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An Introduction to Situation Comedy

jeremy | Monday June 15, 2009

Categories: GCSE, AQA GCSE, OCR GCSE, Eduqas (WJEC) GCSE, Other Topics, Television, Situation Comedy, Television Situation Comedy

‘The focus of this examination is institutional/ scheduling issues and audience pleasures. These pages on sit-com provide a background only to the topic. The specific issues of institution/scheduling and audience pleasures in relation to sit-com will need to be taught separately.’

Brief Definition

The British TV sitcom is a television series that derives humour from the same characters in a fixed location exploring a variety of comic plotlines including misunderstandings, suspense, disguise, and failed aspirations.

Simply, the sitcom is a close group of associated people gathered in one place relating to each other and reacting to external forces with humour.

The sitcom is one of the most popular and enduring television formats in Britain and at times has commanded larger audiences than soaps.

How Does The Sitcom Work?

Successful sitcoms involve audiences with characters and plots that are both reassuringly realistic and comically exaggerated.

An average sitcom has to work in 30 minutes of television time. It has to have a beginning, middle and end, and conform to Todorov’s Equilibrium Theory.

This is a situation comedy so it has to have a happy ending.

The characters are at the centre of a sitcom. Each episode must have an intriguing and engaging plot often initiated by an outside event that is hostile to the group (Dad’s Army) or to the family grouping – we want to suspend our disbelief to know how Del boy will get out of this particular fix that he thinks has been thrust upon him.

Only Fools and Horses has been voted, via a BBC website, as the best sitcom ever. It is worth thinking about why it was so popular, because Fawlty Towers is said to have the most laughs per minute of any sitcom.

Read the following notes and it might be clearer.

Exam Notes

The sitcom as a genre is well worth exploring as preparation for AS and A2. In A2 MED4 there is always a question about genre which requires you to have an...


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