Top 20 Fictional TV Shows


From Kermit the Frog to Arthur Fowler via Johnny Drama and John Fashanu, behold some of the best shows that have never existed.

By this point in time, we'd hazard a guess that unless you're Amish (in which case you really shouldn't be on the internet), you're probably partial to a bit of telly. And you're in good company, as some of our best-loved TV or movie characters also rank loafing-on-the-sofa-watching-the-box amongst their hobbies.

This means that (deep breath) in the TV shows or films that you like, the TV show or film characters you like, like TV shows or film characters that are in the TV shows or films that you like. Make sense? Yeah, us neither.

Anyway, here are the 20 greatest fictional television shows, as seen in the TV shows and films that you um, like.

1. TGS With Tracy Jordan (30 Rock)

Formerly known as The Girlie Show and aimed at a female target audience, TGS received a fresh-lick of paint upon the arrival of erratic funnyman Ogbert 'Tracy' Jordan and re-purposed for a male-centric fanbase. A variety show not-too-dissimilar to NBC's Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock's running joke is that although it's centred around a TV show, you never actually see it - bar the odd rehearsal or backstage snippet. Shame, as we'd relish the chance to see TGS sketches 'The Bear and Robot Talk Show', 'Rapping Suri Cruise' or indeed 'Gaybraham Lincoln' in all their glory.


2. Sexydrownwatch (Borat)

Though he may not have bagged (in the most literal sense, worryingly) Pamela Anderson, the entrepreneurial spirit of Borat Sagdiyev turned shame to fame by producing Kazakhstan's answer to scantily-clad beach drama, Baywatch. And, aside from the swimwear range that's clothed every stag do for the past seven years, the result is all rather disgusting.


3. Johnny's Bananas (Entourage)

Poor Johnny Drama. After finally finding an outlet for his toddler tantrums and petulant rage, Johnny's Bananas - featuring the actor as an animated ape man - was the breakout hit of his career, and apparently so loved by fans of Entourage that there were whisperings of it becoming its own real life spin-off. That was, until MTV's The Real World star John Devenanzio (aka Johnny Bananas) tried suing HBO for damaging his name. Bananas lost and, at the risk of damaging his name ourselves, deserves a kick in the shin for killing off what would've been an incredible show.


4. John Fashanu (The Day Today)

Little is known about this thrilling documentary, other that it's about one-time Wimbledon and England striker, John Fashanu. Whether the full-length doc would have shed light on the enigmatic soul that is Fash, or merely repeat his name for 60 minutes, remains to be seen. Either way, we'd watch it.


5. Cat and Mouse (EastEnders)

Considering that you're more likely to find someone watching their washing go round than an actual television in Albert Square, EastEnders went unusually off-script in 1989 by swapping their usual bleak and moody storylines for a spate of slapstick silliness. The high point of which saw serial loser Arthur Fowler appearing on a TV game show called Cat and Mouse and - in a landmark moment - featured a television being wheeled out in the Queen Vic. The gameshow (or the telly, for that matter) haven't been seen since, sadly.


6. Pucks! (Episodes)

We've all been there. After years of solid graft you finally get your very own TV show commissioned, only the have it sullied by a bunch of know-all TV execs. We have all been there, right? Guys? Regardless, Pucks is the abortion of a sitcom left after Sean and Beverley Lincoln's BAFTA-winning Lyman's Boys is remade for America - continuing the real-life tradition of butchered Brit-TV abroad, after remakes of Gavin & Stacey, The Inbetweeners, Spaced and many, many more all tanked.


7. When The Whistle Blows (Extras)

See, it wasn't just us who had our own sitcom commissioned - it happened to that Andy Millman, too. Another example of a cordial idea watered down to squash, one-time extra Millman sees his workplace comedy (which, setting aside, would've been identical to The Office) bastardised by the BBC and reduced to a canned-laughter monstrosity of wigs, funny glasses and catchphrases. Oh, and for one episode at least, Keith Chegwin.


8. Gumbel 2 Gumbel (Family Guy)

In a predictably ludicrous turn of events, Peter Griffin is hailed as a messiah after duping a charity organisation into believing his son Chris is terminally ill, in order to get his much-loved (and recently cancelled) buddy cop show, Gumbel 2 Gumbel, back on the air. Cue golden idols, pepperoni nipples and raining frogs. Yeah, it's that kind of episode. The show, in case you're wondering, is suitably awful, but does feature a particularly leftfield interrogation technique.


