I was just having a chat with one of my workmates, a woman of Irish/English heritage who I always address as "Our Cath". We were talking about our favourite English comedy shows and the conversation reminded me of two of my old favourites that I haven't seen for a long time, and really should seek out on DVD.
My family background is resolutely English 'working class', and working class from the north of England. Maybe it's no coincidence that both of these shows take that socio-economic setting and use it as the source of much rich material for satire.
Dinnerladies, an inspired two season series by one of my favourite UK comedians Victoria Wood. Populated with loony but lovable characters, with Wood's character Brenda as the the core, this comic soap-opera of the daily goings on in a factory canteen always cracked me up. Throw in cameos by the always fantastic Julie Walters as Brenda's delusional bag-lady mother, and it was a recipe for comedy gold.
Here's a clip of the scene We only do Tuna 'n' Sweetcorn.
My other great love, The Royale Family. Possibly the most minimalist comedy ever created, as 95% of the show took place on the 'living room suite' of the Royale family. It's a hard show to describe, but much of the comedy came from the careful observations of family dynamics and the unique comic timings and cadences of speech of people from the Manchester area. Amongst the family tensions were some very close relationships, and the air of good natured ribbing and banter was quite similar to my own family. The series was cleverly written by two of the cast members, primarily by Caroline Ahern who played the daughter Denise.