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I grew up watching Monty Python with my brothers. I got addicted to The Office -- the original one -- in my 20s. And I feckin' love Father Ted with all my heart. I hope all things Monty Python and Ricky Gervais are obvious enough for me not to have to recommend them any further. And curse Netflix with the fiery rage of Bishop Brennan that it doesn't carry Father Ted at all.
Instead, please accept this American viewer's humble recommendations for five TV comedies from the U.K. now streaming for U.S. viewers on Netflix. I threw some bonus suggestions along for the ride because there are dozens upon dozens of genius British TV shows to watch, and I hope watching a few leads you to think you should bloody well continue.
W1A is one of my favorite Netflix comedy finds of the past few years. I quickly got hooked on the series, which is named after the postal code where the BBC is located. W1A -- which first aired on BBC Two -- follows the brilliant Hugh Bonneville as Ian Fletcher, after he's freshly named Head of Values at the BBC. We follow his misadventures in the position in a show that's perfect for anyone who enjoyed the dry deadpan absurdist humor of The Office but also loved the broader humor of the U.S. version.
I didn't even realize at first that W1A was a follow-up of Twenty Twelve, bringing back several characters -- and David Tennant's role as narrator -- from that previous comedy following the run-up to the London Olympics. You don't need to have seen Twenty Twelve to appreciate W1A, which is good since I had to track it down on Amazon because Netflix doesn't have it for some reason. There are three seasons -- or "series" as the Brits call them -- to W1A, but as usual the seasons tends to be shorter across the pond than over here. I guarantee you'll end the show wishing for more.
Check out W1A on Netflix.
If you like it, also try: Borderline, another workplace mockumentary like The Office, set at the fictional Northend Airport.
Toast of London
Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango! I hope you watched Matt Berry in the first season of FX's What We Do In the Shadows, not to mention the British sitcom The IT Crowd, but you should also watch him as self-important actor Steven Toast in this Channel 4 comedy that should be coming back for more.
Toast of London was recommended to me by someone on Twitter who started quoting the show, and it got me curious. I devoured all three (too short, as usual) seasons and started adding my own Clem Fandango and Ray "Bloody" Purchase quotes. Here's a taste:
It makes me smile just to type about this show, and every single person on it. Supposedly a Toast of London Season 4 is coming at some point, at least that was the word back in 2017, so stay tuned.
Check out Toast of London on Netflix.
If you like it, also try: Ricky Gervais' Extras, The IT Crowd.
Every time I think the fourth-wall-breaking trick is played out, something else convinces me it is not. Fleabag worked the fourth wall to great effect over on Amazon, but Michaela Coel (Black Mirror's "USS Callister") already did the same for two seasons on Netflix. Coel plays virginal but sex-obsessed Tracey Gordon in the hilarious, awkward, relatable London comedy.
I heard about Chewing Gum through an interview with Michaela Coel and I'm glad I gave it a chance. All of the characters are engaging in different ways, but none more than Tracey. I also love that it showcases a different side of London than we usually see.
Check out Chewing Gum on Netflix.
If you like, also try: Crashing, the British comedy Phoebe Waller-Bridge made before Fleabag; Absolutely Fabulous.
This comedy following teens in Northern Ireland in the 1990s is perfect for a '90s Catholic schoolgirl like me. Not that I grew up amid The Troubles. But you don't need to directly relate to any one aspect to appreciate this comedy following Erin Quinn (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) and her friends and family.
Derry Girls has been a huge award-winning hit for Channel 4 and now Netflix. Apparently it was the most watched series ever in Northern Ireland -- or at least since they started keeping modern records. There are two seasons/series so far, with Season 2 just arriving in 2019 and Season 3 confirmed to be on the way.
Check out Derry Girls on Netflix.
If you like, also try: The Inbetweeners, Camping (the brilliant Julia Davis version, if you can find it, not the American one), Father Ted.
Here's a recommendation for myself. I know a lot of fans are still upset that Andy Samberg left this comedy after Season 1, especially since he played the character called Cuckoo. Season 1 follows Rachel, who returns home to Lichfield, England after her gap year away having married Samberg's American hippie Dale "Cuckoo" Ashbrick. Apparently, Cuckoo became BBC Three's most-watched comedy premiere, defeating the previous record set by Bad Education.
Andy Samberg left after Cuckoo Season 1, and Taylor Lautner joined the cast as Cuckoo's long-lost love child. The show continued for five seasons, adding new cast members along the way, including Andie MacDowell in the 2019 Season 5. I've seen other fans recommend Cuckoo, especially the first season, so this is my recommendation to myself for another British TV show to watch on Netflix.
Check out Cuckoo on Netflix.
If you like, also try: Jack Whitehall's Bad Education, Sick Note with Rupert Grint and Nick Frost.
There are plenty of other fantastic British comedies on Netflix, and many more that the streamer doesn't carry -- like U.K. sitcoms Keeping Up Appearances, Vicious, Father Ted, and -- at least at the moment in the U.S., because life is that unfair -- Fawlty Towers. I recommend Amazon, Hulu, Acorn TV, and sometimes just good old-fashioned PBS for more British classics. What shows would you recommend?