Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Fawlty Towers and Father Ted top list of Britain's favourite sitcoms

Fawlty Towers and Father Ted have been voted as the greatest British sitcoms of all time. Credit: PA/Channel 4

Fawlty Towers has been named as the greatest British sitcom of all time, according to a list compiled by a panel of television experts for Radio Times magazine.

Centred around a Torquay hotel, which left a lot to be desired, John Cleese's creation topped the list of 20 ahead of Father Ted, Blackadder, I'm Alan Partridge and Only Fools And Horses.

Despite its success, the 1970s classic ran for just two series of six episodes each.

Speaking to the Radio Times, co-writer and co-star of Connie Booth said: "Fawlty Towers succeeds, I think, because it allows infantile rage and aggression a field day in a buttoned down, well-mannered English society.

"It's unique in being a farce, with all the plot surprises and precision that the style requires. And it doesn't hurt that the star of the show is a six-foot-five comic genius. If he was shorter I can't imagine how it would have worked."

Fawlty Towers' cast reunited for the 30th anniversary of the sitcom. Credit: PA

Cleese added: "What a cast. I'm proud we are up there with Porridge and Only Fools and Ab Fab and Blackadder and The Office and Reggie Perrin and The Thick of It."

Classic moments from the show include Basil's attempts to please European guests by doing anything possible to not "mention the war" - which of course ended badly, in true Fawlty style.

The proprietor's relationship with this wife, Sybil, also played a major part in the sitcom - from him forgetting a wedding anniversary to her calming him when the death of a guest and a kipper combined in a way only Cleese could make possible.

Other classic shows mentioned include Father Ted, coming in at the second best British sitcom.

Centred around the struggles of Father Ted Crilly, the show sees him trying to cope with the lovable but simple Father Dougal McGuire, foul mouthed Father Jack Hackett and their tea-obsessed housekeeper, Mrs Doyle.

Set on Craggy Island, a parochial parish in the middle of nowhere, the characters' exploits follow them them enter a song contest with the unforgettable "My Lovely Horse", and become trapped in a lingerie section of a department store, prompting a potential "national scandal".

I'm Alan Partridge takes the judge's third place.

The fumbling radio host of North Norfolk Digital had a seemingly unique talent to fill air time. Mid Morning Matters questionably inspired a generation of radio programmes, for better or for worse.

Of course, things started to turn sour for Partridge after he punched a guest on live TV.

Now back on the BBC, Steve Coogan's creation now has a reincarnation, seeing Partridge take to the sofa in a familiar light magazine style programme.

Also appearing on the list is The Royle Family, devised by Caroline Aherne.

Set around an ash-stained sofa, the charming family couldn't be further from the residents of Buckingham Palace. Originally production executives wanted the show to be filmed with a studio audience or to include canned laughter - both these were rejected by the show's writer.

During its time on air, the sitcom's festive episodes become part of Christmas as much as cranberry sauce and stuffing. The show has the unique accolade of being the source of the classic family dinner recipe, carrot crush with stork.

Denise's attempt to feed everyone around the table with a turkey leg remains one of the show's most memorable moments.

Only Fools And Horses came in sixth place. Credit: BBC

Highly-rated comedies Only Fools And Horses and The Office came in sixth and 12th respectively.

The list was voted for by 42 comedy expert including lauded writers Mathews, Linehan and Richard Curtis, as well Barry Cryer and Alison Graham.

Graham said: "When we find a comedy that does make us laugh, that brings a quick hit of joy into our lives, and we treasure it for ever.

"In our memories, great comedies are pearls that become more burnished and beautiful through the years. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder."

The full list of winners

  • Fawlty Towers, 1975-9
  • Father Ted, 1995-8
  • I'm Alan Partridge, 1997-2002
  • Blackadder, 1983-9
  • Dad's Army, 1968-77
  • Only Fools and Horses, 1981-2003
  • Porridge, 1973-8
  • The Royle Family, 1998-2012
  • Absolutely Fabulous, 1992-2012
  • Dinnerladies, 1998-2000
  • The Thick of It, 2005-12
  • The Office, 2001-3
  • OnePeep Show, 2003-15
  • The Vicar of Dibley, 1994-2007
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, 1976-9
  • The Young Ones, 1982-4
  • Gavin & Stacey, 2007-10
  • The Good Life, 1975-8
  • Detectorists, 2014-17