A tribute to the shows that have made us laugh
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