Comedy Playhouse

Comedy Playhouse is a long-running British anthology series of one-off unrelated sitcoms that aired for 120 episodes from 1961 to 1975. Many episodes later graduated to their own series, including Steptoe and Son, Meet the Wife, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas and Gaiters, Up Pompeii!, Not in Front of the Children, Me Mammy, That's Your Funeral, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine, which is the world's longest running sitcom, having run from January 1973 to August 2010.

Comedy Playhouse
Comedy Playhouse.jpg
Titlecard for the 1961/1962 series episode "The Offer". This episode was the pilot for Steptoe and Son.
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes129
Running timeUsually 25 minutes, 30 minutes or 35 minutes
Original networkBBC1
Picture format405-line Black and white (1961–1967)
625-line Black-and-white (1968–1969)
625-line PAL (1970–1975)
1080i HDTV (2014–2017)
Audio formatMonaural (1961–1975)
Surround sound 5.1 (2014–2017)
Original releaseOriginal Series
15 December 1961 – 9 July 1975
Revived Series
29 April 2014
15 September 2017

In March 2014, it was announced that Comedy Playhouse would make a return that year with three new episodes.[1]


The series began in 1961 at the prompting of Tom Sloan, Head of BBC Light Entertainment at the time. Galton and Simpson were no longer writing for Tony Hancock and Sloan asked them to write ten one-offs with the hope that one might become established as a series.[2] Thus, the first two series of Comedy Playhouse were written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, but after that the episodes were written by various writers. In all, 27 series started from a pilot in the Comedy Playhouse. The first eight series were in black-and-white, with the rest being in colour. Like many television programmes from the time, many of 1960s episodes are lost. In Australia the series was broadcast on ABC Television in the early 1960s-late 1970s.


Series One (1961–1962)Edit

The pilot episode of Steptoe and Son was broadcast as an episode.

Series Two (1963)Edit

Series Three (1963–1964)Edit

The pilot episodes of The Walrus and the Carpenter and Meet the Wife were broadcast as episodes.

Series Four (1965)Edit

Barnaby Spoot and the Exploding Whoopee Cushion (28 May 1965) starring John Bird, John Le Mesurier, Ronald Lacey, Sheila Steafel, Alister Williamson, Bart Allison, Bill Burridge and Sidney Johnson

Mother Came Two (5 June 1965) starring Peggy Mount and Graham Stark

Here I Come Whoever I Am (11 June 1965) starring Bernard Cribbins, Helen Fraser, Mike Pratt, Edward Evans and Maureen Lane. This sitcom with the same characters was featured in the Lust segment of the 1971 film The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins.

Happy Family (18 June 1965) starring Ted Ray, Daphne Anderson and Judy Geeson

Memoirs of a Chaise Longue (2 July 1965) starring John Le Mesurier, Betty Marsden, Fenella Fielding, Jack Watling and Shay Gorman

Murray and Me (8 July 1965) starring Chic Murray

Hudd (15 July 1965) starring Roy Hudd and Noel Dyson

Till Death Us Do Part (22 July 1965) starring Warren Mitchell, Gretchen Franklin, Anthony Booth, Derek Nimmo and Eric Dodson

The Time and the Motion Man (29 July 1965) starring Leslie Phillips and Richard Moore

Sam the Samaritan (5 August 1965) starring Wilfrid Brambell, John Junkin, Roy Kinnear and John Scott Martin

The Vital Spark (12 August 1965) starring Roddy McMillan

Betsy Mae (19 August 1965) starring Hermione Gingold, Nicholas Phipps and Michael Gover

Series Five (1966)Edit

The Bishop Rides Again (17 May 1966) starring Robertson Hare, William Mervyn, Derek Nimmo, John Barron, James Beck and Cheryl Molineaux. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series, All Gas and Gaiters

Beggar My Neighbour (24 May 1966) starring Reg Varney

A Little Learning (31 May 1966) starring Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge and Clive Morton

Judgement Day for Elijah Jones (7 June 1966) starring Clive Dunn, Bernard Cribbins, Derek Martin and Peter Diamond

Room at the Bottom (14 June 1966) starring Kenneth Connor, Deryck Guyler, Francis Matthews, Brian Wilde, Erik Chitty and Godfrey James. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series of the same name.

