Radio Times launches a poll to name the best sitcom since 2000

Tuesday 19th July 2016, 8:37pm

Radio Times poll
  • Radio Times has launched a public poll to name the best 'modern' British TV sitcom
  • 40 shows have been shortlisted, but some of the most successful sitcoms have been omitted
  • You can vote for your favourite online, with the poll closing on 11th August 2016

Radio Times has a launched a poll to discover the nation's favourite sitcom of the 21st Century to date.

The magazine has drawn up a shortlist of 40 shows, devised by its own critics and TV experts at the BFI.

Editor Ben Preston says: "Ask people to name their greatest sitcom and the answer is usually Fawlty Towers, Dad's Army or possibly Porridge. Four decades after the so-called Golden Age of Comedy, these shows haven't lost their laughs or lustre. Astonishingly, Dad's Army is still the most popular repeat on BBC Two.

"But now we're asking a fresh question: what's the best comedy of this century? RT's critics, together with TV experts at the BFI, spent hours wrangling over our shortlist of 40 - from The Office to Miranda and The Inbetweeners to Peter Kay's Car Share and Rev. This back catalogue of new comedy classics is seriously funny. But which is your favourite?"

The shortlist was unveiled in the new issue of Radio Times, which marks the first live broadcast of Mrs Brown's Boys, which is due to take place this Saturday, commissioned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of influential sitcom Hancock's Half Hour moving to television.

However, the shortlist contains a number of notable omissions. Two of the BBC's longest-running sitcoms of the century so far, My Family and Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, do not appear; whilst other popular series such as Coupling and Still Open All Hours are also missing.

It should be noted long-running shows such as Birds Of A Feather and Red Dwarf, whilst still broadcasting new episodes, are not eligible for inclusion in the poll as the magazine has stipulated that shows must not have started before the turn of the century.

Votes can be cast online, with the poll closing on Thursday 11th August 2016. Visit

Here's the full 'Radio Times 21st Century Sitcom Shortlist', in alphabetical order. Each entry also features a brief description written by the magazine. Click on the title of the show for BCG's in-depth guide to that programme.

Bad Education. Alfie (Jack Whitehall). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions

Bad Education
Would you let Jack Whitehall educate your kids? He ripped up the school rules as feckless teacher Alfie Wickers, in three thoroughly delinquent series and a naughty film spin-off.

Benidorm. Mateo (Jake Canuso). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions

Holiday-makers return year after year to the Solana all-inclusive resort in Spain - as do audiences to ITV's cheeky, sassy, award-winning ensemble farce about Brits behaving badly.

Black Books. Image shows from L to R: Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey), Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig). Copyright: Assembly Film And Television

Black Books
Don't enter Bernard Black's domain if you want good customer service, or even a book... Dylan Moran played one of TV's worst misanthropes in a shop-com with a gleefully absurdist bent.

Catastrophe. Image shows from L to R: Rob (Rob Delaney), Sharon (Sharon Horgan). Copyright: Avalon Television

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney give rom-coms an affectionate kick up the rear with a rude, sexy, heartfelt story about an accidental couple laughing through the chaos of parenthood.

Citizen Khan. Mr Khan (Adil Ray). Copyright: BBC

Citizen Khan
Immediately a point of debate for its ground-breaking use of a British Muslim lead character, the show following Adil Ray's deluded "community leader" is a traditional sitcom at heart.

Count Arthur Strong. Image shows from L to R: Count Arthur Strong (Steve Delaney), Michael Baker (Rory Kinnear)

Count Arthur Strong
Steve Delaney remains fully, brilliantly immersed in a creation that was a cult Radio 4 hit - but the wider palette of television gives his wonky old music-hall entertainer new warmth.

Detectorists. Image shows from L to R: Russell (Pearce Quigley), Varde (Orion Ben), Louise (Laura Checkley), Lance Stater (Toby Jones), Andy Stone (Mackenzie Crook), Terry (Gerard Horan), Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), Hugh (Divian Ladwa). Copyright: Channel X / Lola Entertainment

The subtlest show on the list. Toby Jones and writer Mackenzie Crook played two pals trying and failing to dodge adult responsibilities by hunting treasure in the grey-green Essex countryside.

Early Doors. Image shows from L to R: Joe (Craig Cash), Duffy (Phil Mealey). Copyright: Phil McIntyre Entertainment

Early Doors
After The Royle Family, its co-creator Craig Cash helped to come up with another low-key gang who were almost as well drawn: friends and family chatting away in an old-fashioned pub.

Episodes. Image shows from L to R: Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greig), Matt LeBlanc (Matt LeBlanc), Sean Lincoln (Stephen Mangan). Copyright: Hat Trick Productions / BBC

Friends star Matt LeBlanc deadpans a grotesque version of himself in a TV industry lid-lifter that paints actors and writers as even more ruthless, vain and ridiculous than you suspected.

Extras. Image shows from L to R: Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen), Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais), Darren Lamb (Stephen Merchant)

Celebs playing themselves in sitcoms is common now; it wasn't when Ricky Gervais followed up The Office with a bitterly funny take on fame, success and how not to handle them.

