Comedy Playhouse

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.

Comedy Playhouse
Titlecard for the 1961/62 series episode "The Offer". This episode was the pilot for Steptoe and Son.
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes121 (as of 29 April 2014)
Running timeUsually 25 minutes, 30 minutes or 35 minutes
Original networkBBC1
Picture format405-line Black-and-white (1961–67)
625-line Black-and-white (1968–69)
625-line PAL (1970–75)
1080i HDTV (2014–)
Audio formatMonaural (1961–75)
Surround sound 5.1 (2014–)
Original releaseOriginal Series
15 December 1961 – 9 July 1975
Revived Series
29 April 2014 

In March 2014, it was announced that Comedy Playhouse would make a return that year with three new episodes.[1]


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.[2] 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 (19611962)

The pilot episode of Steptoe and Son was broadcast as an episode.

Series Two (1963)

Series Three (19631964)

The pilot episodes of The Walrus and the Carpenter and Meet the Wife were broadcast as episodes.

Series Four (1965)

Barnaby Spoot and the Exploding Whoopee Cushion (28 May 1965) starring John Bird, John Le Mesurier and Ronald Lacey

Mother Came Two (5 June 1965) starring Peggy Mount and Graham Stark

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.

Happy Family (18 June 1965) starring Ted Ray, Daphne Anderson and Judy Geeson

Memoirs of a Chaise Longue (2 July 1965) starring John Le Mesurier, Betty Marsden and Fenella Fielding

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

Sam the Samaritan (5 August 1965) starring Wilfrid Brambell, John Junkin and Roy Kinnear

The Vital Spark (12 August 1965)

Betsy Mae (19 August 1965) starring Hermione Gingold and Nicholas Phipps

Series Five (1966)

The Bishop Rides Again (17 May 1966) starring Robertson Hare, William Mervyn, Derek Nimmo and John Barron. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series, All Gas and Gaiters

Beggar My Neighbour (24 May 1966)

A Little Learning (31 May 1966) starring Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge

Judgement Day for Elijah Jones (7 June 1966) starring Clive Dunn and Bernard Cribbins

Room at the Bottom (14 June 1966) starring Kenneth Connor, Deryck Guyler, Francis Matthews and Brian Wilde. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series of the same name.

The End of the Tunnel (21 June 1966) starring George Cole and Lynn Redgrave

Seven Year Hitch (28 June 1966) starring Harry H. Corbett and Joan Sims

The Mallard Imaginaire (5 July 1966) starring Robert Coote, Moira Lister and Daphne Anderson. This was the pilot episode of the BBC series, The Whitehall Worrier.

The Reluctant Romeo (2 August 1966)

Series Six (1967)

Hughie (19 May 1967) starring Hugh Lloyd and Patrick Cargill

House in a Tree (26 May 1967) starring Wendy Craig and Paul Daneman. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series Not in Front of the Children.

Spanner in the Works (2 June 1967) starring Jimmy Jewel, Norman Rossington and Julian Holloway

Heirs on a Shoestring (9 June 1967) starring Jimmy Edwards and Clive Dunn

Uncle Fred Flits By (16 June 1967) starring Wilfrid Hyde-White and Ballard Berkeley

Loitering with Intent (23 June 1967) starring Daphne Anderson, David Tomlinson and Rudolph Walker

To Lucifer: A Son (29 June 1967) starring John Le Mesurier, Jimmy Tarbuck and Pat Coombs

The Old Campaigner (30 June 1967) starring Terry-Thomas and Derek Fowlds

Series Seven (1968)

State of the Union (26 April 1968) starring Les Dawson, Patsy Rowlands, Michael Robbins and Melvyn Hayes

View by Appointment (3 May 1968) starring Beryl Reid, Hugh Paddick, Derek Fowlds and Pauline Collins. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series, Wink to Me Only.

The Family of Fred (10 May 1968) starring Freddie Frinton and Jean Kent. This was the pilot episode for the BBC series, Thicker Than Water.

