British sitcoms, or britcoms, have been a staple of American public broadcasting stations since the 1970s. The shows, despite some of the cultural differences are often genuinely funny. The ones that usually make their way to American public television are ones produced by the BBC. Prairie Public, which services North Dakota, a small part of Western Montana, a part of Western Minnesota, and part of Manitoba is no exception. Britcoms are a staple of this public broadcasting service as well. Here are some of the britcoms that people can watch on Prairie Public Television:
After You’ve Gone-Jimmy Venables has moved into his ex-wife’s home after she has gone to Africa to assist with a natural disaster. Jimmy is a handyman and many of the comic situations come with Jimmy’s interactions with his children, now that he is the custodial parent, his mother-in-law, and his mates down at his local. This series is a step above many American domestic comedies with its willingness to engage in biting humor and Jimmy’s impatience with everyone in his life. This show is stripped Monday through Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Keeping Up Appearances-This show is one of the reliable workhorses of the britcom genre. Revered actress, Patricia Routledge gets into all sorts of complications as the social-climbing Hyacinthe Bucket. Her foils include her long-suffering husband, Richard, and her down-class family. This show is stripped Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Doc Martin-A brilliant surgeon develops a fear of blood and decamps to a post as a general practitioner in a sleepy Cornish village. The doctor rugs all the villagers the wrong way as he seeks to establish himself and his new practice. It has all the elements of a sophisticated city man forced to rub elbows with his new bucolic neighbors, but with a decidedly British twist to it. This show is stripped in one-hour blocks at 8:00 CT Monday through Thursday.
Saturday nights are the big nights for britcoms on Prairie Public. They air four different half-hour britcoms beginning at 8:00 p.m. CT.
My Family-This is your basic family sitcom. Ben Harper is a London dentist and his wife is a tour guide. The Harpers go through a lot of the paces of a typical family sitcom, but, of course, with a distinctive British twist to the humor.
This is followed by:
Waiting for God-This program casts the elderly, who have little to lose at this point in their lives, in the role of rebels as they live in a nursing home and rebel against their families and the administrators of the nursing home as they await their final reward.
The rest of the schedule is rounded out by:
My Hero-This outlandish sitcom looks at the domestic life of the world’s greatest superhero, the alien, Thermoman. This mighty, if somewhat dimwitted hero, has to put up, not only with saving the world, but his level-headed earth-woman wife, a nurse, his associates who come from his home planet, and his genius-level baby boy, who speaks with a full vocabulary, but, at the end of the day, is still a baby. The series is outlandish, but still quite humorous.
The evening ends with:
The Vicar of Dibley-This well-loved British series looks at the travails of a woman vicar who comes to a bucolic parish to serve her new flock. Of course, she has to contend with some of the attitudes of her congregation who won’t accept a woman vicar, and the usual “fish-out-of-water” problems of a much more worldly, and sophisticated person who comes to live in a rural backwater.
Prairie Public rotates britcoms in and out of their scheduleFor people like me who do TV over the air, it is wonderful to see programming form another country. It isn’t always possible to catch every reference the shows make as a lot of them deal with British life. It’s still a good way to experience something different in TV fare.
Prairie Public rotates some of its britcoms, so there is a chance to see something new on a regular basis. Check out your local public TV provider to see what is available. Most public broadcasting services in the United States offer at least a few British sitcoms. The other good thing, is that the BBC and ITV do a pretty good job of getting their series out on DVD. You may even be able to find some of them on popular streaming services. Britcoms do offer an interesting picture of British life and are well worth the effort to seek out.