Which Are London’s Funniest Areas?

Photo by Martin D Stitchener, taken from the Londonist Flickr pool

Funny place, London. So much so, in fact, that we decided to work out which bits were funniest.

Armed only with an internet connection, an A to Z, and our 1998 vintage Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy, we’ve tried to track down the approximate address of every London-based TV or radio comedy show we could come up with, and pinpoint them on a single map.

To do this, we’ve followed a couple of ground rules. Firstly, we’ve only included those we can accurately place, either to a specific named locale, or to a fictionalised version of one: where a show is simply set, generically, in London, we’ve left it off the map.

In the name of sanity we’ve also ignored those that seem to be set in several, mutually exclusive locations. Men Behaving Badly, for example, is definitely set in London. But sometimes it’s Ealing, other times it’s south of the river. For our purposes, then, it’s nowhere.

Oh, and just to pretty things up, we’ve colour colour-coded our pins by decade. Red pins are for those shows dating to before 1970; purple marks the seventies, blue is the eighties, green with dots is the nineties, and anything post-2000 is yellow.


View London sitcoms in a larger map

To find out what we learnt from our comedic odyssey, you can have a play with the map. For those who prefer to trade in crass generalisations, though, three of them follow.

1) London’s comedic geography has changed over the decades. Back in the seventies , a disproportionate share of the sitcoms took place in the Surrey suburbs. Over time, though, they seem to have moved both north and east.

2) Stereotypes are funny. The reason Surrey has been home to so many sitcoms is, basically, because there’s humour to be found in class and snobbery. Those based in Essex often work in the same way, but from a different perspective. Even the north western suburbs get a few comedies: after all, if you want a generic suburb, untained by specific connotations, where better than metroland?

Kent, though, isn’t funny: there’s no stereotype to play with. Consequently, we could find no comedy any closer to the Garden of England than Lewisham or Penge.

3) Comedies cluster. Chiswick gets family sitcoms. Inner south London – Elephant, Peckham – the rough diamond, working class ones. Cricklewood gets a few too, for no reason we’ve been able to ascertain except that it has a funny name.

This map, we’re sure, is not comprehensive: what have we missed and where is it set?

Anyway, if anyone needs us we’ll be sniggering in a corner.

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Jonn

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  • http://twitter.com/goldenlad Steve James

    Mirrorball, the followup pilot to Absolutely Fabulous filmed at WC2B 5SF

  • owally

    As a man of Kent, I should point out that ‘Darling Buds of May’ was filmed (and the book set, I think) in Kent, or at least based on a family the author once encountered there. Debatable if the show qualifies as a comedy though.

    • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

      That was the reason for my excluding it – seemed like the wrong genre. Also, it’s a bit beyond the M25, isn’t it? Kent proper, rather than Kentish London.

  • Si

    The amazing Nighty Night was filmed in and around Surrey including Hersham and Dorking.

  • http://twitter.com/charlienin Charlie Elliott

    Fletch from Porridge says he’s from Muswell Hill. His daughter was conceived in Highgate Cemetery, and in the episode where he goes home to patch up his ‘broken marriage’, he’s seen coming out of the police station on Fortis Green Road.

  • Weeble

    Where’s In Sickness and In Health and West Ham fan Alf Garnett? I can’t find it. Should be Wapping, I think?

    • Paul Squires

      Forest Gate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.matt.hall Matt Hall

    What, no “Til Death Us Do Part”? Set in the none more specific address of 25 Jamaica Street, E1 apparently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alf_Garnett

    • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

      Cheers for that (and to Weeble too) – will add on any I’ve missed this evening

  • M

    Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie was set just up the road from Camden Town, in Kentish town.

  • http://www.facebook.com/timdurgan Tim Durgan

    I might have missed it but Only Fools and Horses isn’t on here. Is there any reason why?

    • MattFromLondonist

      It’s there, in Peckham.

  • Emily

    Love this! Though its missing Phone Shop, set and filmed on Sutton highstreet. Currently shooting its 3rd series, as a local girl I can’t help but love the references to the Sutton vs. Croydon rivalry!

  • http://twitter.com/TabbyKinder Tabby Kinder

    Mighty Boosh series 2 was set in a flat in Dalston!

  • http://twitter.com/TabbyKinder Tabby Kinder

    Spaced – Tufnell Park

  • Aaron

    What, no Dream Stuffing? Nor Up The Elephant And Round The Castle?

    http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/dream_stuffing/
    http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/up_the_elephant/

    (Oh, and a nasty typo on “The Gnomes of Dulwick”.)

  • http://twitter.com/LadyChappers Lady Chappers

    Gimme, Gimme, Gimme was set in Kentish Town.

  • h-yay

    The bar in Coupling was in Clerkenwell.

  • ceedoubleu

    Wasn’t Minder set in Acton?

  • N

    Birds of a Feather was set in Chigwell. Although in one episode they set up a cleaning company called Maids of Ongar.

  • Rik

    Hancock?

  • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

    I seem to have forgotten to lock the map, allowing someone to start moving me pins around. Some wag clearly thought it hilarious to move Up the Elephant to Sidcup.

    Well NO MORE. (I’ve locked it now.)

  • Simon Harries

    Had a quick look for ‘Thick as Thieves’ (LWT, 1974) but couldn’t see it on your map. Bob Hoskins, John Thaw and Pat Ashton starred. It was set in Fulham – and episode 1 begins with Hoskins returning home from prison and arriving at Fulham Broadway station.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caz.rudd Caz Rudd

    On the Buses was filmed in Wood Green http://www.onthebusesfanclub.com/id45.html