The Comedy.co.uk Awards 2011
Here are the results of The Comedy.co.uk Awards 2011 - the TV and radio comedy awards decided entirely via a public vote, with every new programme that broadcast during the year (over 340 different shows in 2011, for the record!) nominated.
This year's results largely highlight how fragmented comedy has become: long gone are those shows that either everyone loved or everyone hated; instead now we find series that are highly targeted towards particular demographics and audience sectors, splitting the voters with some predictable - and surprising - results...
Best New British TV Sitcom 2011
We loved Sky's new family-friendly sitcom, and are delighted that our visitors do too. After years of playing solid but nevertheless second-fiddle roles in programmes from Saxondale to Green Wing and Whites to Kiss Me Kate, actor Darren Boyd was flung front and centre as the mild-mannered accidental MI5 recruit and single father Tim, and he delivered with aplomb. Channel 4's Friday Night Dinner and BBC One's Mrs. Brown's Boys also scored very highly in this category, but it was the lively, genuinely laugh-out-loud funny scripts from Simeon Goulden and a top-notch cast supporting Boyd that cemented Spy's position as the Best New TV Sitcom of 2011.
Worst New British TV Sitcom 2011
Mrs. Brown's Boys
Despite only narrowly missing out on the 'Best' title, popular hit of the year Mrs. Brown's Boys also polled a significant number of negative votes, earning it the unwanted label of Worst New TV Sitcom for 2011.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Life's Too Short was a very close contender for this 'prize'; it certainly seemed to disappoint many contributors to our message board, particularly so after the heights of Extras and The Office.
Best Returning British TV Sitcom 2011
Following a break of nearly 7 years, Jennifer Saunders' riotous sitcom returned to screens this festive period. The Christmas special was suitably well received - and highly anticipated enough - to garner your votes to crown it the Best Returning TV Sitcom. An Olympics special is set to follow in the summer, and word from TV Centre has it that a whole new series and specials are likely, so will this win be repeated for 2012 or 13?
After a tricky few years, bosses at BBC One can sleep a little easier tonight, with the knowledge that fellow channel-mates Not Going Out and Outnumbered also did extremely well in this category. BBC Two's Rev wasn't far behind.
Worst Returning British TV Sitcom 2011
Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps
Having picked up the same not-so-coveted gong for its previous series in 2009, British Comedy Guide readers continued to voice their dislike for this BBC Three sitcom in 2011. Despite some key cast departures the show actually managed to increase its audience figures during Series 9 and wasn't received too badly by its fans, but those that voted for it in this category can rest easy with the knowledge that new BBC Three boss Zai Bennett has brought the show to an end.
Best British Radio Sitcom 2011
This sitcom set around the adventures of a tiny airline company has captured a large Radio 4 fan base since its premiere in 2008. Writer John Finnemore (left) mixes carefully planned plots and sharp dialogue with an array of utterly joyful characters to create a winning show. Fans will be pleased to hear it's coming back for another series, even though Benedict Cumberbatch has been catapulted to TV stardom as the new Sherlock Holmes. Someone at production company Pozzitive should crack open a bottle of bubbly to 2011, as their other sitcom - Another Case Of Milton Jones - was second in this category.
Best British TV Sketch Show 2011
The drought of sketch shows during 2011 has been widely commented upon, with Come Fly With Me the only big prime-time terrestrial TV sketch vehicle - and even that was somewhere between sitcom and satire, being as it was a mockumentary. However, one of the few sketch series that did broadcast has kept its high quality level for years: CBBC's Horrible Histories. Fellow childrens' show and now sadly cancelled Sorry, I've Got No Head came a close second place in the poll, proving that comedy fans are willing to seek out the best comedy, wherever it might be. A fourth series of Horrible Histories has already been recorded and will broadcast a little later in the year.
Worst British TV Sketch Show 2011
Lee Nelson's Well Good Show
Lee Nelson's Well Good Show is, according to our readers, anything but 'well good'. The series, which mixes studio games and audience interaction segments with pre-filmed sketches, gets fairly decent ratings and clearly knows its audience, but it seems that they just don't often vote in our awards.
Best British Radio Sketch Show 2011
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme
A second win for John Finnemore, but perhaps not surprising as his sketch show - the first programme to go out in Radio 4's new Sunday night comedy slot - was a winning mix of clever skits and wonderful wordplay, and all done without repeating or beating ideas to death. There's no word yet of a second series or not, but here's hoping...
Best British TV Panel Show 2011
Would I Lie To You?
This BBC One panel show has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years, with Lee Mack and David Mitchell's playful arguments at the heart of many people's enjoyment of the programme. The opening episode of the 2011 series was hailed by many as the best yet - as host Rob Brydon and The Apprentice's Nick Hewer's antics with a 'cuddle jumper' reduced the studio and viewers at home to tears of laughter. However, this was another particularly fiercely fought category, with QI, HIGNFY and Shooting Stars also attracting many votes.
Worst British TV Panel Show 2011
Despite attracting record breaking audience figures in 2011, the ITV2 panel show fronted by Leigh Francis's comedy creation Keith Lemon failed to impress our voters. The series is doing wonders for its home channel though, so don't expect an end any time soon. Prime time Channel 4 hit Chris Moyles Quiz Night also scored rather highly for this somewhat dubious title.
