Even though most of us most of us immediately think of 80’s gems such as The Young Ones, Blackadder and of course Only Fools and Horses when talking about British sitcoms, the 1990’s were also a golden age. Shows such as Spaced, Mr Bean, The Vicar of Dibley, Men Behaving Badly, Absolutely Fabulous and One Foot in the Grave became instant classics. Taking up VHS recordings, Christmas scheduling and UK Gold repeats quicker than you could say “I don’t believe it!”
There are however, a number of shows that aren’t remembered in the same way. Sitcoms that no longer feature in the schedules and classics that aren’t talked about in televised countdowns of comedies/characters or catchphrases. Here are 5 shows you might not remember that, in my opinion, could be dusted off and viewed again:
1. 2 point 4 Children
Are you currently watching Outnumbered? This is the sitcom that arguably paved the way for the 00’s Hugh Dennis hit, as well as other family sitcoms such as My Family. The show followed the lives of the Porter family, a supposedly average family that faced surreal situations and increasing bad luck. One of the best and funniest elements of the show was its surreal edge. Plots included Star Trek funerals, the exclusive plumber society ‘Brotherhood of the Plunger’ and an inflatable Pope.
Whilst this show had a large following, it isn’t remembered or discussed as often other 90’s sitcoms or star Nicholas Lyndhurst’s other comedy hit Only Fools and Horses. Lyndhurst played Gary Sparrow, an average man who finds a time portal that allows him to travel back to London in the Second World War. His adventures lead to a double life that sees him married to two women, Yvonne in the 1990’s and Phoebe in the 1940’s. A particular highlight of the show was Gary’s friendship with the hapless Ron, played brilliantly by Victor McGuire. I also vividly remember the fantastic final episode which saw both the war and Gary’s time traveling end in a heart-warming fashion.
3. The Thin Blue Line
When Ben Elton wrote this Rowan Atkinson led sitcom, his desire was to create a modern day version of Dads Army. Despite negative reviews the show certainly lives up to that intention, it’s an ensemble piece that features a hapless team trying to work as a unit for the greater good. Instead of an army, this group form the police force of the fictional English town Gasforth. The group dynamics are very strong and the show is on its finest (and wittiest) form when all characters are present in scenes depicting briefings etc. As stated, the show was poorly received and only ran for two series. Despite this it did help launch the careers of many recognisable faces including such James Dreyfus, Mina Anwar, Rudolph Walker and David Haig.
4. Game On
Depicting the lives of threee 20-somethings sharing a flat in London, this BBC sitcom ran for 3 series. One of the most interesting aspects of this show was the character Mathew Malone played by Ben Chaplin in the 1st series and Neil Stuke in series 2 and 3. The character suffers from agoraphobia after his parents died in a car accident. He fears the outside world and after inheriting his flat and a large amount of money, he decides to never get a job or leave the flat. Episodes show his panic and anxiety in a subtle yet clear manner, never straying into melodrama and (from my memory at least) never laughing at his condition or situation. Critically the show suffered after Ben Chaplin left, it did however run for three series and is fondly remembered by some as a precursor to 00’s sitcom Coupling.
5. Rock Profile
Before Britain fell in love with Little Britain, comedy partnership Matt Lucas and David Walliams created Rock Profile. Whilst this isn’t strictly a sitcom… OK it’s not in a sitcom at all, this BBC 2 and UK Play comedy isn’t as fondly remembered as Lucas and Walliams later work, despite being very popular at the time. The show consisted of sketches and mock interviews where the pair spoofed famous musicians. The show is probably remembered most for its spoof of Steps, Take That and Elton John. A particularly memorable episode is the amusing 45 minute Christmas Special Rock the Blind which follows Gary Barlow (Lucas) and Ronan Keating (Walliams) as they collect together a group of musicians to record charity single ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. The show arguably led the way for modern hits like Star Stories.
Even though these shows aren’t available on streaming sites, they can be found on DVD and episodes/clips have been uploaded on to YouTube. I’d definitely recommend grabbing an alcopop, sitting on a bean bag and enjoying some of these forgotten hits of the 90’s.
What 90’s gems do you remember? Comment below to tell me which shows I’ve missed.