Comedy Playhouse

This article is about the BBC series. For the equivalent ITV series, see ITV Playhouse.
Comedy Playhouse

Titlecard for the 1961/62 series episode "The Offer". This episode was the pilot for Steptoe and Son.
Starring Various
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 121 (as of 29 April 2014)
Running time Usually 25 minutes, 30 minutes or 35 minutes
Original network BBC One
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 Revived Series
29 April 2014 - present

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.

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.


Series One (196162)

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

Series Two (1963)

Series Three (196364)

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

Series Four (1965)

The pilot episode of Till Death Us Do Part was broadcast as an episode.

Series Five (1966)

The pilot episodes of All Gas and Gaiters and Beggar My Neighbour were broadcast as episodes.

Series Eight (1969)

The pilot episode of The Liver Birds was broadcast as an episode.

Series Nine (196970)

The pilot episode of Up Pompeii! was broadcast as an episode.

Series Eleven (1971)

Series eleven began with Just Harry and Me starring Sheila Hancock, Donald Houston and Lynne Frederick. 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. The series included It's Awfully Bad for Your eyes, Darling, which was co-authored by Jilly Cooper and was her first writing for television. Other episodes included René Basilico's Uncle Tulip, that featured three generations of a Sikh family, and The Rough with the Smooth written by and starring Tim Brooke-Taylor and John Junkin.[3]

Series Twelve (1972)

The first episode of Are You Being Served? was broadcast as an episode.

Specials (1973)

The first episode of the longest-running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine was broadcast in an episode.

Series Fourteen (1974)

The pilot episodes of Happy Ever After (197479) and Mr Big (1977) were broadcast as episodes.

Series Fifteen (1975)

Series Sixteen (2014)

Series Seventeen (2016)

Comedy playhouse returns for another run with three episodes.[4]

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


  1. Ian Burrell (17 March 2014). "BBC1 to revive 'Comedy Playhouse' after 40 years". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. Radio Times, 25 March 1971
  3. Radio Times, 25 March 2015


External links

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