Top 5 British sitcoms of the 1970s

Writer and Internet raconteur Jon Bounds joined me to build a list close to his heart.

Jon grew up on 70s sitcoms and wants nothing more than to share his love. If you’re in the UK, these might be shows you can check out on Yesterday or in film-form via Talking Pictures.

Jon is a student of erstwhile TV, a fact clearly demonstrated by his massive affection for the 80s tele-phenomenon than is Boon.

Our differences in comedy tastes are perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Jon quite likes Not Going Out, and Josh, which I… don’t.

Jon’s picks

In order of discussion:


Created and written by Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, and starring Ronnie Barker Richard Beckinsale , Porridge is set in Slade Prison and follows the exploits of inmates Norman Stanley Fletcher and Lennie Godber. The series also transferred to film.

Fawlty Towers


Created and written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, and starring Cleese and Prunella Scales, Fawlty Towers follows married hoteliers Basil and Sybil Fawlty, a small band of employees and a series of troublesome guests.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

Another offering by Clement and la Frenais , this is a sequel to the 60s slice-of-life sitcom /The Likely Lads/, starring James Bolam and Rodney Bewes as two working-class Newcastle mates, Terry and Bob (respectively).

It’s also another series that made its way to the big screen… ish.

Citizen Smith

Created and written by John Sullivan, and starring Robert Lindsay, this is often cited as Sullivan’s second most-important work to /Only Fools and Horses/. The series follows young Marxist and petty criminal Wolfie Smith, self-proclaimed leader of the Tooting Popular Front.

My picks

In order of discussion:

Open All Hours


Created and written by Roy Clarke, and starring Ronnie Barker and David Jason, Open All Hours is a gentle sitcom about a miserly shopkeeper, Mr Arkwright, and his young apprentice, Granville.

Man About the House

Created and written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer , and starring Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett , Man About the House was a short-lived series following student chef Robin Tripp and his two female housemates, Chrissy and Jo.y

Some Mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em

Written and created by Raymond Allen and starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice as married couple Frank and Betty Spencer, Mark’s third pick is a fried slice of forgettable slapstick.

The Good Life

Created and written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, and starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal as Tom and Barbara Good, the series begins with Tom’s decision to quit his job and live off the land. Neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter join a small cast of characters in this sweet show about escaping the trappings of modern 70s life.

Honourable mentions

More of Jon Bounds

You can listen to Jon’s new podcast, That Option No Longer Exists, read his writings on Paradise Circus, and follow him on Twitter.

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