Comedy Playhouse is a long-running British anthology series of one-off unrelated sitcoms that aired for 120 episodes from 1961 to 1975. Many episodes later graduated to their own series, including Steptoe and Son, Meet the Wife, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas and Gaiters, Up Pompeii!, Not in Front of the Children, Me Mammy, That's Your Funeral, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine, which is the world's longest running sitcom, having run from January 1973 to August 2010.
Titlecard for the 1961/62 series episode "The Offer". This episode was the pilot for Steptoe and Son.
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||121 (as of 29 April 2014)|
|Running time||Usually 25 minutes, 30 minutes or 35 minutes|
|Picture format||405-line Black-and-white (1961–67) |
625-line Black-and-white (1968–69)
625-line PAL (1970–75)
1080i HDTV (2014–)
|Audio format||Monaural (1961–75) |
Surround sound 5.1 (2014–)
|Original release||Original Series|
15 December 1961 – 9 July 1975
29 April 2014 –
The series began in 1961 at the prompting of Tom Sloan, Head of BBC Light Entertainment at the time. Galton and Simpson were no longer writing for Tony Hancock and Sloan asked them to write ten one-offs with the hope that one might become established as a series. Thus, the first two series of Comedy Playhouse were written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, but after that the episodes were written by various writers. In all, 27 series started from a pilot in the Comedy Playhouse. The first eight series were in black-and-white, with the rest being in colour. Like many television programmes from the time, many of 1960s episodes are missing presumed wiped. In Australia the series was broadcast on ABC Television in the early 1960s-late 1970s.
Series One (1961–1962)
The pilot episode of Steptoe and Son was broadcast as an episode.
Series Two (1963)
Series Three (1963–1964)
The pilot episodes of The Walrus and the Carpenter and Meet the Wife were broadcast as episodes.
Series Four (1965)
Here I Come Whoever I Am (11 June 1965) starring Bernard Cribbins and Helen Fraser. This sitcom with the same characters was featured in the Lust segment of the 1971 film The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins.
Murray and Me (8 July 1965) starring Chic Murray
Hudd (15 July 1965) starring Roy Hudd
Till Death Us Do Part (22 July 1965)
The Time and the Motion Man (29 July 1965) starring Leslie Phillips
The Vital Spark (12 August 1965)
Series Five (1966)
Beggar My Neighbour (24 May 1966)
The Reluctant Romeo (2 August 1966)
Series Six (1967)
Series Seven (1968)
Wild, Wild Women (24 May 1968)
B-And-B (7 June 1968)
Me Mammy (14 June 1968)
Series Eight (1969)
The Liver Birds (14 April 1969)
As Good Cooks Go (5 May 1969)
Up Pompeii! (17 September 1969)
Series Nine (1969–70)
Series Ten (1970)
Keep 'Em Rolling (11 March 1970) starring Derek Nimmo
Series Eleven (1971)
Just Harry and Me (1 April 1971) starring Sheila Hancock, Donald Houston and Lynne Frederick. This was the pilot episode. The series was broadcast in two sections, the first of six episodes, then a break, followed by another seven episodes. 26 scripts were short-listed and this was pared down to 13.
It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes, Darling (15 April 1971)
Series Twelve (1972)
The first episode of Are You Being Served? was broadcast as an episode.
Series Thirteen (1973)
Of Funerals and Fish (4 January 1973). The pilot episode of the World's longest-running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine.
Home from Home (8 February 1973) starring Carmel McSharry, Michael Robbins, Yootha Joyce and Tony Selby. Bill Collins may not have been the greatest husband of all time but when his wife moves into a bed-sitter and becomes a traffic warden - intent on making him her most frequent victim - things have gone too far.
Series Fourteen (1974)
Franklyn and Johnnie (23 April 1974) starring Geoffrey Bayldon, Ronnie Barker and Richard Hurndall. Franklyn and Johnnie have been enemies for 40 years. Could it be that the death of their one mutual friend might heal the breach?
Howerd's History of England (30 April 1974) starring Frankie Howerd
Happy Ever After (7 May 1974)
The Big Job (21 May 1974) starring Prunella Scales, Peter Jones and Alfred Marks. 'Half a million in used notes'-Eddie's perennial dream. But when he tries his hand at kidnapping, the results are disastrous.
It's Only Me: Whoever I Am (28 May 1974) starring David Jason, Patricia Hayes and Daphne Heard. For a simple Rochdale lad not sure where his personal centre of gravity lies, perhaps being an actor is easier than trying to decide who he ought to be.
Sitting Pretty (11 June 1974) starring Nicky Henson and Una Stubbs It's smashing being a sitting tenant; the landlord can' chuck you out, he can' put up the rent, and you don' have to pay the rates or do repairs.
French Relish (16 July 1974) starring Derek Nimmo
Series Fifteen (1975)
Series Sixteen (2014)
- Over to Bill (29 April 2014)
- Miller's Mountain (6 May 2014)
- Monks (13 May 2014)
Series Seventeen (2016)
Scottish Comedy Playhouse
The BBC aired six comedy pilots in 1970 in Scotland only under the title Scottish Comedy Playhouse, none of which developed onto a full series. While these were being aired, Monty Python's Flying Circus was broadcast in the rest of the UK. The episodes were
- Stand In For A Hearse (22 September 70)
- The Siege of Castle Drumlie (29 September 70)
- The Dinner Party (20 October 70)
- To Grace A Son (28 October 70)
- Stobo Takes The Chair (3 November 70)
- Take Your Partners (10 November 70)
- Ian Burrell (17 March 2014). "BBC1 to revive 'Comedy Playhouse' after 40 years". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Radio Times, 25 March 1971