8 British Comedies All Americans Should Watch on Netflix
Whatsapp Pinterest

The United States of America has its fair share of great comedy shows, but Britain’s take on the genre is an altogether different experience. While U.S. comedies trend towards loud, over-the-top humor, British comedies take a more measured, nuanced approach.

If you want to indulge in the UK’s eccentricities, awkwardness, and undeniable wit, here are just a few British comedies you need to check out, all of which are available to watch on Netflix (and other streaming services The 8 Best Devices for Streaming Movies to Your TV The 8 Best Devices for Streaming Movies to Your TV There are several ways to stream media to your TV, and deciding which way is right for you can be overwhelming. Let us help you explore what's currently available. Read More ) right now.

1. Keeping Up Appearances

A friend once told me he goes to McDonald’s to witness the collusion of different social brackets, and I’m reminded of that whenever I watch Keeping Up Appearances. Because here it is: the perfect microcosm of British society and British humor.

The wonderful Patricia Routledge plays Hyacinth Bucket — pronounced Bouquet — a middle class snob trying to escape her roots, but consistently being dragged down by her typically slobbish, outlandish, and provocative family. Her efforts to impress the neighborhood generally find her husband, the long-suffering Richard (Clive Swift) on the receiving end.

The cast are an extraordinary bunch, but if you’re anything like series creator, Roy Clarke (the sitcom giant also responsible for Open All Hours and Last of the Summer Wine), you’ll likely pick the bone idle Onslow, played by the late Geoffrey Hughes, as your favourite character. Onslow acts as the biggest counterpoint to Hyacinth’s ridiculous delusions of grandeur.

Check out the first season on Netflix, and you’ll soon understand why the show became one of the BBC’s most exported TV shows.

2. The Office

Live fast. Die old.

You might be familiar with the American version of The Office, which is brilliant in its own right, but you should also acquaint yourself with the original BBC show, written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

The Office broke the mold, exhibiting British awkwardness in all its glory, a mockumentary capturing the lives of employees at paper merchants, Wernham Hogg. Martin Freeman (Sherlock; The Hobbit) and Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean) became big stars off the back of the show, but Ricky Gervais’ career soared on the back of playing David Brent.

With killer lines, killer tunes, and a dance routine that remains one of the greatest moments in television history, Brent is the most cringe-inducing man you’ll ever meet. Its two seasons, both on Netflix, gain greater relevance with the David Brent: Life on the Road movie, catching up with the “star” 15 years later.

3. An Idiot Abroad

Prepare to meet Karl Pilkington, a bald-headed Mancunian it’s hard not to love.

An Idiot Abroad is an entirely different experience to any of Gervais and Merchant’s other work. The pair met Karl Pilkington at a radio station called XFM, immediately becoming friends despite Gervais’ casual verbal abuse (especially about Karl’s strangely spherical head).

Their hugely successful podcast spawned this three-season show in which Karl reluctantly travels the globe. During the first season, he sees the seven wonders of the world 10 Impressive Spots On Earth You Can See With Google Maps Satellite View 10 Impressive Spots On Earth You Can See With Google Maps Satellite View Google Maps has powerful uses apart from helping us not lose our way. But even if you are an intrepid explorer, there are chances that you wouldn’t get to see some of the crazier places... Read More — including “The Alright Wall of China” and the Great Pyramids, which he describes as being “like a massive game of Jenga that’s got out of hand” — while the second season runs through a bucket list of activities, none of which he wants to do. For the final three episodes, he teams up with Star Wars and Harry Potter star, Warwick Davies.

Karl’s unique take on life is certainly compelling, but you’ll soon find yourself agreeing with his questionable logic. “If Dracula can’t see his reflection in a mirror,” he reasons, “how come his center parting is so perfect?”

4. Doc Martin

Cornwall is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK. Its gorgeous surroundings, spectacular tranquility, and community-minded spirit makes it the ideal place to switch off distractions and enjoy life.

Doctor Martin Ellingham, however, isn’t so appreciative of Cornwall’s beauty.

Martin Clunes plays the lead role, a grumpy GP who’s forced to move from London to the seemingly-sleepy seaside village of Portwenn. Following his tumultuous love-life, this is technically a comedy-drama; despite the lack of actual gags, the ITV series makes the list because it really is very funny.

