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Celebrating the best in TV comedy

Celebrating the best in TV comedy

The British comedy industry does the country proud, and The National Comedy Awards marks the very best we produce. We look at the nominees and more side-splitting comedy shows to watch right now

By Virgin TV Edit

It was an auspicious day when Channel 4 decided to resurrect the awards formerly known as the British Comedy Awards in 2022. Now with a new name, The National Comedy Awards supports Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer charity drive, with categories decided by a public vote and fans donating to help fund life-saving research. It’s also uproariously funny.


Taking place on Friday 17 February, this year’s awards ceremony will be hosted by Tom Allen at London’s Roundhouse and broadcast live at 9pm on Channel 4 HD (CH 104). Last year’s winners included Sex Education, Sharon Horgan and Munya Chawawa – and some of the UK’s best and funniest TV shows, actors and comedians are in the running for awards this year, too.


Love to laugh? You’ve probably already watched the shows that dominate this year’s nominations, such as Taskmaster, Derry Girls and Ghosts. If you’ve already binged them all, we’re here to help. Read on to discover the TV shows leading the nominations in 2023 – and what to watch next if you love them.



With a whopping seven nominations, Taskmaster dominates the shortlist at this year’s awards ceremony. The goofy panel game show – in which contestants vie to complete challenges of varying levels of ridiculousness – is a strong contender in the best comedy entertainment show category. The odds are also strong that at least one cast member will scoop an award for outstanding comedy entertainment performer, with hosts Greg Davies and Alex Horne and contestants Fern Brady, Judi Love, Sarah Millican and Munya Chawawa all nominated.


If you like Taskmaster, you’ll love these shows...

The Horne Section

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4

Taskmaster co-host Alex Horne, playing himself, is given the chance to helm his own late-night celebrity chat show in this very meta sitcom. Flanked by his loyal band (which performs all the music on real-life Taskmaster), it’s a chance for Horne to step out of Greg Davies’ tall shadow and do things on his own terms. But inevitably, things don’t go to plan... Very silly and enormously enjoyable.


The Cleaner

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

From Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners to Dan Davies in Man Down, Greg Davies knows how to play weary everymen dealing with rage, bitterness or self-loathing. His leading role in this dark sitcom is a classic Davies character: Paul “Wicky” Wickstead, a cleaning technician responsible for removing signs of death from crime scenes. Catch up on series 1 and last year’s Christmas special before series 2 arrives on BBC One and iPlayer later in 2023.



Find it in Catch Up > Channels > Dave

Not many comedy panel shows are filmed entirely outdoors, which makes Outsiders even more original and entertaining. It hits many of the same spots as Taskmaster, as comedians compete in survival-themed tasks to win badges from host David Mitchell.


Derry Girls

Lisa McGee’s beloved 90s-set sitcom, following the trials and tribulations of a group of teenagers in Troubles-era Northern Ireland, is nominated for best scripted comedy. Saoirse-Monica Jackson is shortlisted for outstanding comedy actress for her performance as Erin, with Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Michelle) and Siobhan McSweeney (Sister George Michael) also nominated in the outstanding supporting role category.


If you like Derry Girls, you’ll love these shows...

The Sex Lives Of College Girls

Find it in Apps & Games > ITVX

A group of four young women getting into scrapes, mismanaging crushes and floundering academically – nope, it’s not Derry Girls, it’s Mindy Kaling’s sitcom set at an elite US university. Warm, chaotic and hilarious, TSLOCG is propelled by the supercharged chemistry between its four central characters (played by Alyah Chanelle Scott, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp and Pauline Chalamet). Like the Derry Girls, they’re four wildly different personalities who make total sense as a unit, even as they drive one another up the wall.


Can’t Cope Won’t Cope

Find it in Apps & Games > Netflix

This Irish comedy-drama ended in 2018 after two series, but you can still bask in its brilliance on Netflix. Seána Kerslake and Nika McGuigan (who sadly died from cancer in 2019) star as Aisling and Danielle, best friends partying through their early 20s in Dublin. Its interpretation of female friendship is darker than Derry Girls, with Aisling and Danielle’s co-dependent relationship sometimes tipping into toxicity, but the two shows are connected by a dry, down-to-earth wit.


On My Block

Find it in Apps & Games > Netflix

Derry Girls can be read as a celebration of teenagers’ resilience and self-absorption in difficult circumstances: Erin and her friends are relentlessly focused on their own personal dramas, even as sectarian bombings and violence cast a shadow over Derry. Set in the gritty fictional LA neighbourhood of Freeridge, Netflix comedy-drama On My Block has a similar ethos, showing how a group of high school friends survive and thrive even in tough circumstances.



A charming sitcom about an ordinary couple who inherit a haunted stately home in the English countryside, Ghosts is nominated in the best scripted comedy category at the British Comedy Awards. Three of its stars have also been shortlisted for awards: Charlotte Ritchie for outstanding comedy actress, Kiell Smith-Bynoe for outstanding comedy actor and Lolly Adefope for outstanding supporting role.


