Welcome.....to Castle Frankenfunny. Yes, it's Halloween again so we crept, candelabra in hand, down to the archive dungeon and dusted the cobwebs off some horrifyingly amusing clips to celebrate All Hallows' Eve in terrifying, tittersome style. Your blood will curdle with laughter; your bones will creak with mirth as we set loose the hounds of hilarity in this devilish selection of spine chillingly funny Halloween comedy moments...
Steve Coogan spoofs the Hammer Horror film Witchfinder General in his BBC Two series Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible. The Tales from the Crypt-style show ran for just one series in 2001, but featured guest appearances from horror genre actors including Angela Pleasance and current comedy stars such as Simon Pegg, who made his mark in BBC Two's Big Train alongside Julia Davis, Catherine Tate and Mark Heap. Originally broadcast in 1998, the sketch show ran for two series, the second in 2002, and featured the recurring battle of wills between Jesus and Satan, set in an office where Jesus is the dark one's manager.
Steve Coogan also found fame with unpleasant, narcissistic TV and radio presenter Alan Partridge. The fictional character began life on BBC Radio 4 before becoming the sports reporter on satirical news show, The Day Today. The first of three series followed in 1992, beginning with a chat show and two further series charting the demise and 'return' of the character we love to hate. Here, Alan dresses nothing like a zombie during his spell as a resident of the Linton Travel Tavern.
Although Blackadder really hit its stride in subsequent series, the first is not without memorable comic moments, including this one featuring comedy legend Peter Cook as the recently beheaded Richard III. The Black Adder aired on BBC One in 1983 with four further series and numerous specials and sketches over the years.
Two Blackadder alumni, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, also tried their hand at a sketch show with not inconsiderable success as A Bit of Fry and Laurie's four series run attests. Here, Stephen and Hugh demonstrate how to greet a couple of young trick or treaters. You'd never get away with this nowadays!
The '80s was a rich decade for new comedy, particularly the new alternative style. Pioneers of the movement included Rowan Atkinson and the cast of the often surreal, establishment baiting The Young Ones. Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Christopher Ryan were the titular 'young ones', but Alexis Sayle's weekly rants were always a highlight. Here, his vampire falls foul of the Highway Code.
Following the success of The Young Ones, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson took essentially older, more cynical versions of their previous show's characters and created the BBC Two series Bottom. Three series, five live shows and a movie spinoff followed in which the duo swore, fought and drank their way through a series of scrapes. Here, Eddie Hitler misunderstands a request from Richie in typically violent fashion.
The Mighty Boosh could be viewed as natural successors to the alternative comedians of the '80s with their surreal and definitely alternative take on the universe. The show, first broadcast on BBC Three in 2004, follows jazz-obsessed musician Howard Moon and his friend, the dandyish, androgynous Vince Noir in a series of episodes based in reality but often leaving it very quickly. This clip, for example, features Death as a taxi driver taking Howard to Monkey Hell. Indeed.
When The League of Gentlemen transferred from BBC radio to BBC Two in 1999 we were introduced to a series of memorably grotesque and hilarious characters including 'local' shop owners Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup and pre-sex change taxi driver Barbara. But Herr Wolf Lipp, the sinister, German teacher, took centre stage in this Nosferatu-inspired segment from The League of Gentleman Christmas Special first broadcast in 2000.
The League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton returned to the macabre in 2009 with BBC Two's Psychoville. Much like their previous show, this dark character comedy sees its stars playing a variety of characters, but also features Dawn French in a very sinister turn as a midwife. This clip features serial-killer obsessed David Sowerbutts being harangued by a nurse with a very nasty looking electric prod.
Dawn French is possibly best known for her comedy partnership with Jennifer Saunders, with the duo's show French and Saunders spanning 20 years and seven BBC series, plus Christmas, Easter and Comic Relief Specials. Along the way they have produced many classic sketches including this take on horror film The Exorcist.
Speaking of classic sketches, The Two Ronnies created more than their fair share during their 26 year run on the BBC, but possibly none as well-remembered as that of the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town. The sketch originally ran as a serial during the 1976 series and was written by Ronnie Barker and Spike Milligan. Witness the sheer terror of the raspberry yourself in this sketch.
Perhaps the best known UK comedy series is BBC One's Only Fools and Horses. First broadcast in 1981, the show ran for 63 episodes over seven series and 22 years, plus various specials, and featured some of comedies' most celebrated characters, not to mention some golden moments of comic splendour. Here, we see Del Boy's scare tactics on Grand-Dad go awry.
An indulgence on the part of Comedy Online and one of the most enduring children's television programmes during the '70s and '80s was BBC One's Rentaghost. With an assortment of memorable characters, from court jester Timothy Claypole, to Hazel the McWitch, to the sneezing Nadia Popov, Rentaghost's brand of pantomime comedy made the ghostly goings on essential viewing during its nine series run from 1976 to 1984. Here, Adam Painting, a local entrepreneur played by Christopher Biggins, attempts to use the ghosts, to limited effect, in his latest business enterprise.
Bringing us right up to date we have the Amazing Wizards showing off their Axe Trick – not for the faint hearted, the ever-popular Misery Bear stars in his own short form Zombie special, and a unique take on the Paranormal Activity phenomenon.
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