Ellingham may have good intentions, but he very easily rubs everyone up the wrong way. You root for him because you know he’s just a misunderstood guy, trying to cope in a community of bizarre personalities (including the neurotic PC Penhale, obsessional pharmacist, Mrs Tishell, and chancer, Bert Large). Frankly, it’s a joy to watch.

The show gets massive audiences, and has turned Port Isaac, its filming location, into a tourist hotspot.

5. Cuckoo

This show is, in a word, Barmy.

That just about sums up Cuckoo, and its leading man, Greg Davies. You may already know the comedian from his role as Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, and he’s the ideal choice for Ken Thompson, a man driven to the edge by his son-in-law, played in the first season by Saturday Night Live‘s Andy Samberg.

When Thompson’s daughter, Rachel (Tamla Kari, then Esther Smith) returns from her gap year, she brings along her new husband, Dale, a loud, laissez-faire American who brings out the worst in the uptight family unit he finds himself in. Cuckoo gained a lot of press for its second season after Samberg proved too busy to film more episodes, and was subsequently replaced by Twilight star, Taylor Lautner as Dale’s illegitimate son.

NBC ordered a pilot for a stateside remake of the show starring Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), but to fully appreciate the clash of cultures Is Internet Culture Different In Other Countries? Is Internet Culture Different In Other Countries? A lot of what is being studied are interactions between the world wide web and people living in North America, which seems to be diluting the definition of what Internet Culture really means. Read More , you can’t beat the original Cuckoo.

6. Detectorists

Likely the most subdued comedy in this list, Detectorists became a surprise hit when it debuted in 2014: not as well-known as Doc Martin or as showy as An Idiot Abroad, this series simply chronicles the lives of two treasure hunters. But these aren’t the adventures of Indiana Jones: these are the docile records of members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club.

Lance, played by Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger; Doctor Who), and Andy (Mackenzie Crook, who also writes and directs the series) patiently scour the ground with metal detectors, hoping a buried cache will propel them out of their mundane existences.

Similarly, the show requires some patience — you’ll either love it or hate it The Most Disliked YouTube Videos of All Time (And Why You Hate Them) The Most Disliked YouTube Videos of All Time (And Why You Hate Them) These are the most disliked YouTube videos of all time, and we explain why people hate them so much. Read More — but those who get into the series’ gentle sense of wit will find themselves hooked.

7. Peep Show

If you love binge-watching The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching Television The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching Television Binge-watching is a recent phenomenon that pretty much everybody has done thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But for all of its various pros, it does also have some cons. Read More , don’t get downhearted by the short seasons and short runs of most British comedies, because Peep Show should serve you well.

Despite relatively low viewing figures, the show became Channel 4’s longest-running comedy, and catapulted its core stars, David Mitchell and Robert Webb, into the limelight. The series’ central conceit — basically the unsuccessful love lives of its main characters, Mark and Jez, who share a flat in London — is a simple one, but its unconventional filming technique gives it a distinctive and unmistakable look and feel.

Shot from the individual point of views of its leads, with their thoughts presented as voice-overs, Peep Show feels very intimate and its protagonists feel very relatable… even if your life isn’t dogged by drug abuse, affairs, or alcoholism.

Peep Show ran for nine seasons, and all but the final season is available on Netflix; keep an eye out for an American remake, understood to be being written by the original show’s creators, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain.

8. W1A

Many of these comedies — and indeed, classic sitcoms 8 of the Funniest BBC Comedies of All Time [Stuff to Watch] 8 of the Funniest BBC Comedies of All Time [Stuff to Watch] British comedy is typified by dry wit, slapstick visuals and strong comic actors. BBC comedy should, in theory, take the best of what is already a strong bunch and highlight the very best - and... Read More like Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, The Thin Blue Line, and Only Fools and Horses— were broadcast on the BBC How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN or UK Proxy How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN or UK Proxy There are ways to circumvent geo-restrictions on streaming media. Here's how you can watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN or UK proxy. Read More , one of our dearest institutions (that’s nonetheless a frequent victim of politics). And one of the reasons it’s such a strong corporation is its ability to make fun of itself. W1A is a prime example of that.

