Fawlty Towers is the greatest British sitcom of all time and Ab Fab gets a mention too – according to comedians.

Jennifer Saunders
at the 2007 TCA Winter Press Tour. Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel, Pasadena, CA. 01-11-07

Over 100 professional comedians and actors, including David Baddiel, Jenny Eclair, Reece Shearsmith and Alexei Sayle, were polled to find out their favourite sitcoms, moments and one-liners.

The John Cleese-starring classic comedy received the most votes in the best sitcom category – despite originally airing over 40 years ago and lasting for just 12 episodes.

While the favourite one-liner among comics is “Don’t tell him, Pike” from Dad’s Army as said by Captain Mainwaring to Pike when the young Private is asked his name by a German prisoner.

And the most popular scene is from I’m Alan Partridge and sees Alan meet his biggest fan – only to discover he has an unhealthy obsession with the radio DJ, including a room dedicated to him.

The research was commissioned by TV channel Gold to celebrate the launch of its first full series of We Have Been Watching

Comedy critic Bruce Dessau, who compiled the audit of comedians, said,

“We are well-known across the world for our ‘British sense of humour’, which is shown at its best in many of our best-loved and timeless comedy classics.

“The art of comedy is almost impossible to define, but many of these characters, lines and sitcoms are brilliant examples of the very best in the history of British TV comedy.”

Other favourite one-liners include Blackadder’s Lord Flashheart announcing: “I’ve got a plan, and it’s as hot as my pants” as he proposes running away with Kate.

And Tony Hancock, upon on learning how much blood he has to give during a blood donation, saying,

“A pint? Why that’s very nearly an armful!”

In addition to containing the best comedy scene, I’m Alan Partridge is the second most popular sitcom among comedians – with Blackadder in third, The Office in fourth and Father Ted in fifth.

Alan Partridge also overcame competition from Basil Fawlty, David Brent, Del Boy and The Young Ones’ Rick to be the named favourite male comedy character.

While Steve Coogan, who plays the radio DJ from Norwich, topped the list of favourite male comedy actors, followed by Rik Mayall, Ronnie Barker and John Cleese.

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Joanna Lumley is the most popular female comedy actor among comedians – ahead of Caroline Aherne, Julia Davis, Penelope Keith and Victoria Wood.

Absolutely Fabulous duo Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon came first and second in the favourite female comedy character category – beating The Royle Family’s Denise and Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle.

Bruce Dessau said,

“Many of the moments found in this poll can be enjoyed again in a fresh take on the new series We Have Been Watching, as some of the top comedy folk share their views on the funniest moments telly has to offer.”

We Have Been Watching is the first UKTV Original of 2017 for Gold, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year.

The channel will also exclusively premiere the brand new series, Henry IX, penned by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and starring Charles Edwards, Sally Phillips and Kara Tointon.


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  1. Fawlty Towers
  2. I’m Alan Partridge
  3. Blackadder
  4. The Office
  5. Father Ted
  6. Peep Show
  7. Only Fools and Horses
  8. The Thick of It
  9. Absolutely Fabulous
  10. Porridge



  1. Alan Partridge meets a super-fan who has a room dedicated to Alan Partridge (I’m Alan Partridge)
  2. Tim and Dawn finally get together (The Office)
  3. Basil Fawlty argues with the Germans, stressing “Don’t mention the war!” (Fawlty Towers)
  4. “Don’t tell him Pike” scene with German prisoners. (Dad’s Army)
  5. Del Boy falling through the bar (Only Fools and Horses)
  6. Father Ted and the terrified priests stray into the lingerie department (Father Ted)
  7. Mrs Richards complaining about her room to Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers)
  8. The entrance of Lord Flashheart in Blackadder II (Blackadder)
  9. Del Boy and Rodney running as Batman and Robin (Only Fools and Horses)
  10. David Brent begging for his job as he gets fired (The Office)


  1. Captain Mainwaring to Pike, when Pike is asked his name by a German prisoner: “Don’t tell him Pike.” (Dad’s Army)
  2. Tony Hancock on learning how much blood he has to give during a blood donation: “A pint? Why that’s very nearly an armful!” (Hancock’s Half Hour)
  3. Father Ted explains to Father Dougal the concept of perspective: “These [toy cows] are small. But those [real cows] out there are far away. [Points to toy cow] Small… [Points to real cow] far away.” (Father Ted)
  4. Manuel in response to Basil’s plea to confirm he placed a winning bet on a horse: “I know noth-ing.” (Fawlty Towers)
  5. Alan Partridge pitches programme ideas to the BBC Commissioning Editor, Tony Hayers. After a string of no’s, he desperately puts forward his last programme idea: “Monkey Tennis?” (I’m Alan Partridge)
  6. Patsy judging celebrities as she looks through magazines: “One more facelift on this one, and she’ll have a beard.” (Absolutely Fabulous)
  7. David Brent on the effect of his management skills in the workplace: “I suppose I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, and a boss second. Probably an entertainer third.” (The Office)
  8. Alan Partridge explains who Wings are: “They’re only the band The Beatles could have been.” (I’m Alan Partridge)
  9. Lord Flashheart proposes running away together to Kate: “I’ve got a plan, and it’s as hot as my pants.” (Blackadder)
  10. Geraldine Granger introduces herself upon her arrival in Dibley as their new vicar: “You were expecting a bloke: beard, Bible and bad breath. Instead you’ve got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom.” (The Vicar of Dibley)
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