Friday Night Dinner. Image shows from L to R: Martin (Paul Ritter), Jonny (Tom Rosenthal), Adam (Simon Bird), Jackie (Tamsin Greig)

Friday Night Dinner
A Jewish family's weekly meal at Mum and Dad's (Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter) house always leaves their grown-up sons (Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal) aghast with embarrassment, in a riotous portrayal of inter-generational cringe.

Gavin & Stacey. Image shows from L to R: Stacey (Joanna Page), Gavin (Mathew Horne), Smithy (James Corden), Nessa (Ruth Jones). Copyright: Baby Cow Productions

Gavin & Stacey
Ruth Jones and James Corden put BBC3 on the comedy map with their beautifully open-hearted tale of two families - from Billericay and Barry Island - becoming one fabulously eccentric clan.

Getting On. Image shows from L to R: Sister Den Flixter (Joanna Scanlan), Nurse Kim Wilde (Jo Brand), Doctor Pippa Moore (Vicki Pepperdine). Copyright: Vera Productions

Getting On
A quiet scream about the slow death of the NHS, starring Joanna Scanlan and Jo Brand as nurses staying sane by winning small victories against Vicki Pepperdine's snooty bureaucrat.

Green Wing. Image shows from L to R: Guy Secretan (Stephen Mangan), Sue White (Michelle Gomez), Martin Dear (Karl Theobald), Caroline Todd (Tamsin Greig), Mac Macartney (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Boyce (Oliver Chris), Joanna Clore (Pippa Haywood), Alan Statham (Mark Heap). Copyright: Talkback Productions

Green Wing
A mash-up of sketch show, sitcom and some sort of surreal ballet, with Stephen Mangan and future Doctor Who star Michelle Gomez among the medics in need of urgent attention themselves.

Him & Her. Image shows from L to R: Becky (Sarah Solemani), Steve (Russell Tovey). Copyright: Big Talk Productions

Him & Her
Stefan Golaszewski, writer of Mum, made his name by mapping out the minutiae of life as lived by filthy, lazy 20-somethings (Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani), happily stuck in a tiny flat.

Lead Balloon. Rick Spleen (Jack Dee). Copyright: Open Mike Productions

Lead Balloon
Jack Dee didn't stretch himself much by portraying a curmudgeonly comedian - but he excelled in co-writing a sitcom with some of the most fiendishly neat plotting ever seen on screen.

Man Down. Image shows from L to R: Mr Klackov (Steven Berkoff), Brian (Mike Wozniak), Dan (Greg Davies), Nesta (Stephanie Cole), Mum (Gwyneth Powell), Jo (Roisin Conaty)

Man Down
Colossal talent Greg Davies created his own ideal alter ego in Dan, an overgrown child whose gift for landing himself in humiliating chaos means he can never, ever grow up.

Miranda. Image shows from L to R: Gary (Tom Ellis), Miranda (Miranda Hart)

Miranda Hart made herself a superstar by reviving live-audience sitcom - with a broken fourth wall, a smidge of romance and an awful lot of tripping over hatstands. Such fun!

Moone Boy. Image shows from L to R: Sean Murphy (Chris O'Dowd), Martin (David Rawle)

Moone Boy
To Ireland in the late 80s for an inventive labour of love co-created by Chris O'Dowd: he's the imaginary friend of a kid (the phenomenal David Rawle) who's constantly baffled by his own family's oddness.

Mrs. Brown's Boys. Image shows from L to R: Buster Brady (Danny O'Carroll), Grandad Brown (Dermot O'Neill), Dino Doyle (Gary Hollywood), Rory Brown (Rory Cowan), Cathy Brown (Jennifer Gibney), Mark Brown (Pat Shields), Betty Brown (Amanda Woods), Winnie McGoogan (Eilish O'Carroll), Dermot Brown (Paddy Houlihan), Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll), Maria Nicholson / Brown (Fiona O'Carroll). Copyright: BBC / BocPix

Mrs Brown's Boys
Critics hate it. A lot of viewers agree. But millions more get bigger belly laughs from Brendan O'Carroll's rude theatrical romp than any other television show this decade.

Nathan Barley. Nathan Barley (Nicholas Burns). Copyright: TalkbackThames

Nathan Barley
Innovative, packed with future stars (Ayoade, Whishaw, Cumberbatch) and eerily prescient about the rise of hipsters, this black satire was written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris.

Nighty Night. Jill Tyrell (Julia Davis). Copyright: Baby Cow Productions

Nighty Night
Do monstrous characters need a good heart underneath it all? Julia Davis said no by creating and playing the sociopathic Jill in perhaps the darkest, cruellest TV comedy of all time.

Not Going Out. Image shows from L to R: Lee (Lee Mack), Lucy (Sally Bretton). Copyright: Avalon Television / Arlo Productions

Not Going Out
Gags, gags, gags, gags, gags. Lee Mack was a man who could not stop cracking jokes in a show that coined more fantastic one-liners every minute than most comedies manage in half an hour.