Best British Radio Panel Show 2011
The Unbelievable Truth
It first appeared on the airwaves just 6 years ago, but David Mitchell's The Unbelievable Truth is fast looking like it could join the likes of ISIHAC, Just A Minute and The News Quiz as a Radio 4 signature programme. The format is simple: contestants must spot true facts amongst the lies told in pre-prepared lectures. Playing the game, however, is not...
Congratulations to David Mitchell and the production team for beating the more established panel show giants in the voting.
Best British TV Entertainment Show 2011
The Graham Norton Show
This category, which mixes the burgeoning TV genres of stand-up, comic chat shows and other satire, saw strong support for Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle and Harry Hill's TV Burp, but it was The Graham Norton Show that polled the most votes. Norton's chat show has been going from strength-to-strength since it confidently took over the Jonathan Ross slot, with the host expertly handling his guests and squeezing comic mileage out of all their stories.
Worst British TV Entertainment Show 2011
The Ricky Gervais Show
This animated TV series received the most negative votes in the TV entertainment category. As 2010's first series didn't annoy anyone, we can only speculate that the public are beginning to tire of Gervais's elephant ego and dismissive comments towards any British comedy he hasn't written; not to mention the hugely hyped shambles that was recent sitcom Life's Too Short. Has Reading's boy wonder finally lost his sparkle?
Best British Radio Entertainment Show 2011
French & Saunders
Long standing comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have been taking to Radio 2's airwaves since Boxing Day 2010 with a periodic series of holiday specials. The duo's natural charm and likeability have combined perfectly with the radio medium in this chat and entertainment show, as evidenced by their taking this title for Best British Radio Entertainment Show 2011.
Best British TV Comedy Drama 2011
This Channel 4 comedy drama may have been created and part-written by Peep Show creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, but it still surprised almost everyone with just how good it was. Jack Whitehall was a particular revelation - often written off as just 'another young comic' propelled above his station, Fresh Meat proved that he has genuine talent and really can act. It was a fine cast all round though, with Greg McHugh as the rather creepy Howard also a particular joy. The series will be back later this year.
BBC Four's Holy Flying Circus, the gloriously silly re-telling of the controversy surrounding Monty Python's Life Of Brian, also scored very well in this category. The seemingly never-ending juggernaut that is bleak comic-drama Shameless picks up the Worst TV Comedy Drama title.
Worst Comedy Of The Year 2011
Mrs. Brown's Boys
And so we come to the least coveted award of them all. Sitcom proves itself to be the passionate staple, the very core of British comedy once more, as the Worst New British TV Sitcom as voted by you, also picks up the gong for the worst comedy of any type on any medium in 2011: Mrs. Brown's Boys. It may be enjoying great DVD sales, high viewing figures and unprecedented requests for tickets to see the show recorded, but this particular sitcom also polarised opinion right from the off, being almost universally condemned within the comedy world, and hardly a favourite with the critics.
Comedy Of The Year 2011
Proving that you don't need to talk down to children, and that it's still possible to be a little silly and not crude yet still very funny, readers of The British Comedy Guide voted Horrible Histories as the single best comedy of 2011.
A winning mix of witty songs, educational sketches, dry dialogue and surprisingly dark yet child-friendly humour have made this sketch show a hit with parents, kids, students and comedy fans alike.
As sitcoms continue falling over themselves to be as 'realistic' as possible, and in a year when it got its own Prom at the BBC's prestigious Royal Albert Hall season, not to mention being treated to a prime-time highlights series hosted by none other than mainstream intellectual comedy supremo Stephen Fry, it's perhaps not all that surprising to see such an accolade handed out. How's that for a kids' show?
British Comedy Guide Editors' Award 2011
Each year we reserve one award to be given out to something, or someone, that we think deserves a little extra attention, a pat on the back, or perhaps just a reminder of their achievements.
This year, that award goes to satellite network Sky, for their commitment to creating and supporting British comedy during 2011. They've spent millions on the development of a raft of new shows, as the constant stream of commissions filling up our news section proves.
Okay, so sports panel show A League Of Their Own is a bit bloated, and no, not all of the new programmes have worked quite as well as they did on paper (Wall Of Fame, anyone?), but family sitcom Spy has been rewarded by the public, and the recent second series of Little Crackers was a festive highlight.
Many channels in the past, including Sky1 themselves, and even ITV1 today, have tried to do comedy and thrown their toys out of the pram as soon as they failed to get an instantaneous hit. The modern Sky however, is continuing to invest in and stick with shows, allowing them time to grow - from the experimental This Is Jinsy to the more mainstream likes of supermarket sitcom Trollied, for which 37 brand new episodes were ordered almost immediately. (Which other broadcaster would order another 37 episodes just like that?) We think it a good strategy as, after all, some of this country's most famous sitcoms took a few years to warm up.
It may be a controversial choice in some quarters, but at a time when many other channels appear to be floundering and struggling to even search for a hit, we want to commend Sky for their actions.
Thanks to everyone who cast their vote, and congratulations to all of the winners. Join us next January to have your say on the comedies broadcasting this year.
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