Stiff Upper Lip (17 May 1968) starring Richard Vernon, Michael Bates and Bernard Bresslaw

Wild, Wild Women (24 May 1968)

Current Affairs (31 May 1968) starring Harold Goodwin and Robert Dorning

B-And-B (7 June 1968)

Me Mammy (14 June 1968)

The Gold Watch Club (28 June 1968) starring Dennis Price, Peter Bayliss and Bob Todd

Series Eight (1969)

The Liver Birds (14 April 1969)

The Valley Express (21 April 1969) starring Nerys Hughes and Graeme Garden

Tooth and Claw (28 April 1969) starring Warren Mitchell and Marty Feldman

As Good Cooks Go (5 May 1969)

The Loves of Larch Hill (12 May 1969) starring Robert Dorning and Gillian Blake

The Making of Peregrine (19 May 1969) starring Dick Emery, Pat Coombs and Andrew Ray

Up Pompeii! (17 September 1969)

Series Nine (196970)

Series Ten (1970)

Keep 'Em Rolling (11 March 1970) starring Derek Nimmo

Better Than a Man (18 March 1970) starring Sheila Hancock and Leslie Sands

Last Tribute (25 March 1970) starring Bill Fraser and Raymond Huntley, the pilot episode of That's Your Funeral

Haven of Rest (1 April 1970) starring Ballard Berkeley, Deryck Guyler and John Le Mesurier

Mind Your Own Business (8 July 1970) starring Norman Bird, Hilda Fenemore and Derek Griffiths

The Old Contemptible (15 July 1970) starring Arthur English and Gretchen Franklin

Don't Ring Us...We'll Ring You (29 July 1970) starring John Junkin, Norman Rossington and Colin Welland

Meter Maids (5 August 1970) starring Pat Coombs, Joan Sanderson and Barbara Windsor

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.

Uncle Tulip (8 April 1971) starring Geoffrey Lumsden and Renu Setna

It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes, Darling (15 April 1971)

The Rough with the Smooth (22 April 1971) written by and starring Tim Brooke-Taylor and John Junkin

Equal Partners (29 April 1971) starring Nicky Henson and Angela Scoular

The Importance of Being Hairy (6 May 1971) starring John Cater and James Copeland

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.

The Rescue (11 January 1973) starring Moyra Fraser, Peter Jones and Nicholas Parsons.

Elementary, My Dear Watson: The Strange Case of the Dead Solicitors (18 January 1973) starring John Cleese, Willie Rushton and Bill Maynard.

The Birthday (25 January 1973) starring Gordon Peters, Frank Thornton and Bill Pertwee.

Marry the Girls (1 February 1973) starring John Le Mesurier, Barbara Murray and Sally Thomsett.

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)

No Strings (16 April 1974) starring Keith Barron and Rita Tushingham. Derek advertises for a flatmate. When Leonora arrives his tidy bachelor domain is soon disrupted by a feminine touch.

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 Dobson Doughnut (14 May 1974) starring Milo O'Shea and Jo Kendall

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.

The Last Man on Earth (4 June 1974) starring Dandy Nichols and Ronald Fraser.

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.

Pygmalion Smith (25 June 1974) starring Leonard Rossiter and T.P. McKenna

A Girl's Best Friend (3 July 1974) starring Zena Walker and Reginald Marsh

The Reverend Wooing of Archibald (9 July 1974) starring Joan Benham, Julian Holloway, William Mervyn and Madeline Smith

French Relish (16 July 1974) starring Derek Nimmo

Series Fifteen (1975)

The Melting Pot (11 June 1975) starring Spike Milligan, John Bird, Peter Jones and Frank Carson

Only on Sunday (18 June 1975) starring Trevor Bannister and Peter Bowles

For Richer...For Poorer (25 June 1975) starring David Battley, Harry H. Corbett and Don Henderson

Captive Audience (2 July 1975) starring Derek Fowlds, Daphne Heard and Leslie Dwyer

Going, Going, Gone...Free? (9 July 1975) starring Pauline Yates, Geoffrey Palmer and Peter Duncan

Series Sixteen (2014)

  • Over to Bill (29 April 2014)
  • Miller's Mountain (6 May 2014)
  • Monks (13 May 2014)

Series Seventeen (2016)

  • Hospital People (26 February 2016)[3]
  • Broken Biscuits (4 March 2016)[4]
  • Stop/Start (11 March 2016)[5]

Series Eighteen (2017)

  • Tim Vine Travels in Time (1 September 2017)[6]
  • Mister Winner (8 September 2017)[7]
  • Static (15 September 2017)[8]

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

  1. Stand In For A Hearse (22 September 70)
  2. The Siege of Castle Drumlie (29 September 70)
  3. The Dinner Party (20 October 70)
  4. To Grace A Son (28 October 70)
  5. Stobo Takes The Chair (3 November 70)
  6. Take Your Partners (10 November 70)

See also



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