Let me begin by saying that this feature is not ‘Top 10 Greatest Sitcom Characters’. That honour would go to such genius comic creations as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, Victor Meldrew, Basil Fawlty or David Brent, who are all highly developed characters with long storylines and loveable personalities. This list is all about the FUNNIEST. Those characters who spout gem after gem of classic one-liners, gold nuggets of ignorance and Charlie Chaplin-esque moments of pure idiocy.
They’re often the side-character, the comic relief to the put-upon straight guy, and they might not say very much, but when they do it’s always hilarity personified. There will be many omissions as is always the case with ‘Top 10’ lists, and the following is by no means definitive, so as ever all comments and other suggestions are welcome below. Here then is the not-so-definitive list of Top 10 funniest British sitcom characters:
10) Dean Learner (Richard Ayoade) -Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Richard Ayoade is the only man to feature in two comic creations in this list. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace may be unheard of to most people, and running for only one series, it didn’t really take off, but with Ayoade’s portrayal of Dean Learner, perhaps satirical televisions’ worst publisher and actor, the series came up trumps. Whether it’s gathering round the water-cooler, or trying to nail acting on the telephone, Dean Learner puts his heart and soul into doing ‘too little with the script’.
Episode to watch: Series 1, Episode 4 – ‘The Apes of Wrath’
9) Nick Harper (Kris Marshall) – My Family
My Family may have outstayed its welcome with a whopping 11 series, but Kris Marshall got out while the going was good, quitting in 2005. As such he features in all the episodes with the best writing and least ludicrous storylines. Dim-witted and loveable, his attempts to woo the ladies and his ‘new job’ which became the running joke of his character never failed to impress.
Episode to watch: Series 2, Episode 3 – ‘Parisian Beauty’
8) Michael (Simon Grenall) – I’m Alan Partridge
From working at Linton Travel Tavern in series 1 to the dizzying heights of petrol station work in series 2, Michael has been Alan Partridge’s go-to man for all conversations from ladyboys, military manoeuvres and his Lexis (the Japanese Mercedes). Fingers crossed he’ll be featuring in the Alan Partridge Movie due out this year.
Episode to watch: Series 2, Episode 4 – ‘Never Say Alan Again’
7) General Melchett (Stephen Fry) – Blackadder Goes Forth
The character of Melchett actually cropped up in both the second and fourth series of Blackadder, but it is specifically the General featured in series 4 we’re concerned with here. This time Stephen Fry played the top-dog with his barmy barking noises and incessant shouting in the trenches during WW1. Melchett’s working relationship with Captain Kevin Darling is one of the finest displays of comic interplay in any of the Blackadder series.
Episode to watch: Series 4, Episode 3 – ’Major Star’
6) Keith (Ewen MacIntosh) – The Office
Running for just two series (and two specials), The Office is a modern classic that reinvented the wheel of the sitcom genre. Played totally straight, Ewen MacIntosh’s portrayal of larger than life Keith makes for excellent viewing. He may only get a minute of dialogue per-episode if that, but Keith has become a fan favourite in cult comedy figures. His Comic Relief fancy dress outfit as Ali G will have you in tears, but it’s his ‘word of advice’ for Tim (Martin Freeman) on several occasions in his trademark dour speech style that is Keith’s real charm.
Episode to watch: Series 2, Episode 2 – ‘Appraisals’
Go to the next page to find out who made the top 5!