10 Best British TV Comedy Film Adaptations from the Past 30 Years

Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens, The Beatles, James Bond, Morecambe and Wise – these are the cries in response to the very topical question: “What has Britain ever given to the world?”

Oh the literature! Oh the poetry! Oh the music!

Oh the comedy…

If there is anything that this cold little island has to be proud of, it’s our comedy. ‘Monty Python’, ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Little Britain’ and many more are lauded all over the world; but does British comedy deserve its unshakeable reputation? In the past 30 years there has been a trend in British comedy involving attempted transitions from TV to film, all the way from Keith Lemon to ‘The Thick of It’ – very much an obvious time and money saver when no original idea is forthcoming. Necessity breeds invention, but is this just laziness or an act of genius? To find out, we at The Film Magazine looked at the good and the downright ugly of British television’s movie adaptations to put together this: the 10 Best British TV Comedy Film Adaptations from the Past 30 Years.


10. Ali G Indahouse (2002)

TV: Da Ali G Show

Unlike most of the other TV-to-film critical bombs of the past 30 years (Keith Lemon – The FilmMrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie), Ali G Indahouse enjoys continued relevance, not least because it was the springboard for Sacha Baron Cohen’s internationally recognisable film career.

Ali G Indahouse took Cohen’s alter-ego, Ali G, who on his TV show would troll politicians and celebrities with his inane questions on serious topics, and implanted him into a fictitious world where he would become a Member of Parliament and a Cabinet Minister. Despite Ali’s huge incompetence, his moronic policy suggestions (such as only allowing hot women into the country) has people hailing him as the voice of a generation.

Here, the comedy is continuous, with belly laughs guaranteed by a constant stream of iconic moments, including the now infamous: “And I put it to you… that you sucked off a horse!”

As this is Sacha Baron Cohen, the film has some excruciatingly offensive moments, but it does effectively satirise British disillusionment with mainstream politics and the apathy of youth culture. For better or for worse, Ali G Indahouse solidified Cohen’s status as a British Institution and the colloquialisms of Ali G are forever embedded into the British vernacular, though the latter might be for the worse – “Hey Fatty Boom Boom, want another cream cake?”




9. Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000)

TV: Harry Enfield & Chums

Nobody would have thought that a duo pushing forty would produce one of the most accurate portrayals of teenage boys on film, but Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke did just that with their turn of the century comedy Kevin and Perry Go Large.

The names of the titular characters, that were plucked from Harry Enfield’s sketch shows, have often been hurled by parents at surly, disagreeable offspring, especially by those who brought up children throughout the 90s and 00s. This is because Kevin and Perry Go Large is a film that thoroughly documents the struggles of teenage life: fallings out, misunderstood genius, demanding parents, and of course the plight of losing your virginity; and it’s all wrapped up in the inspirational tale of two boys on the cusp of manhood fulfilling their dreams of becoming DJs in Ibiza.

The over the top presentation of Kevin and Perry is what makes the film so memorable, as it overall heightens the often gross-out comedy (who would have thought that anything could be more disgusting than the poo scene in The Inbetweeners 2?). A distinctly millennium movie, you would think there was a danger of it becoming dated, but the comedy has a universal quality, such as the horror of witnessing your parents… at it.

Other elements that had the potential to age badly, such as the fashion, oddly went full circle with bucket hats and active wear suddenly becoming fashionable again; and despite the music being very much of the time, all featured tracks are undisputed tunes – Kevin and Perry definitely has the best soundtrack in this list.

Recommended for you: Aardman Animation Movies Ranked

Katie Doyle
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