We might be falling apart politically and we’re not that great at sports, but there’s one thing Britain knows how to do really well: sitcoms.
From Fawlty Towers to The Inbetweeners, comedy lovers have an amazing legacy of scripted material to get stuck into. And now we’ve decided to round up the best of the best in an ultimate list of hilarious sitcom moments. If we’re totally honest there’s so much to choose from that there are plenty of other shows we could have picked – but we had to draw a line somewhere.
So, here you have it, in no particular order, our picks for the greatest moments in British sitcom history. Do you agree? Let us know!
17. Black Books - The Last Supper
Episode: ’The Blackout’ (Series 1, Episode 2, 2000)
Written by: Graham Linehan and Nick Wood
Booze-loving Bernard is surely one of the greatest British sitcom characters of all time and he doesn’t disappoint in this hilarious Black Books moment.
16. Bottom - Chess Fight
Episode: ‘Culture’ (Series 2, Episode 2, 1992)
Written by: Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall
It’s the pure, outrageous energy in this scene that makes it so funny – and an instant sitcom classic.
15. Extras - Harry Potter and The Magic Condom
Episode: ’Daniel Radcliffe’ (Series 2, Episode 3, 2006)
Written by: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
In this scene, a young Daniel Radcliffe flings an unpackaged condom onto screen legend Dame Diana Rigg’s face… need I say more?
14. Peep Show - Jez Forgets the Christmas Turkey
Episode: ‘Seasonal Beatings’ (Series 7, Episode 5, 2010)
Written by: Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain
Perfectly showing the bitter and hostile relationship between Mark and Jez, it’s great to see David Mitchell fly off the handle in this scene.
13. The Mighty Boosh – “And that’s why I can’t go for that”
Episode: ’The Power of the Crimp’ (Series 3, Episode 3, 2007)
Written by: Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding
The reason this scene makes the list is very simple: Bob Fossil.
12. Absolutely Fabulous – “Is it a dwarf?”
Episode: ‘Panickin’’ (Series 5, Episode 3, 2003)
Written by: Jennifer Saunders with additional material by Sue Perkins
Quite frankly there are so many iconic moments in this show (including any line delivered by the unmatchable June Whitfield) but there’s something wonderfully weird about this moment starring Jane Horrocks, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders.
11. The Vicar of Dibley – The Puddle
Episode: ‘Autumn’ (Series 3, Episode 1, 1999)
Written by: Paul Mayhew-Archer and Richard Curtis
What makes this moment so funny is how simple it is - and of course the look of unbridled panic on Geraldine’s (Dawn French’s) face.
10. Father Ted – The Wrong Department
Episode: ’A Christmassy Ted’ (Christmas Special, 1996)
Written by: Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews
Trapped in the largest lingerie department in Ireland, Father Ted and his clerical colleagues play out a hilariously over-the-top battle for survival in this classic sitcom moment.
9. Dad’s Army - “Don’t tell him Pike!”
Episode: ’The Deadly Attachment’ (Series 6, Episode 1, 1973)
Written by: Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Old-school classic Dad’s Army produced many memorable lines, including “Don’t tell him, Pike!”, which was voted one of greatest moments of British television in a 1999 poll.
8. The Inbetweeners – Bus Wankers
Episode: ‘A Night Out in London’ (Series 2, Episode 4, 2009)
Written by: Damon Beesley and Iain Morris
This scene made life hell for a generation of teenage school kids waiting for the bus – but it’s still absolutely hilarious.
7. The Thick of It – Quiet Batpeople
Episode: Series 4 – Episode 2 (2012)
Written by: Simon Blackwell with Roger Drew, Dan Gaster, Sean Gray and Ian Martin
This scene sees Leader of the Opposition Nicola Murray and her advisers coming up with new political buzzwords but, hilariously, their suggestions become more and more unhinged until we’re left with the phrase that will forever be bathed in comedy greatness: quiet batpeople.
6. The Office – David Brent’s Dancing
Episode: ’Charity’ (Series 2, Episode 5, 2002)
Written by: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
In this episode, the overly competitive David Brent makes himself look like a total wanker – as only he can. And of course, who can forget the line, “I sort of fused ‘Flashdance’with MC Hammer shit”?
5. The IT Crowd – Moss Introduces Jen to the Internet
Episode: ‘The Speech’ (Series 3, Episode 4, 2008)
Written by: Graham Linehan
With incredible comedic acting from Katherine Parkinson (who plays Jen Barber), this hilarious IT Crowd moment – and the later scene when everyone freaks out after the internet ‘breaks’ – is delightfully stupid.
4. I’m Alan Partridge - “DAN! DAN! DAN!”
Episode: ‘Bravealan’ (Series 2, Episode 3, 2002)
Written by: Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan and Peter Baynham
This episode from the legendary Steve Coogan show will live in the hallowed halls of British sitcom history because of Alan’s utterly deranged and maniacal screaming, before nonchalantly saying: “He’s not seen me. I’ll get him later.” Astounding.
3. Fawlty Towers - “Don’t Mention the War!”
Episode: ’The Germans’ (Series 1, Episode 6, 1975)
Written by: John Cleese and Connie Booth
This iconic moment perfectly sends up the British, jingoist obsession with winning the Second World War – and it’s of course remembered for John Cleese’s goose-stepping silly walk.
2. Only Fools and Horses - Del Boy Falls Through the Bar
Episode: ‘Yuppy Love’ (Series 6, Episode 1, 1989)
Written by: John Sullivan
In this classic scene, Del Boy (David Jason) tries to impress a couple of young women with his coolness but, disastrously, falls through the bar. It’s a beautiful, beautiful moment of physical comedy.
1. Blackadder - A Bout of ‘Insanity’
Episode: ‘Goodbyeee’ (Series 4, Episode 6, 1989)
Written by: Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
This scene perfectly encapsulates how this season of Blackadder dealt with difficult topics like death and war-related mental illness. Plus, it has the immortal line delivered by Rowan Atkinson: “Cluck, cluck, gibber, gibber. My old man’s a mushroom etc.”
(Image: BBC / I’m Alan Partridge)