We've already written about 2013 being the year of the sad decline of the American network sitcom. But while 30 Rock and Happy Endings and many of the other best U.S. shows have been disappearing, British sitcoms are going as strong as ever on the other side of the Atlantic. There were at least
ten twelve brilliant British sitcoms we watched this year: some of them brand new shows, some of them already established and still at the top of their game, some shooting new seasons to be aired next year. So here, in no particular order, are some of the English shows that might fill the hole left in your television schedule by all those vanishing American shows:
2. Then there's THE WRONG MANS, which premiered in September. An annoying title, but a great new show co-starring and co-written by James Corden (most famous for co-creating one of the best British sitcoms ever, Gavin & Stacey, plus his appearance in a couple of episodes of Doctor Who as the lovable Craig, and the time he teamed up with Dizzee Rascal to record the unofficial anthem of the English soccer team for the 2010 World Cup). His newest show is about a couple of city council workers who get caught up in a vast conspiracy of spies and crime.
3. This year also marked the debut of BAD EDUCATION, which stars comedian Jack Whitehall as the worst teacher in England — along with a supporting cast that includes another Gavin & Stacey alumus, Matthew Horne, and The Wrongs Mans awesome Sarah Solemani.
4. Meanwhile, another one of Solemani's great sitcoms, HIM & HER, is airing its final season right now. The finale is on December 23. The show's first three years were all about a young couple (the fellow is played by Russell Tovey, the werewolf from Being Human, who also played the small role of Alonso on a couple of episodes of Doctor Who) who stay at home in their apartment. The final season, though, all happens at a wedding.
5. Solemani isn't the only actor appearing in more than one great British sitcom at a time. Her Bad Education co-star, Jack Whitehall, is also still appearing in FRESH MEAT, the first show he signed on for. It's currently in its third fantastic season, telling the story of a group of friends living together at university. It also co-stars Jack Thomas from the The Inbetweeners, because clearly there are only so many actors in England.
6 In fact, our game of six degrees of whoever the British Kevin Bacon is continues... Fresh Meat's Kimberly Nixon is also in the second season of YET ANOTHER great sitcom. HEBBURN is an understated show about a newly married couple living with the groom's family in a small town in the north-east of England. And it's maybe my favourite of them all.
7. And that's not it. FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER (with The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird, Plebs' Tom Rosenthal, and Episodes' Tasmin Grieg) filmed a new season this year, which will air in 2014.
8. REV. the show about a vicar running a church in the middle of London, is set to return next year, too.
9. And in 2013, Ricky Gervais premiered his kind-hearted old folks home sitcom, DEREK, which has already been picked up for a second season.
10. While Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of the few new American sitcoms that is actually worth watching, it isn't Andy Samberg's only new show. He's also starring in a brand new BBC sitcom called CUCKOO. He plays the new American hippie husband of an English lass who brings him home to meet her parents.
I'm probably forgetting some others, too, but I think I've made my point. While the American network sitcom schedule limped through 2013, the British were more than picking up the slack.
11. I did forget one! In fact, it's one of the best. FAMILY TREE is an HBO/BBC co-production from Christopher Guest (of Spinal Tap, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind fame) and stars Chris O'Dowd, who you might know as the charming Irish cop in Bridesmaids or from his brief role on Girls. After he receives a strange inheritance, he decides to dig into his family's history, which turns up a host of strange characters by the likes of Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Kevin Pollack and Bob Balaban. It's fantastic. And would be worth it just for the amazing Nina Conti playing O'Dowd's ventriloquist sister.
12. And that's not the only show that O'Dowd is working on. He's also the writer and creator of a charming show called MOONE BOY, which tells the tale of a young lad growing up with an invisible friend (played by O'Dowd) in Ireland during the 1980s. It's brilliant. It debuted last year and will be airing a second season in 2014.
Posted by Adam Bunch, the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.