A trib­ute to the shows that have made us laugh

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

Over the years they made us laugh, oc­ca­sion­ally cry and have turned job­bing ac­tors into house­hold names. They are sit­u­a­tion comedies, and Blighty has pro­duced some of the best the world has ever seen. Bri­tain's Best Loved Sit­coms (Chan­nel 4, 8pm). Tamsin Greig has starred in a few of her own, in­clud­ing Black Books, Green Wing and Episodes, so who bet­ter to nar­rate this count­down of the na­tion's favourite based on a re­cent poll? Whether you're a fan of old school clas­sics like Dadís Army, or the rat­ings-bust­ing Mrs Brown's Boys, there's a lit­tle some­thing for ev­ery­one here. Of course this act­ing busi­ness can be a funny old game, and not al­ways 'funny ha ha' as con­trib­u­tor Ricky Tom­lin­son will tes­tify. Given his ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ries, there was lit­tle won­der Caro­line Aherne gave him a writer's credit on The Royle Fam­ily (which is bound to fea­ture in this list). Back in 1981, when he was work­ing as a builder, Ricky thought he'd have a go at tread­ing the boards. So he and a mate drove to Lon­don, but spend­ing their last few pounds on petrol, they were re­ly­ing on a young di­rec­tor called Roland Joffe and his com­pany to re­im­burse him for the ex­pense. Joffe, who went on to make ac­claimed dra­mas The Killing Fields and The Mis­sion, was im­pressed by Tom­lin­son's gritty ap­peal, es­pe­cially when the builder stormed off, be­liev­ing things weren't go­ing his way. Re­al­is­ing he didn't have the cash to get home, he sheep­ishly re­turned to the au­di­tion to ask for the travel ex­penses, and Joffe asked if he'd host a 'work­shop'. A be­mused look­ing Ricky nod­ded and re­turned to the van. When asked how it went, he told his mate: 'It went okay, but now Roland Joffe want me to build him a work­shop!' He wound up star­ring in Joffe's BBC's Play for To­day drama United King­dom and never looked back. Ricky Ger­vais was also a grafter, un­til his life changed in June 2001. At the time he was a job­bing writer who had ex­pe­ri­enced some suc­cess on Chan­nel 4's The 11 O'Clock Show. Af­ter rau­cously laugh­ing over the news­pa­per health Q and A ques­tion: 'Are you or have you ever been over­weight?, the then portly funny man ad­mit­ted that he nor­mally did the bare min­i­mum to get a job done. How­ever, in this case he poured his heart and soul into run­n­away hit, The Of­fice.

Laughs A trib­ute to the UK's favourite comedies

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