Outnumbered. Image shows from L to R: Ben (Daniel Roche), Pete (Hugh Dennis), Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), Karen (Ramona Marquez), Sue (Claire Skinner). Copyright: Hat Trick Productions

The family sitcom was brought right up to date by a naturalistic, almost bleak portrait of nice middle-class parents (Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner) utterly failing to control three kids hellbent on bedlam.

Peep Show. Image shows from L to R: Jeremy Usbourne (Robert Webb), Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell). Copyright: Objective Productions

Peep Show
What goes on in single men's heads? Hearing Jez and Mark (Robert Webb and David Mitchell) think gave us the answer in gross detail. Beneath that gimmick were rock-solid scripts.

Car Share. John Redmond (Peter Kay). Copyright: Goodnight Vienna Productions

Peter Kay's Car Share
A sublime comeback for Kay after years away from our screens. He and the previously unknown Sian Gibson had unbeatable chemistry as two carpooling colleagues who might just love each other.

Phoenix Nights. Brian Potter (Peter Kay). Copyright: Goodnight Vienna Productions / Ovation Entertainments

Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights
Kay shot straight into the television comedy A-list with his observation of the pettiness, delusions and eccentricities swirling around a working men's club full of knackered showmen.

Psychoville. Mr Jelly (Reece Shearsmith)

After The League of Gentlemen, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith dreamed up a whole new cast of comic grotesques, all linked together in a bravura display of the duo's rotten imagination.

Pulling. Image shows from L to R: Louise (Rebekah Staton), Billy (Paul Kaye), Karen (Tanya Franks), Karl (Cavan Clerkin), Donna (Sharon Horgan). Copyright: Silver River

Cancelled far too early, Sharon 'Catastrophe' Horgan's debut still has no equal when it comes to showing women in as hilariously unflattering a light as their male comedy counterparts.

Raised By Wolves. Image shows from L to R: Germaine Garry (Helen Monks), Wyatt Garry (Caden Ellis Wall), Yoko Garry (Molly Risker), Mariah Garry (Erin Freeman), Della Garry (Rebekah Staton), Grampy (Philip Jackson), Aretha Garry (Alexa Davies). Copyright: Big Talk Productions

Raised By Wolves
Writers Caroline and Caitlin Moran draw on their own pasts as freewheeling, home-schooled sisters to create comedy's coolest new gang: a sprawling, smart working-class family in Wolverhampton.

Rev.. Rev Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander). Copyright: Big Talk Productions

Sitcoms had featured clergymen before, but never with the thoughtfulness and humanity of a show that dared to depict its hero (Tom Hollander) as deeply flawed and uncertain of his own faith. Transcendent.

The Inbetweeners. Image shows from L to R: Jay Cartwright (James Buckley), Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas). Copyright: Bwark Productions

The Inbetweeners
The ultimate in teenagers behaving badly. A gang of boys who weren't nerds, but certainly weren't cool either, constantly trying to ascend the social ladder and get girls, but failing horribly every single time.

The IT Crowd. Image shows from L to R: Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Moss (Richard Ayoade), Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry). Copyright: TalkbackThames

The IT Crowd
A colourful parade of silliness from sitcom master Graham Linehan, starring Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson as a team of geeks with no idea how anything works, let alone computers.

The Office. David Brent (Ricky Gervais)

The Office
Perfect from episode one and influential for years afterwards, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's understated masterpiece was the first classic of the century. Has it ever been bettered?

The Trip. Image shows from L to R: Rob (Rob Brydon), Steve (Steve Coogan). Copyright: Baby Cow Productions / Arbie

The Trip
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, lording it up in fine restaurants, competing to do the best celeb impersonations and revealing their own anxieties: very funny and possibly, tantalisingly close to reality.

The Thick Of It. Image shows from L to R: Oliver Reeder (Chris Addison), Terri Coverley (Joanna Scanlan), Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front), Glenn Cullen (James Smith), Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Copyright: BBC

The Thick Of It
Armando Iannucci's documentary-style farce nailed the madness of letting spin doctors and media managers control politicians. It's not his fault real politics has now become even more absurd.

Toast Of London. Steven Toast (Matt Berry). Copyright: Objective Productions

Toast Of London
"Yes. Yeeeees. YES!" Matt Berry has, gloriously, let his almost animal comic talent loose as spectacular failure Steven Toast - the ultimate in fruity, completely self-unaware thespians about town.

W1A. Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville). Copyright: BBC

Twenty Twelve and W1A
Set among Olympics organisers and then the BBC itself, this mock-doc was a horribly accurate portrait of modern working life: meetings, mix-ups, stupid buzzwords and some very stupid people.

The Worst Week Of My Life. Image shows from L to R: Howard (Ben Miller), Mel (Sarah Alexander). Copyright: Hat Trick Productions

The Worst Week Of My Life
Old-fashioned farce can still work if it's done as well as this: Ben Miller was panic personified as a man whose wedding preparations were doomed to end in the worst possible embarrassment.

Yonderland. Debbie Maddox (Martha Howe-Douglas). Copyright: Working Title Films

Kids and adults can rarely enjoy the same show on the same level. But this gorgeous Python-esque fantasy from the Horrible Histories gang - and their puppet friends - was a joy for the whole family.

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