9. Jazz Club (The Fast Show)

Infusing the dim-lit, smoky haze of a jazz bar with the superlative spouting nonsense of Jools Holland, Jazz Club is so spot-on that if you were to remove the canned laughter, it wouldn't seem out of place on BBC Four. "Nice."


10. Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)

Such a pastiche of CSI that it'd probably have resulted in a court case if it wasn't a spoof, it's hard to forget Sarah Marshall or her wooden acting in this awful crime scene drama that is most definitely about crime scenes. And in a beautiful meta moment in the film's sort-of sequel Get Him To The Greek, Sarah Marshall also appears in an equally abysmal drama - Blind Medicine.


11. Bamboozle (FRIENDS)

Though best-known for his role as Doctor Drake Ramoray in Days of our Lives (which is expelled from this list as it's a real show), Joey Tribbiani's best TV turn is without doubt his turn as host of impenetrably complex game show, Bamboozle, universally understood to be the "Best game EVER". In a cruel twist of fate the show got changed to a simple question/answer format featuring girls in bikinis, but the original Bamboozle can actually be played on the FRIENDS season eight box set.


12. Numberwang (That Mitchell & Webb Look)

Speaking of entirely nosensical yet irresistibly addictive game shows - "That's Numberwang!" By far the most memorable sketch from the Peep Show pair's first foray into comedy without the snug comfort blanket of writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, all the hallmarks of the C4 sitcom are still there - mostly as a large proportion of the cast feature in it. Regardless of how absurd and devoid of logic Numberwang is, it still requires more skill than Deal or No Deal.


13. Bear On Patrol (The Muppet Show)

After a heated three hour debate in the ShortList office on whether The Muppet Show qualifies for this rundown (it's a show within a show, but the show technically exists) a recurring sketch makes the cut instead. Bear on Patrol (a show within a show within a show - but who's counting?) sees eternally hapless Fozzie blunder his way from job to job, making a joke of himself in the process. A little like The Bill, then.


14. Pawnee Today (Parks & Recreation)

The best use of the word 'Gotcha' since when Noel Edmonds threw house parties, Pawnee Today dresses local politics in slutty, sensationalist clothes. Chaired by sociopathic flirt Joan Callamezzo, the show thrives on scandal, gossip and rumour. Like a tabloid newspaper, or a rat (reading a tabloid newspaper).


15. Fox Force Five (Pulp Fiction)

Sex, circus performers, old tired jokes - it's mystifying how Fox Force Five never made it past the pilot. Except, it did, as any ardent Tarantino fan will tell you the synopsis of Mia Wallace's doomed TV show is in fact Kill Bill's storyline - which came out some nine years later. Now that's meta.


16. Knights (Shrek 2)

If Cops existed in medieval times, it would look almost exactly like Knights. Charting the men in steel on the horseback beat, the show features such fierce weaponry as cracked black pepper spray and deadly narcotics like cat nip.


17. The Itchy & Scratchy Show (The Simpsons)

Another example of TV³ (a show in a show in a show), The Itchy & Scratchy Show is at home within The Krusty the Clown Show, but its roots are as far-reaching as the Simpson family itself, featuring in early Tracey Ullman Show shorts in 1988. Since then they've had their own fictional movie, theme park and even canine collaborator - though the best said about Poochie, the better.


18. Animals Close-up With a Wide Angle Lens (South Park)

The Benny Hill theme, cute animals, a video camera. So simple and yet so effective, we'd watch nothing else if we weren't already watching YouTube as we typed this.


19. The Truman Show (The Truman Show)

Spawning a generation of cynical, suspicious individuals certain that you (yes, you) and everyone else on Earth are mere actors, Truman Burbank is both the star of his own reality show, and prisoner to the manufactured world around him. Family, friends and even his own wife are his co-stars, except he hasn't got a clue. Well, until he does, that is.


20. Wayne's World (Saturday Night Live/Wayne's World)

Before it became two totally bodacious movies, Wayne's World was originally a recurring skit within Saturday Night Live, with Wayne and best pal Garth presenting from Wayne's parents' basement every Friday night. And, if that wasn't radical enough, Mike Myers' metal-loving character first appeared in 1987 presenting Wayne's Power Minute on TV show, It's Only Rock & Roll. Excellent!