Bilko 'best ever sitcom'

Silvers tops Radio Times list

The Phil Silvers show has been named the greatest ever sitcom.

The sitcom, also known informally as Sgt Bilko, beat Seinfeld into second place in the list, compiled for the new edition of the Radio Times Guide To TV Comedy.

It ran for four years and 143 episodes from 1955, and featured a Silvers as the money-grabbing head of a motor pool at a US Army base.

Author Mark Lewisohn. said: "Sgt Bilko is sitcom's high-water mark.

"In 2005 it'll be 50 years old and yet it's still hilarious - with great scripts and magnificent performances week after week by Phil Silvers. The crazy thing is, the show has been buried and forgotten in America, while in Britain it is still revered.

In the first edition, published five years ago, Lewisohn put Seinfeld first, Fawlty Towers second and Silvers third.

He said: "Seinfeld was also outstanding for most of its 176 half-hours, and though the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers were sublime, to sustain such excellence week after week, year after year, gives it the nod over John Cleese's masterpiece."

Nine of his top 20 were American, the rest British.

The top ten were:

1. The Phil Silvers Show
2. Seinfeld
3. Fawlty Towers
4. Porridge
5. Yes Minister
6. Frasier
7. M*A*S*H
8. Til Death Do Us Part
9. Hancock's Half Hour
10. Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

Lewisohn also named and shamed The Bottle Boys - starring Confessions Of actor Robin Asquith as a cheeky milkman - as the worst ever British sitcom.

The guide boasts a million words about more than 3,000 comedy programmes from 1936 to the present day.

It is published by BBC Worldwide on Thursday, priced £19.99. But click here to pre-order from Amazon for just £13.99.

Published: 29 Sep 2003

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