Fawlty Towers named as comedians’ favourite British sitcom of all time

Gold logo

3 January 2017

Comics reveal their favourite British TV comedy moments and characters

Fawlty Towers, a scene from I'm Alan Partridge and one-liners from Dad's Army are all-time favourites for comedians, whose job it is to get the nation laughing.

*Britain's comedians, comedy actors and comedy writers nominated their favourite actors, sitcoms, characters and one-liners to mark the launch of new series We Have Been Watching on Gold

*Gold TV Comedy Audit reveals Fawlty Towers as comics' favourite sitcom, with the superfan scene from I'm Alan Partridge and a one-liner from Dad's Army also topping the results

*Over 100 professional comedians surveyed, including David Baddiel, Jenny Eclair, Reece Shearsmith and Alexei Sayle

The survey kicks off what will be a busy 25th anniversary year for the TV channel

Fawlty Towers has been revealed as professional comedians' favourite British TV sitcom of all time, with Alan Partridge topping 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), according to a unique new survey released today.

The Gold TV Comedy Audit polled over 100 professional comedians to pinpoint their favourite comedy sitcoms, one-liners, scenes, characters and actors.

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 list of comedians who took part in the study included the likes of David Baddiel, Jenny Eclair, Zoe Lyons, Reece Shearsmith, Alexei Sayle and James Acaster, with results highlighting the vast breadth and hilarity that British TV comedy has to celebrate.

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

Favourite British Sitcom

  1. Fawlty Towers - 32%
  2. I'm Alan Partridge - 26%
  3. Blackadder - 21%
  4. The Office - 18%
  5. Father Ted - 16%
  6. Peep Show - 12%
  7. Only Fools and Horses - 9%
  8. The Thick of It - 8%
  9. Absolutely Fabulous - 8%
  10. Porridge - 7%

Favourite Scene from a British TV comedy

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

Favourite One-liner from a British TV comedy

  1. Captain Mainwaring to Pike, when Pike is asked his name by a German prisoner: "Don't tell him Pike." (Dad's Army)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. Manuel in response to Basil's plea to confirm he placed a winning bet on a horse: "I know noth-ing." (Fawlty Towers)
  5. 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)
  6. Patsy judging celebrities as she looks through magazines: "One more facelift on this one, and she'll have a beard." (Absolutely Fabulous)
  7. 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)
  8. Alan Partridge explains who Wings are: "They're only the band The Beatles could have been." (I'm Alan Partridge)
  9. Lord Flashheart proposes running away together to Kate: "I've got a plan, and it's as hot as my pants." (Blackadder)
  10. 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)

TV classics such as Dad's Army, Blackadder, The Office and Fawlty Towers feature heavily in the most-loved list as voted for by comedians themselves.

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 those in the biz's 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.

Further information please contact Kate Bailey or Alex Butler Kate.bailey@taylorherring.com / AB@taylorherring.com Taylor Herring PR / 0208 2065151

Notes to Editors:

Bruce Dessau surveyed over 100 comedians in December 2016 about their favourite comedy actor, actress, character, scene, sitcom and one-liner.

About Gold

Sky 110, Virgin 126, BT and TalkTalk 408 On demand on Sky, Virgin and Now TV.

With more successful original commissions than ever before, the likes of Marley's Ghosts, Comic Strip Presents...Red Top and The Rebel sit comfortably alongside Britain's much-loved series such as Only Fools and Horses, Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda. Famed for its retrospective hits, Gold has enjoyed successes with Bring Me Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies Spectacle, The Interviews and most recently, Richard E. Grant on Ealing Comedies.  Gold continues to attract the finest comedy talent in Britain, with the live broadcast of the final ever performance of Monty Python Live (mostly): One Down Five To Go in 2014 becoming its most successful ever programme. And it doesn't end there, Henry IX, the brand new series from legendary writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, premieres exclusively on Gold in 2017. Rarely-seen cult favourites such as Bridget and Eamon, Limmy's Show and Gareth Marenghi's Darkplace make up Gold After Dark every weekend, offering the very best in offbeat humour. Still committed to universally loved comedy 25 years after first making the nation laugh, here's to many more.

http://gold.uktv.co.uk @goldtvchannel

About UKTV

UKTV is the biggest multichannel broadcaster in the UK.

The award-winning independent has eleven imaginative brands - UKTV Play, Dave, W, Gold, Alibi, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home, Eden and Good Food. These include the two most popular non-PSB channels in the UK and account for 9.31% of the British commercial TV market. The company's most recent financial results showed record-breaking year-end revenue of £319m and EBITDA of £82m. It invested £148m in programming and related launches last year, and is becoming an increasingly significant investor in UK creativity.

UKTV has a truly innovative model, curating brand-defining commissions, high-profile acquisitions and the very best of BBC, alongside programmes originally shown on ITV and Channel 4. The network embraces technology to deliver inspired channels to audiences through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, Freesat, Amazon Fire and UKTV Play, and distributes its highly valued original programmes to 200 territories.

Now celebrating its 23rd year at the forefront of digital television, UKTV - an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI) - is proud to be the only British television broadcaster in The Sunday Times top 100 companies list.

corporate.uktv.co.uk / press.uktv.co.uk / @uktv_press