The series began as Twenty-Twelve, a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary about organizing the London 2012 Olympics; the spoof proved so popular, the BBC used the same strong cast, which includes Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Jessica Hynes (Spaced), and Jason Watkins (Nativity!), to joke about its own branding, jargon, and high-profile disputes.

It was a smart move, as its British quirkiness and sheer awkwardness reminds the audience that the corporation aims to reflect the society it also entertains, while also making the BBC seem more approachable and friendly.

Narrated by Doctor Who star, David Tennant, W1A also features a number of celebrity cameos, including controversial novelist, Salman Rushdie; actor, Samuel West; and mathematics whiz, Carol Vorderman.

What British Comedies Do You Watch?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly where new viewers should begin; naturally, it all depends on what personally tickles your funny bone 5 Ways to Enrich Your Life by Developing a Sense of Humor 5 Ways to Enrich Your Life by Developing a Sense of Humor Humor - oh, dearest humor. Without it, life would be much more dull, and the basic human function of laughter would be absolutely useless. How boring that world would be! Read More . I’d say Keeping Up Appearances and Doc Martin both cater best to a universal sense of humor, and the latter certainly shows off Britain at its best.

I like to think there’s something here for everyone, and hopefully, you’ll invest in a few of these and use them as entry points for an array of other great British comedies 8 of the Best Monty Python's Flying Circus Sketches [Stuff to Watch] 8 of the Best Monty Python's Flying Circus Sketches [Stuff to Watch] Very few other comedy troupes have broken as much new ground as Monty Python did when they were first broadcast on the BBC in 1969. Not only was the humour fresh, well-delivered and very, very... Read More , like Fawlty Towers, The IT Crowd, and my personal favourite, Not Going Out.

Need even more in the way of British TV? You may want to check out the comparison of BritBox and AcornTV, two British-centric streaming services.

Which British comedies do you recommend? Which British comedies do you think are overrated? Which British comedies do the best job of summing up the unique humor of the United Kingdom? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Explore more about: Media Streaming, Netflix, Online Video, Television.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Jan
    April 25, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Are You Being Served. My all time favorite. Have watched it multiple times and it never gets old.

  2. Kurt Roesler
    April 24, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Wow I can't believe no one mention the funniest British comedy I've ever seen in my life have been laughing to tears everyone forget about Ab Fab absolutely fabulous with Patsy and Eddie and their drunk antics number one in my book followed by Monty Python the good neighbors in the old classic Fawlty Towers but for me the number one comedy not necessarily even British the number one comedy of all absolutely fabulous if you've never heard of it you've got to see it hilarious but only the Brits can do love it

  3. VeRn
    February 10, 2018 at 8:38 am

    The IT Crowd.

    One of the greatest shows ever! So sad that they are not making more episodes!

  4. poproc
    December 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    IT Crowd

    That show is the best!!

    Monty Python


  5. David
    December 24, 2017 at 10:17 am

    On the Buses, Please Sir, The Good Life, all the Doctor in the House series, Minder, even Benny Hill, Steptoe, 2 Ronnie's, Porridge, ..... There's so many

  6. aj
    December 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Keeping up appearances will always be my favorite britcoms.

  7. Anne Ogilvie
    November 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, and Peter Seller's Pink Panther movies are still ridiculously funny no matter how many times you watch them. My favourite T-shirt is from The Ministry of Funny Walks (Monty Python).
    Lately I LOL at Would I Lie to You, The Graham Norton Show, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

  8. Erda
    November 24, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Loved 'Dad's Army'.

  9. AlanG
    October 7, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I loved Are You Being Served and really hope Doc Martin continues past Season 9. Have just found On the Buses, Dinner Ladies and a real favorite Dad's Army. Am looking for a way to stream Wild West (BBC 2002), it looks good but I can't find it streaming anywhere.
    American television has been mostly trash for at least 30 years.

  10. Victoria
    October 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Miranda made me literally roll on the floor laughing. The Wrong Mans with James Corden is hilarious. And Moone Boy with Chris O'Dowd is wonderful.

  11. Chuck U Farley
    September 11, 2017 at 2:24 am

    Missing the classic "Are You Being Served"

  12. Bruce Johnston
    September 11, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Are you being served? is, and has always been, my favorite British comedy. Too bad it's no longer on any station I've found!!!

