British comedians (left to right) Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones with New Zealand-born comedian Pamela Stephenson in London, 20th October 1980. Together they write and star in the comedy sketch show 'Not the Nine O'Clock News'.

Best comedy TV shows of the '70s

Written by:
June 12, 2021
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Best comedy TV shows of the '70s

From the time television entered mainstream culture, TV programing has mirrored our lives, evolving and shifting as society has grown and changed. In the '50s and '60s, there were crime dramas like "Dragnet," Westerns such as "Bonanza," and of course, sitcoms like "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners." And while comedy series have always been a big part of the world of television broadcasting, the comedies of the 1970s were something special.

Television of the '70s opened up topics that were previously off-limits, such as sexuality and racism, pushing out the more mundane Westerns and family-centric shows of the '60s for series that were more in tune with the changes taking place in the world. Comedy TV also evolved, from escapist fun like "Mork & Mindy" to satirical comedies that dealt with real-world problems, as seen in "Maude" or "Soap."

While modern-day comedy is great, it's also fun to take a look at hits from the past, especially those classic comedy shows from the '70s. Stacker compiled data on all comedy TV shows from 1970-1979 and ranked them according toIMDb user rating, with ties broken by votes. To qualify, the show had to have at least 1,000 votes. Only English-language shows were considered.

Take a look at the best comedy TV shows of the '70s.

#25. Maude

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Years on the air: 1972–1978

Starring Bea Arthur, Maude debuted as a spin-off of the popular television series, "All In The Family," telling the story of Edith's cousin, a liberated woman, living in Tuckahoe, New York. The show garnered Arthur an Emmy for her performance, and received other award nominations during its run.

#24. The Dukes of Hazzard

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Years on the air: 1979–1985

Good ol' boys and cousins Bo and Luke Duke have some wild escapades in this series, which starred Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Catherine Bach as their cousin Daisy. The show never won any major awards, but did have a strong fan base, with lasting popularity that led to a 2005 film version with Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, and Jessica Simpson in the lead roles.

#23. Mork & Mindy

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Years on the air: 1978–1982

This sci-fi comedy hit was the first starring role for famed actor Robin Williams. The show was a spin-off from an episode of the series "Happy Days" in which Williams played an alien called "Mork, from Ork." Williams won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series for the role, and the show was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

#22. To the Manor Born

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Years on the air: 1979–2007

A Brit-based series starring Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, "To the Manor Born" tells the story of a woman, Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, who finds out she must leave her stately home after the death of her husband. The home is purchased by Peter Bowles's character, Richard De Vere, and the two eventually find themselves falling in love. The show was nominated for four BAFTA awards, including two for Best Comedy Series.

#21. The Sylvester & Tweety Show

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Year on the air: 1976

An animated series featuring Warner Brothers favorites Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, the antics of these two characters kept viewers of all ages in stitches. Famed voice actor Mel Blanc played both characters, as well as portraying many other Warner Brothers characters over the course of his career.

#20. Happy Days

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Years on the air: 1974–1984

He's an award-winning filmmaker and director these days, but Ron Howard was also famously known for his role of Richie Cunningham in this popular family-friendly television series. "Happy Days" also starred Marion Ross, who won an Emmy for Supporting Actress; Henry Winkler, who won a Golden Globe for his role; and Tom Bosley. The show enjoyed a long run, with multiple award nominations and wins.

#19. The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Years on the air: 1976–1978

Consisting of two 30-minute episodes, "The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour" took animated crime-fighting to the next level. One part of the show featured Scooby and the gang solving mysteries, and the other part shared the adventures of superhero The Blue Falcon and his trusty robot-dog sidekick, Dynomutt. 

#18. Open All Hours

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Years on the air: 1976–1985

Another British hit, "Open All Hours" starred Ronnie Barker as Albert Arkwright, a curmudgeonly shopkeeper who cares about two things: his profit margins and his longtime love, Nurse Gladys. Barker also starred in the award-winning series "The Two Ronnies" as well as the '70s series "Porridge."

#17. Minder

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Years on the air: 1979–1994

A con man hires a retired boxer to protect, or "mind" him, from other small-time criminals in this hit show, which received five BAFTA award nominations over its 10-season run. The series was remade in 2009, but the remake didn't catch on as well as the original and only lasted one season.

#16. Rising Damp

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Years on the air: 1974–1978

Starring Leonard Rossiter as conniving landlord Rigsby, "Rising Damp" kept viewers laughing through four seasons, as Rigsby tried (and failed) to scam his tenants at every turn. The show won a BAFTA award in 1978 for Best Situation Comedy, as well as receiving multiple other nominations.

#15. The Two Ronnies

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Years on the air: 1971–1987

This BBC comedy enjoyed 12 successful seasons, with stars Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett performing a mix of skits and musical numbers together for each episode. The show won a total of five BAFTA Awards during its run, and was nominated for 17 others.

