British Comedy

The Comic Side of World Cup Soccer

In case you hadn’t heard, the FIFA World Cup Finals is in full swing in this year’s host country, Brazil. Teams from around the globe are battling it out on the football pitch aka soccer field to determine who is best at kicking a ball into a net.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are coming together to celebrate their passion for a common sport. It’s just that there’s so much of it. The finals phase is comprised of over 60 matches that are played over a month’s time.

Preview 'Vicious' Starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, Premiering on PBS June 29

Gay comedy Vicious – starring acting legends Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi – will premiere on PBS stations nationwide beginning June 29.

McKellen and Jacobi play elderly gay couple Freddie and Stuart, who’ve been living together in a small central London flat for nearly fifty years. Their co-dependent relationship is largely focused around the two of them sniping at one another and walking the dog, but the two love each other deeply. Their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a new upstairs neighbor named Ash, played by Game of Thrones' Iwan Rheon. Ostensibly, this will be a much less psychotic character than the one he plays in Westeros.

The sitcom aired in the UK last year, and its addition to the PBS roster marks a rather exciting foray into comedy for the network’s national Sunday night schedule which, I think it’s safe to say, is something we all hope continues into the future.

The first US trailer for the Vicious premiere at the end of the month has been released and, in an extremely pleasant surprise, it actually features different footage than the bits featured in the ITV promo last year. Huzzah.

‘Twenty Twelve’ Lives On in New BBC Mockumentary ‘W1A’

Good news for those of you that loved Olympics mockumentary Twenty Twelve – it’s back! Well, sort of. Since the London Games are long past in our collective rearview, we’re getting the next best thing – a sequel series! The new comedy comes complete with several returning characters from the original, including Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as harassed executive Ian Fletcher and Jessica Hynes as PR whiz Siobhan Sharpe.

Called W1A, the new series will see Bonneville’s Fletcher take on a new role as the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or re-define the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future, in particular for Licence Fee Renegotiation and Charter Renewal in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The show takes its name from the postcode of the BBC’s London headquarters and – given some of the real-life going on at the corporation lately, including the planned closure of BBC Three - art may end up imitating life fairly closely in this instance.

HBO's Newest British Remake: An American Version of Comedy "Getting On"

Another American version of a British series is headed to a television near you – though this one actually looks kind of entertaining. Possibly because it’s from HBO, which has already had some success adapting a British comedy for American audiences in their Emmy-winning Veep, which is a somewhat roundabout remake of political satire The Thick of It. (Honestly, the two shows are so different it feels strange to call Veep a remake, though they share a creator. But it seems fair to say it’s at least “inspired by” the British series..)

Next up, HBO is producing an American version of Getting On, the popular BBC Four comedy series about nurses working in a geriatric extended care wing of a National Health Service hospital. The US version will be comprised of six half-hour episodes, and will be set in a down-at-the-heels extended care facility in Long Beach, California. The comedy will star Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf alongside Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash and Mel Rodriguez.

Watch the trailer for HBO’s new comedy below.

Finally Coming to Hulu: BBC Comedy 'The Wrong Mans'

It seems as though a year has gone by (and it almost has) since Hulu announced they were producing this particular new comedy in partnership with the BBC. Co-starring and co-written by James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame and Matthew Baynton (Spy and Horrible Histories), this original series called The Wrong Mans is billed as a spy thriller within a sitcom.

British Actresses You Should Know: The Many Faces of Catherine Tate

Normally when we do these British Actors You Should Know installments, Lacy or I choose a talented British performer and then introduce you, the readers, to a sampling of their TV and film work. This time I’ve selected Catherine Tate as my featured actress.

Sure she’s played my favorite Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, appeared as James McAvoy’s mother in the delightful comedy Starter for 10 and even crossed the pond to join the cast of the American Office for their final two seasons. But I’ve elected to highlight her sketch comedy work from The Catherine Tate Show. This wide range of characters display Tate’s talents for memorable catchphrases, comic timing and a hilarious ability to transform into characters of any age, class or gender. Let’s meet a few, shall we?

Missing 'The IT Crowd'? Here are Some Workplace Sitcoms You Should Watch Instead

If you are a fan of The IT Crowd like me, you too have been on pins and needles over the past few years. Back in the summer of 2010, we left co-workers Roy, Moss, and Jen celebrating the relatively successful outcome of their boss, Douglas Reynholm’s divorce trial, secure in the assumption that we’d be seeing them again quite soon.

Little did we know that our expectations were premature. After all, before Series 4 even aired, the show’s creator Graham Linehan announced that IT Crowd would be returning in 2011 for a fifth series.

Hurray! We were innocent and carefree. We had no reason to believe we’d never hear Roy ask if someone had turned their computer off and back on again.

Except it didn’t (and hasn’t) quite worked out like that. We’re still waiting. So here’s some advice on what to watch in the meantime.

Back To School – British Telly Style

It’s hard to believe another school year is about to begin. I reckon just like their American counterparts, British children are busily loading up their backpacks and rucksacks with new biros and pencils with fresh pink rubbers (a.k.a erasers) on the ends. No doubt they’re looking forward to donning their smart school uniforms for the first day of school.

During the year ahead, these students may be worried about passing maths or revising for their GCSEs. But more likely, they’re probably just hoping that their regular instructor will fall ill and be replaced by an unseasoned, unsuspecting supply teacher. Or is he?

The task of challenging young minds has been a subject often tackled in wonderful British films such as Goodbye Mr. Chips, To Sir with Love, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The History Boys which all featured dedicated, passionate pedagogues.

But if we’re talking telly, far more often it’s the comic side of the teaching profession that we see. Let’s look at a few examples of less than perfect sitcom educators:

Meet 'Moone Boy'

Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone is a twelve year old boy who lives in Boyle, Ireland with his parents and a trio of older sisters. He has many of the same problems as most boys his age – the inevitable confusion of puberty, bullies at school, sibling tiffs. He also has a youthful naivety, a love of drawing and a vivid imagination.

This is the premise of Moone Boy, a sitcom I just finished watching this weekend. Originally broadcast in the UK on Sky1 last fall, the entire series is currently available in the States on Hulu – new episodes go up every Wednesday, or if you have Hulu Plus, you can stream the full series right now.

If you’re a fan of Chris O’Dowd, he is not only the co-writer and co-star but his childhood is the subject of this delightful semi-autobiographical series. If you’re partial to slightly surreal, coming of age comedy, you don’t need my encouragement. You’ve probably already watched it anyway.

But if you’re not sure if Moone Boy is for you, allow me to illustrate some if its more unique points.

We’ll Miss You, Captain Peacock: “Are You Being Served?” Star Frank Thornton Passes Away at 92

Fans of British comedy will be saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Thornton, the remarkable character actor who was probably best known for his portrayal of Captain Peacock on long-running, popular Britcom Are You Being Served?.

Thornton, who was 92, died peacefully in his sleep at his home on London on Saturday, March 16, according to his longtime agent David Daley. He is survived by Beryl, his wife of 67 years, their daughter Jane and three grandchildren.

"He was a great friend and consummate performer who was the glue who really held Are You Being Served? together," said co-creator Jeremy Lloyd.

Click through for the BBC report on his passing, as well as clips and links.

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