The minds that create your favorite British comedies


Without question, when a British comedy fan is asked what it is they like about British comedy, the first answer is “…the writing“. Ask any actor or actress what it is that sets British comedy apart from the rest of television as we know it, the answer is always “…the writing“. It’s intelligent television that makes you laugh, but also makes you think.

When you wake up this morning, we’ll  be moving one step closer to completing an incredible program for PBS with a new round of interviews this week in London. This show will pay tribute to the writers of your favorite British comedies of all time. The program will be broadcast in March 2011 on PBS stations nationwide. No official title yet, so if you have a genius idea for one, please e-mail me at [email protected].

Finished two rounds of interviews at this point. Getting great insights from writers such as Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Vicar of Dibley), Bob Larbey (As Time Goes By, Mulberry, The Good Life), Roy Clarke (Keeping Up Appearances, Open All Hours and Last of the Summer Wine), Jeremy Lloyd (Are You Being Served?, ‘Allo, ‘Allo) and Carla Lane (Butterflies). Equally as brilliant, have been the interviews with Geoffrey Palmer, Richard Briers, James Fleet, Trevor Peacock, Josephine Tewson, Frank Thornton, Trevor Bannister and Gareth Gwenlan. Click the link for more photos from last Fall’s interviews at the tellyspotting flickr page.

This week’s line-up

This is going to be just the other side of very cool.

  • Penelope Keith, The Good Life and To the Manor Born
  • Roger Lloyd Pack, Vicar of Dibley and The Old Guys
  • Clive Swift, Keeping Up Appearances and The Old Guys
  • Karl Howman, Mulberry and Brush Strokes
  • Harold Snoad, producer/director, Keeping Up Appearances
  • John Howard Davies, producer/director, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Reginald Perrin and The Good Life

If that’s not enough, topping the week off will be long-sought after interviews with Dawn French and Dame Judi Dench.

I can’t begin to thank everyone that has either been interviewed or has agreed to be interviewed. Really, really busy individuals that have set aside time from both shooting schedules and holiday schedules. All of us involved cannot thank them enough for their time and for the gifts they’ve given us over the years on both sides of the camera.

Bookmark tellyspotting and stop in over the next couple of weeks for posts that will include production photos and interview highlights. If you have questions for any of those listed above that we are interviewing, would love to hear them and we will do our best to incorporate them into the questioning. You can e-mail questions to [email protected] and we’ll give it a go.

  • Lisa C

    Fabulous! We’re looking forward to the show!

  • Dante

    This sounds great. I live in England though – is there any way we will be able to watch it?

    • @Dante: At this point, unfortunately nothing in the UK unless the BBC is interested in acquiring. It will be available on DVD after broadcast, however.

  • bdum

    No David Renwick?

    • @bdum: Good idea! Working on both David Renwick and possibly David Nobbs. Both One Foot in the Grave and Reggie Perrin are genius.

    • If I haven’t told you before how envious I am of you, Bill, let me take the opportunity now. I am so envious of you, Bill. Really looking forward to seeing the end product of your hard work.

  • You should treat your viewers by buying up the rights to show the BBC’s Comedy Connections series. Some fascinating insights, and it sounds like it would be a great compliment to this programme. http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/comedy_connections/

    • @Aaron: definitely looking into how we can incorporate Comedy Connections into the broadcast schedule. These programs were great. Thanks for the heads up and reminder.

  • Aqeelah

    Favorite ; role, co-star, and British comedy

  • Oh my goodness, I can’t wait! Will there be a way to view it for people who have moved from Dallas? No other PBS station compares to you guys!

    • Brandon, the upcoming interview is being done in London and will be part of a national PBS program on the writers of British comedy that will air in March 2011. It will be on PBS nationwide so you should be able to get on your local PBS station at that time. If you can let me know where you are located, I can tell you what station it will be on.

  • William

    Hold on. Did Bill Young say Reggie Perrin is genius? Mr. Young, you really need to see a doctor and have your meds changed. Reggie Perrin is about as funny as an inoperable tumor. The old guys are tolerable because of two excellent actors but in all honesty, the plot and story line is really starting to get old. Two old guys, one crass one meek who both have a crush on Sally who will never fall for either of them.

    Does KERA ever plan on bringing any more British Comedies on Saturday aside from the two you only show? You stack them all up on Sunday night that range until 2am. Here’s a hint Bill, those of us who do pledge? We have to go to work on Mondays.

    • William: Not sure of the specifics, but I don’t remember saying that Reginald Perrin was genius unless it was in the context of being genius “in it’s day”. Leonard Rossiter was brilliant not only in Reggie Perrin, but in a later series called Rising Damp in addition to his film roles in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Pink Panther Strikes Again. For what it was, Reggie Perrin is still, to this day, a classic British comedy. Regarding the KERA schedule for Saturdays and Sundays, it will be a bit before more comedies make their way to Saturday nights. Traditionally, the Saturday night line-up always did about 1/2 as good from an audience standpoint when compared to Sundays. With the ability to broadcast the likes of MI-5 and Doctor Who recently and then upcoming series like Life on Mars and Robin Hood will continue to reduce the British comedies to the hour that currently exists. I fully understand the concept of people being tired on Mondays because I’m right there with you as I watch all of them on Sunday nights also as do many, many KERA viewers and members. Given our earlier in the evening commitments on Sundays, unfortunately, 10p is the earliest they can begin. With the number of new and classic series that viewers keep asking for, I would find it hard to cut back on Sunday night British comedy line-up. We are always looking for a place to add some series, but as you can imagine, available broadcast time is very limited.