50 Years of BBC2 Comedy

50 Years of BBC2 Comedy


There are unassuming 50th birthday celebrations and there are 50th birthdays that go large. BBC2 is aiming for the latter as far as I can tell, and the great big cake with sparklers and a dancing girl inside is this two-hour comedy retrospective.

They’ve got everyone along, from the Goodies to Alan Alda to Vic ’n’ Bob to several Pythons, all the stars of BBC2 donating soundbites to celebrate themselves and each other. It makes for one mammoth clip show, with things you’ve probably never seen before (Graham Chapman’s post-Python sketch show Out of the Trees?) to things you wish you could un-see – (Tubbs breastfeeding a pig on The League of Gentlemen…) Plus, of course, a man beating a car bonnet with a branch.

It’s a comedy banquet, but a banquet of nibbles: we get only a tiny taste of each classic. How about a season where shows like The Day Today and Big Train get full-length repeats? Now that would be a party.


As part of BBC Two's 50th birthday celebrations, Joanna Lumley narrates a programme celebrating the channel's comedy output, from The Likely Lads and Not Only... But Also in 1964 through to W1A and Rev from this year. Including moments from shows by Monty Python and Spike Milligan, as well as clips of The League of Gentlemen, The Office, Miranda and Fawlty Towers. With contributions by Ricky Gervais, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Alan Alda, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, the Goodies, Catherine Tate, Bill Bailey, Ian Hislop, Armando Iannucci, Prunella Scales, Charlie Brooker and Paul Whitehouse.