7. Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf is a British science fiction comedy franchise which primarily consists of a television sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999, and on Dave since 2009, gaining a cult following.To date, twelve full series of the show plus one “special” miniseries have aired. The latest series, dubbed Red Dwarf XII, started airing in October 2017. The series was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. In addition to the television episodes, there are four novels, a radio version adapted from the audiobooks, two pilot episodes for an American version of the show, tie-in books, magazines, and other merchandise.
Despite the pastiche of science fiction used as a backdrop, Red Dwarf is primarily a character-driven comedy, with science fiction elements used as complementary plot devices. In the early episodes, a recurring source of comedy was the Odd Couple-style relationship between the two central characters of the show, who have an intense dislike for each other yet are trapped together deep in space. The main characters are Dave Lister, the last known human alive, and Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of Lister’s dead bunkmate. The other regular characters are Cat, a lifeform which evolved from the descendants of Lister’s pregnant pet cat Frankenstein; Holly, Red Dwarf’s computer (Series I-V, briefly in the final episode of VII, VIII); Kryten, a service mechanoid (Series II-present); and Kristine Kochanski, an alternative-reality version of Lister’s long-lost love (Series VII-VIII). One of the series’ highest accolades came in 1994, when an episode from the sixth series, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category, and in the same year the series was also awarded “Best BBC Comedy Series” at the British Comedy Awards. The series attracted its highest ratings, of more than eight million viewers, during the eighth series in 1999.
The show’s title is a reference to the use of ‘bread’ however, it is not a Liverpudlian Scouse expression but actually a London term for money (Cockney rhyming slang: bread and honey). A regular scenario in each episode was that of Nellie opening a cockerel-fashioned kitchen egg basket prior to the evening meal into which the family would place money for their upkeep. The amount of money placed in the pot by each depended on how successful a day they’d had. The pot would be at the forefront of the screen at the end of each episode as the credits rolled. Other frequently-seen scenarios included Nellie answering a cordless phone (a newfangled item in the mid-1980s) which she kept in the pocket of her pinny (she always said “Hello yes?” when answering); and ensuring the parking places outside the terraced house were kept free for the family’s many vehicles, by putting out some illicitly-acquired police traffic cones.
The show featured soap opera-style cliffhangers. This meant that viewers had to watch each week to see how the previous week’s cliffhanger would be resolved. This also meant that each episode was not self-contained, but the plot unfolded as the series progressed. This was very unusual for a comedy at the time, but has been used to great effect by comedies since.The theme tune was sung by the cast members and was released on BBC Records but failed to make the UK singles chart. The theme was re-recorded for the fifth series of the show, due to BBC1’s transition from mono to NICAM stereo sound – the original theme had been recorded in mono. A comic strip based on the series featured in the BBC’s Teen magazine Fast Forward, although the overall tone was altered for the magazines younger readership. After the series had finished, a stage play of the show entitled “Bread – The Farewell Slice” toured the UK.
Although each series is set in a different era, all follow the “misfortunes” of Edmund Blackadder (played by Atkinson), who in each is a member of a British family dynasty present at many significant periods and places in British history. It is implied in each series that the Blackadder character is a descendant of the previous one (the end theme lyrics of series 2, episode “Head”, specify that he is the great-grandson of the previous), although it is never specified how or when any of the Blackadders (who are usually bachelors) managed to father children. As the generations progress, each Blackadder becomes increasingly clever and perceptive, while the family’s social status steadily erodes. However, each Blackadder remains a cynical, cowardly opportunist, maintaining and increasing his own status and fortunes, regardless of his surroundings.
The life of each Blackadder is also entwined with his servant, each from the Baldrick family line (played by Tony Robinson). Each generation acts as the dogsbody to his respective Blackadder. They decrease in intelligence (and in personal-hygiene standards) as their masters’ intellect increases. Each Blackadder and Baldrick is also saddled with tolerating the presence of a dim-witted aristocrat. This role was taken in the first two series by Lord Percy Percy, played by Tim McInnerny; with Hugh Laurie playing the role in the third and fourth series, as Prince George, Prince Regent; and Lieutenant George, respectively. Each series was set in a different period of British history, beginning in 1485 and ending in 1917, and comprised six half-hour episodes. The first series, made in 1983, was called The Black Adder and was set in the fictional reign of “Richard IV”. The second series, Blackadder II(1986), was set during the reign of Elizabeth I. Blackadder the Third (1987) was set during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the reign of George III, and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989) was set in 1917 in the trenches of the Great War.
10. Birds of a Feather – 80s Sitcoms
For Cockney sisters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs, life is never the same again when their husbands are convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison. Sharon, a common, large and loud-mouthed character from a council flat in Edmonton, moves into her sister’s luxury home in Chigwell, so that she can support Tracy.
Sharon has always felt inadequate next to her slimmer, elder sister Tracey and felt she had the tougher childhood. Her marriage to Chris, a waster of Greek Cypriot descent, was miserable and childless, supposedly due to Sharon’s infertility. Chris’s family condemn her for this but Sharon discovers that Chris is actually the infertile one. Sharon happily cheats on Chris and gives him grief when visiting. Despite this, she becomes bitterly envious whenever he has another woman, and only ever makes half-hearted attempts to divorce him until the new 2014 series, in which Chris finally demands a divorce from Sharon so he can marry again. Tracey, however, loves her husband, Darryl. His legitimate business was building conservatories but he made most of his money by robbing banks. Unlike Sharon, who is more realistic about their husbands, Tracey deludes herself into believing her husband is innocent, especially in the Christmas special “The Chigwell Connection”, and when Darryl is finally released in series 7, she trusts him when he asks for a cheque on the company account, which leads to Darryl defrauding her out of her business assets. He and Tracey have a son, Garth, who becomes a chef after going to boarding school, and eventually marries Kimberley. This marriage does not last: in series 10, Garth has moved to Australia and started a relationship with a girl named Marcie. Tracey is the more honest and law-abiding of the two sisters, whereas Sharon is more willing to indulge in unscrupulous and often criminal activities, such as illegally subletting her council flat when she was living with Tracey, taking drugs, selling stolen merchandise, fiddling her VAT, and claiming unemployment benefit while she was actually employed.
information from: https://www.wikipedia.org