I.M.H.O.

Tuning In To Britcoms

Patricia Routledge plays Hyacinth Bucket in "Keeping Up Appearances."
Patricia Routledge plays Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping Up Appearances.”

To break the monotony of American television, for the past few weeks, M. and I have been hosting little britcom (British sitcoms, produced by the BBC), soirees in our very living room.

Every few days, on her way back from work, M. checks out a few DVDs of some of the most popular britcoms, picks up a bottle of Merlot, a log of chèvre, a pack of hot Genoese salami, and a boule of sourdough.

The cheese and wine wingding is ready to commence. No red carpet. No black-tie. No evening dresses. We do it in a pair of black flannel sweats and T-shirt.

It’s quiet fun that we enjoy, but we take it quite seriously. The carnival of cerebral humor kicked off with “Keeping Up Appearances,” a show that graced British television between 1990 and 1995.

By the time we bid adieu to its lead character, the not-to-be-forgotten Hyacinth Bouquet—only because we’d exhausted all the episodes—I was hungry for more amusement.

My next fix of it came from “Yes Minster,” “the bedrock program of the U.K. comedy structure,” based on the minutiae of White Hall bureaucracy that ran between 1980 and 1984.

Having developed an incurable crush on Sir Humphrey Appleby, uber-civil servant of the Crown, pompous, stylish, snobbish, red-tape personified, I simply couldn’t wait to see him again, in the sequel, “Yes Prime Minster.”

Within a matter of a mere week, I’d reached the end of that road too, so to speak. So, I went back to Googling similar series.

The search threw up “Fawlty Towers” that revolves around a shockingly rude, prudish, social-climbing hotelier, who doesn’t offer his guests superior customer service, but thorough dressing-downs. It’s another must-see program.

A few days after the curtains came down on this show, we began foraging online catalogs for more such DVDs. We were able to lay our hands on the innuendo-filled, British television darling of the 1970s, “Are You Being Served?” Set in “Grace Brothers,” a poor cousin of the famed Harrods departmental store, the show tracks the daily antics of its staff.

Now, I must go and find out what’s playing on the telly, on the other side of the Big Pond.

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