It’s… Monty Python’s top honour for comic genius
It gave us the dead parrot sketch, the lumberjack song and the Spanish Inquisition.
Now Monty Python’s Flying Circus has done a silly walk to first place in a poll of the most influential comedy series in British broadcasting history.
The programme, which ran from 1969 to 1974, blew a big raspberry at modern shows such as The Office and The Vicar Of Dibley in a poll of 4,000 viewers.
They were asked to choose from a shortlist of 30 sitcom, sketch, panel and satirical shows assembled by a panel of comedy performers and writers such as Barry Cryer.
Python, written and performed by John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones, was chosen by 26 per cent of those who took part.
Respondents praised the way in which the show revolutionised television comedy by incorporating strands of animation and doing away with traditional techniques such as punchlines.
Others said it “single-handedly created a new language for comedy” and encouraged the first wave of alternative comedians throughout the following decade.
In second place is the long-running David Jason sitcom Only Fools And Horses, which was praised for creator John Sullivan’s strong writing and its memorable catchphrases such as “lovely jubbly”.
Next, on 6 per cent each, come Blackadder, Little Britain and The Royle Family. Blackadder fans cited its strong characterisation, such as the revolting Baldrick, and its innovative use of different historical periods.
They also pointed out how the series pushed many of its cast and crew including Richard Curtis, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton,
Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie to greater success.
Little Britain was praised for its global popularity and strong characters.
The Royle Family was widely admired for its innovation in creating a half- hour sitcom simply out of a family sitting in their living room and watching television.
The rest of the top ten was made up of The Morecambe And Wise Show, Spitting Image, The Young Ones, The Office and The Vicar Of Dibley.
Shows which narrowly missed out on a top ten place in the poll commissioned by UKTV Gold included Hancock’s Half Hour, The Day Today, Brass Eye, Not The Nine O’Clock News and Have I Got News For You?
James Newton, channel head of UKTV Gold, said: “The list clearly shows the massive breadth and depth of British comedy and is a celebration of the abundance of UK talent.”