Sitcoms: Who got the last laugh?

TV critics, take note. You may have branded Mrs Brown's Boys "jaw-droppingly past its sell-by-date", but think again: the public voted it best sitcom at last week's National Television Awards. Nine million people watched the Christmas Eve special, making it the most viewed show that day. But how often do the critics get it right? We plot their opinions against those of the people for whom TV is actually made …

The League of Gentlemen

Originally a stage show, the dark comedy set in Royston Vasey drew a cult audience when it transferred to TV. Famous catchphrases include "This is a local shop for local people".

Absolutely Fabulous

First broadcast in 1992, Ab Fab was an instant hit and has never really gone away. There are plans afoot for a new series this year, and a film is in the pipeline too.

Liked by the critics... disliked by the public...


From Stephen McCrum, the same producer as Mrs Brown's Boys, this puppet comedy won over critics with its shocking jokes. Viewing figures were a meagre 300,000 and it died.


Critics loved this shameless rehash of The League of Gentlemen, showering it with awards. But ratings of the show fell below a million for series two, and it was quietly dropped.

Liked by the public.. disliked by the critics...

Fawlty Towers

Critics were initally lukewarm about this much-loved show. Richard Ingrams panned it in The Spectator, so John Cleese created a Mr Ingrams who is caught with a blow-up doll.

Mrs Brown's Boys

"A crass, depressing, lazy shriek of badly written garbage", said The Scotsman. The public disagree: it has more viewers than Miranda and was voted best sitcom on Thursday.

Liked by... well, nobody, really

Lee Evans So What Now?

Disastrous Lee Evans show, killed after one series due to low viewing figures. "He's no Norman Wisdom," said one critic. "He is no Michael Crawford either."

Horne and Corden

Critics put on their hobnail boots to demolish this BBC3 double act. "As funny as credit default swaps," concluded one. "Never has a three-minute sketch felt so long," said another. "What happened to quality control?" asked a third. Viewers agreed.