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Comedic roles such as those seen in situation comedies are often surprisingly difficult characters to perfect, and dedicated acting classes are used to help actors develop well-rounded performances that are not only the conduits for jokes but also can effectively tell more dramatic, character-focused stories as well.

Situation comedy is a genre that requires an audience to not only laugh at a character because they said a funny line or did a funny action, but also relate, connect and empathise with them so that more complex character-focused jokes and storylines can be told.

As a result, the most memorable moments from sitcoms are not only the funniest jokes such as Del Boy falling through the bar but also the scenes where the audience were not laughing but were instead caught in a much more sombre moment.

Here are some of the best dramatic moments from British sitcoms.


Red Dwarf – Out Of Time

For a sitcom with such a high-concept and strange premise as Red Dwarf, it has had many fantastic moments of pathos often intermingled with the bizarre spaceship shenanigans and class-based humour.

There are several candidates for this, from Craig Charles’ monologue to his newborn self at the end of the episode Ouroboros, to Chris Barrie’s devastating performance when he learns that his memories were not real in Thanks For The Memory.

The best dramatic moment, again thanks to Mr Barrie, comes from the finale of Series Six, Out of Time, when the entire main cast are killed one by one by their future selves.

After laughing, joking and sci-fi bravado, the show’s mood dramatically changes, until Mr Barrie’s character Arnold Rimmer is the only one left alive, begging for his crewmate Kryten to tell him how he can change what is happening.

It is subtle but very effective.


Blackadder Goes Forth – Goodbyeee

One of the most famous endings in sitcom history, Blackadder Goes Forth is set in the middle of the First World War, and most of the episodes are about Captain Blackadder and his crew trying to escape going over the top into No Man’s Land and almost-certain death.

Most of the Blackadder series end with nearly the entire central cast dying, but in those cases, it was invariably played for laughs. The last moments, however, when all plans have failed and all Rowen Atkinson’s character can do is earnestly say “good luck everyone”, as the cast go over the top and the violence fades into a field of poppies.

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