By Juergen Kamm, Birgit Neumann
This assortment bargains an outline of British television comedies, starting from the beginnings of sitcoms within the Nineteen Fifties to the present growth of 'Britcoms'. It presents in-depth analyses of significant comedies, systematically addressing their established houses, filmic historical past, humour politics and cultural influence.
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Extra info for British TV Comedies: Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies
If we merely look at the sitcom’s “narrative architecture”, no sitcom can be transgressive because the episodic format forces us to return to the familiar status quo with which this week’s episode began’ (Feuer 68). See David Grote, who remarks that the sitcom has ‘overturned more than two thousand years of comic traditions and established an entirely new and unique form of comedy’ (12), which is no longer defined by its subversive social functions, but by its repressively commercial ones. See Jochen Petzold’s contribution in Chapter 12 of this volume.
Throughout the Steptoe series there is, indeed, a distinctly dark undertow that will occasionally make audiences feel that the comic and the potentially tragic are being held in a precarious balance. As often as not, these darker moments are evoked when the psychological or emotional pressures resulting from living with his father become too much for Harold and he begins to show signs of serious psychological disturbance. In ‘Divided We Stand’ (Series Seven), for instance, the constant bickering with his father finally becomes too much for Harold.
This is sometimes an undeniably painful spectacle, but the saving grace for audiences – what allows them to find such situations comic rather than tragic – is that what is being held up to ridicule is Hancock’s pretentiousness rather than the person himself (Langford 20). 6 Perhaps the most fondly remembered of all the Hancock’s Half Hourr episodes is the one entitled ‘The Blood Donor’. It is set in a hospital where the Hancock character is attending a blood donor clinic. Full of false bonhomie and apprehensive about what the consequences of this ‘bloodletting’ will be, Hancock first of all makes a nuisance of himself with the hospital staff by his constant posturing and his always wanting to be treated as a special case.