Britain's Best Sitcom

Britain's Best Sitcom was a BBC media campaign in which television viewers were asked to decide the best British situation comedy. Viewers could vote via telephone, SMS, or BBC Online.[2] This first round of voting was conducted in 2003, after which the BBC published a list of the top 100 selections.[3][4] From this list, they produced a 12-episode television series broadcast by BBC Two from January through to March 2004.[1]

Britain's Best Sitcom
Written by
Directed by
  • Andy Devonshire
  • Steve Franklin
  • Carry John Hughes
  • Norman Hull
  • Becky Martin
  • Andrew Nicholson
Presented bySee list of episodes
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Robin Ashbrook
  • Ricky Kelehar
  • Gerard Barry
  • Karina Brennan
  • Will Bryant
  • Stephen Franklin
  • Alex Hardcastle
  • Garry John Hughes
  • Norman Hull
  • Shirley Hunt Benson
  • Verity Maidlow
  • Stephen McGinn
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Matt O'Casey
  • Cybele Rowbottom
  • Elaine Shepherd
  • Mark Turnbull
Running time60 minutes
(180-min. premiere; 90-min. finale)
Production company/companiesBBC Manchester
Original networkBBC Two
Original release10 January (2004-01-10)[1] –
27 March 2004 (2004-03-27)
External links

The series was a retrospective that examined the history and qualities of the contending programmes. In the first episode, Jonathan Ross summarised the progress of the poll and presented video clips from the 50 sitcoms that received the most votes.[2] Each of the next ten weekly episodes, one hour in length, focused on one sitcom.[1][2] In each episode, a different celebrity presenter advocated a particular sitcom, delivering 20 reasons why it deserved viewers' votes.[1][2] The sitcom's writers and actors, as well as celebrity viewers, also shared their own perspectives and memories. In the 90-minute series finale, transmitted live, Jonathan Ross announced the top sitcom to be Only Fools and Horses, with Blackadder in second place and The Vicar of Dibley in third place.[5]

Notably all finalists were BBC productions, with ITV and Channel 4 sitcoms not appearing (Father Ted, the closest non-BBC sitcom, was at number 11).


No.TitlePresented byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Launch"Jonathan Ross[2]?10 January 2004 (2004-01-10)
Jonathan Ross recaps the 50 top British sitcoms, as determined by an electronic poll conducted in 2003.
2"Blackadder"John Sergeant[2]?17 January 2004 (2004-01-17)
John Sergeant advocates Blackadder, an historical farce that premiered in 1983 on BBC1.
3"Fawlty Towers"Jack Dee[2]?24 January 2004 (2004-01-24)
Jack Dee advocates Fawlty Towers, a comedy of errors that premiered on BBC2 in 1975.
4"The Good Life"Ulrika Jonsson[2]John Esmonde and Bob Larbey[6]31 January 2004 (2004-01-31)
Ulrika Jonsson advocates The Good Life, a sitcom about a middle-class English couple who make an attempt at farming at their house in the southwest London suburb of Surbiton. It premiered on BBC1 in 1975.
5"Yes Minister"Armando Iannucci[2]?7 February 2004 (2004-02-07)
Armando Iannucci advocates Yes Minister, a political satire that premiered on BBC2 in 1980.
6"One Foot in the Grave"Rowland Rivron[2]?14 February 2004 (2004-02-14)
Rowland Rivron advocates One Foot in the Grave, a dark comedy about the trials of an elderly curmudgeon and his longsuffering wife. It premiered on BBC1 in 1990.
7"Porridge"Johnny Vaughan[2]Johnny Vaughan
Steve Punt
21 February 2004 (2004-02-21)
Johnny Vaughan advocates BBC1's Porridge (1975–1978) and its sequel, Going Straight (1978). The programmes concern different aspects of prison life, including – in Going Straight – acclimatisation to a changed family life and outside world.
8"Only Fools and Horses"David Dickinson[2]?28 February 2004 (2004-02-28)
David Dickinson advocates Only Fools and Horses, which centres on an ambitious Cockney market trader called Del Boy. It premiered on BBC1 in 1981.
9"Open All Hours"Clarissa Dickson Wright[2]?6 March 2004 (2004-03-06)
Clarissa Dickson Wright advocates Open All Hours, which premiered on BBC2 in 1973. It concerns a South Yorkshire shopkeeper and his wistful nephew.
10"The Vicar of Dibley"Carol Vorderman[2]?13 March 2004 (2004-03-13)
Carol Vorderman advocates The Vicar of Dibley, in which Geraldine, the buxom new vicar of a small village in Oxfordshire, lives among a colourful cast of characters there – and encounters some opposition. BBC1 premiered The Vicar of Dibley in 1994.
11"Dad's Army"Phill Jupitus[2]Jimmy Perry and David Croft[7]20 March 2004 (2004-03-20)
Phill Jupitus advocates Dad's Army, a comparatively long-running comedy that first aired on BBC1 in 1968. Set during the Second World War, it introduces viewers to an unlikely group of Home Guard volunteers on England's south coast.
12"The Live Final"Jonathan Ross[2]?27 March 2004 (2004-03-27)
Jonathan Ross announces which British sitcom received the most votes from viewers.


No. Title Years broadcast Number of votes[5]
1 Only Fools and Horses 1981-2003 342,426
2 Blackadder 1983-1989 282,106
3 The Vicar of Dibley 1994-2007 212,927
4 Dad's Army 1968-1977 174,138
5 Fawlty Towers 1975-1979 172,066
6 Yes Minister 1980-1984 123,502
7 Porridge 1974-1977 93,902
8 Open All Hours 1976-1985 67,237
9 The Good Life 1975-1978 40,803
10 One Foot in the Grave 1990-2000 31,410


  1. ^ a b c d "BBC TWO asks the nation what is Britain's Best Sitcom?". BBC Online. BBC. 30 December 2003. Archived from the original on 18 April 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The battle of the sitcoms begins..." (Press release). London: BBC. 10 January 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Britain's Best Sitcom: The Top 10". London: BBC. 2004. Archived from the original on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  4. ^ "Britain's Best Sitcom: Top 11 to 100". London: BBC. 2004. Archived from the original on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  5. ^ a b "The Final Top Ten Sitcoms". London: BBC. 2004. Archived from the original on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  6. ^ Webber, Richard (2000). "A Celebration of The Good Life". Orion Books.
  7. ^ Croft, Perry, and Webber (2003). "Dad's Army: The Complete Scripts". Orion Books.

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