This 1970s sitcom deserves the same respect as Rising Damp and Porridge | Comedy writer Tim Reid's Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites

This 1970s sitcom deserves the same respect as Rising Damp and Porridge

Comedy writer Tim Reid's Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites

Tim Reid is the co-writer of Peter Kay’s and currently hosts the podcast Fist Of Firsts, in which comedy names talk their backstories and their creative process. Guests so far have included Richard Herring, Zoe Lyons and Seann Walsh. Here he shares his Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites.

The Smoking Room

I loved everything about BBC Three’s 2004 sitcom The Smoking Room. The characters felt so familiar. Brian Dooley’s writing beautifully captured the small talk of colleagues sounding off. And the use of Close To Me by The Cure as the theme music perfectly framed the claustrophobia of the smokers’ ‘safe space’.

The Smoking Room was a huge influence behind the idea of Car Share - a tightly confined space trapping colleagues as they contemplated the small stuff.


Carla Lane’s 1970s sitcom about Ria Parkinson, a middle-aged mum seriously contemplating adultery as a way of escaping her perfect suburban life, is an underappreciated masterpiece.

I honestly believe if the main protagonist had been the husband rather than the wife, we’d remember this in the same high regard as other classics of the decade, like Rising Damp and Porridge, are rightly held.

The writing is sublime, the human conundrums tackled still resonate, and the performances of the whole cast make it a joy to rewatch. Treat yourself.

Stewart Lee: Content Provider

I am lucky enough to be friends with some of our very best stand-up comedians. So I was reluctant to pick one for fear of offending.

I don’t know Stewart Lee very well. He was the year above me at school, so I’ve proudly followed his work since the late 1980s as if he was ‘one of our own’. And if I was to think of a single stand-up show that stands out for me, it has to be Lee’s Content Provider.

His ability to use every tool of the craft, from the provocatively, aggressively intellectual to the gratuitously, uncomfortably physical is stomach twistingly funny. 10 house points.

A Fistful Of Traveller’s Cheques

The first comedy I watched over and over again and learned the words to, to replay with friends in the playground, was The Comic Strip’s A Fistful Of Traveller’s Cheques.

This was the show that showed me what comedy could be. It’s big and silly with just enough plot to hold some of the funniest scenes of glorious parody together. And, I would argue, a cast of comedy legends, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, all just reaching their peak powers. You start the row.

This Is Spinal Tap

The mocku-rockumentary. They’re bringing it back. Spinal Tap 2 is in the making. They were aging rockstars the first-time round. Forty years ago! I can’t wait. I hope they turn this one up to twelve.

Early Doors

They only made two series of this brilliant Craig Cash and Phil Mealey sitcom. But 20 years later I can still remember every character and every wonderful small-scale story. The BBC turned the taps off on this way too soon and we were robbed of any more copper’s stories from Ken’s kitchen table. Never too late to turn the taps back on! If Spinal Tap can do it…

Fist Of Firsts is available via all the major podcast providers

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Published: 1 May 2024

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