  13. Robin Gabbert
    September 8, 2017 at 4:30 am

    My husband & I adore One Foot in the Grave! We've seen every episode, including the Christmas episodes. Also the absolute funniest show ever, the IT Crowd!

    • Barrie Campbell
      January 18, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      I love that show. I think Larry David must too, as the premise of his "Curb Your Enthusiasm" , a well-meaning man innocently bumbling and stumbling into ridiculous situations that get quickly out of control, is very similar. Victor Meldrew and his long-suffering wife are among the most wonderful comedic characters ever.

  14. Bob Herrick
    September 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    British TV is, " Number One, along with being the Best"!!!! I love it!!! I even own an "all Region DVD player, as we collect British TV on DVD, which unfortunately is region 2, the states & Canada are "Region 1". I have subscribed to "Britbox" and we play it to death!

    Now, there is one British TV show, which I wish Britbox would add to their play list, as the show is an "all time" classic TV show, and that show is; "All Creature Great and Small". That show was & still is "Awesome"!!! So, Britbox, "PLEASE", put it on your wonderful TV schedule!

    As well, please add; "My Family", Coupling, and "After You've Gone". Two other "GREAT" British Comedies, with a "GREAT" acting staff.

    Thank you!

    • Marylou
      October 3, 2018 at 3:42 am

      Also would like to see My Family. Understand it is really good.

  15. Marna
    August 11, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I absolutely LOVE "The Vicar of Dibley." I've seen every episode multiple times and still enjoy it when I watch again.

  16. sharon Baumer
    July 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    A long time series ( 37 yrs ) of Last of the Summer wine will always be my favorite !!!!! thank goodness its available on dvds the states now. I am slowly buying each vintage year. I watch them over and over. Roy Clarke is a brilliant writer and the producer/directors an everyone that did anything at all in the making of this series , did an ecellant job.. all the actors/actress's are the BEST !!!!!

  17. Bryan
    July 26, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Really... 8 seasons of pure genius and that's the clip you choose for Peep Show?? Jeremy isn't even in it.

  18. Randolph Carter
    March 21, 2017 at 12:52 am

    Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, Snuff Box, Black Books, Young Ones, On the Buses, Father Ted, way too many weren't on this list.

    • Squalle
      June 22, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Are You Being Served was one of the greatest shows EVER!

  19. George
    March 12, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Another early favorite was, "Yes, Minister" which then became, "Yes Prime Minister." This was a spoof on the Thatcher government, with truth that is still relevant today. What was funny then is scary today.

  20. George
    March 12, 2017 at 5:59 am

    "Last of the Summer Wine" is my long term favorite. This show ran for over 30 years, probably the longest running comedy in world history. I think Peter Sallis was there from beginning to end. I didn't get into the early shows much, but it grew on me. Compo was my favorite character, and I liked the years with Truly Truelove. My 2nd fav was "Waiting for God".

  21. Esther Nairn
    January 22, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Green Wing was superb. Michelle Gomez is hysterical!

    • Philip Bates
      January 31, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      I've never seen it, but may give it a try. Gomez is very funny in Doctor Who too; don't know if you watch that? Thanks for commenting!

  22. Dg
    December 24, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Still Game....it is hilarious.

    • Jen Bouissey
      September 14, 2017 at 7:22 am

      i love it!!

  23. Maria
    December 17, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Coupling is the funniest comedy TV show i have ever seen in any country... How come its not the first one mentioned? I can't imagine. Fawlty towers was also good.

  24. Doc
    November 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    If you loved Doc Martin, please check out "Death in Paradise"!

    • Philip Bates
      January 31, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Absolutely! Death in Paradise was on this list originally, but it just didn't make the final cut - not based on how great it is (I love it), but because the word count was swelling too much! Are you enjoying the latest series?

  25. Anonymous
    August 29, 2016 at 9:55 am

    All these are so funny .............

  26. Shawn Adam
    August 27, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I have always loved 'One Foot In The Grave' and 'Are You Being Served?'. One I did not see mentioned is 'The Catherine Tate Show'. Catherine's character, Nan, is the best.

  27. Keith Smith
    August 26, 2016 at 1:41 am

    I'm waiting for the return of Red Dwarf which is/was funny as hell.

  28. Anonymous
    August 25, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Doc Martin, Miranda, Little Britain, Detectorists, [REggie Perrin, Waiting for God, As Time Goes By, A Fine Romance, Simply Fabulous (not sure these are on NetFlix any more)].

