Monday, March 20, 2006

My Top Ten Political SitComs

These are sitcoms, so I haven't included Have I Got News for You or Rory Bremner. I've also only managed to think up 8, so can you think of any political sitcoms I have missed!

1. Yes Minister /Yes Prime Minister
Unrivalled comedy expose of the civil service at its finest. I often think they should do a remake, but the trouble is they could never improve on the original.

2. New Statesman
Rik Mayall's charcterisation of an on the make Tory MP was excruciatingly brilliant. His humiliation of Piers Fletcher Dervish a joy to behold.

3. Spitting Image
Possibly outstayed its welcome in the end but could be stinging in its satirical wit when it was on form. The voices were often more hideous than the dummies.

4. The Thick of it
A stunningly accurate satire of New Labour's style of government, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?!

5. No Job for a Lady
Penelope Keith starred as MP Jean Price. Slightly predictable sitcome about the trials of being a female MP. Provokes smiles rather than outright laughs. Never been out on DVD.

6. Citizen Smith
The Tooting revolutionary was played by a young Robert Lindsay, whose landlady was Nanna Moon, who always called him Foxie.

7. My Dad's the Prime Minister
Although this started out as a kids' sitcom it developed into quite a funny take on life in Blairite Downing Street.

8. Absolute Power
More about the world of PR than politics perhaps, but a very good satire on the world of spin and manipulation.

9. Annie's Bar
Shortlived Channel 4 sitcom about the goings on in Annie's Bar in the House of Commons.

10. Spin City
American political sitcom which originally starred Michael J Fox.


Anonymous said...

Spin City was good fun. The incomparable Steptoe and Son could also count as a political sitcom - much of it was a clash of Harold's class conscious Socialist versus Albert's working class Conservative.

Anonymous said...

I think my last post was lost for some reason. Was going to say that Steptoe and Son was to a large extent about class conscious socialist Harold against working class Conservative Albert - there was one great episode with Harold failing to be selected as Labour candidate in a rock solid ward in Shepherd's Bush, but it was a theme throughout.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever watch Spin City ? - Quite good before Michael J Fox left.

Anonymous said...

Wolfie's landlady always called him 'Foxy'; that makes it a joke, rather than, er, not a joke.

PoliticalHackUK said...

I don't think you can exclude Rory Bremner and allow Spitting Image as neither are sitcoms.

However, travel across the pond and you can have Spin City, which had its moments.

There was a 1990 pilot for a post-Thatcher sitcom with Angela Thorne and John Wells called Dunrulin, written by Alistair Beaton.

Room for Til Death Do Us Part? The clashes between Alf and the Scouse Git were always entertaining.

Mike Wood said...

They also had an episode around the 1970? general election.

Anonymous said...

What about America's Spin City!

Alex Wilcock said...

Well, if you don't mind moving away from 'contemporary' sit-coms, several of the Blackadders count...

Much as I love Spitting Image, barring the odd running gag like The President's Brain Is Missing, it was definitely a sketch show rather than a sit-com. Including it gives you a let-in for Not the Nine O'Clock News, the various incarnations of Rory Bremner and several sketches from Little Britain, though, if you need to bulk up the numbers ;-)

On a similar level to Steptoe and Son, though with middle class liberals vs Tories rather than working class socialists versus Tories, there's a tortuous case to be made for The Good Life, too. The difference being that in The Good Life it's the Toriest character who's giving herself airs, rather than Harold the socialist (who always seemed deeply uncomfortable being working class).

Then there's The Goodies, of course, who could easily be divided into the three parties and frequently (if not consistently) had overtly political episodes.

And, er, Wolfie Smith was always called Foxy by his girlfriend's mum...

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Alex. Yes, not much difficulty for Ed Davey filling in the canvass card for the Good Life crowd (Surbiton is in his seat isn't it?) Your point about the contrast with Steptoe is a good one I hadn't noticed before.

Anonymous said...

drop the dead donkey was definately a political sitcom and very funny

Anonymous said...

How about "Annie's Bar" - a short-lived CH4 comedy set in the soon-to-be closed hacks bar in the Palace? I remember it was reasonably funny, but not terribly original.

Anonymous said...

Back to basics? The Stephen Milligan espisode was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

A nugget of interest (or perhaps not), but in Singapore, all political satire on TV was verboten. Except for 'Yes Minister' which Lee Kwan Yew found highly entertaining personally. He could have had private videos sent to him, but he wanted Singaporeans to be able to watch it because he thought it was funny and true of all parties everywhere. So the only political comedy series ever on Singapore TV (don't know about since the century changed) was 'Yes Minister' at the personal request of Lee Kwan Yew.

Anonymous said...

Needless to say The Trial of Tony Blair must go on the list shortly.

Nich Starling said...

Surely 2dTV should qualify as it is similar to Spitting image ?

Anonymous said...

You should take out Spitting Image and replace it with Tanner '88. The inspiration for The Thick of It.

Unknown said...

what about the WEST WING thats great!!!