News: New Research Reveals Comedians' Comedy Favourites

Fawlty Towers has been voted the British comedy industry's favourite sitcom.  

In a new survey over 100 comedians, including David Baddiel, Jenny Eclair, Reece Shearsmith, Zoe Lyons, James Acaster and Alexei Sayle, were asked to nominate their favourite actors, sitcoms, characters, scenes and one-liners.

But Basil Fawlty did not sweep the board. Alan Partridge topped the list of both most-loved TV comedy character and best comedy scene (as he discovers a room dedicated to himself in a superfan’s house). And Steve Coogan bagged Favourite Comedy Actor. Meanwhile “Don’t tell him Pike" from Dad's Army came out top in the one-liners poll.

The study was commissioned to celebrate the launch of the first full series of We Have Been Watching on Gold, which starts on Wednesday 4th January at 8pm. The series sees some of Britain's best-loved comedians and comic actors, including Ricky Tomlinson, Ralf Little, Sally Phillips, Sarah Hadland, Russell Tovey, Sarah Solemani, Meera Syal, James Acaster, David Baddiel and Larry Lamb watching and commenting on clips from classic sitcoms and sketch shows, both old and new.

The comedians’ Gold TV Comedy Audit top picks are revealed as:

Favourite British Sitcom

  • Fawlty Towers – 32%
  • I’m Alan Partridge – 26%
  • Blackadder – 21%
  • The Office – 18%
  • Father Ted – 16%
  • Peep Show – 12%
  • Only Fools and Horses – 9%
  • The Thick of It – 8%
  • Absolutely Fabulous – 8%
  • Porridge – 7%

Favourite Scene from a British TV comedy

  • Alan Partridge meets a superfan who has a room dedicated to Alan Partridge (I’m Alan Partridge)
  • Tim and Dawn finally get together (The Office)
  • Basil Fawlty argues with the Germans, stressing “Don’t mention the war!” (Fawlty Towers)
  • “Don’t tell him Pike” scene with German prisoners. (Dad’s Army)
  • Del Boy falling through the bar (Only Fools and Horses)
  • Father Ted and the terrified priests stray into the lingerie department (Father Ted)
  • Mrs Richards complaining about her room to Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers)
  • The entrance of Lord Flashheart in Blackadder II (Blackadder)
  • Del Boy and Rodney running as Batman and Robin (Only Fools and Horses)
  • David Brent begging for his job as he gets fired (The Office)

Favourite One-liner from a British TV comedy

  • Captain Mainwaring to Pike, when Pike is asked his name by a German prisoner: “Don’t tell him Pike.” (Dad’s Army)
  • Tony Hancock on learning how much blood he has to give during a blood donation: “A pint? Why that’s very nearly an armful!” (Hancock’s Half Hour)
  • Father Ted explains to Father Dougal the concept of perspective: “These [toy cows] are small. But those [real cows] out there are far away. [Points to toy cow] Small… [Points to real cow] far away.” (Father Ted)
  • Manuel in response to Basil’s plea to confirm he placed a winning bet on a horse: “I know noth-ing.” (Fawlty Towers)
  • Alan Partridge pitches programme ideas to the BBC Commissioning Editor, Tony Hayers. After a string of no’s, he desperately puts forward his last programme idea: “Monkey Tennis?” (I’m Alan Partridge)
  • Patsy judging celebrities as she looks through magazines: “One more facelift on this one, and she’ll have a beard.” (Absolutely Fabulous)
  • David Brent on the effect of his management skills in the workplace: “I suppose I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, and a boss second. Probably an entertainer third.” (The Office)
  • Alan Partridge explains who Wings are: “They’re only the band The Beatles could have been.” (I’m Alan Partridge)
  • Lord Flashheart proposes running away together to Kate: “I’ve got a plan, and it’s as hot as my pants.” (Blackadder)
  • Geraldine Granger introduces herself upon her arrival in Dibley as their new vicar: “You were expecting a bloke: beard, Bible and bad breath. Instead you've got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom.” (The Vicar of Dibley)

Comedians’ favourite comedy actors, actresses and characters were also revealed as part of the poll.  Steve Coogan topped the list of favourite male comedy actor, followed by Rik Mayall, Ronnie Barker and John Cleese.  Joanna Lumley was named as favourite comedic leading lady, ahead of Caroline Aherne, Julia Davis, Penelope Keith and Victoria Wood.

The industry’s favourite male comedy character was crowned as Alan Partridge, followed by Fawlty Towers’ Basil Fawlty, David Brent of The Office, Del Boy of Only Fools and Horses and The Young Ones’ Rick. The Absolutely Fabulous duo Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon came out first and second respectively for comics’ favourite female roles, followed by Denise from The Royle Family and Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle. 

Comedy critic Bruce Dessau, who compiled the audit of comedians, said, "We are well-known across the world for our ‘British sense of humour’, which is shown at its best in many of our best-loved and timeless comedy classics.  The art of comedy is almost impossible to define, but many of these characters, lines and sitcoms are brilliant examples of the very best in the history of British TV comedy – many of which can all be enjoyed again in a fresh take on the new series We Have Been Watching, as some of the top comedy folk share their views on the funniest moments telly has to offer.”

We Have Been Watching is the first UKTV Original of 2017 for Gold, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year. The channel will also exclusively premiere the brand new series Henry IX, penned by legendary writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and which stars Charles Edwards, Sally Phillips and Kara Tointon. 

We Have Been Watching launches on Wednesday 4th January at 8pm on Gold.

Fawlty Towers airs regularly on Gold. Details here.

Here is a list of everyone who contributed.

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