We think back to some iconic British comedies that were on tv during the 80s. Perhaps you watched some of them? Perhaps some were a little too old for you but you remember your parents watching them. Have a look at our list. How many of these 80s sitcoms do you remember?
1. Allo Allo
Set during the Second World War, ‘Allo ‘Allo! tells the fictitious story of René Artois, a café owner in the town of Nouvion, France. Military from the Axis powers have occupied the town and stolen all of its valuable artefacts. These include a painting of The Fallen Madonna by Van Klomp (usually referred to as The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies). Two officers, Colonel Kurt von Strohm and Captain Hans Geering, have decided to keep the paintings for themselves after the war, and they coerce René into hiding the paintings in his café. Hitler also wants the paintings, and sends Herr Flick of the Gestapo to the town to find them. Flick, in turn, conspires to keep them. The paintings are duplicated by a forger, get mixed up, lost, found and are put in knackwurst sausages, and hidden in the cellar of Café René. Other valuable artefacts include a painting of the Cracked Vase with the big daisies by Van Gogh; the first cuckoo clock ever made; and some silver.
At the same time, the café is being used as a safe house for two brave but clueless British airmen, Fairfax and Carstairs. René is forced to work with the French Resistance, led by the fearsome Michelle Dubois. The far-fetched plans of the Resistance to get the airmen back to Britain repeatedly fail. These are some of the main running gags of the series. As part of these plans, the Resistance have placed a radio in the bedroom of René’s mother-in-law, Madame Fanny La Fan, as this is the only room nobody enters unless they have to. This secret device for communication between London and the Resistance (codename “Nighthawk”) is hidden under the bed, and incoming messages are signaled by light bulbs concealed in the bed-knobs – leading the mother-in-law to cry “Ze flashing knobs!”. René answers with “‘Allo, ‘allo, zis is Night’awk, are you receiving me?”, hence the title of the show (“allô” is the normal French way of greeting someone over a remote communication system). The Resistance is also “helped” by Officer Crabtree, a British spy posing as a French policeman, sent to France because he can speak French. However, he does not speak it very well, especially the vowels, resulting in frequent malapropisms. For example, whenever he says “Good morning”, it comes out as “Good moaning”.
2. The Young Ones
The Young Ones originated on London’s comedy club circuit in the early 1980s, where most of the show’s cast had gained popularity at The Comedy Store. Alexei Sayle was the prominent act, drawing attention as the manic, aggressive compere. Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayallworked as the double act 20th Century Coyote, which later became The Dangerous Brothers. Nigel Planer was also in a double act with Peter Richardson called “The Outer Limits”. As The Comedy Store became popular, Sayle, 20th Century Coyote, and The Outer Limits, with French and Saunders and Arnold Brown, set up their own club called The Comic Strip in the Raymond Revuebar club in Soho. The Comic Strip became one of the most popular comedy venues in London, and came to the attention of Jeremy Isaacs of Channel 4. Peter Richardson then negotiated a deal for six self-contained half-hour films, using the group as comedy actors rather than stand-up performers. In response, the BBC began negotiations with Edmondson, Mayall, Richardson, Planer and Sayle to star in a sitcom in a similar style. Paul Jackson was installed as a producer. Richardson’s project, The Comic Strip Presents…, aired on Channel 4’s opening night on 2 November 1982, with The Young Ones following a week later on BBC2. The series was written by Mayall, his then-girlfriend Lise Mayer, and Ben Elton (who had attended the University of Manchester with Mayall and Edmondson). Richardson was originally set to play Mike, but clashed with Jackson. He was replaced by Christopher Ryan, the only member of the group who was not a stand-up comedian. The show was voted number 31 in the BBC’s Best Sitcom poll in 2004.
Watching was set in Merseyside, with Brenda from Liverpool and Malcolm from Meols on the Wirral, the “posh” part of Merseyside on the other side of the River Mersey. The title refers to Brenda and her sister Pamela’s hobby of “people watching”, and to Malcolm’s hobby of birdwatching, which initially Brenda endures rather than enjoys, but later comes to appreciate. Quiet biker Malcolm, who lived with his domineering mother (played by Patsy Byrne), was accompanied on his birdwatching trips by loud scouser Brenda, who was forced to ride in the sidecar of his Norton motorbike and had a habit of rubbing his mother up the wrong way. Other key characters in the series were Brenda’s sister Pamela (Liza Tarbuck), her husband David (John Bowler – Series 2 onwards) and Brenda and Pam’s mother Joyce (played by Noreen Kershaw) in the last few series. The series followed Malcolm and Brenda’s on/off relationship, during which Malcolm married another woman called Lucinda (played by Elizabeth Morton). However, Brenda and Malcolm finally married each other in the final episode, “Knotting”, which was broadcast on 4 April 1993.