#14. The New Tom & Jerry Show

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Years on the air: 1975–1977

There's nothing like a little cat and mouse to keep viewers happy, and the animated series "The New Tom & Jerry Show" was enjoyed by young and old. Featuring a modern twist on the classic cartoon, Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse had endless, always hilarious, battles as they plotted against each other. The show got its start in the 1940s, as animated shorts created by Hanna Barbera for MGM. It went on to have several television spin-offs, as well as feature films.

#13. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Years on the air: 1976–1979

Dissatisfied and bored with his life, Reginald Perrin, played by actor Leonard Rossiter, fakes his own death and returns in disguise in this series, only to find things haven't changed at all! Rossiter also starred in the popular series "Rising Damp," along with multiple feature film roles and television appearances.

#12. Not the Nine O'Clock News

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Years on the air: 1979–1982

Another award-winning British comedy series, "Not the Nine O'clock News" starred Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson, and Mel Smith, with various sketch comedy performances. The show won two BAFTA Awards and was nominated for five others during its four-season run.

#11. The Professionals

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Years on the air: 1977–1983

Actors Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins play British Criminal Intelligence agents Doyle and Bodie, working with their controller, George Cowley, played by Gordon Jackson. In addition to "The Professionals," Jackson starred in several feature films, as well as the popular British drama series "Upstairs Downstairs."

#10. The Good Life

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Years on the air: 1975–1978

In this series, a suburban family decides to live a self-supporting lifestyle by growing their own vegetables and raising their own farm animals—much to the horror of their neighbors, as the family lives in the suburbs. Starring Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, and Penelope Keith, the show ran for four seasons, with Keith winning a BAFTA Award in 1977 for Best Light Entertainment Performance.

#9. Are You Being Served?

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Years on the air: 1972–1985

Showcasing classic British humor at its finest, "Are You Being Served?" takes viewers into the world of an old-school style department store, where staff and management alike get into all kinds of mischief. The series ran for 10 seasons, and was revived in 1992 as the show "Are You Being Served? Again!" which brought back the original cast and had them trying to make a go of running a rural hotel after the department store shuts down.

#8. Saturday Night Live

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Years on the air: 1975–present

Debuting in 1975, this sketch comedy show is still going strong, launching the careers of countless comedians over the last 40-plus years. Created by writer-producer Lorne Michaels, the series originally featured a group of then-unknown actors, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner, performing skits that were as irreverent as they were funny. The storied show has had its ups and downs, but remains one of the most iconic series on television.

#7. The Persuaders!

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Years on the air: 1971–1972

Award-winning actors Tony Curtis and Roger Moore team up in the 1971 hit "The Persuaders!" where they portray two playboys who are forced to work together as crime investigators. The show, which ran for just one season, won a Bambi Award for TV Series International, and a Logie Award for Best Overseas Drama: U.K.

#6. Porridge

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Years on the air: 1974–1977

After getting sentenced to five years in prison, Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by actor Ronnie Barker, must learn to navigate life behind bars and everything that goes with it in this comedy series. Barker won two BAFTA Awards for Best Light Entertainment Performance for his work, and the show also won a BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy.

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#5. Soap

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Years on the air: 1977–1981

This soap opera spoof starred Katherine Helmond and Cathryn Damon as sisters Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell, who were constantly (and quite dramatically) dealing with their family's problematic lives and various issues. The show also starred comedian and actor Billy Crystal in his breakout role as Jodie Dallas, Mary Campbell's son, which was the first time an openly gay character was portrayed in American television.

#4. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Years on the air: 1978–1985

Featuring the best of the beloved Looney Tunes episodes, "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show" ran for six seasons, eventually getting sold to ABC and developed into "The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show." This particular Looney Tunes series was somewhat infamous amongst fans, as it edited out much of the violence that appeared in the original Warner Brothers cartoons.

#3. The Muppet Show

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Years on the air: 1976–1981

It might seem hard to believe that a show with a cast that consisted primarily of puppets would become a beloved and long-lasting hit, much less the winner of multiple awards, but "The Muppet Show" did just that. Created by writer and actor Jim Henson, the series starred assorted Muppet characters in its core cast, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear, as well as assorted celebrities who would appear on each episode. The show won a total of four Emmys, and was nominated for 25 other awards.

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#2. SCTV

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 1976–1981

SCTV, which starred actors such as Eugene Levy, John Candy, and Catherine O'Hara, was set around a fictional television station, with skits that were satires of film and television. Levy and O'Hara went on to act together in several feature films, including the Christopher Guest mockumentaries "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show," as well as the much-loved television series, "Schitt's Creek."

#1. Fawlty Towers

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Years on the air: 1975–1979

The story of incompetent hotel owner Basil Fawlty, played by actor John Cleese, "Fawlty Towers" ran for two seasons, during which time it won two BAFTA Awards and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award. The series was also awarded an Online Film & Television Association Hall of Fame Award in 2009.

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