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

5. The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse (2005)

TV: The League of Gentlemen

This most ghoulish offering is the one for lovers of the macabre, as ‘The League of Gentlemen’ is very much the definitive black comedy.

The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse is the entry that probably has the most successful and drastic transition from TV to film. In a stroke of fourth-wall breaking genius, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse has the characters of the nightmarish Royston Vasey facing its destruction through the revelation that they are the fictional creations from a TV sketch show. To save themselves, these hellish characters enter the real world to convince their creators to keep on writing about them. Thus, not only do the League of Gentlemen play their usual cavalcade of spooky characters, they now get to parody themselves.

The film works so well because it doesn’t restrict itself to the TV programme’s limitations: it dumps the sketch formula to focus on a select few (particularly pitiful) characters, and exaggerates their heart and pathos to offer full blooded beings with the motive and development to carry a feature-length film.

Of course, the film isn’t the only one on the list to display the UK’s gift and fondness for crude humour, but with ‘The League of Gentlemen’ being a continued homage to the gloriously camp history of British Horror, it certainly wins on the creative gore front; from eyes being pulled out to jizzing giraffes, there is no real comparison.

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4. The Trip (2010)

TV: The Trip

The multiple releases in Film Festivals across the globe would suggest that The Trip is a rather art-house affair, and indeed the semi-autobiographical flick does offer a sensitive insight into the personal lives of stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. However, the distinct lack of writing credits is a better indicator of the true nature of the film, which is fueled entirely by improvisation around the barest of plots which involves a delightful smorgasbord of gourmet food.

There are moments of genuine intense debate on offer in The Trip, but the movie largely boils down to the Great British occupation of relentless piss-taking; and would we be able to have a film with Brydon and Coogan without competing impressions? (Watch out for the Michael Caine and the Roger Moore.)

It’s surprising that such a bare plot could support a movie (let alone 4 seasons), but the credit goes to the starring pair’s talent as not only impersonators but in being one of the best modern double acts in comedy history, even if it is just Coogan’s sharp insults and Brydon’s even more devastating ripostes.

3. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

TV: I’m Alan Partridge

Steve Coogan’s alter ego, Alan Partridge, is not only a staple of British Television Comedy but a giant of it, the character gifting the world with some of the most iconic sitcom moments of the past 30 years. He’s also very much responsible for Coogan’s Hollywood stardom, so it’s frankly quite surprising that it took 20 years for him to be treated to a feature length film, even if it was worth the wait.

Ever since he punched the “BBC Controller” in the face on ‘Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge’, it’s pretty fun to have a look into the character every few years as he makes us all feel immensely better about our own mid-life crises.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa doesn’t disappoint, with Alan still stuck in the role of local radio DJ, only now facing redundancy as the station undergoes a big corporate takeover. Being the snake that he is, he saves his own skin by throwing a fellow co-worker under the bus, and hence unwittingly ignites an armed siege situation.

British culture often receives quite the unnecessary hype, but Alpha Papa offers a refreshingly accurate depiction of all the worst aspects of the British mentality as seen in the person of Alan, a rather pathetic character with all the small-mindedness of the middle-class. Alan Partridge’s TV outings were always a journey into the depravity that a person could stoop too, and twenty years on, even when it feels like there is nothing new under the sun, Steve Coogan shows us something that makes us split at the sides. We laugh so hard we don’t mind if indeed Alan Partridge becomes the poster-boy for the “Rule Britannia” spirit of our damp little island.

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