The End of the Tunnel (21 June 1966) starring George Cole, Lynn Redgrave, Tenniel Evans and Michael Spice

Seven Year Hitch (28 June 1966) starring Harry H. Corbett, Joan Sims and John Baskcomb

The Mallard Imaginaire (5 July 1966) starring Robert Coote, Moira Lister, Daphne Anderson and Arthur Howard. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series, The Whitehall Worrier.

The Reluctant Romeo (2 August 1966) starring Leslie Crowther, Amanda Barrie, Keith Pyott and Sheila Steafel

Series Six (1967)Edit

Hughie (19 May 1967) starring Hugh Lloyd, Patrick Cargill and Michael Sheard

House in a Tree (26 May 1967) starring Wendy Craig, Paul Daneman, Roberta Tovey and Kenneth Thornett. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series Not in Front of the Children.

Spanner in the Works (2 June 1967) starring Jimmy Jewel, Norman Rossington, Julian Holloway, Arnold Peters, Eric Dodson, Jon Rollason, Peter Bathurst, Blake Butler and Colin Douglas

Heirs on a Shoestring (9 June 1967) starring Jimmy Edwards, Clive Dunn, Sam Kydd, Frances Bennett and Eileen Way

Uncle Fred Flits By (16 June 1967) starring Wilfrid Hyde-White, Ballard Berkeley, Gordon Rollings and Richard McNeff

Loitering with Intent (23 June 1967) starring Daphne Anderson, David Tomlinson, Rudolph Walker, John Nettleton, Barry Fantoni and Madeleine Mills

To Lucifer: A Son (29 June 1967) starring John Le Mesurier, Jimmy Tarbuck, Pat Coombs and Gábor Baraker

The Old Campaigner (30 June 1967) starring Terry-Thomas, Derek Fowlds, Norman Claridge, Brian Cullingford, Susan Jameson and André Maranne

Series Seven (1968)Edit

State of the Union (26 April 1968) starring Les Dawson, Patsy Rowlands, Michael Robbins, Melvyn Hayes, Edward Evans and Roma Tomelty

View by Appointment (3 May 1968) starring Beryl Reid, Hugh Paddick, Derek Fowlds, Pauline Collins and John Harvey. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series, Wink to Me Only.

The Family of Fred (10 May 1968) starring Freddie Frinton and Jean Kent. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series, Thicker Than Water.

Stiff Upper Lip (17 May 1968) starring Richard Vernon, Michael Bates, Bernard Bresslaw, George Baker and John Glyn-Jones

Wild, Wild Women (24 May 1968) starring Barbara Windsor, Derek Francis, Penelope Keith and Colette Gleeson

Current Affairs (31 May 1968) starring Harold Goodwin, Robert Dorning, Damaris Hayman, Bruce Wightman, Roger Avon and Eric Francis

B-And-B (7 June 1968) starring Pauline Collins

Me Mammy (14 June 1968) starring Milo O'Shea, Yootha Joyce and Neil Hallett

The Gold Watch Club (28 June 1968) starring Dennis Price, Peter Bayliss, Bob Todd, Derek Waring, Barbara Leake, Roger Avon and Norman Mitchell

Series Eight (1969)Edit

The Liver Birds (14 April 1969) starring Pauline Collins, Polly James, Roy Marsden and Hugh Walter

The Valley Express (21 April 1969) starring Nerys Hughes, Graeme Garden, Richard Davies and James Appleby

Tooth and Claw (28 April 1969) starring Warren Mitchell, Marty Feldman, Richard Caldicot, Anthony Dawes, Arnold Diamond, David Rowlands and Harry Brooks Jr.

