Seedy landlord Rupert Rigsby (acclaimed British thesp Leonard Rossiter) may seem familiar to Americans, thanks to All in the Family’s Archie Bunker — who was ironically modeled after a British sitcom character in Till Death Us Do Part. Rising Damp is a claustrophobic 1970’s series that often takes an extreme politically incorrect stance, and should frequently find you cringing at its mean-spiritedness. Rigsby’s contemptible thrift and and frequently idiotic (and sometimes racist) pronouncements mark him as a tragicomic figure one laughs at, rather than with.
The Day Today
The Day Today is caustic British satire at its finest. Loaded with absurd surrealism, media mores are acerbically perforated, using a pointed brand of wit tonally reminiscent of The Onion. Coolly played by Chris Morris, the series’ anchorman provides up-to-the minute coverage on sensational spoofs such as a punch-up between the Queen and fearsomely dull PM John Major, and the sinister deployment of IRA “bomb dogs” against the UK.
I’m Alan Partridge
U.S. audiences will probably recognize Steve Coogan from 24 Hour Party People, where he played Factory Records supremo (and total douchebag) Tony Wilson. As a spin-off of sorts from the BBC show Knowing Me, Knowing You, Coogan’s character Alan Partridge — an ignorant, crass presenter crippled by an ego of zeppelinesque dimensions — returns divorced, but determined to get back on the air after his show was cancelled. Coogan’s brilliant caricature alternately invokes pathos, hilarity, and contempt as the fallen, ABBA-loving chat-king tries to ingratiate himself with media powerbrokers.
Chris Morris of Brass Eye fame created a Lynchian nightmare with Jam, which uses audio from his BBC Radio 1 ambient cult-comedy show, Blue Jam. Dream-like and often unexpectedly disturbing, Jam is a bizarre nightmare that isn’t afraid to offend.