Monday, January 27, 2014

Black Books, A Little Known UK Comedy Gem

Black Books ran for three series of 6 episodes each, and its surreal and non mainstream style of comedy has led it to gaining somewhat of a cult following.

Black Books stars Irish comedian Dylan Moran as Bernard Black, a foul mouthed people hating alcoholic book shop owner, who hates his customers and treats them with contempt and loathing, and delights in physically and verbally abusing them at every opportunity. Also staring Bill Bailey as Manny Bianco, his long haired assistant and their friend Fran Katzenjammer played by Tamsin Greig, who runs the pretentious new age gift shop next door until she goes bankrupt at the end of season one.

Set in the main characters small independent London bookshop Called Black Books, the series follows the misadventures of the three main characters and is known for its off beat sense of humor, and bizarre situations.

During its run Black Books won several awards, picking up the BAFTA for best Situation Comedy in 2001 and 2005, and the Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival bronze rose for sitcom in 2001.

Black Books started as a one off show at a 1998 Channel 4 sitcom festival in Riverside Studios. In this early version, Fran was 'Valerie', a philosophy lecturer, and Manny (whose surname was then Zimmerman - a reference to the original name of musician Bob Dylan) was a professional depression-o-gram. The show was also decidedly darker, the pilot revolving around Bernard and later Manny's decision to commit suicide.

Black Books may be a little known comedy with a cult following, but in my opinion it can be favorably compared to much more famous and well known British series like Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and son and The Office in quality of writing and humor.

If you get the opportunity Black Books is a comedy series well worth getting to know, and I am sure It will not disappoint.

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