As Good Cooks Go (5 May 1969) starring Brian Grellis and James Appleby

The Loves of Larch Hill (12 May 1969) starring Robert Dorning, Gillian Blake and Denis Cleary

The Making of Peregrine (19 May 1969) starring Dick Emery, Pat Coombs, Andrew Ray and Sam Kydd

Up Pompeii! (17 September 1969) starring Frankie Howerd, Max Adrian, John Junkin, Aubrey Woods and Richard McNeff

Series Nine (1969–1970)Edit

Series Ten (1970)Edit

Keep 'Em Rolling (11 March 1970) starring Derek Nimmo, Timothy Bateson, Gordon Rollings, Michael Collins and Peter Diamond

Better Than a Man (18 March 1970) starring Sheila Hancock, Leslie Sands, Willoughby Goddard and Bartlett Mullins

Last Tribute (25 March 1970) starring Bill Fraser and Raymond Huntley, the pilot episode of That's Your Funeral

Haven of Rest (1 April 1970) starring Ballard Berkeley, Deryck Guyler, John Le Mesurier, Colin Gordon and Vivienne Bennett

Mind Your Own Business (8 July 1970) starring Norman Bird, Hilda Fenemore, Derek Griffiths, Tony Selby and Cheryl Hall

The Old Contemptible (15 July 1970) starring Arthur English, Gretchen Franklin, John Sharp, Michael Osborne, Derrick Gilbert and Kenneth Thornett

Don't Ring Us...We'll Ring You (29 July 1970) starring John Junkin, Norman Rossington, Colin Welland and Barbara Knox

Meter Maids (5 August 1970) starring Pat Coombs, Joan Sanderson, Barbara Windsor, Martin Wyldeck and Robert Lankesheer

Series Eleven (1971)Edit

Just Harry and Me (1 April 1971) starring Sheila Hancock, Donald Houston and Lynne Frederick. This was the pilot episode. The series was broadcast in two sections, the first of six episodes, then a break, followed by another seven episodes. 26 scripts were short-listed and this was pared down to 13.

Uncle Tulip (8 April 1971) starring Geoffrey Lumsden, Renu Setna and Madhav Sharma

It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes, Darling (15 April 1971) starring Joanna Lumley

The Rough with the Smooth (22 April 1971) written by and starring Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Junkin, Richard McNeff and Terence Brook

Equal Partners (29 April 1971) starring Nicky Henson and Angela Scoular

The Importance of Being Hairy (6 May 1971) starring John Cater, James Copeland, Gerald Flood, John Cater, Gilly Flower and David Simeon

Series Twelve (1972)Edit

The first episode of Are You Being Served? was broadcast as an episode, although this episode was used as a filler following the Munich Olympics terrorist attack, the BBC having originally declined broadcasting it.

Series Thirteen (1973)Edit

Of Funerals and Fish (4 January 1973) starring Bill Owen, Peter Sallis, Blake Butler, Jane Freeman and Kathy Staff. The pilot episode of the World's longest-running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine.

The Rescue (11 January 1973) starring Moyra Fraser, Peter Jones, Lucita Lijertwood and Nicholas Parsons.

Elementary, My Dear Watson: The Strange Case of the Dead Solicitors (18 January 1973) starring John Cleese, Willie Rushton, Bill Maynard, Norman Bird, Larry Martyn, Michael Gover, Ivor Salter, Gordon Faith and Dawn Addams.

The Birthday (25 January 1973) starring Gordon Peters, Frank Thornton, Bill Pertwee, Mary Millar and Edward Evans.

Marry the Girls (1 February 1973) starring John Le Mesurier, Barbara Murray, Sally Thomsett, David Simeon and John Leeson.

Home from Home (8 February 1973) starring Carmel McSharry, Michael Robbins, Yootha Joyce, Tony Selby and Olive Mercer. Bill Collins may not have been the greatest husband of all time but when his wife moves into a bed-sitter and becomes a traffic warden - intent on making him her most frequent victim - things have gone too far.

Series Fourteen (1974)Edit

No Strings (16 April 1974) starring Keith Barron and Rita Tushingham. Derek advertises for a flatmate. When Leonora arrives his tidy bachelor domain is soon disrupted by a feminine touch.

Franklyn and Johnnie (23 April 1974) starring Geoffrey Bayldon, Ronnie Barker, Richard Hurndall, Sydney Bromley and Hugh Morton. Franklyn and Johnnie have been enemies for 40 years. Could it be that the death of their one mutual friend might heal the breach?

