What do you think of the British sitcom landscape?

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RebekaM2

  • Friday 18th December 2020, 1:20am [Edited]
  • Australia
  • 5 posts

Back when I was in high school (2007-2014) it seemed like sitcoms were really good in the UK, and that everyone was watching them. Gavin and Stacey, The IT Crowd, The Inbetweeners, Misfits etc. Now it seems they're few and far between.

Whether there's less demand for them or whether they're just not as good as before I'm not sure (seems like the latter though). Anyone know what happened to the British sitcom? From as far back as I can remember there's always been 5 or 6 really good British sitcoms on at any given time, until the last 5-10 years when they seem to be much more sparse.

What are British sitcoms today missing that they used to have?

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Firkin

  • Friday 18th December 2020, 8:21pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 1,138 posts

Possibly it's because more and more are turning to social media, youtubers , Instagram etc... Fewer own a TV more search on demand and different formats are needed.

There have been some great ones recently such as Fleabag, Flowers and Mum. But all those lean away from the traditional sitcom and are all tinged with sadness. Would you call them comedies ?

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chipolata

  • Friday 18th December 2020, 10:30pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 30,171 posts

I think the TV landscape is so different now it's hard to compare. Not as many British sitcoms seem to breakthrough the way they used to, but there's still good stuff (Fleabag, Home, etc). And as Firkin said, the audiences that would have once obsessively championed sitcoms are now busy with a zillion other platforms.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 9:19am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 6,505 posts

Sitcoms have morphed into drama heavy half hour comedy dramas with adult themes and content for no other reason than the writing of them has been passed on almost exclusively to stand up comedians with little or no grasp of sitcom form and conventions. It's been largely a case of commissioners giving carte blanche to known names to recycle their own stage show material into an unsuitable TV format. Because the new wave of commissioners are clueless too. Morning.

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Hercules Grytpype Thynne

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 9:29am
  • England
  • 18,802 posts
Quote: Alfred J Kipper @ 19th December 2020, 9:19 AM

Sitcoms have morphed into drama heavy half hour comedy dramas with adult themes and content for no other reason than the writing of them has been passed on almost exclusively to stand up comedians with little or no grasp of sitcom form and conventions. It's been largely a case of commissioners giving carte blanche to known names to recycle their own stage show material into an unsuitable TV format. Because the new wave of commissioners are clueless too. Morning.

Yes

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Billy Bunter

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 10:15am [Edited]
  • The Sussex Coast, England
  • 1,584 posts

... which is why we've had to endure such inappropriate vehicles as Fleabag and Mum in recent years. Good drama perhaps, social conscience maybe but completely forgetting the "com" part of sitcom.

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Chappers

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 11:20am
  • Surreyish., England
  • 32,020 posts

Why? Um - why not?

Anyway most of what you suggest (Except the IT Crowd) I've not got into.

It seems to be a generational thing. They seem to be trying to attract the teenage audience.

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Piggler

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 11:21am [Edited]
  • 26 posts

I think Red Dwarf, Not Going Out and Upstart Crow are probably the only "sitcoms" still being made (let's ignore Mrs Brown's Boys.) The rest are comedy-drama really.

They've been bringing back several sitcoms though lately for reboots or one-offs (Vicar of Dibley, Birds of a Feather etc.) so I would guess this means there's still an appetite for them, just not really any supply.

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Lazzard

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 3:01pm [Edited]
  • Ludlow, England
  • 5,090 posts

I'm not sure many people want to write them any more.
I think they've got their eye on a bigger prize.

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paulted

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 3:45pm
  • 127 Inkerman Terrace, Newcastle, England
  • 678 posts

Its hard to make a comedy these days without a target to poke fun at as everyone takes offense at the slightest thing. Issues aplenty
Basil Fawlty-his parents presumably didn't love him?
Frank Spencer-special needs?
Norman Stanley Fletcher-A broken home?
Martin Bryce-bullied at school?
The Steptoes-Oh the poverty!
John Inman as Mr Humphries-so i'm camp, deal with it!

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Piggler

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 4:57pm [Edited]
  • 26 posts
Quote: Lazzard @ 19th December 2020, 3:01 PM

I'm not sure many people want to write them any more.
I think they've got their eye on a bigger prize.

Unfortunately, the fewer sitcoms we see, the less likely it is that new writers will bother creating one. Why would you bother writing a sitcom if nobody will commision it? Especially if it will be instantly ripped apart on Twitter.

It seems much easier to make a 2 minute vid online, requiring a lot less investment.

Comedies written by stand-ups keep getting comissioned too (as stated in Alfred J Kipper's great comment earlier.) This also puts off new writers, unless they can "get famous" first by making a viral video for social media.

I'm still planning to write a sitcom :-D but prospects of any success with it seem exceptionally bleak, which isn't exactly a boost to the ol' motivation.

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Lazzard

  • Saturday 19th December 2020, 5:21pm [Edited]
  • Ludlow, England
  • 5,090 posts

I just don't think 'quality' writers see it as a medium for them any more.
And I think they're probably right.
I think the good sitcoms are often produced when you harness a better writer than the show deserves into a rather restrictive format. The writers constantly wishing they could do something with a little more heft - hence long running series inevitably drifting into more narrative, comedy/drama style (OHAH etc)
It's the sort of Butlin's end of things, where they see themselves swanning up the red carpet to pick up a Bafta.
I think the old, old comedies Dad's Army etc etc were written by a completely different breed of writer.
Gag writing teams, often as not moving across from radio. No ambitions for greater things, just happy to have a cushy job in the warm.
Different world now.

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Chappers

  • Sunday 20th December 2020, 4:10pm
  • Surreyish., England
  • 32,020 posts

A shame it is a different world because I'm sure there are loads of people who like the old style. Ghosts seems to be in that category.

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Lazzard

  • Sunday 20th December 2020, 5:09pm
  • Ludlow, England
  • 5,090 posts
Quote: Chappers @ 20th December 2020, 4:10 PM

I'm sure there are loads of people who like the old style.

I think the bulk of the general public are probably satisfied with the abundance of classic repeats on the box.
I'm not sure the demand for brand new sitcoms is particularly vocal?
It is on here, of course, but were a pretty specialist bunch of people.

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Sitcomfan64

  • Sunday 20th December 2020, 10:05pm
  • England
  • 837 posts
Quote: Piggler @ 19th December 2020, 11:21 AM

I think Red Dwarf, Not Going Out and Upstart Crow are probably the only "sitcoms" still being made (let's ignore Mrs Brown's Boys.) The rest are comedy-drama really.

They've been bringing back several sitcoms though lately for reboots or one-offs (Vicar of Dibley, Birds of a Feather etc.) so I would guess this means there's still an appetite for them, just not really any supply.

You mean ignore Mrs Brown's Boys, arguably the most popular sitcom this century? Comedy is subjective but the viewing figures are undeniable.

Kate and Koji is the most recent studio sitcom I can think of.