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TV Comedy to Tackle Winter Blues

A lack of vitamin D, gross weather, dark evenings, packing away your summer clothes – winter is often magical, but it can be miserable, too. If you need cheering up, have a look through this list of TV comedies guaranteed to put a smile on your face; Wrap yourself in a blanket and let yourself forget about the outside world for a little while.  

Gavin and Stacey

This is one of the few shows that unites every generation of my family – children, teens, parents, pensioners – everyone reckons they can nail a Nessa impression (and I can, if truth be told). Its enormous success is entirely deserved – there’s a genuine magic about it; A sitcom that celebrates both normality and the inherent, delightful oddness of people. If you’ve not seen it yet, I don’t believe you. Always worth a revisit though. Go back to the start and enjoy how old everyone’s phones are, James Corden pre The Late Late Show, landfill indie warming the cockles of your heart as the two most boring characters fall completely in love and hold everything else together.  

This Country

Sibling writing duo Charlie and Daisy-May Cooper created and star in this BBC Three mockumentary about rural west country life, which also features lots of their other family members. Ridiculous, foul mouthed and relatable to anyone who grew up in a village, the characters are flawed but lovable and the setting allows for lots of episodes where next to nothing happens, but it’s a joy.  

Spaced

One of the most creative and lovingly made British sitcoms of all time, the two series follow Tim and Daisy, unemployed twentysomethings who pretend to be a professional couple almost immediately after they meet in order to rent a flat in London. Every performance is perfect and you can see everything Edgar Wright directed later laid out on a much lower budget. Bits of Scott Pilgrim and Shaun of the Dead, touches of Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Baby Driver. This is a sitcom that loves TV and film, a love letter to doing nothing, a celebration of nerds and the adventures you end up having with your chosen family. 

Brooklyn 99

After 8 seasons of solved cases, sex-tape titles and shenanigans, the beloved ensemble comedy about the NYPD is finally coming to an end. The last season has aired in the US already, with the UK eagerly awaiting its arrival, so what better time to dive back in and let the relentless jokes and resolved crises soothe you. The cop element feels like the least important part of the show at this point – the characters are so recognisable and well established that they could be transplanted into any workplace and it would be just as good. Fingers crossed for a spin-off – Charles in his own restaurant, serving disgusting but inexplicably popular cuisine.  

Derry Girls

Sometimes, very rarely, you watch a show as it airs, and know immediately that it’s going to be a classic, long remembered and much loved for years to come. This is Derry Girls. Lisa McGee’s wonderful sitcom answered my 15 year old prayers for a show about flawed, gross, awkward and weird teenage girls. It is primarily about the difficulties of coming of age, but specifically in the shadow of The Troubles during the 1990s. It excellently captures the small ways something as huge as ongoing sectarian violence can become normal, the way life simply continues, because it has to. 

Taskmaster

The wonderfully daft baby of Alex Horne, who devised the show and then made himself the administrative sidekick, has recently been sold by Dave to Channel 4. The anti-QI – a show that celebrates the weird, unseen kinds of intelligence, an untested kind of smart that means you discover you’re excellent at throwing a jelly in a bucket, or impressing a mayor, or eating as much watermelon as you can in a minute. Traditional smartness won’t help you here. Keep your facts in your head, it’s time to sacrifice dignity in favour of pleasing The Taskmaster Greg Davies 

Detectorists

Mackenzie Crook’s exploration of metal detectors – sorry, detectorists – often feels like an aimless summer afternoon. All the characters are written with warmth, even the bastards, but it feels like the show is really about the awkward love between Lance and Andy, best friends ambling through the countryside, talking about nothing, looking for bits of metal. Their lives and other relationships develop, but they can always go back to each other, sit under a tree and talk shit. It is sweet, but not too sweet, silly but not too silly, and funny in a way that sneaks up on you. The show itself moves slowly, in the way that you do when you’re making the most of the sun.  

What We Do In The Shadows

Based on the successful film of the same name, this mockumentary follows four vampire housemates in Staten Island dealing with the usual problems of cohabitation, such as eternal life, familiars, sunlight and trying to find virgins to feast on. Frequently laugh out loud funny, the premise is so good and it delivers over and over again. If you liked the film I cannot recommend it enough.  

Community

A group of loveable misfits form a community college study group and become friends. Simple, right? WRONG. 6 seasons – if you count season 4, which I DON’T – of intricately crafted jokes, plots and characters. Near constant homages to and parodies of classic tropes, films and TV shows. Gleeful fourth wall breaking. It is TV that is obsessed with TV, described by Mordicai Knode as “about the tropes of every single genre, it is about the cinematic language and the shared culture we all bring piecemeal to the table when we sit down as audiences.” 

The Royle Family

This is arguably the best British sitcom ever made. On paper it sounds pretty basic – a working class family from Manchester sit in their living room and mostly watch television. It is often assumed that the show was improvised – this is incorrect, but a testament to the power of the writing, which is so reminiscent of the way families really talk to each other. Insincere and earnest, mean and sweet, unbelievably funny and completely heartbreaking. A sitcom that to millions of people feels like coming home.  

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