Fawlty Towers tops Radio Times greatest British sitcom list

Tuesday 9th April 2019, 10:30am

Fawlty Towers. Image shows from L to R: Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales), Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Polly (Connie Booth), Manuel (Andrew Sachs). Copyright: BBC

Fawlty Towers has come out top of a list of the greatest British TV sitcoms, as compiled by Radio Times.

The listings magazine asked 42 "comedy experts" to help compile the new list.

John Cleese comments of his show: "What a cast! I'm proud we are up there with Porridge and Only Fools and Ab Fab and Blackadder and The Office and Reggie Perrin and The Thick Of It."

The star, who co-wrote and played hotel manager Basil in the series, also added a dig at the BBC, commenting: "I was very lucky to be working at the BBC when decisions were taken by people who had actually made programmes."

Connie Booth, Cleese's then-wife with whom he wrote the series, and who starred as Polly, added: "It's unique in being a farce, with all the plot surprises and precision that the style requires. And it doesn't hurt that the star of the show is a six-foot-five comic genius; if he was shorter I can't imagine how it would have worked."

The list in full is:

Fawlty Towers. Image shows from L to R: Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales), Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Polly (Connie Booth), Manuel (Andrew Sachs). Copyright: BBC

1. Fawlty Towers

Father Ted. Image shows from L to R: Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O'Hanlon), Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan), Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn), Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly). Copyright: Hat Trick Productions

2. Father Ted

I'm Alan Partridge. Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan). Copyright: Talkback Productions

3. I'm Alan Partridge

Blackadder. Mr. Edmund Blackadder, Esquire (Rowan Atkinson)

4. Blackadder

Dad's Army. Image shows from L to R: Private Walker (James Beck), Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe). Copyright: BBC

5. Dad's Army

Only Fools And Horses. Del (David Jason). Copyright: BBC

6. Only Fools And Horses

Porridge. Image shows from L to R: Mr. Mackay (Fulton Mackay), Fletcher (Ronnie Barker), Godber (Richard Beckinsale). Copyright: BBC

7. Porridge

The Royle Family. Image shows from L to R: Denise Royle / Best (Caroline Aherne), Dave Best (Craig Cash), Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson), Antony Royle (Ralf Little)

8. The Royle Family

Absolutely Fabulous. Image shows from L to R: Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Saffron (Julia Sawalha), Edina (Jennifer Saunders), Mother (June Whitfield), Patsy (Joanna Lumley). Copyright: Saunders And French Productions / BBC

9. Absolutely Fabulous

dinnerladies. Brenda (Victoria Wood)

10. dinnerladies

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

11. The Thick Of It

The Office. David Brent (Ricky Gervais)

12. The Office

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

13. Peep Show

The Vicar Of Dibley. Geraldine Grainger (Dawn French). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions

14. The Vicar Of Dibley

The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. Image shows from L to R: Reginald Perrin (Leonard Rossiter), Doc Morrissey (John Horsley). Copyright: BBC

15. The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin

The Young Ones. Image shows from L to R: Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson), Neil (Nigel Planer), Mike (Christopher Ryan), Rick (Rik Mayall). Copyright: BBC

16. The Young Ones

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

17. Gavin & Stacey

The Good Life. Image shows from L to R: Margo Leadbetter (Penelope Keith), Tom Good (Richard Briers), Jerry Leadbetter (Paul Eddington), Barbara Good (Felicity Kendal). Copyright: BBC

18. The Good Life

Detectorists. Image shows from L to R: Lance Stater (Toby Jones), Andy Stone (Mackenzie Crook). Copyright: BBC

19. Detectorists

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?. Image shows from L to R: Terry Collier (James Bolam), Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes). Copyright: BBC

20. Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?

Detectorists is the only comedy made recently to feature in the list. Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham says: "In our memories, great comedies are pearls that become more burnished and beautiful through the years. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder."

The panel was comprised as follows: Barry Cryer, Richard Curtis, Kerry Godliman, Milton Jones, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Stefan Golaszewski, Neil Gibbons, Lolly Adefope, Iain Morris, Arthur Mathews, Shane Allen, Declan Lowney, Michael Parkinson, Mark Frith, Doug Naylor, Lisa McGee, Arabella Weir, Pater Baynham, Graham Linehan, Caitlin Moran, Jon Plowman, Andrew Collins, Simon Nye, Kevin Eldon, Vicki Pepperdine, Mathew Baynton, Kerry Howard, Alison Graham, David Butcher, Robert Popper, Sam Bain, Simon Carlyle, Adam Tandy, Jeremy Vine, Simon Day, Paul Mayhew-Archer, Jane Rackham, David Brown, Nicholas Parsons, Nick Helm and John Challis.

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