timing, and the extraordinary performances by John Cleese as the hapless hotelier Basil Fawlty, Prunella Scales as his domineering wife Sybil, Connie Booth as their resourceful employee Polly, and Andrew Sachs portraying the bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel. With only 12 episodes crafted to perfection over two seasons in the late 1970s, it remains an enduring classic that delivers uproarious laughter through its farcical situations and memorable characters.
- Premiered: 1983
This British historical sitcom revolves around the cunning and sardonic protagonist, Edmund Blackadder, as he navigates his way through various eras of history with the help of his dimwitted sidekick, Baldrick. The show's strength lies in its clever writing that combines satire and wordplay to create a unique comedic experience, while exploring themes such as social hierarchy and political intrigue. With an impressive cast featuring Rowan Atkinson as the eponymous character and Tony Robinson as Baldrick, this series has earned its place among television classics due to its ability to provide both laughter and insight into different periods of British history.
- Premiered: September 23, 2022
- Premiered: September 8, 1981
This British sitcom follows the lives of two ambitious, yet hapless brothers as they strive to achieve their dreams of becoming millionaires through various get-rich-quick schemes. Set in a working-class neighborhood in London during the 1980s and 1990s, it is lauded for its impeccable comedic timing and witty dialogues that capture the essence of lower-middle class aspirations while also delving into themes such as family bonds and loyalty. The show's success can be attributed to its memorable characters like Del Boy (played by David Jason) and Rodney (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst), whose chemistry on screen creates an engaging dynamic that has resonated with audiences for decades.
- Premiered: October 5, 1969
This groundbreaking British sketch comedy series, led by an ensemble cast including John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle, delves into the absurd and satirical with a unique blend of wit and slapstick humor. The show's innovative approach to comedy is exemplified through its iconic sketches such as the "Dead Parrot" routine and the "Ministry of Silly Walks," which have since become staples in popular culture. Furthermore, Monty Python's Flying Circus has cemented itself as a timeless classic due to its ability to push boundaries while simultaneously providing biting social commentary through memorable characters like the Spanish Inquisition troupe.
- Premiered: April 21, 1995
Set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, this critically acclaimed sitcom follows the misadventures of three eccentric priests and their housekeeper. The show's charm lies in its unique blend of surreal humor and razor-sharp wit, brought to life by an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Dermot Morgan as the titular Father Ted, Ardal O'Hanlon as the dimwitted Father Dougal McGuire, Frank Kelly as the cantankerous Father Jack Hackett, and Pauline McLynn as their devoted housekeeper Mrs. Doyle. As these characters navigate through various absurd situations while dealing with their own personal quirks and flaws, they provide viewers with a hilarious yet heartwarming glimpse into human nature and relationships within an unconventional setting.
- Premiered: February 3, 2006
Centered around the misadventures of a quirky trio working in the information technology department of a large corporation, this British sitcom captivates audiences with its clever humor and relatable situations. The dynamic between the socially awkward computer geniuses Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy Trenneman (Chris O'Dowd), along with their technologically inept manager Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), results in amusing scenarios that showcase how they navigate through office politics and personal dilemmas. With well-crafted dialogue, memorable catchphrases, and outstanding performances from the cast, this show has garnered critical acclaim for its unique take on workplace comedy.