If you like Ghosts, you’ll love these shows...

What We Do In The Shadows

Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

This cult comedy horror mockumentary blends the silly and the supernatural to spectacular effect, making it the perfect companion show to Ghosts. Created by Flight Of The Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, it’s set in New York’s Staten Island, but feels heavily influenced by eccentric British humour – thanks in no small part to the presence of Leslie “Laszlo” Cravensworth (Matt Berry), an extravagantly weird English nobleman and vampire. BAT!


Feel Good

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4

Ghosts’ metaphysical themes are grounded by Charlotte Ritchie’s performance as pragmatic Alison, who has to share her home with a group of spirits while keeping her marriage in good nick. Ritchie is similarly down-to-earth in Mae Martin’s romantic comedy series Feel Good, in which she co-stars as Martin’s girlfriend George. Instead of ghosts, the defiantly normal George has to grapple with her partner’s star power and addiction issues and her own repressed sexuality.


Stath Lets Flats

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4

On the surface, Jamie Demetriou’s BAFTA-winning sitcom about a hapless letting agent in London whose life couldn’t be less supernatural doesn’t have much in common with Ghosts. But there’s a lot of overlapping talent between the two British shows, including actors Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Katy Wix and director Tom Kingsley. If one makes you laugh, the other probably will too.


After Life

The third and final series of Ricky Gervais’ dark yet life-affirming series is nominated for best scripted comedy. Gervais is in the running for outstanding comedy actor thanks to his starring turn as Tony, the features editor on regional newspaper the Tambury Gazette, who’s grieving the death of his wife. Diane Morgan and David Earl (who play the Gazette’s advertising manager and a local eccentric, respectively) are also nominated in the outstanding supporting role category.


If you like After Life, you’ll love these shows...


Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

A low-key gem from Stefan Golaszewski (who most recently wrote BBC drama Marriage), Mum ran for three series between 2016 and 2019, but all episodes are still available on iPlayer. It centres on fiftysomething Cathy (Lesley Manville) as she attempts to put one foot in front of the other following the death of her husband. Like After Life, it shows how our friends and family can keep us going – and infuriate us – in times of devastating grief.


Hold The Front Page

Find it in Catch Up > Channels > Sky Max

After Life is about grief, sure, but it’s also about the quirks of life at a local paper (David Earl’s character Brian is a hoarder, aspiring puppeteer and stand-up comedian who’s desperate to appear in the Tambury Gazette). New six-part series Hold The Front Page sees comedians Josh Widdicombe and Nish Kumar travel around real local newspapers in the UK, seeing if they can break small-town stories. Spoiler: it’s much harder than it looks.


BoJack Horseman

Find it in Apps & Games > Netflix

After Life is known as one of the best modern comedies dealing with themes of depression and suicidal thoughts, as Tony struggles to see the point in living amid his bereavement. Netflix’s grown-up animated series BoJack Horseman is another brilliant example of how TV can explore themes of mental health and existential angst with intelligence, empathy and humour. 


Big Boys

Jack Rooke’s heartwarming sitcom about a grieving, closeted uni student and his freshers-initiated friendship with a straight Jack-the-lad was one of the best new shows of 2022. Dylan Llewellyn’s performance as shy protagonist Jack proved there’s much more to him than just being the “wee English fella” in Derry Girls, so it’s fitting that he’s nominated as outstanding comedy actor.


If you like Big Boys, you’ll love these shows...


Find it in Apps & Games > Prime Video

A big theme of Big Boys is Jack trying to figure out what kind of gay man he wants to be. That ties it nicely to this critically acclaimed but short-lived HBO series that came out in 2014 (which is also a year after Big Boys is set, giving the shows a similar feel of being almost-period pieces). Honest, funny and thoughtful, Looking revolves around the close friendship between three gay men in San Francisco, as they negotiate their sex lives and careers and explore how they really want to live.


Fresh Meat

Find it in Apps & Games > All 4

You can’t talk about UK university comedies without mentioning Channel 4’s modern classic Fresh Meat. Set in the fictional Medlock University (inspired by the University of Manchester), it follows six freshers forced to share a home after missing out on campus accommodation – just as Jack and Danny (Jon Pointing) are thrown together in Big Boys. Similar themes of financial and academic pressures, partying, romance, friendship and the British class system are explored here, too. 



Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

A laugh-out-loud series that also made viewers cry, Big Boys was widely praised for its generous, true-to-life portrayal of male friendship. This recent two-part drama is a very different type of show, but it shares Big Boys’ ability to capture the platonic relationship between two men with humour and tenderness. Set between 1980s Scotland and the present day, it stars Martin Compston and Tony Curran as Jimmy and Tully, who bond as young men on a magical night out. Decades later, their friendship is put to the ultimate test.


When is The National Comedy Awards on TV?

The National Comedy Awards begins on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/108) at 9pm on Friday 17 January.


It will also be available to stream on All 4 (Apps & Games > All 4).

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Image credits: The Cleaner


What We Do In The Shadows