Cowards. Image shows from L to R: Tim Key, Stefan Golaszewski, Lloyd Woolf, Tom Basden. Copyright: Angel Eye Media.


BBC Four sketch show programme. 3 episodes (1 series) in 2009. Stars Tom Basden, Stefan Golaszewski, Tim Key and Lloyd Woolf.

Press Clippings

The best comedy of 2019

Another year has past and once again it's been a pretty amazing one for comedy across the board, and it's been hard to whittle each category down to a top 10. But here are our suggestions for the best tv, film and live comedy of the year, along with a couple of other lists as well.

Alex Finch, Comedy To Watch, 31st December 2019

Cult Classics: Cowards

The series received a lot of praise from the press, and yet a second series was bizarrely not given to them which is frustrating and disappointing.

Comedy To Watch, 31st January 2019

Wednesday is such a dog day afternoon of a night it's been a mighty relief to turn to the re-run of Cowards (BBC4) for a spot of comic diversion and a puzzle over 'a hug and a cuddle: they're two very different things'.

This sketch show had so much going for it - it's not a panel game, it's got four strong characters, it's actually clever and funny - that obviously it got only three episodes without a sniff of any more. Yet more proof of the lunacy of the BBC commissioning department: the comedy cavemen and judges of Cowards could have run and run.

Keith Watson, Metro, 18th August 2010

This sketch show didn't attract much attention on its first run earlier this year, but is worth revisiting. Yes, it's frightfully Footlights-y and the quiet, deadpan delivery isn't new, but Tim Key, Stefan Golaszewski, Lloyd Woolf and Tom Basden take just enough risks to set themselves apart. There's a running longform sketch where they all live absurdly together in a caravan, while the highlight of each episode tends to be a wilfully random, spectacularly insulting animation about celebrities' private lives. From these mild surprises come laughs.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 4th August 2009

More smart ideas from the likeable combo. Their Partridgian misfits and Colin Hunts soon pall, but the oddball stuff is terrific: the chain of resentment set up by some dropped coins; the host who overinvites to a party; and "Martin Clunes Knocky Door", a cartoon that's as stupidly funny as its title.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 3rd February 2009

Does BBC Comedy have some sort of Soviet five year plan to quintuple the production of sketch shows? Is there a sketch show arms race being fought with a rival broadcaster?

Cowards is yet another one, but I have to say that it is funny and original enough to stand out from an ever increasing crowd. The humour is a mix of the deadpan and the surreal, performed with subtlety and skill. Having said that, episode one was stolen by a long haired terrier who - assisted by subtitles - was trying to explain through barking that he was actually a man under a witch's curse.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 27th January 2009

Blog Review

Cowards is a new sketch show that doesn't completely suck. I mean it's still hit-and-miss, but the great thing about Cowards is that I don't mind watching the misses because they're still being performed by hugely watchable comedians.

Anna Lowman, TV Scoop, 21st January 2009

I'm not afraid to say I love Cowards

It's only got a three-show taster run, but the episodes are brilliant. If BBC4 has got any sense - and the likes of The Thick Of It and Screenwipe suggests so - they'll order a second, full-length series pronto.

Will Dean, The Guardian, 20th January 2009

This gaggle of fraidy-pants have managed to stop their knees knocking in terror to produce this spiky sketch show, featuring a gang of delinquent judges and a dinner party at which boring old Trivial Pursuit is swapped for revolver-based fun.

What's On TV, 20th January 2009

Sketch shows rarely justify the sum of their parts, but there is sometimes an exception. Adapted from the Radio 4 show, the cowards in question are comedians Tim Key, Tom Basden, Stefan Golaszewski and Lloyd Woolf and their act works because the sketches are a blend of the subtle, imaginative and absurd. Scenarios include an excruciatingly dark Russian-roulette dinner-party game.

Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 20th January 2009