The best of British rolls on

Every decade or so, a new wave of British comedians appear, form alliances, and create new and better television.

A flimsy historical analysis to back up this flimsy argument shows that in the 1960s it was Monty Python and resulting spin-offs, in the 1980s it was The Young Ones and resulting spin-offs, and in the 1990s, nothing noteworthy happened at all.

I watched a lot of TV in the 1990s, and I can't remember any of it.

The 2000s, though, have been rich with funny groups of people dedicated to being amusing, and one of those helps make Tuesday nights on Comedy Central three hours of the sort of television that successfully diverts the attention from the rigours of reality.

The apex of those three hours is Nighty Night, a show I promise will help you ignore your bitterly mundane existence, your many failures in life, and, most of all, the certainty of your own death.

The evening starts with 30 Rock, which has been on for ages, but which I have only recently realised is very good.

It continues with a re-run of the entire series of Arrested Development, which I have watched over and over again, but which is quite the best American comedy, and can stand endless repeats.

But Nighty Night is the cream on the top of the evening.

Created by Julia Davis, an English comedy writer and performer, it continues what has become a small wave of comedy so dark and disturbing it transports the viewer to heights of distraction unrivalled in recent times.

Along with League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, it creates a new genre of comedy entirely suited to the sick at heart.

Davis studied English and Drama at the College of Ripon and York St John.

Her affiliations include a stint working with Steve Coogan (I'm Alan Partridge), and she has appeared briefly in both Little Britain and The Office.

Her offsider in Nighty Night is Ruth Jones, who was Myfanwy, the barmaid to the only gay in the village in Little Britain.

To top all that, Davis is in a long-term relationship with Mighty Boosh star Julian Barratt.

Her character Jill, a beautician whose work results in the suicide of one client and the death of another who suffocates while being given a body wrap, leaps at the opportunity provided by her husband Terry's diagnosis of cancer.

As she tells him: "It's not all about you."

Jill turns her amorous attentions to Don, a doctor who has just moved next door with his wheelchair-bound wife Cath, and the show lurches along a plot line of violence, kidnapping, murder, deceit and the sort of darkly uncomfortable moments that make for entertainment of the highest order.

Unmissable.

 

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