Very Good Indeed Sitcoms

It seems obvious, from looking at the BBC’s Annual Report of 1979, that they were much more proud of their drama output than of their comedy fare. A mere three paragraphs are given over to the gigglepics.

To win the viewer’s affection, the scripts of any situation comedy need to be very good indeed. The great virtue of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais as a writing team is the way in which they can give a new twist to a familiar story and hold the suspense until the very last line. Once again they achieved this in Going Straight, a worthy sequel to Porridge. In this the old lag Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) leaves prison, and the story turns on his ability, and that of other prisoners like Godber (played by Richard Beckinsale), to survive in an outside world that is sometimes bizarre, sometimes rather hostile. Also well written was the comedy series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. This was based on books by David Nobbs, and it is fair to say that the acting of Leonard Rossiter as the central character gave them an extra dimension.

John Esmonde and Bob Larbey wrote more episodes for The Good Life and as the year ended, all the original episodes of what has become a television classic were being run again, and enjoyed again.

The most promising new comedy writer was John Sullivan, who emerged from the ranks of the BBC’s scene shifters. For some time he had been contributing some of the best sketches to The Two Ronnies, and in Citizen Smith he succeeded in creating two engaging characters in a novel series about the adventures of an ineffectual suburban revolutionary.

BBC Handbook 1979, pg 8

They’re even boasting about repeats.

No mention of Butterflies, Are You Being Served?, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Last Of The Summer Wine, Dave Allen At Large, Q, or any number of others.

Here are the photos of comedy shows they published in the report.

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