Howerd's History of England (30 April 1974) starring Frankie Howerd, Patrick Newell and Patrick Holt

Happy Ever After (7 May 1974) starring Terry Scott, June Whitfield, Dave Carter and Philip Ryan

The Dobson Doughnut (14 May 1974) starring Milo O'Shea, Bernard Spear, Jo Kendall, Brian Miller, John Ringham and Ken Barker

The Big Job (21 May 1974) starring Prunella Scales, Peter Jones, Alfred Marks, Andonia Katsaros, Nick Brimble and Aubrey Woods. 'Half a million in used notes'-Eddie's perennial dream. But when he tries his hand at kidnapping, the results are disastrous.

It's Only Me: Whoever I Am (28 May 1974) starring David Jason, Patricia Hayes, Daphne Heard, Olive Mercer, Edward Burnham, Paul Greenwood, Adrienne Burgess and Bernard Spear. For a simple Rochdale lad not sure where his personal centre of gravity lies, perhaps being an actor is easier than trying to decide who he ought to be.

The Last Man on Earth (4 June 1974) starring Dandy Nichols and Ronald Fraser.

Sitting Pretty (11 June 1974) starring Nicky Henson and Una Stubbs It's smashing being a sitting tenant; the landlord can't chuck you out, he can't put up the rent, and you don't have to pay the rates or do repairs.

Pygmalion Smith (25 June 1974) starring Leonard Rossiter and T. P. McKenna

A Girl's Best Friend (3 July 1974) starring Zena Walker and Reginald Marsh

The Reverend Wooing of Archibald (9 July 1974) starring Joan Benham, Julian Holloway, William Mervyn, Madeline Smith, John Leeson and Julian Fox

French Relish (16 July 1974) starring Derek Nimmo

Series Fifteen (1975)Edit

The Melting Pot (11 June 1975) starring Spike Milligan, John Bird, Peter Jones, Frank Carson, Harry Fowler, Alister Williamson and Freddie Earlle

Only on Sunday (18 June 1975) starring Trevor Bannister and Peter Bowles

For Richer...For Poorer (25 June 1975) starring David Battley, Harry H. Corbett, Don Henderson and Eric Pohlmann

Captive Audience (2 July 1975) starring Derek Fowlds, Daphne Heard, Leslie Dwyer, Cheryl Hall and Leon Vitali

Going, Going, Gone...Free? (9 July 1975) starring Pauline Yates, Geoffrey Palmer and Peter Duncan

Series Sixteen (2014)Edit

  • Over to Bill (29 April 2014)
  • Miller's Mountain (6 May 2014)
  • Monks (13 May 2014)

Series Seventeen (2016)Edit

  • Hospital People (26 February 2016)[3]
  • Broken Biscuits (4 March 2016)[4]
  • Stop/Start (11 March 2016)[5]

Series Eighteen (2017)Edit

  • Tim Vine Travels in Time (1 September 2017)[6]
  • Mister Winner (8 September 2017)[7]
  • Static (15 September 2017)[8]

Scottish Comedy PlayhouseEdit

The BBC aired six comedy pilots in 1970 in Scotland only under the title Scottish Comedy Playhouse, none of which developed onto a full series. While these were being aired, Monty Python's Flying Circus was broadcast in the rest of the UK. The episodes were

  1. Stand In For A Hearse (22 September 1970)
  2. The Siege of Castle Drumlie (29 September 1970)
  3. The Dinner Party (20 October 1970)
  4. To Grace A Son (28 October 1970)
  5. Stobo Takes The Chair (3 November 1970)
  6. Take Your Partners (10 November 1970)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ian Burrell (17 March 2014). "BBC1 to revive 'Comedy Playhouse' after 40 years". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. ^ Radio Times, 25 March 1971
  3. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 17, Hospital People".
  4. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 17, Broken Biscuits".
  5. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 17, Stop/Start".
  6. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 18, Tim Vine Travels in Time".
  7. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 18, Mister Winner".
  8. ^ "BBC One - Comedy Playhouse, Series 18, Static".


External linksEdit