New BBC controller, Danny Cohen, lobbed the first grenade with his desire for the Beeb to “…curb middle class comedy” and add more “…blue-collar comedy shows“. Series like the long-running My Family and Outnumbered seem to not reflect the country as a whole. According to Cohen, the UK needs more shows like Only Fools and Horses, Bread and Birds of a Feather, British comedy series from the 80’s that represented ‘ordinary working class life’.
Jeremy Lloyd quickly caught the grenade and threw it back. A few indisputable points from the brilliant co-creator/co-writer mind of such British comedy classics as Are You Being Served? and ‘Allo ‘Allo when referencing Cohen’s comments…
- …both programmes were fantastic and deserved their success. But they were successful because they were funny, not because they focused on a certain class or section of society.
- Danny Cohen is missing the point. Comedy is not about the differences between us – rather it is the glue that holds us all together
- The definition of a good comedy is quite simple. It relies on good writing, good acting and a good ear for dialogue.
Lloyd sums up his thoughts as only a great comedy writer such as he would “…I was lucky enough to write when there were few such restrictions. I was not expected to reflect the working, middle or upper classes. I was simply expected to write something that was funny. It’s comedy, not politics, after all. Danny Cohen would do well to remember that“.
We interviewed Jeremy Lloyd for our upcoming PBS special, Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen, premiering in March. He reiterated his comments by saying it’s not only the writing, but paid wonderful tribute to his Are You Being Served stars including Frank Thornton, John Inman, Mollie Sugden, Wendy Richard and Trevor Bannister by saying, “…the casting was a brilliant piece of casting. We could never replace them and I don’t think we could find them again today.“