  29. Ed
    August 25, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    A lot mentioned already that I watch (Red Dwarf, One Foot in The Grave, etc.) but Last Of The Summer Wine, As Time Goes By, and Are You Being Served are also great comedies to watch.

    • Ed
      September 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      Forgot to mention... "Mrs Browns Boys.

  30. Robert
    August 25, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Little Britain. the Vicar of Dibley....yeah, they're old but still funny!

  31. jon
    August 25, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Some more: One Foot in the Grave (was it mentioned?), To the Manor Born. IT Crowd was already mentioned, and I'm also surprised it didn't make the top 8, for sure. Black Adder. Goodness, not Black Adder.... how???

  32. Andrew
    August 25, 2016 at 3:09 am

    My second-favorite Brit comedy (behind Python, of course) has to be "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", starring the late great Leonard Rossiter. Dating from the 70's but worth seeking out. Third in line is "Chef!". Very funny and clever.

  33. tim
    August 25, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Green Wing! One of my all time favorites.

    • Esther Nairn
      January 22, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Green Wing was superb! Michelle Gomez is hysterical!

  34. SepticSceptic
    August 25, 2016 at 12:03 am

    The Strangerers, written by Rob Guest
    Fawlty Towers of course.
    Black Adder series

    • Interociter Operator
      September 4, 2016 at 4:20 am

      Monty Python (naturally)
      Fawlty Towers
      Black Adder
      Are You Being Served

  35. Bob
    August 24, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    How did you not include the IT Crowd?!!!

    • Eric
      August 25, 2016 at 12:19 am


      • Leo
        August 25, 2016 at 3:07 am


    • Interociter Operator
      September 4, 2016 at 4:13 am

      + 3 !!!
      I miss you Mozz!
      Just say no to Tapas!

      • Tim Lewallen
        September 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm


        So brilliant. I watch the entire series two or three times a year.

        • DO
          September 14, 2017 at 3:48 am


      • Jen Bouissey
        September 14, 2017 at 7:23 am


    • Philip Bates
      January 31, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      It WAS in the longlist... but I'm afraid I've not watched enough to give proper judgement. There's always time, though!

  36. Anonymous
    August 24, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I only discovered Detectorists on Netflix and missed it on it's original run here in the UK.
    It is a very subtle comedy that many will not fully appreciate, but it found a special place in my heart.

    Not sure if these are on international Nexflix but there are many British comedies that should be required viewing including RED DWARF, Anything with ALAN PARTRIDGE, and QI.

    If Netflix ever gets the rights to TASKMASTER (shown on Dave here in the UK), I'm sure the world would thank them as it has been the funniest, side splitting "game show" I have ever seen.

  37. Anonymous
    August 24, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I have seen at least one episode of all of these and i have been amused zero times. A great deal of British humor is grounded in being socially uncomfortable. It's too painful a subject for me to find any of it funny.I can't stand the American version of the Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm either, for much the same reason.

    I like Monty Pytho and I did enjoy The Bugle, John Oliver's podcast, but I'm at a loss to think of any other contemporary sources of British made humor in visual media.

    • Anonymous
      August 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      It's a shame to hear that you have found any British comedy to your liking. We do have a vast spectrum of comedy going back decades and I'm positive there would something that you find hilarious.
      From the YOUNG ONES to ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, there is a comedy for everyone.
      I recommend a hour or two on Youtube searching for British humour would provide you some amazing shows you may never had heard off.

      Don't write us off... :O)

        December 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm


        • Fitzsip
          December 2, 2017 at 5:09 pm

          It may no longer be available in your area. Shows do tend to leave Netflix due to contract rights etc.... Try Youtube searches for full episodes.
          There are tons out there, or if you have access, the BBCs website should have plenty of episodes you can watch.

  38. Peter
    August 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    You are forgetting Man Down, Friday Night Dinner, any of the Partridge series.

  39. Jon
    August 24, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Smegging Red Dwarf!!!

    • Anonymous
      August 25, 2016 at 3:48 am

      I heard that Red Dwarf is getting a smegging 11th season!!!

  40. El Smith
    August 24, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    You missed an Coupling, one of the best UK comedies ever!